Cloth Beam Matters

Does it matter what happens at the cloth beam? Why not let the woven fabric go around the beam as is and forget about it? You have worked diligently at every stage to ensure an even warp. Now, preparing the cloth beam for cloth will ensure the warp remains even.

Warping slats are placed on the cloth beam.

Warping slats cover the cords and knots on the cloth beam so the handwoven fabric has a flat surface to lay against.

Warping slat over the tie-on bar prevents the tie-on threads from putting bulges in the fabric. Bulges can distort the fabric and put uneven tension on warp ends.

Warping slats around the cloth beam for a smooth start.

When the warping slats have covered one full revolution of the cloth beam, no more slats are needed. The twill pre-measured tape on the floor gives a clue to the extended length of this table runner on the loom.

The cloth beam holds obstacles that threaten the evenness of your warp. Any raised surface on the beam, like beam cords and tie-on knots, will distort the warp tension as the woven fabric wraps around it. Warping slats solve the problem. I lay in the slats around the beam, one by one, as I advance the warp. This forms a flat surface around which my freshly-woven fabric can hug as the cloth beam turns.

M's and O's long table runner. Linen weft.

Long M’s and O’s table runner on the loom. The sample piece and towel that preceded the table runner have already reached the cloth beam.

Fear makes obstacles for our path that disturb our peace and threaten our well-being. Trust in the Lord. Trust pushes fear aside. The day you are afraid–the moment you are afraid–put your trust in God. Know that the Lord is for you. Your trust in Him forms a firm layer to build your life on. Like the warping slats that are in place for your handwoven cloth, your trust in God is a foundation on which to roll the fabric of your life.

May you walk without fear.

Peace,
Karen

6 Comments

  • ellen santana says:

    whoa, never thought of that. i have been using paper on the warp beam and when i tried the slats they fell out of place when i loosened the warp at the end of a session. do you keep it taut always?es

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ellen, I do keep the warp under tension. I don’t see a need to completely loosen the warp at the end of a session. If I know I may not get back to it for a few days, I may loosen the warp a little, but there is always adequate tension on the warp for slats to stay in place. I have also left a warp under tight tension for days or weeks, and have never noticed an adverse effect.

      Also, when winding the warp, unless it is linen, I only put in slats every fourth round. So that means if some slats slip, it’s only a few on the outer layer.

      (I love my warping slats. I have found various uses for them, besides how they are “supposed” to be used.)

      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    Hi Karen,
    A couple of questions:
    Do you add slats on the cloth beam as your fabric is woven or just on the initial “round” to cover knots and such?
    Did your husband make your slats and what is the thickness of the slats you use?
    I love your sharing of knowledge! So many “little” things that make weaving more of a joy.
    Ruth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, Great questions!
      I add the slats just on the initial round. After that, the fabric just rolls onto itself.
      My husband did make some of my slats, but most of my slats were purchased from a Glimakra dealer. I think the slats are about 1/8″ thick.

      Yes, it is the little things that make a difference in the enjoyment and the quality of weaving.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Linda Sloan says:

    What a wonderful message. Love your website.

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Planning Swedish Towels

After spreading out a few Swedish weaving books and other resources, I am ready to develop my own version of towels in plattväv, a classic Swedish weave. I have double-checked my calculations, so I’m ready to wind the warp. This set of towels has a cottolin warp and linen weft.

Planning new handwoven Swedish-style towels.

Planning sheet holds all the details for a weaving project. I use digital devises for planning most things, but for my weaving plans I still like paper and pencil the best.

Winding a striped warp for cottolin towels.

White, black, silver, ash gray, and pale blue gray. The pale blue gray seems to turn the other grays into brownish hues.

As always, I started with more than enough thread. Unfortunately, I made a major error while winding the warp. By the time I noticed the error, I had already wound 264 meters (289 yards) of warp. I chained off the mistake, putting it aside for another use. I started over, correctly this time, but I had a nagging worry that I might run out of white thread…

Warp winding for cottolin towels is complete.

Warp winding is complete. Smallest tube of white thread is close to empty. Spool crate is elevated to reduce the distance needed to bend down.

Warp chains for striped towels.

Smaller warp chain on the left was wound incorrectly. The threads will be divided up and used for weaving bands on the band loom. The two warp chains on the right will become striped handtowels with plattväv (platt weave) patterning.

Worry doesn’t make anything better, and big worries can lead us into a downward spiral in our thoughts. Prayer pushes worry away. When we pray about the things we are tempted to worry about, God’s peace acts as a guard over our hearts and minds. His peace frees us from the weight of worry. And we often learn later that our worry had been unfounded. Like my worry about the white thread, which, despite my blunder, did not run out.

May you forget your worries.

