Make Magical Fabric

Another magical experience at the loom! Double weave lets you weave two separate layers of fabric simultaneously. And then, the top and bottom layers can switch places in defined blocks. I don’t know who thought this up, but they were brilliant!

Double weave cotton baby blanket on the loom.

Cotton baby blanket for a dear friend’s first grandchild. This friend is amazed at the weaving process, and says that this woven fabric looks calming. Careful arrangement of the two shuttles ensures that the double-weave selvedges are woven closed.

The hard part was tying up the treadles. For a countermarch, working with eight shafts requires a more delicate balance under the loom. For a while, I was concerned that I might not get more than two decent sheds on this. But after several adjustments, I finally got a great shed with every treadle! Someone who looks at the final cloth will never know the effort that took place behind the scenes. But they may wonder at the amazement of handwoven cloth. Or not. (You’ve probably met someone who is not duly impressed with handwoven goods.)

Double weave baby blanket on the loom.

Long stripes in the middle of the baby blanket. I added dashed lines at the ends of the stripes for added detail interest.

Double weave cotton baby blanket on the loom.

Beginning sample reaches the cloth beam. Sample area at the beginning of the warp was used to test weft colors and to practice getting the appropriate weft density.

What do we see as ordinary that, truth be known, is full of wonder? One person may interpret an unusual event as an amazing sign from God. Another person experiences the same event and considers it nothing more than happenstance. If I say I won’t believe until I see evidence, I will never find evidence that satisfies me …even if I come face-to-face with a miracle. Keep the wonder. When you see handwoven cloth, let the work of the Maker’s hands bring wonder and awe. And know there are significant hidden details that are beyond our grasp.

May your fabrics be magical.

Happy weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Betty A Van Horn says:

    WOW – it is absolutely gorgeous – two ‘sea colors!’ I definitely want to be on the look out for His amazing provision.

    Blessings!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betty, These are enjoyable colors to work with!
      If we keep our eyes open to look for His provision, we will certainly see it in our lives.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Julia Weldon says:

    Gorgeous weaving, as always! Each day we all see miracles right before our eyes. Our very lives are a miracle.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia, It’s fascinating to think of the intricacies of how we are made. It’s not hard to see the Creator’s handiwork if we are looking for it.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    What a lovely gift to be weaving. So interesting to be working on a double weave blanket for my son and his wife at the same time you are doing the baby blanket. Gifting to special people is part of the joy of weaving.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, I agree, it’s a joyful thing to give handwoven treasures to special people. That’s cool that you have double weave on your loom, too.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Hi Karen,
    I’m dressing my loom right now for dish towels in the same way, I’m excited to try it! I’ll let you know how it goes.
    Hugs,
    Liberty

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Breezy Easy Weaving

Let’s take M’s and O’s beyond the ordinary. Treadling variations bring out interesting patterns. And a little bit of color in the right places makes a unique border stripe. What other designs will emerge on the remaining towels, I wonder?

Treadling variations in M's and O's.

Treadling variations produce an interesting pattern in this M’s and O’s fabric.

M's and O's with inventive border pattern.

Border pattern uses one of my favorite techniques, the two-pick stripe, to draw a fine line. The center “ribbon” of the border pattern uses two shuttles to alternate the weft colors.

Some projects on the loom are complicated and tedious. This one isn’t. With primarily one shuttle and simple treadling, this is breezy easy weaving. The hard work was in the hours of preparation, dressing the loom. Threading and sleying 896 ends is no small achievement. But now, because of that work, it’s pure enjoyment to sit here and weave.

M's and O's on the loom.

Ready for the next M’s and O’s design.

Sister comes to visit and gets her first weaving lesson.

My sister came to visit, so, of course, she is persuaded to try her hand at weaving. Lookin’ good, Sis!

Forgiveness is hard work, too. It takes effort to put away bitterness and anger. But we must. It paves the way for unhindered kindness, which our world desperately needs. Forgiveness changes you. If you’ve been forgiven, you know that. A forgiven person becomes a forgiving person. And when we forgive, which is never easy, we are threading heddles and sleying the reed. Our efforts make way for the pure enjoyment of dispensing kindness. And we discover that the fabric of our life is being made into something beyond the ordinary.

May you be on the receiving end of forgiveness.

Love,
Karen

The Discovery Towels workshop in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, August 24-26, is filling up! If you’d like to join us, call Debbie (at the number below) right away. I would love to see you there!

