Wild Linen Rya

Rya knots and loops of threads look chaotic at first. These linen rya knots will never be tame, but that’s to be expected. Linen butterflies have created a swath of wild rya “flowers” planted in a smooth linen “lawn.”

Making rya knots with a bundle of linen threads.

Continuous weft bundle forms loops between rya knots.

Linen rya knots.

Loops are clipped. Green butterfly is for the background plain weave weft.

Each section of rya starts with a butterfly made of several strands of linen in assorted weights and colors. I tie each rya knot on a pair of warp ends, leaving a loop between knots. There are two to three passes of plain weave between each row of knots. When I finish a butterfly, I go back and clip all the loops. After the loops are cut, I trim the tops of the threads to even out the rya “flower garden.”

Linen rya knots on a linen weft-faced background.

Tops of the rya threads are trimmed. I intentionally leave a few shorter and longer threads, for interest.

Linen rya knots on a weft-faced linen background. Tapestry/inlay sampler.

Linen rya knots on a weft-faced linen background. Wild linen “flowers” growing out of a smooth linen “lawn.”

When things around us look a mess and don’t make sense, full of knots and loops, there is one thing we must do. Keep holding on to faith. Fight to keep your faith strong. Faith in Christ Jesus will carry you through uncertainty and will reveal the first ray of hope. The loops will be clipped, the threads will be trimmed. A garden of color will emerge. Faith waits for that.

May your faith be strong.

All the best,
Karen

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Now I Am Weaving Bluebonnets!

Bluebonnets! Another Texas hill country subject for a transparency. I am weaving a simplified imitation of this celebrated wildflower. It starts with a photograph I took of bluebonnets in our hill country backyard this spring.

Texas hill country bluebonnets

Cropped and enlarged photograph of our Texas hill country backyard bluebonnets.

After enlarging the photo to poster size, I outlined the basic shapes that I wanted to include in the transparency. Next, I turned the poster over and transferred the outlines to the back. I traced the lines onto a piece of buckram to use for the cartoon. Everything is ready (the warp has already been tied back on). Let’s get started!

Selecting Mora wool colors for a woven transparency.

Planning colors for the bluebonnet transparency. Photo on the iPad is used for reference in selecting Mora wool colors.

Cartoon for a new transparency weaving.

Pattern is traced onto a piece of buckram to use as the cartoon. Dashed line down the center of the cartoon will be lined up with the center warp end when the cartoon is pinned to the back of the weaving.

Starting a woven transparency. Texas bluebonnets!

Nineteen bundles of Mora wool colors are introduced on the first row of pattern weaving. About three hours of weaving is pictured. After the intricate leaves at the bottom of the picture, it will be smooth sailing! 🙂

We have been given a true picture of love. God shows it to us in Jesus Christ. Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. With child-like fascination, I want to imitate the heart of that kind of love. To walk in love like Christ means to give yourself away for the sake of others. Linen and wool threads are not sufficient to show the living beauty of a bluebonnet. Nor are my efforts to love going to be perfect. But by keeping the picture in front of me as I weave, I hope to convey the delight of springtime Texas bluebonnets. And present a transparent picture of love that’s out of this world.

May you imitate only the best.

With love,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Julia Weldon says:

    Beautiful! Your enlarged photo looks like a watercolor. It and your weaving remind me of the paint by numbers we did as kids – a much more grownup version.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia,

      I often think of transparency weaving as paint-by-number with yarn. The bluebonnets in nature are better than anything I could think up or draw.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Beth says:

    You do have the patience of a saint. This is going to be beautiful!

  • Maria says:

    I am intrigued- I have done a bit of tapestry but know nothing about transparencies. It is quite a process! Your patience and focus is amazing. Can’t wait to see this grow!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maria, This feels a lot like tapestry to me. For some reason, though, this seems less complicated. I’d like to play around with this technique and maybe do something that is more like tapestry, but with the plain weave pick in between each pattern row. I have a friend who has done some of that, and it is lovely!

      I’m excited to see this grow, too.

      Karen

  • Martha says:

    Bluebonnets, oh how lovely!

  • maggie says:

    how do you keep the cartoon in place during the weaving process?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, The cartoon is pinned under the weaving with three flat-head straight pins. Every few inches, before I advance the warp, I move the pins forward while checking to make sure the center line on the cartoon lines up with the center warp end. Good question!

      Thanks for asking,
      Karen

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Woven Transparency Cactus Revealed!

