Cutting Off a Failure

I made an embarrassing blunder. No wonder this Tuna wool resists all my efforts. It’s the wrong yarn! Tuna is 6/2 wool—twice as thick as the 6/1 wool I should be using. Cowboy Magic won’t solve this sticky problem. (I thought it would, as I expressed in this post: Tame the Wool.)

The yarn is gorgeous, but my frustration level is pushing me to throw in the towel. I tried hard to make this work. I was so convinced I had the right yarn that I missed it even when reader Joan left a gentle comment asking if 6/1 Fårö yarn would work (I’m sorry for not listening, Joan). There is nothing left but to cut off this failure.

Cutting off out of frustration.
Every shed is a struggle. It seems impossible to get a clean shed with this “sticky” yarn. (It’s not the yarn’s fault, though.)
Cutting off a failure. Ouch!
Failed piece is cut off. There are unwanted floats everywhere, and the fabric is like cardboard because of the tight sett.
Cutting off a failed double weave project. Ugh.
Bottom of the double weave has even more unwanted floats than the top layer.

In this lowest moment a thought occurs to me. Re-sley the reed. An ounce of hope rises.

Re-sleying to a coarser sett. Hoping for success.
Reed is changed from 50/10 metric to 40/10 metric. This spreads the warp an additional 19.9 cm (7 3/4″).
Wool for a double weave blanket. Second try.
Sleying is complete and the new reed is placed in the beater.
Wool warp for a double weave blanket.
Warp is tied on and leveling string is tightened. On your mark, get ready, get set…

I re-sley to a coarser reed and tie back on. I hold my breath and step on the treadles. It works. And it’s gorgeous!

Double weave wool blanket on 12 shafts. Glimakra Standard.
Go! Night and day difference in being able to clear each shed.
Double weave at its finest. Wool blanket.
Double weave at its finest.
Weaving into the sunset!
Weaving into the sunset.
Double weave Tuna wool blanket on Glimakra Standard. Success!
Clean lines of double weave, with a (very) few unwanted floats that will be easy to fix later.
Double weave wool blanket. Success after starting over!
This is now a pleasure to weave!

Have you experienced great disappointment and loss of hope? Sometimes our own failure brings us to that point. The Lord makes things new. We come to Jesus with our failed attempts, and he exchanges our used rags of effort with his clean cloth of righteousness. In his forgiveness, the failure is cut off and removed. Our threads are re-sleyed and re-tied to make us gloriously new.

May you know when to cut off and start over.

Love,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Beth says:

    Where there’s a will, there’s a way! The “failure” would make lovely bolster pillows. We all make mistakes and move forward. The resleyed weaving is beautiful. I’m holding my breath about the project I’m about to start.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I thought about making a handbag out of the failed piece, but bolster pillows is another good idea!

      I came perilously close to pulling all the yarn off the loom and calling it a total loss. What stopped me was the beauty of the yarn itself. I just had to find a way to make it work.

      I’ll be looking for your brave project on IG.

      Thanks for your sweet encouragement,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    I’m glad you figured out what the problem was and got it fixed. The colors are so pretty!

    Looking forward to seeing you next week!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, Fortunately, most weaving problems are fixable…when we calm down enough to think it through.

      I’m looking forward to seeing you, too, at the CHT conference next week!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Hi Karen,
    Very pretty lemonade.
    Thank you for explaining how to make a correction when plans need a little help.

    Kind regards,
    Nannette

  • Karen Reff says:

    It’s not fun when it’s happening, but oh, how good it feels to get everything straightened out! Good for you for sticking with it!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, Thanks! I came awfully close to giving up altogether. You’re right, it feels terrific to get everything straightened out. At loom everything (or almost everything) is fixable.

      Karen

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Building Blocks in Double Weave

Troubles. What troubles? All is forgotten now that the shuttle is ready to soar. After my threading misadventure and correction, I’m ready to weave! But first… The treadle tie-ups need adjustments. And then, after weaving a couple inches, a few more adjustments. Now the shed is nearly perfect on every treadle. Ready, set, wait a minute… Sample. Which shuttle goes where to lock in the weft? How many picks make a square? Is my beat consistent?

Waterfall of colorful threads over the back beam!

Like a spectacular waterfall, warp ends splash with color over the back beam. First adjustments have been made to treadle tie-ups. Ready to start weaving the sample.

Sample first. Double weave throw about to begin.

