Woven Transparency Cactus

I found a subject for my next transparency. It’s a prickly pear cactus in Texas hill country. Weaving this cactus is a fantastic experience! I started with a photograph, from which I made a cartoon. And I have an outline that shows where to place each color. It’s all based on the timeless beauty of colors in nature. I’m hopeful that when light shines through the final woven transparency we will see a likeness of the original cactus.

Prickly Pear Cactus in Texas hill country.

Prickly Pear Cactus in the front yard of our Texas hill country home.

Make a Cartoon

  • Crop and enlarge the photo. (I use Acrobat Reader to enlarge and print in multiple pages, and then tape the pages together.)

Prickly Pear Cactus in Texas hill country.

  • Outline the main lines of the picture.
  • Turn the enlarged picture over and draw the traced lines on the back to have the reverse image. (This transparency is woven from the back.)

Photo to sketch to cartoon for woven transparency.

  • Trace the line drawing onto a piece of buckram to use as the cartoon.
  • Draw a vertical dashed line down the center of the buckram cartoon.
  • Pin the cartoon under the weaving, lining up the center line on the cartoon with the center warp end. Move the pins, one at a time, before advancing the warp each time.

Buckram used for transparency cartoon.

Color Selection

  • Use the photograph to select yarn colors for the transparency. (I used the iPad to view the photo, and selected sixteen shades of 20/2 Mora wool.)
  • Sort the yarn by hues. (I used my iPhone camera black-and-white setting to help in the sorting.) Sorting by hues helps me blend similar-hued colors, and shows me the contrasts that will help define the picture.

Color selection for woven transparency. Sorting by hues.

 

Sorting colors by hues for woven transparency.

  • Assign a number to each yarn color.
  • Make the enlarged outline into a color-by-number sheet by designating a color or blend of colors for each section. (I taped this sheet to the wall beside my loom, to use as a color guide. The iPad photo also serves as a reference.)

Butterflies of Mora wool for woven transparency.

Virtues are timeless. Virtues are like colors that blend together to weave a masterpiece. When we let the Grand Weaver lay in the weft, these are the colors that appear as light shines through His woven transparency: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. And when this occurs, it shows that we are made in His image.

Making a transparency cartoon. Tutorial.

 

Woven transparency from a photo. How to.

May the next leg of your journey be a fantastic experience.

I’ll meet you back here on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017.
In the meantime, I hope you investigate claims of Jesus. Take time with people. Keep weaving. And the same for me.

Head over to Instagram to stay in touch with my daily journey.

Love,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    This is going to be fabulous!

  • So exciting to see your transparency! That is my absolute favorite thing to weave, and yours is inspiring me to do another one too. What size linen and sett are you using?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, You are responsible for inspiring me! I couldn’t stop thinking about your beautiful transparencies, and knew I wanted to make another attempt. It’s not hard for me to understand why this is your very favorite thing to weave. I may be following you in that! I can’t thank you enough for answering my questions behind the scenes!

      This is 16/2 linen, 12 epi.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • D'Anne Craft says:

    You’ve put lots of planning time into this piece. Can’t wait to see the finished work!

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, The planning for this has been a lot of fun. I was getting discouraged trying to find a good subject to weave, but when I found this pic that I took on our own property I got pretty excited about the whole thing! I can’t wait to show it to you when it’s finished!

      Karen

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    This is so exciting Karen, I can’t wait to see it!! Have a wonderful vacation, I will be looking forward to august and this finished piece!
    Liberty

  • Wende says:

    Love this!

  • Maria says:

    Karen,
    Where in the hill country do you live? I so enjoy your blog- I like how you “weave” your faith in your posts!! Gifted weaver and writer?

    • Karen says:

      Maria, We are a little north of Kerrville. We currently live in the Houston area, but this special place in Kerrville will become our permanent home when my husband retires. Your sweet thoughts are very touching. Let me know when you will be in Houston again, or in hill country. I’d love to meet up.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Carol Ashworth says:

    I am so glad I found your site! I love everything and have a lot to learn!
    I love how you try to do every so nice and neat!
    Carol

  • Patricia Tiemann says:

    Great blog! Thanks for posting so much info.

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Little Experiments on the Loom

This is my attempt to add a fascinating detail. I alternated white and brass-colored ends in the warp stripe. In a similar fashion, I alternated colors in the weft stripe, too. It’s an experiment. The short columns that emerge in the weft stripe are a result of this thread arrangement. The outcome looks promising. Wet finishing will reveal the final effects of this low-risk exploration.

M's and O's on the loom. Experiment in progress.

M’s and O’s (Sålldräll) with a warp stripe and weft stripe that have alternating light and dark threads.

I like to do experiments on the loom. Little risks open up possibilities and ideas for future projects. Every learning experience is a step that leads to insight for future learning. And I have so much more to learn!

Weaving the border of the long table runner. M's and O's.

Weft stripe signals the beginning of the end border for this long table runner.

M's and O's on the loom.

Short vertical columns take shape in the brass-colored weft stripe.

