Tools Day: Measured Weaving

How far will you travel? How will you know when you have arrived? Do you wish you could know when you are halfway there? Applied to weaving, I like to have the answers to these questions before I begin the “journey.” A pre-measured tape gives me consistency, especially important for multiple pieces in a set. The tape also acts as my “trip odometer.” I can see how far I’ve gone, and exactly how much is left to weave. It satisfies my insatiable need to know how close I am to the end. Are you like that, too?

How to Make and Use a Pre-Measured Tape

Supplies

  • Roll of 3/4″ or wider twill tape (or any cloth tape or ribbon that does not stretch, and that pins easily)
  • Tape measure with inches and/or centimeters
  • Fine tip permanent marker
  • Flat head pins
  1. Use the permanent marker to place markings on the twill tape, as measured with the tape measure. Mark the start line 1/2″ from the end of the twill tape, so that the tape can be pinned in front of the mark.
  2. After drawing a line for the starting point and ending point, draw a line at the midway point, labeled MID.
  3. Include dotted lines for hem measurements, if applicable. Write the hem measurement on the twill tape; i.,e., 3/4″ or 2 cm.
  4. Write the weaving length measurement on the twill tape. Include calculation for takeup, if desired; i.,e., 25″ + 3″.
  5. Write the project or item description on the twill tape, if desired, for ease of repeat use; i.e., handtowel.
  6. Add other lines or marks, as needed, for borders, placement of weft colors, or other design elements.
  7. 1/2″ after the final marking, cut pre-measured twill tape from the roll of tape.

With the warp under tension, pin the pre-measured twill tape near the right or left selvedge with two flat-head pins. Match the start line of the tape with the beginning of the weaving.
Before each advancement of the warp, move the pin closest to the breast beam to a point near the fell line. In this way, have the pins leapfrog each other, moving only one pin each time. Always keep the warp under tension when moving the pins.

Red cutting lines between black and white towels.

Beginning hem, after red cutting lines between towels.

Ending hem is followed by two red picks that will become the cutting line between towels.

Ending hem is followed by two red picks that will become the cutting line between towels.

When the "MID" point hits right where it should!

When the “MID” point hits right where it should! Mid point marking helps to confirm that the halvdräll pattern is centered and balanced in its length.

Pre-measured twill tape marks weft color placement on linen scarves.

Weft color placement is marked on the twill tape for these linen lace scarves.

Tricks with pre-measured tape for weaving.

Five centimeters, marked at the end of the twill tape, is a handy reference for spacing the weft pattern floats in these plattväv towels.

Alpaca scarf in an interesting 8-shaft twill.

I love seeing the “MID” point on a long piece, such as this 8-shaft twill alpaca scarf.

Pre-measured twill tape helps set the pace for the weaving project.

Breaking up the length into quarters helps to set a pace for the weaving project. This baby wrap was on a time crunch, so it was helpful to know when I was getting close to the end.

May you accurately measure your ways.

Truly yours,
Karen

11 Comments

  • Cate Kauffman says:

    Love this idea for repeatable, standard sized projects like towels and scarves. Labeling it towels (4) or some such, makes so much sense. Thanks!

  • Angela says:

    Excellent, thanks for sharing.

  • Karen says:

    Your comments are so useful. I use a tape, but don’t mark it as you do and I don’t leapfrog pins. Such good ideas……I think a trip out to the fabric store is in order! Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, I’m glad you find this useful! I look for sales. When the roles of ribbon are 50% off at Hobby Lobby, I buy several rolls of twill tape!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nanette says:

    Many thanks for all the detail. I will save all this for a warp that I’ve really planned out…wish that described MORE of mine! Nanette

  • Debbie Moyes says:

    Thanks for the details on how you use the tape. I used it on my handtowels. (I’m going to Vavstuga in June!) I am interesetd that you measure under tension. I measure when the warp is loose. Do you add length to your project because it is under tension?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Debbie, I hope you enjoy your Vavstuga experience as much as I did! You will learn a treasure trove of new things.

      Measuring under tension may be the most consistent way of measuring, and is considered the standard way to measure. For Handwoven magazine, for instance, their projects give the “Woven length (measured under tension on the loom).” I do add a % amount to the length to account for take-up and shrinkage.

      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

  • Jane Smith says:

    A very interesting post on measuring your weaving, and one that has the merit of being well photographed and detailed. I shall definitely print this out and keep it in my weaving file.

    Thank you!

