How Long Did it Take You to Weave That?

It’s the question we expect to hear. “How long did it take you to weave that?” “…Well, hours and hours, basically.” After almost three hours of threading, I am nearly to the halfway point. How can I convey all the necessary work of dressing the loom? Or, the time it takes to practice a new skill at the loom? Or, the finishing work of twisting fringe, hand hemming, or cutting and sewing?

Threading ten shafts.

Threading ten shafts. The two newest shafts are pale compared to the others. They haven’t yet developed the golden hue of the wood around them.

With any hand-crafted article, there is more than meets the eye. Why do we want to know how long it took to make it? Are we trying to measure value, or understand the maker’s process? Or, is it simply a statement of incredulity about something we didn’t know was possible?

Threading ten shafts--in silence.

For this threading, I sit in silence. No music, no podcasts, no wandering thoughts. I’m easily thrown off by distractions, especially when threading ten shafts.

Threading linen on ten shafts.

Half of the 16/2 linen warp is threaded.

We have a Maker. He fashioned our physical selves; we see that. He also made us with heart and soul. He starts the weaving process before we are born, and takes as long as he needs for the finishing. The Lord, our Maker, includes the necessary development of our character, and the intricacy of our personality, and our dreams and hopes. We are more than meets the eye. How long does it take to make a person? A lifetime.

May you enjoy the process.

Love,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Beth says:

    This is an often-asked question. When someone want to commission, I include descriptions of all steps with estimated time spent so they better understand. I admire your ability to thread in a quiet environment as I seem to need background noise.

    The older I get, the more I understand your comment about taking a lifetime to make a human. We are constantly changing; a forever work-in-progress.

    Can’t wait to see what you’ll be making with the linen!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I think it’s the question I hear most often. I’ve never thought of writing a description of the steps and estimated times for customers. That’s a great idea.

      I need quiet if I have to count more than 4 because I’m very distractible. Haha. I started out trying to listen to a podcast and had to redo the first 20 threads.

      Yes, a forever work-in-progress!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Julia says:

    A textile artist I met one time answered the question this way: “This piece took my entire life. Everything in my life that came before this piece contributed to its creation.”

  • Cat Wycliff says:

    Julia’s comment is a version of the famous saying by Picasso when someone was incredulous about the going price of his art work. Rings so true!
    As a beginning weaver (only 2 years), I struggle mightily with warping. I always seem to have tangled threads. I am careful. I thread heddles with no music, no distractions. Just silence. I have clipped heddles, marked them with colorful counting stitch loops, used painter’s blue masking tape–all in an effort to get it right. Sadly, it never is. I always end up with floaters.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cat, I’ve read Picasso’s quote before. ‘Tis a common thought among makers and artists.

      The learning journey can be steep at times, but it does get easier the more you practice. If you thread texsolv heddles you might find this video helpful that I made a couple years ago, if you haven’t already seen it. link – Threading Heddles

      Happy persistent weaving!
      Karen

Leave a Reply


Tighter-than-Tight Warp

This Glimåkra Ideal is a super sturdy little loom. I call it the “Baby Loom,” but it’s not a baby in strength. She can handle anything I put on her. The warp is so tight on this rag rug that I have to release the front ratchet and loosen the warp a bit before I can even budge the ratchet on the back beam to release it.

Rag rug reaches the cloth beam.

Spaced rep rag rug reaches the cloth beam.

I like having a super-tight warp for rag rugs. It means I can get firm selvedges. And, I can put the momentum of the hanging beater to its best advantage, thoroughly packing in the weft. Best of all, I know this tight warp gives me a foundation for good strong rugs.

Tight selvedges on this rag rug.

Tight warp makes it possible to keep tight selvedges. At the selvedge, fabric strip is turned twice, and then pulled to snugly wrap around the outer warp ends.

Spaced rep rag rugs. Designing on the loom is fun!

Designing on the loom is fun with the thick (fabric) and thin (warp thread) wefts. I make notes on paper so I can repeat the designs across the length of the rug.

I want my trust in the Lord to be so tight that nothing can move it out of place. To be that certain, that focused. The Lord looks for people who trust him completely. He searches high and low for those whose hearts are completely his. He gives them his strong support—unwavering strength of support. Ratchet up the warp. We can trust the Grand Weaver and his loom.

