Weft Auditions for Square Dots

I found sixteen weft colors to audition. And I am eliminating all but six—one main color for each of four towels, plus two border colors. This is five-shaft satin dräll hand towels with an 8/2 cotton warp. Good weft options on my shelves include 8/2 cotton, 22/2 cottolin, and 16/2 linen in various colors. And this time, we have square dots!

Weft auditions for 5-shaft satin dräll hand towels.

The warp is tied on and the lamms and treadles are tied up. All ten sheds (one for each of ten treadles) are checked and small adjustments made in the treadle tie-ups. Weft auditions commence!

Trying different weft options. Cotton, cottolin, linen.

Similar colors in different fibers. Teal in cotton, cottolin, and linen. Coral warp as weft would be an interesting monochrome option.

There is one qualification. The colors must fit the color palette of our Texas hill country home. A sample piece of thread doesn’t tell me enough; neither does a whole tube of thread. Twisting two colored threads together gives a decent clue, but even that is not enough. When the warp and the weft threads interweave on the loom the true colors are seen. And that’s when I can tell you which colors I will keep.

Weft auditions! Colorful hand towels.

Sample includes sixteen weft colors (two or three rows for some). Four are chosen for the main colors for a set of hand towels. Two extra colors are selected to use for border designs.

Square Dots cotton hand towels in 5-shaft satin dräll.

First towel has Slate 8/2 cotton weft, with an accent of Silver 22/2 cottolin for a border stripe.

Isn’t that the way it goes with truth? Hearing words isn’t enough; even extensive hearing isn’t enough. Paying attention to what you hear is good, but it mustn’t stop there. We need to understand. Hear and understand. The meaning of the words intersect with thoughtful reflection. Truth enters through understanding. And that’s when we can see which threads to keep.

May truth be woven into your life.

With you,
Karen

11 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Love your message, Linda! Thanks for your spiritual insights shared with us.

    Question: What is the white thread that looks almost like a basted thread, across the groups that are tied on for this warp? I can see that you were able to go right into weaving without a heading. Is that a technique or just good warping?
    Thanks for any suggestions you can offer! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joyce, It’s a lifelong journey to hear and understand, isn’t it?

      You are seeing the leveling cord. I use a length of seine twine (12/6 cotton rug warp) to go over and under each tied-on section of threads. The threads must be tied on with half of the bundle going over the tie-on bar and half going under the tie-on bar. The leveling cord is pulled tight, and the ends of the cord are tied through the hole at each end of the tie-on bar. This simple technique flattens out (levels) the warp, and enables weaving from the very start. No scrap weft necessary.

      It’s that simple. 🙂
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

    • Karen says:

      Joyce, I should have pointed you to this post I wrote about the leveling string – Tools Day: Leveling String.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Love the stripe!!

  • Joanne Hall says:

    I like the white. And that red would make a very cheerful towel.
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, The white practically pops off the fabric. It does look good. And the canary red is spectacular on the coral warp, which surprised me. Now I’m tempted to use the red, even though it didn’t make the final four, just because you said so.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    I must say that I like the sample with all the colors! At least for one trowel. I never heard of a leveling string. Perhaps because it wouldn’t work on a Rigid Heddle loom.

    I was so focused on the different colors of square that my brain did not compute the stripes. The comments about listening and understanding definitely apply to someone like me because I tend to get lost in the details. This was a very needed reminder.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I like the multi-colored sample, too! It may end up being a short towel, or something… You may be able to use a leveling string on your rigid heddle loom. I haven’t done that, but it might be worth some experimentation.

      Taking listening to the level of understanding is a constant challenge, and worth the effort it takes.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Colors on Trial

This color and weave is decorated plain weave. I have nine weft colors to put on trial. Which ones will pass the test? The winners will be used to weave colorful placemats for our Texas hill country home.

Nine colors on trial for cotton placemats.

All 8/2 cotton, with a small quill of each color waiting to be sampled. The two end tubes on the left are the same coral and camel as the stripes of the warp.

Eager to begin, I start weaving, despite knowing that evening is approaching. Even with good lighting at the loom, it is hard to judge the colors. I need daylight!

Weaving at dusk fails to show true impact of the colors.

Weaving at dusk does not give me a true indication of how the colors work, even though I have a good light at my loom.

The morning light does not disappoint. I find that the colors that are the most similar to the coral and camel in the warp showcase the color-and-weave pattern. The slate and apple green win, too, because they add welcome color contrast. The abundance of natural light in the room makes it easy to see the impact of each of these colors.

Color-and-weave effects with plain weave and 2 shuttles.

