What the Shadow Reveals

Sometimes things do not go as you hope or expect. I thought this color-and-weave effect would be more distinct. Yes, I chose low-contrast colors. I wanted the pattern to be subtle. But this may be too subtle. I have to use my imagination to see anything other than a faint checked pattern. It’s not a complaint. It’s just not how I thought it was supposed to be.

Linen on the loom.

All 8/2 linen. Stripes in the warp and stripes in the weft. I intended more than a simple check pattern.

I am taking pictures from all different angles, thinking the camera lens might show more than I can see with my eye.

Warp and weft stripes in linen.

Detail of warp and weft stripes. A simple, yet pleasing pattern.

Weaving 8/2 linen upholstery fabric.

Crosswise view.

Linen upholstery fabric on the loom.

View at an angle. No significant difference.

And, to my great surprise, there it is! The pattern I am hoping for shows up when I snap a photo of the underside. What happened? It’s all in the lighting. In this case, I need shadows to reveal the pattern in the weave.

Color-and-weave effects in linen upholstery fabric.

Pattern shows up underneath.

Color-and-weave patterns in linen.

Same fabric, different look. This is what I intended all along. Hidden in the shadows.

Shadow reveals the pattern in this linen color and weave.

To test my hypothesis about the shadows, I cup my hand over the fabric. Where a shadow is formed the pattern is revealed.

Endure. When you walk through shadows of life, the patterns that are woven in you become evident. If you depend on the Lord’s might to walk through and endure day-by-day challenges, that same power will be with you when you walk into a major shadow and need endurance the most. In fact, it is in that shadow that the image of Christ is most clearly seen in you.

With you,


  • Beth Mullins says:

    Trick of the light! I love this.

  • cuyler says:

    Amazing! Thanks for the excellent photos. That really helps understand your point, and view.

  • Elisabeth says:

    It is when walking through the shadows of life we learn to see things in depth, it is almort like you experience life without a filter…it is raw, real, painful, yet beautiful at the same time… beauiful in the presense of wonder. Your pictures so well illustrate the beauty present in the shadows, as well as a great reminder not to fear the difficult times! Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Elisabeth, yes, beauty can be found in the shadows. It’s not easy to remember that when you’re going through a hard time.

      Thanks for your words of wisdom,

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Startling Surprise at the Loom

A startling surprise greeted me when I sat down at the loom yesterday afternoon! The sun was shining through the window and sparkles of light were dancing on the loom. The surprise happened when some of the light made its way under the woven warp and shined up through the cloth, revealing a hidden pattern. Whoa! I discovered a secret passageway in an old majestic house…accidentally! That’s what it felt like.

Afternoon light at the loom. Linen 5-shaft satin towels.

Linen towel in five-shaft satin dräll. Sunlight dances on the woven and not-yet-woven warp.

Linen towels in 5-shaft satin dräll.

Block pattern on the towel changes, and is emphasized with the change of weft.

Light through the fabric reveals a hidden structure!

Light comes up through the fabric on the left side of the loom, revealing a hidden structure in the cloth.

This is five-shaft satin, not goose-eye twill. How fascinating to get a glimpse of the inner structure of the cloth. I didn’t expect it, but it does make sense that the treadling pattern is woven into the fabric. But you won’t see it unless light shines through just so.

The Lord knows us intimately. He knows what we do and why we do it. Where we go and what our plans and intentions are. He not only knows what we say, he knows the thoughts behind our words. God is not surprised. He knows it all. His light reveals our inner structure. May it be pleasing to Him.

May you be pleasantly surprised.

With you,


  • Alison says:

    Beautiful Karen. What a blessing.

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Very cool! Now I’ll be shining light from the bottom of every weaving.

    Your work is so very beautiful, Karen.

    Lovely sentiment!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I know, right? The light from below makes me wonder what I could see on other projects.

      Your kind words mean so much to me.

      Happy weaving,

  • Annie says:

    That is amazing! A reminder that cloth is not always as one dimensional as it may appear upon first glance and neither are any of God’s creations.
    Your comments about God knowing our inner thoughts, omnipotence, was often a frightening concept to me as a child, but it certainly helped me behave better! Now as an adult, it is more of a comfort, to know someone understands you completely.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, So often there is more than meets the eye!

      I had similar misgivings as a child, thinking about God’s watchful eye. But now, it seems comforting and such an amazing thing to be known by the Creator of the universe.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • Sara Jeanne says:

    Mother Nature is surely our inspiration!

