Linen Is Never Boring

Simplicity, purity, new. It’s invigorating to start something fresh. Weaving this delicate cloth in neutral colors is calming, but not boring. The linen sheen makes it spectacular. This is the delightful texture of M’s and O’s on a cotton warp, with linen weft. Peer across the cloth at a lower angle and you will see the linen’s pearlescent glory embedded in the woven texture.

Weaving M's and O's with linen weft.

Structure of M’s and O’s puts interesting texture in the fabric. The texture will be intensified after the fabric is cut from the loom and wet finished.

Even though weaving seems like magic at this stage, it has been preceded by a lot of planning, precision, and patient work. This new creation is refreshing because it’s everything I had imagined it would be. And the linen is doing as expected–making the fabric “glow.”

Handwoven towel in M's and O's with linen weft.

One-shuttle weaving for most of the towel makes this a relaxing weave. You can see that the treadling pattern alternates between two blocks. (The camera doesn’t catch the linen’s sheen like the human eye does. Wish you were here to see it!)

Handwoven towel in M's and O's.

Towel has reached the midway point.

The best creation is what happens inside of you. There is hope for all those who long for a fresh start. The dusty and worn threads are replaced with a new warp. Cut my selfish ways off the loom, Lord. All the preparations have been done by the Grand Weaver that enable weaving to begin. Create a clean heart in me, Lord. Let my life glow with the linen of your Spirit woven through my soul.

May you be refreshed.

Love,
Karen

~They’re back~ Towel Kits ~

By request, I have put the towel kits back in my shop! The River Stripe Towel Set, Pre-Wound Warp and Instructional Kit, for $150 per kit, is now listed again in the Warped for Good Etsy Shop. Happy weaving!

10 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Beautiful, Karen! I’ve never worked with linen. When used as weft, does it have to be kept damp? Seems that I once read this was necessary when linen is used as warp but, I could be dreaming.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I like to keep linen weft a little damp because it behaves better for me that way. It doesn’t take a lot of moisture. Just holding a damp cloth around the wound quill for a few seconds is enough. The moisture makes the linen relax, and it lays more straight and flat in the shed. Without some moisture, the linen has a tendency to get little kinks and curls when you beat it in.

      When used as warp, some moisture can be helpful. Houston is pretty humid, but in drier climates some people run a humidifier when warping with linen.

      Linen is wonderful to work with. You should try it. Using it as weft is a good way to start.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Martha says:

    Beautiful work as always!

    • Karen says:

      That means a lot to me, Martha! Thank you so much. I feel like the threads are really the stars, I just got to put them on the loom. 🙂

      Karen

  • Bev says:

    Beautiful weaving! I have a special place in my heart for linen, since it is what I learned to spin first. And I having linsey/woolsey on my future to-do list!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bev, I admire anyone who can spin! Spinning linen seems like such an interesting process. Is linsey/woolsey linen and wool combined?

      Karen

  • Gorgeous Karen,
    Thank you for your time and wisdom, as well as weaving knowledge. You’ve encourage me to have a go with linen. There is so much brouhaha in much of the weaving talk here in Australia about using linen. How difficult it is, how fickle, how tetchy (all unfounded, no doubt). So most of us have backed away from such a ‘difficult’ fibre. Your example here shows us the very opposite. With careful planning and consideration for linen’s ‘needs’ why should we miss such weaving pleasure.

    I really admire the way you have crafted the Christian message into your daily work and passion. And, I must admit, after reading your blog posts I have really thought how I can apply the same ‘message’ into the writing work that I do for children. I write children’s books for my ‘day’ job (when not weaving!) and I endeavour to give a ‘heart’ message in all my books. One where my readers are touched by a subtle message from more than what I am. So, thank you for sharing with us.
    Regards,
    Alison

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alison, If I’ve encouraged you to try linen, I’m happy! I don’t think linen is anything to be afraid of. Yes, it has its own special characteristics, but with some knowledge and careful planning you’ll have success. Like I mentioned to Beth, starting with linen weft is a great way to get your toes in the water…

      And if I’ve encouraged you to live out your faith with a little more intention, then you are an answer to prayer.

      It doesn’t surprise me that you are a writer, as I see how beautifully you’ve chosen your words.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • SM says:

    I’m a new weaver and really enjoy your blog. I was wondering if you worry at all about different shrinkage rates for the cotton and the linen? I keep hearing people say that different fibres react differently. Or do cotton and linen both shrink the same?

    • Karen says:

      Hi SM, Great question! You raise a valid point. Yes, different shrinkage rates are an issue, and it can make a difference in the outcome of a fabric after wet finishing. Cotton and linen won’t necessarily shrink at the same rate. Cotton usually shrinks a little more than linen. In this instance, I’m hopeful that some differential shrinkage will work to my advantage in making a beautifully, softly puckered M’s and O’s textured fabric. But until I wash and dry the fabric, it’s only a guess. 🙂

      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

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Weave Amazing Taqueté Like an Octopus

I need this sample section to practice being an octopus at the loom. I switched from kuvikas to taqueté. Now I am weaving with two double-bobbin shuttles and two treadles at a time. With no intervening tabby treadles to balance my foot placement.

