Biggest Challenge of Weaving a Pictorial Tapestry

Lucia grasps Ari’s plump wrist as they bravely inch a step closer to the rabbit hutch. For them, it’s a step of faith. Sugar Pie, the bunny, is wide-eyed at their approach. You’ll see the bunny later in the weaving of this pictorial tapestry.

Detail of a pictorial tapestry in progress.
Lucia’s tiny thumbnail is on top of Ari’s hand. Contrast in skin color is exaggerated to make the two arms distinct from each other.
Color gradation in a new large tapestry.
Five shades of orange/red butterflies are used to make the fabric of Lucia’s orange shirt.

It is a huge challenge to work on one element, like the hands, while not being able to see it in the context of the whole picture. The row-by-row weaving is an act of faith. I peer through the wrong end of the binoculars, and stand on a chair to take pictures. And I’m reassured about the outcome. It’s not blind faith. It’s a series of carefully reasoned and thought-out steps.

Gaining a higher perspective.
Gaining a higher perspective by standing on a chair.

We see only a small slice of life at a time. Where do my day-to-day threads fit in the context of the big picture of a lifetime? Grace is amazing! Grace is unearned good favor. Grace is a final tapestry that makes sense of all the wanderings. Grace is good favor extended by God to all who trust Jesus. So, with God’s grace we walk by faith, with carefully reasoned and thought-out steps. And we extend grace at every opportunity, holding the wrist of our fellow adventurer to walk by faith together.

"Siblings" tapestry.
Siblings tapestry, work in progress.

Grace is amazing.

May your life make a difference.

Grace,
Karen

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All the Looms

The plan to keep every loom dressed is easy when there is only one loom. Now that I have four floor looms, it’s a tough plan to follow. The drawloomcheck. The Glimåkra Standard, dressed in Tuna wool—check. The two smaller looms are threaded, and just need tying on and tying up. So, I’m well on my way! The end of the first warp on the drawloom is in view, however. That means the drawloom will soon be back in the queue. And so it goes.

Winding a warp for rosepath rag rugs. 12/6 cotton. Spring colors.
Winding a warp for rosepath rag rugs. 12/6 cotton. Spring colors.
Warp for cottolin towels.
Warp for cottolin towels is threaded on the little hand-built loom.
Opphämta on the drawloom.
Opphämta on the drawloom. Pattern weft is 6/1 Fårö wool. The right side of the fabric is seen underneath, as it comes around the breast beam.
Threading heddles on the Glimåkra Ideal.
Threading heddles on the Glimåkra Ideal.
Blue and Almond Tuna wool warp.
Blue and Almond Tuna wool warp is tied on in 1″ sections.

I like to stay a step ahead of my looms. I’m ready to wind a new warp as soon as I finish cutting off. It’s the cycle of weaving. But I have trouble staying ahead.

Tying up treadles on the Glimakra countermarch.
Twelve shafts. Twelve upper lamms. Twelve lower lamms. Twelve treadles. This is an amazing system.
Warp is tied on. Ready for rag rugs!
Warp is tied on. Ready to add the leveling string.
Loom is dressed for small wool double weave blanket.
Loom is dressed. Treadle cords are adjusted. Ready for weaving!
End of warp on the drawloom.
End of warp comes near the pattern heddles. This is my first drawloom warp, so I’m waiting to see how far I can weave until I lose a good shed. So far, so good.
My first drawloom warp.
Closing chapter of my first drawloom warp. I’ll keep “turning pages” until the shed disappears.

We have good plans for our lives. But often, it’s tough to follow those plans. Too many things happen at once, and we don’t know how to stay ahead of it all. The thing to remember is that our plans stem from our inner commitments. When we commit our ways to the Lord, trusting him, he leads us through our days. Trust turns plans into achievements. And those are the plans worth pursuing.

May your best plans succeed.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

15 Comments

  • Robin says:

    I love your posts. You are such an inspiration. And it is so evident you went to vavstuga, using the techniques she taught. Going there for the basics class was a little retirement gift to myself last year.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Robin, Going to Vavstuga Basics was one of my best moves. I learned things from Becky Ashenden that I use every day. I’m glad you’ve had the Vavstuga experience, too!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Beth says:

    Robin is right, you are an inspiration! Your work is impeccable and motivating. I have only two looms and can’t seem to get them going at the same time.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, The truth about multiple looms is that you can only weave on one loom at a time.

      Now that all the looms are threaded I may focus on one loom at a time and weave it off. …unless I get distracted by another loom and decide to weave a little on it…

      Thank you for your kind words,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,

    About this time last year I warped up my homemade loom at the top of my skill set in rosepatth, then life got in the way. Last week I started a 6 week class at the Fiberwood studio near by. Chosen pattern is rosepath, to get my skills where they need to be (and girls night out with a friend).

    Such joy to know you have also chosen rosepath to show on your blog.

