Yarn Is My Paint

The best thing about weaving a pictorial tapestry? Having a cartoon to follow, with row-by-row definition. This Siblings tapestry has its joys and challenges. It is a joy to weave Ari’s hair, as if I get to comb his locks into place. At the same time, it’s a challenge to see up close what can only be recognized at a distance. Lucia’s shirt is a joy to weave because of the bright colors and distinct shading. But what a challenge to get the right value of turquoise for the leg of the rabbit hutch in relation to the value of orange in Lucia’s left shoulder.

Five different shades of butterflies for this hair.
Ari’s hair has butterflies in five different shades of brown. Sometimes while handling the yarn, it almost seems like real hair. And I reminisce about my sisters and I braiding each others’ hair way back when.
Color decisions in a pictorial tapestry.
Trying to find the right hue for the turquoise rabbit hutch. Choosing a darker hue helps make Lucia’s shoulder appear closer than the hutch leg.

The yarn is my paint. I make decisions and adjustments as I see how the colors interact. Under the warp, of course, is my cartoon with all the details—outline, hues, value changes. That cartoon is constant, unchanging, and reassuring. It’s the key to this whole process.

Under the warp is the detailed cartoon.
Right under the warp is the detailed cartoon. Hues are lightly colored in with color pencil, and value distinctions are penciled in.
Siblings tapestry in progress. Glimakra Standard loom.
Right at halfway on the Siblings tapestry.

In the joys and challenges we face, we make decisions based on what we see. Take a look below the surface. Look through the warp to see the cartoon. True love is in the details. Jesus instructs and guides through his love. Constant, unchanging, and reassuring. It makes perfect sense to follow the Maker’s cartoon.

Cartoon under the tapestry.
Cartoon held in place with a suspended warping slat and some plastic quilter’s clips.

May you grow in love.

With joy,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Beth says:

    I admire your patience…and very much so, your talent.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, Thank you so much for your thoughtful insights. You’re making me reflect on patience and talent. Patience doesn’t seem hard for me most of the time—at the loom, at least. I like the whole slow process, so I’m not in a hurry about it. Talent, on the other hand, seems elusive. I think patience and talent may be related. The more patient I am to practice what I know, the more talented I get. 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,
    You are an artist nose to toes. To do the weaving that you do requires a working skill of the craft. No matter how much I tried, the skill to make music from the viola was not possible because the craft was beyond my physical ability. As much as the mind desires, without the craftsmanship foundation to describe creativity, nothing happens. Mathematics, so necessary with science and engineering and business. Color theory with the visual. Mechanical understanding of the instrument, viola or loom or CNC or human body.
    You are constantly sharing as you explore the craft of weaving. Your craftsmanship is honed to the best it can be. With that, the blessing of being an artist occurred. It is like running barefoot in a field as a child with no cares… Just the freedom of no boundaries.
    God has blessed you with being a textile artist and you have extended that to the world with your blog.
    Praise God. Thank you Karen.
    Nannette

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Only Five Centimeters!

Five centimeters is not very far! That’s all that‘s left of this Lizard tapestry. I expect to cut it off in a day or two. What a delight this first attempt at four-shaft tapestry has been!

Nearing completion of Lizard tapestry on four shafts!

Close to cutting off! The Lizard will soon appear in the completed woven image.

Nobody makes a masterpiece on their first try. It takes practice—lots of it. And that’s something I’m eager to do. The experience has been richly satisfying as a weaver. I am invigorated by the challenge of paying attention to a cartoon, and then watching the image grow on the loom. It’s like painting by number, only better. I get to “make” the paint with multiple strands of yarn.

Afternoon sun on the wool tapestry image.

Afternoon sun gives an added dimension to the wool tapestry image.

Coming to the end of this four-shaft tapestry.

Many weft color changes are in the last few centimeters, which keeps it interesting. And I don’t mind the slow pace because I don’t really want the experience to end.

We need something to guide us. We need to align our lives with a sure standard of truth, like matching up the image being woven with the center warp end, so we won’t drift off course. Pay attention to the truth. There are persuasive arguments and countless opinions, but isn’t it truth that helps makes sense of reality? God opens our eyes and hearts to see truth. And as we pay attention to truth, and align with it, we get to experience the amazing view of his tapestry being woven all around us.

