Quiet Friday: Threads of Love

Talk about thick and thirsty towels! Double weave makes these hand towels thick. And the linen in the cottolin threads makes them highly absorbent. The colors are fantastic together. When our daughter Melody moves with her little family to Chile, she can set up her new home with these made-for-her towels. My love is woven into every single pick.

I have included two short little videos just for the fun of it. Enjoy!

This project started in my weaving studio in our Houston home, where I beamed the warp.

Colors for Towels

Winding a warp for double weave towels.

Beaming the warp for towels.

And then we decided to move! We sold the house and moved into an apartment. The big loom was dismantled, with the towel warp on the back beam. Then, we moved all the pieces to our Texas hill country home.

Dismantled loom for moving.

Moving a Glimakra Standard loom.

Putting the Glimakra Standard loom back together.

Recently, I spent a week there to finish dressing the loom and weave all four towels. Whew! (Here’s what I did that week: Testing Color Surprises with My Little Helper and Weaving Deadline)

Threading 12 shafts. Double weave towels coming!

Lower lamms ready to go!

Starting the hem on double weave towels.

Double weave cottolin towels on 12 shafts. Karen Isenhower

From the back beam. Double weave on 12 shafts.

Double weave towels. Loom with a view!

Squares in a double weave towel.

Towels on the cloth beam. Karen Isenhower

Double weave towels on the loom.

Double weave cottolin towels on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Towels on the cloth beam.

Glimakra Standard loom in Texas hill country.

Cutting off!

Cutting off! Double weave towels.

Fresh double weave towels, ready for finishing.

I wove hanging tabs on my band loom. And I discovered that I could showcase both sides of the colorful towel if I stitch the hanging tab on the side of the towel, off center.

Glimakra band loom.

Hanging tabs for towels woven on Glimakra band loom.

Hanging tab stitched to side of towel.

The towels are hemmed and pressed, ready to brighten the day!

Double Weave cottolin towels. Side A.

Double weave cottolin towels. Side B.

Double weave cottolin towels! Karen Isenhower

Cottolin towels, hanging from the side. More pics on the blog.

May you put threads of love into everything you do.

Love,
Karen

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Weaving Deadline

I had a deadline for weaving these towels. Eight days. I finished dressing the loom at our Texas hill country home on Monday afternoon, and wove in long and short increments throughout the week. Mostly short increments. After all, I had little grandchildren to enjoy at the same time. And sweet interactions with my daughter and her husband. I finished weaving the four towels on Saturday evening, and cut them off on Sunday morning, just in time to bring them back with me to Houston to do the finishing work.

Cloth beam fills up with double weave towels.

Cloth beam fills up with double weave towels.

Four double weave towels. Time for cutting off!

Four towels woven. Time for cutting off!

Cloth puddle of double weave towels. Cutting off!

Cloth puddle.

Double weave towels just off the loom.

Aqua is the main color on the front of the towels. The reverse side has Poppy as the main color.

Freshly woven towels, ready for finishing work.

Ready for finishing. This week I will be mending errors, wet finishing, hemming, and sewing on labels.

I was highly motivated. I knew this may be my only chance to finish these towels for Melody before she and her precious family move to Chile in the near future. Now, she will be able to take a woven piece of my love with her. Know your roots. Where are you rooted? When your life takes root in good soil it will grow. Rooted in love, your life will blossom to bless others. And those are roots you can plant anywhere in the world.

May you bloom where you are planted.

With love,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Very Beautiful, the towels and your advice. At times, I wonder, “Why am I doing this project?”, especially when I have been challenged with warping or broken threads…but when it comes off the loom and you think of the person you will share it with, love IS the answer! The Greatest of These is Love!

  • Beth Mullins says:

    They’re so pretty and the colors perfect for Chile! Melody is very lucky. You are very kind. Can’t wait to see them finished.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I had Chile in mind when I selected these colors. One of the towels will stay with me, so I’ll have a Chile towel in my home that will remind me of Melody. I’m excited to see how they are after wet finishing.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Laine says:

    More information on mending errors please.
    As a beginner I have many 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laine, Thank you for asking! Beginners aren’t the only ones with errors. I make my fair share of errors, too. Haha! I have quite a few skipped threads and floats to take care of on these towels.

      Here’s a link to a previous post to get you started: What to Do About Weaving Errors

      I hope that helps!
      Karen

  • Angela says:

    The towels are beautiful. What technique are you using? Is it double weave? You weave so many beautiful projects and you have such nice messages.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Angela, That’s very kind of you to say such sweet things.

      These cottolin towels are woven in double weave. After washing they should be soft and absorbent.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Quickly becoming a decade ago I set up my almost forgotten 4 harness loom on the 3 season porch to provide something to occupy my time during the never ending treatment of DCIS. The result was a stack of small rag rugs the size used in front of a kitchen sink. They were gifted to sibs and nieces and nephews Christmas 2010.

    Faded from use but with years of wear left. The rugs are used in bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways, kitchens and the outside stoop of my daughters house. I am amazed at how the work of my hands is a part of the lives of so many people I love.

    May the people you love and those you do not know enjoy the work of your hands.

