Tried and True: Five Reasons Sampling Makes Sense

Why sample? It means using more warp and weft. And it means waiting longer to start to the “real” project. What do I gain from it, anyway? Is it a waste of resources and time?

I can’t imagine putting on a warp that didn’t have room up front for sampling. There’s more than one reason to put on sufficient warp to weave a sample. It makes perfect sense, especially if there is anything new or unfamiliar about your planned project.

Five Reasons to Add Extra Warp for Sampling

Drawloom
Sampling to test patterns, weft colors, and beat consistency, before starting on fabric for a garment.


1 Space to play. I want plenty of room to play, and to practice techniques that are new to me.
2 Room to try out designs. By weaving a portion of my designs, I am able to determine what works, and what adjustments need to be made.
3 Warp for testing weft colors. Only when woven can I see the full effect of each potential weft color.
4 Time to gain a consistent beat. When I start the main project, I want to have woven enough to be able to “feel” how firmly or softly I need to move the beater.
5 The best reason of all! It’s always good to have enough warp on the loom that you can invite friends and family to enjoy some weaving time. …Before your main project is in progress.

Drawloom
My weaving friend Betsy came over to see what it is like to weave on a drawloom.
Drawloom
My daughter Melody came for a visit and wanted to see what it was like to weave on a drawloom.
Drawloom, making garment fabric.
Garment fabric. This is to be used for two side panels of a vest I plan to make for myself.
Drawloom, making garment fabric.
This is to be the back panel of the vest.
Drawloom, making garment fabric.
This is the beginning of the front panels for the vest.

May you give yourself room to play.

Yours truly,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Lovely, Karen! Your advice is well taken! Also love seeing your friends checking out the draw loom. 🙂

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Sample, sample, sample. I love to sample. When I need a break from big projects I’ll dress the loom with a narrow warps and play with new-to-me drafts. Great advice!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, It’s rewarding to try out new things on samples. That’s where we get some of our best ideas for future projects.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Charlotte says:

    It is lovely, visiting your Blog, today. There is a Casita gathering Feb. 12th on Lake Belton. If you and Steve could sign up, I think you would thoroughly enjoy it. We play games, at night. Have music (mostly guitars, ukuleles), enjoy potlucks. I usually spend a few minutes with Sarah in her Saori studio and then…we piddle. I can send you more information, if you think you might be free.

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,
    I’ve done samples in others textiles, but never considered samples in weaving. Must do. It would have been one less garage rug when weaving overshot.

    Thank you for your wisdom.

    Nannette

  • Vivian says:

    Ha ha ha! What a novel idea. What a delight that you invite friends and fa,ily to try your loom.

  • Gail Pietrzyk says:

    A sample also gives you an opportunity to test finishing methods–especially if you are using some unlabeled mystery yarns.

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Handwoven Treasured Leftovers

In my bin of handwoven fabric, most of the pieces are leftovers, like a short section from the end of a towel warp, or a colorful sampling of weft from the beginning of a warp. But a few of these woven treasures are good-sized pieces that can be used to make something. So, since I want to make a bag for my large Freja tapestry frame, I look through my selection of handwoven fabric pieces.

Piecing handwoven fabric to make a large bag.
Piecing handwoven fabric to get the large side panels needed for the bag.
Making bag from handwoven fabric.
Lightweight fusible interfacing is applied to the back of the fabric. I adapted and enlarged McCall’s pattern 3894, and used the pattern instructions for the sequence of steps to make the bag.
Patterned band woven on the band loom.
Patterned band woven on the band loom, used for straps on the bag.
Sewing a bag from handwoven fabric.
Topstitching with red thread.

I find just what I need! Coming across these two significant lengths of fabric is like getting reacquainted with old friends. The meter of red and black cotton eight-shaft twill is something I wove in a Vavstuga class. And the blue cotton warp-printed yardage is fabric I wove to make a tiered skirt, a favorite garment that hangs in my closet. (See Quiet Friday: Handwoven Skirt.)

Bag with Freja loom is ready for a travel excursion in the Casita.
Bag with Freja loom is ready for a travel excursion in the Casita.
In the Casita - handwoven articles.
In the Casita.
Bag from handwoven fabric for Freja tapestry loom.
Casita tapestry to work on in the Casita.
Casita tapestry for quiet evenings in Big Bend state park in Texas. I may be able to finish it on this trip.
Bag for tapestry frame - made from handwoven cloth.
Blue cotton warp-printed fabric, red eight-shaft twill, and patterned band from the band loom. Treasures from the past, assembled together for a joyful today.

