Weaving through The Big Book

It took me seven years of study, practice, and mistakes to complete this rigorous Swedish weaving curriculum! You have been with me through much of it right here. I’m talking about The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. I made it through the book, sequentially, page by page, warp by warp. 43 warps in all! Remember the blue 12-shaft double-weave blanket I had on the loom in June? That is the final project in the book.

Handwoven double weave blanket. 12 shafts.
Double-weave wool fabric is ready for wet finishing, where it will be transformed into a soft, cozy blanket.

In the short video below, each completed project is presented in order in our Texas hill country home. Watch to the end to see the blue blanket in all its finished glory.

For nitty-gritty details, check out The Big Book of Weaving tab at the top of the page.

I. Secrets to success:

  • mindset of a student
  • determination
  • eyes on the goal
  • no option other than completion

One loom dedicated to the book.


II. Lessons learned:

  • technique
  • processes
  • planning
  • drafting
  • Swedish practices

Any mistake can be remedied.


III. Treasures gained:

  • patience
  • humility
  • endurance
  • focused attention
  • problem solving
  • creative freedom

Confidence.


IV. Prized perspectives:

  • new experiences
  • delight of dressing the loom
  • wonder of cloth-making
  • fresh ideas
  • joy of discovery
  • knowledge and understanding of the loom

Getting lost and absorbed in the whole process of weaving.

V. Favorite project: Old-Fashioned Weaving / Monksbelt (at 4:46 in the video)

Are we determined students of heavenly things? Oh, to know God’s will! Study what’s written, don’t lose heart, eyes on the prize, no option besides completion through Jesus Christ. One life dedicated to know him. Day by day, warp by warp, the Grand Weaver teaches us. We can know God’s will.

May you be a lifelong learner.

Happy Weaving to you,
Karen

38 Comments

  • Susie Redman says:

    Well done. It’s such a great book. I’m picking and choosing from the book – its a great way to learn.

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Your work is so inspiring, Karen. I recall many of these projects, here and in Handwoven. Do you have a personal favorite? One that you’ll perhaps explore even further? Kudos!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, Thank you so much! My personal favorite is the monksbelt piece—the large multicolor runner on the dining room table. And yes, I have monksbelt ideas that I would like to explore. Another one I’d like to play around with and learn more about is the turned rosepath—the long narrow red band. There are so many possibilities!

      Thanks for asking,
      Karen

  • Geri Rickard says:

    What a splendid presentation, Karen! You have accomplished so much, and each one is beautiful! Thanks for sharing, it was fun!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Geri, I’m glad you enjoyed the presentation. It was a lot of fun for me to put together, going back in time remembering all the projects.

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Such a feast for the eyes!

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Wow and Wow! Such an accomplishment! And your lovely home showcases all those projects beautifully. Thanks for making this video and thanks for your encouragement. I’m currently doing the Jane Stafford online guild lessons with a new video lesson and project every five weeks. Sometimes it feels a bit overwhelming but I’m determined to try each one. I’ve already learned so much!
    Thanks again for your encouragement and dedication, both to your weaving and for sharing your weaving and faith with others. It DOES make a big difference to many.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, I know how you feel. Many times I was overwhelmed and even discouraged about completing this mammoth dream. Keep pressing on with your lessons, it WILL be worth it–I promise! And between the hard parts, I really had a lot of fun! So enjoy it, too.

      I really appreciate your encouragement to me. It means more than you know.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Hi, Karen! I remember that you recommended this book to me last July was exploring what loom to purchase for my first multi shaft loom. I ended up purchasing a small table loom, a Louet Erica Loom so decided not to purchase the book since I would not have the capacity to work many of the projects.

    However, I recently purchased a larger loom and now, I believe that I will purchase this book. Thank you for sharing this and tweaking my memory of your recommendation.

    Everything you make is so beautiful! You are a wonderful inspiration to a beginning weaver.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, The Big Book of Weaving has been my tutor. I started with it as a complete beginner. It was written as a curriculum, so it has everything I needed to gain skill and confidence. I hope you find it a great resource for learning.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Karen Simpson says:

    That video is amazing. As I hadn’t found you then, I didn’t know that you were following this book and studying your way through it. What a lovely compilation of work and color. Thank you

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, Only a handful of people knew I was working my way through the book. I have mentioned The Big Book of Weaving here many times, but this is my first time to mention here on the blog that I was going through the book, step by step. I didn’t want too many people to “guess” what project I would do next… 🙂

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Congratulations, Karen! I remember when you started working through The Big Book of Weaving, but I didn’t remember it had been 7 years. What a great learning experience! Did you use all the same yarns as the projects called for?

