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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Weaving History Carries Memories – Year in Review Video

Transition. Changes. Adventure into the unknown. That describes 2018 for Steve and me. When I review my weaving history for the year, everything on the loom is attached to a memory. Like an old song that awakens our thoughts to past experiences, the Lizard tapestry certainly sparks in me revived memories of our transition season and the moving of looms. See Quiet Friday: Tapestry in Transition.

Removing the warp beam. Relocating the loom.

Steve unscrews a bolster that holds one side of the warp beam so I can remove the warp beam.

I began 2018 with a plan to weave coordinated fabrics for our Texas hill country home—towels, upholstery for bar stools, and placemats, explained in this post: Harmonized Weaving for the New Year. Accomplished! I also committed to weaving a gift for each of my three daughters (daughter and two son’s wives), as described in this post: Weaving a Gift. Accomplished two out of three! The final gift is nearing halfway on the loom right now.

Hemstitching at the beginning of the cotton throw.

Cotton throw has hemstitching at the beginning. The ends will be twisted for fringe when it’s taken from the loom.

Eight-shaft twill in an undulating pattern. Lightweight cotton throw.

Eight-shaft twill in an undulating pattern. Single-shuttle weaving gets me off to a fast start for 2019.

2019 is a continuation of transition, changes, and adventure, as we tiptoe into this retirement chapter. A drawloom is in the forecast, as well as some travel tapestry weaving, and more rag rugs, towels, scarves, and throws. And anything else we can think up. It’s going to be a good year! Thank you for coming along. I’m grateful to have you as a friend.

May you have much to look forward to.

Blessings to you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    You’ve had an exciting and productive year. Wishing you all the best in 2019 and beyond.

  • Diane Leblanc says:

    I look forward to each post. I have had my loom for 38 years and it is retirement that finally gave me the time to weave and learn as I have always wished for. I am learning so many things I am inspired by weavers in my guild into their 80’s who are still weaving and learning. I wish us both a good weaving year in 2019

    • Karen says:

      Hi Diane, It is wonderful to have fellow weavers like you on this journey with me. Learning new things is one thing I look forward to in 2019!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • ellen santana says:

    well i’m real happy to have you too. i did that undulating twill in wool a couple of times and it shrank like crazy. do you find that in cotton also? happy new year to you and your husband. ellen

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ellen, It’s good to hear from you!

      I haven’t done undulating twill in cotton before, so we shall see about the shrinkage. I’ll be sure to mention it when I take measurements after washing.

      Blessed new year to you,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Remarkable year!!

    Please continue sharing.

    Kind regards,

    Nannette

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Stay Ahead of Empty Quills

What a delight to weave with just one shuttle for a change! It is relaxing to weave this Swedish lace wrap. Even moving the temple and getting up to advance the warp becomes part of the natural rhythm of weaving.

Exchanging empty quill for a filled one.

Empty quill is replaced with a filled quill from the loom bench basket. Smooth operation. My foot needn’t even leave the treadle.

There is one thing that breaks my stride. An empty quill. If I have to stop in the middle of a sequence to wind more quills, I lose momentum and sometimes I even lose my place. Solution? Stop ahead of time at a sensible place in the sequence and wind quills to put in my loom basket. Then, while weaving, it’s a seamless motion to change quills and keep going. It’s a pause instead of a dead stop.

Hemstitching at the end of this wrap.

Hemstitching at the end brings the weaving stage of this piece to a close.

We need to prepare for those times when people seem harder to love. It helps to think ahead, and fill our heart basket with the thoughts of kindness and humility that are essential to keep going. We have a good reason to love each other. We have been loved first. God so loved us that he gave his son. This is the Christmas news. God sent his son to be born here on this earth to be with us hard-to-love people and to save us. That’s good news worth celebrating!

May your heart basket be filled with love.

Christmas Blessings,
Karen

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Tools Day: Needles

Even though there are dozens of needles in and around my weaving and sewing spaces, nine stand out from the rest. These go-to needles have earned special favor. As essential tools, these needles have specific holders and permanent homes.

The 9 needles I use most for handweaving.

  • Sharp needles: hand-hemming, hand-sewing, stitching on labels, and stitching a tapestry to a linen mat for mounting (curved needle)
    HOLDER: Pincushion I made in 1980
    HOME: Sewing supply closet, “Needles and Pins” drawer

Sharp needles for hand-hemming. 1980 pin cushion.

Stitching labels onto handwoven towels.

Hand hemming handwoven table runner.

  • Blunt tapestry needles, small and medium: hemstitching, stitching a thread mark to the right side of the fabric, sewing in tapestry weft tails, finishing work—needle-weaving for corrections and repairs
    HOLDER: Remnant of cotton handwoven plain weave fabric
    HOME: Loom-side cart, top drawer

Handy needles to keep by the loom.

Blunt needles by the loom.

Steve sanded and rounded the tips of the needles to make them blunt. A needle with a rounded tip won’t pierce and split the threads.

Hemstitching at the loom.

Sewing in weft tails in the back of a tapestry.

  • Blunt tapestry needles, large: hemstitching, hand-hemming rugs, weaving small tapestries
    HOLDER: Felted inkle-woven tape
    HOME: cutting/work table, Grandma’s old sewing tin

Felted inkle-woven needle holder.

Rag rug hemming by hand.

Hemming a handwoven rag rug.

  • Sacking needles: pulling rag rug warp ends out of scrap weft, threading warp ends back into a wool rug (I did this…once)
    HOLDER: straw-woven pouch from a trip to The Philippines
    HOME: weaving supply closet, top drawer on the left

Woven pouch from The Philippines.

