Bold Color and Weave

Remember the placemats I started on my Texas hill country loom in Colors on Trial? The pattern in the fabric looks nice and pretty. But it doesn’t display the striking color-and-weave effect that I expected. The problem is not the threading, nor the colors.

Color and weave using single weft instead of doubled weft.

Nice and pretty, but lacking the boldness of the planned color-and-weave effect.

Aha! I overlooked an important detail on the treadling draft—the weft is supposed to be doubled. That changes everything! Since there is very little excess warp for this project I need to back up and start over.

Backing up the weaving. Clipping through weft threads. Yikes!

Backing up. After loosening warp tension, I carefully clip the weft threads down the center of the warp. I go at a snail’s pace to avoid accidentally snipping any warp ends.

Backing up. Weft removal, one pick at a time.

Removal, one pick at a time. I press the treadles in reverse order to pull out each row of weft threads.

Weft has been removed. Now ready to start over!

Back to the start. Sufficient weft has been removed. Now I am ready to start over.

I am losing the nice and pretty fabric. But it is being replaced with something better—fabric with a bold color-and-weave effect.

Two double-bobbin shuttles with color and weave.

This is the color-and-weave effect I was looking for! Two double-bobbin shuttles carry the weft threads.

Color and weave for placemats.

First placemat is a “Joseph’s coat” combination of colors. Bold color-and-weave effect has a striking pattern.

I would like my life to be nice and pretty, easy and comfortable. But if I get closer to the Grand Weaver’s intentions, I see something different—a bold strength of purpose. Not necessarily easy. God’s will is better than mine. When we aim to understand his will, we see details that we’ve overlooked. It affects how we walk through life. We take his doubled weft threads to replace our well-meaning attempts. The result is a beautiful display of striking life-changing effects.

May you be mindful of the important details.

With you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Annie says:

    I love your analogy and courage to cut out all that work. It did look nice before but wow! Such a great difference with such a small change. An encouragement to make small changes in life as they may lead to great overall improvements.

    Have a great day, Karen!

  • Cynthia says:

    Hi Karen, I used to work for your husband in Tulsa. Love your work. My cousin weaves and I have shared your blog with her, she sure enjoys.

  • Ruth says:

    Good Morning Karen,
    Thanks for sharing your technique for unweaving. To correct mistakes I’ve literally thrown the shuttle across my warp threads to take back many inches of weaving. This seems a much gentler way to save a warp. I like your calm approach to correcting an error and enjoying the outcome. Blessings to you and yours, Ruth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, I do think removing the weft this way is less damaging to the warp. Even if I don’t clip through the center, I usually cut the weft and pull it out rather than send it back with the shuttle if it’s more than one or two picks. This is especially important if the warp is linen, which is much more susceptible to breakage from abrasion than this cotton warp I have here.

      One thing I enjoy about weaving is that just about anything can be corrected!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • SM says:

    These are, as all your projects are, beautiful! Is this a little like doubleweave? You see the back on the front and the front on the back?

    • Karen says:

      Hi SM, I appreciate your sweet compliment!

      This is much simpler than double weave. This is actually plain weave with two treadles. It’s the arrangement of stripes in warp and weft that give it visual complexity. This fabric is the same on front and back. It’s amazing what can happen with color and weave!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Beauty in Cutting Off

There is beauty in cut threads. They signify completion. Look what has become of these linen threads! Order and sequence, timing and continuity, perseverance and pursuit. Through a weaver’s hands it all adds up to fabric made for a purpose.

Cutting off! Linen threads flow through the reed like a waterfall.

Cutting off! Linen warp ends flow through the reed like a waterfall after the cloth is cut off.

Linen 5-shaft damask. Cutting off!

Cut threads appear as tidy fringe on the stately linen satin damask weave. The warp beam holds the cloth until it is ceremoniously unrolled.

Linen damask weaving, just cut from the loom.

Fabric and warping slats fall to the ground.

Linen fabric just off the loom, ready for finishing.

On the sewing room work table, the completed fabric awaits the finishing process. I will look for and repair errors, secure cut ends with serger stitching, and wet finish the fabric. Then, I will hem them so they can be used as the towels I envisioned from the start.