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, It’s hard to believe it’s been 7 years, isn’t it? For most of the projects I used the yarns that were called for, but in colors of my choosing. I did change a few, though. For instance, two projects call for paper yarn. I didn’t know a good resource for that, so I substituted 8/2 cotton for one, and 16/1 linen for the other. So, for those I have beautiful scarves instead of room screens, which suits me better anyway.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    Karen, I’m speechless. There are no words for my admiration of not only your artistic vision, but also the incredible amount of work clearly visible in the lovely video. Thank you for all the encouragement and advice you’ve given us you worked through the Big Book. MORE happy weaving to you. Joanna

    (My v. Favorite piece of your is also that fantastic monks belt. I think you captured all the lovely colors of the Texas Hill Country. It couldn’t be more perfect.)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, I’m fortunate to have a place where I can talk about things that I learn! Thanks for joining in!
      Every time I look at that monks belt piece, I get warm and fuzzy feelings. It’s so cheerful! I’m happy you like it, too!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • kerimae says:

    You inspire me! As you know! 🙂

  • Carolyn Penny says:

    Truly inspirational. Thank you for your diligence and following the goal.
    What a lesson in perseverance. Warm glow…… -Carolyn Penny

  • Vida Clyne says:

    Congratulations on completing such an amazing and inspirational project. I love all the patterns and the lovely colours. I have not got the book but your lovely video makes me think I will buy it. Thanks for sharing.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Vida, I am very happy to hear your thoughts about my adventure! This is one weaving book I wouldn’t do without. 🙂

      Thank you very much!
      Karen

  • Gail Goodrick says:

    What an inspiration this is! Your work is wonderful. I love your color choices. Love, love love…

  • Sue Blanding-Wilson says:

    So inspiring! I will look at my book with new eyes!

  • Maria Hanson says:

    Wow! I so enjoy following your work, but seeing everything in one video is just amazing! Congratulations on such a major accomplishment!

  • Penelope kept the suitors at bay for 10 years weaving one tapestry. What a remarkable legacy of a textile artist in 7 years!
    AND.. the hand wovens are not kept in a chest to pull out and admire. Basis the hems on the towels, they are being used. Beautiful!!
    Thank you for sharing. PS welcome back from your sabbatical.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Thank you for noticing. Yes, the articles were made to be used, and they are used and enjoyed.

      It’s good to be back.
      Karen

      • Anonymous says:

        One of the sweetest moments was when I saw one of my patched blankets worn to the point of being hand mended. Textiles will age one way or another. It fills my heart knowing the ones that pass through my hands are used daily.

        • Karen says:

          That is sweet to think of your handiwork being used to the point of needing hand mending. I agree that the best handwoven items are the ones being used.

          Karen

  • Cindy Buvala says:

    Wow! I am very impressed! A 10 minute video doesn’t do justice to the hours and hours of weaving work that precedes it. You are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your talent.

  • Karen Reff says:

    I haven’t looked at that book in so long. I’m definitely going back for another look! I hope you realize what an amazing thing you’ve done!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, I frequently go to the book for reference. It answers so many questions for me.

      I just took one step, and then the next step, and so on. I’m not sure I would have started had I known how long it would take me. But I’m very happy to have taken that first step…and so on.

      Thanks for your sweet encouragement,
      Karen

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Handwoven Treasured Leftovers

In my bin of handwoven fabric, most of the pieces are leftovers, like a short section from the end of a towel warp, or a colorful sampling of weft from the beginning of a warp. But a few of these woven treasures are good-sized pieces that can be used to make something. So, since I want to make a bag for my large Freja tapestry frame, I look through my selection of handwoven fabric pieces.

Piecing handwoven fabric to make a large bag.
Piecing handwoven fabric to get the large side panels needed for the bag.
Making bag from handwoven fabric.
Lightweight fusible interfacing is applied to the back of the fabric. I adapted and enlarged McCall’s pattern 3894, and used the pattern instructions for the sequence of steps to make the bag.
Patterned band woven on the band loom.
Patterned band woven on the band loom, used for straps on the bag.
Sewing a bag from handwoven fabric.
Topstitching with red thread.

I find just what I need! Coming across these two significant lengths of fabric is like getting reacquainted with old friends. The meter of red and black cotton eight-shaft twill is something I wove in a Vavstuga class. And the blue cotton warp-printed yardage is fabric I wove to make a tiered skirt, a favorite garment that hangs in my closet. (See Quiet Friday: Handwoven Skirt.)

Bag with Freja loom is ready for a travel excursion in the Casita.
Bag with Freja loom is ready for a travel excursion in the Casita.
In the Casita - handwoven articles.
In the Casita.
Bag from handwoven fabric for Freja tapestry loom.
Casita tapestry to work on in the Casita.
Casita tapestry for quiet evenings in Big Bend state park in Texas. I may be able to finish it on this trip.
Bag for tapestry frame - made from handwoven cloth.
Blue cotton warp-printed fabric, red eight-shaft twill, and patterned band from the band loom. Treasures from the past, assembled together for a joyful today.

