Now I Am Weaving Bluebonnets!

Bluebonnets! Another Texas hill country subject for a transparency. I am weaving a simplified imitation of this celebrated wildflower. It starts with a photograph I took of bluebonnets in our hill country backyard this spring.

Texas hill country bluebonnets

Cropped and enlarged photograph of our Texas hill country backyard bluebonnets.

After enlarging the photo to poster size, I outlined the basic shapes that I wanted to include in the transparency. Next, I turned the poster over and transferred the outlines to the back. I traced the lines onto a piece of buckram to use for the cartoon. Everything is ready (the warp has already been tied back on). Let’s get started!

Selecting Mora wool colors for a woven transparency.

Planning colors for the bluebonnet transparency. Photo on the iPad is used for reference in selecting Mora wool colors.

Cartoon for a new transparency weaving.

Pattern is traced onto a piece of buckram to use as the cartoon. Dashed line down the center of the cartoon will be lined up with the center warp end when the cartoon is pinned to the back of the weaving.

Starting a woven transparency. Texas bluebonnets!

Nineteen bundles of Mora wool colors are introduced on the first row of pattern weaving. About three hours of weaving is pictured. After the intricate leaves at the bottom of the picture, it will be smooth sailing! 🙂

We have been given a true picture of love. God shows it to us in Jesus Christ. Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. With child-like fascination, I want to imitate the heart of that kind of love. To walk in love like Christ means to give yourself away for the sake of others. Linen and wool threads are not sufficient to show the living beauty of a bluebonnet. Nor are my efforts to love going to be perfect. But by keeping the picture in front of me as I weave, I hope to convey the delight of springtime Texas bluebonnets. And present a transparent picture of love that’s out of this world.

May you imitate only the best.

With love,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Julia Weldon says:

    Beautiful! Your enlarged photo looks like a watercolor. It and your weaving remind me of the paint by numbers we did as kids – a much more grownup version.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia,

      I often think of transparency weaving as paint-by-number with yarn. The bluebonnets in nature are better than anything I could think up or draw.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Beth says:

    You do have the patience of a saint. This is going to be beautiful!

  • Maria says:

    I am intrigued- I have done a bit of tapestry but know nothing about transparencies. It is quite a process! Your patience and focus is amazing. Can’t wait to see this grow!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maria, This feels a lot like tapestry to me. For some reason, though, this seems less complicated. I’d like to play around with this technique and maybe do something that is more like tapestry, but with the plain weave pick in between each pattern row. I have a friend who has done some of that, and it is lovely!

      I’m excited to see this grow, too.

      Karen

  • Martha says:

    Bluebonnets, oh how lovely!

  • maggie says:

    how do you keep the cartoon in place during the weaving process?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, The cartoon is pinned under the weaving with three flat-head straight pins. Every few inches, before I advance the warp, I move the pins forward while checking to make sure the center line on the cartoon lines up with the center warp end. Good question!

      Thanks for asking,
      Karen

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Woven Transparency Cactus Revealed!

It started with a prickly pear cactus in the front yard of our Texas hill country place, and then a photograph. Now, I have a woven representation of this interesting specimen of our Texas landscape! I am hoping that Steve will whittle a rustic rod from which this cactus banner will hang in our home.

Finishing woven transparency of a cactus.

Weaving the casing for the top of the transparency. Linen warp and weft make an appealing mesh that holds and surrounds the pictorial weaving.

Woven transparency of a prickly pear cactus. Just off the loom!

After cutting off, the complete front side of the transparency is seen for the first time.

Eager to hang this transparency, I didn’t want to waste any time. I finished the ends of the piece with a zigzag stitch on my sewing machine. And I sewed casings at the top and bottom. Now, in full view, a little back lighting reveals the complete picture of the woven threads.

Woven transparency. Prickly Pear Cactus. Karen Isenhower

Cactus spines in the woven image seem to reach outward and almost appear three-dimensional.

Detail view of woven transparency cactus.

Detail view of some of the shading in the cactus.

We weave thoughts and ideas in our heart. And when we speak, we bring those thoughts out into the open. Words reveal the treasures of the heart. When we speak words of value, we bring our choicest treasures out in the open. And what a welcome picture that is.

May your words be received as treasures.

