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! šŸ™‚

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

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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

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Finer Weft for a Stronger Cord

I need a strong cord for a specific use. It needs to look nice, without drawing attention to itself. This cord will connect three small pieces of wood. I will reveal how they will beĀ used afterĀ I finish weaving the cord.

Three wooden pieces for a special purpose...

Three wooden pieces to be connected for a purpose. What are they for? You are welcome to put your guess in the comments…

I chose 12/6 rug warp for the project, to make this a durable cord. With a band this narrow, the 12/6 cotton is too bulky for weft. I could not pull the selvedges tight. I need a finer weft that will draw the warp ends together and disappear at the selvedges. Black 16/1 linen works beautifully!

New woven narrow band. Need to change the weft.

Using 12/6 cotton rug warp for the weft proved to be unworkable for this narrow band. Light shows through the gaps at the selvedges.

Linen weft for this narrow band.

Black linen weft matches the black selvedge threads. The 16/1 linen enables tight and even selvedges for this 5/16″ (8 mm) band.

A change of heart changes everything. The condition of our heart is revealed in the way we behave toward others. Our thoughts and actions are a matter of the heart. To live in a manner that is unselfish, generous, kind, and content, we must do more than line up the right outward appearances. We must start with humility. Having the perfect warp means nothing if the weft interferes with a beautiful outcome. Humility, like the linen weft, is a postureĀ of the heart that pulls everything else together.

May your heart be beautiful.

Warmly,
Karen

2 Comments

  • I can’t guess what the wooden pieces are for. They remind me of several times when I purchased a used loom from someone, and there were several wooden or metal pieces that came with it that neither they nor I knew what they were for. I am glad you know what these are for, and I am looking forward to finding out!

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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 theĀ towel kits back in my shop! The River Stripe Towel Set, Pre-Wound Warp and Instructional Kit, for $150 per kit,Ā 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. šŸ™‚

      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. šŸ™‚

      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

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Weave Heirloom Fabric

Fine threads. This warp may be the finest yet for me–24/2 cotton. 896 ends are lined up in a row. And, oh, they are soft. This is another fascinating experience for someone who enjoys seeing threads do remarkable things.

Lease sticks keep warp ends in order.

Lease sticks keep the ends in order.

Ordered threads on the back tie-on bar.

Ordered threads on the back tie-on bar.

The weft for this will be fine, too–20/1 linen. Linen is strong thread in the right conditions. Can you imagine the fabric that will come from these fine cotton and linen threads?! Something lovely will be produced from many hours of winding the warp, dressing the loom, and weaving. When I throw the shuttle back and forth, heirloom-quality fabric will appear! Soft like cotton, and strong like linen.

Beaming eight-meter warp.

Beaming eight meters of warp.

Cotton warp ends.

Brown paper is on the warp beam after running out of warping slats. Warp ends have been counted and loosely tied into threading groups.

We often define love by what someone says, knows, or does. I love you. I know how you feel. I will help you. It is possible, though, to say, know, and do nice things, but not have love. At its core, love is unselfishness and humility. Pure love comes from a pure heart. A pure heart that is unselfish and humble extends love as fluently as a weaver’s shuttle going back and forth. An honorable legacy is woven, soft and strong, through a heart of love.

May you weave a legacy of love.

Love,
Karen

~UPDATE~ Towel Kits ~

I have been delighted by theĀ response forĀ theĀ towel kits, and have enjoyed putting the kitsĀ together! The River Stripe Towel Set, Pre-Wound Warp and Instructional Kit, for $150 per kit,Ā isĀ listed in the Warped for Good Etsy ShopĀ until they are sold out. This is the final release of this kit. There are a few left.

(I may be persuaded to do another limited run of a kit in the future.)

Thank you!
Your weaving friend

4 Comments

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