Treasures from the past come into today to bring value and meaning. Put treasures in your today that will add value to tomorrow. Everything can change in a day, so we can’t put our confidence in tomorrow. But every new day is from the Lord, who holds the future in his hands. Today is a gift. Live it fully. Who knows? Your joy today may be tomorrow’s treasure.

Casita, ready to roll!
Ready to roll!

May you find treasures from the past.

Love,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Beth says:

    Great idea! Have a wonderful time!

  • Anonymous says:

    Very nice and inspiring!

  • Nannette says:

    No moss is growing under your feet. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the memories. All are a gift from God.

    Nannette

    PS.. The snow is leaving us and the leaves of the spring flowers are pushing through, and the squirrels ate the kale seeds I planted.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, It is always interesting to observe the changing of seasons. Here, where we are this week, we see cactus in bloom, desert bluebonnets (they will die off as soon as the temps reach 95 degrees), and red-tipped ocotillo everywhere. Dots of brilliant color on a backdrop of desert brown. The rugged and massive mountains declare the glory of God!

      Love,
      Karen

  • Linda says:

    I have so many scraps of my handwoven fabrics that I try to find uses for. In the process of moving now, I find there are far too many and I’ve bagged many to throw away. Sad! Enjoy Big Bend. It’s one of my favorite places.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, It is sad to say goodbye to scraps of handwoven fabric. But the good thing is, you still get to enjoy the memories of all that time at the loom.

      Big Bend is such a unique and remote place. At times, the terrain is such that it seems like it could be another planet. There is beauty all around, but it’s different. I’m glad to know you enjoy this place, too.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Threads of Love

Talk about thick and thirsty towels! Double weave makes these hand towels thick. And the linen in the cottolin threads makes them highly absorbent. The colors are fantastic together. When our daughter Melody moves with her little family to Chile, she can set up her new home with these made-for-her towels. My love is woven into every single pick.

I have included two short little videos just for the fun of it. Enjoy!

This project started in my weaving studio in our Houston home, where I beamed the warp.

Colors for Towels

Winding a warp for double weave towels.

Beaming the warp for towels.

And then we decided to move! We sold the house and moved into an apartment. The big loom was dismantled, with the towel warp on the back beam. Then, we moved all the pieces to our Texas hill country home.

Dismantled loom for moving.

Moving a Glimakra Standard loom.

Putting the Glimakra Standard loom back together.

Recently, I spent a week there to finish dressing the loom and weave all four towels. Whew! (Here’s what I did that week: Testing Color Surprises with My Little Helper and Weaving Deadline)

Threading 12 shafts. Double weave towels coming!

Lower lamms ready to go!

Starting the hem on double weave towels.

Double weave cottolin towels on 12 shafts. Karen Isenhower

From the back beam. Double weave on 12 shafts.

Double weave towels. Loom with a view!

Squares in a double weave towel.

Towels on the cloth beam. Karen Isenhower

Double weave towels on the loom.

Double weave cottolin towels on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Towels on the cloth beam.

Glimakra Standard loom in Texas hill country.

Cutting off!

Cutting off! Double weave towels.

Fresh double weave towels, ready for finishing.

I wove hanging tabs on my band loom. And I discovered that I could showcase both sides of the colorful towel if I stitch the hanging tab on the side of the towel, off center.

Glimakra band loom.

Hanging tabs for towels woven on Glimakra band loom.

Hanging tab stitched to side of towel.

The towels are hemmed and pressed, ready to brighten the day!

Double Weave cottolin towels. Side A.

Double weave cottolin towels. Side B.

Double weave cottolin towels! Karen Isenhower

Cottolin towels, hanging from the side. More pics on the blog.

May you put threads of love into everything you do.

Love,
Karen

18 Comments

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Band Loom Time!

Before I can hem these new towels, I need to make some hanging tabs. Band loom time! Making a warp for the band loom is one way to use up some of the weft on quills that didn’t quite get emptied when weaving the towels. Of the four colors in the towels, I am using aqua, poppy, and orchid for the hanging tabs. The bright marigold, my favorite of the four colors, may bring too much attention to itself, so I’m leaving it out. A hanging tab must be a stable and firm loop that becomes a pleasing part of the towel.

Planning to weave hanging tabs for handwoven towels. Karen Isenhower

Towels, before wet finishing, are spread out with the thread colors on top. I am trying to determine which colors will work together in woven hanging tabs for all four towels.

Glimakra band loom. Hanging tabs for handwoven towels.

Eleven ends are just enough for weaving a narrow band. (The two ends in the center are doubled in the heddle and counted as one.)