May your warp be tighter than tight.

Happy weaving,
Karen

4 Comments

Leave a Reply


Simply Weave Back and Forth

Am I seeing the hint of a ‘cello? No complicated pattern this time, just a relaxed back and forth, meet and separate, with yarn butterflies. The only planned pattern is a curved outline at the start and end of this section, with some simple hatching in between.

Linen tapestry/inlay sampler.

Section seven of the linen tapestry/inlay sampler. Hatching is used to visually blend the two color bundles.

All-linen tapestry/inlay sampler.

Curved line is inked on the warp as an outline to follow for the red and gold section.

The relaxed back-and-forth questions and ponderings that we all have are an indication that we want to know the truth. Search to find answers. The Lord is always calling us to seek him, to search him out, to find out what he’s about. Seeking the Lord means having a heart that wants and yearns to know God and his ways. Having questions is a part of what it means to be human. Peace comes, not in finding all the answers, but in finding the one who holds the answers. He knows what he is weaving.

May you ask good questions.

All the best,
Karen

2 Comments

Leave a Reply


Now I Am Weaving Bluebonnets!

Bluebonnets! Another Texas hill country subject for a transparency. I am weaving a simplified imitation of this celebrated wildflower. It starts with a photograph I took of bluebonnets in our hill country backyard this spring.

Texas hill country bluebonnets

Cropped and enlarged photograph of our Texas hill country backyard bluebonnets.

After enlarging the photo to poster size, I outlined the basic shapes that I wanted to include in the transparency. Next, I turned the poster over and transferred the outlines to the back. I traced the lines onto a piece of buckram to use for the cartoon. Everything is ready (the warp has already been tied back on). Let’s get started!

Selecting Mora wool colors for a woven transparency.

Planning colors for the bluebonnet transparency. Photo on the iPad is used for reference in selecting Mora wool colors.

Cartoon for a new transparency weaving.

Pattern is traced onto a piece of buckram to use as the cartoon. Dashed line down the center of the cartoon will be lined up with the center warp end when the cartoon is pinned to the back of the weaving.

Starting a woven transparency. Texas bluebonnets!

Nineteen bundles of Mora wool colors are introduced on the first row of pattern weaving. About three hours of weaving is pictured. After the intricate leaves at the bottom of the picture, it will be smooth sailing! 🙂

We have been given a true picture of love. God shows it to us in Jesus Christ. Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. With child-like fascination, I want to imitate the heart of that kind of love. To walk in love like Christ means to give yourself away for the sake of others. Linen and wool threads are not sufficient to show the living beauty of a bluebonnet. Nor are my efforts to love going to be perfect. But by keeping the picture in front of me as I weave, I hope to convey the delight of springtime Texas bluebonnets. And present a transparent picture of love that’s out of this world.

May you imitate only the best.

With love,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Julia Weldon says:

    Beautiful! Your enlarged photo looks like a watercolor. It and your weaving remind me of the paint by numbers we did as kids – a much more grownup version.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia,

      I often think of transparency weaving as paint-by-number with yarn. The bluebonnets in nature are better than anything I could think up or draw.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Beth says:

    You do have the patience of a saint. This is going to be beautiful!

  • Maria says:

    I am intrigued- I have done a bit of tapestry but know nothing about transparencies. It is quite a process! Your patience and focus is amazing. Can’t wait to see this grow!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maria, This feels a lot like tapestry to me. For some reason, though, this seems less complicated. I’d like to play around with this technique and maybe do something that is more like tapestry, but with the plain weave pick in between each pattern row. I have a friend who has done some of that, and it is lovely!

      I’m excited to see this grow, too.

      Karen

  • Martha says:

    Bluebonnets, oh how lovely!

  • maggie says:

    how do you keep the cartoon in place during the weaving process?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, The cartoon is pinned under the weaving with three flat-head straight pins. Every few inches, before I advance the warp, I move the pins forward while checking to make sure the center line on the cartoon lines up with the center warp end. Good question!

      Thanks for asking,
      Karen

Leave a Reply


Woven Transparency Cactus Revealed!

