Weaving through The Big Book

It took me seven years of study, practice, and mistakes to complete this rigorous Swedish weaving curriculum! You have been with me through much of it right here. I’m talking about The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. I made it through the book, sequentially, page by page, warp by warp. 43 warps in all! Remember the blue 12-shaft double-weave blanket I had on the loom in June? That is the final project in the book.

Handwoven double weave blanket. 12 shafts.
Double-weave wool fabric is ready for wet finishing, where it will be transformed into a soft, cozy blanket.

In the short video below, each completed project is presented in order in our Texas hill country home. Watch to the end to see the blue blanket in all its finished glory.

For nitty-gritty details, check out The Big Book of Weaving tab at the top of the page.

I. Secrets to success:

  • mindset of a student
  • determination
  • eyes on the goal
  • no option other than completion

One loom dedicated to the book.


II. Lessons learned:

  • technique
  • processes
  • planning
  • drafting
  • Swedish practices

Any mistake can be remedied.


III. Treasures gained:

  • patience
  • humility
  • endurance
  • focused attention
  • problem solving
  • creative freedom

Confidence.


IV. Prized perspectives:

  • new experiences
  • delight of dressing the loom
  • wonder of cloth-making
  • fresh ideas
  • joy of discovery
  • knowledge and understanding of the loom

Getting lost and absorbed in the whole process of weaving.

V. Favorite project: Old-Fashioned Weaving / Monksbelt (at 4:46 in the video)

Are we determined students of heavenly things? Oh, to know God’s will! Study what’s written, don’t lose heart, eyes on the prize, no option besides completion through Jesus Christ. One life dedicated to know him. Day by day, warp by warp, the Grand Weaver teaches us. We can know God’s will.

May you be a lifelong learner.

Happy Weaving to you,
Karen

38 Comments

  • Susie Redman says:

    Well done. It’s such a great book. I’m picking and choosing from the book – its a great way to learn.

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Your work is so inspiring, Karen. I recall many of these projects, here and in Handwoven. Do you have a personal favorite? One that you’ll perhaps explore even further? Kudos!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, Thank you so much! My personal favorite is the monksbelt piece—the large multicolor runner on the dining room table. And yes, I have monksbelt ideas that I would like to explore. Another one I’d like to play around with and learn more about is the turned rosepath—the long narrow red band. There are so many possibilities!

      Thanks for asking,
      Karen

  • Geri Rickard says:

    What a splendid presentation, Karen! You have accomplished so much, and each one is beautiful! Thanks for sharing, it was fun!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Geri, I’m glad you enjoyed the presentation. It was a lot of fun for me to put together, going back in time remembering all the projects.

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Such a feast for the eyes!

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Wow and Wow! Such an accomplishment! And your lovely home showcases all those projects beautifully. Thanks for making this video and thanks for your encouragement. I’m currently doing the Jane Stafford online guild lessons with a new video lesson and project every five weeks. Sometimes it feels a bit overwhelming but I’m determined to try each one. I’ve already learned so much!
    Thanks again for your encouragement and dedication, both to your weaving and for sharing your weaving and faith with others. It DOES make a big difference to many.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, I know how you feel. Many times I was overwhelmed and even discouraged about completing this mammoth dream. Keep pressing on with your lessons, it WILL be worth it–I promise! And between the hard parts, I really had a lot of fun! So enjoy it, too.

      I really appreciate your encouragement to me. It means more than you know.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Hi, Karen! I remember that you recommended this book to me last July was exploring what loom to purchase for my first multi shaft loom. I ended up purchasing a small table loom, a Louet Erica Loom so decided not to purchase the book since I would not have the capacity to work many of the projects.

    However, I recently purchased a larger loom and now, I believe that I will purchase this book. Thank you for sharing this and tweaking my memory of your recommendation.