Treasures from the past come into today to bring value and meaning. Put treasures in your today that will add value to tomorrow. Everything can change in a day, so we can’t put our confidence in tomorrow. But every new day is from the Lord, who holds the future in his hands. Today is a gift. Live it fully. Who knows? Your joy today may be tomorrow’s treasure.

Casita, ready to roll!
Ready to roll!

May you find treasures from the past.

Love,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Beth says:

    Great idea! Have a wonderful time!

  • Anonymous says:

    Very nice and inspiring!

  • Nannette says:

    No moss is growing under your feet. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the memories. All are a gift from God.

    Nannette

    PS.. The snow is leaving us and the leaves of the spring flowers are pushing through, and the squirrels ate the kale seeds I planted.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, It is always interesting to observe the changing of seasons. Here, where we are this week, we see cactus in bloom, desert bluebonnets (they will die off as soon as the temps reach 95 degrees), and red-tipped ocotillo everywhere. Dots of brilliant color on a backdrop of desert brown. The rugged and massive mountains declare the glory of God!

      Love,
      Karen

  • Linda says:

    I have so many scraps of my handwoven fabrics that I try to find uses for. In the process of moving now, I find there are far too many and I’ve bagged many to throw away. Sad! Enjoy Big Bend. It’s one of my favorite places.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, It is sad to say goodbye to scraps of handwoven fabric. But the good thing is, you still get to enjoy the memories of all that time at the loom.

      Big Bend is such a unique and remote place. At times, the terrain is such that it seems like it could be another planet. There is beauty all around, but it’s different. I’m glad to know you enjoy this place, too.

      All the best,
      Karen

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When the Tapestry Gets Confusing

I work across the tapestry a row at a time, starting and stopping many wool butterflies. It gets confusing. It’s not always easy to see how the particular colors in my butterflies relate to the details of this lizard. I closely follow the cartoon and the pattern key by my loom. I have to trust the cartoon more than what I see at the moment.

Lizard tapestry on four shafts. Eye detail.

Lizard eye detail. There are many color changes in the rows that go right through the center of the eye.

Every now and then, I climb up on a step stool as far as I dare. The view from this distance gives me a realistic perspective of the weaving. And raises my hopes that the lizard in this tapestry will indeed resemble the green anole that had posed for my camera. I am unable to see that same progress when I’m sitting at the loom with the lizard’s face right in front of me.

Four-shaft Lizard tapestry. Karen Isenhower

Pattern key at the left of the loom provides constant direction for weaving the details in the tapestry. View from standing on the top step of the step stool.

Lizard tapestry in progress. Glimakra Ideal loom.

Enlarged photograph of the original green anole hangs on the cart next to the loom.

When life gets confusing, it’s time to step up. Treasures are hidden in plain sight. Wisdom and knowledge are hidden like that. The treasure storehouse is in Christ. In him we have a heavenly view that gives us a realistic perspective of what we see in front of us. Trust his pattern key, and proceed with confidence. It’s not so confusing, after all.

May you see hidden treasures.

With heart,
Karen

6 Comments

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Short-Lived Weft Idea

Now is my chance. I’d like to try one more weft idea on this double weave warp. I ended the colorful throw, and have about fifty centimeters left for a lap blanket. After the red cutting line, I am testing some black cottolin weft. It isn’t in my original plan, nor in my sample, but I want to see how it looks.

Small test sample between double weave pieces.

Deep plum alternates with black weft in a small test sample. Pairs of red picks mark the cutting lines between pieces.

The black weft does brighten the warp colors. But that’s not the look I’m after. I would miss the mixed shades that occur as the warp stripe colors are repeated in the weft. So I am weaving the smaller piece with the same weft sequence as the larger throw. When I see the weft choices clearly, it’s not hard for me to decide which weft option to use.

Double weave throw wrapping around the cloth beam.

Following the fabric under the breast beam, behind the knee beam, and around the cloth beam. The four warp stripe colors are repeated in the weft, making slight variations of color in the squares.

Wisdom is a treasure. It comes from seeing things through heaven’s perspective. Beware of human ideas masquerading as wisdom, leading us in the wrong direction. The treasure of wisdom that is found in Christ leads to understanding. Looking through heaven’s wisdom, my choices become clear. And it’s not hard for me to decide to stay true to the Grand Weaver’s design.

May you walk in wisdom.

With you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Beautiful, Karen! Both sides are so eye-catching.

  • Annie says:

    Wow! Love the look of both sides!

    Wouldn’t it be great if we could do a little sampling of our life choices before we jumped in and made them? Fortunately, our Heavenly Father did leave us a guide.