May you know when to pay attention.

Happy weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • susie weitzel says:

    I have been following this tapestry closely. So very anxious to see the finished work of art.

  • Margaret says:

    Thank you for your weaving words. May your day be blessed.

  • Marjorie Clay says:

    Can you explain briefly how the multiple shafts work in creating this tapestry? When I think of tapestry, I think of Navajo weaving, which is essentially plain weave. How do the different sheds available on a 4-shaft loom work on a tapestry?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marjorie, Most tapestry is woven on two shafts. With four shafts I can thread the loom for plain weave and a rosepath or twill threading, and then I have plain weave and a patterned weave for the tapestry. This Lizard tapestry has a rosepath threading. I became interested in this type of tapestry after seeing some of Joanne Hall’s tapestries, and pictures of Helena Hernmarck’s tapestries. This is a new endeavor for me, so I’m still learning how it all works (or should work).

      Karen

  • Liberty says:

    I’m so excited to see it!!
    Liberty

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Plain Rosepath

This is a stash-busting rug, using leftover cut strips from previous rugs. Like my other rag rugs, I start with a plan. Then, I get out my fabric and make my color selections. It’s plain rosepath, without tabby picks in between, perfect for a stash buster. Snip, snip, snip. Fabric snippets are taped to my idea sheet. These are my blueprints–weaving draft, treadling order, and idea sheet with fabric snippets. I am weaving!

Rosepath rag rug on the loom.

Without tabby picks the rosepath pattern takes on a compressed form.

I can, and do, make adjustments at the loom. But I keep one question in mind. Will my choices along the way fit with the overall design of the rug? My idea sheet serves as a guiding compass. It’s a reminder of the big picture that forms a cohesive design.

Idea sheet for rag rug design.

Idea sheet hangs from the beater clip on the Glimakra Ideal loom. The treadling pattern, penciled on graph paper, and fabric snippets provide a quick reference while weaving.

Guiding principles shape our lives and enable us to make wise decisions. A compass sets the course. Use a true compass. Live in a way that pleases God. This is a valid compass for all choices and decisions. The Grand Weaver has the comprehensive design. Amazingly, He weaves our leftover fabric strips into his design, and uses them to make something useful and beautiful.

May you see your part in the overall design.

Happy weaving,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Linda de Roy Landry says:

    Karen,
    I do enjoy and look forward to reading all of you postings. Though we have not met in person, I think of you as a kindred spirit as we seem to think alike in more ways than one. Thank you for sharing and blending your faith and knowledge of weaving. It always adds a ray of light to my day and some inspiration to my weaving.
    Kind and warm regards, Linda

  • JANET PELL says:

    Dear Linda, I want to thank you for your blog, I dont make many comments but I wanted you to know that I am brightened and inspired so much by you.
    Im English and live in Italy, in the 11 years I have lived here I have only met one other weaver, I am a self taught weaver and love it, but its a lonely trek, so wanted you know how your encouragement lifts my days.

    • Karen says:

      Janet, It blesses me tremendously to know that my words and pictures reach someone like you. Good for you for pressing on, even without the camaraderie of other weavers. I’m so glad you are coming here. Make yourself at home. 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Jane Smith says:

    Yes, I agree with Janet. Like her, I am pretty much a self-taught weaver who travels a lonely path. Blogs like these remind me of something that I think CS Lewis said: “We read to know we are not alone”. I am English, living in South Africa.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jane, You make me so happy! I love the thought of connecting weavers to a community. And it’s great to hear someone quote one of my favorite authors!

      Thank you for encouraging me today.

      Karen

  • Jane Smith says:

    I really like the idea of “connecting weavers to a community”, Karen, and this blog certainly helps to do that.

    In fact, you’ve got me thinking!

