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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Thankful for Plattväv

The brilliant blue linen, with its natural luster, is a lively option for the plattväv pattern floats. And blue linen weft for the hem makes a fitting border. These towels with blue accents have a different “character” than the towels with the black linen accents (as seen in Striped Warp Freedom). The accent color makes a big difference.

Plattväv towels with linen weft.

Golden bleached 16/1 linen for plain weave weft. Plattväv pattern weft is doubled royal blue 16/1 linen.

I planned stripes in the warp to simplify the weaving. The warp stripes enable me to weave patterned towels with a single weft color. Plattväv weft floats keep it interesting. As much as I like blue linen, I am uncertain about it here. I’m waiting to see the towels off the loom, washed and dried. In the meantime, the warp stripes make my heart sing. And I’m thankful to have options for the pattern weft.

Blue 16/1 linen is used to weave the hem. Karen Isenhower

Royal blue 16/1 linen is used to weave the hem. The antique Swedish shuttle seems appropriate for this Swedish weave.

We always have a reason to sing. ThanksGiving may be a holiday, but it’s also a way of life. It’s seeing the good, the benefits, the blessings, even in the midst of uncertainty. It’s knowing that carefully planned warp stripes are still there. My hope is in God. My soul is confident, firm, and steadfast in him. And thankful to the core.

May your heart find a song to sing.

With you,
Karen

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Plain Rosepath

This is a stash-busting rug, using leftover cut strips from previous rugs. Like my other rag rugs, I start with a plan. Then, I get out my fabric and make my color selections. It’s plain rosepath, without tabby picks in between, perfect for a stash buster. Snip, snip, snip. Fabric snippets are taped to my idea sheet. These are my blueprints–weaving draft, treadling order, and idea sheet with fabric snippets. I am weaving!

Rosepath rag rug on the loom.

Without tabby picks the rosepath pattern takes on a compressed form.

I can, and do, make adjustments at the loom. But I keep one question in mind. Will my choices along the way fit with the overall design of the rug? My idea sheet serves as a guiding compass. It’s a reminder of the big picture that forms a cohesive design.

Idea sheet for rag rug design.

Idea sheet hangs from the beater clip on the Glimakra Ideal loom. The treadling pattern, penciled on graph paper, and fabric snippets provide a quick reference while weaving.

Guiding principles shape our lives and enable us to make wise decisions. A compass sets the course. Use a true compass. Live in a way that pleases God. This is a valid compass for all choices and decisions. The Grand Weaver has the comprehensive design. Amazingly, He weaves our leftover fabric strips into his design, and uses them to make something useful and beautiful.

May you see your part in the overall design.

Happy weaving,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Linda de Roy Landry says:

    Karen,
    I do enjoy and look forward to reading all of you postings. Though we have not met in person, I think of you as a kindred spirit as we seem to think alike in more ways than one. Thank you for sharing and blending your faith and knowledge of weaving. It always adds a ray of light to my day and some inspiration to my weaving.
    Kind and warm regards, Linda

  • JANET PELL says:

    Dear Linda, I want to thank you for your blog, I dont make many comments but I wanted you to know that I am brightened and inspired so much by you.
    Im English and live in Italy, in the 11 years I have lived here I have only met one other weaver, I am a self taught weaver and love it, but its a lonely trek, so wanted you know how your encouragement lifts my days.

    • Karen says:

      Janet, It blesses me tremendously to know that my words and pictures reach someone like you. Good for you for pressing on, even without the camaraderie of other weavers. I’m so glad you are coming here. Make yourself at home. 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Jane Smith says:

    Yes, I agree with Janet. Like her, I am pretty much a self-taught weaver who travels a lonely path. Blogs like these remind me of something that I think CS Lewis said: “We read to know we are not alone”. I am English, living in South Africa.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jane, You make me so happy! I love the thought of connecting weavers to a community. And it’s great to hear someone quote one of my favorite authors!

      Thank you for encouraging me today.

      Karen

  • Jane Smith says:

    I really like the idea of “connecting weavers to a community”, Karen, and this blog certainly helps to do that.

    In fact, you’ve got me thinking!

  • Sandra says:

    Karen, your words and connections to weaving ( and weavers! ) is indeed inspiring. Also a self taught beginner weaver living in Alberta Canada, though I too travelled far as my husband and I moved when the military needed us to. I have found many ways to learn this artform, but I would much rather read your words and follow your journey by reading old and new posts, than join groups on Ravelry.com for inspiration. You are a great teacher and I will try to be a better “listener” … so much thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandra,
      You have encouraged me more than you know. It’s exactly for you, and others like you, that I write. I truly cherish the connection we have as weavers and long-distance friends.

      Your friend,
      Karen

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