Sample gives opportunity to practice and experiment. Checking shed clearances, weft color tryouts, synchronizing two shuttles, consistent beating–a few of the reasons why it makes sense to sample first.

After completing the sample, I am now weaving the wide dark plum beginning border of the double weave throw. In a few inches I will be enjoying the colorful blocks that we have all been waiting for. Building blocks. Success, setbacks, adjustments, and practice, all build a foundation of weaving experience.

Beginning dark plum border of a double weave throw.

Here it is. The real thing. The beginning border of the actual double weave throw.

Build. If I’m not careful, my attention goes to the building up of myself. Yet, love focuses on others to build them up. It’s through a process of success, setbacks, adjustments, and practice that love flourishes. When your strong desire is to see the colorful blocks of the weave, you press through until you see it. Love is even stronger than that. Our example is Christ. His love makes the pattern of love possible in us.

May you build on what you learn.

Happy weaving,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Joann says:

    What a beautiful blanket that is going to be.
    Joann

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Gorgeous! Love the dark plum background and border and the beautiful squares of many colors! Reminds me of Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors! Bravo, Karen! 🙂

  • Beth says:

    You are resilient! It’s going to be beautiful. Kudos!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, Well, I guess I would say I’m determined. I’m not going to let a problem, or two, or three, stop me. Haha!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Rachel says:

    Thank you for sharing your gift and love! It is an encouragement for all of us! Not only are the fibers woven but your words of love from God. As a beginner Weaver I have felt the love of God every time I sit at my loom. May He continue to bless you, your works and your blog!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rachel, It is interesting that you say you feel the love of God when you sit at the loom. I can relate to that. I have often sensed that the Lord’s grace has placed me at the loom, where I find such satisfaction and joy.

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Cindy Bills says:

    You did it! And it is made more special by the love you have shown as you refused to give up on this project, meant as a gift to that one you love. It reminds me of how important our struggles to love are, in light of Christ’s love for us.
    Blessings!

  • Good morning Karen,
    There is so much to learn between the first pot holder and using plum to make the colors sing.
    I’ve got to re-read your earlier postings to see how to adjust the shed to even out the tension. It is forgivable in a rag rug. But, now I now there are new skill to explore.
    Thank you for sharing your journey so others can follow in your trail.
    Nannette.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, One thing that delights me about weaving is that there is no end of things to learn. If you enjoy learning, the weaving loom is the place to be!

      Thanks for coming along,
      Karen

  • Pamela Graham says:

    Hi Karen,
    I can’t begin to express how much your blog has meant to me since I discovered it a few months ago. I have read all your posts and learned, among other things, how important it is to be brave as a hand weaver. You take bravery to new heights!
    I have questions about this beautiful throw: is it double width with double weave blocks? How wide will the finished throw be?
    P.S. I’m heading to Vavstuga in a little over a week for the basics class and can’t wait. Thanks to your posts I think I will be able to keep up.
    Thank you for sharing your journey.
    Pam

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pam, Your thoughtful words make my heart sing! I’m so happy that you have learned useful things here. I’m humbled that someone has read all my posts! Whew, I call that brave. 🙂
      I’m sure your time at Vavstuga will be rewarding. I’d love to hear how it goes for you, if you would drop me a line after you get back!

      This throw is double weave, meaning two layers of fabric are woven at the same time, but it is not double width. For this double weave, the two layers change places where the blocks change, so the upper and lower layer are interlocked, and the weft at the sides interlock, too. For something double width, it’s the same two-layer concept, but the layers interlock only on one selvedge, so it can unfold when off the loom. This throw is 103cm (about 41”) weaving width.

      Very happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Michelle says:

    It’s lovely–and so is your perseverance and generosity in sharing! You are an inspiration!

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Anticipation Is Looming!

Everything starts on paper and in my mind. And then the action begins! Warps are ready now to dress two more looms. One in linen, and one in cotton. Linen for chair-seat upholstery, and cotton for kitchen towels.

Counting linen warp ends on the warping reel.

Counting thread goes over and under groups of warp ends (in this case, 40 ends) to help me keep track of the number of ends being wound on the warping reel. 8/2 linen, unbleached.

Cotton thread is measured out on the warping reel.

Solid color cotton is wound (measured out) on the warping reel.