Love,
Karen

18 Comments

  • Barbara Crockett says:

    Wow! Looking back at your June 30 post of the photo and how you started this project is fun. The details in the shading create an amazing effect. Great job!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barbara, I’m thinking about framing the cactus photograph to hang near the transparency. The light plays off the yarn and gives it a feel of realism that surprises even me.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Deborah Pudliner says:

    Thank you Karen! I am not a weaver, but my daughter is. Each time I read your blog I have been blessed not only in seeing what you are weaving/teaching/learning, but the words you use to share bring it all to life and encourage not only the weavers but those who are blessed in seeing the work of the weaver unfold. May He bless you, encourage you and fill you with wisdom and much joy to continue the work He has to do in you and through you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Deborah, Thank you for sharing the treasures of your heart with me! Your words have ministered to me today more than you know.

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Betsy G says:

    Karen
    Well done! The cactus is so realistic with your use of shading. I want to keep clear of those prickers.

  • Maria says:

    Karen- it is absolutely fantastic. I have never done a transparency but I now would love to try . What an inspiration! The stickers on the cactus are so realistic.
    Just fabulous!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maria, I hope you do try it! This project has been great fun. Transparency weaving is quickly becoming one of my very favorite things to do. It makes me happy that you like the finished piece. That means a lot!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Cindie says:

    Your piece turned out incredible.

  • Beautiful! Weaving transparencies is rather fun! Did you use something other than wool for the spines? Just curious, because sometimes when I weave white wool into a transparency it doesn’t show up very well. One other question – what brand and type of wool did you use for the greens?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, I have to agree – weaving transparencies is fun indeed!

      I did use wool for the cactus spines. All of the wool in this piece is 20/2 Mora. I used 4 strands of yarn in each bundle, which gave me a lot of opportunity to blend colors. Most of the white is white and off-white blended together. By blending 4 strands together, it greatly multiplied my palette of greens. As much as possible, I tried to combine colors that are close in value, so they would really blend together well.

      Thanks for sharing your transparencies with me. Your work has been a huge inspiration!
      Karen

  • D'Anne says:

    The spines definitely look 3D! Great job!! Hope you will bring it to WOW sometime so we can see it in person.

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Thank you for showing us the finished piece. It is lovely! I find your whole process of transparency weaving to be fascinating.

  • Emily says:

    Hi, I came across this post while searching for information about using linen weft for tapestry. I had never heard of transparency weaving before and it has spurred a huge interest for me! I bought a book– I forget the author but I believe it’s the only one in English– and have been learning a ton. I can’t wait to try this out. I weave on a Mirrix, and don’t have a floor loom, but I am fairly confident I can make that work. It will be strange for me not to really pack my weft, and to put two wefts in the same shed. Can’t wait!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Emily, How exciting! The book I’m familiar with is “Sheer Delight: Handwoven Transparencies,” by Doramay Keasbey. It’s an excellent book, and very inspiring.

      I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t weave a transparency on your Mirrix loom. I hope you enjoy this type of weaving as much as I do!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Woven Transparency Cactus

I found a subject for my next transparency. It’s a prickly pear cactus in Texas hill country. Weaving this cactus is a fantastic experience! I started with a photograph, from which I made a cartoon. And I have an outline that shows where to place each color. It’s all based on the timeless beauty of colors in nature. I’m hopeful that when light shines through the final woven transparency we will see a likeness of the original cactus.

Prickly Pear Cactus in Texas hill country.

Prickly Pear Cactus in the front yard of our Texas hill country home.

Make a Cartoon

  • Crop and enlarge the photo. (I use Acrobat Reader to enlarge and print in multiple pages, and then tape the pages together.)

Prickly Pear Cactus in Texas hill country.

  • Outline the main lines of the picture.
  • Turn the enlarged picture over and draw the traced lines on the back to have the reverse image. (This transparency is woven from the back.)

Photo to sketch to cartoon for woven transparency.

  • Trace the line drawing onto a piece of buckram to use as the cartoon.
  • Draw a vertical dashed line down the center of the buckram cartoon.
  • Pin the cartoon under the weaving, lining up the center line on the cartoon with the center warp end. Move the pins, one at a time, before advancing the warp each time.

Buckram used for transparency cartoon.

Color Selection

  • Use the photograph to select yarn colors for the transparency. (I used the iPad to view the photo, and selected sixteen shades of 20/2 Mora wool.)
  • Sort the yarn by hues. (I used my iPhone camera black-and-white setting to help in the sorting.) Sorting by hues helps me blend similar-hued colors, and shows me the contrasts that will help define the picture.

