My Loom Is a Pipe Organ

Threading twelve shafts in three blocks is like having three four-shaft looms all in one. The three simple block patterns can be arranged in various ways, giving me infinite design options for these towels. There will be no two alike. Double weave gives us crisp lines between colors, producing amazing cloth! This is another instance where weaving on this Glimåkra Standard feels like sitting at a big pipe organ, where glorious color patterns are the music of the loom.

Twelve-shaft double weave. Endless possibilities!

Exciting color combinations!

All this with only four colors! The magic of double weave.

First towel on the warp has multiple weft color changes.

Squares in double weave hand towels.

Second towel has squares and fewer weft color changes.

Cottolin towels on the loom in doubleweave!

As the first towel wraps around the cloth beam, the second towel nears its hem.

Faith. Faith in the powerful working of God is like exploring the possibilities of handweaving. You know the systems are in place for something amazing, but you find it takes a lifetime to discover all the glorious wonders. Double weave is just a glimpse of that glory. I have faith that there is Oh so much more. Likewise, our faith in God is an ongoing discovery of his works and his ways. With every glimpse of his glory and goodness, we know there is Oh so much more. Eternity won’t be long enough… And maybe heaven will be filled with music that explodes in color.

May you know the thrill of discovery.

With faith,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Betsy says:

    Those are works of art! I’d be thinking of framing one.

    And you had me looking at the Glimakra price list, wondering how much it would take to expand my Standard to 12 shafts. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Besty, The first three towels will go to my daughter. There should be enough warp after that for one more towel, or table runner, or maybe a framed piece. That’s a great idea. Thanks!

      You can do almost as much with 8 shafts. But, I have to admit 12 shafts is nice.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Love these colors, Karen! And the variety of the patterns is amazing! I can’t wait to learn Doubleweave. Your daughter will treasure these and I expect everyone in Chile will want a pair as well.

    I am looking forward to seeing you on the 6th.

  • Janet Hageman says:

    Karen, These towels look amazing! Did you pre-plan the patterning for each towel, or are you “winging it” as you weave?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janet, For the pattern on the first towel I was making it up as I went. After that, I got out some graph paper and crayons and planned it out. Having a plan saves quite a bit of time at the loom. It’s fun to create different patterns.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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What a Cellist Weaves

I approach weaving like a musician. The looms are instruments, and everything is practice. When I was twelve years old I fell in love with the ‘cello and began learning to play the instrument. Over time, I discovered the value of mindful practice, the need for which is ongoing. It’s not perfection I’m after, but intent to apply all I’ve learned.

Glimakra band loom.

Finished woven band. 12/6 cotton for warp and 16/1 linen for weft.

Band loom woven cord for cello endpin stop.

Small slider is added to make the cord’s length adjustable.

This once, my weaving and ‘cello playing overlap. My husband designed this cello endpin stop for me! I got to weave a cord on my band loom that connects the pieces together. (I showed you the beginning steps in Finer Weft for a Stronger Cord.)

Hand-crafted cello endpin stop, with handwoven band.

Hand-crafted ‘cello endpin stop.

Hand-crafted cello endpin stop.

‘Cello and me.

What if our interactions with people are opportunities to practice real love? It’s no big deal if I love those who love me. Or, do good when I know someone will return the favor. Or, lend to someone who will pay me back. Real love is loving those who don’t love you back. That takes practice. When we love, do good, and give, expecting nothing in return, we start to resemble God’s character. No, we won’t attain His perfection, but when we apply all He’s taught us, we begin to look like His children. For He loved us long before we loved Him back.

May you practice real love.

Love,
Karen

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Quiet Friday: Favorite Weaving Books

I know how to write music. I am experienced in playing improvisational music on my cello. And I don’t have a problem making up a tune to sing on the spot. But nothing touches the richness of music’s beauty like getting out the Beethoven Sonatas at the piano, or Bach’s Six Suites for the cello, or singing from an old-fashioned hymnal. Likewise, I do know how to write a weaving draft from scratch, but I usually find my starting point in one of my favored weaving books. There are countless designs and dreamy pictures. From simple to extraordinary. Sometimes I follow the instructions precisely. But most often, the improviser in me examines the elements and finds a new version to “play.”

Here are just a few of my favorite weaving books, and a sampling of what they have produced.

Some of my favorite weaving books!

Favored weaving books, in no particular order. Do you see a theme? Yes, I like to weave Swedish patterns from Swedish books on my Swedish Glimåkra looms.

Turned rosepath from "The Big Book of Weaving."

Rosepath band with turned rosepath.
Lundell, Laila, and Elisabeth Windesjö. “The Big Book of Weaving: Handweaving in the Swedish Tradition: Techniques, Patterns, Designs, and Materials.” North Pomfret, VT: Trafalgar Square, 2008.