    Nannette

  • Lyna says:

    I was wondering…what do you do with your thrums/loom waste? The colors of this warp are so luscious it would be a shame to throw away any of it!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lyna, You are asking someone who just had to downsize from a full-size house to a small transition apartment. After saving my thrums for a few years and not finding a use for most of the beautiful threads, I decided to discard them when the weaving is finished. With the exception of linen. I do have a project in mind for all my linen thrums.

      I use threads from the thrums to do my repair finishing work. I have used thrums for choke ties before, but I have enough re-usable choke ties that I prefer. I have used thrums tied into longer pieces to wrap gifts and packages.

      I don’t want to store things anymore. It doesn’t seem like a waste to me because I got the best part of all the beautiful threads in my handwoven towels.

      How would you use the thrums?

      All the best,
      Karen

      • Lyna says:

        I can see the point in tossing when finished, I come from an old German farmer background and must resist the “box of string too short to use,” black-hole-of-clutter tendency. I was wondering if thrums, sorted by fiber type, would make a good shaggy rug. What do you have planned for your linen?
        “What do you do with thrums?”could be a good question to ask your Facebook friends to discuss, collect and evaluate ideas for a future post. Just an idea for your oh-so-abundant (not!) free time!
        Thanks for posting even when life get busy! I especially appreciate your reflections on weaving as a metaphor for walking with God.
        Bless!

        • Karen says:

          Lyna, I’m a little too familiar with the old German farmer background. If you only knew… Haha! That’s in my heritage, which may be why I have to fight the tendency to think “someday I could use this for something…” Thrums could probably be used for some rya weaving. Until I have that planned I’m not keeping my thrums. (Don’t tell my mother.) 🙂

          I’d rather be weaving than checking FB, so I don’t do much of that.

          It’s so good to have you along on this journey!
          Karen

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Grow Lizard Grow

There are no growth spurts with this lizard. He is certainly growing, but at a slow and steady rate. If I can keep this pace of about ten centimeters a week, I will be able to finish this tapestry before we move from the apartment—our temporary residence. The timeline is set. Will this slow-going, slow-growing lizard cross the finish line before I must dismantle the loom again? Time will tell. I have woven fifty centimeters. I have seventy-five centimeters to go.

Weaving a tapestry of a lizard.

Lizard’s foot and leg are starting to disappear around the breast beam on the right-hand side of the loom.

Many wool butterflies in action for this detailed tapestry.

Head of the lizard is visible on the cartoon under the warp. Many wool butterflies crowd each other, due to frequent color changes in the details.

Weaving the lizard's mouth and eye. Tapestry fun!

Lizard is visibly growing. Currently working on the red mouth and blue eye.

Grow. We are woven together by loving each other. Each of us, like strands of wool yarn, with our own degree of hue, saturation, and value, not to mention twist and plies, are united with each other when we hold fast to Jesus Christ, the designer and weaver. His tapestry grows, not in spurts, but slow and steady, year after year, century after century. Always teaching us to love his way—sacrificially. And we know he has just enough time to finish the tapestry masterpiece that he has envisioned from the very beginning.

May you see slow and steady progress in things that matter.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Liz Dewsnap says:

    I love how you ‘weave in’ truths from God’s word and His love into your posts. AND….you weaving is amazing! I have been weaving a short time and would love to have more time to devote to this delightful craft! Also knit, do paper crafts & sew. And I help care for aging parents and delightful grand boys. Never enough time to do all I would like – I guess I will have to wait till the kingdom :-). So much joy!!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liz, You are in a very active season right now! It’s good you are enjoying what’s in front of you. Weaving is my favorite creative activity, so I go to the loom as often as I can.

      Thanks for taking time to comment!
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Good morning Karen,

    I saw your post while waiting for the storms to pass over before heading north for a few days of exciting kitchen garden work.

    On the up side.. Local food pantries will accept an excess of fresh produce from home gardens. The trial garden my son put in is very successful and many will share God’s abundance this growing season.

    On the down side… it has been a few months since picking up a shuttle and I suspect it is accumulating dust.

    The detail of the lizard tapestry requires thoughts to focus on nothing but what you are doing. Not the temporary housing. Not the tying up of one life to transfer to another. Not when to contact the movers, or how are the grand babies doing. Just….. where would God put this color? Just saying that makes me calm down, and it is not my project.

    Let’s all enjoy the moment.

    Nannette

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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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Weave Two Connected Layers

Two layers of cloth exchange places in this double weave structure. One layer of warp is solid deep plum. The other layer has stripes of bold colors. Clean lines occur where the layers switch places. So, with deep plum weft alternating with orange, blue, green, and red weft, we get a message written in clearly-defined blocks: Be invigorated with vibrant color!

Magic of double weave!

Dark plum weft alternates with the blue weft. The reverse side of the fabric has dark plum squares in long vertical color stripes.

Double weave throw. Karen Isenhower

Colors of the warp stripes are used as colors for the weft stripes. As a result, you can see the “pure” colors in a diagonal line–orange, blue, green, red–where the warp and weft colors are the same.

Double weave magic!

