When the Tapestry Gets Confusing

I work across the tapestry a row at a time, starting and stopping many wool butterflies. It gets confusing. It’s not always easy to see how the particular colors in my butterflies relate to the details of this lizard. I closely follow the cartoon and the pattern key by my loom. I have to trust the cartoon more than what I see at the moment.

Lizard tapestry on four shafts. Eye detail.

Lizard eye detail. There are many color changes in the rows that go right through the center of the eye.

Every now and then, I climb up on a step stool as far as I dare. The view from this distance gives me a realistic perspective of the weaving. And raises my hopes that the lizard in this tapestry will indeed resemble the green anole that had posed for my camera. I am unable to see that same progress when I’m sitting at the loom with the lizard’s face right in front of me.

Four-shaft Lizard tapestry. Karen Isenhower

Pattern key at the left of the loom provides constant direction for weaving the details in the tapestry. View from standing on the top step of the step stool.

Lizard tapestry in progress. Glimakra Ideal loom.

Enlarged photograph of the original green anole hangs on the cart next to the loom.

When life gets confusing, it’s time to step up. Treasures are hidden in plain sight. Wisdom and knowledge are hidden like that. The treasure storehouse is in Christ. In him we have a heavenly view that gives us a realistic perspective of what we see in front of us. Trust his pattern key, and proceed with confidence. It’s not so confusing, after all.

May you see hidden treasures.

With heart,
Karen

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Melody Towels

I am stepping out of the box with this combination, trusting that what is seen only in my mind’s eye will have an extraordinary impact. This warp will become towels for my daughter Melody. I chose cottolin threads in colors that remind me of the colorfully painted homes we saw on our visit to Chile a few years ago when Melody was living there. Aqua, light poppy, marigold, and orchid.

New warp on the warping reel.

Mix of colors that remind me of Chile.

Warping reel. Winding a new colorful warp!

First of three bouts on the warping reel.

Beaming the warp with a warping trapeze.

Beaming the warp with the help of the warping trapeze.

Cottolin towel warp being beamed.

Warp beam with new cottolin warp for towels.

We trust what we can see—a chair to hold us, and an airplane to fly us. But unseen things are also part of our trust—the chair maker’s glue, and the air that aerodynamic engineers depend on. Earth and heaven, seen and unseen. Jesus, seen on earth, made the unseen God visible. Trust the unseen.

May you step out of the box.

Trusting,
Karen

10 Comments

  • ellen b santana says:

    every week you remind me to trust God. and i can’t wait to see these towels. thank you. ellen

  • Nannette says:

    Beautiful colors. They remind me of summer..

  • Lynette says:

    I look forward to seeing the woven cloth, with the pattern you have chosen.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, It’s nice to hear from you. I think this will be very interesting to weave. I’m glad you are following along.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    Oh my! What a beautiful color scheme you have chosen for these towels. What color(s) will you weave with? Are you using plain weave, twill, basket ….? Will there be bands of color or will the warp do the “talking”? Thank you taking me on your journey. Your work is always inspiring as are your words.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, I’m glad you like this color scheme! I’m really fond of it, too. I will make decisions about about the weft when I do some sampling with different colors. I’d like to try out several options to see what I like the best. This will be another doubleweave with two plain weave layers, but this time I’m using 12 shafts–my first time to use 12 shafts.

      Thanks so much!
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Wow! I like the color combination! I am also excited to be on this journey with you, Karen.

    And I frequently need to be reminded to trust in God. Your message is appreciated.

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Short-Lived Weft Idea

Now is my chance. I’d like to try one more weft idea on this double weave warp. I ended the colorful throw, and have about fifty centimeters left for a lap blanket. After the red cutting line, I am testing some black cottolin weft. It isn’t in my original plan, nor in my sample, but I want to see how it looks.

Small test sample between double weave pieces.

Deep plum alternates with black weft in a small test sample. Pairs of red picks mark the cutting lines between pieces.

The black weft does brighten the warp colors. But that’s not the look I’m after. I would miss the mixed shades that occur as the warp stripe colors are repeated in the weft. So I am weaving the smaller piece with the same weft sequence as the larger throw. When I see the weft choices clearly, it’s not hard for me to decide which weft option to use.

Double weave throw wrapping around the cloth beam.

Following the fabric under the breast beam, behind the knee beam, and around the cloth beam. The four warp stripe colors are repeated in the weft, making slight variations of color in the squares.

Wisdom is a treasure. It comes from seeing things through heaven’s perspective. Beware of human ideas masquerading as wisdom, leading us in the wrong direction. The treasure of wisdom that is found in Christ leads to understanding. Looking through heaven’s wisdom, my choices become clear. And it’s not hard for me to decide to stay true to the Grand Weaver’s design.

May you walk in wisdom.

With you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Beautiful, Karen! Both sides are so eye-catching.

  • Annie says:

    Wow! Love the look of both sides!

    Wouldn’t it be great if we could do a little sampling of our life choices before we jumped in and made them? Fortunately, our Heavenly Father did leave us a guide.

    I hope you bring this to our WOW meeting this fall.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, That would be great if we could sample life choices that way. You’re right, we have a trustworthy guide!

      I may not have the throw in my possession this fall since it’s a gift, but I’ll at least have the smaller piece.

      Thanks for weighing in,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Love that fabric, Karen! Hope to get to see it at a WOW meeting. It’s lovely!

  • Beautiful. Wonderful craftsmanship.

    I spent Sunday afternoon cutting out tote bags to be included in shoe box mission gifts at the Crivitz Presbyterian church. New friends were made near the weekend house. Someone donated heavy nylon advertisement banners to use. The layout of the bag produced unbelievable results not considered when looking at the original cast off banner.

