Guest Weavers

We finished another placemat over the weekend. We, meaning a few guest weavers – and me. I had a small tribe of eager weavers, aged eleven to seventeen. I didn’t give beginner work to these beginners. We did what was required for this color-and-weave project on the loom—double-bobbin shuttles, two (and sometimes three) shuttles at a time, two-pick stripes, advancing the warp, placing the temple, and more. Another placemat completed, with only one broken warp end along the way. I call that a win!

Guest weaver. First time, but not the last!

Quietly watching me, and taking in the details, this young weaver grasped the essentials, and began weaving in a graceful manner. After just a few minutes, Madison told me she could do this all day. That sounds like a budding weaver to me!

New weaver, with great attention to detail!

Sean is an attentive listener, closely following every instruction. He happily donned the weaving apron. And the Gingher snips on a woven band were hanging around his neck, ever ready to be used.

Young weavers at the loom.

Jenson joins in to lend his observation skills while his brother does the weaving.

New young weaver.

Ashley is someone who takes initiative. She enjoyed the challenge of learning something new, and quickly was weaving with very little assistance.

Cotton placemats on the loom.

Broken warp end repaired. Placemat complete. Eight more placemats to go!

Isn’t it delightful to share what you enjoy, and then see the spark of delight and accomplishment on a young person’s face? This is another good reason to make and keep family friends.

May you share your delights.

Love,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Julia says:

    It is always fun to see the eyes of new weavers light up when experiencing for the first time the magic of making cloth! I’m curious about the weaving apron – can you speak about it some more?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia, Yes, It is fun to see the expressions when they see magic happen at their fingertips.

      The apron? You’ve given me a great idea! I will write about the weaving apron on my next Tools Day post. For now, suffice it to say that the apron protects my clothes and protects the cloth on the breast beam.

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    You’re making such a positive impact in their young lives. I’m also curious about the weaving apron. Does it hold magic? 😉

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I like the idea of making a positive impact on the next generation. At the same time, I find that they are making a positive impact on me, as well.

      Thanks to you and Julia, I know what my next Tools Day post will be—the magical weaving apron. 😉

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    I volunteered to demonstrate moderately hands-on weaving on an antique rug loom at a local history museum to school classes a couple of years ago. We get kiddoes from kindergarten through fifth grade. Before the first group I had some doubts about how it was going to go. Wow! Fantastic! I think more budding weavers are on their way and I’m excited for school to start in the autumn.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, It’s always great to see young people become interested in handweaving and other handwork crafts. That sounds like a fun loom to weave on, too!

      Karen

Leave a Reply


Tools Day: Measure Once

It occurs to me that I am unnecessarily doing something the hard way. Repeatedly. For every new project, I pull out my tape measure to find the right set of lease sticks. The tape measure also helps me select the temple needed for the current weaving width. No more! I do like my tape measure, but why am I measuring these things every time? Why not measure them once and label them?

Solution

  • Measure the lease sticks and write the length in centimeters and in inches on one stick of each pair, in pencil.
  • Use a wood burner to trace the pencil markings. (My husband Steve does this part for me.)
Weaving tip: Measurements on lease sticks.

Wood burner is used to write the length measurement on the end of a lease stick. Centimeters and inches are indicated because I use metric or imperial units, depending on the project.

  • Thread a cord through one end of each pair of lease sticks, to keep pairs together. Hang the lease stick pairs with the measurements clearly visible.
Weaving tip: Measured lease sticks paired together for hanging.

Looped cord is threaded through the lease stick holes to provide an easy way to hang pairs together.

Paired lease sticks, ready for hanging.

Paired lease sticks, ready for hanging.

Lease sticks hanging in the weaving studio.

Pairs of lease sticks hang beside my worktable in my weaving room. My ol’ Beka rigid heddle loom on the wall happens to provide just the right little hanging post for the measured lease sticks.

  • Look up the temple sizes on a website that sells them, and write the size range in centimeters and in inches on each temple, in pencil.
  • Use a wood burner to trace the pencil markings. (Steve, again.)
Weaving tip: Measure the temples.

Range of temple widths is important information when I’m choosing a temple. Weaving width of a project must fit in that range.

  • Store the temples in a manner in which the marked measurements are easily seen.
Weaving tip: Find the right temple size the first try!

