Biggest Challenge of Weaving a Pictorial Tapestry

Lucia grasps Ari’s plump wrist as they bravely inch a step closer to the rabbit hutch. For them, it’s a step of faith. Sugar Pie, the bunny, is wide-eyed at their approach. You’ll see the bunny later in the weaving of this pictorial tapestry.

Detail of a pictorial tapestry in progress.
Lucia’s tiny thumbnail is on top of Ari’s hand. Contrast in skin color is exaggerated to make the two arms distinct from each other.
Color gradation in a new large tapestry.
Five shades of orange/red butterflies are used to make the fabric of Lucia’s orange shirt.

It is a huge challenge to work on one element, like the hands, while not being able to see it in the context of the whole picture. The row-by-row weaving is an act of faith. I peer through the wrong end of the binoculars, and stand on a chair to take pictures. And I’m reassured about the outcome. It’s not blind faith. It’s a series of carefully reasoned and thought-out steps.

Gaining a higher perspective.
Gaining a higher perspective by standing on a chair.

We see only a small slice of life at a time. Where do my day-to-day threads fit in the context of the big picture of a lifetime? Grace is amazing! Grace is unearned good favor. Grace is a final tapestry that makes sense of all the wanderings. Grace is good favor extended by God to all who trust Jesus. So, with God’s grace we walk by faith, with carefully reasoned and thought-out steps. And we extend grace at every opportunity, holding the wrist of our fellow adventurer to walk by faith together.

"Siblings" tapestry.
Siblings tapestry, work in progress.

Grace is amazing.

May your life make a difference.

Grace,
Karen

10 Comments

Leave a Reply


Two Kinds of Dressing

Before everyone arrives for our Thanksgiving family gathering, I am making pie crust for the pecan pie, dough for my “famous” cranberry bread, and doing the prep to make Gram’s turkey dressing. Each family is bringing their contributions to the meal (feast). Thanksgiving Day is a flurry of activity with too many cooks in the kitchen—just how we like it! And sitting at the table with the feast before us, we give thanks. Thanks to each other, and to our Creator. We are blessed!

Making perfect pecan pie for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving feast prep. It takes two pastry chefs to make the perfect pecan pie.

And before everyone arrives I also manage to sley the reed on the Standard. A different kind of dressing—loom dressing.

Sleying the reed.

Two ends per dent in a 45/10 metric reed.

Sleying the reed.

I sit “inside” the loom on my loom bench to sley the reed.

Next step - tying on!

After the reed is sleyed, I remove the loom bench, lower the shafts, and move the countermarch to the front of the loom. Then, I place the reed in the beater and make sure it is centered. Next step–tying on!

Fresh warp on the back beam. Magical!

Getting dressed. Oh the beauty of a fresh warp going over the back beam! Magical.

A feast for the eyes and hands and heart. Thankful indeed!

May you give thanks,
Karen

8 Comments

Leave a Reply


Weave Every Day

I like to weave every day. At least a little bit.

This week, though, I have more important things to do, like playing outside and having pillow pallet parties with grandsons. Do you know how demanding full time motherhood is? I’ve done it, but that was eons ago. Diaper changes, giggles and tears, and squabbling. And forgetting.

Outside

Pillow pallet party

Read with me!

At the park

Way up high

But I did get my big Glimåkra Freja tapestry frame warped…And a header woven…And I wove the first few picks of the tapestry. That’s what nap times are good for.

Tapestry frame

Tapestry frame

Tapestry frame

Little children quickly forget the offense that started a squabble. After nap time, they’re off, giggling together again. Forgiveness forgets. Have you ever had a squabble with God? We’ve all been there. When God forgave us he smudged out the long list of all our offenses. And then he nailed it to the cross of Christ, our squabbles forever forgotten. And in the resulting quiet that’s like a restful nap time, our Lord weaves his image in us.

May your squabbles be few.