    God does provide to the ready student.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I’m happy to hear you are interested in rosepath. Rosepath rag rugs are at the top of my list of favorite things to weave. It’s been way too long since I’ve had them on the loom.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Maria says:

    I just finished my first “ throw” . It was 46 wide in the reed. I had a terrible time keeping the edges and the floater broke a few times. Not my best weaving to say the least. How wide do you do your blankets and do you have any tips for weaving wide pieces? I would love to try the Tuna wool- what epi do you use for it?
    Thanks Karen!
    Maria Navarra

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maria, I know what you mean about facing challenges with a wide weave. I don’t use floating selvedges, so I can’t answer to that. I do use a temple. I find the temple helps me get consistent selvedges with wider widths. The weaving width of my biggest loom is 47″, and I have woven nearly that full width. Getting just the right tension on the warp is necessary, so that it’s just tight enough. If it’s a bit too loose, my shuttle wants to fall through.

      Here’s a page from Vavstuga’s website with a “recipe” for a Tuna wool blanket. I would go with that for a first time Tuna wool throw. It makes a terrific throw. http://store.vavstuga.com/product/yarn-borg-woo-tuna.html

      The one I have on the loom right now is double weave, and the sett is pretty dense, so it takes some patience and practice to make the wool open up with a decent shed.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Karen says:

    The last time I got both of my looms warped at the same time I took a photo….so I could prove I did it and so I could remember it….ha. Thank you for your encouragemment and inspiration, including a journey of faith.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, Don’t forget it has taken me about 3 months to finally get all the looms (almost) dressed. Haha. There’s never a chance to get bored around here.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Good morning, Karen. Thank you for the inspiration regarding best laid plans.

    And the inspiration for weaving. I purchased a Megado recently and I am struggling with the follow through and putting it into use. Life does try to side track. However, I need to remember to hang onto the plan and trust in God.

    Hopefully, I will get to the Hill Country one day to visit.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, We would be delighted to have you come for a visit!

      There are many things in life more important than dressing looms. I’m sure those are the things you are attending to.

      I have found that I can make it a practice to go to the drawloom every morning after breakfast, even if for a short time. And, it surprises me how those minutes add up over time and now I’m almost at the end of the warp. I think, How did that happen?

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Liz says:

    I am so blown away with how prolific you are with weaving! It takes me all day to dress my little Schacht! I am inspired watching your work! Thank You!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liz, It’s all one step at a time, little by little, day after day. It adds up. I think you’re doing quite well to dress your loom in a day!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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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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No Hurry at the Little Loom

I hope you haven’t forgotten about this sweet little loom at our Texas hill country home. It is refreshing to be able to start right back up and weave another placemat. This is a breeze, even with two double-bobbin shuttles. Color and weave brings plenty of design play. Over the weekend I was able to squeeze in enough weaving time to finish one more placemat.

Color and weave cotton placemats.

New placemat begins. Two red picks will become the cutting line that separates placemats.

Peaceful setting for unhurried weaving.

Peaceful setting for unhurried weaving.

There is no hurry or urgency with this project. Other events, transitions, and necessities have taken precedence the last few months. It’s nice to have a ready loom that doesn’t hold a deadline. Simple two-treadle plain weave during a transitional season is a welcome respite.

Color and weave cotton placemats on the loom.

Two doubled-weft picks of dark coral make a line of contrast in the color-and-weave cotton placemat.

Faith is trust. It’s the simple framework we long for when life gets complicated. Trusting the Lord is like knowing what to expect when you throw the shuttles, yet still being pleasantly surprised as you see the fabric form in front of you. His grace removes the hurry and the worry. We find his grace through faith. And isn’t that exactly the respite we need?

May you have a break from hurry and worry.

Happy weaving,
Karen

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Weave Beyond Your Momentum

Do you remember that I said the background is less interesting to weave? I take that back! Blending these colors and forming the shapes is no less interesting than weaving the lizard. The green anole is the featured subject, filled with detail and many minute color changes. Weaving that lizard was a skill stretcher! But as I continue, I am weaving details of a different kind. The background is a log, not easily recognizable. It’s like looking at wood grain patterns through a magnifying glass. I’m hopeful everything in the final image will fit together when we see it from a distance.

Four-shaft tapestry. Shading and texture.

Color, shading, and texture work together to make the surface appear uneven. Some areas look as if they are raised, and others, especially the dark places, look like they are indented.

Detail of lizard tapestry.

After about three more warp advancements, the lizard and his green toes will be nowhere to be seen.

Four-shaft tapestry. Glimakra Ideal.

Little by little…

View of the tapestry in the direction it will hang.

Standing on a chair, I get a view of the tapestry in the direction it will hang. This is only one slice of the tapestry image, but it helps me imagine what the finished piece will be like.

Continue. I don’t want to lose momentum just because I finally made it through the hardest part. Keep going, being faithful to what you know to do. Faithful to what you know is true. Don’t be fooled by compelling, convincing, and subtle messages that divert from the truth. Continue walking by faith, trusting the outline, the cartoon, that the Grand Weaver prepared for us. It will all fit together when we see it from heaven’s eternity. That’s real hope.

May you keep your momentum.

In faith,
Karen

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