Kuvikas first, then taqueté. Same threading, different tie-up.

From kuvikas to taqueté. Changing the tie-up allows the loom to weave more than one structure with the same threading.

This taqueté uses the same threading as the kuvikas that preceded it. You’ve heard it said, “One change changes everything.” Try changing the tie-up. Everything changes. Treadling sequence, weft arrangement, and picks per inch. I’m struggling like a beginner with this double treadling, double double-bobbin shuttling. But I’m not quitting, because look what it weaves! The cloth is amazing.

Two double-bobbin shuttles for taqueté.

With no tabby picks in between, the double-bobbin shuttles take turns with each other.

Taqueté, with double treadling and double double-bobbin shuttling.

Each pattern block uses two treadles, pressed simultaneously. The treadling sequence changes four times for each complete row of pattern. Each block (a third) of the square-within-a-square pattern has five complete pattern rows.

One life change, good or bad, can bring a struggle. We try to move forward like we did before, but now it’s not working. Too many things are shifting at once. One thing changed, and now we are searching for sound footing. God is present even in our struggles. The warp is the same, the threading hasn’t changed, and the Grand Weaver is still at his loom. God is a very present help in trouble. God is now and near. Right now, right here. And then we get a glimpse of the cloth he is weaving… It is amazing!

May you endure through struggles.

Your weaving octopus,
Karen

5 Comments

  • Betsy says:

    Is there a trick to pushing two treadles at once on a Glimakra? I thought one couldn’t do that, and I’ve never tried it on my Standard.

    That fabric is gorgeous!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, Yes, there is a trick! It is an unusual tie-up. It works because the tie-up is done with two freestanding groups, so they can be double treadled. And some of the shafts are not tied up. I’m using a draft from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, pp. 164-165, where this set up is explained. I am fascinated by this fabric, and the whole fact that this is even possible!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annette says:

    I appreciate your comments. In a world gone mad your voice is the calm in the middle of a storm – it reminds us who is in charge. God Bless.

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Kuvikas Squares Meet Stripes

After neglecting this Glimakra Standard loom for a few weeks, I lost my consistency in beating. The first panel, side one of a cushion, has a square-within-a-square pattern. And the squares are not all equal. If I tried to put the same pattern on the back panel, the cushion front and back would not match up at the seams.

Kuvikas (summer and winter).

Each block consists of twenty picks, so there are sixty picks for each row of the square-within-a-square pattern. Consistency in beating is crucial in order to have all the rows of squares equal in size.

Stripes to the rescue! The stripes use one of the four possible kuvikas blocks. I get a coordinating pattern without the fuss of trying to match up the sides. The stripes have a ribbed appearance–simpler than the squares, but still geometric. The patterns are different, but they work together and complement each other.

Kuvikas. Front and back cushion panels.

Two red picks separate the front and back panels of the cushion.

Kuvikas squares and stripes.

Repeating “block one” makes a simple stripe pattern. The square-within-a-square pattern is made by weaving two groups of blocks. Group 1: block two, block one, block two. Group 2: block three, block four, block three.

There are many different gifts in people; and the gifts all come from the same source. Each gift is like a pattern than can be used in a variety of ways, complementing the other patterns around it. Our Grand Weaver sees the whole project, and places the people with the gifts where they best fit in the overall fabric. You are made for a purpose. Your gifts are exactly what the rest of us need.

May your gifts bless those around you.

With purpose,
Karen

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Empty Quills

No matter how much thread is on the quill, if you keep weaving, you will eventually come to a bare quill. Three at once, this time. Two with tencel in the double-bobbin shuttle and one with 8/2 cotton. A quill is a small item with an essential role. This mostly-hidden cardboard cylinder holds the threads that weave.

Kuvikas on eight shafts.

Kuvikas on eight shafts with 8/2 cotton warp, 8/2 cotton ground weave, and doubled 8/2 tencel pattern weft.

An empty quill is a stopping place. You have to stop. Wind another quill, or three, before you weave some more. Or, use quills from your loom bench basket that you had already wound. It’s the cycle of weaving. Weave. Stop. New quill. Weave. Stop. And so on.

The quill is mostly hidden until the thread runs out. Likewise, truth seems like a secret until it comes to light. And then you realize it holds the fibers of life. Truth is worth searching for. It is central to understanding our existence. Examine a thread of reality, keep pulling that thread, and unroll it. It always ends up at truth. Truth is that core, that weaver’s quill, around which reality is wound. For our Grand Weaver, truth always holds the threads that weave.

May truth be at your core.

Yours,
Karen

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Quiet Friday: Swedish Rosepath Rag Rug

My introduction to rosepath rag rugs was on a room-size loom in Joanne Hall’s magical Montana studio. I was so happy at that moment that I actually cried. It’s no surprise, then, that I relish every opportunity to weave a rosepath rag rug. And even better, to share the joy with other handweavers who may not have tried it yet. Look what came in the mail this week! The March/April 2017 issue of Handwoven, with a project by yours truly–Swedish Rosepath Rag Rug!

