Four-Shaft Tapestry Adventure

Most of my preparation for this project has been separate from the loom itself. The loom is dressed and ready. That’s the easy part. The lion’s share of the work is in developing the cartoon. This project is my first four-shaft tapestry. My usual tapestry work is on a small portable tapestry frame. This is BIG in comparison. 93 centimeters (36 1/2 inches) in the reed.

Glimakra Ideal with linen warp, ready to weave a tapestry.

Linen warp is tied on. Treadles are tied up. Sheds are clean. This Glimåkra Ideal is ready and waiting for the weaver.

Cartoon is on a table behind the loom undergoing cartoon prep.

Warp beam. Cartoon is on a folding table behind the loom undergoing cartoon prep.

After finding a subject for the tapestry, I have been drawing the cartoon and a cartoon key. And I have the yarn. Now, I am determining colors, distinguishing values, and arranging my yarn into a workable order. To tell the truth, the cartoon scares me. It shows me how grand a task I’ve signed up for. But there’s no turning back. I’m committed. (I will show you the cartoon when I’m further along…)

Wool being sorted for 4-shaft tapestry.

Wool, mostly 6/2 Tuna and 6/1 Fårö, with a few other wool yarns thrown in. These are some of the colors going into the planning of the cartoon.

Distinguishing between different values in the wool yarn assortment.

Black and white photo helps distinguish between the different values of the yarn colors. Contrast in values help define the woven image.

The cartoon shows the intent of the tapestry designer. Likewise, heaven shows the Grand Weaver’s perfect plan. Heaven holds the true picture. Heaven and earth, two parallel realms. Jesus came to earth to bring us into that heavenly version of the tapestry. When we put our trust in him, our colorful threads in various hues and values are woven together in the grandest tapestry ever.

May you take a bigger step than you have before.

Courageously (with knees knocking),
Karen

7 Comments

  • Betsy Greene says:

    Oh wow. You really are in the deep end. Good for you!
    I’m not so brave but I will live vicariously through you.
    Betsy

  • Good morning,
    Now that Spring has become a verb in SE Wisconsin my weaving goes back one more seat while I try to undo the neglect of the yards here and NE Wisconsin. Yesterday I took out and re-wove ~ 10 rows of rosepath rag rug because I mis-read the pattern. Once done I realized this project is not as scary as I imagined it to be.
    Today there is a quiet book to be put together for my granddaughter’s 1st birthday. And… once again I am delaying the work because I have not worked out the details of construction. We all know that in the end the quiet book will be completed and the tapestry will be completed and the rug will be completed and the maybe … just maybe this year I will be able to keep ahead of the weeds. But, boy oh boy… from this side of the project that does not seem possible.
    May God bless both our hands with creativity and love.
    Nannette

  • Michele Dixon says:

    I’m a tapestry weaver too. I’m quite interested in seeing what your 4 shaft piece turns into. I have a brand new Glimakra Standard, 4/6 so I am hoping, in the future, to expand my 2 shaft images to 4 shaft. I’ll be watching with great interest.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Michele, Congrats on your new Glimakra Standard! It’s exciting to try a new way to do tapestry. I’m glad to have you along!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Michele Dixon says:

    Thank you, Karen. It’s such a pleasure to read your blog.

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Tapestry Portrait Challenge

Lucia became a big sister this week! Her new baby brother, Ari Kyle, is healthy as can be. It won’t be long before Lucia showers affection on him, like she does her baby doll Annabella. I am filled with wonder and awe when I have a newborn grandchild in my arms. It always feels like a tangible miracle from God.

Big sister and new baby brother!

Lucia holding Annabella. Ari Kyle is held by his mommy Melody Faith.

Lucia has an innocent face that I am attempting to capture in yarn. I have completely started over a couple times, and have unwoven and re-woven sections multiple times. It’s a struggle. I timidly share it with you, because I suspect there are things that don’t come easy for you, either.

Small tapestry in progress. Travel weaving.

Weaving a small tapestry from the back. Lucia’s photograph and a detailed tracing are used for reference. A cartoon drawn on a piece of buckram is lined up under the weaving on the tapestry frame. A fold-up pouch holds my travel tapestry yarn and supplies.

