Harmonized Weaving for the New Year

I have a grand idea for this new year! Put all three looms to work simultaneously to weave a coordinated set of textiles for the Texas hill country house. My Glimåkra Ideal loom and the little hand-built loom are bare and ready. Imagine the action! I’ll take you along as I wind warps, dress looms, and weave the harmonized threads. While I wait for ordered yarn, I am weaving the linen satin dräll towels that remain on the Glimåkra Standard loom. Soon, this loom will be bare and ready, too.

Linen towels in five-shaft satin dräll.

Beginning the third of six linen towels in five-shaft satin dräll. Two picks of red thread mark the cutting line between towels.

Before embarking on a new year of weaving adventures, though, I want to fully stop and count my blessings. And YOU are one of those amazing blessings. Thank you from my heart for being friends who share in this journey with me.

Take a look back with me through 2017!

Grateful for you,
Karen

20 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Great slide show! I so admire your work. Thank you for sharing and inspiring.
    Happy New Year, Karen!

  • JAN says:

    Good morning Karen!

    On this blustery cold day in New England, your presentation of your 2017 weaving projects, in review, was most welcome and inspiring. Currently I weave on a 12 harness Öxabäck.

    One question, what make and model sewing machine do you use?

    Unfortunately my Husqvarna 6030 appears to have seen it’s last days, so would appreciate knowing what modern machine works best for you, especially on heavier wovens, e.g. with use of rags (not necessarily rugs).

    Happy New Year,

    JAN

    • Karen says:

      Hi JAN, You weave on the Cadillac of looms, then, as I’ve been told! Wonderful!

      My sewing machine is my trusty 40-year-old simple Bernina. It does almost everything I need it to do, and I hope it never dies. Someday, I might add some sort of commercial sewing machine that can handle thicker and heavier things. I have sewn relatively thick seams on this machine; however, I must confess that I have also broken many needles in the process. I’ve never had a fancy computerized machine. I’m not sure I would know what to do with it.

      Happy New Year to you,
      Karen

      And bundle up. Brrr…

  • Linda says:

    Thank you for the lovely slide show! Happy New Year!

  • Enjoyed your slide show. It has been fun watching your projects develop this year. Your have a good eye for color.

  • ellen says:

    i am excited to see what comes next. i just bought a towel kit of yours from lunatic fringe. i am going to show my friend how to do this, before we go to vavstuga next fall.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ellen, Wow, so many exciting things on your horizon! Hooray to all of it, especially your upcoming experience at Vavstuga!

      Happy New Year,
      Karen

  • Nanette says:

    Beautiful slide show…and amazing productiveness. Do you have any “New Year’s resolutions” to suggest for those of us who seem to produce so little weaving despite good intentions and three looms? Do you weave all day every day? Do you not have other things you either want or must do? I really appreciate you taking the time to share all this weaving with others!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nanette, You are so sweet! My desire is to weave every day, but there are many days that other responsibilities keep me from the looms. It is rare that I spend more than one or two hours at the loom on any given day. The truth is, there are few things I would rather be doing than weaving.

      One thing that helps me is that I have a “revolving door” mindset with my looms. I don’t want to see my looms empty, so I keep a perpetual schedule of preparing for the next thing. When I have started the actual weaving on a loom, I sit down and plan the next project, and order the yarn. When the loom is empty, I wind the new warp. When I wind a warp, I take it immediately to the loom it is going to dress. And I can’t stop myself from weaving on a newly dressed loom!

      I’ve never had all three looms empty at one time, so my new grand idea of coordinating the three looms may also be my downfall. We shall see…

      Thanks so much for your gracious encouragement!
      Karen

  • Anonymous says:

    Karen, wow have you done a lot this past year, I am so happy that you have included us in your journey. Loved the video!
    Happy New Year my friend,
    Liberty

  • Carolyn Penny says:

    Amazing productivity and variety in your projects. The rotation of your looms and projects sounds like a wise method of coordinating the three. My best wishes in having three coordinating projects on three different looms. I am certain you can do it! — Carolyn Penny

    • Karen says:

      Hi Carolyn, Thanks so much for the vote of confidence! I’m excited about attempting this coordinated effort.

