Weaving through The Big Book

It took me seven years of study, practice, and mistakes to complete this rigorous Swedish weaving curriculum! You have been with me through much of it right here. I’m talking about The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. I made it through the book, sequentially, page by page, warp by warp. 43 warps in all! Remember the blue 12-shaft double-weave blanket I had on the loom in June? That is the final project in the book.

Handwoven double weave blanket. 12 shafts.
Double-weave wool fabric is ready for wet finishing, where it will be transformed into a soft, cozy blanket.

In the short video below, each completed project is presented in order in our Texas hill country home. Watch to the end to see the blue blanket in all its finished glory.

For nitty-gritty details, check out The Big Book of Weaving tab at the top of the page.

I. Secrets to success:

  • mindset of a student
  • determination
  • eyes on the goal
  • no option other than completion

One loom dedicated to the book.


II. Lessons learned:

  • technique
  • processes
  • planning
  • drafting
  • Swedish practices

Any mistake can be remedied.


III. Treasures gained:

  • patience
  • humility
  • endurance
  • focused attention
  • problem solving
  • creative freedom

Confidence.


IV. Prized perspectives:

  • new experiences
  • delight of dressing the loom
  • wonder of cloth-making
  • fresh ideas
  • joy of discovery
  • knowledge and understanding of the loom

Getting lost and absorbed in the whole process of weaving.

V. Favorite project: Old-Fashioned Weaving / Monksbelt (at 4:46 in the video)

Are we determined students of heavenly things? Oh, to know God’s will! Study what’s written, don’t lose heart, eyes on the prize, no option besides completion through Jesus Christ. One life dedicated to know him. Day by day, warp by warp, the Grand Weaver teaches us. We can know God’s will.

May you be a lifelong learner.

Happy Weaving to you,
Karen

38 Comments

  • Susie Redman says:

    Well done. It’s such a great book. I’m picking and choosing from the book – its a great way to learn.

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Your work is so inspiring, Karen. I recall many of these projects, here and in Handwoven. Do you have a personal favorite? One that you’ll perhaps explore even further? Kudos!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, Thank you so much! My personal favorite is the monksbelt piece—the large multicolor runner on the dining room table. And yes, I have monksbelt ideas that I would like to explore. Another one I’d like to play around with and learn more about is the turned rosepath—the long narrow red band. There are so many possibilities!

      Thanks for asking,
      Karen

  • Geri Rickard says:

    What a splendid presentation, Karen! You have accomplished so much, and each one is beautiful! Thanks for sharing, it was fun!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Geri, I’m glad you enjoyed the presentation. It was a lot of fun for me to put together, going back in time remembering all the projects.

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Such a feast for the eyes!

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Wow and Wow! Such an accomplishment! And your lovely home showcases all those projects beautifully. Thanks for making this video and thanks for your encouragement. I’m currently doing the Jane Stafford online guild lessons with a new video lesson and project every five weeks. Sometimes it feels a bit overwhelming but I’m determined to try each one. I’ve already learned so much!
    Thanks again for your encouragement and dedication, both to your weaving and for sharing your weaving and faith with others. It DOES make a big difference to many.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, I know how you feel. Many times I was overwhelmed and even discouraged about completing this mammoth dream. Keep pressing on with your lessons, it WILL be worth it–I promise! And between the hard parts, I really had a lot of fun! So enjoy it, too.

      I really appreciate your encouragement to me. It means more than you know.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Hi, Karen! I remember that you recommended this book to me last July was exploring what loom to purchase for my first multi shaft loom. I ended up purchasing a small table loom, a Louet Erica Loom so decided not to purchase the book since I would not have the capacity to work many of the projects.

    However, I recently purchased a larger loom and now, I believe that I will purchase this book. Thank you for sharing this and tweaking my memory of your recommendation.

    Everything you make is so beautiful! You are a wonderful inspiration to a beginning weaver.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, The Big Book of Weaving has been my tutor. I started with it as a complete beginner. It was written as a curriculum, so it has everything I needed to gain skill and confidence. I hope you find it a great resource for learning.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Karen Simpson says:

    That video is amazing. As I hadn’t found you then, I didn’t know that you were following this book and studying your way through it. What a lovely compilation of work and color. Thank you

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, Only a handful of people knew I was working my way through the book. I have mentioned The Big Book of Weaving here many times, but this is my first time to mention here on the blog that I was going through the book, step by step. I didn’t want too many people to “guess” what project I would do next… 🙂

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Congratulations, Karen! I remember when you started working through The Big Book of Weaving, but I didn’t remember it had been 7 years. What a great learning experience! Did you use all the same yarns as the projects called for?