Our weaving classes for May, June and July are filled ( but you can sign up on a waiting list!) and we still have a few…

Posted by Shoppes at Fleece 'N Flax on Wednesday, May 10, 2017

6 Comments

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Weave Amazing Taqueté Like an Octopus

I need this sample section to practice being an octopus at the loom. I switched from kuvikas to taqueté. Now I am weaving with two double-bobbin shuttles and two treadles at a time. With no intervening tabby treadles to balance my foot placement.

Kuvikas first, then taqueté. Same threading, different tie-up.

From kuvikas to taqueté. Changing the tie-up allows the loom to weave more than one structure with the same threading.

This taqueté uses the same threading as the kuvikas that preceded it. You’ve heard it said, “One change changes everything.” Try changing the tie-up. Everything changes. Treadling sequence, weft arrangement, and picks per inch. I’m struggling like a beginner with this double treadling, double double-bobbin shuttling. But I’m not quitting, because look what it weaves! The cloth is amazing.

Two double-bobbin shuttles for taqueté.

With no tabby picks in between, the double-bobbin shuttles take turns with each other.

Taqueté, with double treadling and double double-bobbin shuttling.

Each pattern block uses two treadles, pressed simultaneously. The treadling sequence changes four times for each complete row of pattern. Each block (a third) of the square-within-a-square pattern has five complete pattern rows.

One life change, good or bad, can bring a struggle. We try to move forward like we did before, but now it’s not working. Too many things are shifting at once. One thing changed, and now we are searching for sound footing. God is present even in our struggles. The warp is the same, the threading hasn’t changed, and the Grand Weaver is still at his loom. God is a very present help in trouble. God is now and near. Right now, right here. And then we get a glimpse of the cloth he is weaving… It is amazing!

May you endure through struggles.

Your weaving octopus,
Karen

5 Comments

  • Betsy says:

    Is there a trick to pushing two treadles at once on a Glimakra? I thought one couldn’t do that, and I’ve never tried it on my Standard.

    That fabric is gorgeous!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, Yes, there is a trick! It is an unusual tie-up. It works because the tie-up is done with two freestanding groups, so they can be double treadled. And some of the shafts are not tied up. I’m using a draft from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, pp. 164-165, where this set up is explained. I am fascinated by this fabric, and the whole fact that this is even possible!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annette says:

    I appreciate your comments. In a world gone mad your voice is the calm in the middle of a storm – it reminds us who is in charge. God Bless.

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Skeleton Tie-Up on a Countermarch?

I’ve been told that you cannot do a skeleton tie-up on a countermarch loom. That would require pressing two treadles at the same time, which is not feasible on a countermarch. Guess what? I have a skeleton tie-up, and I’m pressing two treadles at a time for the pattern blocks in this kuvikas structure. On my countermarch!

Kukivas (summer and winter) on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Trying to establish a consistent beat so that the squares are all the same size. Making the squares a little taller than they are wide will, hopefully, produce actual squares in the end. The fabric is expected to shrink more in length than in width when it is cut from the loom, and washed and dried.

It works because the tie-up is carefully planned to avoid conflicting treadle movements. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the square-within-a-square results. Isn’t it fascinating that a design such as this can be fashioned by hand, using a simple wooden loom and a bunch of strings, with a few simple tools? And a non-standard tie-up?

Skeleton tie-up on a countermarch loom for kukivas.

Pressing two treadles at the same time is surprisingly less cumbersome than I had imagined it would be. The whole series of motions feels like a slow majestic dance.

Have you seen the sky on a moonless night? Who made that starlit fabric? Who wove the pattern of the heavens? Who put the sun in place, and set the earth on its axis? How grand and glorious are these constant features of our existence! Our human hands can create no such thing. The heavens reveal the glorious nature of God. They shout the unmistakable truth that God is our Creator. Surely, the fabric we make with our hands serves to confirm that we belong in the hands of our Maker.

May the work of your hands be a reflection of you.

In awe,
Karen

11 Comments

  • Betsy Greene says:

    Hi Karen
    This square pattern is really nice. Am I correct in thinking that kuvikas is similar to summer and winter? I have a countermarch loom also and would love to hear more details about your skeleton tie up.
    Betsy

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, You are correct, kuvikas is a Finnish term for what we commonly call summer and winter.
      The double treadling is possible because of the tie-up. The pattern threads are on shafts 1 – 4, and the tie-down threads are on shafts 5 – 8. The trick is where to NOT tie up the treadles. You need two free-standing groups of shafts, so only the pattern shafts and only the tie-down shafts are tied to the treadles, besides the tabby shafts.
      And then, the first 2 treadles produce the tabby for the background. Treadles 3 & 4 bind the pattern floats. Treadles 5 – 8 control the pattern’s various blocks.