    I hope you bring this to our WOW meeting this fall.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, That would be great if we could sample life choices that way. You’re right, we have a trustworthy guide!

      I may not have the throw in my possession this fall since it’s a gift, but I’ll at least have the smaller piece.

      Thanks for weighing in,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Love that fabric, Karen! Hope to get to see it at a WOW meeting. It’s lovely!

  • Beautiful. Wonderful craftsmanship.

    I spent Sunday afternoon cutting out tote bags to be included in shoe box mission gifts at the Crivitz Presbyterian church. New friends were made near the weekend house. Someone donated heavy nylon advertisement banners to use. The layout of the bag produced unbelievable results not considered when looking at the original cast off banner.

    While cutting out these bags, prayer. I pray to put the same craftsmanship into the gifts to people I do not know as I do to those near and dear to me.

    The loom still sits while the summer explodes around me. Should I stay home this weekend and weave or transplant the volunteer raspberries in the lawn to the weekend house?

    Keep doing God’s work.

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Dream Weave and Slow Reveal

This project is a slow reveal. I am showing what I am doing now, but I am waiting to tell what this will become. There is a flurry of preparation behind the scenes. In time, you will see what develops on the loom. You and I both will find out if I am jumping in over my head. Or, if I can, in fact, pull this off.

Warping reel with 16/2 linen for a new warp.

Warping reel with 16/2 line linen for a new warp.

Dressing the Glimakra Ideal loom with linen.

Linen shows itself to be a beautiful mess.

This is a gorgeous linen warp, with three shades of 16/2 linen: sable, northsea blue, and persian blue. I am dressing my Ideal loom to almost full weaving width: 93 centimeters. The sett is 3 ends per centimeter in a 30/10 metric reed (equivalent to 7.6 ends per inch). I am intensely eager and cautiously optimistic regarding this weaving adventure.

Linen. Dressing the loom.

Linen. Sable, northsea blue, and persian blue. Bockens linen comes with color numbers only. It is interesting to see the names given to the colors by different suppliers. These creative color names are from Vävstuga.

Ready to beam this linen warp on my Glimakra Ideal loom.

Pre-sley reed is in the beater. It’s time to grab some warping slats, slide the lease sticks forward, and beam the warp.

Love is like a hidden dream in your heart, awaiting expression. Love goes with you. It is a treasure you get to bestow on others. In some cases, your treasure may be their only hope. The God of love with us weaves the love of God in us, as his faithfulness is revealed over a lifetime. If we could see the end result the Grand Weaver has in mind, most certainly it would make us smile.

May the God of love and the love of God be with you.

Secretly,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Julia says:

    I’ve no doubt whatsoever that you will be completely successful in this endeavor. You’ve shared a few detours in your weaving, but I’ve yet to see a failure.

  • Linda says:

    This is fun for me to watch as I’ve never warped with pure linen.

  • Maggie Ackerman says:

    I’ve worked with a linen warp before on a rag rug and had issu s with fraying and breaking until I wet the warp while weaving. Will you have to wet this warp to weave without fraying? Gorgeous colors. Whatever this becomes will be beautiful.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, Oh yes, I know exactly what you’re talking about. I’ve had to do the same at times, putting a little dampness on the selvedge threads. But I’ve also had quite a few experiences with linen that gave me no problems whatsoever. I hope, hope, hope this one will refrain from fraying. We shall see…

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Betsy Greene says:

    I’m looking forward to following this project. You’re using a very open sett. I have an idea but I will keep it to myself and see if I’m right. I like your use of a multi colored warp. It’s going to add some visual interest and depth to the … whatever. I’m quite sure you are not jumping in over your head. You are a very strong swimmer!
    Betsy

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, I agree, I think the multi colored warp will add visual interest and depth. I may be able to swim this, but I’m still taking a deep breath as I jump in.

      Thanks for your encouraging words!
      Karen

  • Hmmmm..
    Monochromatic ‘starry starry night’ blues going on the warp. A visual surprise. I was expecting the high contrast of the plum blanket as I scrolled down the posting, instead of my go-to color pallet. As always the colors are wonderful (and grown up).
    ~ a yard wide— That width could be used for much. Clothing, drapery, household linens… …. I will have to wait as you share to progress.
    You are going full steam ahead with a new challenge.. Oops CHALLENGE. I am dragging my feet getting back to the new warp on my loom set up for rosepath rag rugs. I will be brave and go forward, after I complete the patched baby blanket with lime green and turquoise turtles. 🙂
    Nannette
    .

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Isn’t this one of the things we like about weaving – the CHALLENGE? Thrill and fright. But there’s no challenge at the loom that can’t be tackled and overcome.

      Rosepath rag rugs?? How fun! I’ll trade you… 😉 naw, just kidding. Go for it. You can do it!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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