    Everything you make is so beautiful! You are a wonderful inspiration to a beginning weaver.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, The Big Book of Weaving has been my tutor. I started with it as a complete beginner. It was written as a curriculum, so it has everything I needed to gain skill and confidence. I hope you find it a great resource for learning.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Karen Simpson says:

    That video is amazing. As I hadn’t found you then, I didn’t know that you were following this book and studying your way through it. What a lovely compilation of work and color. Thank you

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, Only a handful of people knew I was working my way through the book. I have mentioned The Big Book of Weaving here many times, but this is my first time to mention here on the blog that I was going through the book, step by step. I didn’t want too many people to “guess” what project I would do next… 🙂

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Congratulations, Karen! I remember when you started working through The Big Book of Weaving, but I didn’t remember it had been 7 years. What a great learning experience! Did you use all the same yarns as the projects called for?

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, It’s hard to believe it’s been 7 years, isn’t it? For most of the projects I used the yarns that were called for, but in colors of my choosing. I did change a few, though. For instance, two projects call for paper yarn. I didn’t know a good resource for that, so I substituted 8/2 cotton for one, and 16/1 linen for the other. So, for those I have beautiful scarves instead of room screens, which suits me better anyway.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    Karen, I’m speechless. There are no words for my admiration of not only your artistic vision, but also the incredible amount of work clearly visible in the lovely video. Thank you for all the encouragement and advice you’ve given us you worked through the Big Book. MORE happy weaving to you. Joanna

    (My v. Favorite piece of your is also that fantastic monks belt. I think you captured all the lovely colors of the Texas Hill Country. It couldn’t be more perfect.)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, I’m fortunate to have a place where I can talk about things that I learn! Thanks for joining in!
      Every time I look at that monks belt piece, I get warm and fuzzy feelings. It’s so cheerful! I’m happy you like it, too!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • kerimae says:

    You inspire me! As you know! 🙂

  • Carolyn Penny says:

    Truly inspirational. Thank you for your diligence and following the goal.
    What a lesson in perseverance. Warm glow…… -Carolyn Penny

  • Vida Clyne says:

    Congratulations on completing such an amazing and inspirational project. I love all the patterns and the lovely colours. I have not got the book but your lovely video makes me think I will buy it. Thanks for sharing.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Vida, I am very happy to hear your thoughts about my adventure! This is one weaving book I wouldn’t do without. 🙂

      Thank you very much!
      Karen

  • Gail Goodrick says:

    What an inspiration this is! Your work is wonderful. I love your color choices. Love, love love…

  • Sue Blanding-Wilson says:

    So inspiring! I will look at my book with new eyes!

  • Maria Hanson says:

    Wow! I so enjoy following your work, but seeing everything in one video is just amazing! Congratulations on such a major accomplishment!

  • Penelope kept the suitors at bay for 10 years weaving one tapestry. What a remarkable legacy of a textile artist in 7 years!
    AND.. the hand wovens are not kept in a chest to pull out and admire. Basis the hems on the towels, they are being used. Beautiful!!
    Thank you for sharing. PS welcome back from your sabbatical.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Thank you for noticing. Yes, the articles were made to be used, and they are used and enjoyed.

      It’s good to be back.
      Karen

      • Anonymous says:

        One of the sweetest moments was when I saw one of my patched blankets worn to the point of being hand mended. Textiles will age one way or another. It fills my heart knowing the ones that pass through my hands are used daily.

        • Karen says:

          That is sweet to think of your handiwork being used to the point of needing hand mending. I agree that the best handwoven items are the ones being used.

          Karen

  • Cindy Buvala says:

    Wow! I am very impressed! A 10 minute video doesn’t do justice to the hours and hours of weaving work that precedes it. You are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your talent.

  • Karen Reff says:

    I haven’t looked at that book in so long. I’m definitely going back for another look! I hope you realize what an amazing thing you’ve done!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, I frequently go to the book for reference. It answers so many questions for me.

      I just took one step, and then the next step, and so on. I’m not sure I would have started had I known how long it would take me. But I’m very happy to have taken that first step…and so on.

      Thanks for your sweet encouragement,
      Karen

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Hemstitching Thread

Hemstitching gives a secure and pretty edge for the fringe on this cotton throw. At the beginning of the throw, I measure out a length of the weft thread for the stitching. And now, at the end, I roll off enough thread from the shuttle’s quill to use for the final hemstitching.

Finishing the cotton throw.
Wanting to finish, I weave the final few centimeters of the throw after dark.

Mark on tape shows I've woven to the end.
Mark on the measure tape shows I have woven to the end of the throw.