No more trying different temples to find one that fits. Now I can look at the markings and select the correct temple the first time.

Now I have permanent at-a-glance measurements for each of these frequently-used tools!

May you find something to simplify.

Happy weaving,
Karen

18 Comments

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    What a great idea, Karen!
    I am going to start measuring and marking today!

    Thank you for sharing and may you have a blessed day..

  • Beth says:

    Great organizing tip! Thanks, Karen!

  • ellen b santana says:

    i read the whole thing hoping i would see a place to store all those long things that fall all the time, like the reeds, lease sticks and other things. what do you do with those? i knock them over every time i try to use something in the pile.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ellen, I’m still working on a system for storing those long things. Currently, most of them are leaning in a corner of the room or along one wall, where they are out of the way, but accessible. When I get that figured out, I’ll let you know.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth says:

    I know it helps the weaving process tremendously to get a system for everything. Thank you for all your inspiration! I still have some organizing to do. These last couple of weeks I have been working on a total overhaul of my workroom, I guess I may as well dive into the weaving “department” today 🙂
    My daughter, who is finally launching her professional organizing business is helping me. She has been doing this kind of work for three years now trying hard to get away from it, but it just keeps coming back to her 🙂 I feel it is so easy to ignore what God wants us to do and try to figure it out on our own instead. Sometimes it is totally unexpected…who in the world would have thought that my daughter would end up a professional organizer, and be so good at it?! Other times it is obvious, but still so hard to see…I guess I fall into the latter category. I am trying very hard to open up my ears, my eyes, and my heart, so that I can see what is in store for me. I believe I have found a lot of stuff in my work room that is not 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, That’s fabulous that your daughter can use her gifts to help you! I admire your aim to open up your ears, eyes, and heart. I’m sure you’ll see rewards from that!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Anonymous says:

    My floor loom is too large to move set up and has to be dismantled to move. (weekend house to spare bedroom and eventually to the new weekend / retirement house) To make the process easier the corresponding parts of the loom were marked with a @Sharpie. Matching ‘2’ with ‘2’ on a joint made set up easier.
    Now I will have to mark the tools and instruments I keep for weaving and set up some hanging hooks.
    Thank you for direction on so many levels.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, That’s a great idea to mark corresponding parts on your loom to make the tear down and set up process easier! Thanks for sharing!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Great idea Karen, sometimes it takes my old brain awhile to think of things, and then wonder why didn’t I think of that sooner??
    Thank you,
    Libby

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty, It’s interesting how we get used to doing things a certain way, and don’t notice the easy adjustments we can make in our process.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Fawn Carlsen says:

    Hi Karen, I have a large ceramic vase shaped like a cylinder that I keep all my stick-like tools in. It is heavy enough that it doesn’t tip over and can sit in the corner so the longest things rest against the wall. It keeps them in one place and it’s easy to pick out the ones I want. I love hearing about your weaving adventures.
    Thanks for all the advice.
    Fawn

    • Karen says:

      Hi Fawn, That sounds like a great way to store the stick-like tools. I do something similar. My warping sticks are in a tall-ish small wooden crate that came from the creamery that was down the street from my grandma’s house when I was a child. It sits in the corner, and the sticks in it rest against the wall.

      I may look for a ceramic vase that I can put by my Ideal loom to hold its sticks.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Elisabeth says:

    Do your temples fit sitting on the side in the drawer, with the text facing up? You would see all measurements at once, and it would be easy to grab the one you need. Leave styrofoam with opening on top and lift the temple out, which “saves” the spot for when you put the temple back.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, Why, yes, they do fit sitting on the side in the drawer… Which only goes to prove how much I need people like you in my life!

      Gratefully yours,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth says:

    Thank you! As a designer, I am so much about function. But I don’t always see solutions that quickly…it took me four years to make s small change to the better in my laundry room 🙂
    And may I suggest hanging your lease sticks on a peg rail of some kind…so easy to grab one set without messing with multiple loops.

Leave a Reply


Amazing Five-Shaft Satin Dräll

Ten shafts and ten treadles. Isn’t it fascinating how all those parts synchronize and work together to turn threads into cloth? It’s a mystery unless you’ve been in the weaver’s seat. Even then, it’s a wonder. Especially when you see linen threads turn into this amazing five-shaft satin dräll!

All-linen 5-shaft satin dräll on a Glimåkra Standard loom.