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Quiet Friday: Halvdräll

Halvdräll is one of those Swedish weaves that takes your breath away. How can I describe the exquisite simplicity and stunning splendor of this fascinating cloth? With halvdräll, every moment at the loom is pure joy. I keep thinking, I get to weave this! And every weaver knows no comparison to the delight of pulling beautiful just-woven fabric off the cloth beam.

Enjoy the journey with me now as I reflect on the halvdräll fabric from beginning to end.

Choke tie serves as a counting thread as the cottolin warp is wound.

Choke tie serves as a counting thread as the cottolin warp is wound.

Red linen to be used as pattern weft on white cottolin warp.

Red linen is anticipating a starring role as pattern weft.

Sampling various linen color options for halvdräll table squares.

Sampling various color options for the pattern weft. Red may be one star among several.

Halvdräll table squares on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Second table square has blue and green for block I and red for block II. The back of the first table square, with all red pattern weft, is seen between the breast beam and the knee beam.

Halvdräll table squares on the loom. Elegant neutral tones.

Neutral tones with subtle elegance.

Weaving in the afternoon sunlight.

Light play dances on the colorful woven fabric.

Halvdräll table squares, with linen pattern weft, just off the loom!

Celebration time! When the cloth is cut from the loom the weaver is able to see a complete view of the woven fabric for the first time. Woo hoo!

Folding edge under for hemming. Handwoven table squares.

Wet finished and pressed. Ready for hemming.

How to do a blind hem. Very simple for handwovens.

Blind hem, with sewing needle and thread. Needle goes under one warp end, and is inserted through folded edge of hem for 1/4 inch. Continued stitching across the hem is virtually invisible when complete.

Label added.

Label added.

Hemmed, pressed, and ready to make a statement!

Hemmed, pressed, and ready to dress up a table.

Handwoven halvdräll table square. Karen Isenhower

May you find delight in your journey.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

13 Comments

  • Betsy says:

    Karen
    Thanks for sharing the whole process. I can’t decide which one is my favorite!
    Betsy

    • Karen says:

      Betsy, It was hard for me to decide on a favorite, too! I am keeping one, and the other three are going as gifts and/or Etsy items. (I am keeping the one that goes the best with my china — The one with red and blue, and a little bit of green.)

      Karen

  • Suzie C. says:

    It’s interesting to me how we all have different tastes. As a beginner, I can appreciate your woven pieces because I’m not at that level.
    However, for me, the colors above just aren’t my taste, but MOST of your work I simply adore! I DO love red and white, or blue and white, but only on certain things. Now, I DO love the neutral tones above, but as I keep studying it, I think it’s the pattern that I’m not especially attracted to.
    Do you find that true among weavers, that everyone prefers certain patterns over others, and seem to be drawn to certain colors/color combos than others?
    When I look through weaving magazines, there are some things that I’m instantly drawn to because of the colors or patterns, even if it’s an item I wouldn’t want to weave. I worked as an artist/designer before my current profession, and as I traveled around the country working with other artists, I found it fascinating that we all had such a variety of tastes. But then again, it’s so important that we’re not all the same, or else we wouldn’t have the variety we do!
    Unrelated to that, where do you get your labels? I’d love to order some as I hope my next project will be good enough to give to some family members. It would be great to put that label on so they realize it truly was handmade!
    Oh, and also unrelated to the color/pattern comment, I find it fascinating how a project ‘changes’ after it’s wet-finished. I’ve only done a few projects, and they were so simple that I didn’t see too much of a transformation. I’m anxious to see how my current project will look when off the loom and wet finished, as it’s a little more complicated than what I’ve done so far!
    Thank you for your blog–you are inspiring with every post!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Suzie,

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! I love variety, so I think it would be a shame if everyone liked all the same things. 🙂 I do think that over time I grow to enjoy some things more, like a acquired taste in music, or culinary arts. The more I study something, the easier it is for me to know why I like one thing and not another. As a weaver, it’s an important part of the process because you learn what you want to spend your time on; and, conversely, where you’re happy for the experience, but don’t care to do more of it.

      I get my labels from Heirloom Woven Labels. Your family members will appreciate that label that shows them you really did weave it!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kris Stark says:

    Stunning! Thank you for showing the entire process in one blog! I so enjoy all your blogs. God Bless, Kris

  • linda says:

    Karen: color choice is in the mind of the weaver. The artist sees in their mind the finished product and where it will go in their life. My pallet is not as open and inventive as yours, but I’m not you. ALL your pieces have been perfect as to color, pattern, and usage. JUST RIGHT. Swedish weaving has strong colors, perhaps because the natural background is so white. Have you ever done a krogbrog rug ? now there’s a colorful piece of weaving on 3 shafts. So many ideas so little time. Karen I love your weaving. LP&J,linda

    ps going to vermont to work on a burnt orange runner in colonial overshot. weft is bouclet on 20/2 warp. It’s old ski patrol colors and will go on my dining table. it’s also the new color in my house at home. love ya!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda,

      The artist sees in their mind the finished product and where it will go in their life.

