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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Weft Auditions for Square Dots

I found sixteen weft colors to audition. And I am eliminating all but six—one main color for each of four towels, plus two border colors. This is five-shaft satin dräll hand towels with an 8/2 cotton warp. Good weft options on my shelves include 8/2 cotton, 22/2 cottolin, and 16/2 linen in various colors. And this time, we have square dots!

Weft auditions for 5-shaft satin dräll hand towels.

The warp is tied on and the lamms and treadles are tied up. All ten sheds (one for each of ten treadles) are checked and small adjustments made in the treadle tie-ups. Weft auditions commence!

Trying different weft options. Cotton, cottolin, linen.

Similar colors in different fibers. Teal in cotton, cottolin, and linen. Coral warp as weft would be an interesting monochrome option.

There is one qualification. The colors must fit the color palette of our Texas hill country home. A sample piece of thread doesn’t tell me enough; neither does a whole tube of thread. Twisting two colored threads together gives a decent clue, but even that is not enough. When the warp and the weft threads interweave on the loom the true colors are seen. And that’s when I can tell you which colors I will keep.

Weft auditions! Colorful hand towels.

Sample includes sixteen weft colors (two or three rows for some). Four are chosen for the main colors for a set of hand towels. Two extra colors are selected to use for border designs.

Square Dots cotton hand towels in 5-shaft satin dräll.

First towel has Slate 8/2 cotton weft, with an accent of Silver 22/2 cottolin for a border stripe.

Isn’t that the way it goes with truth? Hearing words isn’t enough; even extensive hearing isn’t enough. Paying attention to what you hear is good, but it mustn’t stop there. We need to understand. Hear and understand. The meaning of the words intersect with thoughtful reflection. Truth enters through understanding. And that’s when we can see which threads to keep.

May truth be woven into your life.

With you,
Karen

11 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Love your message, Linda! Thanks for your spiritual insights shared with us.

    Question: What is the white thread that looks almost like a basted thread, across the groups that are tied on for this warp? I can see that you were able to go right into weaving without a heading. Is that a technique or just good warping?
    Thanks for any suggestions you can offer! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joyce, It’s a lifelong journey to hear and understand, isn’t it?

      You are seeing the leveling cord. I use a length of seine twine (12/6 cotton rug warp) to go over and under each tied-on section of threads. The threads must be tied on with half of the bundle going over the tie-on bar and half going under the tie-on bar. The leveling cord is pulled tight, and the ends of the cord are tied through the hole at each end of the tie-on bar. This simple technique flattens out (levels) the warp, and enables weaving from the very start. No scrap weft necessary.

      It’s that simple. 🙂
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

    • Karen says:

      Joyce, I should have pointed you to this post I wrote about the leveling string – Tools Day: Leveling String.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Love the stripe!!

  • Joanne Hall says:

    I like the white. And that red would make a very cheerful towel.
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, The white practically pops off the fabric. It does look good. And the canary red is spectacular on the coral warp, which surprised me. Now I’m tempted to use the red, even though it didn’t make the final four, just because you said so.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    I must say that I like the sample with all the colors! At least for one trowel. I never heard of a leveling string. Perhaps because it wouldn’t work on a Rigid Heddle loom.

    I was so focused on the different colors of square that my brain did not compute the stripes. The comments about listening and understanding definitely apply to someone like me because I tend to get lost in the details. This was a very needed reminder.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I like the multi-colored sample, too! It may end up being a short towel, or something… You may be able to use a leveling string on your rigid heddle loom. I haven’t done that, but it might be worth some experimentation.

      Taking listening to the level of understanding is a constant challenge, and worth the effort it takes.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Colors on Trial

This color and weave is decorated plain weave. I have nine weft colors to put on trial. Which ones will pass the test? The winners will be used to weave colorful placemats for our Texas hill country home.

Nine colors on trial for cotton placemats.

All 8/2 cotton, with a small quill of each color waiting to be sampled. The two end tubes on the left are the same coral and camel as the stripes of the warp.

Eager to begin, I start weaving, despite knowing that evening is approaching. Even with good lighting at the loom, it is hard to judge the colors. I need daylight!

Weaving at dusk fails to show true impact of the colors.

Weaving at dusk does not give me a true indication of how the colors work, even though I have a good light at my loom.

The morning light does not disappoint. I find that the colors that are the most similar to the coral and camel in the warp showcase the color-and-weave pattern. The slate and apple green win, too, because they add welcome color contrast. The abundance of natural light in the room makes it easy to see the impact of each of these colors.

Color-and-weave effects with plain weave and 2 shuttles.

Natural light of the morning gives a true perspective of the colors. Even the subtle differences of weft colors can be seen. Keeping the camel color in one of the two shuttles helps bring out the color-and-weave effects. Which colors win? All nine of them!

We have been given a well-lit path. When we choose to go our own way, with our own artificial light, our perceptions can be off. There is a kingdom of light where Jesus is on the throne. To be one of his subjects is to be in a place where his light reveals true colors. He exchanges our colors with his own to make color-and-weave fabric that is heavenly!

May you be invigorated with color.

Happy weaving,
Karen

3 Comments

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    Good morning, Karen.

