New Year of Weaving Progress

This year is different. I’m going to get organized, keep every loom dressed, and bake fruit pies for my husband! Alas, good intentions are not a reliable measure of what my progress will be. I always want to do more than what I manage to get done.

Finishing work for cotton placemats.

Before washing and drying the fabric I examine it. I look for errors and clip off any weft tails.

Luggage ribbons made from handwoven scraps.

I cut the placemats to a uniform size. Scraps that were cut off will be used as ribbons to mark luggage for my daughter’s family as they prepare to travel. I simply zigzagged the edges of the scraps.

I washed, pressed, hemmed, and pressed again the twelve placemats. Finishing is finished. It’s a nice way to end one year and start the next. Measurable progress.

Pressing handwoven placemats.

Pressing in the dining room.

Twelve handwoven cotton placemats.

Twelve handwoven placemats. No two alike. Basket weave, color and weave effects. 8/2 cotton warp and weft.

Thankfully, our value isn’t wrapped up in what we accomplish. Or what we don’t. We need the Lord’s grace. It’s strength that’s beyond our own strength. Grow in grace. Grow in strength. That’s my prayer this year for you and for me.

New handwoven cotton placemats.

Welcome. Grace spoken here.

May your value be wrapped up in grace.

Happy New Weaving Year,
Karen

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Heart of a Tiny Tapestry

Though small, this pocket-sized tapestry took a few months to complete. A car ride here, a coffee shop there, a move across town, and an imminent move across the state—this tiny tapestry has been in the background through it all.

Car-ride weaving.

Car-ride weaving.

Coffee-shop weaving.

Coffee-shop weaving.

The weft tails are neatly trimmed, but the back is completely exposed. I’m not weaving the tails in this time, nor covering them with a fabric backing. Just hold the tiny tapestry in your hand and feel it. Remember that all the pleasant color distinctions and pick-and-pick samples on the front side have a back side, too. True, the back doesn’t make as much sense. However, I want my friend who is receiving this to see and touch the heart of the weaving.

Finishing ends of small tapestry.

Using a needle to pull the warp ends back through the warp thread header. After pulling through, the warp ends are trimmed close to the surface. The weft tails are also trimmed to about 1/2″.

Steaming the tiny tapestry. 12/6 cotton warp pulls together nicely as the back of the tapestry is steamed.

Exposed back of the tiny tapestry weaving reveals trimmed weft tails.

Exposed back of the tapestry reveals trimmed weft tails.

Tiny tapestry. Visual and tactile satisfaction.

Visual and tactile satisfaction.

This is a picture of grace. Look at the heart of the matter. We so often rely on the rules. Break a rule, and you’re condemned. But Jesus is interested in the heart. A pure heart doesn’t stand condemned. This is why the gift of his forgiveness is so wonderful. God knows the exposed messy side of our tapestry. Yet, his grace sees us as perfectly covered by Christ Jesus himself.

May your hands keep making.

Simply yours,
Karen

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Rickrack Rag Rug Hemming Video

Hemming a rag rug may be easier than you think. I have used my classic Bernina sewing machine to hem rag rugs; but now, I hem many of them by hand. It’s easier and faster than I once thought. I plan the rug’s hem into the weaving, using half-width fabric strips for the hem area, and end it off with 1 cm of a warp thread heading. After cutting off the rug, I secure and trim the warp ends. There’s only one thing left to do. Hem the rug! (Start with Tools Day: Rag Rug Finishing Video if you haven’t seen it yet.)

Weaving the hem on a rag rug. Video about hemming.

Hem is woven with fabric strips, doubled, cut 1 cm wide. This rug has a 6 cm hem, plus the warp thread heading, that will be folded under and stitched.

Tools and supplies

  • Steam iron
  • Long straight pins
  • Rug warp to match the rug (mine is Bockens 12/6 cotton seine twine)
  • Blunt tapestry needle

Rickrack rag rug. Video tutorial about hemming rag rugs.

Kitchen mat is embellished with woven thin stripes that give the impression of rickrack. It makes me think of rickrack-trimmed dresses my mother made for me when I was a little girl. (See Simplest Rag Rug Stripe to learn how the rickrack stripes are made.)

May you enjoy the work of your hands.

Happy hemming,
Karen

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Quiet Friday: Halvdräll

Halvdräll is one of those Swedish weaves that takes your breath away. How can I describe the exquisite simplicity and stunning splendor of this fascinating cloth? With halvdräll, every moment at the loom is pure joy. I keep thinking, I get to weave this! And every weaver knows no comparison to the delight of pulling beautiful just-woven fabric off the cloth beam.

Enjoy the journey with me now as I reflect on the halvdräll fabric from beginning to end.