All the best,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Julia says:

    Oh, your towels will be so lovely! These colors together are some of my favorites. I certainly know that feeling of concern that one color will run out and it has happened to me on a number of occasions. That “mistake” warp chain will no doubt become something beautiful.

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Julia, I’m excited about working with these colors. It will be interesting to see how they mesh together with the golden bleached linen weft.

      I’m glad this “mistake” is still usable. I don’t want to waste that much thread.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Angie Roberts says:

    Can’t wait to see these beautiful towels, love the color blend.
    Just another example, everything and everyone, is needed and has
    a purpose in this life.
    Enjoy the Wonderful Day

  • Ruth says:

    It makes my heart sing to see chained warp threads ready for the loom. Looking forward to watching your warp turn into towels and curious about the pattern you will use with the mistake threads. Blessings.

  • Lovely colors, I have returned to weaving after about 15 years and I can’t get enough now. I am having to rehone skills, but I am loving to see what others are doing after my long hiatus. Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Annie,
      I’m sure you’ll have a pleasant re-entry to weaving. Isn’t it like riding a bike? Those skills never really go away. I enjoy seeing other people’s projects and progress, too.

      Karen

  • Lynette says:

    Karen, I see in the photo your yarn crate. Do you somehow thread the yarns through holes in the crate instead of the screw eyes? Also I have had a trouble getting my Swedish 12/6 warp to unwind SMOOTHLY from the tubes. I place a tube or two on my yarn rack and thread the ends through their individual screw eyes, and very often the yarn catches on the bottom of the tube and yanks the yarn in my hand, sometimes so hard that the tube is pulled right off the dowel. Have you experienced that, and do you have tips to help with this problem?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette,

      I know what you’re talking about. The 12/6 cotton has such high twist that it can cause problems when winding a warp. I do not put it through screw eyes. This yarn just wants to twist around at the screw eyes; and if it won’t come through smoothly, your warp isn’t getting wound evenly.

      My husband inserted dowels that stand up in a flat board that fits in the bottom of a plastic crate. If it is yarn that will twist with its neighbor, I turn the crate on its side and send the yarn through separate holes above the tubes. This keeps them separate enough to eliminate most problems. When the spool is close to empty and starts jumping around (it does that even without screw eyes), I just lay the tube in the bottom of the crate or a separate small tub and let it unroll that way.

      Another trick that I don’t use very often, but does work well is to thread the tubes horizontally on dowels and put the ends of the dowels through the sides of the crates. There is almost no resistance and the tube unrolls freely.

      I hope that helps!
      Karen

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Make a Handwoven Something

There is less than a yard of this lovely fabric. I want to use it for something. After weaving the baby wrap, I wove off the remainder of the warp in twill, using multiple weft colors. The colors seem even more vibrant in this twill weave. The fabric feels great in hand, as well. Is there enough to make a handbag? Just barely; but, yes, there is enough!

Making a handbag from handwoven fabric.

After ironing interfacing to the back of the fabric, I work the puzzle of fitting the pattern pieces onto the fabric. Some piecing is necessary.

Making lining for a handbag.

Lining pieces have pockets added.

Making a handbag from handwoven fabric.

Topstitching goes all around the top perimeter of the handbag.

How do you feel about cutting into your handwoven fabric? Once you cut, there’s no turning back. You better be sure before you get out the scissors. Fear of ruining your precious fabric can keep you from ever making the first cut. You might be tempted to fold up your fabric and tuck it away in a drawer. “At least you didn’t ruin it,” your fear would tell you. However, if you know something good will come of it, and if you have a plan, you walk past the fear and do the cutting.

Finished handwoven handbag holds rolled baby wrap. Karen Isenhower

Finished handbag holds the rolled baby wrap.

Handwoven handbag. Karen Isenhower

Handbag front is mostly twill, with five different weft colors. The warp length is crosswise in this piece.

Handbag made from handwoven fabric.

Back of the handbag. The lining fabric is cut from a remnant left from an Easter dress I made my daughter umpteen years ago.

The peace of Christ takes the power out of fear. Instead of looking at the status quo as the only option, internal peace enables us to walk past the fear. His peace enables us to do things that require faith. Fear fades when you know that the one who is truly good does have a plan. After all, handwoven fabric is made for such a use as this.

May you do things that require faith.

Making things,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Betsy says:

    Beautiful bag! Would you be willing to share the pattern?

    • Karen says:

      Thank you, Betsy! I’m glad you like it.

      I don’t have the pattern in a shareable format. It’s one I designed and drew on brown paper.
      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

  • linda says:

    Great Idea!!! linda

  • Janet says:

    Great idea!! Thanks for the idea…I have yet to cut my fabric and sew something. Perhaps I can work up my confidence this year 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janet, It does take a level of confidence. I think if you can weave it, you can sew it. It’s a satisfying experience. I hope you give it a try!

