Last of the Lizard Toes

Every time I advance the warp, more of the lizard disappears. After I finish the tips of these toes, the rest of the weaving will be background—the log on which the green anole is perched. The lizard is more interesting to weave than the log. But without the background, the lizard itself would be incomplete. It’s all part of the journey. Every bit of the picture is needed to tell the full story.

Lizard tapestry. Only the tips of the toes are left.

More than half of the tapestry is complete. Most of the lizard image is under the breast beam out of view.

Lizard tapestry. Four-shaft tapestry on a Glimakra Ideal.

More of the lizard disappears every time I advance the warp.

Four-shaft tapestry Lizard. Glimakra Ideal.

Only the tips of the lizard’s toes remain. After this, it is all background.

Tapestry detail. Texture and shading.

Log detail. I am enjoying the many opportunities for color blending and shading in the background portion of the picture.

Journey. We are on a journey. We see the scenery changing as we move from one point to another in our seasons of life. There’s the main focus, plus the background. All of which tells our story. Knowing that we never see the whole tapestry while it’s on the loom, let’s ask God to watch over our journey. As a request, not a demand. And then, express gratitude with joy as we see that we’ve indeed been granted safe passage.

May your journey be joyful.

Happy weaving,
Karen

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One Handweaver

This time, please permit me to share with you a short video that tells a little something about me as a handweaver. I suspect, if you are a weaver, you enjoy weaving for some of the same reasons I do. The process of turning threads into cloth never ceases to fascinate me! I weave on Glimåkra countermarch looms, with an emphasis on Swedish-style textiles. Even within that boundary, there are endless weaves to explore and techniques to try. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to sit at a loom and weave these threads together. Thank you to Eddie Fernandez for his kind manner behind the camera and for his masterful videography.

And I can’t tell you enough what a joy it is to walk through this process with friends like you.

May you enjoy the part of the process you are in.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

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Small Tapestry Front and Back

My small tapestries are a mess of threads on the back. I weave from the back, so I get used to seeing the mess. I admire the tapestry weavers who sew all the weft tails in. Front and back, the tapestry is finished and clean. So, I am sewing in the weft tails on this little Lucia patch.

Back of tapestry, sewing in weft tails.

Sewing in weft tails, one thread at a time. Threaded on a needle, weft tail is sewn through the back of an adjacent ridge, and then the tail is clipped off close to the surface of the weaving.

Back of small tapestry, stitching in weft tails.

When completed, the back is as finished as the front.

Lucia, woven with my youngest granddaughter in mind.

Lucia, our youngest grandchild, is the reason for this small tapestry. I may need to weave the names of the other four…

Sometimes we hit a patch in life that is filled with a mess of troubles. Take troubles to the Lord. He hears when we call. The Lord answers every little prayer. Each little trouble is taken care of, step by step. When the finished tapestry is revealed, we see that He knows our name. And a bit of every one of the messy threads is woven into our back story. Front and back, the tapestry is finished and clean.

May you be known by name.

Yours truly,
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

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  • 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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How I Got Started in Handweaving

In the early 1980’s Steve and I signed up for a pottery class at Johnson Atelier in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We still have the hand-built pitcher Steve made. The big thing that happened for me, though, besides figuring out that I am not a potter, was the rigid heddle weaving class across the hall. I signed up for that class, and lo and behold, I discovered I was a handweaver at heart! I found myself in an exhilarating new story; and I acquired my first loom–a 32″ Beka rigid heddle. Weaving became my means of creative expression. Now, several chapters (and a few more looms) later, I am still a happy handweaver. It’s part of who I am.

Small tapestry, mounted on linen, with frame made to fit. Karen Isenhower

Practice tapestry piece is mounted on linen. Steve made the frame to fit. The frame is leaning on the crackled raku pitcher Steve made in our pottery class so many years ago.

That is how I want my story to be written on the inside, too. Through a discovery that redirects my whole attention. Let a new story be written! A new creation starts on the inside and makes you a new person. The writer of this terrific new story is God, Himself, who makes everything new.

May you find yourself in a true story.

Happily Weaving,
Karen

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