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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Dream Weave and Slow Reveal

This project is a slow reveal. I am showing what I am doing now, but I am waiting to tell what this will become. There is a flurry of preparation behind the scenes. In time, you will see what develops on the loom. You and I both will find out if I am jumping in over my head. Or, if I can, in fact, pull this off.

Warping reel with 16/2 linen for a new warp.

Warping reel with 16/2 line linen for a new warp.

Dressing the Glimakra Ideal loom with linen.

Linen shows itself to be a beautiful mess.

This is a gorgeous linen warp, with three shades of 16/2 linen: sable, northsea blue, and persian blue. I am dressing my Ideal loom to almost full weaving width: 93 centimeters. The sett is 3 ends per centimeter in a 30/10 metric reed (equivalent to 7.6 ends per inch). I am intensely eager and cautiously optimistic regarding this weaving adventure.

Linen. Dressing the loom.

Linen. Sable, northsea blue, and persian blue. Bockens linen comes with color numbers only. It is interesting to see the names given to the colors by different suppliers. These creative color names are from Vävstuga.

Ready to beam this linen warp on my Glimakra Ideal loom.

Pre-sley reed is in the beater. It’s time to grab some warping slats, slide the lease sticks forward, and beam the warp.

Love is like a hidden dream in your heart, awaiting expression. Love goes with you. It is a treasure you get to bestow on others. In some cases, your treasure may be their only hope. The God of love with us weaves the love of God in us, as his faithfulness is revealed over a lifetime. If we could see the end result the Grand Weaver has in mind, most certainly it would make us smile.

May the God of love and the love of God be with you.

Secretly,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Julia says:

    I’ve no doubt whatsoever that you will be completely successful in this endeavor. You’ve shared a few detours in your weaving, but I’ve yet to see a failure.

  • Linda says:

    This is fun for me to watch as I’ve never warped with pure linen.

  • Maggie Ackerman says:

    I’ve worked with a linen warp before on a rag rug and had issu s with fraying and breaking until I wet the warp while weaving. Will you have to wet this warp to weave without fraying? Gorgeous colors. Whatever this becomes will be beautiful.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, Oh yes, I know exactly what you’re talking about. I’ve had to do the same at times, putting a little dampness on the selvedge threads. But I’ve also had quite a few experiences with linen that gave me no problems whatsoever. I hope, hope, hope this one will refrain from fraying. We shall see…

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Betsy Greene says:

    I’m looking forward to following this project. You’re using a very open sett. I have an idea but I will keep it to myself and see if I’m right. I like your use of a multi colored warp. It’s going to add some visual interest and depth to the … whatever. I’m quite sure you are not jumping in over your head. You are a very strong swimmer!
    Betsy

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, I agree, I think the multi colored warp will add visual interest and depth. I may be able to swim this, but I’m still taking a deep breath as I jump in.

      Thanks for your encouraging words!
      Karen

  • Hmmmm..
    Monochromatic ‘starry starry night’ blues going on the warp. A visual surprise. I was expecting the high contrast of the plum blanket as I scrolled down the posting, instead of my go-to color pallet. As always the colors are wonderful (and grown up).
    ~ a yard wide— That width could be used for much. Clothing, drapery, household linens… …. I will have to wait as you share to progress.
    You are going full steam ahead with a new challenge.. Oops CHALLENGE. I am dragging my feet getting back to the new warp on my loom set up for rosepath rag rugs. I will be brave and go forward, after I complete the patched baby blanket with lime green and turquoise turtles. 🙂
    Nannette
    .

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Isn’t this one of the things we like about weaving – the CHALLENGE? Thrill and fright. But there’s no challenge at the loom that can’t be tackled and overcome.

      Rosepath rag rugs?? How fun! I’ll trade you… 😉 naw, just kidding. Go for it. You can do it!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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What the Shadow Reveals

Sometimes things do not go as you hope or expect. I thought this color-and-weave effect would be more distinct. Yes, I chose low-contrast colors. I wanted the pattern to be subtle. But this may be too subtle. I have to use my imagination to see anything other than a faint checked pattern. It’s not a complaint. It’s just not how I thought it was supposed to be.

Linen on the loom.

All 8/2 linen. Stripes in the warp and stripes in the weft. I intended more than a simple check pattern.

I am taking pictures from all different angles, thinking the camera lens might show more than I can see with my eye.

Warp and weft stripes in linen.

Detail of warp and weft stripes. A simple, yet pleasing pattern.

Weaving 8/2 linen upholstery fabric.

Crosswise view.

Linen upholstery fabric on the loom.

View at an angle. No significant difference.