Step-by-step learning has some common ground with finding a good path for life. Walking the right path is like walking in the early morning. The dim light of dawn gradually increases and the pathway becomes more and more clear as the sun rises to the full light of day. Our Creator gave us a lighted path. The learning experiences from our experiments and explorations in life help us discover the path of the Lord, where the light beckons us. Walk in the light. It’s where we can see the next good step.

Happy weaving,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Olivia Stewart says:

    Not clear from photos or text exactly what you did. Could you share draft? Thank you

    • Karen says:

      Hi Olivia, Thank you for asking. I’m not able to share the draft, but I’ll see if I can explain what I did.

      This warp is threaded as M’s and O’s, which is a four-shaft weave with two blocks. For the warp stripes, I threaded the narrow beige stripes all one color. But for the brass-colored stripes, for that block of the threading, I used the brass-colored thread and the white thread, alternating the two colors.

      And then for the weft, again, the narrow beige stripe is all one color. And the brass-colored stripe uses two shuttles – brass, and white. By alternating the colors, I get the fascinating little vertical brass/white stripes in one block of the M’s and O’s, making it look more complex than it is.

      Does that make sense? Let me know if that answers your question.

      Thanks for your interest!
      Karen

  • Nancy C. says:

    I also like to do a little experimentation on the loom, and always plan extra warp to give me that opportunity. It sounds like you did a little planning in advance with the warp stripe to allow playing with weft stripes as borders or accents. Very smart use of your time, and a great way to play!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nancy, I’m a big fan of putting on extra warp for play and experimentation. You are correct, I did plan these stripes in advance. I even used weaving software to try to see how it would look. I think of the whole endeavor as an experiment, though, since I’ve never tried alternating colors like that with M’s and O’s. It’s exciting to finish working it out as I do the weaving!

      Happy weaving!
      Karen

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Empty Quills

No matter how much thread is on the quill, if you keep weaving, you will eventually come to a bare quill. Three at once, this time. Two with tencel in the double-bobbin shuttle and one with 8/2 cotton. A quill is a small item with an essential role. This mostly-hidden cardboard cylinder holds the threads that weave.

Kuvikas on eight shafts.

Kuvikas on eight shafts with 8/2 cotton warp, 8/2 cotton ground weave, and doubled 8/2 tencel pattern weft.

An empty quill is a stopping place. You have to stop. Wind another quill, or three, before you weave some more. Or, use quills from your loom bench basket that you had already wound. It’s the cycle of weaving. Weave. Stop. New quill. Weave. Stop. And so on.

The quill is mostly hidden until the thread runs out. Likewise, truth seems like a secret until it comes to light. And then you realize it holds the fibers of life. Truth is worth searching for. It is central to understanding our existence. Examine a thread of reality, keep pulling that thread, and unroll it. It always ends up at truth. Truth is that core, that weaver’s quill, around which reality is wound. For our Grand Weaver, truth always holds the threads that weave.

May truth be at your core.

Yours,
Karen

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Tips for Taming String Yarn Weft Tails

Those pesky string yarn weft tails! There is a lot of starting and stopping with these mug rugs. Normally, tucking a weft tail back into the shed adds a bit of extra thickness at the selvedge. So, what about this very thick weft? It has the potential to throw everything off balance. A few easy tips help minimize the distortion the thicker weft can cause.

Taming String Yarn Weft Tails

  • Begin the thick weft on alternating sides. This will prevent one selvedge from building up more than the other.
  • Taper the end of the string yarn, cutting it at a steep angle.
  • Starting about 1 3/4″ inside the selvedge, send the shuttle through the shed toward the selvedge, going over or under the outermost warp end. Pull through until almost all of the weft tail is caught.
What to do with string yarn weft tails.

Starting the shuttle from the inside, going outward, is an easy way to catch all the separate threads of the string yarn.

Taming string yarn weft tails.

  • In same shed, send the shuttle back through to the other side, aware of encircling the one warp end.

Tucking in string yarn weft tails. Tips.

  • Beat. (Beat on open shed. Beat again. Change sheds. Beat again.)

How to manage string yarn weft tails.

  • Continue weaving.

Rep weave mug rugs. String yarn weft tails - tips!

  • To end the thick weft, leave a 1 3/4″ tail, and taper the end of the string yarn, as before. Lay the tail back in the last shed, going around the outermost warp end. Beat.

Things happen that throw us off balance. From personal celebrations to unexpected losses. Don’t be afraid. Putting trust in the Lord minimizes the inner turmoil. The Lord is my light. He lights my way. What is there to be afraid of? Wholehearted trust in the Lord pushes fearfulness away.

May you walk in a lighted path.

Happy weaving,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Hey Karen,
    Just wanted to say congratulations on another great project and article in the newest Handwoven Mag! I’m so proud of you! Thanks for all you hard work and help with our weaving!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty, Thank you so much! It’s my joy to add my little two cents to the whole wide weaving world. My copy came in the mail yesterday! There are a lot of great projects in there.