      I’m afraid I did a poor job of explaining. You can find the draft in The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, p. 164. She does a better job of describing how it works.:)

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Marcia Cooke says:

    That is gorgeous, Karen! Thanks for sharing the source of the draft, too!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marcia, I’m glad you like it. I like it a lot, too! I’m already thinking of using this draft to make some upholstery fabric for some chairs I want to cover.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • So us how you tied up your loom please, with a diagram or photos.
    Jenny

    • Karen says:

      Great idea, Jenny, Here’s a picture taken from the back of the loom.

      Skeleton tie-up on countermarch

      From left to right, 2 treadles for tabby, 2 treadles for tie-down threads, 4 treadles for pattern. You can see that the tie-down and pattern shafts are independent of each other, which make double treadling possible.

      Does that help?

      Karen

  • Carol says:

    Hi Karen,
    I really enjoy your blog. Thank you.
    I also have a countermarch loom and am wondering how you get away with not tying up all eight shafts on every treadle. Do you know of a book that really explains countermarch ti-ups. I think I am missing something here. I must confess I am a new countermarch loom owner.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Carol, You ask some good questions!
      How do I get away with not tying up all 8 shafts on every treadle? I don’t know. I’m learning as I go. Honestly, I have not found a lot of information about weaving with this type of tie-up on a countermarch loom. I have seen it mentioned a few places, but not explained. I tell myself that it is like weaving on two four-shaft looms that work together. 🙂 That may be way off!

      The thing to remember is that this is NOT a typical tie-up for a countermarch loom. I’ll have to say, it was a little finicky to get clean sheds, so I wouldn’t recommend this for someone until they have some serious weaving on eight shafts (with a “normal” tie-up) under their belt.

      One helpful book that explains everything about a countermarch tie-up is Tying Up the Countermarch Loom, by Joanne Hall. But it doesn’t mention skeleton tie-ups. I guess I like to try things outside the norm…

      I hope you enjoy your countermarch loom as much as I enjoy mine!
      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Plattväv Towels and Thanksgiving Prayer

Start to finish, the plattväv towels have been a handweaver’s joy. Narrow stripes on the warp beam are strangely invigorating. Does it take extra effort to wind a warp with many stripes? Yes–cut off one color and tie on a new color, over and over. But when the loom is dressed and ready to go, the weaving is a breeze. Being cottolin, the warp is fully compliant; and with a little care, the linen weft becomes a weaver’s friend. Plattväv, the icing on the cake, gives me a simple pattern weft that dresses up these plain weave towels. (And, yes, I am in the process of developing a kit for these plattväv towels.)

Planning handwoven towels.

Cottolin warp with counting cord.

Striped warp for plattväv towels.

Threading the loom for plattväv towels.

Tying up treadles the easy way.

Weft auditions for plattväv towels.

Plattväv towels on the loom, with linen weft.

Plattväv towels on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Blue linen pattern weft.

Beautiful blue linen pattern weft.

Plattväv towels coming off the loom!

Off the loom and ready for trimming threads.

Band loom weaving.

Plattväv towels ready to roll!

Plattväv towels. Karen Isenhower

The joy of weaving is a blessing, as is the joy of friendships across the miles. Thank you for walking this journey with me.

Thanksgiving prayer: Thank you, Lord, for everything.

May you overflow with blessings and reasons for giving thanks.

Thankful for you,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Hi Karen,
    These towels are just beautiful. Thank you for all the work you do to help us with our weaving. Happy Thanksgiving my friend!

  • Martha says:

    Love the photo of the towels rolled up- very interesting to view. Beautiful work as always.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Martha, The linen is predominant in these towels, and linen begs to be rolled. I had fun playing around with them to take pictures.
      Thanks for your kind words!

      Happy Thanksgiving,
      Karen

  • Anne says:

    I will definitely be interested win the kit! Beautiful!

  • Theresa says:

    The towels are lovely. I too will be watching out for kit information.
    I’m wondering if hemp would be worth a whirl in place of linen?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Theresa, I’m excited about putting the kit together. It’s good to know you are keeping an eye on it.
      I have never woven with hemp. From what I’ve heard, it weaves much like linen. So I’m certain it would work for this.
      I love the Bockens and the Borgs Swedish linen, so I haven’t branched out much in that regard.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

    • Karen says:

      Hi Christine, Thank you so much!

      If you’re interested, there are a couple of these towels in my Etsy shop, as well as “Workshop in a Box” kits, where you can weave these towels for yourself.

      All the best,
      Karen

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