Weaving Plans on Paper

I doubt myself when I start weaving something. But it’s a good time to question everything. The first twenty centimeters are designated for sampling. Is this the right sett? How is the weft density? What treadling order will I use? Which weft color(s) works best?

Trying out some treadling patterns.

Trying out some treadling patterns for this cotton throw. Undulating twill is planned.

It helps to see it on the loom. I plan on paper, and get excited when I see a ready warp on the warp beam. But nothing is settled until I’ve passed the sampling tests. The plan on paper is what I think I want. And then, unanticipated adjustments and changes are necessary at the loom. In the end, I expect the actual weaving to be better than my original plan.

Sampling before weaving a cotton throw.

More sampling of treadling patterns.

Testing weft colors for undulating twill cotton throw.

Testing weft colors.

When we think we must have what we planned, we give up a better way. We lose our way when we insist on having our way. Jesus came to us as an infant (the Christmas message), leaving his rightful heavenly position. To follow Jesus is to deny myself like he did. Some of the testing means telling myself no. In return, I gain the life I could not see on my paper plan.

May you give up some of your favorite plans.

With Advent thoughts,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Beautifully said, Karen! Too often, I don’t want to deny myself, but when I follow Him, I am at peace, as I know He wishes, all the time. So there is much joy in giving up my plans. Thanks for sharing and reminding me. Thankfully, we have Him to follow, every day! His love is not measured by our standards, and it is everlasting! Merry Christmas to you and yours! 🙂

  • Anneloes says:

    Beautiful! Both the sample, as well as your message of encouragement. I hope to get better at letting go of my ‘paper plans’ in life.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Anneloes, I’m with you on that. Sometimes I really cherish my ‘paper plans’ and forget the Lord has a better way.

      Happy letting go,
      Karen

  • Beautiful work, may God’s blessing be upon you this Christmas

  • Ruth says:

    Life is what happens while we are making plans is a favorite saying of a dear friend. Your reflections on paper plans and letting go to follow Christ’s example coincide with that statement and remind me to follow Christ’s path and not my own. Blessings to you and yours as we follow the light of Christ during the coming year.

    • Karen says:

      Ruth, Your friend’s saying rings true with me. How much better to willingly let go of how we thought things should be, than to hold tightly to our ‘paper plans’ and miss the joys of living life to the fullest. What a relief that we have Christ to follow!

      Blessings to you,
      Karen

  • Beautiful weaving. Beautiful thoughts.

    Merry Christmas from the great white north.

    Nannette

  • Alison says:

    Thank yo Karen for sharing. I would have liked to have seen what your paper plans look like also, as they are part of the process. Your message is just what I needed.

    Alison

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alison, I don’t think I have done a post on project planning. I’ll have to do that! My paper plans hold the calculations, yarns, draft, and other details. I always have that piece of paper close at hand as I dress the loom and weave.

      I’m glad to hear that you gained something from today’s words.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Linda says:

    Your reflections are such a blessing.
    Thank you and may God continue to bless you.

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Band Loom Time!

Before I can hem these new towels, I need to make some hanging tabs. Band loom time! Making a warp for the band loom is one way to use up some of the weft on quills that didn’t quite get emptied when weaving the towels. Of the four colors in the towels, I am using aqua, poppy, and orchid for the hanging tabs. The bright marigold, my favorite of the four colors, may bring too much attention to itself, so I’m leaving it out. A hanging tab must be a stable and firm loop that becomes a pleasing part of the towel.

Planning to weave hanging tabs for handwoven towels. Karen Isenhower

Towels, before wet finishing, are spread out with the thread colors on top. I am trying to determine which colors will work together in woven hanging tabs for all four towels.

Glimakra band loom. Hanging tabs for handwoven towels.

Eleven ends are just enough for weaving a narrow band. (The two ends in the center are doubled in the heddle and counted as one.)

Glimakra band loom, making hanging tabs for handwoven towels.

Simple symmetrical design with aqua, poppy, and orchid colors. To use as hanging tabs for towels, the band is cut into short pieces, about ten centimeters (four inches) each. Each cut tab is then sewn into the hem of a towel.

