New Warp Comes Alive

Put on a new warp as soon as possible. That’s my philosophy. A weaving loom should not stay bare. I am ready to begin a stack of rep weave mug rugs (my local weaving group is making them for an upcoming conference).

Cottolin warp on the warping reel.

Cottolin warp seems to light up on the warping reel. The colors become more vibrant when lined up together.

A new warp comes alive as I wind the threads on the warping reel. It is a picture of possibility! Every warp has a beginning and an end. Beginning a new warp on the loom is always exciting. And when I come near the end, I often wish I could weave a little longer.

Cottolin warp chain with vibrant colors!

Warp chain is ready for dressing the Glimåkra Ideal loom.

Pre-sleying the reed for rep weave mug rugs.

Lease sticks are in place under the reed, held up by two support sticks, and the warp has been pre-sleyed. Next step is to set up the warping trapeze.

Have you considered the warp as a metaphor for a life’s span? It is measured out in advance, with a certain type of fabric in mind. The setts, patterns, and structures vary. But they are all meant to be woven. Weft passes are like days and years. For a time, it seems like it will never end. And then, you see the tie-on bar coming over the back beam. You’re reminded that this warp is temporary. We all have this in common: We are mortal. Time is a precious gift. Every pass of the weft is a reminder of our Grand Weaver’s loving attentiveness to complete the weaving he began.

May you enjoy the gift of time.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Deb Hazen says:

    Love the image of being a weaving in progress. As weavers, we take such care to bring projects along…we spend extra and loving energy sorting out the snarled sections. Most importantly, we are persistently present. How delightful it will be to sit at my loom tonight and reflect on my life as a weaving in perfect confidence that my Creator always has the shuttle.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Deb,

      in perfect confidence that my Creator always has the shuttle

      What a lovely way to say it! In that confidence lies true rest and peace.

      Thanks for sharing,
      Karen

  • Kate Chitwood says:

    I hope those mug rugs are going to the CHT conference ! I’ll be there – hope to see you.

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Hi, Karen,
    I’m a weaver in Michigan, new to your site. I am loving your posts! Thank you for your reminders of how all things can be seen through the eyes of our faith, and our lives made richer because we do. And we learn so much from our Lord!
    I also strive to always have something on each of my looms. Right now that is a rayon scarf in peacock colors on my 8 shaft Schacht Standard, a baby blanket in James C Brett Marble chunky on my 48 inch Ashford rigid heddle loom, and placemats on my 15 inch Cricket travel loom. My 30 inch Flip loom just became bare after finishing another smaller baby blanket in soft washable acrylics.
    Aren’t we blessed to be able to weave this life and give of our weaving skills to others?!
    Thanks in advance for the blessing of your thoughts as you continue to post them.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, Looms all active! What a treat to hear about what you have on your looms. Who would’ve thought we could gain and give so much by weaving fabric?

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Debi says:

    Beautiful…both the weaving and the analogy! God bless!

  • Bruce Mullin says:

    Nice comforting thoughts!

  • Missie says:

    I’m always drawn to photos of rolls of yarn, thread, and wool. There is something about the colors and chaotic tangles that give beautiful patterns making for great composition. Also there is a nice representation of something in transition… taken something raw from nature and turning it into a transitional product full of possibilities. The colors of this warp chain are beautiful together.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Missie, I agree, a collection of (somewhat organized) yarn or thread is a good representation of transition… with all the uncertainty and unknown, yet it holds a promise of something good or useful that will come out of it. Great thoughts!

      All the best,
      Karen

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Fringe Benefits

Did you notice I didn’t hemstitch these alpaca scarves on the loom? Instead, small overhand knots secure the weft. The knots provide a base for lattice fringe on one scarf, and for twisted fringe on another.

Finishing ends on a long handwoven alpaca scarf.

Purple mohair thread marks the right side of the fabric. The thread is added before the fabric is cut from the loom. Six warp ends at a time are formed into overhand knots that cinch up to the edge of the scarf.

Making lattice fringe.

Three offset rows of overhand knots form the lattice fringe.

Fringe is finished. Ready for washing and drying.

Knots at the tips of the fringe will be trimmed off after washing and drying.

Tying knots for lattice fringe is meticulous. And twisting the fringe is not much faster. But it’s not about how long it takes. I’m not a production weaver. I’m a one-of-a-kind weaver who enjoys the process of turning threads into unique cloth, no matter how long it takes. After the fringes are done, I will hand wash the scarves and let them hang to dry. Slow and steady, the scarves take shape. From the very beginning, I work with the end in mind–handcrafted artisan designer scarves.

Twisting fringe on a handwoven scarf.

By inserting a long straight pin through the center of each knot as it is formed, I can pierce the foam board at the spot where I want the knot to end up–right at the woven edge of the scarf.

Twisted Fringe

Twisted fringe dangles from the edge of the soft scarf.