Natural light of the morning gives a true perspective of the colors. Even the subtle differences of weft colors can be seen. Keeping the camel color in one of the two shuttles helps bring out the color-and-weave effects. Which colors win? All nine of them!

We have been given a well-lit path. When we choose to go our own way, with our own artificial light, our perceptions can be off. There is a kingdom of light where Jesus is on the throne. To be one of his subjects is to be in a place where his light reveals true colors. He exchanges our colors with his own to make color-and-weave fabric that is heavenly!

May you be invigorated with color.

Happy weaving,
Karen

3 Comments

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    Good morning, Karen.

    I like your analogy of artificial light guiding our way. I think the artificial light being shown by so many groups has been blinding to so many people. We think we are enlightened because it’s easier than sticking to Heavenly Father’s guide book.

    Being a woman who likes colors and patterns, I think all those colors are winners too.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, It’s easy to fool ourselves, isn’t it?

      I was surprised how well some of the colors work. The red and orange, for example, could clash with the coral warp, but here, those two colors look exceptional!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • […] 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 […]

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Quiet Friday: Linen Satin Dräll

This is one of those weaving projects that puts you on top of the world. Everything about it. Linen, ten shafts, five-shaft satin weave, ten treadles, gorgeous Moberg damask shuttle, single-shuttle rhythm, full-body weaving, magical fabric. I did have more than my share of knots in the warp, and a few skipped threads and selvedge loops. But you will see no evidence of those glitches now. All you will see is the natural beauty of linen, with its characteristic unevenness. And the reflective satin dräll weave, with its light-catching trickery.

The warp is Bockens unbleached 16/2 line linen. Two of the towels use 16/1 golden bleached linen for the weft. At my husband’s request, the remaining three towels have 16/2 linen weft, in ecru. The thicker weft helps make these into robust absorbent handtowels. A table square finishes off the set.

Enjoy the process with me as I reminisce over the start-to-finish pleasure of weaving these towels.

Winding a linen warp.

Linen warp chains.

Tying on the linen warp.

Tying up 10 treadles on a countermarch!

Sampling weft colors on a linen warp.

Sunlit linen damask weaving.

Hidden patterns in the 5-shaft satin.

Linen 5-shaft satin dräll!

Beautiful Moberg damask shuttle.

Spliced warp ends.

Linen satin dräll on the loom.

End of the warp is near. So many warp end repairs!

Cutting off! Linen 5-shaft satin dräll.

Just off the loom--linen 5-shaft satin.

Glimakra band loom. Hanging tabs for towels.

Ready to sew handwoven hanging tabs on new linen towels.

Just off the loom--linen 5-shaft satin handtowels.

Handwoven linen towel with handwoven hanging tab.

Handwoven set of linen satin dräll towels. Karen Isenhower

May you find pleasure in what you do.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

18 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Exquisite, Karen!

  • JAN says:

    Nice finishing touch with hand woven hanging tab. Had you ever though of putting another one in the middle of the long edge so the towel can be hung on a hook above the sink?

    • Karen says:

      Hi JAN, I haven’t done that, but it’s a great idea. I would need to figure out how to attach it, since there is not a hem on the side. These tabs would be a little too thick to fold the ends under, but could certainly do that with tabs made with thinner threads. Have you done it?

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Janet says:

    Beautiful towels and beautifully woven!

  • Betsy says:

    Wonderful towels! And I’m so impressed that your husband knows enough about yarn to recommend 16/2 over 16/1.

    Your little bowl of pegs next to the treadles reminds me of my last project, huck placemats. I could remember the treadling, but not the 18 repeats. So I had a bowl like yours with 18 pegs, and after every repeat I moved one peg to another bowl. And every once in a while I’d crawl around the Julia counting the repeats in case I made a mistake, lol.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, Haha, I may have given the wrong impression about my husband. He specified thicker, less dainty towels, and I chose the appropriate size of linen.

      What a great way to keep track of repeats. I’m going to remember that!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nancy Nordquist says:

    These are absolutely beautiful! Than you for sharing so many photos and details of the process.

  • Joanne Hall says:

    Yes, this weave is magical and so fun to weave. And thank you for the beauticul photos. Did you use your phone to take these photos?
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, I feel so “at home” weaving something like this. It is satisfying and rewarding.