It started with a prickly pear cactus in the front yard of our Texas hill country place, and then a photograph. Now, I have a woven representation of this interesting specimen of our Texas landscape! I am hoping that Steve will whittle a rustic rod from which this cactus banner will hang in our home.

Finishing woven transparency of a cactus.

Weaving the casing for the top of the transparency. Linen warp and weft make an appealing mesh that holds and surrounds the pictorial weaving.

Woven transparency of a prickly pear cactus. Just off the loom!

After cutting off, the complete front side of the transparency is seen for the first time.

Eager to hang this transparency, I didn’t want to waste any time. I finished the ends of the piece with a zigzag stitch on my sewing machine. And I sewed casings at the top and bottom. Now, in full view, a little back lighting reveals the complete picture of the woven threads.

Woven transparency. Prickly Pear Cactus. Karen Isenhower

Cactus spines in the woven image seem to reach outward and almost appear three-dimensional.

Detail view of woven transparency cactus.

Detail view of some of the shading in the cactus.

We weave thoughts and ideas in our heart. And when we speak, we bring those thoughts out into the open. Words reveal the treasures of the heart. When we speak words of value, we bring our choicest treasures out in the open. And what a welcome picture that is.

May your words be received as treasures.

Love,
Karen

18 Comments

  • Barbara Crockett says:

    Wow! Looking back at your June 30 post of the photo and how you started this project is fun. The details in the shading create an amazing effect. Great job!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barbara, I’m thinking about framing the cactus photograph to hang near the transparency. The light plays off the yarn and gives it a feel of realism that surprises even me.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Deborah Pudliner says:

    Thank you Karen! I am not a weaver, but my daughter is. Each time I read your blog I have been blessed not only in seeing what you are weaving/teaching/learning, but the words you use to share bring it all to life and encourage not only the weavers but those who are blessed in seeing the work of the weaver unfold. May He bless you, encourage you and fill you with wisdom and much joy to continue the work He has to do in you and through you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Deborah, Thank you for sharing the treasures of your heart with me! Your words have ministered to me today more than you know.

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Betsy G says:

    Karen
    Well done! The cactus is so realistic with your use of shading. I want to keep clear of those prickers.

  • Maria says:

    Karen- it is absolutely fantastic. I have never done a transparency but I now would love to try . What an inspiration! The stickers on the cactus are so realistic.
    Just fabulous!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maria, I hope you do try it! This project has been great fun. Transparency weaving is quickly becoming one of my very favorite things to do. It makes me happy that you like the finished piece. That means a lot!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Cindie says:

    Your piece turned out incredible.

  • Beautiful! Weaving transparencies is rather fun! Did you use something other than wool for the spines? Just curious, because sometimes when I weave white wool into a transparency it doesn’t show up very well. One other question – what brand and type of wool did you use for the greens?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, I have to agree – weaving transparencies is fun indeed!

      I did use wool for the cactus spines. All of the wool in this piece is 20/2 Mora. I used 4 strands of yarn in each bundle, which gave me a lot of opportunity to blend colors. Most of the white is white and off-white blended together. By blending 4 strands together, it greatly multiplied my palette of greens. As much as possible, I tried to combine colors that are close in value, so they would really blend together well.

      Thanks for sharing your transparencies with me. Your work has been a huge inspiration!
      Karen

  • D'Anne says:

    The spines definitely look 3D! Great job!! Hope you will bring it to WOW sometime so we can see it in person.

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Thank you for showing us the finished piece. It is lovely! I find your whole process of transparency weaving to be fascinating.

  • Emily says:

    Hi, I came across this post while searching for information about using linen weft for tapestry. I had never heard of transparency weaving before and it has spurred a huge interest for me! I bought a book– I forget the author but I believe it’s the only one in English– and have been learning a ton. I can’t wait to try this out. I weave on a Mirrix, and don’t have a floor loom, but I am fairly confident I can make that work. It will be strange for me not to really pack my weft, and to put two wefts in the same shed. Can’t wait!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Emily, How exciting! The book I’m familiar with is “Sheer Delight: Handwoven Transparencies,” by Doramay Keasbey. It’s an excellent book, and very inspiring.

      I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t weave a transparency on your Mirrix loom. I hope you enjoy this type of weaving as much as I do!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

Leave a Reply