Two Short Rugs Finish the Warp

Two short rugs finish off this warp. One has a treadling sequence that produces a delightfully different pattern; and the other one has fabric strips for weft, making it a rag rug. I am scheduled for back surgery this week, so I have been working hard (a few minutes at a time) to get this project off the loom. I know I am facing some new limitations in the coming weeks.

Stringyarn weft for 8-shaft block twill rug.

New treadling sequence. Stringyarn weft makes a well-defined pattern.

Rag rug in an 8-shaft block twill. Karen Isenhower

Fabric strips, cut 2cm (3/4″) wide, are used for the weft. The intriguing pattern in the weave structure is more subtle with print fabric than with the stringyarn weft.

Time for cutting off! 8-shaft block twill rugs.

Time for cutting off!

Pain and weakness heighten our understanding of what truly matters. Faith, family, friends. The Lord, Himself, is a safe place for those who come to him for shelter. When we are feeble, he directs our hearts to a place of strength. He invites us into the protective shelter of his mighty and loving presence. You’ll find me resting there. And don’t be surprised to see a portable loom in my hands before too long.

May your heart be at rest.


PS I have prepared and scheduled my Quiet Friday post in advance so you won’t have to miss the unrolling of these eight-shaft block twill rugs!


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Tools Day: Loom Bench Baskets

Some accessories are so useful they simply become an extension of the loom. That’s how my loom bench baskets are for me. I automatically place an emptied shuttle there without a second thought. It’s where extra shuttles go that are waiting their turn, or extra quills that have been wound, or a few fabric strips that are set aside for one section. For anything I need to drop or pick up–the baskets are always there.

Loom bench basket holds the ski shuttles for a rosepath rag rug.

Deep basket on the bench at the baby loom (Glimakra Ideal) easily holds my ski shuttles for this rosepath rag rug.

Loom bench basket holds the 5 ski shuttles for this rosepath rag rug.

Leather strap on the basket slips over the end post of my loom bench, right by the always-handy measuring tape.

Deep basket, perfect for holding shuttles.

Basket made for this purpose, from Vavstuga.

Loom bench basket with Ikea container inserted to hold quills.

Basket at the big loom (Glimakra Standard) holds a small hanging cup I found at Ikea that is useful for holding small things, like filled and emptied quills.

Loom basket is tied to the bench with an old inkle-woven band.

Old basket I’ve had for years is put to use on the other side of the big loom bench. I tied it on with a wool inkle band I wove many years ago.

May you have what you need at your fingertips.

Happy weaving,

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How Is Your Stash?

My rag rugs start with leftovers. It is a great place to begin. By leftovers, I mean fabric strips that are left from previous projects. Unlike many traditional rag rugs that are made from recycled fabrics, I use all new cotton yardage for my rag rugs. I only buy more fabric when my supply starts to run low, or when I need a specific color that I don’t have in my supply. That’s the difference between a stash and a supply. A stash is for keeping and admiring. A supply is for using up with a purpose. A stash grows without limits. A supply is replenished in relation to the need.

Planning a rosepath rag rug.

Planning session for a new rosepath rag rug. After gathering a selection of fabrics, I snip fragments to tape to my working chart.

Rosepath rag rug on the loom.

After several plain weave stripes, the rosepath pattern is taking shape on the loom.

I have to be careful about treating my things, my time, and my ideas as my stash. For me to keep and admire. It’s better to be a giver. The generous have an endless supply. They never wonder about having “enough.” Generosity is a virtue. Those who are enriched by God can always be generous, since he is faithful to replenish the supply.

May you always have enough.

For you,


  • Fawn Carlsen says:

    Thank you very much for explaining stash and supply. I have too much stash which never gets used. I am afraid that I will run out. But I have made a big change. I no longer have a stash, only a supply. I will allow myself to use what I have and love doing it. Then if I need more, I will get more. But not until I need to. Your post entirely changed my attitude. I am happier now.

    • Karen says:

      Dear Fawn, It is so sweet for you to take the time to tell me these words made a difference for you! I think we all struggle with stash vs. supply mindset. Making a decision, though, like you did, is a powerful thing in turning the corner! Way to go!


  • I hope you don’t mind that I shared your wise words today on Facebook, along with a link to this post. We truly are blessed when we share our abundance.
    Jenny B

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Always Something to Weave

One mat finished, and one to go. Time to take a short break to consider my next move. A few ideas are circling around–fabric strips, two short mats instead of one long one, treadling variations. In the meantime, the other loom has warp for more rosepath rag rugs waiting for me. It’s good I’m not in a hurry.

Eight-shaft block twill mat.

Keep weaving,


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Never Say Never–Floating Selvedges

I never use floating selvedges. Well,…almost never. For this block twill it does make sense to “float” the selvedges. The outermost warp ends are not threaded in the heddles–they “float” in the middle of the shed. The floating ends are wound on to the back beam with the rest of the warp. The floating selvedges provide a consistent woven edge, and prevent the skipped threads that would normally occur at the selvedge on an eight-shaft block twill. My ski shuttle enters the shed under the floating warp end, and exits the shed over the opposite floating warp end.