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, It’s hard to believe it’s been 7 years, isn’t it? For most of the projects I used the yarns that were called for, but in colors of my choosing. I did change a few, though. For instance, two projects call for paper yarn. I didn’t know a good resource for that, so I substituted 8/2 cotton for one, and 16/1 linen for the other. So, for those I have beautiful scarves instead of room screens, which suits me better anyway.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    Karen, I’m speechless. There are no words for my admiration of not only your artistic vision, but also the incredible amount of work clearly visible in the lovely video. Thank you for all the encouragement and advice you’ve given us you worked through the Big Book. MORE happy weaving to you. Joanna

    (My v. Favorite piece of your is also that fantastic monks belt. I think you captured all the lovely colors of the Texas Hill Country. It couldn’t be more perfect.)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, I’m fortunate to have a place where I can talk about things that I learn! Thanks for joining in!
      Every time I look at that monks belt piece, I get warm and fuzzy feelings. It’s so cheerful! I’m happy you like it, too!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • kerimae says:

    You inspire me! As you know! 🙂

  • Carolyn Penny says:

    Truly inspirational. Thank you for your diligence and following the goal.
    What a lesson in perseverance. Warm glow…… -Carolyn Penny

  • Vida Clyne says:

    Congratulations on completing such an amazing and inspirational project. I love all the patterns and the lovely colours. I have not got the book but your lovely video makes me think I will buy it. Thanks for sharing.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Vida, I am very happy to hear your thoughts about my adventure! This is one weaving book I wouldn’t do without. 🙂

      Thank you very much!
      Karen

  • Gail Goodrick says:

    What an inspiration this is! Your work is wonderful. I love your color choices. Love, love love…

  • Sue Blanding-Wilson says:

    So inspiring! I will look at my book with new eyes!

  • Maria Hanson says:

    Wow! I so enjoy following your work, but seeing everything in one video is just amazing! Congratulations on such a major accomplishment!

  • Penelope kept the suitors at bay for 10 years weaving one tapestry. What a remarkable legacy of a textile artist in 7 years!
    AND.. the hand wovens are not kept in a chest to pull out and admire. Basis the hems on the towels, they are being used. Beautiful!!
    Thank you for sharing. PS welcome back from your sabbatical.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Thank you for noticing. Yes, the articles were made to be used, and they are used and enjoyed.

      It’s good to be back.
      Karen

      • Anonymous says:

        One of the sweetest moments was when I saw one of my patched blankets worn to the point of being hand mended. Textiles will age one way or another. It fills my heart knowing the ones that pass through my hands are used daily.

        • Karen says:

          That is sweet to think of your handiwork being used to the point of needing hand mending. I agree that the best handwoven items are the ones being used.

          Karen

  • Cindy Buvala says:

    Wow! I am very impressed! A 10 minute video doesn’t do justice to the hours and hours of weaving work that precedes it. You are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your talent.

  • Karen Reff says:

    I haven’t looked at that book in so long. I’m definitely going back for another look! I hope you realize what an amazing thing you’ve done!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, I frequently go to the book for reference. It answers so many questions for me.

      I just took one step, and then the next step, and so on. I’m not sure I would have started had I known how long it would take me. But I’m very happy to have taken that first step…and so on.

      Thanks for your sweet encouragement,
      Karen

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Lizard in Black and White

Some things are better seen without color. Hence, an enlarged version of my lizard in black and white. Variances in value are not as easily discerned in the full-color print. These subtle value distinctions bring realism to the lizard tapestry. For this reason, I sort all the yarn into small groups of color and value, which clarifies my choices for each wool butterfly.

Lizard portrait in black and white for tapestry project.

Lizard portrait in black and white shows nuances in color value.

Yarn Sorting Process:
1. Select yarn colors for the tapestry.

2. Group like colors together.

Sorting wool yarn for a tapestry. Tutorial.

Wool yarn, much of which has been accumulated from previous projects.

For each color group (I have seven color groups):
1. Arrange yarn on a white background in value order, from light to dark. Take a picture.