Travel tapestry in progress. My granddaughter.

Frame loom is turned over for a view of the front.

Small tapestry in progress.

Lucia in progress.

Prayer. When we pray for the children in our lives, we start with an empty warp. Gradually, the tapestry grows. Will they become what we envision for them? Will they connect with the Lord Jesus? Sometimes we feel like starting from scratch, praying for things we never thought of when they were babies. The picture will always feel incomplete in this life. But that’s another good reason to pray. As they grow, you will see their identifying characteristics develop. And you’ll find yourself saying, “Thank you, Lord.”

New grandbaby, sweet moment.

Hello, Ari Kyle, what a pleasure it is to meet you! Welcome!

May you hold a newborn whenever you can.

Love,
Lola Karen

14 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Congratulations! Both children are adorable. Looking forward to seeing the finished tapestry. You are incredibly talented, Karen.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, Thank you! Children have such interesting expressions.

      I appreciate your kind words. I’ll keep working on the tapestry; we’ll see how it turns out.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Bev Romans says:

    Karen,
    A new grandchild; what a precious blessing from God! And your tapestry of Lucia…a beautiful work in progress. It is amazing to see how God is using the gifts and talents He has given you in various ways.
    Blessings to you and yours,
    Bev

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bev, Each new child is a bundle of surprises! Someone new to love!

      It’s good to have some things in our hands that challenge us. Thank you for your encouraging words!

      Blessings to you and yours,
      Karen

  • Hi Karen,
    I know what you mean about the challenge of weaving a face. Some years ago I wove a transparency of the 3 Angels flying giving a message to the world at the end of time (Revelation 14). I used an artists painting to go by (with his permission). When I got to the eyes, I prayed for wisdom to weave them because I knew it would ruin the whole thing if the eyes didn’t look right. Your tapestry of Lucia looks great so far, and there is a lot of expression I see in her eye. It’s so nice to have a God who cares about helping us in everything – even how to weave tapestries/transparencies.
    PS: There is a great Christian TV network called Three Angels Broadcasting Network (3ABN) that is based on those Angels and getting their messages to people.

  • Annie says:

    Congratulations, Karen! You have a beautiful family!

  • Cynthia says:

    Is this sam’s wife? Adorable grandchildren and the tapestry oh my word can’t wait to see it finished.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cynthia, Melody is our daughter—Sam’s sister. Grandchildren sure bring us smiles.

      I’ll be making more progress on the tapestry soon!

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Linda Cornell says:

    What blessings! They for you and you for them.

  • Shari says:

    Mazel Tov!
    Shari

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Quiet Friday: Painting with Yarn and Animated Images

I have often wished I had the skill of artistic drawing. How wonderful it would be to portray a slice of creation using pencil lines, or pastels, or with watercolors and a paintbrush. Instead, though, I’ve been delighted to find that I can “draw” and “paint” with threads and yarn. By capturing a slice of creation through my iPhone camera lens, the hard part has already been done. All I have to do is translate the photo into a woven image. And what a joy that is!

Here is a glimpse of my process of weaving the Texas hill country Cactus and Bluebonnets transparencies.

(Don’t miss the amazing animated images at the end of this post that my son, Daniel, made of these woven transparency projects!)

Yarn for a woven transparency.

Planning a woven transparency.

Beginning cactus woven transparency.

Weaving a transparency. Cactus.

Weaving a transparency. Cactus.

Weaving a transparency. Cactus.

Weaving a transparency. Cactus.

Weaving a transparency. Cactus.

Cactus woven transparency just off the loom!

Woven transparency cactus. Karen Isenhower

Planning a woven transparency.

Beginning bluebonnets in a woven transparency.

Woven transparency. Bluebonnets

Woven transparency. Bluebonnets

Woven transparency. Bluebonnets

Bluebonnets woven transparency just off the loom!

Woven transparency bluebonnets. Karen Isenhower

Bluebonnets photo morph to woven transparency.

May you find joy in what you’ve been given to do.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

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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

12 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

  • Alice Martin says:

    I see you are using Mora wool. Where do you buy yours? How many strands do you use?

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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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