      Have an amazing New Year!
      Karen

  • Alison says:

    Thank you for sharing Karen. So inspiring to see your successes from the past year. I will take a hint from you (from one of your messages above) and try and keep my three looms warped at all times! This year I start a three year weaving course with Liz Calnan (in Australia) and I’m very excited to take my weaving to a much more professional and accomplished standard. I look forward to seeing what you get up to this year.
    Alison

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alison, What a great opportunity you have to take a three-year weaving course! That sounds fantastic. You’ll need to teach me some of the tips and skills that you learn.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    What an amazing variety of items you accomplished this past year! I was already in awe of the quality of your weaving and now I am floored at how much you accomplished in just a few hours a day!

    Thank you so much for sharing. I am looking forward to the new year and your new projects.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I never feel like I’m weaving that much, but when I look back I’m a little surprised myself! I’m not particularly fast, but I’m pretty consistent. It makes me think of a recording of “The Tortoise and the Hare” that my sisters and I listened to when we were girls. I can still hear the deep voice of the tortoise, “I may be slo-o-o-o-w, but I’m su-u-u-u-u-re!” HaHa, that’s me.

      Thanks,
      Karen

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Counting at the Cross

I am winding a lovely all-blue warp on my warping reel. When I pause, as I do regularly to count the ends, it is easy to put the winding on hold. I tuck the pair of warp ends under a section of wound warp at one of the vertical posts of the reel. That holds it, and keeps threads under tension until I’m ready to continue where I left off.

Winding a warp on a warping reel.

Pair of warp ends are held secure while I stop to count another section of ends.

I stop after winding each section. I do the counting at the cross, always counting twice. A long twisted cord (one of my choke ties) marks my place, section by section. The count needs to be an exact match, of course, with the number of ends in the pattern draft.

Counting warp ends as I wind a warp on the warping reel.

Long twisted cord helps keep track of how many ends have been counted.

Cotton warp just beamed.

After the warp is beamed, each section is counted again to prepare for threading the loom.

The Christmas season reminds us that Jesus brought grace to earth. From manger to cross. The grace of the Lord Jesus is perfectly complete. Like a planned warp, there is nothing more to add. All the threads have been counted. And they match the divine plan. Any threads of my own effort would be threads that don’t belong. The grace of forgiveness comes purely as a gift.

May your counted ends match the pattern.

Christmas blessings,
Karen

7 Comments

  • Martha says:

    Beautiful blue warp! Love your warping reel, how many yards does it hold?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Martha, This is a Glimakra warping reel, 8′ in diameter. I’m not positive how many yards it will hold, but I’m guessing probably 14-15 yards. So far, my longest warps have been about 10-12 yards. The reel works great, and I really enjoy winding warps on it.

      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    What a lovely warp! Can’t wait to see what you’ll do with it!

  • S says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog and appreciate the time you take to write it. I have a question, too: I’ve read where you mention “counting the sections” several times for threading. What do you mean by that? What sections are you counting? Are they sections of the threading draft, and if so, how do I know what a section is on the draft?

    • Karen says:

      Hi S, That is a good clarifying question. Thanks for asking!

      What I mean by “section” is a pre-determined number of warp ends. In the case of this warp, there are regular color changes with a certain number of threads in each color, so I am counting sections of color. Many projects have all one color warp, or colors distributed in various ways. In those cases, I decide how many threads to count at a time–maybe 40, or 50–and that number of warp ends will make a “section” for counting purposes. The number of threads in a “section” doesn’t necessarily relate to the threading draft, except, of course, that the total number of warp ends must match up.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • S says:

    Thank you! That makes sense and I’m going to incorporate that into my warping process. Cheers!