Time is a gift. Time to make things. Time to finish what we make. And time to undergo our own finishing. Look up. The one who made us takes the time to do the finishing we need. Our Maker doesn’t rush or hurry. He has a beautiful end in mind. We look up to heaven as we pray, acknowledging that our Grand Weaver is on his throne. We can be thankful that our times are in his hands.

May your finishing bring beautiful results.

With you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Linda Sloan says:

    Wonderful message…love your blog and work. What an inspiration you are!! Linda

  • Kris says:

    This message brought tears to my eyes, Karen. I don’t remember how I found you, but I am so grateful that I did!! Advent Blessings to you! You are such a Blessing to us, your readers!

  • Katie says:

    Hi Karen,

    I’m curios about one of your photo captions about using the purple mohair to mark the right side of your fabric. Is this simply to make it easy to know which side is up or is there another reason for it having to do with tying the knots?

    Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Katie, It makes me smile to know someone reads the captions. 🙂

      I mark the right side of the fabric with a thread when it comes off the loom because sometimes it’s not easy to tell the right side from the reverse side. If it’s that close, it doesn’t usually matter, but I still like to know. By marking it right away, I don’t have to guess about it or hold it up to the light to try to tell the difference, etc.

      Secondly, if I am tying knots for fringe, like this time, I want the right side of the fabric up. My overhand knots have a front and a back to them, and I want the consistency of having the front of the knots on the right side of the fabric. These are details that most won’t notice. But that’s what sets handcrafted goods apart, isn’t it?

      I hope that makes sense.

      Thanks so much for asking!
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Pam says:

    You’re right. It is HIS perfect timing that makes us who we are. HE is the author and the finisher of out faith.
    I always say that every thing we do has a little secret to tell us. The trick with the pin in the center of the knot, as it is made to insure its proper place, is just such a secret. I wondered how to do that. Now my work will be better. Thank you,Karen.
    Pam

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pam,

      Yes, it’s often the little things that make a big difference. I’m thankful that the Lord planned in the little things that make us who we are.
      So glad you found a helpful tip here!

      Karen

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Tools Day: Measured Weaving

How far will you travel? How will you know when you have arrived? Do you wish you could know when you are halfway there? Applied to weaving, I like to have the answers to these questions before I begin the “journey.” A pre-measured tape gives me consistency, especially important for multiple pieces in a set. The tape also acts as my “trip odometer.” I can see how far I’ve gone, and exactly how much is left to weave. It satisfies my insatiable need to know how close I am to the end. Are you like that, too?

How to Make and Use a Pre-Measured Tape

Supplies

  • Roll of 3/4″ or wider twill tape (or any cloth tape or ribbon that does not stretch, and that pins easily)
  • Tape measure with inches and/or centimeters
  • Fine tip permanent marker
  • Flat head pins
  1. Use the permanent marker to place markings on the twill tape, as measured with the tape measure. Mark the start line 1/2″ from the end of the twill tape, so that the tape can be pinned in front of the mark.
  2. After drawing a line for the starting point and ending point, draw a line at the midway point, labeled MID.
  3. Include dotted lines for hem measurements, if applicable. Write the hem measurement on the twill tape; i.,e., 3/4″ or 2 cm.
  4. Write the weaving length measurement on the twill tape. Include calculation for takeup, if desired; i.,e., 25″ + 3″.
  5. Write the project or item description on the twill tape, if desired, for ease of repeat use; i.e., handtowel.
  6. Add other lines or marks, as needed, for borders, placement of weft colors, or other design elements.
  7. 1/2″ after the final marking, cut pre-measured twill tape from the roll of tape.

With the warp under tension, pin the pre-measured twill tape near the right or left selvedge with two flat-head pins. Match the start line of the tape with the beginning of the weaving.
Before each advancement of the warp, move the pin closest to the breast beam to a point near the fell line. In this way, have the pins leapfrog each other, moving only one pin each time. Always keep the warp under tension when moving the pins.

Red cutting lines between black and white towels.

Beginning hem, after red cutting lines between towels.

Ending hem is followed by two red picks that will become the cutting line between towels.

Ending hem is followed by two red picks that will become the cutting line between towels.

When the "MID" point hits right where it should!

When the “MID” point hits right where it should! Mid point marking helps to confirm that the halvdräll pattern is centered and balanced in its length.

Pre-measured twill tape marks weft color placement on linen scarves.

Weft color placement is marked on the twill tape for these linen lace scarves.

Tricks with pre-measured tape for weaving.

Five centimeters, marked at the end of the twill tape, is a handy reference for spacing the weft pattern floats in these plattväv towels.

Alpaca scarf in an interesting 8-shaft twill.

I love seeing the “MID” point on a long piece, such as this 8-shaft twill alpaca scarf.

Pre-measured twill tape helps set the pace for the weaving project.

Breaking up the length into quarters helps to set a pace for the weaving project. This baby wrap was on a time crunch, so it was helpful to know when I was getting close to the end.

May you accurately measure your ways.

Truly yours,
Karen

11 Comments

  • Cate Kauffman says:

    Love this idea for repeatable, standard sized projects like towels and scarves. Labeling it towels (4) or some such, makes so much sense. Thanks!