Color selection for woven transparency. Sorting by hues.

 

Sorting colors by hues for woven transparency.

  • Assign a number to each yarn color.
  • Make the enlarged outline into a color-by-number sheet by designating a color or blend of colors for each section. (I taped this sheet to the wall beside my loom, to use as a color guide. The iPad photo also serves as a reference.)

Butterflies of Mora wool for woven transparency.

Virtues are timeless. Virtues are like colors that blend together to weave a masterpiece. When we let the Grand Weaver lay in the weft, these are the colors that appear as light shines through His woven transparency: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. And when this occurs, it shows that we are made in His image.

Making a transparency cartoon. Tutorial.

 

Woven transparency from a photo. How to.

May the next leg of your journey be a fantastic experience.

I’ll meet you back here on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017.
In the meantime, I hope you investigate claims of Jesus. Take time with people. Keep weaving. And the same for me.

Head over to Instagram to stay in touch with my daily journey.

Love,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    This is going to be fabulous!

  • So exciting to see your transparency! That is my absolute favorite thing to weave, and yours is inspiring me to do another one too. What size linen and sett are you using?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, You are responsible for inspiring me! I couldn’t stop thinking about your beautiful transparencies, and knew I wanted to make another attempt. It’s not hard for me to understand why this is your very favorite thing to weave. I may be following you in that! I can’t thank you enough for answering my questions behind the scenes!

      This is 16/2 linen, 12 epi.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • D'Anne Craft says:

    You’ve put lots of planning time into this piece. Can’t wait to see the finished work!

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, The planning for this has been a lot of fun. I was getting discouraged trying to find a good subject to weave, but when I found this pic that I took on our own property I got pretty excited about the whole thing! I can’t wait to show it to you when it’s finished!

      Karen

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    This is so exciting Karen, I can’t wait to see it!! Have a wonderful vacation, I will be looking forward to august and this finished piece!
    Liberty

  • Wende says:

    Love this!

  • Maria says:

    Karen,
    Where in the hill country do you live? I so enjoy your blog- I like how you “weave” your faith in your posts!! Gifted weaver and writer?

    • Karen says:

      Maria, We are a little north of Kerrville. We currently live in the Houston area, but this special place in Kerrville will become our permanent home when my husband retires. Your sweet thoughts are very touching. Let me know when you will be in Houston again, or in hill country. I’d love to meet up.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Carol Ashworth says:

    I am so glad I found your site! I love everything and have a lot to learn!
    I love how you try to do every so nice and neat!
    Carol

  • Patricia Tiemann says:

    Great blog! Thanks for posting so much info.

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These Sensational Towels!

What can compare to the thrill of unrolling freshly-woven cloth? Pulling, and pulling, and pulling until you get to the very beginning of the warp. As every towel unwinds, I do a micro evaluation, knowing that complete scrutiny comes later. I could not be happier with these towels! They are every bit as sensational off the loom as they were to weave. What a joy to be a weaver!

Towels galore just coming off the loom!

Back to the beginning! Cottolin thick and thin handtowels are coming off the loom.

It wasn’t that long ago that I was winding lopsided quills, dropping the shuttle more than occasionally, and struggling to understand weaving drafts. Desire and a willingness to learn have pushed me through these and other barriers.

Handwoven towels ready to be hemmed.

Ready for hemming.

Black and white and a little red. Handwoven towels.

Black and white and a little red, ready for hemming.

Photo shoot for new handwoven towels. Karen Isenhower

Getting set up for a photo shoot. Photos are used in Etsy listings.

Willingness is more important than capability. Being willing sets the stage for learning. We all start incapable. God doesn’t expect us to be capable. He does expect us to be willing. God weaves His purposes on earth, not through the capable people, but through the willing. In weaving, and in life overall, I want to embrace and preserve the willingness factor that keeps me learning.

Thick and thin structure is a handweaver's playground. Karen Isenhower

Thick and thin structure is a playground for a handweaver to imagine and develop designs. Cottolin handtowels and table runner. Designer kitchen, anyone?

And as we yield our will to our Creator, what joy is ours as we learn how to truly live!

May you never stop learning.

(You can see a few of these items now in the Warped for Good Etsy Shop.)