Forgiven,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Beautifully said! Our Lord IS amazing! His Grace cleans the slate and allows us to know real Peace! 🙂

  • Ruth says:

    Karen, Thank you for your timely words. It is so good to read your insightful statements about your faith and reflect on how it echos in my life. Blessings to you and your family as you enjoy your time together.

  • Linda Cornell says:

    Beautiful grandchildren! We have three little ones and their mommy and daddy living with us for a time. Blessings and God’s opportunity to work in me and them. The weaving project on the loom is going slowly but surely. Perhaps this is how God works in us too.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, I do think God works in us in almost imperceptible ways. Often, we don’t realize it until we look back and see the difference.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Liberty says:

    Hi Karen,
    I would have also just played with those cute little pumpkins! Grandkids are the best!!
    Thank goodness we are forgiven, I especially am grateful.
    Liberty

Leave a Reply


Quiet Friday: Threads of Love

Talk about thick and thirsty towels! Double weave makes these hand towels thick. And the linen in the cottolin threads makes them highly absorbent. The colors are fantastic together. When our daughter Melody moves with her little family to Chile, she can set up her new home with these made-for-her towels. My love is woven into every single pick.

I have included two short little videos just for the fun of it. Enjoy!

This project started in my weaving studio in our Houston home, where I beamed the warp.

Colors for Towels

Winding a warp for double weave towels.

Beaming the warp for towels.

And then we decided to move! We sold the house and moved into an apartment. The big loom was dismantled, with the towel warp on the back beam. Then, we moved all the pieces to our Texas hill country home.

Dismantled loom for moving.

Moving a Glimakra Standard loom.

Putting the Glimakra Standard loom back together.

Recently, I spent a week there to finish dressing the loom and weave all four towels. Whew! (Here’s what I did that week: Testing Color Surprises with My Little Helper and Weaving Deadline)

Threading 12 shafts. Double weave towels coming!

Lower lamms ready to go!

Starting the hem on double weave towels.

Double weave cottolin towels on 12 shafts. Karen Isenhower

From the back beam. Double weave on 12 shafts.

Double weave towels. Loom with a view!

Squares in a double weave towel.

Towels on the cloth beam. Karen Isenhower

Double weave towels on the loom.

Double weave cottolin towels on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Towels on the cloth beam.

Glimakra Standard loom in Texas hill country.

Cutting off!

Cutting off! Double weave towels.

Fresh double weave towels, ready for finishing.

I wove hanging tabs on my band loom. And I discovered that I could showcase both sides of the colorful towel if I stitch the hanging tab on the side of the towel, off center.

Glimakra band loom.

Hanging tabs for towels woven on Glimakra band loom.

Hanging tab stitched to side of towel.

The towels are hemmed and pressed, ready to brighten the day!

Double Weave cottolin towels. Side A.

Double weave cottolin towels. Side B.

Double weave cottolin towels! Karen Isenhower

Cottolin towels, hanging from the side. More pics on the blog.

May you put threads of love into everything you do.

Love,
Karen

18 Comments

Leave a Reply


Weaving Deadline

I had a deadline for weaving these towels. Eight days. I finished dressing the loom at our Texas hill country home on Monday afternoon, and wove in long and short increments throughout the week. Mostly short increments. After all, I had little grandchildren to enjoy at the same time. And sweet interactions with my daughter and her husband. I finished weaving the four towels on Saturday evening, and cut them off on Sunday morning, just in time to bring them back with me to Houston to do the finishing work.

Cloth beam fills up with double weave towels.

Cloth beam fills up with double weave towels.

Four double weave towels. Time for cutting off!

Four towels woven. Time for cutting off!

Cloth puddle of double weave towels. Cutting off!

Cloth puddle.

Double weave towels just off the loom.

Aqua is the main color on the front of the towels. The reverse side has Poppy as the main color.

Freshly woven towels, ready for finishing work.

Ready for finishing. This week I will be mending errors, wet finishing, hemming, and sewing on labels.