Choke tie serves as a counting thread as the cottolin warp is wound.

Choke tie serves as a counting thread as the cottolin warp is wound.

Red linen to be used as pattern weft on white cottolin warp.

Red linen is anticipating a starring role as pattern weft.

Sampling various linen color options for halvdräll table squares.

Sampling various color options for the pattern weft. Red may be one star among several.

Halvdräll table squares on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Second table square has blue and green for block I and red for block II. The back of the first table square, with all red pattern weft, is seen between the breast beam and the knee beam.

Halvdräll table squares on the loom. Elegant neutral tones.

Neutral tones with subtle elegance.

Weaving in the afternoon sunlight.

Light play dances on the colorful woven fabric.

Halvdräll table squares, with linen pattern weft, just off the loom!

Celebration time! When the cloth is cut from the loom the weaver is able to see a complete view of the woven fabric for the first time. Woo hoo!

Folding edge under for hemming. Handwoven table squares.

Wet finished and pressed. Ready for hemming.

How to do a blind hem. Very simple for handwovens.

Blind hem, with sewing needle and thread. Needle goes under one warp end, and is inserted through folded edge of hem for 1/4 inch. Continued stitching across the hem is virtually invisible when complete.

Label added.

Label added.

Hemmed, pressed, and ready to make a statement!

Hemmed, pressed, and ready to dress up a table.

Handwoven halvdräll table square. Karen Isenhower

May you find delight in your journey.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

13 Comments

  • Betsy says:

    Karen
    Thanks for sharing the whole process. I can’t decide which one is my favorite!
    Betsy

    • Karen says:

      Betsy, It was hard for me to decide on a favorite, too! I am keeping one, and the other three are going as gifts and/or Etsy items. (I am keeping the one that goes the best with my china — The one with red and blue, and a little bit of green.)

      Karen

  • Suzie C. says:

    It’s interesting to me how we all have different tastes. As a beginner, I can appreciate your woven pieces because I’m not at that level.
    However, for me, the colors above just aren’t my taste, but MOST of your work I simply adore! I DO love red and white, or blue and white, but only on certain things. Now, I DO love the neutral tones above, but as I keep studying it, I think it’s the pattern that I’m not especially attracted to.
    Do you find that true among weavers, that everyone prefers certain patterns over others, and seem to be drawn to certain colors/color combos than others?
    When I look through weaving magazines, there are some things that I’m instantly drawn to because of the colors or patterns, even if it’s an item I wouldn’t want to weave. I worked as an artist/designer before my current profession, and as I traveled around the country working with other artists, I found it fascinating that we all had such a variety of tastes. But then again, it’s so important that we’re not all the same, or else we wouldn’t have the variety we do!
    Unrelated to that, where do you get your labels? I’d love to order some as I hope my next project will be good enough to give to some family members. It would be great to put that label on so they realize it truly was handmade!
    Oh, and also unrelated to the color/pattern comment, I find it fascinating how a project ‘changes’ after it’s wet-finished. I’ve only done a few projects, and they were so simple that I didn’t see too much of a transformation. I’m anxious to see how my current project will look when off the loom and wet finished, as it’s a little more complicated than what I’ve done so far!
    Thank you for your blog–you are inspiring with every post!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Suzie,

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! I love variety, so I think it would be a shame if everyone liked all the same things. 🙂 I do think that over time I grow to enjoy some things more, like a acquired taste in music, or culinary arts. The more I study something, the easier it is for me to know why I like one thing and not another. As a weaver, it’s an important part of the process because you learn what you want to spend your time on; and, conversely, where you’re happy for the experience, but don’t care to do more of it.

      I get my labels from Heirloom Woven Labels. Your family members will appreciate that label that shows them you really did weave it!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kris Stark says:

    Stunning! Thank you for showing the entire process in one blog! I so enjoy all your blogs. God Bless, Kris

  • linda says:

    Karen: color choice is in the mind of the weaver. The artist sees in their mind the finished product and where it will go in their life. My pallet is not as open and inventive as yours, but I’m not you. ALL your pieces have been perfect as to color, pattern, and usage. JUST RIGHT. Swedish weaving has strong colors, perhaps because the natural background is so white. Have you ever done a krogbrog rug ? now there’s a colorful piece of weaving on 3 shafts. So many ideas so little time. Karen I love your weaving. LP&J,linda

    ps going to vermont to work on a burnt orange runner in colonial overshot. weft is bouclet on 20/2 warp. It’s old ski patrol colors and will go on my dining table. it’s also the new color in my house at home. love ya!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda,

      The artist sees in their mind the finished product and where it will go in their life.

      What a wonderful way to express it! So true.

