Weaving Plans on Paper

I doubt myself when I start weaving something. But it’s a good time to question everything. The first twenty centimeters are designated for sampling. Is this the right sett? How is the weft density? What treadling order will I use? Which weft color(s) works best?

Trying out some treadling patterns.

Trying out some treadling patterns for this cotton throw. Undulating twill is planned.

It helps to see it on the loom. I plan on paper, and get excited when I see a ready warp on the warp beam. But nothing is settled until I’ve passed the sampling tests. The plan on paper is what I think I want. And then, unanticipated adjustments and changes are necessary at the loom. In the end, I expect the actual weaving to be better than my original plan.

Sampling before weaving a cotton throw.

More sampling of treadling patterns.

Testing weft colors for undulating twill cotton throw.

Testing weft colors.

When we think we must have what we planned, we give up a better way. We lose our way when we insist on having our way. Jesus came to us as an infant (the Christmas message), leaving his rightful heavenly position. To follow Jesus is to deny myself like he did. Some of the testing means telling myself no. In return, I gain the life I could not see on my paper plan.

May you give up some of your favorite plans.

With Advent thoughts,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Beautifully said, Karen! Too often, I don’t want to deny myself, but when I follow Him, I am at peace, as I know He wishes, all the time. So there is much joy in giving up my plans. Thanks for sharing and reminding me. Thankfully, we have Him to follow, every day! His love is not measured by our standards, and it is everlasting! Merry Christmas to you and yours! 🙂

  • Anneloes says:

    Beautiful! Both the sample, as well as your message of encouragement. I hope to get better at letting go of my ‘paper plans’ in life.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Anneloes, I’m with you on that. Sometimes I really cherish my ‘paper plans’ and forget the Lord has a better way.

      Happy letting go,
      Karen

  • Beautiful work, may God’s blessing be upon you this Christmas

  • Ruth says:

    Life is what happens while we are making plans is a favorite saying of a dear friend. Your reflections on paper plans and letting go to follow Christ’s example coincide with that statement and remind me to follow Christ’s path and not my own. Blessings to you and yours as we follow the light of Christ during the coming year.

    • Karen says:

      Ruth, Your friend’s saying rings true with me. How much better to willingly let go of how we thought things should be, than to hold tightly to our ‘paper plans’ and miss the joys of living life to the fullest. What a relief that we have Christ to follow!

      Blessings to you,
      Karen

  • Beautiful weaving. Beautiful thoughts.

    Merry Christmas from the great white north.

    Nannette

  • Alison says:

    Thank yo Karen for sharing. I would have liked to have seen what your paper plans look like also, as they are part of the process. Your message is just what I needed.

    Alison

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alison, I don’t think I have done a post on project planning. I’ll have to do that! My paper plans hold the calculations, yarns, draft, and other details. I always have that piece of paper close at hand as I dress the loom and weave.

      I’m glad to hear that you gained something from today’s words.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Linda says:

    Your reflections are such a blessing.
    Thank you and may God continue to bless you.

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Tied On and Tied Up

Our transition to Texas hill country is finalized this week! The looms and I will be residing in the same house again. Let the weaving resume! One loom is dressed and waiting for me. Tied on above, and tied up below. Ready to weave!

The warp is tied on to the front tie-on bar in 1-inch bundles, with 1/2-inch bundles at the selvedges. And then, I add the leveling string which makes it look neat and tidy and READY.

Leveling string flattens and evens out the warp for no-waste weaving.

Warp is tied on to the front tie-on bar. Leveling string flattens and evens out the warp for no-waste weaving.

The upper and lower lamms are positioned, and the treadle cords are added and secured. It’s fascinating how simple and basic the whole system is. And how something this simple and basic can be the framework for boundless creative expression.

Under the warp. Intriguing view.

I sit on the treadle beam when I position the lamms, and then place the treadle cords in their holes. I’m always intrigued by the view of the warp and heddles from this vantage point.

Treadle cords on eight shafts.

Treadle tie-ups don’t frighten me. It all makes sense, and is part of the loom-dressing process that I enjoy.

If we think of prayer as something that gets us out of a crisis, or words to say in order to get what we want from God, we miss the whole point of prayer. And we face disappointment. Prayer always works. The work is not our clever words, nor the checking off of our wish list. Prayer is the framework of deep trust that stands ready for the Lord’s boundless creative expression. We pray because we trust him. Christmas—the birth of Christ—shows us that God always steps in at the right time.