I was highly motivated. I knew this may be my only chance to finish these towels for Melody before she and her precious family move to Chile in the near future. Now, she will be able to take a woven piece of my love with her. Know your roots. Where are you rooted? When your life takes root in good soil it will grow. Rooted in love, your life will blossom to bless others. And those are roots you can plant anywhere in the world.

May you bloom where you are planted.

With love,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Very Beautiful, the towels and your advice. At times, I wonder, “Why am I doing this project?”, especially when I have been challenged with warping or broken threads…but when it comes off the loom and you think of the person you will share it with, love IS the answer! The Greatest of These is Love!

  • Beth Mullins says:

    They’re so pretty and the colors perfect for Chile! Melody is very lucky. You are very kind. Can’t wait to see them finished.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I had Chile in mind when I selected these colors. One of the towels will stay with me, so I’ll have a Chile towel in my home that will remind me of Melody. I’m excited to see how they are after wet finishing.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Laine says:

    More information on mending errors please.
    As a beginner I have many 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laine, Thank you for asking! Beginners aren’t the only ones with errors. I make my fair share of errors, too. Haha! I have quite a few skipped threads and floats to take care of on these towels.

      Here’s a link to a previous post to get you started: What to Do About Weaving Errors

      I hope that helps!
      Karen

  • Angela says:

    The towels are beautiful. What technique are you using? Is it double weave? You weave so many beautiful projects and you have such nice messages.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Angela, That’s very kind of you to say such sweet things.

      These cottolin towels are woven in double weave. After washing they should be soft and absorbent.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Quickly becoming a decade ago I set up my almost forgotten 4 harness loom on the 3 season porch to provide something to occupy my time during the never ending treatment of DCIS. The result was a stack of small rag rugs the size used in front of a kitchen sink. They were gifted to sibs and nieces and nephews Christmas 2010.

    Faded from use but with years of wear left. The rugs are used in bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways, kitchens and the outside stoop of my daughters house. I am amazed at how the work of my hands is a part of the lives of so many people I love.

    May the people you love and those you do not know enjoy the work of your hands.

    Nannette

  • Lyna says:

    I was wondering…what do you do with your thrums/loom waste? The colors of this warp are so luscious it would be a shame to throw away any of it!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lyna, You are asking someone who just had to downsize from a full-size house to a small transition apartment. After saving my thrums for a few years and not finding a use for most of the beautiful threads, I decided to discard them when the weaving is finished. With the exception of linen. I do have a project in mind for all my linen thrums.

      I use threads from the thrums to do my repair finishing work. I have used thrums for choke ties before, but I have enough re-usable choke ties that I prefer. I have used thrums tied into longer pieces to wrap gifts and packages.

      I don’t want to store things anymore. It doesn’t seem like a waste to me because I got the best part of all the beautiful threads in my handwoven towels.

      How would you use the thrums?

      All the best,
      Karen

      • Lyna says:

        I can see the point in tossing when finished, I come from an old German farmer background and must resist the “box of string too short to use,” black-hole-of-clutter tendency. I was wondering if thrums, sorted by fiber type, would make a good shaggy rug. What do you have planned for your linen?
        “What do you do with thrums?”could be a good question to ask your Facebook friends to discuss, collect and evaluate ideas for a future post. Just an idea for your oh-so-abundant (not!) free time!
        Thanks for posting even when life get busy! I especially appreciate your reflections on weaving as a metaphor for walking with God.
        Bless!

        • Karen says:

          Lyna, I’m a little too familiar with the old German farmer background. If you only knew… Haha! That’s in my heritage, which may be why I have to fight the tendency to think “someday I could use this for something…” Thrums could probably be used for some rya weaving. Until I have that planned I’m not keeping my thrums. (Don’t tell my mother.) 🙂

          I’d rather be weaving than checking FB, so I don’t do much of that.

          It’s so good to have you along on this journey!
          Karen

Leave a Reply