Four-Shaft Tapestry Adventure

Most of my preparation for this project has been separate from the loom itself. The loom is dressed and ready. That’s the easy part. The lion’s share of the work is in developing the cartoon. This project is my first four-shaft tapestry. My usual tapestry work is on a small portable tapestry frame. This is BIG in comparison. 93 centimeters (36 1/2 inches) in the reed.

Glimakra Ideal with linen warp, ready to weave a tapestry.

Linen warp is tied on. Treadles are tied up. Sheds are clean. This Glimåkra Ideal is ready and waiting for the weaver.

Cartoon is on a table behind the loom undergoing cartoon prep.

Warp beam. Cartoon is on a folding table behind the loom undergoing cartoon prep.

After finding a subject for the tapestry, I have been drawing the cartoon and a cartoon key. And I have the yarn. Now, I am determining colors, distinguishing values, and arranging my yarn into a workable order. To tell the truth, the cartoon scares me. It shows me how grand a task I’ve signed up for. But there’s no turning back. I’m committed. (I will show you the cartoon when I’m further along…)

Wool being sorted for 4-shaft tapestry.

Wool, mostly 6/2 Tuna and 6/1 Fårö, with a few other wool yarns thrown in. These are some of the colors going into the planning of the cartoon.

Distinguishing between different values in the wool yarn assortment.

Black and white photo helps distinguish between the different values of the yarn colors. Contrast in values help define the woven image.

The cartoon shows the intent of the tapestry designer. Likewise, heaven shows the Grand Weaver’s perfect plan. Heaven holds the true picture. Heaven and earth, two parallel realms. Jesus came to earth to bring us into that heavenly version of the tapestry. When we put our trust in him, our colorful threads in various hues and values are woven together in the grandest tapestry ever.

May you take a bigger step than you have before.

Courageously (with knees knocking),
Karen

7 Comments

  • Betsy Greene says:

    Oh wow. You really are in the deep end. Good for you!
    I’m not so brave but I will live vicariously through you.
    Betsy

  • Good morning,
    Now that Spring has become a verb in SE Wisconsin my weaving goes back one more seat while I try to undo the neglect of the yards here and NE Wisconsin. Yesterday I took out and re-wove ~ 10 rows of rosepath rag rug because I mis-read the pattern. Once done I realized this project is not as scary as I imagined it to be.
    Today there is a quiet book to be put together for my granddaughter’s 1st birthday. And… once again I am delaying the work because I have not worked out the details of construction. We all know that in the end the quiet book will be completed and the tapestry will be completed and the rug will be completed and the maybe … just maybe this year I will be able to keep ahead of the weeds. But, boy oh boy… from this side of the project that does not seem possible.
    May God bless both our hands with creativity and love.
    Nannette

  • Michele Dixon says:

    I’m a tapestry weaver too. I’m quite interested in seeing what your 4 shaft piece turns into. I have a brand new Glimakra Standard, 4/6 so I am hoping, in the future, to expand my 2 shaft images to 4 shaft. I’ll be watching with great interest.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Michele, Congrats on your new Glimakra Standard! It’s exciting to try a new way to do tapestry. I’m glad to have you along!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Michele Dixon says:

    Thank you, Karen. It’s such a pleasure to read your blog.

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Transferring Warp Ends Takes Courage

There are four pairs of overlapping warp chains, with stripes to line up. I created a mess. A few options to consider: 1. Give up. 2. Weave it as is, destroying the design. 3. Use two sets of lease sticks, and expect problems with threading (2,064 ends). 4. Transfer all ends to a single set of lease sticks, arranging threads in order for each stripe.

Eight warp chains...to correct a huge winding error.

Each of four warp chains were duplicated when I realized I had wound only half the correct number of ends in each chain.

Option 4 seems the riskiest. If I lose the cross while transferring threads, I have an even bigger mess. It’s all or nothing. Go for it! Fortunately, my apprentice, Juliana, arrives in the nick of time to give me a hand.

Transferring color stripes to one set of lease sticks.

Lease cross is tied separately for each color “partial” stripe.

Transferring two warp chains to a single set of lease sticks.

Stripes from the two warp chains are transferred to a single set of lease sticks. Now the stripe colors are at their full correct width.

Preparing to transfer warp ends.

For the four center warp chains, each section of color is separated and tied at the cross. It takes an extra set of hands to transfer them in order to the primary set of lease sticks.

Delicate transfer of warp ends accomplished!

All warp ends are now successfully transferred to a single set of lease sticks. Let the loom dressing begin!