May your framework be sure.

Advent greetings,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Sue Hommel says:

    Beautiful words to awaken to this morning Karen! I’ve recently added a countermarch to my studio, and I believe your blog and joy with your Glimakra helped me in my quest for the right loom to add. I chose the Julia and after some panic at the prospect of having to build it, I just took one step…then the next, and finally, I’m weaving and loving its simplicity and design. Looking forward to see what your new warp will become!

    • Karen says:

      Good morning Sue, How exciting! The simple beauty and functionality of these looms make them a joy to weave on. They also provide a constant learning experience, which is a good thing. There’s always a discovery just ahead!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Susan San Martin says:

    I love my Toika countermarche for the same reason: simplicity, plus an endless opportunity to adjust the loom . It is easy to understand how to fiddle with the sticks after awhile. The loom expresses the deep logic of creation!

  • Anneloes says:

    “Prayer is the framework of deep trust that stands ready for the Lord’s boundless creative expression. ”

    Would you believe that this was the exact thing I’ve been praying over these last few days? Beautifully written.

    Before I started weaving, I thought dressing the loom would be a tiresome process to rush through in order to dtart the REAL weaving. But it turned out to be my most favourite part of weaving, and every bit as real.

    Thank you again for your beautiful words and pictures.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Anneloes, I’m constantly amazed at how the Lord ties things together for us!

      I can relate. I was afraid that dressing the loom would be too complicated or difficult to do. What a pleasant surprise to find it so rewarding and not hard at all! It’s a joy.

      I appreciate your thoughtful comments.
      Karen

  • Martha Winters says:

    Hello, Karen,
    I have learned so much about weaving, and how it relates to life, from your blog. Thank you for sharing your insights and reflections so freely and beautifully.
    I would love to know a bit more about the ‘leveling string’ at the start of your warp. I’m not familiar with this and it looks quite useful for evening out the threads from the get-go. Much appreciation for your knowledge and awesome weaving!!

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Testing Color Surprises with My Little Helper

Twelve shafts and twelve treadles are all tied up. I found and fixed one threading error. And I am still making some adjustments on the tie-ups to get clean sheds. But for the most part, the Standard is ready to go! I have a week with this loom, to weave towels for my daughter. This colorful double weave looks promising.

My helper peers up at me as I tie on the warp.

My helper this week peers up at me as I begin to tie on the warp.

Dressing the countermarch loom.

Lower lamms and upper lamms are connected to the shafts before tying up the treadles.

Glimakra Standard with twelve-shaft double weave.

Arrangement of the heddles on the shafts give a clue to the three blocks in this twelve-shaft double weave.

Weaving with my granddaughter at my side.

Testing weft colors and patterns with granddaughter Lucia by my side.

Helper for managing the shuttles at the loom. :)

Two-year-old Lucia helps manage the shuttles.

Double-weave towels on twelve shafts. Beginning sample.

Design decisions for the towels will be made based on this beginning sample.
It’s surprising to see the array of colors produced by only four shades of cottolin thread.

When the loom is properly dressed and prepared, the weaving is delightful. Every pick of color is a pleasant surprise. Our Father knows our needs. He is the loom dresser. Everything is set up for the threads to make gorgeous cloth. Do we think prayer is all about asking God our Father for things? Yes, he does invite us to ask for the things we need. But let’s start with admiring his ways and works, with a heart of gratitude. Then, with the threads he puts in our hands, the future looks promising!

May your looms be ready for weaving.

Happy weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • When God blesses us with variables your loom demonstrates I believe He not only wants to meet our needs but wants to bring joy to our souls. Some people weave tabby with their lives. Some people live their lives weaving lizards while exploring the subtle variations in the process. I believe God wants us to explore and enjoy all the good He has to offer and dresses our individual looms to do that..

    Yesterday our second grandchild arrived. He is as perfect as his older sister. A day such as that makes it easy to forget all the threads that had to be re-sleighed along the way.

    Blessings to all

  • Laura says:

    Love the pattern and colors….

  • Lynette Glass says:

    Can I weave something similar with four shafts? Do you have any four shaft doubleweave pattern ideas or books that you know about? I like your colors very much!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, You can certainly do double weave on four shafts. I don’t personally have much information on the topic, though. I do know that Jennifer Moore is known for her work in double weave and has a book and video about it, as well as workshops that she teaches.

