Hint of Shadows

I hope this isn’t cheating, but I added a teeny bit of embroidery to the finished bluebonnets. One thing I learned with this transparency is that an image that looks flat can be improved with a hint of shadows.

Woven transparency just off the loom.

Wide casing at the top and bottom of the bluebonnet transparency make it easy to hang for display. I envision it hanging from a stripped and polished cedar rod, harvested from our Texas hill country property.

I’m thankful for my husband’s artful eye. He helped me identify the “off-screen sunlight” that would produce natural shadows. I am adding a few darker stitches to the right-hand side of some of the lighter areas, and a touch at the sides and lower end of the flower stems. My hope is to give the picture a bit more depth.

Embroidery added to finished woven transparency.

A single strand of mora wool in a darker shade is used to embroider some outline stitches on the right side of some of the bluebonnet petals.

Shadows tell us something: There is a light source. Find out where the light is coming from. That is what it’s like for those seeking God. There are shadows everywhere you look. We see the shadows–the effects of a shining light. And we want to find the source.

Texas Bluebonnets transparency. Karen Isenhower

Hint of shadows helps give shape to the otherwise flat transparency.

Go on a search and exploration expedition. Start with small shadows that you see, the circumstances and blessings that hint at an outside light source. Such seekers may discover that God is just off-screen, waiting to be found.

May you follow where the shadows lead.

With joy,
Karen

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Tools Day: Paper and Yarn

A folded piece of paper and a seven-inch tail from a yarn butterfly become an answer to a small technical problem. When using a cartoon, like I am for this transparency, it’s imperative to identify the center warp end so I can align the dotted-line center of the cartoon with that one end. Finding the center warp end is my technical problem. The paper and yarn work together as the tool that helps remove the guesswork.

Weaving a transparency. Bluebonnets.

I check the alignment of the cartoon about every inch, and move up the pins that hold the cartoon in place.

With these bluebonnets, if the cartoon slides to the right or left by even one warp end it distorts the picture. It’s not enough to eyeball it. I need a way to make sure I am finding, and marking, the exact center end every time.

How to Find and Mark the Center Warp End

Supplies:

  • Pencil
  • Subscription card from a magazine, folded in half lengthwise
  • Seven-inch tail from a yarn butterfly, or a strand of yarn
  1. Measure the width of the beater and use a pencil to mark the exact center with a vertical line.
  2. Hold the folded edge of the card against the vertical pencil line on the beater, with the bottom edge of the card almost touching the warp.

Finding and marking the center warp end to align with cartoon.

3. Slip the yarn tail under the center warp end, as identified by the bottom corner of the card.

Aligning center warp end with cartoon. Tutorial.

4. Check the alignment of the center line of the cartoon with the center warp end.

How to mark the center warp end.

5. Slide the yarn from the reed to the fell line to check the entire length of the alignment. Reposition the cartoon, if needed.

Aligning cartoon with center warp end. How to.

Bluebonnet woven transparency almost finished!

Ready for one last alignment!

May you find a solution that eliminates guesswork.

All the best,
Karen

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Bluebonnets Are Growing on My Loom

I promised a baby blanket to a dear friend whose first grandchild is coming soon. That’s why I am working on this transparency with extra focus. I need the loom. After being away from home longer than expected, I am now trying to make up for lost time.

Weaving a transparency. Flower stems so far.

Flower stems rise out of the “ground.”

Woven transparency in progress.

Weaving from the back. All weft turns are on the back, leaving little bumps and ridges, while the underneath front side stays smooth.

Some sections take an hour or more to weave an inch. But I am finding transparency weaving to be pure enjoyment. I don’t mind lingering. And, if it weren’t for that baby blanket I would slow down even more. This is handweaving at its best. This is good. All I do is select the threads and put them in place, and the woven image magically appears.

Woven transparency in progress. Mora wool pattern weft.

Four strands of 20/2 Mora wool for each butterfly, giving ample opportunity for color blending.

Weaving Texas bluebonnets in a transparency.

Even a simple design like this requires many little butterflies to complete the image (sixteen for this row).

Texas bluebonnets in a woven transparency...in progress!

Cartoon is held in place with three pins. The dotted line on the cartoon is aligned with the center warp end. I love the small spaces of linen between some of the flower petals.

In reality, good things don’t appear by magic, do they? Even with the loom, a plan is made, warp ends are lined up, and the handweaver puts many skills into action. When we experience good in life, it isn’t happenstance or magic. The Lord is good. He is the source of goodness. And it’s by His grace that we are able to see his goodness. Thank you, Lord.

May you be touched by goodness today.

Love,
Karen

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Wild Linen Rya

Rya knots and loops of threads look chaotic at first. These linen rya knots will never be tame, but that’s to be expected. Linen butterflies have created a swath of wild rya “flowers” planted in a smooth linen “lawn.”

Making rya knots with a bundle of linen threads.

Continuous weft bundle forms loops between rya knots.

Linen rya knots.

Loops are clipped. Green butterfly is for the background plain weave weft.

Each section of rya starts with a butterfly made of several strands of linen in assorted weights and colors. I tie each rya knot on a pair of warp ends, leaving a loop between knots. There are two to three passes of plain weave between each row of knots. When I finish a butterfly, I go back and clip all the loops. After the loops are cut, I trim the tops of the threads to even out the rya “flower garden.”

Linen rya knots on a linen weft-faced background.

Tops of the rya threads are trimmed. I intentionally leave a few shorter and longer threads, for interest.