It worked! All the threads are successfully transferred to one pair of lease sticks. What a relief! I can beam the warp knowing that all is well. A beautiful double weave throw is imminent.

Pre-sleying the reed at the loom.

Warp is pre-sleyed at the loom. So far, so good.

Double weave warp ready to beam!

Ready to beam! Looking forward to this dressing and weaving experience.

We all have made a mess of our lives, and we know it. We hear of options to fix things, but one seems the riskiest: Transfer everything to God. But what if I mess that up, too? There’s good news. God transfers us. When we place our trust in Jesus Christ, God transfers us from our messy state to his good order. And the result is a weaving that showcases his workmanship—a beautiful you.

May you take a worthy risk.

With you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Glad this worked! Even more happy that God works messes out for us! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joyce, It is a relief when we see things begin to work out! And what a relief it is to trust our great Lord with the most important things in life.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    I like this thought.

    And so glad the mess worked out. But I knew quitting was never an option for you, Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Annie, You are right. Quitting was a thought that flickered for a moment, but I never really considered it an option. You may know me a little to well. 😉

      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    I know that was frustrating, Karen. Been there, done that, although with a smaller warp. Perseverance pays offf!

    • Karen says:

      D’Anne, That is so true! Perseverance does pay off! I think that is something that has been a part of me since childhood – quiet perseverance. Thanks for making me stop and reflect on that for a moment.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Linda says:

    God does fix our messes in unexpected ways. …. when we ask. And I thought 398 ends of only two colors were a challenge! Perspective and perseverance are helpful tools.

    Thank you for sharing your faith!

    Linda

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, It is crucial for us to have the humility to ask God for help out of our messes. Perspective and perseverance are indispensable!

      Thanks!
      Karen

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Handwoven Blankets for Babies

Handwoven baby blankets are for cuddling babies. It is a pleasure to weave a baby blanket for a dear friend’s first grandchild. As long as I’m dressing the loom, it makes sense to weave more than one. So the second baby blanket is for cuddling my own grand-babies when they come to visit.

Double weave baby blankets. Cutting off!

Double weave baby blankets unrolled from the cloth beam, ready to be cut off.

Hemming double weave baby blanket.

Double weave top and bottom layers are stitched together by hand at the hems. Contrasting thread is used for a decorative embroidered look.

Embroidered edge of handwoven baby blanket.

Whipstitch in contrasting thread.

Handwoven baby blankets super soft for baby's skin.

Blankets are triple washed for softness. Ready to touch baby’s skin.

Double weave baby blanket.

Double weave has reverse pattern on the back.

Double weave baby blanket.

Same warp, different weft.

Handwoven baby blanket for newborn.

Meet Julian, my friend’s new grandson, wrapped in love.

Handwoven baby blanket. (Resting on his great-great-grandmother's quilt.)

Meet Benjamin, our newest grandson, wrapped in love. (Resting on his great-great-grandmother’s quilt.)

A resting baby is a picture of hope. Hope for the next feeding, hope in the mother’s tender love, hope in the father’s secure arms. No arrogance, no illusion of grandeur. Just quiet rest. Hope in the Lord looks like this. Hope for today, the future, and forever. My soul is at rest—in complete rest and trust. Like a resting baby in his mother’s arms. Like a baby wrapped in a blanket woven especially for him.

May you find rest.

Blessed,
Karen

20 Comments

  • Cate Kauffman says:

    These are really wonderful. Curious to know what kind of yarn/thread you are using to make these? I was introduced to double weave last year and plan to tackle a small project in the coming new year (once I finish the overshot table runners I’m working on now). Your blog is a regular inspiration to me, both in spirituality and productivity. Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cate, I’m so happy to have you here. If you find something that inspires you, I’ve accomplished my purpose. Thank you!

      I used Bockens 8/2 cotton in warp and weft for these blankets. I like the feel of washed cotton.

      I’m sure your overshot table runners are lovely!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Wow! They are beautiful, Karen! The blankets and the babies. What a great use for double weave.

  • Annie says:

    I haven’t tried double weave yet, but these blankets definitely make me want to try! Unfortunately, all of my grandchildren are too old for swaddling blankets. Guess I will just need to make bigger ones!

    Thank you for the inspiration, both spiritually and weavingly.

    Many blessings,
    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, The baby stage doesn’t last very long, does it? Because of the double layers, a double weave blanket would be good for any age. I wouldn’t mind having one my size!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Joan says:

    Beautiful- What size do you make your baby blankets?

