Most Unusual Tapestry Tool

Suddenly, I am able to see the tapestry on the loom from a distant vantage point. Aha! I can see that the left shoulder of Lucia is nicely defined, and that her shoulder appears to be in front of the turquoise rabbit hutch. What I am not able to discern up close becomes crystal clear from a distance. I have an unusual tool in the basket at my loom bench that gives me this advantage. Binoculars! I use them whenever I want to get a better sense of the overall context, color, and definition of what I am weaving in the tapestry. By peering through the WRONG side of the binoculars I am able to view the tapestry as if from a great distance. It is just the help I need to keep pursuing this mystery of weaving wool butterflies on a linen warp to make a recognizable, memorable image.

Pictorial tapestry in progress.
Each row is a new adventure.
Pictorial tapestry on the Glimakra Standard loom.
Photo image of the complete scene sits in the windowsill by my loom. I frequently refer to the photo as I weave.
Binoculars - unusual tool at the weaving loom.
I wish I could show you what I can see through the wrong end of the binoculars. It always surprises me how the image is clearly shaped at a distance.
Weaving a picture of my grandchildren.
Skin tones blend for the area of Lucia’s neck that is coming into focus. Before long, I will get to play with her flyaway hair.
Weaving a pictorial tapestry of my grandchildren.
Greater distance from the tapestry provides more clarity of context. But still, we only get to see the slice of the image that is in view on the loom. It takes faith and patience for the rest.

May you gain the perspective you need.

Blessings,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Great discovery, Karen! Who would have thought it? Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joyce, A few years ago I saw a picture of another tapestry weaver looking at her work through a monocle, and that gave me the idea.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Beth says:

    Ingenious!!

  • Nannette says:

    What pretty colors. I can’t wait to see it completed.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I’m looking forward to that, too.

      Thanks,
      Karen

      • Nannette says:

        Back in town. I met with a builder to add a 4 season sunroom to the retirement house, back in the Wisconsin woods. I could have set up the loom in the basement and woven through the winter. But why have a home on the most beautiful piece of God’s world if you can’t enjoy it.

        Back to topic. Are you weaving this tapestry on the rosepath set up? If so, how are you keeping track of the pattern as you weave?
        Nannette

        • Karen says:

          Hi Nannette, Your sunroom sounds delightful.

          Great question. I have a very low-tech way of keeping track of my rosepath treadling sequence. I drew a small arrow with a black Sharpie on a small piece of blue painters tape. My weaving draft is hanging at the top of the beater on the right-hand side. Every time I am ready to move to the next treadle I move that little piece of tape to point to the corresponding square on the treadling draft.

          All the best,
          Karen

  • Kelly says:

    Wow, this piece will certainly be a labour of love! How rewarding it will be to finish.

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Tools Day: Weaving Apron

In my memories, I always picture Grandma wearing an apron, whether doing housework, gardening, or baking coffee cake in her kitchen. Maybe that is part of the magic I feel when I put on my weaving apron.

Weaving apron makes sense.

Weaving apron is ready for my next session at the Glimåkra Standard loom. Fabric protection board protects the fabric on the loom, but without an apron my clothing suffers from rubbing up against the board.

I sit right up to the breast beam when I weave, which helps my posture and my reach. This makes the fabric on the loom vulnerable, especially to buttons, buckles, or zippers. It also gives my clothes undue wear, even creating small holes in some of my shirts. My Glimåkra Standard loom has the fabric protection board, aka “belly board,” but that is not in place until the knots from the beginning of the warp go under the breast beam. So, the first inches of weaving go unprotected. My other looms don’t have a fabric protection board.

Weaving apron is used to protect fabric on the loom and on the weaver.

Apron is kept on the loom bench for easy access. There is no fabric protection board on this loom, so without an apron, the tapestry being woven and the clothing I wear are both susceptible to damage from repeated contact.

Weaving apron with pockets!

Apron pockets keep things handy.

Weaving apron, criss-cross back straps.

With simple criss-cross straps at the back, this weaving apron fits just about anybody. And there is no bow to tie in the back, like my Grandma’s aprons had.

A weaving apron guards both the fabric on the loom and my clothes. The apron also gives me ample pockets, good for countless things—dropping in a few wound quills to take back to the loom, keeping a tape measure handy, separating one wool butterfly from the rest, and other things you wouldn’t think of if you didn’t have them.

Weaving apron, and why it makes sense!

Texas hill country loom has its weaving apron ready for my next visit there.

An apron like this would be easy to make. However, I was fortunate to come across the perfect weaving apron (not labeled as such), pockets and all, at a quaint little shop in Texas hill country. So, now I keep one at each loom. And when you put one of these aprons on to weave, something magical happens…

May you have ample pockets.

Happy weaving,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Julia says:

    Fun! And of course it would be fun to weave the fabric to make one, if the current ones wear out.

