When You Misread the Threading Draft

What if you finish tying up the loom, eight shafts and eight treadles, having beamed, threaded, and sleyed 2,064 ends, and the first thing you see when you step on the treadles is… that you misunderstood the threading draft? Do you undo everything and re-thread? Not likely, if it took you eleven-and-a-half hours to do the threading in the first place. I am taking a deep breath. Time to walk away and think. Maybe I can adjust the tie-up, or maybe I can use it as is—a serendipitous design. Should I laugh or cry? My idea to serve my loved ones with handwoven gifts (See Weaving a Gift) is getting off to a rough start.

Double weave throw. Warp is tied on.

Warp is tied on. Ready to tie up the treadles.

Tie-up completed for eight shafts and eight treadles.

Lamms are connected. Treadle cords are positioned. Treadles are tied up. Eight shafts and eight treadles.

Double weave throw.

This view should show solid dark plum all the way across.

Double weave throw on the loom.

This view should show stripes of solid colors, not two-color stripes, with solid bands of dark plum in between.

Serve. I want to offer my best, especially when I’m making a gift for someone dear to me. It helps to look beyond the person, though, and realize my true service is to the Lord. Heart, soul, mind, and hands. I bring my misunderstandings and missteps of the heart to my Master Weaver, who has taken it on himself to make things right. And I’m reminded that as I serve someone with my weaving hands, the true gift is love. This double weave throw will be a reminder of that.

May you recover from your mistakes.

Humbly,
Karen

UPDATE: I have had a chance to put the draft on Fiberworks weaving software and work with it to adjust the tie-up. I think I found a solution. Stay tuned!

6 Comments

  • Joann says:

    Karen
    Thank you for your words of encouragement on weaving and on life. It is true about the mis-steps we make. It is also true how Jesus is always willing to help us through these times.
    Joann

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,
    My son has gifts in the kitchen second to none. His food on the buffet always wows and amaze. The ONE cake we all remember and recount with much love is the tender, chocolate layer cake that fell apart in the refrigerator before it was served. He scraped the pieces into a large mixing bowl and served it in a bowl with ice cream. It was not his plan for the cake, but it was more memorable than had it been served exactly as he planned it.
    God amazes me by how things do not always turn out exactly as planned. Often they turn out better after the dust (or chocolate) clears.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, So true! When I looked at the mis-threaded version on my software, it did look interesting. Even more so, the back side of the fabric is very pretty. I haven’t quite decided whether to correct my error by changing the tie-up, or not. Or maybe settle with a version that is a combination of the two.

      Thanks for sharing your story. Our family has a similar fond memory with a cake my mother-in-law made. It became known as “Flop Cake,” and has been intentionally repeated as a favorite.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    Oh Karen, what a blow! But how quickly you are recovering and you didn’t take the scissors to your project showing wonderful restraint. This throw when finished will have good memories and an important story to tell. I’m looking forward to seeing your progress and learning of the changes you make. Onward with prayerful consideration.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, Yes, it is a blow when you are excited about throwing the shuttle, and you get stopped in your tracks. But no, taking scissors to it never crossed my mind. One thing I enjoy about weaving is that there are always solutions! It may not come out as planned, but there is a way around this obstacle. That I know.

      Thank you for your kind and encouraging words!

      All the best,
      Karen

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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

8 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

  • Deborah R Meyer says:

    I am writing a book and one of my characters is a weaver. I know nothing about weaving and would like to know the answer to this question. How long does it tale to make a small throw rug? Just approximately is ok. I just have no clue. Thank you so much.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Deborah, It can take a few hours to dress the loom to get it ready to weave, so it’s more efficient to dress the loom for several rugs at a time. Dressing the loom entails winding the warp threads to measure them, and then step-by-step putting the threads on the loom in order, threading each thread through the eye of a heddle, and then sleying the threads through dents (slots) of the weaving reed. After tying the threads on to the front, and tying up the treadles to connect them to the shafts, the weaver is ready to weave. For a rag rug, the actual weaving time for a small rug might be 3-4 hours. If it’s a weft-faced wool rug, it will take four times as long as that to weave it. After a rug is cut from the loom it still requires finishing, such as tying all the ends into knots and then hemming, or twisting the ends into fringe.

      I hope that gives you a good idea of the time it takes to weave a small rug.

      All the best,
      Karen

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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

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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

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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

12 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

  • Alice Martin says:

    I see you are using Mora wool. Where do you buy yours? How many strands do you use?

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