From "Älskade Trasmattor." Rosepath rag rug.

Rosepath rag rug.
Hallgren, Ann-Kristin, and Monica Hallén. “Älskade Trasmattor: att Väva Som Förr.” Kalmar: Akantus, 2006. (“Beloved Rag Rugs: To Weave As Before”)

Rosepath rag rug. Karen Isenhower

My version of this rosepath rag rug makes itself at home in our Texas hill country getaway.

Rosepath rag rug from "Favorite Rag Rugs," by Tina Ignell.

Rosepath rag rug. My very first rosepath rag rug is positioned in a prominent place in our home where it is seen and stepped on every day. Much to my delight.
Ignell, Tina, and Catherine Zienko. “Favorite Rag Rugs: 45 Inspiring Weave Designs.” North Pomfret, VT: Trafalgar Square Books, 2007.

Rosepath rag rug in "Alla Tiders Trasmattor."

Another rosepath rag rug. No end to rosepath rag rug possibilities, it seems.
Hallgren, Ann-Kristin, and Monica Hallén. “Alla Tiders Trasmattor.” Akantus Edition, 2007. (“All Time Rag Rugs”)

Rosepath rag rug.

Rosepath rag rug uses alternating weft colors in the plain weave sections, adding visual texture.

"Stardust" scarf from "Happy Weaving from Vävmagasinet."

Called “warp-faced combination weave” in the book. I don’t know what else to call it. I wove this scarf when I didn’t know exactly what I was doing yet. If you see any mistakes, just think of them as “design elements.”
Johansson, Lillemor, Charlotta Bosson, Conny Bernhardsson, and Katie Zienko. “Happy Weaving from Vävmagasinet.” Glimåkra: Vävhästen, 2004.

Classic twill towels, from "Simple Weaves," by Björk and Ignell

Cottolin twill towels. I have a small sample piece. All the towels I wove are happily drying hands and dishes in homes of family and friends.
Björk, Birgitta Bengtsson, Tina Ignell, and Bengt Arne Ignell. “Simple Weaves: over 30 Classic Patterns and Fresh New Styles.” North Pomfret, VT: Trafalgar Square, 2012.

Double binding rag rug, from "Swedish Rag Rugs 35 New Designs."

Double binding rag rug. This sweet rug is resting in my Etsy shop, waiting for a new home.
Johansson, Lillemor, Pia Wedderien, Marie Rolander, Conny Bernhardsson, and Katie Zienko. “Swedish Rag Rugs: 35 New Designs.” Glimåkra: Vävhästen, 1995.

May you play as much music as you can find.

…and speaking of Etsy! The original River Stripe Towels and Table Centerpiece Cloth that I wove are now listed in the Warped for Good Etsy Shop. And there may still be one River Stripe Towel Set Pre-Wound Warp Instructional Kit (Workshop in a Box) left! UPDATE: THE KIT HAS BEEN SOLD.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

4 Comments

  • "Blekinges sommarfågel" says:

    You are an inspiration to those who are not able attend weaving courses in Sweden, but successfully forge ahead experimenting guided by the skillfully written and illustrated Swedish weaving texts, using high quality, oftentimes fine gauge imported yarn of natural materials. Keep weaving and inspiring others with your blog!

    • Karen says:

      “Blekinges sommarfågel,” The skillfully written and illustrated Swedish weaving texts open up a world of possibilities. I love to take a stack of the books and thumb through the pages, just to dream of what I might weave someday.

      Thank you for sending such encouraging words!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • kim says:

    I’ve lately been thinking about weaving as I think about cooking, and weaving book as I think about cook books.

    While we are learning, we start with something we see in a book or magazine (a recipe) and maybe weave that as it is, or make some small change like color (ingredients.) Maybe we are brave enough to tweak the “recipe” and use a different fiber, or a thicker one or thinner one. Then, once we have the basics down (boiling eggs, steaming rice, mashing potatoes) we can build on that knowledge and compose our own recipes (pattern combinations.)

    Books are inspiration. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for YOUR endless inspiration.

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Strings and Threads

This is a good day to put new strings on my cello. And to make my looms look like stringed instruments. Cello strings are tuned by tightening them until they reach specific pitches. Warp threads are “tuned” by tightening small groups of ends, one group at a time, until all the warp ends are equally taut. When the strings and threads are tensioned as they should be, it’s possible to create beautiful things–music and cloth. The bow and the shuttle turn strings and threads into songs.

Dressing the loom for 8-shaft double binding rag rugs. Glimakra Standard

Sleyed reed is centered in the beater.

Glimakra Ideal is getting dressed for rosepath rag rugs.