These are part of the coordinating textiles I’ve been designing for our Texas hill country home. (See Awaken the Empty Looms)  I am looking forward to the moment these fabrics become visible! The anticipation is electric! I will know the success of my plans when I can see and feel the fabric. Every step, including getting these threads ready for the loom, gives me a preview glimpse of the actual fabric to come.

Two linen warp chains, ready for dressing the loom.

Two warp chains are prepared. This is a striped warp, and the chains will be spread separately, each with its own set of lease sticks.

Three warp chains of 8/2 cotton, ready to dress the loom!

Nothing like big, soft warp chains of 8/2 cotton!

Visible. Actual love is visible. It’s much more than kind thoughts and intentions. It is threads of kind thoughts that become touchable fabric in someone else’s life. Jesus Christ is the love of God made visible, in that God sent His Son so that we could fully live. How appropriate for us to make such a fabric visible for each other.

May you get a glimpse of the fabric to come.

Love,
Karen

2 Comments

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    Good morning, Karen. I can see that you have been quite busy!. The work you do to make a beautiful Handwoven home for your family is definitely love in action. Generations will treasure your creations.

    I didn’t realize that linen was a good upholstery thread. I have only used cottolin and that has been for towels. I am waiting until I purchase a multi shaft loom before trying linen as I have been told the rigid Heddle loom will not keep enough tension. I rather like the natural colors.

    I hope you have a blessed day, Karen.

    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Good morning, Annie, Linen is such a pleasure to work with, and the natural colors are so restful. You could use linen for weft on your rigid heddle loom. Many times I’ve done a cotton or cottolin warp and linen weft.

      I don’t actually know if linen makes a good upholstery fabric, but thought I would try it. This is a heavier thread – 8/2 line linen. I have a small piece from a couple years ago that I wove in 8/2 linen and I like the weight of it.

      Your friend,
      Karen

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Simple Eight-Shaft Twill?

This eight-shaft twill, woven with string yarn weft, has a delightful raised-surface texture. The distinct pattern makes it interesting to weave. The treadling is /5.6.7.8./ /1.2.3.4.5.6.7.8./ /4.3.2.1./ /8.7.6.5.4.3.2.1./ This sequence completes one full diamond in the pattern. Simple enough, right?

Raised surface of eight-shaft twill, woven with string yarn weft.

Ski shuttle is able to hold a large amount of the string yarn weft. The string yarn produces a raised surface on this eight-shaft twill.

Simple, but not easy. The treadling reverses direction every twelve picks. I can’t tell you how many times I forget which direction I am going. When I make an error, I don’t see it until I’m two or three inches past. I’ve had to undo and do over several times. But when I get it right, for longer and longer stretches, it is a satisfying weaving experience. Everything on the loom is set up for my success. It’s the internal and external distractions that keep me from experiencing the best.

Midi stringyarn for weft in woven bathmat.

Midi stringyarn has about 26 fine strands of cotton thread grouped together.

Eight-shaft twill woven bath mat. Karen Isenhower

Terra cotta tiles come to mind…

We want life to be satisfying. My soul longs and searches for living water. Internal and external distractions keep me from getting a satisfying drink, but God has everything ready for me when I come. Our souls were made to long for God. Is he really there? Yes, the Grand Weaver is. There is no better way to explain the warp on the loom.

May your distractions disappear.

Happy weaving,
Karen

13 Comments

  • Julia says:

    Gorgeous, Karen! I certainly know that experience of such a treadling. You probably have a good solution, but here is one that worked for me. Write out the treadling just as you’ve done here on this post, and assign each step it’s own number 1-24. As you treadle count the numbers 1 – 24. At first it takes a while for the muscle memory to kick in, but pretty soon you will be floating along on those glorious Living Waters and singing praises the whole way!

    • Karen says:

      Dear Julia,

      That is a great suggestion! It makes perfect sense to number each step like that.
      I am definitely going to try it.

      Thank you so much!
      Karen

  • Sandy says:

    I love the thought, like your loom is set up for your success, our Master weaver sets us up for success too. And I often get distracted. There’s always hope, & redemption…..a do over 🙂

    What is “String Yarn”?

    • Karen says:

      Sandy,
      Yes, there are do overs. I’m so thankful for that.