      I do have a wide range in my personal color palette, and I am constantly trying to push myself to incorporate colors that wouldn’t be my “first pick.” I like to see if I can make them work — I love that challenge. And sometimes they don’t work that well, but many times I am pleasantly surprised at the results. And, you really don’t know how well the colors will play with each other until all the final finishing is finished. 🙂

      I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your vote of confidence!

      I have not done a krogbrog rug… yet. I will do one at some point. Yes, they are beautifully laden with color.

      Your colonial overshot runner sounds wonderful! Send me a picture when you have it finished. I’d love to see it!

      Love,
      Karen

  • Janie Payne says:

    They are all so beautiful! I wouldn’t want to eat on them, spills, etc!!!!

    • Janie Payne says:

      Oh I forgot, where do you buy your red linen? I tried to read the label, but was unable to get a clear view. Thank you, Janie

    • Karen says:

      Janie, Thank you! I know the feeling about not wanting handwoven specialty items to get messed up! But I plan to use mine where I can see it and enjoy it. I can always wash it! 🙂

      The linen is 16/1 line linen by Bockens, color #517. I purchased mine from GlimakraUSA. Other suppliers that carry Bockens are Vavstuga and Lone Star Loom Room.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Gretchen says:

    So beautiful as always Karen… I would love to see your draft for these at our next WOW meeting! I have technical questions! Happy Weaving… See you soon.

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Even Better After

Many, many hours of work have gone into making these handwoven towels. Their stunning capacity as beautiful, absorbant, and useful things isn’t realized, however, until the cloth is subjected to the finishing process. Wet finishing never ceases to amaze me. These towels! They are transformed from special to spectacular!

Cottolin tea towels just off the loom. Ready for wet finishing!

Towels have been cut apart, ends secured with the serger, and weaving errors repaired. It is time to throw them into the washing machine. Towels with red weft threads go in a separate load — just in case…

Handwoven cottolin handtowels just washed. Ready for one-time pressing.

Towels are removed from the dryer while they are still slightly damp. Now they are ready for pressing. If only I could hand them to you to touch…

I may be intimidated at the thought of wet finishing other items (as I talked about in Weaving Experience), but not towels. Especially cottolin handtowels like these. They are made for a lifetime of everyday use. I do not hesitate to throw them in the washer and dryer, because I know the towels will improve with the washing. And after the washing and drying, they’ll be ready for pressing (the only pressing they will likely ever require).

Handwoven cottolin towel - wet finishing.

Out of the wash, the towels have a delightful texture that is slightly puckered. Pressing will flatten the towel, but subsequent washings will renew the desired textural element.

Wet finishing and pressing of new handwoven cottolin towels. Karen Isenhower

Normal people do not press their handtowels, right? This is a one-time occurrence. Pressing after the first washing helps set the threads into place (or so I’ve been told). Happily, there is no color bleeding of the black or red threads!

When I drop the towels into the wash, I am making an exchange. I give up the unwashed, rough cloth, and get a softened, fulled fabric in its place. I lay down a burden, and receive a blessing in return. Jesus takes our soul’s heavy burden, a lifetime of self-imposed work, and exchanges it for his light load. You can put your heavy load down. And receive in return a softened fabric, washed, pressed, and ready for daily use.

May your load become lighter.

Softly,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Debbie Davis says:

    Wonderful blog post, Karen!

  • Loyanne says:

    Beautiful message and beautiful towels. Look forward to seeing Warped for Good in my email.

  • Amaryllis says:

    Hello Debbie, that they were beautiful! look, just as a suggestion, why not open a space on your website and put the drawings (DRAFTING) so we can make them.

    Greetings from Brazil!

    • Karen says:

      Hello Amaryllis from Brazil,

      that is a wonderful suggestion! I will see if I can figure out how to set up a page that shows the weaving drafts.

      For these towels, I started with a draft I found for silk scarves, and I adjusted the sett for the threads I wanted to use, and I also changed the threading to make it more interesting. I write all my drafts on paper, so I would need to transfer them to weaving software, which I do have. So, it is possible, but it may take a little time to get it done.

      Thank you for asking! and Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Wendy says:

    Lovely towels and a powerful thought!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you, Wende! I’m often surprised to find bits of insight to think about as I go about my weaving. I’m glad the things I think about mean something to other people, too, like you.

      Love,
      Karen

  • Liberty says:

    Beautiful towels, I love them, and the message is so true thank you for the reminder!

    Weave away!,
    Liberty

  • Bruce Mullin says:

    Hi Karen, thanks for an inspirational woven towel and message! I too would love to see your drafts. Thanks for all that you do
    Bruce

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bruce, and I am thankful that you and others keep coming back. It’s great to have weaving friends across the miles.

      I will seriously aim toward putting my drafts up. I can’t promise how soon that will happen.

      All the best,
      Karen

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