Quiet Friday: Favorite Weaving Books

I know how to write music. I am experienced in playing improvisational music on my cello. And I don’t have a problem making up a tune to sing on the spot. But nothing touches the richness of music’s beauty like getting out the Beethoven Sonatas at the piano, or Bach’s Six Suites for the cello, or singing from an old-fashioned hymnal. Likewise, I do know how to write a weaving draft from scratch, but I usually find my starting point in one of my favored weaving books. There are countless designs and dreamy pictures. From simple to extraordinary. Sometimes I follow the instructions precisely. But most often, the improviser in me examines the elements and finds a new version to “play.”

Here are just a few of my favorite weaving books, and a sampling of what they have produced.

Some of my favorite weaving books!

Favored weaving books, in no particular order. Do you see a theme? Yes, I like to weave Swedish patterns from Swedish books on my Swedish Glimåkra looms.

Turned rosepath from "The Big Book of Weaving."

Rosepath band with turned rosepath.
Lundell, Laila, and Elisabeth Windesjö. “The Big Book of Weaving: Handweaving in the Swedish Tradition: Techniques, Patterns, Designs, and Materials.” North Pomfret, VT: Trafalgar Square, 2008.

From "Älskade Trasmattor." Rosepath rag rug.

Rosepath rag rug.
Hallgren, Ann-Kristin, and Monica Hallén. “Älskade Trasmattor: att Väva Som Förr.” Kalmar: Akantus, 2006. (“Beloved Rag Rugs: To Weave As Before”)

Rosepath rag rug. Karen Isenhower

My version of this rosepath rag rug makes itself at home in our Texas hill country getaway.

Rosepath rag rug from "Favorite Rag Rugs," by Tina Ignell.

Rosepath rag rug. My very first rosepath rag rug is positioned in a prominent place in our home where it is seen and stepped on every day. Much to my delight.
Ignell, Tina, and Catherine Zienko. “Favorite Rag Rugs: 45 Inspiring Weave Designs.” North Pomfret, VT: Trafalgar Square Books, 2007.

Rosepath rag rug in "Alla Tiders Trasmattor."

Another rosepath rag rug. No end to rosepath rag rug possibilities, it seems.
Hallgren, Ann-Kristin, and Monica Hallén. “Alla Tiders Trasmattor.” Akantus Edition, 2007. (“All Time Rag Rugs”)

Rosepath rag rug.

Rosepath rag rug uses alternating weft colors in the plain weave sections, adding visual texture.

"Stardust" scarf from "Happy Weaving from Vävmagasinet."

Called “warp-faced combination weave” in the book. I don’t know what else to call it. I wove this scarf when I didn’t know exactly what I was doing yet. If you see any mistakes, just think of them as “design elements.”
Johansson, Lillemor, Charlotta Bosson, Conny Bernhardsson, and Katie Zienko. “Happy Weaving from Vävmagasinet.” Glimåkra: Vävhästen, 2004.

Classic twill towels, from "Simple Weaves," by Björk and Ignell

Cottolin twill towels. I have a small sample piece. All the towels I wove are happily drying hands and dishes in homes of family and friends.
Björk, Birgitta Bengtsson, Tina Ignell, and Bengt Arne Ignell. “Simple Weaves: over 30 Classic Patterns and Fresh New Styles.” North Pomfret, VT: Trafalgar Square, 2012.

Double binding rag rug, from "Swedish Rag Rugs 35 New Designs."

Double binding rag rug. This sweet rug is resting in my Etsy shop, waiting for a new home.
Johansson, Lillemor, Pia Wedderien, Marie Rolander, Conny Bernhardsson, and Katie Zienko. “Swedish Rag Rugs: 35 New Designs.” Glimåkra: Vävhästen, 1995.

May you play as much music as you can find.

…and speaking of Etsy! The original River Stripe Towels and Table Centerpiece Cloth that I wove are now listed in the Warped for Good Etsy Shop. And there may still be one River Stripe Towel Set Pre-Wound Warp Instructional Kit (Workshop in a Box) left! UPDATE: THE KIT HAS BEEN SOLD.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

4 Comments

  • "Blekinges sommarfågel" says:

    You are an inspiration to those who are not able attend weaving courses in Sweden, but successfully forge ahead experimenting guided by the skillfully written and illustrated Swedish weaving texts, using high quality, oftentimes fine gauge imported yarn of natural materials. Keep weaving and inspiring others with your blog!

    • Karen says:

      “Blekinges sommarfågel,” The skillfully written and illustrated Swedish weaving texts open up a world of possibilities. I love to take a stack of the books and thumb through the pages, just to dream of what I might weave someday.