And, to my great surprise, there it is! The pattern I am hoping for shows up when I snap a photo of the underside. What happened? It’s all in the lighting. In this case, I need shadows to reveal the pattern in the weave.

Color-and-weave effects in linen upholstery fabric.

Pattern shows up underneath.

Color-and-weave patterns in linen.

Same fabric, different look. This is what I intended all along. Hidden in the shadows.

Shadow reveals the pattern in this linen color and weave.

To test my hypothesis about the shadows, I cup my hand over the fabric. Where a shadow is formed the pattern is revealed.

Endure. When you walk through shadows of life, the patterns that are woven in you become evident. If you depend on the Lord’s might to walk through and endure day-by-day challenges, that same power will be with you when you walk into a major shadow and need endurance the most. In fact, it is in that shadow that the image of Christ is most clearly seen in you.

With you,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Trick of the light! I love this.

  • cuyler says:

    Amazing! Thanks for the excellent photos. That really helps understand your point, and view.

  • Elisabeth says:

    It is when walking through the shadows of life we learn to see things in depth, it is almort like you experience life without a filter…it is raw, real, painful, yet beautiful at the same time… beauiful in the presense of wonder. Your pictures so well illustrate the beauty present in the shadows, as well as a great reminder not to fear the difficult times! Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Elisabeth, yes, beauty can be found in the shadows. It’s not easy to remember that when you’re going through a hard time.

      Thanks for your words of wisdom,
      Karen

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Startling Surprise at the Loom

A startling surprise greeted me when I sat down at the loom yesterday afternoon! The sun was shining through the window and sparkles of light were dancing on the loom. The surprise happened when some of the light made its way under the woven warp and shined up through the cloth, revealing a hidden pattern. Whoa! I discovered a secret passageway in an old majestic house…accidentally! That’s what it felt like.

Afternoon light at the loom. Linen 5-shaft satin towels.

Linen towel in five-shaft satin dräll. Sunlight dances on the woven and not-yet-woven warp.

Linen towels in 5-shaft satin dräll.

Block pattern on the towel changes, and is emphasized with the change of weft.

Light through the fabric reveals a hidden structure!

Light comes up through the fabric on the left side of the loom, revealing a hidden structure in the cloth.

This is five-shaft satin, not goose-eye twill. How fascinating to get a glimpse of the inner structure of the cloth. I didn’t expect it, but it does make sense that the treadling pattern is woven into the fabric. But you won’t see it unless light shines through just so.

The Lord knows us intimately. He knows what we do and why we do it. Where we go and what our plans and intentions are. He not only knows what we say, he knows the thoughts behind our words. God is not surprised. He knows it all. His light reveals our inner structure. May it be pleasing to Him.

May you be pleasantly surprised.

With you,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Alison says:

    Beautiful Karen. What a blessing.

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Very cool! Now I’ll be shining light from the bottom of every weaving.

    Your work is so very beautiful, Karen.

    Lovely sentiment!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I know, right? The light from below makes me wonder what I could see on other projects.

      Your kind words mean so much to me.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    That is amazing! A reminder that cloth is not always as one dimensional as it may appear upon first glance and neither are any of God’s creations.
    Your comments about God knowing our inner thoughts, omnipotence, was often a frightening concept to me as a child, but it certainly helped me behave better! Now as an adult, it is more of a comfort, to know someone understands you completely.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, So often there is more than meets the eye!

      I had similar misgivings as a child, thinking about God’s watchful eye. But now, it seems comforting and such an amazing thing to be known by the Creator of the universe.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
      Karen

  • Sara Jeanne says:

    Mother Nature is surely our inspiration!

  • Keleen says:

    Hi Karen! Remember when I had a senior moment on our walk this morning and forgot what I was about to say? Reading your thoughts, especially that his light reveals our inner structure, made me think of it. I was thinking of egg candling, when you hold an egg up to a light source to see what’s inside—hopefully a living and healthy embryo! That us another good analogy of how God’s light shows us our hearts. Sometimes we can see that an embryo has died there in the heart of the egg

    • Karen says:

      Hi Keleen, I am not very familiar with egg candling, but I have heard of it before. It’s interesting how a light source can show what’s inside! God’s light is certainly like that.

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Teresa says:

    Wow, way cool! Thanks so much foe Sharing!

    T

    • Karen says:

      Hi Teresa, It was mesmerizing to see that pattern in the fabric. I wanted to share it so others could see it, too. I’m delighted that you think it’s way cool like I do!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Linda Cornell says:

    Such inspiring reflections both in nature and in your heart. Thank you!