      I chose colors that were not in my usual palette, and I’m pleasantly surprised at how much I like them.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Susie redman says:

    This looks stunning – the colours are so complementary. Are you managing this double weave on only one back beam?
    Susie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susie, I have only one back beam, and I don’t know the first thing about weaving with a second back beam. Is double weave like this something for which a second back beam is useful?

      Thanks!
      Karen

      • Susie says:

        Hi Karen,
        I have only experienced double weave on a table loom and it was fitted with a second beam – one for each layer. My own loom is a Glimakra Standard too and I’m heartened to see that you can achieve double weave with one back beam. I had thought that it would be out of the question.
        Many thanks,
        Susie

  • Rebecca Neef says:

    This is so beautiful and inspiring. What an adorable helper you have! I have a Glimakra Standard also, a 120cm model. Mine only came (used) with 8 shafts, although it has 12 treadles. Is yours a special model made for 12 shafts, or did you do anything special to accommodate the extra shafts? I’d sure love to be able to do some 12 shaft weaves on mine! Thanks.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rebecca, I was surprised that my little helper would sit there as long as she did. There was a lot to keep her attention, I guess.

      My loom (120cm) also came with 8 shafts. I wrote to Glimåkra USA and told them I wanted to upgrade to 12 shafts and they listed all the parts I would need to do that, and then I ordered the parts.

      I don’t expect that I’ll use 12 shafts very often, but it’s nice to have them for a few special projects.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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When You Misread the Threading Draft

What if you finish tying up the loom, eight shafts and eight treadles, having beamed, threaded, and sleyed 2,064 ends, and the first thing you see when you step on the treadles is… that you misunderstood the threading draft? Do you undo everything and re-thread? Not likely, if it took you eleven-and-a-half hours to do the threading in the first place. I am taking a deep breath. Time to walk away and think. Maybe I can adjust the tie-up, or maybe I can use it as is—a serendipitous design. Should I laugh or cry? My idea to serve my loved ones with handwoven gifts (See Weaving a Gift) is getting off to a rough start.

Double weave throw. Warp is tied on.

Warp is tied on. Ready to tie up the treadles.

Tie-up completed for eight shafts and eight treadles.

Lamms are connected. Treadle cords are positioned. Treadles are tied up. Eight shafts and eight treadles.

Double weave throw.

This view should show solid dark plum all the way across.

Double weave throw on the loom.

This view should show stripes of solid colors, not two-color stripes, with solid bands of dark plum in between.

Serve. I want to offer my best, especially when I’m making a gift for someone dear to me. It helps to look beyond the person, though, and realize my true service is to the Lord. Heart, soul, mind, and hands. I bring my misunderstandings and missteps of the heart to my Master Weaver, who has taken it on himself to make things right. And I’m reminded that as I serve someone with my weaving hands, the true gift is love. This double weave throw will be a reminder of that.

May you recover from your mistakes.

Humbly,
Karen

UPDATE: I have had a chance to put the draft on Fiberworks weaving software and work with it to adjust the tie-up. I think I found a solution. Stay tuned!

6 Comments

  • Joann says:

    Karen
    Thank you for your words of encouragement on weaving and on life. It is true about the mis-steps we make. It is also true how Jesus is always willing to help us through these times.
    Joann

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,
    My son has gifts in the kitchen second to none. His food on the buffet always wows and amaze. The ONE cake we all remember and recount with much love is the tender, chocolate layer cake that fell apart in the refrigerator before it was served. He scraped the pieces into a large mixing bowl and served it in a bowl with ice cream. It was not his plan for the cake, but it was more memorable than had it been served exactly as he planned it.
    God amazes me by how things do not always turn out exactly as planned. Often they turn out better after the dust (or chocolate) clears.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, So true! When I looked at the mis-threaded version on my software, it did look interesting. Even more so, the back side of the fabric is very pretty. I haven’t quite decided whether to correct my error by changing the tie-up, or not. Or maybe settle with a version that is a combination of the two.

      Thanks for sharing your story. Our family has a similar fond memory with a cake my mother-in-law made. It became known as “Flop Cake,” and has been intentionally repeated as a favorite.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    Oh Karen, what a blow! But how quickly you are recovering and you didn’t take the scissors to your project showing wonderful restraint. This throw when finished will have good memories and an important story to tell. I’m looking forward to seeing your progress and learning of the changes you make. Onward with prayerful consideration.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, Yes, it is a blow when you are excited about throwing the shuttle, and you get stopped in your tracks. But no, taking scissors to it never crossed my mind. One thing I enjoy about weaving is that there are always solutions! It may not come out as planned, but there is a way around this obstacle. That I know.