  • Angela says:

    Excellent, thanks for sharing.

  • Karen says:

    Your comments are so useful. I use a tape, but don’t mark it as you do and I don’t leapfrog pins. Such good ideas……I think a trip out to the fabric store is in order! Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, I’m glad you find this useful! I look for sales. When the roles of ribbon are 50% off at Hobby Lobby, I buy several rolls of twill tape!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nanette says:

    Many thanks for all the detail. I will save all this for a warp that I’ve really planned out…wish that described MORE of mine! Nanette

  • Debbie Moyes says:

    Thanks for the details on how you use the tape. I used it on my handtowels. (I’m going to Vavstuga in June!) I am interesetd that you measure under tension. I measure when the warp is loose. Do you add length to your project because it is under tension?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Debbie, I hope you enjoy your Vavstuga experience as much as I did! You will learn a treasure trove of new things.

      Measuring under tension may be the most consistent way of measuring, and is considered the standard way to measure. For Handwoven magazine, for instance, their projects give the “Woven length (measured under tension on the loom).” I do add a % amount to the length to account for take-up and shrinkage.

      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

  • Jane Smith says:

    A very interesting post on measuring your weaving, and one that has the merit of being well photographed and detailed. I shall definitely print this out and keep it in my weaving file.

    Thank you!

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Count the Last Time Around

Counting down the days. Trying to reign in emotions as memories flood my mind of my little girl growing up. And resisting mild panic as I see loose ends dangling in wedding preparations. When I measure a warp, it is essential to accurately measure how many threads have accumulated around the warping reel. I keep track with a simple counting string. Measuring days is not that straightforward. Days pass by too quickly and too slowly at the same time.

Looking down at the counting string, measuring warp on the warping reel.

Looking down at the counting string that sections off every twenty threads. The counting string makes it easy to double-check the number of warp ends that are wound on the warping reel. This is the 12/6 cotton warp for the new rosepath rag rugs.

May your days be lengthened and/or shortened, as needed.

With sweet anticipation,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Eileen Crawford says:

    Thanks for the interesting view of counting time, like we count strings on the warping reel.

    Your reflections on time past and future, as you live in the now, come through your words.

  • Laurie Mrvos says:

    I feel that you must be sending her into this new phase of her life with many wise words and loving, firm guidance. She is a very lucky young woman, I am sure, and as bittersweet as this time must be, I say, well done, mom – well done.

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It’s About Time

Did you ever have a project that seemed like it would go on forever? Maybe a very long warp, or a slow and delicate weave? I have! (THIS one took forever to weave.) One way or another, though, they all come to an end. Rag rugs are fun to weave because it doesn’t take long to see the finish line, another accomplishment. Time marks the beginning and end of all our activities. Maybe this year seemed longer than it should, with too many troubles. Trouble makes time feel slow. Maybe you didn’t get enough done. Busyness makes time seem fast. As this year ends, time keeps ticking and we will usher in a new year, ready or not.

What would a world be like without time?

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

– Solomon (known as the wisest man in his day)

Rag Rug on the loom. Striped hem is followed by scrap strips to secure the wefts.

Several rows of scrap fabric, woven after the striped end hem, will hold the rug wefts in place after the rug is cut from the loom.

We understand that during this life we are subject to the limits of time. Is that all there is? One season after another? Is there a place where time has no say? “Under heaven,” as Solomon described, time is all we know. Yet don’t you sense, like I do, that there is more? That must be because our creator has designed us with eternity in our hearts. The wonderful mystery is that we touch eternity when we become his, while we are still in this time-bound universe!

May you enjoy a fruitful new year, finding time for the most important things.

Good New Year to you,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Laurie Mrvos says:

    I’m really looking forward to seeing this rug!. It’s a beauty!

  • Karen says:

    Glad you like it! I have two more rugs to weave on this warp before we’ll see it all the way. It’s always a bit of a fun surprise to lay the rugs out when they’re finally cut off the loom.
    Thanks for taking time to comment, Laurie!

  • Opal says:

    The rugs are lovely!

    My daughter is wanting me to make some rugs for her on my 32″ Kromski Harp rigid heddle loom. I’m not sure if I’d be able to do that on that type of loom but I’ll do some research if I can, I’ll make some. If not, I’ll wait until I rent the baby Wolf 8 shaft from my local guild.

    The book of Solomon is one of my favorites

  • Karen says:

    Opal, thank you for the compliment!

    You can do a rag weave on your Kromski Harp. I did it on my 32″ Beka rigid heddle loom. You’ll probably find, though, that it’s not really sturdy enough to use for a rug. Generally, rugs require a very tight tension, tighter than you can achieve with a rigid heddle loom.
    But there are other beautiful uses for rag-woven pieces, like placemats, mug rugs, cushion covers, or bench covers. I used mine to make bags, purses, and small pouches. They have held up really well.

    Happy weaving!
    Karen

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