Handwoven Blankets for Babies

Handwoven baby blankets are for cuddling babies. It is a pleasure to weave a baby blanket for a dear friend’s first grandchild. As long as I’m dressing the loom, it makes sense to weave more than one. So the second baby blanket is for cuddling my own grand-babies when they come to visit.

Double weave baby blankets. Cutting off!

Double weave baby blankets unrolled from the cloth beam, ready to be cut off.

Hemming double weave baby blanket.

Double weave top and bottom layers are stitched together by hand at the hems. Contrasting thread is used for a decorative embroidered look.

Embroidered edge of handwoven baby blanket.

Whipstitch in contrasting thread.

Handwoven baby blankets super soft for baby's skin.

Blankets are triple washed for softness. Ready to touch baby’s skin.

Double weave baby blanket.

Double weave has reverse pattern on the back.

Double weave baby blanket.

Same warp, different weft.

Handwoven baby blanket for newborn.

Meet Julian, my friend’s new grandson, wrapped in love.

Handwoven baby blanket. (Resting on his great-great-grandmother's quilt.)

Meet Benjamin, our newest grandson, wrapped in love. (Resting on his great-great-grandmother’s quilt.)

A resting baby is a picture of hope. Hope for the next feeding, hope in the mother’s tender love, hope in the father’s secure arms. No arrogance, no illusion of grandeur. Just quiet rest. Hope in the Lord looks like this. Hope for today, the future, and forever. My soul is at rest—in complete rest and trust. Like a resting baby in his mother’s arms. Like a baby wrapped in a blanket woven especially for him.

May you find rest.

Blessed,
Karen

20 Comments

  • Cate Kauffman says:

    These are really wonderful. Curious to know what kind of yarn/thread you are using to make these? I was introduced to double weave last year and plan to tackle a small project in the coming new year (once I finish the overshot table runners I’m working on now). Your blog is a regular inspiration to me, both in spirituality and productivity. Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cate, I’m so happy to have you here. If you find something that inspires you, I’ve accomplished my purpose. Thank you!

      I used Bockens 8/2 cotton in warp and weft for these blankets. I like the feel of washed cotton.

      I’m sure your overshot table runners are lovely!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Wow! They are beautiful, Karen! The blankets and the babies. What a great use for double weave.

  • Annie says:

    I haven’t tried double weave yet, but these blankets definitely make me want to try! Unfortunately, all of my grandchildren are too old for swaddling blankets. Guess I will just need to make bigger ones!

    Thank you for the inspiration, both spiritually and weavingly.

    Many blessings,
    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, The baby stage doesn’t last very long, does it? Because of the double layers, a double weave blanket would be good for any age. I wouldn’t mind having one my size!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Joan says:

    Beautiful- What size do you make your baby blankets?

  • Andrea Bakewell says:

    Hi Karen,
    These are lovely and looks like a great project to learn double weave. Is there a pattern you used or just made it up as you went along? I like the short and long boxes 🙂

    Beautiful work!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Andrea, This is a draft from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. I varied the pattern slightly from the pattern in the book to give the design some of my own details. You’re right, this would be a super project to learn double weave.

      Thanks so much,
      Karen

  • Martha says:

    What wonderful love filled blankets to cuddle the wee ones. Nice choice of colors – Lovely weaving as always. The hand made quilt is extra special too!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Martha, My friend helped choose the colors for her grandson’s blanket. I like her choice!
      I enjoy keeping my Grandmother’s handmade quilt where I can see it and use it every day. I’m fond of connecting the past generations with the present.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Susie Redman says:

    Dear Karen,
    These are stunning! I’ve done a double weave project in a class using an 8 shaft table loom but I’m not at all sure how to dress my Glimakra floor loom for double weave. Did you use an extra beam ?
    Would be great to see how you dressed your loom for a double weave project.
    I followed your advice on sorting out the length of my treadle cords to improve the shed – worked a treat – thank you.
    Susie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susie, Great question! There wasn’t anything unusual in dressing the loom for this project. No second beam, since both layers are the same plain weave. The double weave is simply set up in the threading. You can find this draft in The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell.