    I like your analogy of artificial light guiding our way. I think the artificial light being shown by so many groups has been blinding to so many people. We think we are enlightened because it’s easier than sticking to Heavenly Father’s guide book.

    Being a woman who likes colors and patterns, I think all those colors are winners too.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, It’s easy to fool ourselves, isn’t it?

      I was surprised how well some of the colors work. The red and orange, for example, could clash with the coral warp, but here, those two colors look exceptional!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • […] the placemats I started on my Texas hill country loom in Colors on Trial? The pattern in the fabric looks nice and pretty. But it doesn’t display the striking […]

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Simply Weave Back and Forth

Am I seeing the hint of a ‘cello? No complicated pattern this time, just a relaxed back and forth, meet and separate, with yarn butterflies. The only planned pattern is a curved outline at the start and end of this section, with some simple hatching in between.

Linen tapestry/inlay sampler.

Section seven of the linen tapestry/inlay sampler. Hatching is used to visually blend the two color bundles.

All-linen tapestry/inlay sampler.

Curved line is inked on the warp as an outline to follow for the red and gold section.

The relaxed back-and-forth questions and ponderings that we all have are an indication that we want to know the truth. Search to find answers. The Lord is always calling us to seek him, to search him out, to find out what he’s about. Seeking the Lord means having a heart that wants and yearns to know God and his ways. Having questions is a part of what it means to be human. Peace comes, not in finding all the answers, but in finding the one who holds the answers. He knows what he is weaving.

May you ask good questions.

All the best,
Karen

2 Comments

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Cactus Transparency Preview

Here is a glimpse of the front-side of the transparency weaving. The cactus is beginning to come around the breast beam. I can’t see the cactus clearly yet, but so far, it looks good! I only have a couple inches of cactus left to weave. Soon, the whole picture will be visible!

Beginning of woven transparency around the front beam.

Smooth surface of the woven pattern area is in contrast to the textured density that is seen on the back.

The back of the weaving that faces me as I weave, with all its weft turns, weft splices, and woven-in tails, is an accurate picture of what I am weaving. But it is incomplete. It doesn’t tell the whole story. I get used to this bumpy side sometimes and forget that there is something better on the other side.

Transparency weaving from the back. Prickly pear cactus.

Transparency woven from the back means that all the weft turns are seen on the back. The front side of the weaving will have an appearance that is truer to the clean lines of the picture drawn on the cartoon.

Almost finished woven transparency of prickly pear cactus!

With the end in sight, anticipation of seeing the whole picture from the front grows!

Getting a glimpse of the true cactus picture made me want to see more. Looking for, and eagerly waiting to see the finished front-side of the transparency is like seeking truth. The lines in the design are obscured from the back, so we are compelled to keep going, keep advancing the warp, and actively look for the truth to appear. Love truth. The beginning of the cactus coming into view is a welcome sight that reminds me why I’m at the loom.

May you love what is true.

Welcoming a new grandson into the world!

We welcomed a new grandson into the world a few days ago!

Big brother loving his new baby brother. Awww... so sweet.

Big brother loving his new baby brother. Truth matters because of these precious little guys.

Yours truly,
Karen

18 Comments

  • Joanna says:

    Many congratulations! May he live a long, safe, and faithful life. Babies are miracles made visible, entrusted to our care, and I know this little one will be cherished.

  • Deb says:

    Prayers for your new grandson and his family.de

  • Beth says:

    Congratulations on your new grandson! The cactus is looking amazing!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, New grandchildren are always fun to meet! I’m glad you like the cactus. I am so eager to turn the whole thing over! It won’t be long…

      Karen

  • Bev Romans says:

    Congrats on this precious and beautiful new grandchild, Karen! What a blessing to your whole family!

  • Maria says:

    Congratulations! Grand children are the best!! Can’t wait to see the finished work – your transparency that is!

  • Martha says:

    Lovely new baby and wonderful big brother – Grands are just the best. Enjoy every minute you get to spend with them. Looking forward to seeing the finish transparency

  • D'Anne Craft says:

    Congratulations on the sweet new grand baby, Karen! He’s precious!
    I look forward to seeing your finished cactus soon.

    • Karen says:

      D’Anne, Thank you! There’s nothing like holding a newborn. It’s always surprising how short that newborn stage is. This cactus is just about ready to be cut off!

      Karen

  • Congratulations on he the grandson! Interesting journey with your cactus. What size Glimakra are you weaving on and why?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, Thanks so much!

      This is a 47″ (120cm) Glimakra Standard. I love your question! This is the size Glimakra I like best. I like that it is large enough to get “in” the loom for threading and tying up. This also provides a very comfortable weaving experience for my 5’2″ frame. I sit high on the bench and everything fits me. My 39″ (100cm) Ideal isn’t as easy to dress, and is a little more awkward to find a comfortable position for weaving. The times I have woven on a wider loom I found that my arms just don’t have the “wingspan” to make it a comfortable weaving experience with throwing and catching the shuttle. But overall, I enjoy weaving on any Glimakra.

      I guess I could call this my Goldilocks loom – not too big, not too small, but juuuuust right!

      Karen

  • Emily Lefler :) says:

    Congrats on your new sweet grandbaby!!

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