Linen warp and weft in five-shaft satin dräll. A temple is a standard tool when I weave with linen. No draw-in means no broken selvedge warp ends…so far, at least.

There are three towels left on this warp, but I am weaving the remainder as one long piece. I will cut it into separate towels after it’s off the loom. Or, I might change my mind and leave it long as a table runner.

Linen 5-shaft satin dräll. Unbleached warp, ecru weft.

Warp is unbleached linen and the weft is ecru, also linen. The subtle difference in color highlights the dräll pattern in the fabric.

Mystery. The mystery of the ages is that Christ can dwell in us. Understand that? No, but I do understand a weaver sitting at the loom, managing the threads and throwing the shuttle to produce a specific fabric. What if I invite Jesus Christ to take control of everything being woven in my life? That is a mystery worth pursuing.

May you find your way into a good mystery.

Happy weaving new year,
Karen

6 Comments

Leave a Reply


Tools Day: How to Set a Temple and Video

The temple is one of my favorite tools. I have a collection of them. I happily use a temple for almost everything I weave. And I certainly wouldn’t dream of weaving a rag rug without one!

Temple instructions and video.

Temple in place.

Rag rugs are especially susceptible to draw-in, and a temple helps reduce that by maintaining the proper width of the rug. Draw-in distorts the shape of a rug, contributes to uneven warp tension, and can make selvedge threads break. A temple also aids in getting tight selvedges, and enables the firmest beat possible. (My favorite temples to use, even for rugs, are the wooden ones made by Glimåkra.)

How and why to use a temple for rag rugs.

Spaced rep rag rug, using fabric strips and warp thread for weft.

Temple Tips:

  • Set the temple to the proper width. (The video below shows how I do it.)
  • You can set the temple into the cloth as soon as there is is enough woven for two or three teeth to sink into. Then, move the temple up when you have woven enough to set all the teeth into the cloth.
  • Even with a temple, place adequate weft through the shed. The tool works best in conjunction with careful weaving practices.
  • Watch out for the sharp points! I get pricked when I forget and reach around the selvedge to straighten something out.
  • Make sure the temple is far enough back from the fell line that it won’t scrape the edge of your beater. I have a scar on my beater because it was hitting the temple. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice until the damage was done.
  • Move the temple frequently. For consistency at the selvedges on a rag rug, I move the temple at least every inch.
  • Remove the temple by moving the slider with one hand, while holding the center part down with the other hand. Keep the pin in place and the temple will draw up in the center. Then, disengage the teeth from the cloth on both sides.
Spaced rep rag rugs on the loom. Tutorial for using a temple.

Width in the reed for this rag rug is 90 cm on this 100 cm loom. I keep a supply of temples so that I have what I need for any weaving width.

 

May your tools serve you well.

Happy weaving,
Karen

4 Comments

Leave a Reply


Quiet Friday: Swedish Rosepath Rag Rug

My introduction to rosepath rag rugs was on a room-size loom in Joanne Hall’s magical Montana studio. I was so happy at that moment that I actually cried. It’s no surprise, then, that I relish every opportunity to weave a rosepath rag rug. And even better, to share the joy with other handweavers who may not have tried it yet. Look what came in the mail this week! The March/April 2017 issue of Handwoven, with a project by yours truly–Swedish Rosepath Rag Rug!

Swedish Rosepath Rag Rug, as seen in March/April 2017 Handwoven.

Swedish Rosepath Rag Rug, as seen in March/April 2017 Handwoven.

Not everyone loves weaving rag rugs. That’s fine. But if you’re a weaver, there is probably something that draws your interest and brings delight. A certain weave structure, silky fibers, fine threads, complex patterns, bold colors. Something. And if you’re not a weaver, there is something else that triggers your pursued interest. Find that spark that ignites joy in you!

Beginning a rag rug.

Besides using a pre-measured tape, taking a picture at the beginning of the rug, with the yellow tape measure in view, makes it easy to replicate the hem at the end of the rug.

Temple in place, weaving Swedish rosepath rag rug.

Temple is in place, keeping the rugs a consistent width. Metal rug temples are good, but I still prefer a regular wooden Glimåkra temple for weaving rag rugs.

Weaving rosepath rag rugs. Fun!

Many rosepath variations are possible. The rug on the cloth beam uses a similar design, with different colors.