      String yarn is multiple strands of thin thread used together as one. It is commonly used for the thick weft in rep weave. I find that it also works as an alternative to fabric strips in rag rug weaving. Vavstuga sells it in three sizes and in many colors.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Debbie says:

    Lovely fabric and pattern. Love the texture in it! What will you use the fabric for? Thoroughly enjoy your thoughtful metaphors.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Debbie, I love the texture in it, too! It begs to be touched. I intend for this to be a large bath mat. I could change my mind after I see it off the loom… It will be a rug or mat of some sort.

      Thank you for your sweet encouragement!
      Karen

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    I love this mat Karen, I can’t wait to try something like it myself! I am doing a Christmas gift for my Daughter next, then I’m going to try it! Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Liberty, That’s great! I think you will really enjoy weaving something like this! It’s almost like weaving a rag rug, except with this string yarn you don’t have to load the shuttle as often.

      Karen

  • linda says:

    I have a stash of yarns cotton rayon wool novelty. I’m trying to use them up so when I do placemats, rugs….. I grab 5 different cones of complimentary colors and wind them on a shuttle to see if they’ll work. 99% of the time they do. I guess that’s string weft.

  • linda says:

    your project looks great. love it!

  • Kathryn says:

    Hi Karen,

    What’s the set on this project? Also, what do you use for the warp? I’m thinking of using hemp yarn for something new.

    Thanks!
    Kathryn

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kathryn,
      I away from all my notes at the moment, and I don’t remember the sett for this. I’m guessing about 8-10 epi. The warp is 12/6 cotton rug warp, as I recall. When I get home in a couple days I’ll check my notes and send you an email to verify the sett and the warp. I’ve never woven with hemp. I’m sure that will give you lovely results!

      All the best,
      Karen

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Rag Rug Selvedges Made Easy

The goal is to weave a firm selvedge on a rag rug. This is especially challenging when the weave changes, like it does with this rug. Plain weave in a single color, a lone weft in a contrasting color, rosepath with tabby in between, and plain weave with alternating colors. It helps to have a few guiding principles.

A few guidelines for weaving firm rag rug selvedges:
1. Make sure the weft going into the shed catches the outermost warp end. If needed, manipulate the outermost warp end up or down to make this happen.
2. When using two shuttles, start the second shuttle going in the same direction as the first shuttle.
3. When using two shuttles, be sure to catch the “idle” weft at the selvedge by crossing over or under it with the “working” weft.
4. Turn the fabric strip under twice at the selvedge.
5. Pull the weft snug at the selvedge. (A tight warp tension helps with this.)

Tips for firm rag rug selvedges.

Coming to the end of the last rag rug on this warp. Weaving plain weave with two alternating wefts gives the tidiest selvedge because of the way the wefts interlock as they cross at the edge.

I can handle any rag rug selvedge if I pay attention to these guidelines. Similarly, are there guiding principles that help us maneuver the daily challenges of life?

Following God’s ways gives needed structure to our days on this earth. His faithful guidance is that of a loving father. By practicing his principles we can be mentally prepared for action, emotionally stable, and spiritually focused. And we find we are well able to handle all of life’s twists and turns.

May you meet your challenges with success.

On purpose,
Karen

4 Comments

  • De says:

    How are you getting the blue material raised? I love this look. I’m new to weaving and I want to try this. Thanks

  • Karen says:

    Hi De,

    That’s the beauty of rosepath. The floats in the rosepath motif (the blue) against the tight plain weave (the light colored background) give the blue a raised appearance. The dark-light contrast also contributes to making the blue appear to stand out even more. The blue fabric strips are cut the same width as the other strips – 3/4″.
    I’m glad you like it!
    For rosepath rugs I use 4 shafts and 6 treadles (4 treadles for rosepath, and 2 treadles for plain weave).

    Happy Weaving,
    Karen

  • Wendy Dawson says:

    Hi Karen,

    I am new to weaving and am thrilled to find your blog with all your information and pictures of the beautiful things you make! I also love this look! Can you tell me what kind cloth you used for your weft on this rug and do you cut the strips yourself or can you buy rolls? Also how wide should the strips be if to be used for the weft of a table runner? Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Wendy, It makes me so happy that you enjoy these pages!

      I use cotton fabric for the weft, cut in 3/4″ strips, with a sett of 8 epi. I have a short video that demonstrates how I cut the fabric at the end of this post: Quiet Friday: Weave a Bag with Handles.
      The weaving width is probably the main factor for making a table runner. You could use 3/4″ strips or narrower, depending on the look you want. I have used 1/4″ strips for table runners, with a sett of 20 epi.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

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