  • Andrea Bakewell says:

    Hi Karen,
    These are lovely and looks like a great project to learn double weave. Is there a pattern you used or just made it up as you went along? I like the short and long boxes 🙂

    Beautiful work!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Andrea, This is a draft from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. I varied the pattern slightly from the pattern in the book to give the design some of my own details. You’re right, this would be a super project to learn double weave.

      Thanks so much,
      Karen

  • Martha says:

    What wonderful love filled blankets to cuddle the wee ones. Nice choice of colors – Lovely weaving as always. The hand made quilt is extra special too!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Martha, My friend helped choose the colors for her grandson’s blanket. I like her choice!
      I enjoy keeping my Grandmother’s handmade quilt where I can see it and use it every day. I’m fond of connecting the past generations with the present.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Susie Redman says:

    Dear Karen,
    These are stunning! I’ve done a double weave project in a class using an 8 shaft table loom but I’m not at all sure how to dress my Glimakra floor loom for double weave. Did you use an extra beam ?
    Would be great to see how you dressed your loom for a double weave project.
    I followed your advice on sorting out the length of my treadle cords to improve the shed – worked a treat – thank you.
    Susie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susie, Great question! There wasn’t anything unusual in dressing the loom for this project. No second beam, since both layers are the same plain weave. The double weave is simply set up in the threading. You can find this draft in The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell.

      Thanks for letting me know the advice about treadle cords worked for you. That makes me very happy!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Your lovely handwoven baby blankets for adorable Benjamin and Julian are destined to become family heirlooms just like your grandmother’s quilt. Wouldn’t your grandmother enjoy knowing you are using and loving her quilt!

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, I’m sure my grandmother never imagined how much her handmade quilts would be enjoyed! It’s a sweet thought that my woven blankets could become heirlooms like that.

      Thank you,
      Karen

  • Tobie says:

    Beautiful! and what a good idea for double weave.

  • Michelle Simon says:

    I truly enjoy reading your blog and the comments. My newest grandchild is only 3 months old and the double weave blanket is a great idea! Many thanks for your thoughtfulness! I, too, enjoy connecting the generations and have been delighted to see in photos my granddaughters with the quilts I’ve made for them–and items I saved from their mother’s childhood being used again!

    Happy Holidays!

    Michelle

    • Karen says:

      Hi Michelle,
      I enjoy reading the comments, too. I’m thrilled when the conversation keeps going.

      Yes, those handmade articles, like your quilts, are threads that make memories and help tie families and generations together.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Wool Rag Rugs?

I have a generous selection of gorgeous wool yardage that was given to me a few years ago. I had said I would weave rag rugs with it. But I haven’t. …until now. What took me so long? Uncertainty. I haven’t seen wool rag rugs. What warp should I use? What sett? What problems await? I felt timid about walking into the unknown.

Cutting wool fabric for rag rugs.

Wool fabric has been washed and dried before cutting into strips for rag rug weaving.

Wool strips for a spaced rep rag rug.

Four different wool fabrics have been chosen for this spaced rep rag rug.

Last week I came across a recent Väv magazine. Lo and behold, here is a spaced rep rag rug with wool fabric weft! My loom is already dressed for spaced rep rag rugs. Here I go!

Spaced rep rag rug with wool fabric strips.

After a warp thread header, narrow fabric strips are woven for the hem of the rug. The wool selvedges are surprisingly soft.

Wool weft rag rugs.

Weaving in the morning. A pick of brown 12/6 cotton warp thread follows the pick of wool fabric, except when changing blocks. Weaving consecutive fabric strips changes the blocks.

Ten years ago a kind, elderly gentleman sat next to me on an airplane. He gave me sage advice I never want to forget,

Put your future in the hands of the one who holds the future.

We speak of past, present, and future. But for the Lord, the present has already been. The future has already happened. It’s as if the wool rug that I try to imagine and weave has already been positioned in the foyer of the Father’s house to comfort road-weary feet that enter. Amazing!

May your future be better than you imagine.

All the best,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Julia says:

    Oh YES! A wool rag rug sings of warm toes in winter. Beautiful, beautiful.

  • Beth says:

    Lovely! I’ll bet the wool will be a bit more squishy to the foot than cotton.

  • Nanette says:

    After a similar gift I wove some wool rag rugs years ago, but I used wool warp (commercial New Zealand “rug wool” from R & M) and they seemed much appreciated as gifts. But I spaced the warp (probably 6 epi) and wove them bound weave in twill and plain weave patterns. Now, I have received another such gift and am planning to do the same. (And thanks for the reminder about pre-washing…can’t remember if I did or not!) Really like your blocks, tho….!