I’m always afraid of cutting the length of thread too short. So, I measure off four times the width of the warp, with a pinch extra just in case. That’s too long, and I know it. But I do it anyway. And then, I have a very long thread to pull through every stitch, with the tangles and knots that go with it.

Hemstitching is underway.
Hemstitching is underway.
Hemstitching a cotton throw.
Hemstitching thread is longer than needed. Three times the width of the warp should be plenty.

In trying to be perfect, I miss perfection by a long shot. If I measure out more than enough of my own goodness, surely I’ll have plenty to enter heaven, right? But the perfection of heaven requires perfection. It’s impossible for me to be good enough, smart enough, or successful enough to reach perfection. Heaven is for the imperfect. We, the imperfect, enter heaven’s perfection by trusting in the only perfect one, Jesus Christ. His goodness, measured out for us, is precisely enough.

May you know when enough is enough.

Happy weaving,
Karen

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Weave Beyond Your Momentum

Do you remember that I said the background is less interesting to weave? I take that back! Blending these colors and forming the shapes is no less interesting than weaving the lizard. The green anole is the featured subject, filled with detail and many minute color changes. Weaving that lizard was a skill stretcher! But as I continue, I am weaving details of a different kind. The background is a log, not easily recognizable. It’s like looking at wood grain patterns through a magnifying glass. I’m hopeful everything in the final image will fit together when we see it from a distance.

Four-shaft tapestry. Shading and texture.

Color, shading, and texture work together to make the surface appear uneven. Some areas look as if they are raised, and others, especially the dark places, look like they are indented.

Detail of lizard tapestry.

After about three more warp advancements, the lizard and his green toes will be nowhere to be seen.

Four-shaft tapestry. Glimakra Ideal.

Little by little…

View of the tapestry in the direction it will hang.

Standing on a chair, I get a view of the tapestry in the direction it will hang. This is only one slice of the tapestry image, but it helps me imagine what the finished piece will be like.

Continue. I don’t want to lose momentum just because I finally made it through the hardest part. Keep going, being faithful to what you know to do. Faithful to what you know is true. Don’t be fooled by compelling, convincing, and subtle messages that divert from the truth. Continue walking by faith, trusting the outline, the cartoon, that the Grand Weaver prepared for us. It will all fit together when we see it from heaven’s eternity. That’s real hope.

May you keep your momentum.

In faith,
Karen

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My Loom Is a Pipe Organ

Threading twelve shafts in three blocks is like having three four-shaft looms all in one. The three simple block patterns can be arranged in various ways, giving me infinite design options for these towels. There will be no two alike. Double weave gives us crisp lines between colors, producing amazing cloth! This is another instance where weaving on this Glimåkra Standard feels like sitting at a big pipe organ, where glorious color patterns are the music of the loom.

Twelve-shaft double weave. Endless possibilities!

Exciting color combinations!

All this with only four colors! The magic of double weave.

First towel on the warp has multiple weft color changes.

Squares in double weave hand towels.

Second towel has squares and fewer weft color changes.

Cottolin towels on the loom in doubleweave!

As the first towel wraps around the cloth beam, the second towel nears its hem.

Faith. Faith in the powerful working of God is like exploring the possibilities of handweaving. You know the systems are in place for something amazing, but you find it takes a lifetime to discover all the glorious wonders. Double weave is just a glimpse of that glory. I have faith that there is Oh so much more. Likewise, our faith in God is an ongoing discovery of his works and his ways. With every glimpse of his glory and goodness, we know there is Oh so much more. Eternity won’t be long enough… And maybe heaven will be filled with music that explodes in color.

May you know the thrill of discovery.

With faith,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Betsy says:

    Those are works of art! I’d be thinking of framing one.

    And you had me looking at the Glimakra price list, wondering how much it would take to expand my Standard to 12 shafts. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Besty, The first three towels will go to my daughter. There should be enough warp after that for one more towel, or table runner, or maybe a framed piece. That’s a great idea. Thanks!

      You can do almost as much with 8 shafts. But, I have to admit 12 shafts is nice.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Love these colors, Karen! And the variety of the patterns is amazing! I can’t wait to learn Doubleweave. Your daughter will treasure these and I expect everyone in Chile will want a pair as well.