Glimakra band loom, making hanging tabs for handwoven towels.

Simple symmetrical design with aqua, poppy, and orchid colors. To use as hanging tabs for towels, the band is cut into short pieces, about ten centimeters (four inches) each. Each cut tab is then sewn into the hem of a towel.

Established. Stable (root word of e-stabl-ish) and firm. That’s how important our faith is as we walk through life. Everything hangs from it. So it must be woven carefully and stitched in securely, a pleasing part of who we are. Stable and firm in faith as we live for the Lord—that’s a beautiful way to live.

May your finishing details be pleasing.

With you,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Laura says:

    Your towels are beautiful. Love the little bobbin you are using. Do you mind telling me where you got that from? Love all your posts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laura, Thank you! My husband carved the little band loom shuttle for me. You probably know that you can use a short cardboard quill for band weaving, but I will email the specs of the little shuttle to you in case you or someone you know wants to carve one.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Thank you for sharing the design and craft process for finishing the beautiful towels. So true is the need for a firm foundation in life. Nannette

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Quiet Friday: Lucia Portrait Tapestry

A little here, a little there, and eventually I finish another small tapestry. This little woven portrait of my granddaughter Lucia was a huge challenge. I knew that from the beginning. In fact, I had about three beginnings with this intimidating project. My aim is not to make a masterpiece, but to keep making. And making, and making. Every time I go beyond what I think I can do, I learn more.

This Lucia Portrait Tapestry is best viewed from a distance. Up close, the details seem abrupt and harsh. But when I look at her from across the room, I see the picture of a child’s face.

I trimmed the weft tails on the back, steamed the piece, and made a half Damascus edging. The edging and the weft tails near the sides are stitched down. The hems are turned under and stitched. I plan to mount this on a linen-covered square, and hang the finished piece where it can be easily viewed from a few steps back.

Ending a small frame loom tapestry.

Small tapestry ends with a short hem, warp thread header, and a scrap header. I overestimated how far I could comfortably weave. This is a less-than-optimal distance from the end of the warp for weaving.

Trimming weft tails on the back of the little tapestry.

Most of my tapestry weaving is done in the evenings as part of my winding-down routine. In this session the back of the tapestry gets a haircut.

Finishing a small tapestry. Cute slideshow video.

Straggler weft tails are reigned in with a little sewing thread.

Small tapestry portrait. Slideshow video of the process!

Finished Lucia Portrait Tapestry is 4 1/4″ x 4 7/8″.

Enjoy this slideshow video. The ending is sure to make you smile!

May you keep making.

Love,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    This tapestry is AWESOME, Karen! A forever keepsake, but also a reminder of a special little one who holds a special place in your heart. With all you do and share, you still found time to do this artwork. God bless you, your granddaughter and your family! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Good morning, Joyce, The time comes in snippets, but those snippets add up. Children grow up fast, so it will be nice to have a tapestry snapshot of this young age.

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Well said, Joyce!
    Karen, This is just lovely! Such a special piece. Yes, the ending made me smile.

  • Karen Simpson says:

    So sweet! Such a small piece, but the amount of work amazing..I hope you might do maybe a trilogy? As she is growing…beautiful memento for her to keep.
    Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, I like the idea of a trilogy. That gives me another thought – maybe I should start on a small portrait of one of my other six grandchildren…

      Thank you for recognizing the amount of work that went into this small piece.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • This slide show was just what I needed on a dreary rainy morning! Such a lovely small piece. I am so impressed with your color gradation/detail. May I ask what yarns you use for these small weavings? Many thanks! And yes the ending is so sweet!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pamela, I’m happy the slide show had an uplifting effect for you!

      I’m able to get some of the color gradation because I use three strands of Fårö wool. Using three strands enables me to make subtle changes in the color. The sett is 10 epi.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Little Lucia in tapestry is a wonderful moment in time, Karen. You did a fantastic job!

  • Libertyquilts@yahoo.com says:

    Oh Karen, she is so beautiful! You were so brave to take on such a difficult piece!! Love it and her
    Libby

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    Great interpretation of the photo. It looks like she is watching you from every angle!
    And yes, I believe you should do a tapestry of each of the other grandchildren. Otherwise, what will they think?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, Yes, surprisingly, her eyes do follow you across the room. I will give that some serious thought – each of the grandchildren…

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • The precision of decision needed with each color choice when weaving tapestry explains how Penolope was able to ward off suitors while Odysseus was away. What non weaving person would voice an opinion deciding if one or two strands of a pink was needed for the ear lobe’s center, more than once?

    It is a beautiful jewel with Mona Lisa eyes.

    Nannette

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