Father. With God as our Father, we are on the receiving end of the process. Grace and peace, granted from the Father’s hand, shape our lives. And, like a good weaver, our Father makes something beautiful from the threads we offer him. Imagine the day when it may be said of us, “Look what became of the linen threads in the Grand Weaver’s hands!”

May your threads turn into something beautiful.

With joy,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Beautiful tribute to Our Father who IS the Masterweaver! I just finished the second project on my Baby Wolf and it was a major learning experience, so it is a miracle that, as I cut it off, it really became the towels I intended to do! Lessons: (1) Make sure that the warp goes OVER the back beam (2) count the heddles more carefully to avoid need to make repair heddles…which sometimes come loose! (3) Use the right equipment, e.g. raddle that spreads the threads so they are straight. But, they will come off the loom this a.m. I intend to continue doing the back to front warping until I learn it better…and I will do something in plain cloth, with at least some stripes. Thanks to many resources, I have choices! Thank you, Karen, for this timely message! God Bless!

    • Karen says:

      Good Morning, Joyce, I think that you will find that every new warp on the loom is a new learning experience. Congratulations on finding solutions along the way! Neglecting to go over the back beam is a common one-time error. Call it “weaving initiation.” It’s the kind of error you only make one time. 😉
      I don’t use a raddle. Instead, I pre-sley the reed, which is another easy way to spread the warp.

      You are right, you have choices!

      Grace to you, and peace from God our Father.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Goodness! They’re going to be luxurious towels.

    • Karen says:

      Good Morning, Beth! Linen fabric captivates me because of the way it hides and reveals pattern depending on the light. I think that’s why linen works so well for satin damask, with it’s pattern of warp and weft floats. Yes, I guess handwoven linen satin damask is luxury. I feel very fortunate. :-j

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Shari says:

    Yourr weaving is lovely as are your words and writing!

  • Kay Larson says:

    Hi Karen!
    I love your blog. I am just getting back to weaving after a 20 year hiatus. Your words of wisdom have been a great help. Your talking about cutting off the cloth brought to mind a question. What do you do with your loom waste?

    Peaceful Weaving,
    Kay

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kay, Welcome back to the world of weaving! I’m so glad you wandered over here. Great question!!

      Most of the time I discard the thrums (loom waste). However, I cannot get myself to throw away linen. So, I have several short chains of linen thrums hanging in my weaving studio. I have a few other chains of thrums of yarn that was too pretty or too long to justify throwing away. I have used cotton thrums as choke ties, using a few threads bundled together. But I have other choke ties that I prefer to use. There “should” be a good use of thrums, and I’ve heard of a few; but life (and space) is too short to keep everything that “could” be used someday. I did find a draft for linen washcloths that uses linen thrums in the weft. I have that on my list for this year’s weaving, so you’ll see with me how that works out. Who knows, that may open a whole new door for thrums!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kathryn says:

    Hello Karen,

    These are so beautiful! Are they going to be dish towels?

    You have inspired me to try this type of weave on my new loom (loom number three and counting)! Do you have a resource for learning how to weave satin damask? Also, what is the weight of the linen you are using and the set?

    I hope you don’t mind me picking you brain:)
    Thank you so much,
    Kathryn

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kathryn, These will be dish towels and/or hand towels.

      Thanks for asking questions! It’s a pleasure to correspond about weaving.

      The warp is 16/2 linen. The weft on two of the towels is 16/1 linen, which makes a nice elegant towel. My husband requested that I make some towels that are not as “sweet and sissy,” that are thicker and more hefty. So the remaining towels have 16/2 linen weft. I will know more after wet finishing, but I think these heftier towels will be very nice. If they end up being too stiff I may not cut them apart, and leave it as a long table runner.

      Weaving this satin damask has been so enjoyable that I have already wound a warp to do it again, with a slightly different pattern. And, I’m doing it in 8/2 cotton this time (with a 65/10 metric reed, 13 epc).

      You need ten shafts and ten treadles for this five-shaft satin in two blocks. I followed the draft and instructions for this from my favorite weaving book, “The Big Book of Weaving,” by Laila Lundell. I am using a 70/10 metric reed, and the sett is 14 ends per cm. With an Imperial reed, comparable would be an 18-dent reed, with 36 ends per inch.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Maggie ackerman says:

    Karen, I love these towels. You mentioned that one of the things you do post look is correct mistakes. How do you do this and which mistakes can be corrected off loom. I’m always dismayed upon finding a mistake but have learned that nothing is perfect. Thank you for your blog. I look forward to it.
    Maggie Ackerman

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, You ask a really good question. And you are so right that nothing is perfect. Thankfully, many weaving errors can be corrected off the loom. I think I shall do a blog post when I start fixing the errors on these towels. Thanks for the idea!