  • Keleen says:

    Hi Karen! Remember when I had a senior moment on our walk this morning and forgot what I was about to say? Reading your thoughts, especially that his light reveals our inner structure, made me think of it. I was thinking of egg candling, when you hold an egg up to a light source to see what’s inside—hopefully a living and healthy embryo! That us another good analogy of how God’s light shows us our hearts. Sometimes we can see that an embryo has died there in the heart of the egg

    • Karen says:

      Hi Keleen, I am not very familiar with egg candling, but I have heard of it before. It’s interesting how a light source can show what’s inside! God’s light is certainly like that.


  • Teresa says:

    Wow, way cool! Thanks so much foe Sharing!


    • Karen says:

      Hi Teresa, It was mesmerizing to see that pattern in the fabric. I wanted to share it so others could see it, too. I’m delighted that you think it’s way cool like I do!

      All the best,

  • Linda Cornell says:

    Such inspiring reflections both in nature and in your heart. Thank you!

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My Best Weaving Stunt to Date!

Do you ever go out on a limb? I’ve been known to play it safe. But not today! My excitement for weaving this kuvikas structure was severely dampened when I saw that the pattern in the cloth was not the pattern I intended. What happened? I had switched the threading for shafts 1 and 2! Consistently, too–all the way across the warp.

Start of kuvikas (summer and winter), and discovery of threading error.

While testing weft color options, I realize that this is NOT the pattern for which I thought I had threaded. Even though this pattern does reveal an “I” for “Isenhower,” I had my heart set on a square within a square.

I could leave the threading as is. No one would know. Oh, the arguments I had with myself at this point. “Take it out, and re-thread.” “You’d be crazy to take it out and re-thread.” The crazy self won. (I did find myself asking, “What solution would Becky Ashenden, the weaving solution genius, come up with?”) Here is the stupendous thing: I was able to correct the pattern by doing shaft-bar gymnastics. And no re-threading! What?! (I documented the process and will bring it to you in my Quiet Friday post at the end of the month.)

Kuvikas (summer and winter), cotton tabby and tencel pattern weft.

The sight of these little squares within squares makes me extraordinarily happy! 8/2 cotton tabby weft. Doubled 8/2 Tencel pattern weft. Kuvikas, as this weaver intended it to be.

There are times when we are called to go out on a limb. It’s the right thing to do. But the prospect is overwhelming. We ask, “Who? Me?” And “How, Lord?” Trust the Lord, one step at a time. He will be with you. Marvelous things will happen, catching even you by surprise.

May you know when to go out on a limb.



  • Debbie Moyes says:

    Good for you! I bet you did debate long and hard but the square within a square looks wonderful! The other pattern is a bit awkward, as well and not being what you wanted.
    Whether to fix a mistake or something that doesn’t look right does come up often with all of us. I am usually in favor of changing it….
    Last night I was trying to do decreases in a knitting project and I kept having to rip it out as I wasn’t getting the pattern right…but it’s done now!
    What are you making?

    • Karen says:

      Debbie, Yes, this is a common dilemma for makers, because mistakes happen. Whether to ignore it and move on, or to find a fix. It depends on the degree of the error and the risk involved in the correction. This seemed like a big risk, but I thought it through long and hard before taking the leap. I needed to fix this to be able to enjoy the rest of the weaving.

      Right now, I am calling this “yardage,” which is code for “I don’t know what I will make from it.” Perhaps pillows, or a bag of some sort. I do need a bag for my laptop…

      All the best,

  • Nanette Mosher says:

    But if you look at the sample, and imagine that you treadled each section the same length, wouldn’t you have a rather nice alternating square within a cress pattern? Considering the error, I’m surprised you got any good pattern! But yes, I always feel better taking out anything I’m not happy with! N.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nanette, You’re right, it would have been an alternating square within a cross pattern, and it would have been a pleasant pattern. My husband liked it and would have been happy if I had woven it as is. But I wasn’t going to be satisfied with it. I do feel better now. 🙂

      Happy weaving,

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End of Warp Surprise

The end of the warp is a fantastic way to try out ideas for future weaving projects. I have some kid mohair/silk yarn on my shelf in blue, lavender, and tan. I wove some pretty shawls with this angelic yarn a few years ago on my rigid heddle loom. Hmm… would kid mohair/silk work as weft on the alpaca warp? This is a good way to learn. If it works, I know I can do it again, but on a larger scale. If it doesn’t work, I know what to avoid. The point is to learn.