      Thank you for sending such encouraging words!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • kim says:

    I’ve lately been thinking about weaving as I think about cooking, and weaving book as I think about cook books.

    While we are learning, we start with something we see in a book or magazine (a recipe) and maybe weave that as it is, or make some small change like color (ingredients.) Maybe we are brave enough to tweak the “recipe” and use a different fiber, or a thicker one or thinner one. Then, once we have the basics down (boiling eggs, steaming rice, mashing potatoes) we can build on that knowledge and compose our own recipes (pattern combinations.)

    Books are inspiration. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for YOUR endless inspiration.

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Now This Year

New year 2017 is beginning! It’s time again to take account of where we stand in our life’s dreams and goals. What can we check off the list? And, what is still in progress? And, maybe there’s something new to add. But first, let me count my blessings. I’m filled with gratitude, thankful for you! What a JOY it is to have friends like you to walk through this weaving journey with me.

Here’s what you’ll find on my looms right now:

Striped cottolin warp for towels.

Glimåkra Ideal loom: Striped warp for the sample kit is all set! Winding quills is next. Then, weaving! If all goes well, a few pre-warped plattväv towel kits will show up in my Etsy shop.

Transparency with linen warp and background weft. Cotton chenille weft inlay.

Glimåkra Standard loom: Weaving a transparency. 16/2 linen warp and background weft. The weft pattern inlay is cotton chenille.

Practice piece on little Hokett loom.

Hokett loom has the start of a simple stripes tapestry practice piece. 12/6 cotton warp, 6/1 Fåro wool weft.

Thank you for joining me through 2016!

May you have joy in the journey.

Happy Weaving New Year,
Karen

22 Comments

  • Beth says:

    I love the “Year in Review” and see so many favorites. Your work is simply beautiful and inspiring. You are brimming with talent!

    Happy New Year, Karen!

  • Jennifer says:

    A lovely and inspiring post! I enjoyed the video of your weaving year.

  • Truly Blessed, thanks for all you share.

  • Loyanne says:

    Thanks for sharing. Seeing the Faro piece bring to mind a question. I am working on a Whig Rose scarf. Trying to weave according to tradition and the warp is 8/2, weft is Faro and 16/2 for tabby. Just wondered if you had used cotton and wool and how you wet fingers she’d it ? Thanks

    • Karen says:

      Hi Loyanne, I’m sure your scarf is beautiful! The monksbelt does use 16/2 cotton for tabby, and Faro wool for pattern weft. I’m not sure of your question… I have a feeling that spellcheck gremlins took over. Could you try asking again?

      Karen

      • Loyanne says:

        Boy did the gremlins take over. I wondered how you wet finish a piece out of cotton and wool?
        Thanks.

        • Karen says:

          Ok, now that question makes sense. 🙂 That’s a great question! I did not wet finish my piece because I am going to use it for a hanging, so I wanted it to soften up or get distorted through washing. I did steam press it, though, which helped to tighten everything up and straighten it out.

          I think if I were going to wet finish this cotton and wool combination I would gently hand wash in cool water with mild soap, like Eucalan, with as little agitation as possible. And then hang or lay flat to dry. If I had a sample piece, I would try washing that first, before submerging the main article.

          I wish I could give you a better answer…

          Thanks for asking,
          Karen

  • Fran says:

    A year of accomplishing lots! You do black and white especially well. I enjoy your posts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Fran, The black and white was a new experience for me. It was a surprise to me to find out how much I enjoyed working with it! Thanks for stopping by!

      Happy New Year,
      Karen

  • Cindy says:

    I just joined in on your posts! It’s part of my goals for 2017 to surround myself with others who love weaving, and to be inspired and motivated to continue learning from them. Thanks for having this blog!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, A big welcome to you! I do love weaving, and you will find many who comment here are the same way. I love it that we can all learn from each other.

      Happy weaving new year!
      Karen

  • Lynette says:

    Hi Karen,
    I enjoyed seeing your transparency, because I have used the same 16/2 linen to weave pictorial transparencies for the last 10 years or so. Is your sett 12 epi? How many selvedge warps are doubled on each side? I have never tried using chenille for the inlay, but this gives me a new idea to try!
    Happy New Year, and God bless you and your family!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, I’m excited to hear that you weave pictorial transparencies! This is my first attempt, and I’m enjoying it very much. I would love to see some of your work. Can you send me pictures?

      I am using a metric 50/10 reed, which is just a little more dense than 12 epi, but pretty close. I doubled 4 selvedge warps on each side, as instructed in The Big Book of Weaving.