Swedish Rosepath Rag Rug, as seen in March/April 2017 Handwoven.

Swedish Rosepath Rag Rug, as seen in March/April 2017 Handwoven.

Not everyone loves weaving rag rugs. That’s fine. But if you’re a weaver, there is probably something that draws your interest and brings delight. A certain weave structure, silky fibers, fine threads, complex patterns, bold colors. Something. And if you’re not a weaver, there is something else that triggers your pursued interest. Find that spark that ignites joy in you!

Beginning a rag rug.

Besides using a pre-measured tape, taking a picture at the beginning of the rug, with the yellow tape measure in view, makes it easy to replicate the hem at the end of the rug.

Temple in place, weaving Swedish rosepath rag rug.

Temple is in place, keeping the rugs a consistent width. Metal rug temples are good, but I still prefer a regular wooden Glimåkra temple for weaving rag rugs.

Weaving rosepath rag rugs. Fun!

Many rosepath variations are possible. The rug on the cloth beam uses a similar design, with different colors.

Swedish Rosepath Rag Rug. Karen Isenhower

Making paths of roses. Rosepath.

Swedish Rosepath Rag Rug.

Progress!

Seeing the reverse side of the rosepath rag rug on the loom.

Reverse side of the rug has a subtly different pattern.

Swedish rosepath rag rug on the loom. Rug in March/April 2017 Handwoven.

Cloth beam fills up with rag rugs. Pleasant sight for a rag rug weaver!

Ending the rosepath rag rug on the loom.

Ending the rug on the loom. Following the markings removes guesswork.

Keep a song in your heart. Sing. Sing for joy. Sing praise to the Grand Weaver who put the seed of searching in you. A seed that bursts open with joy when ignited with a spark, and flourishes into something distinguishable. Trust the Lord with all your heart. Your heart will find its melody.

Swedish Rosepath Rag Rug as seen in March/April 2017 Handwoven.

Published in March/April 2017 Handwoven.

May your heart sing a joyful tune.

ATTENTION: The draft for the  Swedish Rosepath Rag Rug from Handwoven is written for a sinking shed loom. Therefore, for a jack loom, you must tie up the “white” empty squares instead of the numbered squares for the pattern to show right side up as you weave.

If you are interested in weaving rag rugs, take a look at Rag Rug Tips, a new tab at the top of the page.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

20 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Congratulations, Karen, on another beautiful article!

  • Maggie Ackerman says:

    I’ve just done my first rose path rug and I loved doing it. Used tee shirt yarn from my stash. Yours is gorgeous and I can’t wait to try it. You also have some great suggestions — I love the photo idea for the hem. Much better than my notes.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, Rosepath is so much fun. I’m glad to hear you have enjoyed it, too. Yes, the photo has saved me many times. My memory and my notes are not that great.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Fran says:

    I downloaded Handwoven yesterday, and was pleasantly surprised to see your rug! Congratulations !

  • Janet says:

    Congrats Karen!! I have always loved your rugs and will be trying this out shortly:)
    Janet

  • Sandy says:

    I’ve recently returned home from a trip, then going through several days of mail found my Mar/April issue of Handwoven. I was so excited to see your Rosepath Rug article, and was happily anticipating this blog post. Congratulations! Once again thank you for your weaving & life encouragements. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandy, Sounds like you have me figured out. 🙂 Isn’t it exciting to get a weaving magazine in a pile of mail? Everything else has to stand still while I flip through the pages. And then, later, I sit down with it and read every page.

      Thank you for your wonderful encouragement to me. It means so much!
      Karen

  • Mary Scott says:

    Don’t you just love her!! Beautiful job on your rug!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Mary

  • Carol says:

    BEAUTIFUL !!
    Congrats. Need to run out and get a copy of Handwoven.

    Carol

  • Sandy says:

    My issue of Handwoven arrived yesterday and I was thrilled to see your article! Beautiful rug and I’m so looking forward to trying this. And checking out your tab of tips – I’ve never woven a rag rug before (I’m a fairly new weaver), though I’ve dreamed about it. I can use all the help I can get!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandy, You’re in for a treat. Weaving a rag rug is different than other types of weaving. You get to use some muscle! 🙂 Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can help you in any way.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nanette says:

    Congratulations on the article! Also, the photo reminded me I didn’t thank you after I tried your ribbon-measuring system. It works great and I really appreciated your detailed instructions. Nanette

    • Karen says:

      Nanette, I’m happy the measuring ribbon works for you! One of the places I learned about using a ribbon for measuring was at Vavstuga. So many little things can make a big difference.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Bonnie Wilker says:

    Karen, it was wonderful to see your work recognized in Handwoven! What a well deserved honor! Your work is beautifully striking and so is your testimony to our Lord. May He who is the master weaver continue to bless your endeavors as you continue to serve Him.
    Bonnie Wilker

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