Glimakra Ideal loom is getting dressed for weaving rosepath rag rugs.

You must accurately hear pitches to tune a cello. You must have a keen sense of touch to evenly tension a warp. These skills can be learned, but only by those who are interested in learning.

Leveling string goes across the warp ends at the beginning of the warp.

Evenly tensioned red warp has a white leveling string that goes across the beginning of the warp, producing an even surface for weaving. Warp ends are “tuned” for weaving.

This is when the loom looks like a musical instrument, ready to be strummed.

With a little imagination, the loom’s tied-on warp become the strings of a musical instrument, ready for strumming.

This reminds me of wisdom. Wisdom cannot be bought, and will never make sense to someone who has no interest in it. You can pay for knowledge and instruction, but wisdom only comes to those who have a heart to be wise. Let the music begin! 

New strings on the old German cello.

With new strings, the old German cello sings out with a rich and powerful sound. (Find me on Instagram as @celloweaver.)

May your heart be wise.

Happy music making,
Karen

7 Comments

  • Sandy says:

    Hi Karen,
    I have been very interested in this leveling thread and your method of tying on. I take my warps over the bar, split into two pieces, then tie those two pieces together on top. Can a leveling thread be used with this type of tie-on? How do you tie on and tension in the over/under configuration that you use?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandy,
      For the leveling string to work, the warp ends must alternately go over and under the tie-on bar. I learned this from Joanne Hall and Becky Ashenden. You split the group of ends, with half going over, and half under the tie-on bar. You tension the warp as you tie the ends, not trying to make it really tight, but making it consistent all the way across.

      Joanne ties the ends at the front of the bar with a simple bow knot, described in “Learning to Warp Your Loom,” by Joanne Hall. Becky has a different method to tie the ends, described in “Dress Your Loom the Vavstuga Way: A Bench-Side Photo Guide,” by Becky Ashenden.

      The leveling string is tied through the holes on both ends of the tie-on bar. First tie one side, then weave the leveling string over and under the tied-on warp ends, pull the string tight, and secure the leveling string to the other end of the bar.

      Let me know if you have any more questions,
      Karen

  • Sandy says:

    Thanks, Karen! I work on a rigid heddle loom, and I think Joanne’s book will probably be best for me.

  • linda says:

    Hi Karen: I too tie on without a leveling thread and after 45 years of weaving I’ve not had a problem. Just to show how different tieons can work ….I do not use a stick, but tie on to a metal bar that is inside a cloth attatched to the front beam. and Yes there are slits in the cloth.Very different from You, but always a success for me. I guess “different strokes———–same conclusion”. is the lesson. Love, Peace and Joy, linda

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda,
      I wouldn’t be surprised if most people tie on with the method you use. That’s a fine way to do it! It’s interesting how different methods can end up with similar great results.

      Karen

  • Debbi says:

    Hi Karen,
    I’ve recently started weaving on a RHL, and came across your leveling string method by accident, but love the idea. However, I thought I also saw a video showing how it was done, but can’t find now. Did you happen to make one? Wondering if you could please help. Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Debbi, I think the leveling string would work well on a rigid heddle loom, as long as you have a way to tie it on both sides. On my loom, the tie-on bar has holes in the ends, which make it easy to tie on the string.

      I have not made a video about the leveling string. A few books have good descriptions and pictures of using the leveling string: Dress Your Loom The Vävstuga Way, A Bench-Side Photo Guide, by Becky Ashenden; Learning to Warp Your Loom, by Joanne Hall; The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

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Weaving Christmas

If it weren’t for Christmas, this would be one of those times I would wish for a longer warp. Why is this halvdräll so enjoyable to weave? Simplicity and complexity, cottolin and linen, two shuttles, and interesting treadling. This peppermint red and white is striking and cheerful, and makes the weaving studio feel like Christmas!

Halvdräll on the loom. Christmas table square.

Red cutting line separates the sample piece from the first table square.

I may have it off the loom by Christmas. I am going to try, because I would love to have this festive cloth on the table Christmas Day as my gift to our family. Our children and their spouses, and the four grandchildren, and one on the way!… All will be here with us to celebrate together. That’s a beautiful gift. Family.

Christmas table square in halvdräll on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Red linen forms the pattern in two blocks.

The most extravagant Christmas gift is the Son given to us. The majestic choral and instrumental lines in Handel’s Messiah have familiarized an ancient prophecy. Can you hear the singing as you read these lyrics?

For unto us a child is born,

unto us

a son is given,

and the government shall be upon his shoulder;

and his name shall be called

Wonderful,

Counselor,

Almighty God,

the Everlasting Father,

the Prince of Peace.

May you be surrounded with beautiful gifts.

Weaving Christmas,
Karen

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