Established. Stable (root word of e-stabl-ish) and firm. That’s how important our faith is as we walk through life. Everything hangs from it. So it must be woven carefully and stitched in securely, a pleasing part of who we are. Stable and firm in faith as we live for the Lord—that’s a beautiful way to live.

May your finishing details be pleasing.

With you,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Laura says:

    Your towels are beautiful. Love the little bobbin you are using. Do you mind telling me where you got that from? Love all your posts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laura, Thank you! My husband carved the little band loom shuttle for me. You probably know that you can use a short cardboard quill for band weaving, but I will email the specs of the little shuttle to you in case you or someone you know wants to carve one.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Thank you for sharing the design and craft process for finishing the beautiful towels. So true is the need for a firm foundation in life. Nannette

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Forty-Four New Butterflies

The tapestry is now at forty centimeters, and the lizard is slowly crawling his way around the breast beam. I treat every ten centimeters as a milestone. It’s a good time to examine the work and make additional butterflies. I see that I need forty-four new butterflies to make it through the next ten centimeters! No two butterflies are identical. I vary the combination of yarns for each color set. These subtle color and textural variations add interest and depth to the piece.

Making butterflies for tapestry.

Various wool yarns, light green and white. I combine strands to make a bundle that is approximately equivalent in size to four strands of 6/2 Tuna wool.

Wool butterflies for tapestry of a lizard.

Green and white wool butterflies are each a little bit different.

Butterflies for weaving a tapestry.

Butterflies hang in order on a length of seine twine within easy reach of weaving.

Lizard tapestry in progress.

Color blending and color gradation is possible through the careful selection of prepared butterflies for each section.

Me. It’s all about me. That’s exactly what the tempter wants me to think. Everything should revolve around me. Wait a minute. There’s a tapestry being woven that is much bigger than me. I may be a single wool butterfly. I’m unique. And my colors and textures contribute to the tapestry in important ways. But I mustn’t forget the Grand Weaver. He carefully and deliberately wound these strands of yarn over his loving fingers to create the color he wanted to see in his tapestry. It’s not about me. It’s about the One who holds me in his hands.

May your unique colors contribute to the tapestry.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

5 Comments

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Short-Lived Weft Idea

Now is my chance. I’d like to try one more weft idea on this double weave warp. I ended the colorful throw, and have about fifty centimeters left for a lap blanket. After the red cutting line, I am testing some black cottolin weft. It isn’t in my original plan, nor in my sample, but I want to see how it looks.

Small test sample between double weave pieces.

Deep plum alternates with black weft in a small test sample. Pairs of red picks mark the cutting lines between pieces.

The black weft does brighten the warp colors. But that’s not the look I’m after. I would miss the mixed shades that occur as the warp stripe colors are repeated in the weft. So I am weaving the smaller piece with the same weft sequence as the larger throw. When I see the weft choices clearly, it’s not hard for me to decide which weft option to use.

Double weave throw wrapping around the cloth beam.

Following the fabric under the breast beam, behind the knee beam, and around the cloth beam. The four warp stripe colors are repeated in the weft, making slight variations of color in the squares.

Wisdom is a treasure. It comes from seeing things through heaven’s perspective. Beware of human ideas masquerading as wisdom, leading us in the wrong direction. The treasure of wisdom that is found in Christ leads to understanding. Looking through heaven’s wisdom, my choices become clear. And it’s not hard for me to decide to stay true to the Grand Weaver’s design.

May you walk in wisdom.

With you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Beautiful, Karen! Both sides are so eye-catching.

  • Annie says:

    Wow! Love the look of both sides!

    Wouldn’t it be great if we could do a little sampling of our life choices before we jumped in and made them? Fortunately, our Heavenly Father did leave us a guide.

    I hope you bring this to our WOW meeting this fall.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, That would be great if we could sample life choices that way. You’re right, we have a trustworthy guide!

      I may not have the throw in my possession this fall since it’s a gift, but I’ll at least have the smaller piece.