  • Sandra says:

    Karen, your words and connections to weaving ( and weavers! ) is indeed inspiring. Also a self taught beginner weaver living in Alberta Canada, though I too travelled far as my husband and I moved when the military needed us to. I have found many ways to learn this artform, but I would much rather read your words and follow your journey by reading old and new posts, than join groups on Ravelry.com for inspiration. You are a great teacher and I will try to be a better “listener” … so much thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandra,
      You have encouraged me more than you know. It’s exactly for you, and others like you, that I write. I truly cherish the connection we have as weavers and long-distance friends.

      Your friend,
      Karen

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Young Weaver

I had a visitor this week. You might be surprised to see what a seven-year-old can do. Young Jamie picked out her colors, wound fabric strips on the ski shuttle, and wove a small rag rug. Almost all by herself! She helped me advance the warp, and remove warping slats as they came off the back beam.

Young weaver at the loom making her first rag rug.

After twisting the weft at the selvedge, Jamie angles the weft in the shed before beating. And this seven-year-old has plenty of strength to pack the weft in tightly with the beater.

It was rewarding to see my little friend catch on so quickly. She believed me when I told her she could weave a rag rug; and she trusted me to show her what to do. Weaving was a success because Jamie listened well, and followed my instructions. After she left, I wove the warp thread header, cut the rug from the loom, and tied the knots, leaving fringe. Now Jamie has her own little handwoven rag rug!

First rag rug by a seven-year-old weaver. Glimakra Ideal floor loom.

Warp ends are secured with overhand knots. The fringe adds a playful touch to Jamie’s first rag rug.

Trust in God is a bold thing; it is confidence in God through all of life’s challenges. Beware of anything that tempts you to question your trust in God. He comes beside us and faithfully guides as we walk through life. God is someone we can trust. When we listen well and follow instructions, he weaves something good through our hands.

May you listen well.

Trusting,
Karen

2 Comments

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One Mini Rag Rug

I am calling this miniature rag rug experiment a success! Oh what fun to play with colorful fabric to make rosepath designs in rag rugs. This sample size is great for trying out various designs and color combinations. Pure delight for a rag rug weaver like me!

Mini rag rug on the loom with rosepath design.

Mini rag rug on the loom with rosepath design.

I am cutting this first “rug” off. After finishing the ends and hemming the little rug, I will see if adjustments are needed before weaving the rest of the warp. It’s the details I’m interested in–sett, weft density, finished dimensions, selvedges, design, balance of color, size of hem. All of these assessments affect my plans for the remaining warp. I am excited about weaving more of these mini rugs! I smile to think of it.

Small rosepath rag rug sample.

Warp is tied on and ready for weaving the next small rag rug.

Mini rosepath rag rug with favorite coffee mug. Karen Isenhower

Favorite artisan coffee mug is right at home on the cute little rug. Finished rag rug measures 6 x 10 1/2″ / 15 x 26.5cm.

The Lord is intricately involved in the lives of those who belong to Him. He delights in details that require His guidance. It is as if the Lord is holding my hand, especially when I need guidance to navigate life’s challenges. The Lord delights in helping us. After all, what He is making is much more exciting than anything found on our looms.

May you find delightful details in the work of your hands.

Happy weaving,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Fran says:

    Never thought of sampling rugs. Good idea! Patterns and colours for rosepath; going to do that! Thanks.

  • linda says:

    Watch out!! Doll house buffs will be calling for rugs. It’s so cute; can’t wait to see the finished large one, and just imagine a couple sewn together, as a carpet. LP&J, lindalinda

  • Rose says:

    How many epi do you do?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rose,

      I’m using a metric reed on this one. It’s a 30/10 reed, so 3 epc. If I use a reed measured in inches, for rag rugs I use an 8-dent for 8 epi. I like the metric reed because it’s a slightly denser sett, but the 8-dent works just fine, too.

      Thanks for asking,
      Karen

  • Debbie Moyes says:

    Very nice! I’ve never done anything but plain weave for rag rugs and runners. And I do delight in buying funny and fun fabrics! I wait for them to go on sale at a place like Joann’s and get a big stack and the cutting lady wonders what on earth I am making with all the kooky prints.

  • Jenice says:

    “The Lord delights in helping us.” Sigh. I needed to be reminded of that, Karen. Thank you!

    And I love how the rag rug turned out. 🙂

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