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    I wondered if the little shop in Texas hill country has aprons, on line, for weaving. Or is it on Etsy? Thanks! 🙂

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Thanks for the post! I’ve been considering buying or weaving myself a weaving apron and you have inspired me! I recently began wearing an apron again to cook. I don’t know why I never did once I left home so many decades ago! But it really saves on the splatter stains, especially grease, that I get on my clothes while cooking. AND with weaving I am enamored with the pockets! My “new to me” little Baby Wolf loom doesn’t have a castle or a bench with pockets on the sides like my Schacht Standard loom has. Pockets would really help!
    I don’t often comment on your posts, but I like to once in a while because I REALLY enjoy them and I want to support and thank you for the blessing that you are! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, Your sweet encouragement means so much to me!

      I have a couple of my mom’s old aprons, but I don’t put them on very often. Maybe I should get them out and use them more often! (Maybe I should cook more often. 🙂 )
      Yes, the pockets sold me on these aprons I use for weaving. It’s so great to have a place for those little things when I need them.

      Thank you!
      Karen

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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.

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Heddle Shortage

I am well into threading when I realize I neglected to take into account how many heddles I need for this project! I don’t have 2,064 even if I grab all of the heddles from the other loom. This double weave throw project is at a dead end until more heddles appear. I hurriedly place an order for more heddles…

Threading heddles for double weave.

This Glimåkra Standard is one of three looms that share my supply of Texsolv heddles.

Thankfully, the new heddles arrive quickly and the project is alive again.

This is what 1,000 Texsolv heddles looks like!

This is what 1,000 Texsolv heddles looks like! I didn’t want to run out again any time soon.

New Texsolv heddles - 1,000 of them!

Heddles come in bundles of 100, held together with twist ties. WARNING: DO NOT undo the twist ties before you put the heddles on the shaft bars. You’ll be sorry…

Clipping loops on new Texsolv heddles.

Before putting the heddles on the shaft bars, and while they are still tied into bundles, clip the loops at each end.

Clipping Texsolv heddle loops.

I clip the loops on both ends of the heddles. It is easy to move heddles wherever you want if the loops are cut, including repositioning individual heddles. (It is far easier to clip the loops while the heddles are still tied together.)

New heddles on the shaft bars.

There are 100 new heddles on each shaft. The heddles that are not used will be tied up and put away in my heddle box, ready for the next time I need more heddles.

Alive. This is the Easter season when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He died, and was made alive again! What makes it even more fantastic is what that means for us. We all have a goodness shortage. And without a source of true goodness, our lifetime self-improvement project is at a dead end. Yet, through faith in the powerful working of God, we are raised with Christ. We are made alive together with him. His true goodness becomes our living source.

New bundles of Texsolv heddles stand ready to be used!

Threading progresses. New bundles of heddles stand ready to be used!

May you be supplied with more than enough.

Happy Easter,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Ugh! I can’t wait to see this once you start weaving.

  • Anonymous says:

    Oh!! The hideous heddle shortage. Been there. Good tip not to undo the twist on heddles. Loose heddles have been known to cause insanity. lol

  • Karen Simpson says:

    Easter Blessings to you and your family throughout the year!

  • Shari says:

    You are amazing! You are so generous to share with us! Your words and photographs are so helpful! As inconvenient and frustrating we can feel from making mistakes it is the way we learn for next time! Happy Easter! We have our Sedar tonight.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Shari, I’m always delighted to find out that others are interested in the things I get to share. I feel very fortunate to have people like you to connect with!

      Thank you! And your Sedar will be rich with meaning. Blessings on your special time.

      Love,
      Karen

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Tools Day: Swedish Bobbin Winder

There’s nothing quite like the beauty and functionality of a well-designed tool. The Swedish hand bobbin winder is one of those tools. A bobbin winder is essential. Steve made a superb electric bobbin winder for me that I normally use. But at our Texas hill country home, my Swedish bobbin winder comes into play. And it is a pleasure to use. I clamp the bobbin winder on a shelf in the cabinet where I store my few weaving supplies for this location. The tube of thread sits directly below on a simple homemade spool holder.

Swedish hand bobbin winder for winding quills.

Swedish hand bobbin winder is set up in my supply cabinet. It is easy to remove and put away when I finish winding quills.

Swedish hand bobbin winder for winding quills.

Narrow spindle on the bobbin winder is the size that works for winding quills.

For these color-and-weave cotton placemats, I am using double-bobbin shuttles. So, with the impressively simple Swedish hand bobbin winder I am winding matching pairs of colorful 8/2 cotton quills.

Double-bobbin shuttles for weaving doubled weft.

Double bobbin shuttles are handy for weaving this doubled weft color-and-weave pattern.

May you have the pleasure of working with well-designed tools.

Happy weaving,
Karen

2 Comments

  • I am glad I found your blog. It visually explains how weaving should look when done right. AND—– (very important) has been kept up to date since 2013.
    Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, What a kind thing for you to say! I aim to give visual explanations, so I’m happy to hear that from you.

      Yes, I have been posting twice a week ever since I started in April 2013. Thank you for noticing!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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