Warp Chain Optimist

Is there a better picture of optimism than a warp chain? Especially warp chains that are sitting on the loom bench ready to become something! Anticipation electrifies the weaving space because fabric-making is about to happen!

Warp chains for a spaced repp rag rug.

Four bouts of 12/6 cotton rug warp for spaced rep rag rugs. The warp is eight meters long.

The Glimåkra Ideal is getting dressed for weaving rag rugs. Hooray! And the Glimåkra Standard is getting dressed for double weave baby blankets. I keep a regular cycle of weaving, cutting off, and starting over.

Warp chains of 8/2 cotton for baby blankets.

Three bouts of 8/2 cotton for double weave baby blankets, gifts for friends. The warp is three meters long.

Dress the loom. Weave a sample. Plan the next project and order supplies. Weave what’s on the loom to the finish line. Cut off. Do the finishing work. Wind the warp for the next project, and put the warp chain(s) on the loom bench. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Every beginning has an end. Every warp. Every life. And even every day comes to an end. What will I make of that warp? This life? This day? Our life is a mere shadow, fading quickly. To honor our Grand Weaver, we want to value every day we’ve been given. And when our hope and trust is in Him, we know the fabric he is weaving will last forever.

May you value this day you’ve been given.

Happy weaving,
Karen

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Hint of Shadows

I hope this isn’t cheating, but I added a teeny bit of embroidery to the finished bluebonnets. One thing I learned with this transparency is that an image that looks flat can be improved with a hint of shadows.

Woven transparency just off the loom.

Wide casing at the top and bottom of the bluebonnet transparency make it easy to hang for display. I envision it hanging from a stripped and polished cedar rod, harvested from our Texas hill country property.

I’m thankful for my husband’s artful eye. He helped me identify the “off-screen sunlight” that would produce natural shadows. I am adding a few darker stitches to the right-hand side of some of the lighter areas, and a touch at the sides and lower end of the flower stems. My hope is to give the picture a bit more depth.

Embroidery added to finished woven transparency.

A single strand of mora wool in a darker shade is used to embroider some outline stitches on the right side of some of the bluebonnet petals.

Shadows tell us something: There is a light source. Find out where the light is coming from. That is what it’s like for those seeking God. There are shadows everywhere you look. We see the shadows–the effects of a shining light. And we want to find the source.

Texas Bluebonnets transparency. Karen Isenhower

Hint of shadows helps give shape to the otherwise flat transparency.

Go on a search and exploration expedition. Start with small shadows that you see, the circumstances and blessings that hint at an outside light source. Such seekers may discover that God is just off-screen, waiting to be found.

May you follow where the shadows lead.

With joy,
Karen

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Tools Day: Paper and Yarn

A folded piece of paper and a seven-inch tail from a yarn butterfly become an answer to a small technical problem. When using a cartoon, like I am for this transparency, it’s imperative to identify the center warp end so I can align the dotted-line center of the cartoon with that one end. Finding the center warp end is my technical problem. The paper and yarn work together as the tool that helps remove the guesswork.

Weaving a transparency. Bluebonnets.

I check the alignment of the cartoon about every inch, and move up the pins that hold the cartoon in place.

With these bluebonnets, if the cartoon slides to the right or left by even one warp end it distorts the picture. It’s not enough to eyeball it. I need a way to make sure I am finding, and marking, the exact center end every time.

How to Find and Mark the Center Warp End

Supplies:

  • Pencil
  • Subscription card from a magazine, folded in half lengthwise
  • Seven-inch tail from a yarn butterfly, or a strand of yarn
  1. Measure the width of the beater and use a pencil to mark the exact center with a vertical line.
  2. Hold the folded edge of the card against the vertical pencil line on the beater, with the bottom edge of the card almost touching the warp.

Finding and marking the center warp end to align with cartoon.

3. Slip the yarn tail under the center warp end, as identified by the bottom corner of the card.

Aligning center warp end with cartoon. Tutorial.

4. Check the alignment of the center line of the cartoon with the center warp end.

How to mark the center warp end.

5. Slide the yarn from the reed to the fell line to check the entire length of the alignment. Reposition the cartoon, if needed.

Aligning cartoon with center warp end. How to.

Bluebonnet woven transparency almost finished!

Ready for one last alignment!

May you find a solution that eliminates guesswork.

All the best,
Karen

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Bluebonnets Are Growing on My Loom

I promised a baby blanket to a dear friend whose first grandchild is coming soon. That’s why I am working on this transparency with extra focus. I need the loom. After being away from home longer than expected, I am now trying to make up for lost time.

Weaving a transparency. Flower stems so far.

Flower stems rise out of the “ground.”

Woven transparency in progress.

Weaving from the back. All weft turns are on the back, leaving little bumps and ridges, while the underneath front side stays smooth.

Some sections take an hour or more to weave an inch. But I am finding transparency weaving to be pure enjoyment. I don’t mind lingering. And, if it weren’t for that baby blanket I would slow down even more. This is handweaving at its best. This is good. All I do is select the threads and put them in place, and the woven image magically appears.