      Happy weaving new year!
      Karen

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Hi Karen, Happy New Year! Thank you so much for all the work you do for us, your posts are always beautiful and informative. I have been sick for a bit but I can’t wait to get back to my loom soon.
    Happy weaving,
    Liberty

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty, It’s no fun to be under the weather. I hope you’re all better very soon!

      I always appreciate your sweet encouragement.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Tom Z says:

    The year in review is so Inspiring Karen!

    Sometimes we don’t look back to view where we’ve come from. We just keep plowing forward. The past gives us a much needed perspective on where we’re going. Your video reminded me of that simple face. And the music was perfect for that reflection.

    Thank you Karen. Keep up the ‘good’ work.
    Happy weaving new year!
    Tom Z in IL

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tom,
      I completely agree! Perspective can make a world of difference.
      I appreciate your thoughtful words so much!

      Happy weaving new year to you!
      Karen

  • Pat McNew says:

    I love your web page. I look forward to each one. I have learned a lot from you even tho I have been weaving for about 12 years.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pat, This is such a sweet thing for you to say! It’s my goal to be a help to others, so I’m thrilled to hear you’ve learned some things here.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to spread a little kindness. 🙂
      Karen

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Two Long Alpaca Scarves

The end is near. I can see the end of the pre-measured tape. These two long scarves could be named “too long” scarves. The repeating pattern of this eight-shaft twill is very…repetitive. And the color is very…monotone. Soft and warm, they will certainly be beautiful scarves…eventually. Can you tell I am ready to be finished?

Soft and cozy handwoven long alpaca scarves.

Soft 3-ply alpaca yarn is used for the warp and the weft. The end is in sight!

I don’t always have patience. I want things to hurry up; I want to be finished now. And I don’t want trouble along the way. Obstacles make me lose my patience; and my attitude becomes unattractive. As much as I try to stay positive, the negative thoughts can get the best of me. When we’re at our worst we need kindness the most. Kindness changes us. Kindness reminds us to look at what is being woven.

Woven fabric at the cloth beam. Warping slats between the scarves keeps the unwoven yarn (for fringe) from slipping off the cloth layers at the sides.

Woven fabric forms layers around the cloth beam. Warping slats are added at the cloth beam between the scarves to keep the unwoven yarn (for fringe) from slipping off the cloth layers at the sides.

We all need and desire kindness, even when we don’t deserve it. Grace is pure kindness toward the unworthy. God gives great grace. He takes an unworthy subject like me and pours on kindness. In that grace I find the patience I need for today. Oh, how lovely that scarf will be!

May you give and receive generous amounts of kindness.

Giving thanks,
Karen

15 Comments

  • These scarves are beautiful. Your selvages are impressive. I can almost feel the softness of these alpaca scarves. Lovely, lovely work. I’m curious to know how you do these hem stitching. I need to go back and look through your tutorials. I’m not a new weaver but an inexperienced one for sure and I’m very much enjoying your blog.

    • Karen says:

      Good morning, Cate, It’s a pleasure to meet you. The alpaca yarn is great to work with, and it seems like it just falls into place at the selvedges. I have not done hem stitching on these scarves because I am going to tie a lattice fringe, and I didn’t want a hem-stitched border. When I take these off the loom I will need to be very, very careful to keep from disturbing the wefts at the ends of the scarves.

      I do have a tutorial on hem stitching at this link: Bold Hemstitching.

      Happy Thanksgiving,
      Karen

  • Fran says:

    Very ice they will be, but i know what you mean about repetition .

    • Karen says:

      Hi Fran, Its good to have someone who understands. The repetition does eventually come to an end. I finished the second scarf last night. Now, I’m playing with other yarns until I get to the end of the warp.

      Karen

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Beautiful Karen! I love that pattern.
    Santa is coming early for me this year (tomorrow) my sweet husband got me a 8 shaft Baby Wolf! I’m so excited! Can’t wait to get going on it and try some new patterns!
    Liberty

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty, I’m excited for you! You are entering some new adventures. I’m sure you’re already planning your first projects!

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Louise says:

    Interested in the packing on the cloth beam….if you were not having fringe on the scarves and were weaving the entire warp, would you pack the cloth beam?

    On a different topic…
    Sumac
    Have you used this technique (there are many different sumac designs) as an edge on any scarf, blanket, etc.?

    • Karen says:

      Louise, I do put warping slats on the cloth beam for the first turn of fabric around the beam. After that, if I didn’t have the unwoven warp, I would not have added more slats.