      Thanks for letting me know the advice about treadle cords worked for you. That makes me very happy!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Your lovely handwoven baby blankets for adorable Benjamin and Julian are destined to become family heirlooms just like your grandmother’s quilt. Wouldn’t your grandmother enjoy knowing you are using and loving her quilt!

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, I’m sure my grandmother never imagined how much her handmade quilts would be enjoyed! It’s a sweet thought that my woven blankets could become heirlooms like that.

      Thank you,
      Karen

  • Tobie says:

    Beautiful! and what a good idea for double weave.

  • Michelle Simon says:

    I truly enjoy reading your blog and the comments. My newest grandchild is only 3 months old and the double weave blanket is a great idea! Many thanks for your thoughtfulness! I, too, enjoy connecting the generations and have been delighted to see in photos my granddaughters with the quilts I’ve made for them–and items I saved from their mother’s childhood being used again!

    Happy Holidays!

    Michelle

    • Karen says:

      Hi Michelle,
      I enjoy reading the comments, too. I’m thrilled when the conversation keeps going.

      Yes, those handmade articles, like your quilts, are threads that make memories and help tie families and generations together.

      All the best,
      Karen

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In My Rigid Heddle Days

My grandmother made a sweet little pinafore that my sisters and I wore when we were babies–each in our own time. Several years ago I came across that simple little “apron,” and made a pattern from it. My first granddaughter received the little pinafore from me almost six years ago, made from fabric I wove on my rigid heddle loom. Now, this little pink and green pinafore is being handed down to my expectant daughter, for her little baby girl, due this summer. And her baby will have the prettiest handwoven burping towel (or light little blanket) any baby has ever had. Nothing is too good for a grandbaby, right?

Baby girl pinafore made from handwoven fabric. Rigid heddle loom.

Fabric woven on a rigid heddle loom is used to make a baby girl’s pinafore. The pinafore pattern came from my grandmother’s handiwork. The background quilt shows more of my grandmother’s skill with fabric, needle, and thread.

Baby towel and baby pinafore. Handwoven.

Handwoven towel and pinafore. Fit for a little princess.

I want to give something more important than things to my grandchildren. I want to give them the stories of the wonders God has performed in my lifetime. The stories that connect one generation to another. The stories that are woven from ancient stories. Pass down the ancient stories. Weave the threads that the child can wear for life.

May your children’s children remember your stories.

Blessings,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Laurie Mrvos says:

    Karen –
    The pinafore is adorable. Great colors! That burping towel is beautiful. I love everything about it. Can you tell me more about it?

    These will are wonderful heirlooms for your grandbabies.

    Laurie

    • Karen says:

      Laurie, the burping towel is from my recent warp of thick and thin. With this piece, I tried to make it as colorful as possible. It is 100% cotton and will get softer and softer with each washing. I’m glad you like it!
      Thanks for the encouraging words!

      Karen

  • Pattty says:

    Very cute, that would make a great adult apron!

  • linda says:

    Karen: I hope your family has a sense of the worth of a hand made item. My children and grand children have no idea how much goes into making a hand woven, knitted, quilted, ,or a tailor made piece. I give it to them, it’s a “ya thanks” and the next thing I know the 7 year old has it in the dogs bed. These are children who have seen me at work making these items, and seen my husband making furniture and bowls. I’ve explained to parents and grandchildren these items are one of a kind and cannot be reproduced quickly or possibly at all. I’ve asked them to consider them a hug from grand ma and grand pa, and to love them. They are Christian children who experience God each day. I hope whoever gets your works of art keep them as well as your mother and you did the pinafore, respects the hours of work, and the love that goes into each piece. LP&J linda

    • Karen says:

      Linda, I hear what you are saying. A gift made by your hands is a gift from the heart. It carries with it hours of time, countless amounts of effort, and personal attention. From the giver’s perspective, all these are symbols of love. I like how you put it – consider these things as a hug from grand ma and grand pa.

      Your children and grandchildren are very blessed to have you!