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Warp Chain Optimist

Is there a better picture of optimism than a warp chain? Especially warp chains that are sitting on the loom bench ready to become something! Anticipation electrifies the weaving space because fabric-making is about to happen!

Warp chains for a spaced repp rag rug.

Four bouts of 12/6 cotton rug warp for spaced rep rag rugs. The warp is eight meters long.

The Glimåkra Ideal is getting dressed for weaving rag rugs. Hooray! And the Glimåkra Standard is getting dressed for double weave baby blankets. I keep a regular cycle of weaving, cutting off, and starting over.

Warp chains of 8/2 cotton for baby blankets.

Three bouts of 8/2 cotton for double weave baby blankets, gifts for friends. The warp is three meters long.

Dress the loom. Weave a sample. Plan the next project and order supplies. Weave what’s on the loom to the finish line. Cut off. Do the finishing work. Wind the warp for the next project, and put the warp chain(s) on the loom bench. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Every beginning has an end. Every warp. Every life. And even every day comes to an end. What will I make of that warp? This life? This day? Our life is a mere shadow, fading quickly. To honor our Grand Weaver, we want to value every day we’ve been given. And when our hope and trust is in Him, we know the fabric he is weaving will last forever.

May you value this day you’ve been given.

Happy weaving,
Karen

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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

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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Quiet Friday: Plattväv Towels and Thanksgiving Prayer

Start to finish, the plattväv towels have been a handweaver’s joy. Narrow stripes on the warp beam are strangely invigorating. Does it take extra effort to wind a warp with many stripes? Yes–cut off one color and tie on a new color, over and over. But when the loom is dressed and ready to go, the weaving is a breeze. Being cottolin, the warp is fully compliant; and with a little care, the linen weft becomes a weaver’s friend. Plattväv, the icing on the cake, gives me a simple pattern weft that dresses up these plain weave towels. (And, yes, I am in the process of developing a kit for these plattväv towels.)

Planning handwoven towels.

Cottolin warp with counting cord.

Striped warp for plattväv towels.

Threading the loom for plattväv towels.

Tying up treadles the easy way.

Weft auditions for plattväv towels.

Plattväv towels on the loom, with linen weft.

Plattväv towels on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Blue linen pattern weft.

Beautiful blue linen pattern weft.

Plattväv towels coming off the loom!

Off the loom and ready for trimming threads.

Band loom weaving.

Plattväv towels ready to roll!

Plattväv towels. Karen Isenhower

The joy of weaving is a blessing, as is the joy of friendships across the miles. Thank you for walking this journey with me.

Thanksgiving prayer: Thank you, Lord, for everything.

May you overflow with blessings and reasons for giving thanks.

Thankful for you,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Hi Karen,
    These towels are just beautiful. Thank you for all the work you do to help us with our weaving. Happy Thanksgiving my friend!

  • Martha says:

    Love the photo of the towels rolled up- very interesting to view. Beautiful work as always.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Martha, The linen is predominant in these towels, and linen begs to be rolled. I had fun playing around with them to take pictures.
      Thanks for your kind words!

      Happy Thanksgiving,
      Karen

  • Anne says:

    I will definitely be interested win the kit! Beautiful!

  • Theresa says:

    The towels are lovely. I too will be watching out for kit information.
    I’m wondering if hemp would be worth a whirl in place of linen?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Theresa, I’m excited about putting the kit together. It’s good to know you are keeping an eye on it.
      I have never woven with hemp. From what I’ve heard, it weaves much like linen. So I’m certain it would work for this.
      I love the Bockens and the Borgs Swedish linen, so I haven’t branched out much in that regard.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

    • Karen says:

      Hi Christine, Thank you so much!

      If you’re interested, there are a couple of these towels in my Etsy shop, as well as “Workshop in a Box” kits, where you can weave these towels for yourself.

      All the best,
      Karen

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