It started with a prickly pear cactus in the front yard of our Texas hill country place, and then a photograph. Now, I have a woven representation of this interesting specimen of our Texas landscape! I am hoping that Steve will whittle a rustic rod from which this cactus banner will hang in our home.

Finishing woven transparency of a cactus.

Weaving the casing for the top of the transparency. Linen warp and weft make an appealing mesh that holds and surrounds the pictorial weaving.

Woven transparency of a prickly pear cactus. Just off the loom!

After cutting off, the complete front side of the transparency is seen for the first time.

Eager to hang this transparency, I didn’t want to waste any time. I finished the ends of the piece with a zigzag stitch on my sewing machine. And I sewed casings at the top and bottom. Now, in full view, a little back lighting reveals the complete picture of the woven threads.

Woven transparency. Prickly Pear Cactus. Karen Isenhower

Cactus spines in the woven image seem to reach outward and almost appear three-dimensional.

Detail view of woven transparency cactus.

Detail view of some of the shading in the cactus.

We weave thoughts and ideas in our heart. And when we speak, we bring those thoughts out into the open. Words reveal the treasures of the heart. When we speak words of value, we bring our choicest treasures out in the open. And what a welcome picture that is.

May your words be received as treasures.

Love,
Karen

18 Comments

  • Barbara Crockett says:

    Wow! Looking back at your June 30 post of the photo and how you started this project is fun. The details in the shading create an amazing effect. Great job!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barbara, I’m thinking about framing the cactus photograph to hang near the transparency. The light plays off the yarn and gives it a feel of realism that surprises even me.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Deborah Pudliner says:

    Thank you Karen! I am not a weaver, but my daughter is. Each time I read your blog I have been blessed not only in seeing what you are weaving/teaching/learning, but the words you use to share bring it all to life and encourage not only the weavers but those who are blessed in seeing the work of the weaver unfold. May He bless you, encourage you and fill you with wisdom and much joy to continue the work He has to do in you and through you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Deborah, Thank you for sharing the treasures of your heart with me! Your words have ministered to me today more than you know.

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Betsy G says:

    Karen
    Well done! The cactus is so realistic with your use of shading. I want to keep clear of those prickers.

  • Maria says:

    Karen- it is absolutely fantastic. I have never done a transparency but I now would love to try . What an inspiration! The stickers on the cactus are so realistic.
    Just fabulous!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maria, I hope you do try it! This project has been great fun. Transparency weaving is quickly becoming one of my very favorite things to do. It makes me happy that you like the finished piece. That means a lot!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Cindie says:

    Your piece turned out incredible.

  • Beautiful! Weaving transparencies is rather fun! Did you use something other than wool for the spines? Just curious, because sometimes when I weave white wool into a transparency it doesn’t show up very well. One other question – what brand and type of wool did you use for the greens?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, I have to agree – weaving transparencies is fun indeed!

      I did use wool for the cactus spines. All of the wool in this piece is 20/2 Mora. I used 4 strands of yarn in each bundle, which gave me a lot of opportunity to blend colors. Most of the white is white and off-white blended together. By blending 4 strands together, it greatly multiplied my palette of greens. As much as possible, I tried to combine colors that are close in value, so they would really blend together well.

      Thanks for sharing your transparencies with me. Your work has been a huge inspiration!
      Karen

  • D'Anne says:

    The spines definitely look 3D! Great job!! Hope you will bring it to WOW sometime so we can see it in person.

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Thank you for showing us the finished piece. It is lovely! I find your whole process of transparency weaving to be fascinating.

  • Emily says:

    Hi, I came across this post while searching for information about using linen weft for tapestry. I had never heard of transparency weaving before and it has spurred a huge interest for me! I bought a book– I forget the author but I believe it’s the only one in English– and have been learning a ton. I can’t wait to try this out. I weave on a Mirrix, and don’t have a floor loom, but I am fairly confident I can make that work. It will be strange for me not to really pack my weft, and to put two wefts in the same shed. Can’t wait!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Emily, How exciting! The book I’m familiar with is “Sheer Delight: Handwoven Transparencies,” by Doramay Keasbey. It’s an excellent book, and very inspiring.

      I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t weave a transparency on your Mirrix loom. I hope you enjoy this type of weaving as much as I do!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Rya for the Rest

This loom doesn’t get first priority. This sweet little loom is at our Texas hill country getaway. Usually there are several fixer-upper projects to be done around the place. But I’m glad the loom is there. It calls to me to come and sit down, to get absorbed in linen threads and colors. The loom is a resting place for me. A place where ideas take shape and new dreams begin.