      I am not familiar with sumac being used in this way- as an edge on fabric. I only have a very small acquaintance with sumac as a tapestry technique, but I don’t know it well enough to use it very often. If you have more information about this topic, I’d love to see some resources to learn more.

      Thanks,
      Karen

      • Louise Yale says:

        First – I misspelled it. The correct spelling is
        soumak
        Have also used this technique in tapestry many decades ago.

        The book I am using as a reference for the various stitches is
        Jean Wilson’s Soumak Workbook
        Van Nostrand Reinhold Publishing, NY were the original publishers.

        Apparently the title was purchased by Interweave Press, 1982.

        I am in the process of putting a narrow cotton scarf warp on the loom and doing Soumak in place of hemstitching. Will report later.

  • I shared your post to my FB page and said “One of my favorite blogs that I follow. Karen is a jewel that sparkles even on a dark cold winter day <3 "

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Wavy Twill Rythym

I’m happy when I find my weaving rhythm, and I’m almost there with this scarf. This alpaca yarn is a weaver’s dream. No warp ends are breaking, and the weft compliantly scoots into place. That means I can put most of my attention on other details.

All those "oops" as I learn the treadling at the beginning of the warp.

Getting the kinks out at the start of the warp. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8; 1-3-5-7; 2-4-6-8. I always plan enough warp to be able to practice first. I have plenty of “oops” in the first few inches.

This wavy 8-shaft twill has straight twill threading, which means the pattern is in the treadling. It’s not difficult treadling…once you get the hang of it. But, as usual, it takes practice. It is tricky to find and correct errors because of the subtle curve in the pattern. The more practice I get, the smoother the weaving goes, and the fewer errors I make. There is no shortcut to the kind of confidence that comes from attentive practice.

Alpaca scarf, weaving in the afternoon sun.

Weaving in the afternoon sun. Whimsically weaving a bit of sunlight into the cloth.

Alpaca scarf on the loom. 8-shaft wavy twill.

When weaving rhythm takes off, quality improves, as does weaving enjoyment.

Did you know you are gifted? There are skills and insights that come easier for you than for other people. The gifts that God put in you, that are in your DNA, set you apart. Practice them to gain confidence. Put your attention on using your gifts. You may be surprised how much your gifts bless others. Finding your rhythm is worth the effort it takes. (And, on the subject of DNA, here’s an interesting perspective from Sarah H. Jackson, Textile Artist.)

May you unwrap your gifts.

With you,
Karen

17 Comments

  • Julia says:

    Oooo! Undulating twill. When I was a relatively new weaver, I was delighted to learn I could weave something so complex looking on my four harness loom. Yours is gorgeous and the alpaca yarn must feel so soft and delicious. I love the gentle color of your yarn.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia, Yes, this alpaca yarn is amazingly soft; and the natural alpaca color is so soothing to work with. And the undulating twill never gets old. It’s a very satisfying project.

      Karen

  • Lynette says:

    Karen, I enjoy so much reading your posts. It helps me in my weaving skills and gives me neat ideas to try. It also is encouraging to me in my walk with God. I recently got an older Glimakra standard loom I’m having fun getting acquainted with. What is the easiest way to move the beater back (and then forward again) on the notches? Do you use both hands, and put one under he beater and one on the upper cross bar to hoist it back? Mine weaves 52″ so is a rather heavy beater. I don’t want to have to get up to do it, because that is why I’m moving it – to avoid having to get up as often to release the ratchet. Just wondering how to do it with the least amount of body strain.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, It makes me so happy that you find value in what you read here.

      On my smaller Ideal loom, I can “pick up” the beater at the upper crossbar with both hands and move it back or forward a notch. Not so on the Standard. Mine is 47″, and it’s heavy for me, so I move one side at a time. I put one hand under the beater, with my elbow on the breast beam for support. The other hand is on the upper cross bar. I mostly use the front two notches. To move it to the third notch is a bit of a strain for me, so I usually avoid that.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Laura Rider says:

    Hi Karen, Looking forward to seeing the Alpaca scarf when finished…too bad we won’t be able to feel it…soft and cuddly, I’m sure, not to mention beautiful. I’m really curious about the breast beam on the loom, can you tell us about it.
    Happy weaving and thank you,
    Laura

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laura, I sure wish you could come over here and feel this soft and cuddly alpaca!

      The breast beam has an aluminum guard on it. What you see at the front of the breast beam is the fabric protector, aka “belly board.” It is a thin piece of wood that slips in at sides of the front of the breast beam, and protects the fabric from abrasion as it rounds the breast beam. As the weaver, I can lean right onto the breast beam without rubbing the fabric.