Tying warp ends into knots. Rag rug finishing.

May you find the needle you need when you need a needle.

All the best,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Nanette says:

    Works for you, and a beautiful system! I have several “work stations” (sounds more organized than it is!) on two floors. So, my “system” is four (handwoven of course!) pin cushions, each with a variety of the needles, in various places. Not ideal, I suppose, because often the needles “migrate” and the right one is sometimes not in the right place! Do enjoy all your posts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nanette, I like how you call them “work stations.” It does sound very orderly. I do understand how those needles can migrate! Mine do that sometimes, too. At least we have some sort of system…

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth Munkvold says:

    I love how you store the different needles you use! It makes so much sense. In addition to being a beautiful way to preserve memories, I really like the make-do approach, too.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I enjoy finding creative solutions to keeping things somewhat organized. I may have learned that from you. 🙂
      It is sweet to find ways to use special items, like my Grandma’s sewing tin.

      Merry Christmas,
      Karen

  • Beth says:

    You’re inspiring me to make something out of a handwoven scrap for needles and get them out of the little plastic box.

  • faun says:

    my great aunt did a similar checkerboard pattern
    “https://flic.kr/p/EnVPZE”

    my needles will migrate thanx to the intervention of critters.
    filling your pincushion with wool fleece with the natural lanolin
    will help prevent rusting- cotton will collect moisture and help them rust
    so wool cloth for your pin cushions is better in the long run too.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Faun, It looks like your great aunt’s rug uses thick and thin weft, like mine. Nice!

      Thanks for the tip about wool for pincushions. Good to know!

      All the best,
      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Cotton Scarves

One thing I learned is the scarf with the longest warp floats has the greatest shrinkage rate. Another thing I learned – again – is to plan a longer warp than what I think I need. The third scarf is significantly shorter than the first two because I ran out of warp. Table runner, anyone? I always include length for sampling, but I need to include more, more, more. Still, I am very happy with the finished results. And, you have a new video to watch! (Scroll down to see it.)

Cotton warp for scarves is tied on.

Warp of 8/2 cotton is tied on in 1-inch/2.5 cm sections. The leveling string evens out the warp for immediate weaving.

Cotton lace weave scarf on the loom. Fringe twister video.

First scarf, with dark green weft, has the longest warp floats. This scarf ended up shorter than the second scarf, even though the first scarf’s length on the loom was longer than the second scarf.

Cotton lace weave scarves on the loom. Fringe twisting info, too.

Second scarf, with citrine weft, has a border element created with light green weft (same as the warp), including warp floats. The plain weave before and after the border element helps create a natural ruffle at each end of the finished scarf.

Cotton lace weave scarves on the loom. Springtime colors!

Saving the best for last, I used a series of springtime colors to create this scarf. The varied lengths of the floats give an illusion of colored ribbons crossing the scarf.

I wet finished the scarves in the washing machine, adding a small amount of Eucalan, on the gentle cycle, with warm wash and warm rinse, and very short spin. They went in the dryer on low heat until damp, and then hung to dry the rest of the way. The scarves came out lightly puckered, which is exactly what I had hoped for. I could have washed them in hot water and left them in for a longer amount of time if I had wanted the scarves more dramatically puckered.

Twisting fringe using a fringe twister tool.

Two scarves with fringes twisted. One waiting to be a film star in “Using a Fringe Twister.” This is before wet finishing.

Three cotton lace weave scarves, and fringe twisting video. Karen Isenhower

Wet finishing happens after the fringe has been twisted. These scarves have done it all. They are finished.

My favorite scarf. For now...

First seen on Instagram @celloweaver #warpedforgood

There’s nothing like finishing a fun project! Clearly, I know what to do next… Dress the big loom and keeping on weaving.

May you learn something new every day.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • chris b says:

    I love your videos Karen and learn so much from them. Thank you! Thank you!

  • Liz A says:

    Thank you for making the video. My fringe is going to look lots better next time I make it because of some of your ideas.

  • Karen says:

    Chris and Liz,

    Oh good! I am so happy you found the video helpful! I’m grateful you took the time to watch.

    All the best,
    Karen

  • Sandy says:

    Terrific video! I learned fringe twisting a different way, without the first set of knots, and I’ve never been completely happy with the consistency. Thanks for showing me another option.

  • Liberty says:

    Beautiful scarves Karen! It’s nice to see how you do your fringe, I still need to learn so much and every little hint helps. Thank you!

  • Karen says:

    Sandy and Liberty,

    That’s the beauty of handcraft skills. There are multiple ways to produce desired results.

    I am not an expert, but I take a little of this, and a little of that, and eventually work out “my own” way. Truthfully, though, almost every little bit is something I have learned from a teacher or a book. Plus, a few things I learned the hard way through my own mistakes and mishaps.

    I’m glad to help you build up a repertoire of ways to do something, so you can get results you like.

    Thank you! I’m so glad you are here.
    Karen

  • chris b says:

    Well Karen, as I have said your videos are really helpful. I have tried to use the twisters but did not knot my ends and of course they would slip off the fringe as I was twisting. Then I would get frustrated and go back to doing it by hand. Of course this killed my hands! So while I thought of knotting the ends I was too lazy (shame on me!), but now I know I should. Also, I can’t wait to try twisting the fringe on the loom as you showed in your previous video. Always wondered how this task was accomplished! Thanks again! And oh, your work is beautiful!

    • Karen says:

      Dear Chris, it makes me so happy that you find the videos helpful! Steve and I are having fun making them, so your comment is icing on the cake!

      When you do twist some fringe on the loom, let me know how it turns out.

      Thank you! and Happy Weaving,
      Karen

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