      Karen

  • Anonymous says:

    I’m about to attempt a grown up version of something similar soon – as a crossover apron. I have been pondering the design for a while now, have my fabrics selected but need to get on and get drafting. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Judy says:

    Passing down family stories is so important and you are so fortunate to have creative people in your family. I love the quilt that your grandmother made and it sounds like she enjoyed making things for the special people in her life.

    • Karen says:

      Judy, thanks for sharing your warm thoughts! I so enjoy using the quilts my grandmother made. She did enjoy making things for special people, and she also passed on the stories of faith that are so important in our family.

      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Rag Rugs

My grandmother believed in wearing clothing until it wore out; and even then, she would darn thin areas inconspicuously, to make something last longer. So, it made perfect sense for her to turn scraps of dresses into quilts, and anything that was left could go to the lady across town who made rag rugs. Fortunately, I have a few of Grandma’s hand-sewn quilts, and two of those memory-filled rag rugs. As I weave new rag rugs, I think of the stories woven into her old rugs.

My grandmother's quilt and rag rug from old clothes

This old rag rug is made of clothing fabrics that are very similar to those in this quilt my grandmother hand-stitched.

Vintage Rag Rug from Missouri

This old rug is right beside my big loom. I like to imagine that the green denim in this rug was my grandfather’s worn out overalls he wore on the farm.

Detail of vintage rag rug

Close-up view shows the interesting pattern in the rug.

Rosepath Rag Rug on the Loom

Rag rug on the loom, with the distinctive Swedish rosepath motif right at the breast beam. (Click picture to enlarge)

Rosepath Rag Rugs, Karen Isenhower

In contrast to the muted tones of my grandmother’s rugs, the new cotton fabrics I used in these rosepath rag rugs are colorful and bright.

Double-Faced Rag Rug

Double-faced rag rug. Flip the rug over for a different look. (Click picture to enlarge)

Twill rag rug on the loom

Twill rag rug in the making.

Blue Twill Rag Rug

Sturdy rug, perfect for the entry hall. This is our “Welcome to our home” rug.

Diamond Twill Rag Rug

The treadling pattern in this diamond twill rag rug took full concentration. I did a fair amount of “unweaving” and do-it-over’s with this rug. Perhaps someday a grandchild of mine will put this rug in a special place and wonder about the stories woven into it.

May you find something old and something new; ponder stories of the past and make new stories yourself.

Happy weaving,

Karen 

 

18 Comments

  • Fran says:

    Lovely rugs, Karen! What type of loom do you use?? (Just curious!) Fran

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Fran,
      Thank you for the compliment!

      I wove these rugs on my 47″ (120cm) Glimakra Standard countermarch loom. I wish I knew what kind of loom was used to weave my grandmother’s rugs (the first three pictures).

      • Fran says:

        Yes, all very nice, I didn’t know I liked rosepath rugs til now.
        I will have a go.
        I just have a counterbalance, but I think it can handle it. Fran

      • Anonymous says:

        The first weaving I saw was an elderly lady “Aunt Sally”. She wove on a barn loom. I bet that is what the lady used to weave your grandmothers rugs. Aunt Sally lived to be 106 and wove some on the day she died.

        • Karen says:

          I would love to have met “Aunt Sally.” I expect you are right, my grandmother’s friend was probably someone just like that with an old barn loom. Oh, I’d love to be an elderly someone who is said to have woven on her loom the day she died.

          Thank you,
          Karen

  • Elisabeth Munkvold says:

    Beautiful rag rugs and quilt! I grew up with rag rugs and I love the concept of reusing materials. Maybe we need to keep our clothes until they wear out.

    What intrigues me the most is that despite the limited selection of materials they had access to, the result is so powerful. To me this is such a strong reminder that what may seem worthless and weak contributes to beauty and strength in a bigger picture.

    • Karen says:

      Great insight, Elizabeth! I agree, the limited selection of materials certainly didn’t limit the beauty of design, which was also entirely functional.