Happy Weaving,
Karen

9 Comments

  • Marie Kulchinski says:

    Great job! Beautiful collection. Would make a wonderful weaving monograph on what you can do with one warp by being creative. Thank you for sharing.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you, Marie! I love your idea of a weaving monograph. I wouldn’t have thought of that! I need to do a little research on how to do something like that.

      Karen

  • Dianeore says:

    A beautiful set of towels, Karen! Reminds me of a draft I saw in an old Weavers – I may have to dig that one up now! Happy hemming!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you! The hemming wasn’t bad. I finished it in a couple days. I hemmed the table runner by hand; and I hemmed the towels on my sewing machine so they can stand up to years of washing and drying.

      All the best!
      Karen

  • Liberty says:

    Hi Karen,
    I love them, all that black and white with a wee bit of red! Beautiful!

  • Karen says:

    They really are sensational! Striking!

  • Karen says:

    Liberty and Karen,

    What a treat for me to get to enjoy this weaving journey with you!

    Thank you!
    Karen

  • Claudia says:

    Those towels and the table runner are so exciting!
    What keeps them from unraveling until you do the hemming?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Claudia,
      I’m thrilled by your enthusiasm!! The fabric is tightly woven, so it does not unravel easily. Even so, when I cut the towels apart, I stitch the cut ends with my serger (overlock) sewing machine. You could do the same thing with a zig-zag stitch on a sewing machine. Great question! Thanks for asking.

      Karen

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Tools Day: Handwoven Photography Simplified

If you take pictures, does that make you a photographer? I enjoy taking pictures at the loom. Besides the creative challenge of finding a good shot, I like the aspect of letting a picture tell a story. The Warped for Good Etsy shop is another avenue to expand my photo skills. My goal is to take photos that showcase finished handwoven articles, while keeping the process as simple as possible. Typically, I take fifteen to twenty pictures of an item, and then choose the best five shots to upload on Etsy. When I have new items to add to Etsy, I do a photo marathon on a good sunshiny day.

Tips for taking photos of handwovens.

Single towel photo from photo marathon.

TOOLS:

iPhone 5
– I take all my photos with my phone. I know that is crazy! I never use my husband’s fancy digital SLR camera. My phone is always in my pocket, and there is nothing for me to figure out.

Tripod
– I do not actually attach the camera (iPhone) to the tripod. By leaning my hand on the tripod, I can get a steady shot; and I change the angle or height simply by moving my hand.

Natural light
– Colors are not true if I use any artificial lighting. Colors will vary on computer monitors and mobile screens, but natural light gives the best chance of capturing the colors as I see them.

Sunshine, not cloudy
– With the iPhone camera, I find it impossible to get true colors if the sky is overcast. Sometimes an overcast sky in the afternoon still seems bright, not dark. Even so, I find the colors are distorted. If the conditions are not favorable, it is worth waiting.

Long roll of white paper
– A white background appeals to me. I think it conveys simplicity and elegance.

Four walking weights
– There is no end to the usefulness of two-pound walking weights. These soft weights are perfect for holding the roll of paper out to size, without creasing. (You’ll find me using walking weights for just about everything …except walking.)

White poster board
– Sometimes a white poster board or two is needed to provide background for a shot from a lower angle.

Tips for simplified photo shoot for handwovens.

Simple set up for photo shoot. Testing lighting with first shot.

Tips for setting up simple textile photo shoot.

First few practice shots show me what adjustments to make with lighting, focus, and white paper and poster board background arrangement.

Three of a kind. Simple photo tips.

Three of a kind. I like to photograph complimentary pieces together.

May your photos show your best moments.

Say cheese,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Carol Bogue says:

    Thanks for the great tips. I did wonder how you took such good pictures for your site. I’m sure my own will improve now.

  • Vladka says:

    Thank you very much for sharing your experience. It is very helpful for me. I have often bad results. Some colors of the picture disappears.

    • Karen says:

      Vladka,
      I am happy this is helpful for you. I have bad results, too, sometimes. It is frustrating when some of the colors disappear or fade. Yesterday, it was cloudy all day and it did not work to take pictures. I am hoping for sunshine today.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Heike Boudalfa says:

    Dear Karen,
    thank you so much for sharing. Your work is absolutely amazing. I love the way you arrange the colors. Best wishes from Germany.
    Heike

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