      The main kind of errors I’m looking for are skipped threads or floats. These can usually be corrected, but it must be done BEFORE the fabric is washed. I use a blunt needle and needle-weave the matching thread, warp or weft, in the correct path of the weave, starting about an inch before, and going about an inch beyond the errant float. On a tight weave like these towels, I may need to use a magnifier to see what I’m doing.

      The other kind of error that I want to take care of is a loop at the selvedge. Depending on the size of the loop, there are a couple ways I handle this. Either, cut the loop and sew it back into the fabric, or needle-weave in a new thread entirely. …or, just leave it and hope it will shrink in enough in the wash.

      I hope this helps! Look for a blog post on the subject in the next couple weeks.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Martha says:

    Such lovely towels, I adore the colors and the draft.

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Two Threads Are Better than One

Here’s a secret: Two threads are better than one. To measure a warp, I always, without exception, wind the warp with two or more threads together. A warp that is wound with a single thread is prone to tangle as threads twist around each other. A warp wound with pairs of threads won’t do that.

Winding a linen warp. Always 2 threads together.

Choke ties secure the warp bout around the starting pin on the warping reel.

Smooth warping tip: Always wind a warp with at least two threads at a time.

I hold two threads in my right hand, with my little finger separating them, to wind the warp. My left hand turns the warping reel. I purchase enough thread to be able to wind with two tubes at a time. Any thread that remains unused goes toward another project.

I am particular about this warp. It’s linen, so consistency matters. Tangles would disrupt the even tension the linen needs. I have dräll in five-shaft satin in mind as I take each careful step to dress the loom. I expanded the loom to ten shafts to be able to weave this! Expect happy weaving, to be sure, but imagine how pleasant it will be to hold this dreamed-of cloth in my hand. That future cloth gives meaning to my present efforts at the loom.

One of my weaving spaces.

Various stages of weaving. Winding 16/2 unbleached line linen to warp the Standard loom. The Baby Loom (Glimåkra Ideal) in the background is in the middle of rag-rug weaving.

Ten shafts for dräll in five-shaft satin.

Ten shafts in place on the Big Loom (Glimåkra Standard) to prepare the loom for weaving dräll in five-shaft satin.

There must be meaning beyond this life for us to find meaning in this life. The end of the weaving is the beginning of the life of the cloth. There is purposeful preparation by the Grand Weaver, with a precisely measured warp. The back-and-forth shuttle is like the ticking of a clock, or the passing of years. The end is the beginning. Can you imagine the splendid setting the Grand Weaver has in mind for his hand-woven cloth?

May you keep the end in mind.

Yours,
Karen

9 Comments

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Yes, praise God! And thank you for the tip about winding two or more threads at once. I had never heard that before. I’m going to try it on my next warp. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, Let me know how it goes when you wind with two threads. I’m curious to see what kind of difference it makes for you.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    So I am wondering why ten shafts with a five shaft pattern? Will you be doing a double weave?
    As you know, I am a Rigid Heddle weaver, however, I am fascinated by floor looms and I am toying with the idea of learning how to weave on one. I have just ordered the draft book to learn how to read patterns and have started to research the different types of floor looms.
    I am curious to know why you chose the two looms that you mention here.
    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, You have some great questions!
      I can weave the satin with 5 shafts, but it would be the same all over. Ten shafts enable me to weave a pattern with two blocks. This gives the characteristic squares or rectangles in the fabric. It is still a single warp and weft, not a double weave structure.

      Your second question gives me an idea for another blog post – Why I weave on Swedish Looms. You can look for that in the near future. For now, I will say that I am fascinated with the simplicity, durability, and functionality of the Swedish countermarch looms. Everything about these looms work with anything I want to weave, from hearty rag rugs to fine linen lace, and make it a joy to dress the loom and weave.

      (Back when I was researching floor looms, like you are, a few well-meaning people told me the countermarch loom would be too complicated and/or too big. They were wrong. 🙂

      Thank you for asking!
      Karen

      • Annie says:

        Thank you for sharing that information, Karen. I have a clearer picture of your project now.