      Thank you for your kind and encouraging words!

      All the best,
      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Linen Satin Dräll

This is one of those weaving projects that puts you on top of the world. Everything about it. Linen, ten shafts, five-shaft satin weave, ten treadles, gorgeous Moberg damask shuttle, single-shuttle rhythm, full-body weaving, magical fabric. I did have more than my share of knots in the warp, and a few skipped threads and selvedge loops. But you will see no evidence of those glitches now. All you will see is the natural beauty of linen, with its characteristic unevenness. And the reflective satin dräll weave, with its light-catching trickery.

The warp is Bockens unbleached 16/2 line linen. Two of the towels use 16/1 golden bleached linen for the weft. At my husband’s request, the remaining three towels have 16/2 linen weft, in ecru. The thicker weft helps make these into robust absorbent handtowels. A table square finishes off the set.

Enjoy the process with me as I reminisce over the start-to-finish pleasure of weaving these towels.

Winding a linen warp.

Linen warp chains.

Tying on the linen warp.

Tying up 10 treadles on a countermarch!

Sampling weft colors on a linen warp.

Sunlit linen damask weaving.

Hidden patterns in the 5-shaft satin.

Linen 5-shaft satin dräll!

Beautiful Moberg damask shuttle.

Spliced warp ends.

Linen satin dräll on the loom.

End of the warp is near. So many warp end repairs!

Cutting off! Linen 5-shaft satin dräll.

Just off the loom--linen 5-shaft satin.

Glimakra band loom. Hanging tabs for towels.

Ready to sew handwoven hanging tabs on new linen towels.

Just off the loom--linen 5-shaft satin handtowels.

Handwoven linen towel with handwoven hanging tab.

Handwoven set of linen satin dräll towels. Karen Isenhower

May you find pleasure in what you do.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

18 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Exquisite, Karen!

  • JAN says:

    Nice finishing touch with hand woven hanging tab. Had you ever though of putting another one in the middle of the long edge so the towel can be hung on a hook above the sink?

    • Karen says:

      Hi JAN, I haven’t done that, but it’s a great idea. I would need to figure out how to attach it, since there is not a hem on the side. These tabs would be a little too thick to fold the ends under, but could certainly do that with tabs made with thinner threads. Have you done it?

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Janet says:

    Beautiful towels and beautifully woven!

  • Betsy says:

    Wonderful towels! And I’m so impressed that your husband knows enough about yarn to recommend 16/2 over 16/1.

    Your little bowl of pegs next to the treadles reminds me of my last project, huck placemats. I could remember the treadling, but not the 18 repeats. So I had a bowl like yours with 18 pegs, and after every repeat I moved one peg to another bowl. And every once in a while I’d crawl around the Julia counting the repeats in case I made a mistake, lol.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, Haha, I may have given the wrong impression about my husband. He specified thicker, less dainty towels, and I chose the appropriate size of linen.

      What a great way to keep track of repeats. I’m going to remember that!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nancy Nordquist says:

    These are absolutely beautiful! Than you for sharing so many photos and details of the process.

  • Joanne Hall says:

    Yes, this weave is magical and so fun to weave. And thank you for the beauticul photos. Did you use your phone to take these photos?
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, I feel so “at home” weaving something like this. It is satisfying and rewarding.

      I use my iPhone 7 for all my photos. Steve has a very nice digital SLR camera, but I do best with the simple little iPhone. And it’s always in my pocket or on the table beside me. I take way too many pictures, and then I whittle them down to my very favorites to share here.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Barb says:

    Beautiful design, beautifully woven. The joy & pleasure you have in weaving shows in every finished project. Each time you use these towels, you will be reminded of your enjoyment of the process of weaving. Thank you for sharing your talents and inspiring other weavers to find that joy!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barb, Your thoughtful comments mean so much! If I can inspire another weaver to find a little more joy in this wonderful weaving process, that would be fantastic!
      Part of the pleasure of having towels like this in my home is getting to see others enjoy the results, too.

      Thanks so much,
      Karen

  • Angela says:

    Beautiful and inspirational!

  • Gretchen says:

    Love these Karen!! So simple and classic… and perfect! Beautiful.

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