    While cutting out these bags, prayer. I pray to put the same craftsmanship into the gifts to people I do not know as I do to those near and dear to me.

    The loom still sits while the summer explodes around me. Should I stay home this weekend and weave or transplant the volunteer raspberries in the lawn to the weekend house?

    Keep doing God’s work.

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Weave Past the Mid Mark

“Mid” marks the halfway point on every pre-measured tape I make. I like to know when I’m starting the second half of something. It’s a target before I reach it, and a passing milestone after I cross that line.

Middle line marks the halfway point in the weaving.

Pre-measured twill tape has a line at the halfway point, marked “Mid.” Tail from a spliced warp end will be trimmed in the finishing process.

As I’m weaving this throw, my thoughts jump ahead. I will have a few skipped threads to fix, and spliced warp ends to clip. I think about how I will hem the piece, and wash and dry it. In what special manner shall I present the finished throw to my beloved daughter-in-law? And, my mind goes to the twelve-shaft double weave towels for my daughter that are up next, with the flowery threads beckoning me from the shelves.

Cotton double weave on the loom.

Double weave with eight shafts. 8/2 cotton.

Shelves of weaving thread!

Do you see the aqua, poppy, marigold, and orchid cottolin threads that are ready to jump off the shelves and be woven into hand towels?

I’d like to know where I am in the span of my life. There is no “Mid” mark, though, is there? I’m not in charge of that measured tape. Faith in Christ, love, and perseverance—these form a foundation. A solid foundation is security for life. In this security, I think about what I need to repair and resolve and finish. And how to leave intangible gifts that outlive me. And I think about the glory that awaits. Imagine fabric of unbridled creativity in colors only heaven knows!

May your second half be better than your first.

With you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Meg says:

    What a awesome, beautiful, fantastic piece. And congrats to midway.

  • Written like the creative soul God created you as.

    Midway is hard to place with life on Earth. It is not as ‘tangible’ as your weaving. I often wonder why some people have a very short midpoint and others…. much longer… What have they left behind to continue on through others?

    Even so, having been gifted hand woven fabric from another generation, I cannot help but look at your sparkling colors and see the colors they will fade to be with time. Is the softness that time brings to dyes also a softness God gives to our memories left behind.

    Blessings,

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, The items I have of my grandmother’s handwork is faded, as you say. Her memory lives on in me, and is softly faded to the point I only remember the good things about her.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Good morning, Karen. At my age, I have no doubt that I have long since passed my mid point although I didn’t really wake up to that fact until I hit fifty. The first half of my life, I believed the tangible was so important; but in the second half, I believe that it is the intangible we leave behind that will be the longest lasting.
    After seeing so many beautiful handcrafted items in second hand stores, I realized that what I valued as family heirlooms to be handed down through the generations with stories may not be valued as such by the recipient of my work.
    So I just try to concentrate on the enjoyment of creating whatever I make, make what I like and hope that someone else might value it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I agree with you that the intangible seems more important now. The values we pass on will outlast the things we hand down.

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Linda Cornell says:

    Thank you all for your reflections, uncannily, similar to my own recently… the Holy Spirit weaving through our lives. Can you recommend 4 shaft double weave patterns for baby blankets? Though the blankets will probably not last, hopefully the love that weaves them will cover those new little lives.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, The only 4-shaft double weave I’ve done was a double-width throw. The double weave baby blankets I’ve woven were on 8-shafts. Both the double-width and the 8-shaft double weave projects were from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell.

      Your love will definitely have the longest-lasting impact.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Tapestry Territory

Here we go on this adventure! The yarn is plentiful, and sorted into color groups by value. I have tweaked and updated the cartoon, putting measurement marks along the edges and adding shading to places where I want texture. I wove a header after the sample, but it drew in too much. I pulled it out and redid it, making sure to use adequate weft this time. I am now ready! I’m walking into four-shaft tapestry territory!

Beginning of a four-shaft tapestry.

Background begins with wool butterflies in shades of black.

Wool butterflies for a four-shaft tapestry on the Glimakra Ideal.

Several butterflies are introduced across the beginning section of the four-shaft tapestry.

Four-shaft tapestry just beginning.

Linen weft is used between some of the wool picks.

Walking. It’s how we live our life. Step by step into an unknown future. To walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, we follow the Grand Weaver’s cartoon, which he reveals to us, sometimes row by row. And he supplies us with the yarn butterflies in the right colors and values to create the tapestry of his design. We may never see his whole cartoon, but we have the sure hope of seeing the finished tapestry in all its glory!

May you be ready for an adventure.

Happy weaving,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Jan Hayman says:

    Hi Karen
    I’m watching this project unfold with a lot of interest! I’m curious about why you are using more than two shafts for a tapestry. Are you going after a blended edge along your color changes? Are you threading in a twill or rosepath?
    Your warp colors are adding some color to the cloth.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jan, The four shafts enable me to use a rosepath threading. Unlike traditional tapestry, this is not completely weft faced, so the warp colors do show intentionally. I’m not sure that it gives a more blended edge along the color changes, but this style of tapestry weaving has an appeal to me because I can weave a larger pictorial tapestry at a little faster pace. I also have the option of adding some texture in places to enhance the design. So far, these first few inches remind me of weaving transparencies, which I very much enjoy.

      Thank you for joining in! It’s even better when I get to enjoy this with others.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Karen,
    Your words have me thinking. It is at the end we all see the tapestry. There are colors that are experienced once in their glory and never again. Without them the tapestry would not shine. There are colors much like the warp that is always there as a foundation to hold all the color woven under and over and — peaking through just enough to modify the woven colors. And when all is complete…. are we not by the grace of God all parts of the tapestry?

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