Woven transparency in progress. Mora wool pattern weft.

Four strands of 20/2 Mora wool for each butterfly, giving ample opportunity for color blending.

Weaving Texas bluebonnets in a transparency.

Even a simple design like this requires many little butterflies to complete the image (sixteen for this row).

Texas bluebonnets in a woven transparency...in progress!

Cartoon is held in place with three pins. The dotted line on the cartoon is aligned with the center warp end. I love the small spaces of linen between some of the flower petals.

In reality, good things don’t appear by magic, do they? Even with the loom, a plan is made, warp ends are lined up, and the handweaver puts many skills into action. When we experience good in life, it isn’t happenstance or magic. The Lord is good. He is the source of goodness. And it’s by His grace that we are able to see his goodness. Thank you, Lord.

May you be touched by goodness today.

Love,
Karen

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Discovery Towels Workshop in Eureka Springs

Seven enthusiastic weavers came to the Discovery Towels Workshop I presented a few days ago. We had three wonderful days together. Thick and thin threads can do spectacular things when you combine them in the warp and weft. And Eureka Springs, Arkansas is the ideal setting for such a weaving adventure! This is a unique, quaint little town like none other. The Victorian-style homes, and the twisting, winding roads that follow the hillside contours make you feel like you are in a storybook village. We happened to be there at the same time as the annual Volkswagen Festival and Parade, which defies description. You just have to experience it for yourself.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Debbie Davis of Red Scottie Fibers, our gracious and knowledgeable host, provided the perfect setting in The Shoppes at Fleece ‘N Flax. Her classroom space is full of Glimåkra countermarch and counterbalance looms. What could be better?!

Weaving workshop with Karen Isenhower.

Discovery weavers!

You will be amazed when you see the beautiful towels that these seasoned and not-yet seasoned weavers produced! It was a joy to have some time with these enthusiastic discoverers.

May you enjoy the thrill of discovery.

~~On a personal note, regarding hurricane Harvey, Steve and I tried to drive home to Houston on Sunday, after our stay in Arkansas. We were unable to return all the way home because of flooded roads and highways, so we diverted our route to drive out to our place in Texas hill country. So far, our Houston home has not flooded, but our loved city is suffering greatly. Please keep these brave people, including many of our dear friends, in your prayers.~~

Yours,
Karen

20 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    I hope you, your family, and your Houston home remain safe!

    So glad you had a great workshop. Love these towels!

    • Karen says:

      Beth, Thank you. So far, we’ve escaped the worst.

      It was fun to see the towels grow on all the looms! The students were fantastic!

      Karen

  • Kay Rideout says:

    I hope you and your family and home are spared from the flooding.

  • Holly Deluce says:

    Very glad your safe Karen. My thoughts and prayers to everyone in the Houston area.

  • Bev Romans says:

    Karen, I am so thankful you are safe and out of harm’s way. Thank you, Lord! Great answer to prayer that you were away teaching and have your hill country home to divert to. I am continuing to lift up the Gulf Coast in prayer. And the towels are beautiful! Bev

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bev, We are thankful to be out of harm’s way. News from our neighbors this morning is that the water on our street is finally receding. That’s a big relief!

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Oh Karen,
    I have been worried about you the last few days and I’m so happy to hear you are ok! Stay safe, lots of prayers going on for Texas.
    Liberty

  • D'Anne says:

    I wondered where you were. Glad you are safe and out of Houston. We are safe and dry here, but some of our weaving friends are not so fortunate.

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, I’ve been concerned about our weaving friends. I know some parts of Katy got hit pretty hard. I’m glad you’re doing okay, too.

      Karen

  • Becky Scott says:

    Very treasured memories. Thank you for sharing your time and knowledge. You and Debbie make a great team. I got caught up in the Volkswagon parade and counted about 350 of them, all shapes, sizes,and models. what a hoot!! Also praying.

    • Karen says:

      Becky, Great memories for me, as well! Too bad you weren’t driving a VW so you could fit in. Haha

      Our prayers make a difference. Thanks!
      Karen

  • tsw says:

    I am so relieved to hear that you are dry and safe and that your home is ok. You have been in my thoughts daily.
    Isn’t Eureka Springs the coolest place? I wish that I was enough of a weaver to have taken your class, but weaving is going to be my ‘dream job’ after I retire in two years. I love those towels, and your students did great. You have the soul of a teacher, Karen. When are you going to write a weaving book?

    Theo

    • Karen says:

      Hi Theo, I appreciate your kind concern! Yes, Eureka Springs is a fun place to be.

      When am I going to write a weaving book? You’re reading it. Haha. I do have teaching in my soul. I love the idea of helping other people learn.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Angie Roberts says:

    Looks like it was a very fun and educational workshop,
    beautiful towels. Prayers, positive thoughts coming to you and your community.
    Blessings

    • Karen says:

      Hi Angie, All the weavers did amazing work! It was a fun group!

      Thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers. It’s very appreciated!
      Karen

  • Ettenna says:

    Keep Montana in your prayer- we are literally burning up…

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