      What a wonderful way to express it! So true.

      I do have a wide range in my personal color palette, and I am constantly trying to push myself to incorporate colors that wouldn’t be my “first pick.” I like to see if I can make them work — I love that challenge. And sometimes they don’t work that well, but many times I am pleasantly surprised at the results. And, you really don’t know how well the colors will play with each other until all the final finishing is finished. 🙂

      I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your vote of confidence!

      I have not done a krogbrog rug… yet. I will do one at some point. Yes, they are beautifully laden with color.

      Your colonial overshot runner sounds wonderful! Send me a picture when you have it finished. I’d love to see it!

      Love,
      Karen

  • Janie Payne says:

    They are all so beautiful! I wouldn’t want to eat on them, spills, etc!!!!

    • Janie Payne says:

      Oh I forgot, where do you buy your red linen? I tried to read the label, but was unable to get a clear view. Thank you, Janie

    • Karen says:

      Janie, Thank you! I know the feeling about not wanting handwoven specialty items to get messed up! But I plan to use mine where I can see it and enjoy it. I can always wash it! 🙂

      The linen is 16/1 line linen by Bockens, color #517. I purchased mine from GlimakraUSA. Other suppliers that carry Bockens are Vavstuga and Lone Star Loom Room.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Gretchen says:

    So beautiful as always Karen… I would love to see your draft for these at our next WOW meeting! I have technical questions! Happy Weaving… See you soon.

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Weaving Experience

It is possible to ruin hours and hours of handweaving efforts with a careless or ignorant misstep after the cloth is cut from the loom. Wet finishing intimidates me for that reason. Besides my own limited experience, I rely on instructions from advanced weavers, and any other research I can find. In the end, I take the plunge and hope for the best. If the worst happens, I take notes and chalk it up as a learning experience.

Halvdräll table squares just off the Glimakra Standard loom.

Just off the loom, four halvdräll cottolin and linen table squares await measuring for record keeping.

Linen pattern weft is characteristically wiry before wet finishing.

Linen pattern weft is characteristically wiry before wet finishing. Cottolin warp and background weft is somewhat stiff before it gets washed.

Halvdräll table squares with linen pattern weft. Karen Isenhower

Pieces are separated at the cutting lines, and cut ends of the cloth are secured with the serger. Then the cloth is placed in the top-loading washing machine, gentle cycle, with Eucalan delicate wash, with warm wash and cold rinse settings, adding several Color Catchers, and omitting the spin cycle. After rolling the wet pieces in clean towels to remove moisture, they are laid flat to dry. While still damp, they are pressed with a hot iron on the back side. And the linen comes out showing its true beauty!

Halvdräll table squares with linen pattern weft.

Waiting to be hemmed.

Wisdom is gained by those who pursue it. What is wisdom? Wisdom is truth being applied to real life situations. The wise become wiser still by listening with the intent to hear the meaning. Listening and learning. And then wisdom leads you to take action, often irreversible, because you believe the outcome will be right and good. How delightful when the wet-finished fabric exceeds your highest hopes!

May you become wiser than you are today.

In pursuit,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Betsy says:

    Really nice! I love halvdrall. I am admiring your selvedges. Do you always use a temple? I’ve only used a Toika temple and I always feel like I’m damaging the fibers unless I’m weaving a rug.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy,

      I love halvdräll, too! I find it immensely enjoyable to weave, and the results are satisfying.

      I am in the habit of using a temple on nearly everything. My Toika temples are reserved for rug weaving only. The metal temples are too heavy, and the teeth too coarse for fine materials, in my opinion. I much prefer the wooden temples by Glimakra, even for rag rug weaving.