Linen rya knots on a weft-faced linen background. Tapestry/inlay sampler.

Linen rya knots on a weft-faced linen background. Wild linen “flowers” growing out of a smooth linen “lawn.”

When things around us look a mess and don’t make sense, full of knots and loops, there is one thing we must do. Keep holding on to faith. Fight to keep your faith strong. Faith in Christ Jesus will carry you through uncertainty and will reveal the first ray of hope. The loops will be clipped, the threads will be trimmed. A garden of color will emerge. Faith waits for that.

May your faith be strong.

All the best,
Karen

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Quiet Friday: Serenity Towels

The neutral colors and the quiet elegance of these towels say “serenity.” What a pleasure to weave M’s and O’s. This was mostly single-shuttle weaving! Uncomplicated, luxurious, and serene. Five towels, plus one very long table runner that I made specifically for our dining room table. The fine 20/1 line linen weft increases the visual and tactile elegance for me.

I’m still amazed when I see the results that come from threads and a weaving loom. And thrilled that I get to be a part of that experience. Enjoy this short slide-show video of the process.

May serenity be woven into your days.

All the best,
Karen

22 Comments

  • Kerry Fagan says:

    Just beautiful and inspiring work. Love M &O’s and agree on serenity while weaving it. Your fluid ratios and colours are wonderful! Thanks for sharing.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kerry, Your sweet words put a smile on my face this morning! Thanks for your kindness.
      M’s and O’s is one of those favorites I will keep coming back to.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Sabine says:

    Beautiful, Kerry! And the music you’ve chosen complements the mood perfectly.

  • Cathy M. says:

    I’m so happy I came across your blog and receive your posts! I’ve learned so much from you, and seeing the photos of your work fills me with a sense of calm about MY weaving. Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cathy, It’s my greatest hope that this would be a place where people can learn something useful, so I’m thrilled by your kind words! I’m sure your weaving is beautiful. A sense of calm is always a good thing for weaving, and for everything.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    What a beautiful way to begin my day. Thank you for sharing your work and creativity.

  • Ghislaine says:

    Très beau, félicitations, belle présentation.

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Morning Karen,
    They are so beautiful, I love them!!! Your video is great too, I love seeing the weaving that comes off the loom, it is always amazing to me!!

    • Karen says:

      Liberty, Thank you so much! I am fond of this fabric, too. It is so lightweight, and has a wonderful sheen because of the linen weft.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • martha chiang says:

    Hello Karen,

    I love your slideshow and tomorrow I will watch it again with the music, husband and big dogs on bed are trying to sleep. I am a brand new weaver and not sure how I found my way to your site a couple of weeks ago, but I am really glad that I did. Intimidating though it is to see what someone like you can do with so much experience and equipment, etc.

    I love your serenity towels. I wove my first towels a couple of weeks ago, and I am now working on getting a warp wound and onto my loom for a scarf. I had a few local weavers (unfortunately not just one!) come and each help me get my first warp on my loom for my first project. What this means to me is that I have seen lots of different ways to do this, but am now a bit terrified to do it all alone this time around.

    But one way or another, the warp will get onto my loom and then from there the weaving is just so rhythmical and meditative and seems to take no time or effort at all.

    Well, hope I can learn too even though I am a bare beginner.

    Warmly,
    Martha

    • Karen says:

      Hi Martha, Of course you can learn! Every one of us started as a bare beginner.

      I know what you mean about seeing several ways of warping the loom. It can be confusing. I have some great resources I like to recommend that give step-by-step pictures and explanations for warping the loom back to front. The books are listed at the end of this post: Quiet Friday: Warping Back to Front with Confidence.

      Every baby step forward is exciting!

      Welcome to the world of weaving,
      Karen

      • Anonymous says:

        Hi Karen,

        I had been to your post once before on Warping Back to Front with Confidence, and so now having looked at that post again and taken an even more careful look at the 3 books you recommend, I have an important question. My first loom in from Harrisville Designs, neither a countermarch nor a counterbalance loom, not a Swedish loom nor do I have a trapeze. I have been cautioned repeatedly agagainst taking in too much weaving info all at once–in your opinion, would these 3 books still be appropriate for me? When I look at your lovely photos, I feel a bit lost, your loom looks so very different from mine. Thank you in advance, Martha

        • Karen says:

          Martha, I believe your Harrisville Designs is a jack loom. I don’t have any experience with jack looms, but I know you can use the same principles of back-to-front warping. I’m not going to be able to give you specific advice regarding your loom. Before I had a trapeze, I laid the warp out on the floor in front of the loom and put weights (bricks covered with cloth) on it. Many people use a helper to pull the warp as it is wound on. So you don’t have to have a trapeze for warping with this method.

          The book that might be most helpful for what you need right now is Joanne Hall’s book, “Learning to Warp Your Loom.” I’m pretty sure you would be able to make sense of her clear instructions, and adapt them to your type of loom.

          Karen

  • tw says:

    Karen,
    I hope you get as much enjoyment out of making these videos and slideshows as we get from watching them. They always provide creative inspiration and food for thought. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Theo

  • tsw says:

    I just realized where you live and am keeping you and fellow & sister Texans in my thoughts. I hope you and yours are safe.

    Theo

    • Karen says:

      Theo, Thank you very much for thinking of us! We are safe, but many friends are struggling right now. I’ll have a short update on my blog post tomorrow morning.

      Karen

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