        And a better understanding of the Glimakra loom.

        Annie

  • Anonymous says:

    Your blog is very inspirational! Thank you.
    Linda

  • Tom Z. in IL says:

    Karen, it’s always a treat to stop by your blog. Your learning and experience have helped me a lot in the past even though I don’t comment a lot. This is a peaceful and relaxing place with lots of beautiful things and a great hostess! Thanks for just being here and passing on your knowledge and experience.

    I love the 2 thread cross and do it whenever I can. I adopted it a while back. I’ve found it’s a lot easier at the lease, to beam on with a 2 thread cross – less tangles and for me it seems easier to pick from for threading. I’ve even done a 4 thread and has no problems.

    Sometimes we must stand together in a group to better overcome the challenges of life. 😉

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tom, How thoughtful you are! I’m delighted to hear that you find this spot on the web to be a peaceful and relaxing place. Ahhh…

      You make a great point. A 2 thread cross does indeed seem easier to pick from for threading. I have also done 4 threads with no difficulties.

      And thank you for your superb conclusion. It helps to stand shoulder-to-shoulder when we face life’s challenges. We weren’t meant to go it alone!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Finer Weft for a Stronger Cord

I need a strong cord for a specific use. It needs to look nice, without drawing attention to itself. This cord will connect three small pieces of wood. I will reveal how they will be used after I finish weaving the cord.

Three wooden pieces for a special purpose...

Three wooden pieces to be connected for a purpose. What are they for? You are welcome to put your guess in the comments…

I chose 12/6 rug warp for the project, to make this a durable cord. With a band this narrow, the 12/6 cotton is too bulky for weft. I could not pull the selvedges tight. I need a finer weft that will draw the warp ends together and disappear at the selvedges. Black 16/1 linen works beautifully!

New woven narrow band. Need to change the weft.

Using 12/6 cotton rug warp for the weft proved to be unworkable for this narrow band. Light shows through the gaps at the selvedges.

Linen weft for this narrow band.

Black linen weft matches the black selvedge threads. The 16/1 linen enables tight and even selvedges for this 5/16″ (8 mm) band.

A change of heart changes everything. The condition of our heart is revealed in the way we behave toward others. Our thoughts and actions are a matter of the heart. To live in a manner that is unselfish, generous, kind, and content, we must do more than line up the right outward appearances. We must start with humility. Having the perfect warp means nothing if the weft interferes with a beautiful outcome. Humility, like the linen weft, is a posture of the heart that pulls everything else together.

May your heart be beautiful.

Warmly,
Karen

2 Comments

  • I can’t guess what the wooden pieces are for. They remind me of several times when I purchased a used loom from someone, and there were several wooden or metal pieces that came with it that neither they nor I knew what they were for. I am glad you know what these are for, and I am looking forward to finding out!

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Kuvikas Squares Meet Stripes

After neglecting this Glimakra Standard loom for a few weeks, I lost my consistency in beating. The first panel, side one of a cushion, has a square-within-a-square pattern. And the squares are not all equal. If I tried to put the same pattern on the back panel, the cushion front and back would not match up at the seams.

Kuvikas (summer and winter).

Each block consists of twenty picks, so there are sixty picks for each row of the square-within-a-square pattern. Consistency in beating is crucial in order to have all the rows of squares equal in size.

Stripes to the rescue! The stripes use one of the four possible kuvikas blocks. I get a coordinating pattern without the fuss of trying to match up the sides. The stripes have a ribbed appearance–simpler than the squares, but still geometric. The patterns are different, but they work together and complement each other.

Kuvikas. Front and back cushion panels.

Two red picks separate the front and back panels of the cushion.

Kuvikas squares and stripes.

Repeating “block one” makes a simple stripe pattern. The square-within-a-square pattern is made by weaving two groups of blocks. Group 1: block two, block one, block two. Group 2: block three, block four, block three.

There are many different gifts in people; and the gifts all come from the same source. Each gift is like a pattern than can be used in a variety of ways, complementing the other patterns around it. Our Grand Weaver sees the whole project, and places the people with the gifts where they best fit in the overall fabric. You are made for a purpose. Your gifts are exactly what the rest of us need.

May your gifts bless those around you.

With purpose,
Karen

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