      It seems like using a temple, and moving it frequently, does help with getting consistent selvedges. Wet finishing also helps. 🙂 I’m still trying to get “perfect” selvedges, so I thank you for your comment. I imagine yours are better than you think yourself, as well.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Anonymous says:

    Happy Weavers: Using or not using temples. perfect selvedges are really hard to accomplish with or without the temple. When linen is added to the process the perfect factor is thrown to the wind. Linen is notoriously hard to work with, and selvedges almost always have a “kink”, a twist, a slight pull in ,or a loop. Karen’s edges are BEAUTIFUL!. I personally do not use a temple and find myself pulling out at least once or twice until I get the magic writhem down (pedal, shuttle,pull edge, beat). SO Karen has inspired me to at least try a temple.I guess even OLD weavers can change. LP&J, linda

  • linda says:

    You all probably know this, but if one side of your weaving is less perfect than the other side, or you’re having trouble controlling edges on one side the solution, after all the usual tricks are tried, is to scoot your butt slightly to the troubled side. VOILA! edge gets much better and easier to control. L, lindaP&J

  • Kerry Fagan says:

    Could you clarify what is a ‘serger’, please?

    • Karen says:

      Kerry, Thank you for asking. A serger is an overlocking sewing machine the cuts the edge of the fabric as it sews an overlock stitch at the edge. You can accomplish nearly the same thing with a zig-zag stitch on a regular sewing machine. A zig-zag stitch may stretch the edge a little more than an overlocked stitch, but usually it works just fine.

      Karen

  • Leigh says:

    I really shouldn’t look at Google on my phone when I first wake up. Reading this title, having only recently opened my eyes, I had a horrible vision of your black and white towels with the red accent having bled red all over them.
    So glad that was not the case! And the Halvdral squares are beautiful!

    • Karen says:

      Leigh, Lucky for me that didn’t happen! oh wait… I haven’t washed the black and white towels with the red accent yet. They are still on the loom. Fortunately, I use only Bockens cottolin and cotton threads, and I have never had any problems with colors bleeding or fading. Still… when I put them in the machine I will hold my breath, and throw in several Color Catchers.

      I did have some concern about washing the red linen in the halvdräll squares, because I haven’t used that red before on a white warp. I did have some red linen lint to clean off the finished pieces, but fortunately, no bleeding or color transfer!

      Thanks for taking time to tell me what you thought! It gave me a good chuckle.
      Karen

  • […] may be intimidated at the thought of wet finishing other items (as I talked about in Weaving Experience), but not towels. Especially cottolin handtowels like these. They are made for a lifetime of […]

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Happy Weaving New Year!

January 1st is more than just another day, isn’t it? It’s a time to review the past year and bring new dreams into the year ahead. This pivot point calls for gratitude. I am especially grateful for friends like you who walk with me on this weaving journey!

Thick and thin cottolin towels on this warp. One towel to go!

Thick and thin cottolin towels on this warp. One towel to go!

The end is near! The end of the warp, that is. Halvdräll on the loom.

The end is near! The end of the warp, that is. Almost ready for the final border of the halvdräll table square. There will be just enough warp left for a short sample piece.

First up in the new year I have thick and thin towels to finish, and the halvdräll is oh so close to the end of the warp (didn’t quite make it for Christmas). And one little girl is off the small tapestry loom, waiting for final finishing, mounting, and framing.

Little girl small tapestry.

Little girl small tapestry. After finishing the ends, the piece will be mounted on linen-covered foam board and placed in a frame.

Thank you for walking with me through 2015!

May you bring big dreams into the new year!

Joyful New Year,
Karen

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Three Out of Four

I mark “mid” on my measuring ribbon. The ribbon is held in place on the fabric with two flat-head pins that I leap-frog up the ribbon as the warp advances. Imagine my surprise when the mid mark touched the exact halfway point of the table square being woven! The linen halvdräll pattern has a specific number of repeats for each of two blocks, with the halfway point of the table square at the center of the middle block II. How did I get that kind of precision for three of the four table squares on this warp? Honestly, it surprised me each time. I think it is the loom. Maybe I am finally learning to weave without interfering with the streamline functioning of this Swedish loom. (To see the one table square that didn’t make the mid-mark precision, look carefully at the first photo in Embedded with Elegance.)

Precisely hitting the midway mark!

Center of the block II pattern hits the mid mark with precision.

Middle of the table square hits the mark!

Second time to hit the mid mark on the dot!

Midway exactly! Halvdräll with linen pattern threads.

Halfway on the measuring ribbon. The border and hem are marked at the end of the ribbon.

A promise fulfilled is like a treasure unearthed. You hope for it, and might even expect it; but it’s a joyful thing when you experience it. We wait for a promise like we wait to see the “mid” mark on the ribbon. The Lord’s promise is a vast treasure. It’s a treasure worth watching for.

May you unearth splendid treasures in the new year.

Happy year end,
Karen

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