      Karen

  • Betsy G says:

    Karen
    What a nice bag. As I looked closely at the pictures, I saw you had a zipper for the bag opening and I was impressed. Then, I noticed that you also have a zippered pocket! Talk about raising the bar. I love your attention to detail.
    Betsy

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy,
      Thank you for noticing!
      It’s the details that set something apart as a handcrafted item. I like zippers.

      All the best,
      Karen

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One Color Too Many

I have forty-five shades of Fårö wool. That’s better than a giant box of crayons! Monksbelt and Fårö wool–is there anything better?! I have narrowed it down to nine colors. For the weft rep ground weave, a few tubes of 16/2 cotton off my shelves will do nicely.

Planning Swedish monksbelt with Fårö wool and 16/2 cotton.

Nine cakes of Fårö wool lined up against the wall. The wool is used for the monksbelt pattern weft. Seven colors of 16/2 cotton will serve as the ground weave, background for the pattern.

As always, I sample to see what works, and what doesn’t. I want a collection of colors that make a strong, but peaceful, statement. One misplaced color will spoil the effect. After trying various wool and cotton combinations, I see that the teal cotton must be removed. This color is welcome in other settings, but here it is out of place.

Removing the teal quill from the collection of colors.

One quill is eliminated–teal. The brash contrast between the green wool and teal cotton is immediately apparent as the cloth is woven.

Faith is like a determined collection of colors that are meant for each other. Do not underestimate the power of faith. When lined up like close-knit friends, when put into action, when woven into the warp, it’s phenomenal! However, faith is strongest when fear is removed. Taking the teal out of the lineup makes all the difference. Now, I weave this with confidence, knowing it works. Have you heard the account of Jesus calming the storm? He told the wind and waves, “Be still.” Strength and peace. That’s the power of faith.

Monksbelt on the loom. Wool and cotton. Karen Isenhower

Monksbelt weaving project starts with a bold statement. With the sampling now complete, I can weave the selected colors with assurance.

May you find the color that needs to be removed.

With strength and peace,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Eva says:

    What will you make? Love Monksbelt!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Eva, Thanks for asking!
      I am weaving this monksbelt with no end product in mind. I will wait until I can hold the fabric in my hands to decide how to use it. Right now, the pleasure is simply in the weaving.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Debbie Moyes says:

    45! I’d love to see a picture of your fiber storage area…. I’m sure you have lots of other goodies as well. I love monksbelt too, but usually have issues with the selvedge. It looks like you have it well under control.

    • Karen says:

      Debbie, I know. I’m embarrassed to tell how much Fårö wool I have. I have collected the colors little by little for doing my small tapestries. I love having a wide range of colors for that.

      Fiber storage – I do have a great system that a dear friend helped design for me. My Fårö has overflowed its space, though, and half of it has drifted into a large box on the other side of the room. haha!
      A post on some storage solutions is a great idea! Thanks for the idea.

      So far, the selvedges are not giving me too much trouble. The temple helps with that.

      Karen

  • Elisabeth Munkvold says:

    Beautiful! And I agree in the teal! It doesn’t contribute to balance…or peace. The green/teal combination speaks a different “language” than the other color combinations.

    On storage, a few ideas:
    Before looking into storage solutions: Reduce! Weed out anything that doesn’t meet your need any more! Did something already serve its purpose in your life and will now serve someone else better?

    Can you add shelves to your existing system or did you already utilized every inch of height between the existing shelves?

    You love color palettes as much as I do…would displaying your yarn in wall hung shallow wooden boxes be an option?

    Would it be more functional to move yarn back into the existing storage system and take something else out to be placed elsewhere?

    Is it an option to sell yarn to other weavers to reduce money held up in inventory and set the money aside for future yarn needs 🙂 Full price by weight…maybe half the amount of each color goes a long way. This could be done for any yarn/thread that’s not used a lot.

    Do some items take up too much space by sitting in a box that’s too big? Would some items be better off on a small wall shelf as a “piece of art”…like clamping a bobbin winder to a small colorful shelf for example. Or hang extra heddles on decorative pegs?

    And last but not least, I really like the flexibility of the IKEA Ivar system. Shelves can be placed as far apart or close together as you need. And, you can cover the side(s) with wood or a peg board and have functional wall storage.

    Have wonderful weekend!

    Elisabeth

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Karen says:

      Elisabeth – This is why I love hanging out with you! Your advice is priceless.

      For the Fårö situation, I think it’s time to weed out some old yarn that is not the quality I like to use. It’s just taking up space. If I do that, I think I can make room to put all the Fårö together. 🙂 You’re brilliant at pointing out the simple and obvious. …and at asking the hard questions.