Arranging yarn by color value for tapestry.

Green, from light to dark.

2. Take another picture using the smart phone black and white setting (“Noir” in the filters on my iPhone).

Yarn in order by value. Blog post explanation.

Photo shows that a couple adjustments are needed for the yarn-value order.

3. Adjust yarn to make value order corrections.

Yarn in order by color value. Suggestions on blog post.

Adjustments made.

4. Divide the yarn into three value sections. 1. light, 2. medium, 3. dark.
5. Label baskets to hold each yarn section; i.e., “G 3” for green, dark.

The preparation for a project like this is immense. And tedious. But this is a weaving adventure. Indeed, the results may very well be astounding. That’s my hope.

Yarn for tapestry sorted by color and value. Tutorial.

Little baskets of yarn next to the loom, sorted by color and value.

Life itself is a full color project. Immense and tedious. Rise above these earthly things. Our Grand Weaver sees the value distinctions that we miss with our natural eye. What hope this gives! Trusting him through this real life adventure brings assurance of astounding results. Setting my mind on these “above” things turns troubles into treasures whose values will be evident in the final real tapestry.

May you persevere.

With you,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Annie says:

    I like the reminder of value distinction. I think it is hard to remember or believe that a life lived in quiet, following Christ teachings has just as much value as the life lived containing one grandeous moment of self sacrifice.

  • Now we know why the art teachers insisted on pencil before pastels.
    What a great visual. Thank you.

    I am going to step out of topic and call on you and your readers to pray for all who share the roads. We lost a young man the day before Fathers’ day. A woman turned left into his Harley. She was trying to go onto a highway on-ramp. Late morning… dry pavement… sun out… mind not paying attention to oncoming traffic.

    Please add all people in their daily travels to your prayers and care on the roads. His death shattered 3 families.

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Weave Amazing Taqueté Like an Octopus

I need this sample section to practice being an octopus at the loom. I switched from kuvikas to taqueté. Now I am weaving with two double-bobbin shuttles and two treadles at a time. With no intervening tabby treadles to balance my foot placement.

Kuvikas first, then taqueté. Same threading, different tie-up.

From kuvikas to taqueté. Changing the tie-up allows the loom to weave more than one structure with the same threading.

This taqueté uses the same threading as the kuvikas that preceded it. You’ve heard it said, “One change changes everything.” Try changing the tie-up. Everything changes. Treadling sequence, weft arrangement, and picks per inch. I’m struggling like a beginner with this double treadling, double double-bobbin shuttling. But I’m not quitting, because look what it weaves! The cloth is amazing.

Two double-bobbin shuttles for taqueté.

With no tabby picks in between, the double-bobbin shuttles take turns with each other.

Taqueté, with double treadling and double double-bobbin shuttling.

Each pattern block uses two treadles, pressed simultaneously. The treadling sequence changes four times for each complete row of pattern. Each block (a third) of the square-within-a-square pattern has five complete pattern rows.

One life change, good or bad, can bring a struggle. We try to move forward like we did before, but now it’s not working. Too many things are shifting at once. One thing changed, and now we are searching for sound footing. God is present even in our struggles. The warp is the same, the threading hasn’t changed, and the Grand Weaver is still at his loom. God is a very present help in trouble. God is now and near. Right now, right here. And then we get a glimpse of the cloth he is weaving… It is amazing!

May you endure through struggles.

Your weaving octopus,
Karen

5 Comments

  • Betsy says:

    Is there a trick to pushing two treadles at once on a Glimakra? I thought one couldn’t do that, and I’ve never tried it on my Standard.

    That fabric is gorgeous!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, Yes, there is a trick! It is an unusual tie-up. It works because the tie-up is done with two freestanding groups, so they can be double treadled. And some of the shafts are not tied up. I’m using a draft from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, pp. 164-165, where this set up is explained. I am fascinated by this fabric, and the whole fact that this is even possible!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annette says:

    I appreciate your comments. In a world gone mad your voice is the calm in the middle of a storm – it reminds us who is in charge. God Bless.

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A Very Wide Warp? Go For It!

The weaving width of my Glimåkra Standard loom is 47 inches (120 cm). This alpaca/Tencel throw is 45 inches (114 cm) wide in the reed. I am using my loom’s width to its full capacity! That’s exciting and frightening at the same time. This big reach is a stellar accomplishment for a 5′ 1″ (155 cm) gal like me. In more substantial matters, I would rather play it safe than face something too big to handle. You, too?