Sweet little hand-made loom.

Sweet little loom sits in a corner of the living room beckoning me to come and rest for a while.

Rya knots and inlay. All linen.

Green weft butterfly weaves the background. A yellow bundle, not seen, hangs under the warp and is added here and there for the “dots” in the green. Rya butterflies are in assorted combinations of colors. All linen.

I’m at the rya section of this tapestry and inlay sampler. It is a fun exercise in creativity. The rya knots are tied using a continuous weft bundle. After a few rows are woven I clip the loops that are formed, and trim them down a little to shape the pile.

Linen rya knots!

Explosion of linen threads. Several sizes and types of linen are combined in the rya butterflies that are used to make the rya knots.

Weaving linen rya knots. Weaving from the front.

Weaving from the front means that all the loose inlay weft tails, and spliced wefts, are hanging down on the back.

Make time for rest. We need periods of rest built into the rhythm of our lives. Intentional rest acknowledges our human limitations and inadequacy, which leads us to put our trust in the Lord. And that is where the best hopes and dreams get their start.

May you enjoy sweet rest.

With you,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Thank you for reminding us about our need to rest in the Lord. I needed to hear that today. 🙂 I, too, find rest at my loom. It is a place of creativity and prayer as I look out my window onto the pond and wildlife in my front yard. Our place requires a lot of upkeep, especially in the summer. It’s nice to have a chance to sit for a while and like you said, create and dream.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, It sounds like you have a beautiful setting for creativity at your loom. I’m happy you found a nugget of encouragement today.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Linda Cornell says:

    Thank you for that good reminder; to rest in the Lord.

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All Those Weft Tails

This prickly pear cactus transparency is inching along. I wait for the day when we will get to see this from the front side! Weaving from the back has its advantages, though. I am able to deal with all the weft tails as I go.

Cactus transparency weaving in progress.

In some rows there are as many as twelve or thirteen different weft bundles. Every weft bundle has tails that are either tucked under adjacent warp ends, if possible, or woven in later with a needle.

After every inch of weaving, I stop and trim weft tails. I use a blunt needle to weave loose tails in first before trimming them. This part of the process is time consuming. But I do it happily, thankful that I won’t have hours of tedious work at the end of the project.

Transparency weaving in progress. Cactus.

Each pattern row is woven straight across, from left to right, with weft bundles following the lines of the cartoon underneath. The linen tabby weft lies between each pattern row.

Trimming weft tails on the woven transparency.

An inch-worth of weaving, with weft tails to weave in and to trim. Wefts that were spliced while weaving can be trimmed close to the fabric. Tails of weft bundles must be woven in with a needle, and then trimmed.

Weaving hack using dental floss threader!

Sometimes it works best to put the needle through warp ends first and then use a dental floss threader to help thread the weft tail bundle through the eye of the needle.

Woven transparency of a prickly pear cactus.

Cactus keeps growing, inch by inch!

Give thanks. It is right and it is satisfying to give thanks to the Lord. The little things that we get to take care of now, daily inching along, are reminders of the big work in progress that we are in. Eventually, we will see the front side. And what a joy that will be!

May all your loose ends be secured.

Happy weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    The back side looks amazing! I can’t wait to see the front. I love this!

  • Do you try and tuck most of your ends under the warp that shows on the back? It will be interesting to see the clear picture when it is done.

    My sister-in-law and I were talking about tragedies and how God can make all things good. As in your transparency, we only see the backside of our immediate life picture, but how glorious it is as life goes on. We can only hope the messy parts of our lives will make an incredible impact in someone else’s life, to the glory of our Creator and Savior.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenny, Yes, I tuck most of the ends under the warp the shows on the back. Hopefully, all those little ends won’t be seen from the front. Also, all the weft turns are on the back. When we see the front, the turns won’t be visible and all the edges of the design will be much more distinct.

      Thanks for sharing a beautiful word picture of what God can do with the messy parts of our lives. We look forward to the day when we will truly see it from His view.

      Karen

  • Looking at your transparency progress brings back so many happy memories of weaving these through the years, and encourages me to get another one started. Even though it is slow weaving, I’d always say “just one more row, and then I’ll stop”, it was so satisfying. I love how the cactus spines stand out! Can’t wait to see it hanging in a window with light shining through!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, I agree, this is so satisfying to weave. Oh, light shining through will be the icing on the cake!

      I love hearing your thoughts about weaving transparencies!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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