  • heather says:

    sounds like our grandmothers were cut out of the same cloth 🙂 in the 1970’s (when i was little) she would take me (and all her saved up strips of cloth wound into balls like yarn) to the “rug lady” down the street.the rug lady was my first exposure to weaving. she would let me climb up to the loom and explain how the rugs were made. i still have a quilt my grandma pieced out of all of my childhood pajamas. im sure all of the scraps went to the rug lady 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Oh how fun to hear your story, Heather! Yes, it does sound like our grandmothers had some similarities! That’s cool that the “rug lady” took time to show you what she was doing. Thanks for sharing!

  • Claudia says:

    Karen,
    What is your usual sett for your rag rugs? And when you lay two pieces together, do you fold one inside the other? I have always sewn my pieces together but is makes the process so much longer. I’d love to skip that step. You have a wonderful eye for color.

  • Karen says:

    Claudia,

    My sett for rag rugs is 8 ends per inch.
    I cut the ends of my fabric strips into tapered ends – about 2-3-inch taper. I overlap the tapered ends in the shed. Because the ends have a long, narrow taper, there is no need to fold one inside the other. Overlapping the tapered ends makes a sturdy, almost invisible join, with no bump or bulge in the weaving.

    • Colleen says:

      Hi Karen,
      I wish I lived close enough to take lessons from you. Your skills and your beliefs would be such a pleasure to absorb.
      I am still looking for a floor loom and a band loom (the new ones, in addition to more money, do not appear as sturdy). In the meantime I am learning.
      How wide do you cut your cloth strips? I would think fabric weight would be a factor, but still how do you decided?

      • Karen says:

        Hi Colleen,
        If you are ever near Houston, let me know. I’d love to spend time together. That would be delightful!

        The Glimakra countermarch floor looms that are new are just as sturdy as the old ones. I have a new one and an old one. There is a slight change in the band loom, though. The older ones, like mine, have metal ratchets. I’ve been told that the new ones work just as well, though. But you are right, the new looms are more expensive. I bought my big loom new because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t inheriting anyone else’s problems.

        I normally cut my fabric strips about 3/4-inch wide, except for the ones I use in the hem, where I cut them about 1/4-1/3-inch wide. I have found that the weight of the fabric doesn’t really make that much difference in the final outcome, as long as the differences are distributed fairly evenly as you go. To simplify, I cut all my fabric strips the same width.

        Great questions!
        Happy weaving,
        Karen

        • Colleen says:

          Hi Again Karen,
          Sorry to take your time from weaving, but I really appreciate your advice!
          Thank you for the invite! I think I need to actually get to weaving so I can have a better understanding of what I’m being taught.
          Thank you also for the loom evaluation. I had not thought of inheriting other’s problems! Glimakras must be enjoyable looms as I don’t see many used ones listed.
          And, thank you for the cutting information. One thing I forgot to ask is how do you know you have enough cloth for a rug?

          • Karen says:

            Ask away. I’m happy to answer questions.
            No need to be concerned about a second hand loom if it’s a Swedish loom, like Glimakra. There’s not much that can go wrong with it. I didn’t know that, though, when I started, and I wanted to make sure I was learning on a good “instrument.”

            How much fabric for a rug? Good question. Haha. I’m still trying to figure that out. My method is guess and hope it’s enough. Usually, that has worked for me. I need to get better at record keeping for my rug materials. I do buy new 100% cotton fabric in 5-yard lengths – I like weaving with long strips because it’s much more efficient than using short strips. I find bargain fabric on clearance at fabric stores or at Walmart. I’m at the point where I have a small collection of fabric in different colors to choose from, and I just add to it little by little as needed.

            I hope that helps!

            Karen

  • Colleen says:

    Yes, thank you, it was very helpful. It made think though of how some fabric stores take inventory and wonder if it could help you. They have the figure for the weight of a yard of any given type of fabric and then they wander around the store with a scales and weigh the bolts. You could weigh some of your fabric to see how consistent the weights are for a given length and then weigh a finished rug. You would need to do the weight calculation for the warp too. Not hard and once you have the calculations for a couple of rugs you would only have to spot check or factor in the weight for a different type of fabric. I know there are weaving variables, but I think you could come close. Then “someday” when you get everything measured and weighed before you start you could double check your calculations. Just an idea 🙂

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