      I use my iPhone 7 for all my photos. Steve has a very nice digital SLR camera, but I do best with the simple little iPhone. And it’s always in my pocket or on the table beside me. I take way too many pictures, and then I whittle them down to my very favorites to share here.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Barb says:

    Beautiful design, beautifully woven. The joy & pleasure you have in weaving shows in every finished project. Each time you use these towels, you will be reminded of your enjoyment of the process of weaving. Thank you for sharing your talents and inspiring other weavers to find that joy!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barb, Your thoughtful comments mean so much! If I can inspire another weaver to find a little more joy in this wonderful weaving process, that would be fantastic!
      Part of the pleasure of having towels like this in my home is getting to see others enjoy the results, too.

      Thanks so much,
      Karen

  • Angela says:

    Beautiful and inspirational!

  • Gretchen says:

    Love these Karen!! So simple and classic… and perfect! Beautiful.

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Rag Rugs with a Zillion Threads

It thrills me to weave rag rugs again! This is spaced rep, and I am weaving almost the full width of this 100 cm (39″) Glimåkra Ideal. That means there are zillions of threads involved. 724 warp ends, to be exact.

Getting ready to weave spaced rep rag rugs.

Spaced rep is warp faced, but the weft is not completely covered. There is enough space between warp ends for some of the fabric-strip weft to show.

This is a type of warp rep, but it is not completely warp faced because there is space between the warp ends. It is also similar to the thick-and-thin weaving I have done with hand towels. Thick weft (fabric strips) alternates with thin weft (12/6 cotton rug warp). Pattern blocks change with two thick picks in a row.

Stripes for spaced rep rag rugs.

Stripes on the warp beam and back beam is a handsome sight.

With all those threads these rugs are made to last. They will outlast me, I’m sure. And my children, and grandchildren. But eventually, even these rugs will wear out.

Testing weft options for some rag rugs.

Testing weft options and trying out block patterns.

Everything but God ages and wears out. Even this earth and the heavens that we see will someday wear out. That’s when it’s good to know the Maker. He keeps those who have made him their trust. And, when we wear out and come to and end, he has a place for us where we will enjoy him forever.

May you make things that last and last.

Happy weaving,
Karen

4 Comments

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Make Magical Fabric

Another magical experience at the loom! Double weave lets you weave two separate layers of fabric simultaneously. And then, the top and bottom layers can switch places in defined blocks. I don’t know who thought this up, but they were brilliant!

Double weave cotton baby blanket on the loom.

Cotton baby blanket for a dear friend’s first grandchild. This friend is amazed at the weaving process, and says that this woven fabric looks calming. Careful arrangement of the two shuttles ensures that the double-weave selvedges are woven closed.

The hard part was tying up the treadles. For a countermarch, working with eight shafts requires a more delicate balance under the loom. For a while, I was concerned that I might not get more than two decent sheds on this. But after several adjustments, I finally got a great shed with every treadle! Someone who looks at the final cloth will never know the effort that took place behind the scenes. But they may wonder at the amazement of handwoven cloth. Or not. (You’ve probably met someone who is not duly impressed with handwoven goods.)

Double weave baby blanket on the loom.

Long stripes in the middle of the baby blanket. I added dashed lines at the ends of the stripes for added detail interest.

Double weave cotton baby blanket on the loom.

Beginning sample reaches the cloth beam. Sample area at the beginning of the warp was used to test weft colors and to practice getting the appropriate weft density.

What do we see as ordinary that, truth be known, is full of wonder? One person may interpret an unusual event as an amazing sign from God. Another person experiences the same event and considers it nothing more than happenstance. If I say I won’t believe until I see evidence, I will never find evidence that satisfies me …even if I come face-to-face with a miracle. Keep the wonder. When you see handwoven cloth, let the work of the Maker’s hands bring wonder and awe. And know there are significant hidden details that are beyond our grasp.

May your fabrics be magical.

Happy weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Betty A Van Horn says:

    WOW – it is absolutely gorgeous – two ‘sea colors!’ I definitely want to be on the look out for His amazing provision.

    Blessings!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betty, These are enjoyable colors to work with!
      If we keep our eyes open to look for His provision, we will certainly see it in our lives.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Julia Weldon says:

    Gorgeous weaving, as always! Each day we all see miracles right before our eyes. Our very lives are a miracle.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia, It’s fascinating to think of the intricacies of how we are made. It’s not hard to see the Creator’s handiwork if we are looking for it.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    What a lovely gift to be weaving. So interesting to be working on a double weave blanket for my son and his wife at the same time you are doing the baby blanket. Gifting to special people is part of the joy of weaving.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, I agree, it’s a joyful thing to give handwoven treasures to special people. That’s cool that you have double weave on your loom, too.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Hi Karen,
    I’m dressing my loom right now for dish towels in the same way, I’m excited to try it! I’ll let you know how it goes.
    Hugs,
    Liberty

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