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • linda says:

    Karen: You must be too close to your weaving to decide about the teal, from Massachusetts it looks wonderful! Sometimes just a hint of that “off” color makes the others sing. Back up 20′ and squint. What do you see? LP&J,linda

    • Karen says:

      Okay, let me try that. I’ll be right back…

      • Karen says:

        Linda, I see what you mean. From a distance, the teal color doesn’t seem as harsh against the wool green. I know exactly what you are talking about that a hint of an “off” color can add a vibrant touch to the fabric. I’ve experienced that a few times, too.

        Hmm… I think I will set the teal aside–mostly; after all, the fabric will be seen close up most often. I may, however, sneak in a small bit of the teal as a surprise element. We shall see…

        Thanks for the feedback,
        Karen

  • Elisabeth Munkvold says:

    I agree with Linda on the value of using an off color, I do it in my quilts all the time, it is easier when using an array of colors in a large project. With fewer colors and a smaller project (small compared to a king size quilt) a hint, like Linda says, would be the way to go.
    Thank you Linda for reminding me of the value of the off color! I am too new to weaving, and hung up in the process, to apply my color experience from other areas yet. Good reminder 🙂

    Elisabeth

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Even Better After

Many, many hours of work have gone into making these handwoven towels. Their stunning capacity as beautiful, absorbant, and useful things isn’t realized, however, until the cloth is subjected to the finishing process. Wet finishing never ceases to amaze me. These towels! They are transformed from special to spectacular!

Cottolin tea towels just off the loom. Ready for wet finishing!

Towels have been cut apart, ends secured with the serger, and weaving errors repaired. It is time to throw them into the washing machine. Towels with red weft threads go in a separate load — just in case…

Handwoven cottolin handtowels just washed. Ready for one-time pressing.

Towels are removed from the dryer while they are still slightly damp. Now they are ready for pressing. If only I could hand them to you to touch…

I may be intimidated at the thought of wet finishing other items (as I talked about in Weaving Experience), but not towels. Especially cottolin handtowels like these. They are made for a lifetime of everyday use. I do not hesitate to throw them in the washer and dryer, because I know the towels will improve with the washing. And after the washing and drying, they’ll be ready for pressing (the only pressing they will likely ever require).

Handwoven cottolin towel - wet finishing.

Out of the wash, the towels have a delightful texture that is slightly puckered. Pressing will flatten the towel, but subsequent washings will renew the desired textural element.

Wet finishing and pressing of new handwoven cottolin towels. Karen Isenhower

Normal people do not press their handtowels, right? This is a one-time occurrence. Pressing after the first washing helps set the threads into place (or so I’ve been told). Happily, there is no color bleeding of the black or red threads!

When I drop the towels into the wash, I am making an exchange. I give up the unwashed, rough cloth, and get a softened, fulled fabric in its place. I lay down a burden, and receive a blessing in return. Jesus takes our soul’s heavy burden, a lifetime of self-imposed work, and exchanges it for his light load. You can put your heavy load down. And receive in return a softened fabric, washed, pressed, and ready for daily use.

May your load become lighter.

Softly,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Debbie Davis says:

    Wonderful blog post, Karen!

  • Loyanne says:

    Beautiful message and beautiful towels. Look forward to seeing Warped for Good in my email.

  • Amaryllis says:

    Hello Debbie, that they were beautiful! look, just as a suggestion, why not open a space on your website and put the drawings (DRAFTING) so we can make them.

    Greetings from Brazil!

    • Karen says:

      Hello Amaryllis from Brazil,

      that is a wonderful suggestion! I will see if I can figure out how to set up a page that shows the weaving drafts.

      For these towels, I started with a draft I found for silk scarves, and I adjusted the sett for the threads I wanted to use, and I also changed the threading to make it more interesting. I write all my drafts on paper, so I would need to transfer them to weaving software, which I do have. So, it is possible, but it may take a little time to get it done.

      Thank you for asking! and Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Wendy says:

    Lovely towels and a powerful thought!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you, Wende! I’m often surprised to find bits of insight to think about as I go about my weaving. I’m glad the things I think about mean something to other people, too, like you.

      Love,
      Karen

  • Liberty says:

    Beautiful towels, I love them, and the message is so true thank you for the reminder!

    Weave away!,
    Liberty

  • Bruce Mullin says:

    Hi Karen, thanks for an inspirational woven towel and message! I too would love to see your drafts. Thanks for all that you do
    Bruce

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bruce, and I am thankful that you and others keep coming back. It’s great to have weaving friends across the miles.

      I will seriously aim toward putting my drafts up. I can’t promise how soon that will happen.

      All the best,
      Karen

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