      Thanks, friend,
      Karen

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Almost Ruined Transparency

The cotton chenille looks as if it is magically suspended in space. But it’s the linen that suspends it. 16/2 unbleached linen weft crosses 16/2 golden bleached linen warp. The two shades blend into one as they are woven for the transparency background.

Weaving a transparency. Linen warp and weft. Cotton chenille pattern weft.

Weaving a transparency from the back. The front side of the pattern can be seen after it comes around the breast beam.

Unfortunately, I had 16/1 golden bleached linen (16/1 is half as thin as 16/2) on my winding table, for the plattväv towels on the other loom. I wound a quill with the 16/1 and wove the transparency with it. It’s the wrong thread size and color. For 8 1/2 inches! Too far to undo without irreparably damaging the linen warp. This is disappointing. How did I let that happen? Take a deep breath… Move forward, and finish out the weaving with the correct 16/2 linen.

Linen weft change is a mistake. Oops!

Two densities of linen. The 16/2 unbleached linen weft adds depth to the 16/2 golden bleached warp. The 16/1 golden bleached weft gives a lighter look to the web.

Just off the loom! Handwoven transparency.

Just off the loom! First transparency attempt, and a great learning experience.

We all fall short. We do the wrong thing. That’s a weight to carry. Jesus breaks the yoke of our burden, and lifts the weight. We have been set free! When we finish the weaving, the chenille pattern will be the main attraction, not the error. By amazing grace, the error is overcome by the light shining through the transparency.

May your burdens be lifted.

With you,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Elisabeth says:

    What about embroidering a word like “love” or a symbol representing love on the darker weft? And use the teal color to reflect the pattern that is winding through the entire weave…like love is present in our lives. A simple handwritten word to contrast the strong and bold zigzag 🙂

  • Elisabeth says:

    And what about weaving in (rows of running stitches) a very fine gold thread into the darker section to give it a slight shimmer and emphasize the importance of it? And then place something important to you in this section…or maybe just the gold is as subtle as it should be…

    Love,
    Elisabeth

  • D'Anne Craft says:

    Lovely, Karen! 16/1 is often used as weft with 16/2 as warp in transparency weaving. It makes the transparency more lacy.

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, That’s good to know that 16/1 is a good weft for this. I can see how the thinner thread makes it lighter in appearance. Maybe I should start with that next time, and use it all the way through.

      Thanks for letting me know!
      Karen

  • Martha says:

    Karen the weft mistake was not a mistake it was a design element! Love the transparency.

  • Pam says:

    Hi, Karen, Your Blog is always inspiring.There are no mistakes, only designer enhancements. . . perfection-in-imperfection. I am told that the Navajo weavers intentionally weave a mistake into each rug.When we are weak HE is strong.
    From Pastor David Anderson -Finding Your Soul – “The Navajo say that is ‘“where the Spirit moves in and out of the rug.”’ God’s Spirit moves in and out of imperfection. . . a ‘“mistake?”’ We’ve spent our whole life trying to get rid of all imperfection. If we’re not there yet, surely God is! We may not have the spiritual courage to weave those mistakes deliberately, but at least we can accept them as a gift when the fabric of our lives is inevitably torn.”

  • Teresa says:

    Hi Karen
    I’m told the Amish also make a “mistake” in every quilt so as not to boast since perfection only belongs to a God. Good for you for making the best of what you had not planned.
    I got out of the habit of reading your blog for a while. I’m glad now for the reminder of what I’ve been missing. Your writings are beautiful and you are blessed with a wonderful mind and soul. Im sure you’ll never know how much you inspire people…..creatively and spiritually.
    Bless you,
    Teresa

    • Karen says:

      Hi Teresa, Our mistakes do help keep us humble. That’s interesting that the Amish do that intentionally. Your kind words mean so much to me!

      Thank you,
      Karen

  • Cheryl says:

    I would love to try something like this for a glass door panel. Do you have a reference for learning this technique? Looks like you sett the edges closer together and in a different post the casing as well. Would you recommend the 16/1 or 16/2 based on your design element?
    Thanks
    Cheryl

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cheryl, This would be perfect for a glass door panel.
      Resources I recommend: Sheer Delight – Handwoven Transparencies, by Doramay Keasbey; The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, pgs. 162-163; 166-167
      The Keasbey book is full of wonderful ideas and shows work of different artists, and has some good tips and procedures. The Lundell book has 2 transparency projects, and is a good place to get your feet wet with the technique.

      The selvedges for my transparency: 1 (heddle) – 2 (reed), 4 times each side. This is from The Big Book of Weaving. The other transparency in the book has 2 – 2, 3 times each side.

      I wanted to differentiate the start and end of the casing, to make is easier to sew, so I packed the weft in tighter in those areas.

      The warp is 16/2 linen, and I do prefer the 16/2 linen for background weft over the 16/1 that I used by accident. I think the 16/2 holds its place better in the woven mesh. The 16/1 is lacier, but it is also a little flimsier and wiggles around more than I want it to. But that could be my own inexperience.

      I hope that helps!
      Karen

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