Alpaca/Tencel warp tied-on, with leveling string, full width of 120cm Glimåkra Standard.

675 ends of alpaca/Tencel yarn, with 15 EPI (ends per inch), tied in one-inch increments to the front tie-on bar. The leveling string makes it possible to begin weaving the sample with the very first pick.

It is easy to fail when throwing a shuttle across a wide warp. The shuttle stops short, takes a nosedive in the middle, or flies to the floor on the other side. But persistence wins in the end. Have you seen how an offense creates a gap between people? Forgiveness bridges that gap. The widest gaps are the hardest ones to face, but forgiveness is still the bridge. It is worth the risk, and it is worth the failed attempts. Your hand must let go of the shuttle–therein is the risk and the reward.

Forgiveness, widely extended, enables us to live at our full capacity. Be brave and face something bigger than yourself. With perseverance, you’ll see the shuttle make it all the way across.

May you forgive as one who has been forgiven.

Going deeper and wider,
Karen

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Conversation with Jason Collingwood, Part 2

At Jason Collingwood’s Plain Weave Rug Workshop in Waco, Texas last week, I completed a technique sampler. I was not one of the fastest guns in the West, so I have a couple yards (or more…) of that linen warp still on my little loom. One piece of advice Jason gave in class was to use the intricacies of these techniques sparingly–to keep it simple when it comes to rug design. That is what I am aiming for as I finish off this warp, hoping to end up with some miniature rugs (the warp is only 11 1/4″ wide) as design samples.

Jason Collingwood Plain Weave Workshop Sampler

Finished sample of plain weave rug techniques. The sample begins with countered twining that extends past the selvedge with a four-strand braid. My favorite technique is the crossed weft combined with meet and separate, seen at the far end of the sample.

Jason was kind enough to converse with me on topics that would benefit you, my blog friends. You can catch the first part of that conversation, covering Jason’s perspective as a rug weaver and a teacher of rug weaving, here.

Now, enjoy Part 2 of our conversation.

Me: Once someone has mastered the technical aspects, and is producing quality handwoven goods, they may want to sell what they have produced. What advice do you have for someone just starting out?

Jason: You need to be very determined. You have to accept that it’s not going to happen instantly. And you have to be prepared to sacrifice certain things in life that a normal job may give you–be that security, spare income, or, possibly, medical insurance coverage.

Me: It’s challenging to get started, then?

Jason: I look back to my early years, and it’s interesting… And Akiko, my wife, is a very successful ceramicist now, but when she started off, to save money, she would walk across London four or five miles, with a little dolly on wheels. She would buy her bags of clay, put them on the dolly, and wheel them back across London. And you know, there are all these early little sacrifices that you don’t see, when you see the person in the galleries successfully selling their work.

Me: Your father, Peter Collingwood, was well-known as an extraordinary rug weaver. But you still needed to put in a lot of hard work, yourself, for people to associate Jason Collingwood with high quality handwoven rugs. So, if someone aspires to succeed as a weaver, how can they make it work?

Jason: I think you need to have determination, and some amount of grit, and self-discipline. At the end of the day, there’s no one telling you to sit at that loom, and weave again the same things you did yesterday, and again, and again, and again. I think it’s just perseverance. As long as you are producing something of quality, eventually, if you persevere, it’ll pay off.

Me: Okay, that gives hope to someone willing to work hard. If we look beyond the present challenges, and work, with determination, we have something to look forward to.

Jason: You know, those barren early years are almost like an investment in your future life, your weaving life. I mean, I didn’t particularly enjoy those years, but I think they were almost a necessary test of whether I was going to stick it out. I think a lot of people would’ve folded in those early years, and said, Okay, this isn’t working. But, you know, it was kind of a test of my resolve that I carried on.

Me: Thank you for sharing your story! Your insights bring considerable value to weavers, but also to people in other fields interested in improving their craft. I appreciate the encouragement of your example of determination. Thanks again!

 

Please visit Jason Collingwood’s website, here, to see the stunning rugs he weaves and sells, as well as descriptions of his workshops. You can also enjoy the artistry of Jason’s wife, Akiko, at her website, here.

May your determination and perseverence pay off.

With some amount of grit,
Karen

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