Floating selvedge for 8-shaft block twill mat.

Outermost warp ends are not threaded through heddles. When a treadle is pushed, the floating selvedge threads do not go up or down with the other warp ends.

Weaving with string yarn, and using floating selvedges.

Enter the shed under the floating selvedge. The curve of the ski shuttle easily slips under the floating selvedge.

Ski shuttle and floating selvedges.

Prepare to catch the shuttle by holding the floating selvedge down with your fingers.

Ski shuttle and floating selvedges.

After the tip of the ski shuttle has crossed over the floating selvedge, continue bringing the shuttle through.

It is not unusual for the Lord to wait until I’m quiet before he answers. I may gripe about the obstacles, and try to wish or pray them away. But the Lord gently moves the shuttle under or over the floating selvedge to accomplish his work. For him, it is not an obstacle, it is a necessary part of creating this kind of cloth. When I get quiet, I can see what he is doing. And it is good.

May you know when to be quiet.

Yours Truly,


  • Gerda says:

    Hi Karen, Thanks for the post. I recently used a floating selvedge not wound onto the warp beam, but hanging over the back with a weight. That works better for me, because the tension stays more consistent over the length of the warp (as long as I do not forget to slide the weight down occasionally). Being able to beam it is a testimony to your expertise preparing your loom. I might get there one day.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Gerda, Since this is a relatively short warp, I don’t think I will run into tension problems with the floating selvedges, but if I do, I plan to hang S-hooks on those outer warp ends to add just a little tension.


  • Julia says:

    My mother used to tell me, “Never say what you won’t do. You’ll end up doing just that!” Boy has she been right.

  • Donna says:

    Hi Karen
    I am about to thread the heddles on some towels and the pamphlet with the patten says to use fishing line as my floating selvage. I am really hesitant to do this, wondering if it will make a loop at the edges when the line is removed. Maybe I will add in a floating selvage of the same warp thread and leave it there.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Donna, I have heard of the fishing line trick, but I’ve never tried it. I like having as little “fuss” as possible, so beaming the floating selvedges made sense to me. Like I mentioned to Gerda, if the floating selvedges become looser in tension I can always add a little weight to them.


  • Martha says:

    HI Donna and Karen,
    Thought I would speak up regarding the use of fishing line as a floating selvage. I use fishing line along with one selvage thread on all my weaving projects, except for plain weave.

    Beam the warp with the your normal floating selvages on each side. After the warp is beamed, threaded and tied on I add a fishing line selvages to each side. The fishing line is wound around a pill container and weighted with coins – it is hung off the back beam. After the weaving is complete and the project is cut from the loom I pull only the fishing line selvage from the sides. There are no loops and the selvages look beautiful. Great way to avoid using a wooden temple and still have a great selvage.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Martha, It’s great to hear of your experience using fishing line! I can see how that would give nice, straight selvedges.

      Thanks for your input!

  • S says:

    I’m a new weaver and was under the impression that FS are a “must” for some patterns, such as twill. But you do a lot of weaving and don’t use them, so I’m curious to know how you do it, or if you just use patterns that don’t need them? I’m currently getting ready to weave my third warp, and it’s my first time using floating selvedges. Any help would be appreciated!

    • Karen says:

      Hi, S
      Thank you for asking! As you may have guessed, floating selvedges is a hot topic among weavers. Keep in mind that I have been taught in the Swedish tradition, where floating selvedges are not used as frequently as many handweavers in the USA use them. Some of my favorite handweavers never (or seldom) use floating selvedges. I like to follow their example when I can.

      I have found that floating selvedges are not usually necessary. In some weaves you will have a small float at places in the selvedge, but that just becomes part of the design and does not usually detract from the article. Often you can eliminate the float just by starting your shuttle from the opposite side. Goose-eye twill is a tricky one. I have done goose-eye without floating selvedges (because I forgot), and have done it with floating selvedges. I like the one without FS better. But that’s just me.

      I am not fond of hanging things off the back of my loom, so I will beam the FS if I use them. There is something about the beautiful loom…I want to keep it uncluttered. Again, that’s just me. I know many wonderfully skilled weavers who do it differently.

      Happy Weaving, and welcome to this wonderful world of weaving,

      • S says:

        Thank you, Karen. I appreciate you replying. I ended up just using the outermost thread as a FS each time I used treadle 2. On treadles 1, 3, 4, the outermost thread was caught up in the pattern anyway so I ended up with really good selveges and less fuss. I’m too new to know what the difference between weaving styles is, so I guess I have a lot to learn. Thanks again!

  • Kris says:

    Hi Karen,
    God surely answers prayer! I am a new weaver who struggles with selvedges. I recently started a simple twill pattern scarf for my husband using black handspun alpaca for the warp and medium grey handspun Shetland for the weft. I have a floating selvedge in place, but I was so unhappy with the definition of the lighter Shetland weft against the black warp. Then, I read Martha’s tip! I am a fisherwoman and like the idea of using fishing line to improve selvedges. I’m going to give it a try! Thanks Martha and Karen!

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