Variance in the blocks of colors gives the cloth a dynamic appearance. Not including the dark plum background, there are sixteen different colors of blocks as a result of the four colors being used as warp and weft.

Message. We have a message from heaven. When Jesus came to earth, he not only brought the message, he was the message. Not that we should try to be good like him. Nor that we are already good enough. But that he, the direct link to heaven, would suffer the consequences for all our misdeeds. And rise again. He willingly switched places with us—the great heaven and earth exchange. This good message brings hope and grace to all of us who live on this earthly layer. Thanks to our Grand Weaver’s faithful love, we are woven into a vibrant-color existence through faith, on this layer and the next.

May you see your surroundings in living color.

Joyful weaving,
Karen

11 Comments

  • Meg says:

    This is terribly interesting. The colors are so delicate.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Meg, The contrast between the deep plum and the other colors has a surprising effect. Working with colors never grows old!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Chris says:

    Hi Karen,
    I love doubleweave, so many interesting effects possible. This is a terrific project.:)
    I am so pleased I discovered your blog.
    Kind regards
    Chris

    • Karen says:

      Hi Chris, Doubleweave is fascinating! This project stretches me—literally, side to side—making it a delightful challenge to weave.

      I’m delighted you found your way here!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Janet H says:

    This is just beautiful! And timely. I am currently trying to design a similar doubleweave windows draft for a throw and have come across 2 sources that explain the block design differently. I have been trying to work this out in my head, one vs the other, in my planning process and how to apply it. I confuse myself and have had to keep setting it aside and studying it again later. Seeing this post of yours, I just now realized that you have been posting about this same block design all along and your pictures are now helping me work through it. I am planning a gray background with 10-11 shades of blues, greens, purples in the “windows” for the front. I may vary the heights and widths of the windows throughout the throw…haven’t progressed to that decision yet.
    My first source for this project is in the book Loom Controlled Double Weave by Paul R. O’Connor, on pp. 42-43.
    The second source I found online: https://www2.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/webdocs/opr_8s.pdf pp. 2-4
    The two may actually be the same thing, just explained differently, so I was having a little difficulty figuring it out in my head. In the second, they are using Dark/Light instead of color letters. If I use gray for both the D and L in Block A, I’m thinking it would be the same as O’Connor’s threading. If I used the second threading, and used gray as D and my colors as L throughout, I think it would only change the appearance of the back. Am I right? If I want gray to predominate on both sides, I think I just follow O’Connor’s threading, but I think the second source (using D/L) shows the tie-up in conjunction with the treadling and would be more helpful in setting up my loom.
    I went back through your previous posts about your throw and it appears you used the second approach, the D/L threading in both blocks A and B. I would really like to know what the back of yours looks like, but I still think I want to follow the O’Connor threading. It has been incredibly helpful looking back at your posts at this point in my design process! I feel like a light went on and suddenly it is making sense to me.
    Thank you so much!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janet, I haven’t studied doubleweave like you have. The draft I’m using is similar to the one in the arizona.edu file. I don’t have the O’Connor book to reference. The draft I am using is from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, p. 176, if you want to compare it. I wound the warp with 2 ends–plum, plum; and plum, other color. The threading alternates the plum with the other color in the blocks with squares.
      I’ll post a picture of the back in a little bit.

      It’s great when a light comes on like that! Hooray!
      Karen

    • Karen says:

      Janet, Here’s a picture of the back side of the fabric!
      Back side of double weave.

      Karen

  • Janet H says:

    Karen, thank you for the view of the back! I think I understand the difference in the 2 threadings now. I also pulled out another book I have (and forgot to look at–head slap), Doubleweave by Jennifer Moore), and found an example done using the O’Connor threading that also showed how the back looks in that case.
    When I first started my comment above, it was going to be asking you a lot of questions to help me make sense of it all. As I typed, that light kept getting brighter, and I answered most of my own questions before they even got typed, so I ended up with a completely different comment than when I started. So, without even knowing it, you enlightened me! Sorry, I do tend to run on when I get wound up….
    Don’t mistake me for someone that knows what I’m doing. I think I am more of a technician (& perfectionist) than a creative artist, so I have to understand how things work (and then modify them). I do it when I sew also. Unfortunately, it means I spend more time planning (or “studying”) my projects than actually doing them. I would probably learn more if I just dove in and made things, but I guess I’m not made that way.
    I have put a request in to the library for the Lundell book, and I imagine I will end up buying it. As a technician, I am also a collector of resources and tools.
    Love your blog! You are an inspiration.

    • Karen says:

      Janet, There are many different learning styles. It’s great that you understand how you are wired! I think I’m also a technician to some degree. I enjoy systems and knowing how something works, and being able to alter that, too. But I’m also finding that I learn a lot by doing, even when I don’t understand. My mistakes — like the several I’ve made with this project — take me to greater understanding and experience. Learning is a lifelong pursuit. I’m glad about that!

      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Love those colors, Karen! The purple becomes a neutral background.

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, I never would have thought of purple being a neutral, but you’re right. It’s almost like a deeply colored black that sets off the other colors.

      Thanks,
      Karen

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