Swedish Rosepath Rag Rug. Karen Isenhower

Making paths of roses. Rosepath.

Swedish Rosepath Rag Rug.

Progress!

Seeing the reverse side of the rosepath rag rug on the loom.

Reverse side of the rug has a subtly different pattern.

Swedish rosepath rag rug on the loom. Rug in March/April 2017 Handwoven.

Cloth beam fills up with rag rugs. Pleasant sight for a rag rug weaver!

Ending the rosepath rag rug on the loom.

Ending the rug on the loom. Following the markings removes guesswork.

Keep a song in your heart. Sing. Sing for joy. Sing praise to the Grand Weaver who put the seed of searching in you. A seed that bursts open with joy when ignited with a spark, and flourishes into something distinguishable. Trust the Lord with all your heart. Your heart will find its melody.

Swedish Rosepath Rag Rug as seen in March/April 2017 Handwoven.

Published in March/April 2017 Handwoven.

May your heart sing a joyful tune.

ATTENTION: The draft for the  Swedish Rosepath Rag Rug from Handwoven is written for a sinking shed loom. Therefore, for a jack loom, you must tie up the “white” empty squares instead of the numbered squares for the pattern to show right side up as you weave.

If you are interested in weaving rag rugs, take a look at Rag Rug Tips, a new tab at the top of the page.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

22 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Congratulations, Karen, on another beautiful article!

  • Maggie Ackerman says:

    I’ve just done my first rose path rug and I loved doing it. Used tee shirt yarn from my stash. Yours is gorgeous and I can’t wait to try it. You also have some great suggestions — I love the photo idea for the hem. Much better than my notes.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, Rosepath is so much fun. I’m glad to hear you have enjoyed it, too. Yes, the photo has saved me many times. My memory and my notes are not that great.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Fran says:

    I downloaded Handwoven yesterday, and was pleasantly surprised to see your rug! Congratulations !

  • Janet says:

    Congrats Karen!! I have always loved your rugs and will be trying this out shortly:)
    Janet

  • Sandy says:

    I’ve recently returned home from a trip, then going through several days of mail found my Mar/April issue of Handwoven. I was so excited to see your Rosepath Rug article, and was happily anticipating this blog post. Congratulations! Once again thank you for your weaving & life encouragements. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandy, Sounds like you have me figured out. 🙂 Isn’t it exciting to get a weaving magazine in a pile of mail? Everything else has to stand still while I flip through the pages. And then, later, I sit down with it and read every page.

      Thank you for your wonderful encouragement to me. It means so much!
      Karen

  • Mary Scott says:

    Don’t you just love her!! Beautiful job on your rug!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Mary

  • Carol says:

    BEAUTIFUL !!
    Congrats. Need to run out and get a copy of Handwoven.

    Carol

  • Sandy says:

    My issue of Handwoven arrived yesterday and I was thrilled to see your article! Beautiful rug and I’m so looking forward to trying this. And checking out your tab of tips – I’ve never woven a rag rug before (I’m a fairly new weaver), though I’ve dreamed about it. I can use all the help I can get!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandy, You’re in for a treat. Weaving a rag rug is different than other types of weaving. You get to use some muscle! 🙂 Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can help you in any way.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nanette says:

    Congratulations on the article! Also, the photo reminded me I didn’t thank you after I tried your ribbon-measuring system. It works great and I really appreciated your detailed instructions. Nanette

    • Karen says:

      Nanette, I’m happy the measuring ribbon works for you! One of the places I learned about using a ribbon for measuring was at Vavstuga. So many little things can make a big difference.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Bonnie Wilker says:

    Karen, it was wonderful to see your work recognized in Handwoven! What a well deserved honor! Your work is beautifully striking and so is your testimony to our Lord. May He who is the master weaver continue to bless your endeavors as you continue to serve Him.
    Bonnie Wilker

  • sewTreefrog says:

    Karen, thanks for submitting your article to Handwoven. I fell in love with your rug when I first saw it and it totally changed my mind about rag rugs. Just finished my first rag rug using your instructions and can’t be happier. Thanks heaps!

    • Karen says:

      sewTreefrog, I am thrilled to no end that you had a great experience weaving this rag rug! Thanks so much for letting me know.

      I see on your blog that your rug came out beautifully, with lovely contrast in the colors.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

Leave a Reply