      Thanks for weighing in,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Love that fabric, Karen! Hope to get to see it at a WOW meeting. It’s lovely!

  • Beautiful. Wonderful craftsmanship.

    I spent Sunday afternoon cutting out tote bags to be included in shoe box mission gifts at the Crivitz Presbyterian church. New friends were made near the weekend house. Someone donated heavy nylon advertisement banners to use. The layout of the bag produced unbelievable results not considered when looking at the original cast off banner.

    While cutting out these bags, prayer. I pray to put the same craftsmanship into the gifts to people I do not know as I do to those near and dear to me.

    The loom still sits while the summer explodes around me. Should I stay home this weekend and weave or transplant the volunteer raspberries in the lawn to the weekend house?

    Keep doing God’s work.

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Weave Past the Mid Mark

“Mid” marks the halfway point on every pre-measured tape I make. I like to know when I’m starting the second half of something. It’s a target before I reach it, and a passing milestone after I cross that line.

Middle line marks the halfway point in the weaving.

Pre-measured twill tape has a line at the halfway point, marked “Mid.” Tail from a spliced warp end will be trimmed in the finishing process.

As I’m weaving this throw, my thoughts jump ahead. I will have a few skipped threads to fix, and spliced warp ends to clip. I think about how I will hem the piece, and wash and dry it. In what special manner shall I present the finished throw to my beloved daughter-in-law? And, my mind goes to the twelve-shaft double weave towels for my daughter that are up next, with the flowery threads beckoning me from the shelves.

Cotton double weave on the loom.

Double weave with eight shafts. 8/2 cotton.

Shelves of weaving thread!

Do you see the aqua, poppy, marigold, and orchid cottolin threads that are ready to jump off the shelves and be woven into hand towels?

I’d like to know where I am in the span of my life. There is no “Mid” mark, though, is there? I’m not in charge of that measured tape. Faith in Christ, love, and perseverance—these form a foundation. A solid foundation is security for life. In this security, I think about what I need to repair and resolve and finish. And how to leave intangible gifts that outlive me. And I think about the glory that awaits. Imagine fabric of unbridled creativity in colors only heaven knows!

May your second half be better than your first.

With you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Meg says:

    What a awesome, beautiful, fantastic piece. And congrats to midway.

  • Written like the creative soul God created you as.

    Midway is hard to place with life on Earth. It is not as ‘tangible’ as your weaving. I often wonder why some people have a very short midpoint and others…. much longer… What have they left behind to continue on through others?

    Even so, having been gifted hand woven fabric from another generation, I cannot help but look at your sparkling colors and see the colors they will fade to be with time. Is the softness that time brings to dyes also a softness God gives to our memories left behind.

    Blessings,

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, The items I have of my grandmother’s handwork is faded, as you say. Her memory lives on in me, and is softly faded to the point I only remember the good things about her.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Good morning, Karen. At my age, I have no doubt that I have long since passed my mid point although I didn’t really wake up to that fact until I hit fifty. The first half of my life, I believed the tangible was so important; but in the second half, I believe that it is the intangible we leave behind that will be the longest lasting.
    After seeing so many beautiful handcrafted items in second hand stores, I realized that what I valued as family heirlooms to be handed down through the generations with stories may not be valued as such by the recipient of my work.
    So I just try to concentrate on the enjoyment of creating whatever I make, make what I like and hope that someone else might value it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I agree with you that the intangible seems more important now. The values we pass on will outlast the things we hand down.

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Linda Cornell says:

    Thank you all for your reflections, uncannily, similar to my own recently… the Holy Spirit weaving through our lives. Can you recommend 4 shaft double weave patterns for baby blankets? Though the blankets will probably not last, hopefully the love that weaves them will cover those new little lives.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, The only 4-shaft double weave I’ve done was a double-width throw. The double weave baby blankets I’ve woven were on 8-shafts. Both the double-width and the 8-shaft double weave projects were from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell.

      Your love will definitely have the longest-lasting impact.

      All the best,
      Karen

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