      Karen

  • Nanette says:

    Would you explain how you are using the tape/ribbon as a measuring device? I REALLY need to improve my system! Enjoying your posts very much. Nanette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nanette, Thanks for asking.

      I use twill tape, but grosgrain ribbon works, too. I mark the beginning and end measurement of the project onto the tape with a fine tip Sharpie. If there are hems, I include markings for that, too. I like to write the total # of inches or cm on the tape so I can reuse it without measuring it. I mark a line on the tape at the midway point, and if it’s a long project, I mark the 1/4 and 3/4 points on the tape. When you have an inch or two woven, line up the starting line and pin the tape to the woven fabric using two straight pins. Leapfrog the pins as you advance the warp.

      I hope that makes sense.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

      • Nanette says:

        Very professional! If I can find some tape on hand I will use this idea for the baby blanket I just started. You are very kind to answer all the questions people ask of you–and still get so much done! Nanette

  • Margaret says:

    New reader of your blog here, thanks for your interesting projects! Are you willing to share your draft for this turned undulating twill? I fiddled around on the weaving software and couldn’t quite get mine to look like yours. Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Margaret, Welcome! It’s great to have you.

      Many of my drafts start from ideas in Swedish weaving books, and I write the draft out with pencil and graph paper. This one came from “The Big Book of Weaving,” by Laila Lundell. I don’t have the book in front of me right now, so I’m sorry I can’t tell you the page number. The project in the book has “Wavy Twill” in the title.

      Thanks for your interest,
      Karen

  • Missie Hills says:

    Yes! I’m always telling people that everyone has a gift. You just have to find it. Then when you do, you should respect it by putting in the hours to develop it into something great.

    • Karen says:

      Missie, Good point. It does take hours and hours to develop a gift. Sometimes we think if we are gifted at something we shouldn’t have to work at it. But success comes when effort and time are invested in the gift.

      Karen

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Autumn Alpaca

Autumn is the perfect time of year to plan alpaca scarves. This three-ply alpaca yarn is dreamy. The thing I love about winding a warp like this is the feel of the soft yarn as it goes through my fingers. This warp is going on the big loom for an eight-shaft wavy twill.

Winding a warp of alpaca yarn for scarves.

Counting cord is used to keep track of the number of ends that are wound onto the warping reel. This warp was counted 40 ends at a time.

The first pass around the warping reel must be correct, which is why I measure the distance first with a guide string. After the first pass, I simply follow the correct path around until all 136 alpaca ends have been included. I am already starting to dream about the eventual soft and cozy scarves.

100% alpaca in a 3-ply yarn, preparing warp for weaving scarves.

100% alpaca in a 3-ply yarn.

Alpaca warp chain.

Following the path of the guide string is like having faith to follow Christ. Faith grows in good soil. And there is no better soil than Christ himself. I don’t yet see the scarves, but it’s not hard for me to imagine what they will be like. I have touched the yarn, and the completed warp chain is a sweet preview. When we see what Christ has completed, faith takes root and gives us reason to trust him for everything else.

May your roots grow down into good soil.

The Three Rosepath Rag Rugs For Now have been hemmed and are listed in my Etsy shop. Take a look!

Yours,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Missie says:

    I hope to see your alpaca scarves in your Etsy shop!

  • Olivia Stewart says:

    Like you, I have some alpaca waiting to be used. But as a new weaver, I have hesitated. Could you share what your plans are for the sett and also the weft? The alpaca is so beautiful, I want to be sure I use it correctly. Thank you for the help.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Olivia, Alpaca is such a lovely fiber, it makes sense to hesitate and do your research before putting it on the loom. One thing that will make a difference for the sett is the size of the yarn. The weave structure also makes a difference.

      The yarn I am using here is Yarn & Soul Superfine 400 from WEBS, a 3-ply, about 1814 yd/lb. I am using a sett of about 16 epi (2 ends per dent in an 8-dent reed), 16 ppi. (same yarn for weft) structure – Twill

      Here are alpaca yarns in other weights I have used, and the setts for those:
      Berroco Ultra Alpaca 50% Alpaca, 50% Wool from Yarn Barn KS, about 983 yd/lb. Sett 10 epi, 10 ppi (same yarn for weft) structure – Goose-eye twill
      Knit One Crochet Too Cria Lace 65% Fine Alpaca, 35% Tencel from WEBS, about 2504 yd/lb. Sett 15 epi, 15 ppi (same yarn for weft) – plain weave and lace weave

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

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