  • Karen says:

    I was lucky to take a Shaker rug workshop from Mary Elva Erf many years ago. We wove lovely runners with wool….and the book came out a couple of years ago….love those chevron patterns in the runner……
    This for after the rugs!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, I’m glad to know about this book by Mary Elva Erf — I just ordered a copy! Looks very interesting. Thanks so much for the tip.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Laurie Mrvos says:

    Karen –
    This rug is gorgeous. Those tones are so lovely and calming. Love the texture. I know it will be cherished, wherever it ends up. Beautiful work.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laurie, I am very pleased with how it is turning out so far. The proof is in the putting–how it looks and feels when I put it on the floor. 🙂

      Thank you so much for your kind compliments!
      Karen

  • Kathryn says:

    Hi Karen,

    I just love your blog:)

    This is a beautiful rug.

    This post came at a good time for me. Last year I bought an entire bolt of beautiful wool yardage with the intention of weaving a rag rug. However, I wanted to do something different versus my usual plain weave rag rug.

    As a relatively new weaver I have never done rep weave, nor have I ever heard of spaced rep weave. However, it looks like the perfect weave for rag rugs due to the fact that it compliments both the warp and weft.

    I’m going to give it a try, but can you point me in the direction of a resource where I might be able to find a pattern/draft for warping/weaving using spaced rep? Or, can you share with me the set you used? Also, it looks like you cut your wool rags at around 1″ — is that correct?

    Thanks so much for all the inspiration:)

    Kathryn

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kathryn, It makes me happy that you enjoy what you find here.

      You’re right, spaced rep weave is a great choice for rag rugs because you can design with the warp and enjoy the colors and patterns of the fabric weft.

      For this rug I started with a draft in Favorite Rag Rugs by Tina Ignell, a rug called “A Night in June.” I don’t know if the book is still in print.
      My warp is 12/6 cotton, in three different colors. I changed the design somewhat from the book, but it’s the same general idea.

      I am using a metric 40/10 reed, which is equivalent to a 10-dent reed. 1 end per heddle, 2 ends per dent. So, the sett is 8 ends per cm, or 20 ends per inch. This is woven on 4 shafts with 2 treadles, threaded like rep weave.

      I am cutting the wool strips at 1.5 cm, which is about 5/8″. I normally cut rag rug fabric at 3/4″, but because this is a closer sett I am cutting the strips a little narrower. And for the hem, I am cutting the strips just a little more than 1/4″.

      These are great questions. Thanks for asking! I look forward to hearing how your wool rag rug is coming along!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kathryn says:

    Thanks so much Karen for the thoughtful reply. Recently, I was lucky enough to locate a copy of Tina’s book from a used bookstore here in Oregon. It’s a great source of inspiration!

    Happy weaving:)

    • Karen says:

      Kathryn, I am so happy to know that you have a copy of the book! I know it can be hard to come by. Yay, you have some great projects there you can try.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Marilyn says:

    Karen,
    I discovered your blog today. Someone shared your link in a group that I’m a member of. Thank you for sharing your rug weaving experience, but most of all, thank you for the way you share Jesus.

    In Christ Alone,
    Marilyn

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marilyn, It’s a pleasure to have you along! I’m grateful that I get to share what’s in my heart. Thanks for your encouragement.

      In Christ alone,
      Karen

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Tighter-than-Tight Warp

This Glimåkra Ideal is a super sturdy little loom. I call it the “Baby Loom,” but it’s not a baby in strength. She can handle anything I put on her. The warp is so tight on this rag rug that I have to release the front ratchet and loosen the warp a bit before I can even budge the ratchet on the back beam to release it.

Rag rug reaches the cloth beam.

Spaced rep rag rug reaches the cloth beam.

I like having a super-tight warp for rag rugs. It means I can get firm selvedges. And, I can put the momentum of the hanging beater to its best advantage, thoroughly packing in the weft. Best of all, I know this tight warp gives me a foundation for good strong rugs.

Tight selvedges on this rag rug.

Tight warp makes it possible to keep tight selvedges. At the selvedge, fabric strip is turned twice, and then pulled to snugly wrap around the outer warp ends.

Spaced rep rag rugs. Designing on the loom is fun!

Designing on the loom is fun with the thick (fabric) and thin (warp thread) wefts. I make notes on paper so I can repeat the designs across the length of the rug.

I want my trust in the Lord to be so tight that nothing can move it out of place. To be that certain, that focused. The Lord looks for people who trust him completely. He searches high and low for those whose hearts are completely his. He gives them his strong support—unwavering strength of support. Ratchet up the warp. We can trust the Grand Weaver and his loom.

May your warp be tighter than tight.

Happy weaving,
Karen

4 Comments

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