Kid mohair/silk weft on alpaca warp.

Lavender mohair/silk weft on alpaca warp.

Alpaca warp and kid mohair/silk weft for a dreamy scarf.

As handweavers, we learn by doing. And in daily life, we learn by doing–walking in this manner or that. We do not walk alone. The Lord stands ready to teach every inquiring soul. My prayer is, “Lord, teach me; help me understand; help me walk.” Sometimes what we learn surprises us. The trial weft may be even better than the one we originally planned.

May you enjoy lifelong learning.



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Handwoven Thick and Thin Towels

Do you remember the black and white towels? I love the fascinating results of weaving with thick and thin warp ends, and thick and thin weft threads. That’s why I submitted a project to Handwoven for their November/December 2016 Thick & Thin issue. I gave you only a brief glimpse of the thick and thin towels I wove on an Aquamarine, Teal, and Moss warp, from the palette given me for that issue. (See Tools Day: Loom Cart and This Time in Color.)

Thick and thin towels on the loom.

Double bobbin shuttle carries the doubled weft.

Thick and thin towels at the front beam. Karen Isenhower

Breast beam with thick and thin towels.

Thick and thin towels just off the loom!

Cut from the loom, new colorful thick and thin towels.

Thick and thin towels just off the loom. Karen Isenhower

Towels just off the loom.

Guess what!? My project was accepted for publication. Not only that, these towels that I enjoyed designing and weaving have been placed on the cover! What an unexpected privilege!

Excited to see my Thick and Thin towels on the cover of Handwoven!

Credit: Photograph by Joe Coca from Handwoven November/December 2016 magazine. Copyright © F+W Media 2016.

As great as it is to have your handiwork appear on the cover of a national publication, there is something even greater–being loved. Being on the receiving end of kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. Love is like that. Love is to be demonstrated. That’s how Christ demonstrated his love to me–kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. His love is printed on the cover of my heart, with instructions written within so that I can learn to love like I’ve been loved. That’s the cover story I like to tell.

May your heart be covered with love.

With love,

PS I am recovering from back surgery better than anyone expected. I’m not weaving yet, of course, but I have no shortage of things to share with you while I regain my strength! Thanks for your wonderful encouraging words and prayers for my full recovery.

PPS My draft and instructions for the thick and thin towels are in this Handwoven November/December 2016 issue. This is the same draft I used for the black and white towels.
For purchase of the Handwoven November/December 2016 print edition:
For purchase of the digital edition:
For weavingtoday:


  • Debbie Davis says:

    Congratulations, Karen! You’re a wonderful example of creativity and craft I the weaving world!

  • Shearling says:

    I thought that these towels were stunning in black and white. Nice in color, too. Congratulations on being the “Cover Girl!”

  • Ruth says:

    I can’t wait for my copy of Handwoven to arrive in my mail box! Congratulations and wishing you a continued speedy recovery.

  • Janet says:

    Congratulations Karen!! I’m excited to get my copy and definitely will weave these!!

  • Loyanne Cope says:

    Congratulations! Looking for to my copy of Handwoven. What an honor.

  • Laurice Johnson says:

    How thrilling for you and well deserved. I loved the black and white posting so much that I took on the challenge on my RH. It stretched my brain to get the threading right but at the end I was thrilled with them and plan on weaving more. Now I will have visuals in a multi colored combination. Thanks for all you do.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laurice, I remember you asking about the black and white towels for your rigid heddle. Congratulations on making it work! I would be so delighted to see what you’ve done. Would you mind sending me a picture? You can email it to me karen at WarpedforGood dot com. You make what I do worthwhile. 🙂


  • Sandy says:

    Congratulations! What an honour to have your project selected for the cover!

  • Elisabeth Munkvold says:

    Gratulations! To me, this exemplifies your sincere willingness to share your knowledge, how joyfully you give of yourself…your readiness to serve. I am really thankful that you in everything you do demonstrate such love.


  • Julia says:

    You are healing more quickly than anyone thought because your True Divine nature is shinning through! How fun and exciting for that and for your beautiful expression of Divine creativity to be shared front and center with our weaving community.

  • Cindie says:

    Congratulations!!! And that cover pic is one of the most beautiful ones I’ve seen in a while.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you, Cindie! I am extremely pleased with the photography for this issue — on the cover and on the article page (which I did not reveal). They did a great job!