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End of Warp Drama

At the final inches of weavable warp, my regular boat shuttle will not fit through the shed. I wove the first half of this final rug thinking I had more than enough warp left to complete a symmetrical design.

Spaced rep rag rug. Last rug on the warp!

Final rug on this warp. I planned a symmetrical design that reverses at the center of the rug.

This warp is almost finished! Rag rugs.

As the back tie-on bar comes over the back beam I am concerned about whether I have enough warp to finish the second half of the rug.

Drama at the end. I still need to weave the ending warp thread header. Time to pull out my secret weapon—a low-profile shuttle. No worries or fretting. The slim shuttle deftly (with a little prodding) weaves the eight picks of the warp thread header that concludes this final rug. Whew.

Low-profile boat shuttle fits through at end of warp.

Low-profile shuttle saves the day. I’m so near the end of the warp that there is not enough room in the shed for my regular boat shuttle to fit through.

End of warp drama! But I made it! Whew.

Very end of the warp is seen right behind the shafts. After the eight picks of warp thread header, I wove as many picks of scrap weft as I could…by hand.

When we face adversity, and our usual coping methods are not working, we feel the pressure and anxiety. It’s time to activate our secret weapon—a gentle and quiet spirit. Gentleness and quietness are beautiful embellishments to the hidden person of the heart. This humble spirit enables you to glide through the tightest situations. Best of all, those last picks you carefully weave will keep the lovely rag rug you’ve been working on from unraveling.

May your heart glow with gratitude.

Happy Giving of Thanks!
Karen

16 Comments

  • Beautifully said. Thank you and have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I just found you recently and I love reading your blog. Thank you again.

  • Annie says:

    Thanksgiving is always a time of reflection on all the wonderful blessings in my life. This year, your Christ centered blog has been added as they are always uplifting as well as informative. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and your work with us.

    May you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving, Karen.

    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Good morning, Annie, That means so much to me! It’s a great privilege for me to have friends like you that I can share with. I’m thankful for you.

      Happy Thanks-Giving,
      Karen

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I so enjoy reading your blogs and I always learn or am reminded of something important. Sometimes, it’s even about weaving. 🙂
    Blessings to you,
    Cindy

  • Joanna says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and the family, Karen. This time of year seems to me to be a bit like your end of warp: winding down but with one last stretch needing a little extra thought and care.

    I’ve got a question for you. I know that you use new cloth for yor rag strips, but do you wash and press it before cutting the strips? Your rugs are sooo beautiful!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, Yes, these few remaining weeks of the year are a testing ground for our gentle and quiet spirits.

      I do wash and dry the fabric before cutting into strips for weaving. I want to pre-shrink it and rinse out excess dye, so I wash it in hot water and dry it in a hot dryer. I do not press the fabric unless it is too wrinkled to be able to fold it flat for cutting. In that case, just ironing the selvedges is usually enough.

      I appreciate your kind compliment about my rugs. Weaving rag rugs is one of my greatest pleasures.

      Happy Thanks-Giving to you and yours,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Wow, that was close to the warp end, wasn’t it, Karen! May all your warps end so well. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, Yes, too close for comfort. When will I learn not to overestimate what I have left? I’ve done this too many times. When you get that far, though, you’re determined to make it work.

      Happy Thanksgiving you and your family, too!
      Karen

  • Patti Hawryluk says:

    Thank you for your insights! I live in Canada, so we have celebrated Thanksgiving about 5 weeks ago. But a reminded to be grateful is always welcome. May yours be full of both Thanks and Giving.

    Patti

    • Karen says:

      Hi Patti from Canada, We do need reminders to be grateful. It’s more important than the celebration of a holiday. Thanks for your kind thoughts.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Laurie Mrvos says:

    Beautiful post, Karen. Just received the two low profile Hockett shuttles I ordered after reading Handwoven’s article on Finnweave. Glad to have added them to my arsenal.
    Thank you for the beautiful words. I can always count on you for your words of wisdom.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laurie, I’m sure your new shuttles are beautiful! Yes, it doesn’t hurt to have a low-profile shuttle or two just in case the end of the warp comes a little too soon. 🙂 Of course, these shuttles are also good for proper things like Finnweave and damask weaving.

      I appreciate your sweet sentiments.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Lisa says:

    Thank you. Our family has been dealing with one adversity after another this year and I really needed to hear those words in particular today. I can’t tell you how many times standing at the loom has been what helps me make it through the next day.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lisa, It’s not easy to face continued difficulties. If I could be a small part of helping you through that, I’m glad. If only I could reach all the way through and give you a hug, I would. There’s always a new day. Hopefully, your trying times will transition to happier times soon. I’m glad you have your loom.

      Warmly,
      Karen

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