    I am looking forward to seeing you on the 6th.

  • Janet Hageman says:

    Karen, These towels look amazing! Did you pre-plan the patterning for each towel, or are you “winging it” as you weave?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janet, For the pattern on the first towel I was making it up as I went. After that, I got out some graph paper and crayons and planned it out. Having a plan saves quite a bit of time at the loom. It’s fun to create different patterns.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Testing Color Surprises with My Little Helper

Twelve shafts and twelve treadles are all tied up. I found and fixed one threading error. And I am still making some adjustments on the tie-ups to get clean sheds. But for the most part, the Standard is ready to go! I have a week with this loom, to weave towels for my daughter. This colorful double weave looks promising.

My helper peers up at me as I tie on the warp.

My helper this week peers up at me as I begin to tie on the warp.

Dressing the countermarch loom.

Lower lamms and upper lamms are connected to the shafts before tying up the treadles.

Glimakra Standard with twelve-shaft double weave.

Arrangement of the heddles on the shafts give a clue to the three blocks in this twelve-shaft double weave.

Weaving with my granddaughter at my side.

Testing weft colors and patterns with granddaughter Lucia by my side.

Helper for managing the shuttles at the loom. :)

Two-year-old Lucia helps manage the shuttles.

Double-weave towels on twelve shafts. Beginning sample.

Design decisions for the towels will be made based on this beginning sample.
It’s surprising to see the array of colors produced by only four shades of cottolin thread.

When the loom is properly dressed and prepared, the weaving is delightful. Every pick of color is a pleasant surprise. Our Father knows our needs. He is the loom dresser. Everything is set up for the threads to make gorgeous cloth. Do we think prayer is all about asking God our Father for things? Yes, he does invite us to ask for the things we need. But let’s start with admiring his ways and works, with a heart of gratitude. Then, with the threads he puts in our hands, the future looks promising!

May your looms be ready for weaving.

Happy weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • When God blesses us with variables your loom demonstrates I believe He not only wants to meet our needs but wants to bring joy to our souls. Some people weave tabby with their lives. Some people live their lives weaving lizards while exploring the subtle variations in the process. I believe God wants us to explore and enjoy all the good He has to offer and dresses our individual looms to do that..

    Yesterday our second grandchild arrived. He is as perfect as his older sister. A day such as that makes it easy to forget all the threads that had to be re-sleighed along the way.

    Blessings to all

  • Laura says:

    Love the pattern and colors….

  • Lynette Glass says:

    Can I weave something similar with four shafts? Do you have any four shaft doubleweave pattern ideas or books that you know about? I like your colors very much!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, You can certainly do double weave on four shafts. I don’t personally have much information on the topic, though. I do know that Jennifer Moore is known for her work in double weave and has a book and video about it, as well as workshops that she teaches.

      I chose colors that were not in my usual palette, and I’m pleasantly surprised at how much I like them.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Susie redman says:

    This looks stunning – the colours are so complementary. Are you managing this double weave on only one back beam?
    Susie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susie, I have only one back beam, and I don’t know the first thing about weaving with a second back beam. Is double weave like this something for which a second back beam is useful?

      Thanks!
      Karen

      • Susie says:

        Hi Karen,
        I have only experienced double weave on a table loom and it was fitted with a second beam – one for each layer. My own loom is a Glimakra Standard too and I’m heartened to see that you can achieve double weave with one back beam. I had thought that it would be out of the question.
        Many thanks,
        Susie

  • Rebecca Neef says:

    This is so beautiful and inspiring. What an adorable helper you have! I have a Glimakra Standard also, a 120cm model. Mine only came (used) with 8 shafts, although it has 12 treadles. Is yours a special model made for 12 shafts, or did you do anything special to accommodate the extra shafts? I’d sure love to be able to do some 12 shaft weaves on mine! Thanks.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rebecca, I was surprised that my little helper would sit there as long as she did. There was a lot to keep her attention, I guess.

      My loom (120cm) also came with 8 shafts. I wrote to Glimåkra USA and told them I wanted to upgrade to 12 shafts and they listed all the parts I would need to do that, and then I ordered the parts.

      I don’t expect that I’ll use 12 shafts very often, but it’s nice to have them for a few special projects.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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