  • Marcia Cooke says:

    Karen, that is FANTASTIC! Congratulations….I’m looking forward to this issue!

  • D'Anne Craft says:

    WOW! Congratulations, Karen! Your work is always beautiful! So glad you are recovering nicely from the back surgery.

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Oh I’m so happy for you Karen! Both the cover and the surgery. You deserve it!

  • Martha says:

    Whoot! Whoot! Huzzah for the cover girl! Karen, your project looks fantastic on the HW cover. Looking forward to seeing the magazine when it hits my mailbox. Congratulations.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you so much, Martha! I am pretty excited about it! I think they did an excellent job with the staging, photography, and type print color for the cover. I’m glad my towels get to be a part of that!


  • Pam says:

    Hi Karen, we have mutual friends from the Mustard Seed days and I saw one of them like your FB post so I came to check you out. While art was not my major in college at KU I took two weaving classes and LOVED them. I am so jealous. Years ago my dad wanted to buy me a loom but we had a small house at that time. These towels are so beautiful. Congratulations on the recognition.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pam, I certainly have seen your name pop up on FB every now and then on Mendo’s posts and others. 🙂 I’m so glad you were drawn over here! I know now that KU had, and still has I’m told, a good weaving program. It’s probably good I didn’t know that at the time, or I might have missed out on pursuing my ‘cello studies and getting a music degree. I’m a late bloomer with weaving. It’s never too late to start…

      Thank you for the gracious compliments!
      All the best,

  • doree porter says:

    WOW! Praise God! I love your towels and your story. The LORD has led me into watercolor painting. I pray thatHe can work through me and what He has given to me to share His story like He has done through you. 🙂 (We were together in leadership in MITI)

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Doree, It’s wonderful to hear from you! Art is a gift from the Father’s hand. I know He has a beautiful path for you with your watercolor painting. I have seen some of your work on FB– it’s outstanding! How exciting!


  • Leigh says:

    Congratulations on getting the cover! I am so excited for you. I’m excited for the rest of us too, to be getting the draft for your wonderful towels. I’ll be keeping my eyes open, waiting for Handwoven to arrive.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you so much, Leigh! I’m keeping my eyes open, too, waiting for that magazine to arrive!! Please let me know if you try the draft. I’d love to hear how it goes, and see pics of what you do with it!


  • Kris Stark says:

    The colored towels are as stunning as the black, white and red! Thank you so much for sharing your skills and insight with us. Congratulations on the HW article and cover!! Your blending your talents with your faith is a Blessing to those of us who follow you. Continue to heal in God’s care.

    • Karen says:

      Kris, The black and white towels were out of my color zone, so I was surprised that I enjoyed weaving them so much. These colored towels are in my color zone. I’m always happy working with color!
      It’s a blessing to have your encouragement.


  • Bev says:


    The towels are beautiful! What an honor you have been given to be on a magazine cover and as always, your words of honor to the Lord are best of all.

    May Jehovah-Rapha, our Healer, continue His healing work each day.

    In His love,


  • Tobie says:

    Mazel Tov and may you heal quickly!

  • Carolyn says:

    Congratulations on your published project and recovery. I love the colors you used. Can hardly wait to get the magazine. Keep up the good work on your recovery and don’t overdo. I had neck surgery a few years back and I remember feeling so much better without the pain. It was very tempting to become more active. Resist it. Enjoy this time for quiet reflection and planning other projects.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you, Carolyn! I’m eager to see that magazine in my mailbox, too.

      I’m taking your advice to heart. It is a good time for doing some finishing work and planning new projects. I appreciate the good word.


  • Karen Reff says:

    Congratulations! That’s AWESOME!!!

  • […] who weave dish towels. Kerry at Love Those Hands at Home has made a lot of them. And Karen at Warped for Good makes some beauties as […]

  • Louise Yale says:

    Wishing you the best on your recovery !!

    Re: the Handwoven article – first congratulations on the article and getting on the cover.
    I am unclear on the Grass yarn. On page 26, it is referred to as 16/2.
    On page 28, the Grass yarn is referred to as 30/2.
    Typo? Error? Am I missing something?
    Thanks in advance.
    Louise Yale

    • Karen says:

      Hi Louise, Yes, it is a typo. It should read 30/2 cotton in both places. I’m sorry for the confusion.

      However, 16/2 or 20/2 would also work in place of 30/2. The main thing is to have a contrast between the sizes of yarn. The greater the contrast, the more dramatic the pattern.

      Thank you for your kind words!

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