Quiet Friday: Woven Radiance

The first of my Christmas promise gifts is now complete. This large throw in vivid colors fills the request from my daughter-in-law Marie. How fitting for a mother of three exuberant little boys to wrap up on the couch in her own fabric hug of exuberant color! This colorful cotton double weave throw is Woven Radiance.

Radiance. Large cotton doubleweave throw. Karen Isenhower

Radiance. Large cotton throw with radiant blocks of color. The warp for the next Christmas promise gift is wound and waiting on the warp beam.

Double weave, with eight shafts and eight treadles, and 2,064 ends, is a challenge. But results like this make all the effort worthwhile. My heart sings as I see these brilliant threads intersect to make sensational cloth! I am filled with amazement and gratitude that I’ve been given the opportunity to play with colorful threads on a weaving loom.

I hope you enjoy the process photos in this little slideshow video I created for you.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

26 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    It’s just beautiful, Karen! What an heirloom.

    • Karen says:

      Good morning Beth, Hmm, I wonder if you’ve just stumbled onto the meaning of the word “heir”-“loom”?

      Thanks so much!
      Karen

  • Judy says:

    Lovely. What cottons were used in the warp and weft?

  • Barbara says:

    I like the name you chose. It will bring a radiant smile to everyone who sees it.

  • Barbara Evans says:

    Just stunning, Karen. I love your posts.
    P

  • Leigh Teichman says:

    This is beautiful. What a lovely gift.

  • Cynthia S Bills says:

    Wowza! What a beautiful throw!!!

  • Karen says:

    This is just lovely! And will be a hug from you each time it is used.

  • ellen santana says:

    what is it about a warped loom that elicits such joy? i just walk past it and it makes me happier. you are a genius. i probably won’t live long enough to weave as you do but i keep trying. es

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ellen, I agree, there is something about a warped loom that elicits joy. We weavers just can’t help but be happy next to a loom.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Liberty says:

    Wow!!! Gorgeous!!!! Wish I was on your Christmas list, lol!!!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty, You made me smmile. I’ll be doing good if I finish these three gifts in a year. I better not take on one more. 🙂

      Thanks so much!
      Karen

  • Cindie says:

    What a special gift – it’s incredible

  • Sheryl Beckman says:

    This is just amazing! As a new weaver, this is so inspiring and makes me feel so enthusiastic about weaving. My goal is to make blankets for each of my family members. A few years ago I gave each of my grandchildren soft blankets (NOT hand-woven) for Christmas and they literally call them ‘grammy hugs’, as in, ‘where’s my grammy hug’. It would be so much better if they were handmade! The video was fun to watch-no cello music?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sheryl, I am so happy you feel enthusiastic about weaving! There is so much to enjoy in this field. What a wonderful goal – to make blankets for your loved ones! You can do it!!!

      I think I detect an Instagram follower. Ah yes, I found you on IG… One of my goals is to write all my own background music for my videos…with cello! And then I won’t have to use the canned music. (I did write the music for one of my videos. So that’s a start, but no cello in it…yet.)

      I so appreciate your kind thoughts!
      Karen

  • Wonderful Karen..

    The entire package of textile artist, craftsman and teacher — fluent in electronic communication.

    It was nice to see your interns working on the blanket. Yet, where they wove and you wove were indistinguishable. They learned well.

    Please keep sharing.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, It’s thrilling for me to see my young interns weave on the “real thing.” They enjoyed it, too.

      Your words of encouragement mean so much to me!
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    It’s beautiful, Karen! You do such exquisite work! Looking forward to seeing and touching it.

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Quiet Friday: Lucia Portrait Tapestry

A little here, a little there, and eventually I finish another small tapestry. This little woven portrait of my granddaughter Lucia was a huge challenge. I knew that from the beginning. In fact, I had about three beginnings with this intimidating project. My aim is not to make a masterpiece, but to keep making. And making, and making. Every time I go beyond what I think I can do, I learn more.

This Lucia Portrait Tapestry is best viewed from a distance. Up close, the details seem abrupt and harsh. But when I look at her from across the room, I see the picture of a child’s face.

I trimmed the weft tails on the back, steamed the piece, and made a half Damascus edging. The edging and the weft tails near the sides are stitched down. The hems are turned under and stitched. I plan to mount this on a linen-covered square, and hang the finished piece where it can be easily viewed from a few steps back.

Ending a small frame loom tapestry.

Small tapestry ends with a short hem, warp thread header, and a scrap header. I overestimated how far I could comfortably weave. This is a less-than-optimal distance from the end of the warp for weaving.

Trimming weft tails on the back of the little tapestry.

Most of my tapestry weaving is done in the evenings as part of my winding-down routine. In this session the back of the tapestry gets a haircut.

Finishing a small tapestry. Cute slideshow video.

Straggler weft tails are reigned in with a little sewing thread.

Small tapestry portrait. Slideshow video of the process!

Finished Lucia Portrait Tapestry is 4 1/4″ x 4 7/8″.

Enjoy this slideshow video. The ending is sure to make you smile!

May you keep making.

Love,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    This tapestry is AWESOME, Karen! A forever keepsake, but also a reminder of a special little one who holds a special place in your heart. With all you do and share, you still found time to do this artwork. God bless you, your granddaughter and your family! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Good morning, Joyce, The time comes in snippets, but those snippets add up. Children grow up fast, so it will be nice to have a tapestry snapshot of this young age.

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Well said, Joyce!
    Karen, This is just lovely! Such a special piece. Yes, the ending made me smile.

    • Karen says:

      Good morning, Beth, Thank you for your sweet encouragement. I’m glad you enjoyed the little clip at the end!

      Have a great day!
      Karen

  • Karen Simpson says:

    So sweet! Such a small piece, but the amount of work amazing..I hope you might do maybe a trilogy? As she is growing…beautiful memento for her to keep.
    Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, I like the idea of a trilogy. That gives me another thought – maybe I should start on a small portrait of one of my other six grandchildren…

      Thank you for recognizing the amount of work that went into this small piece.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • This slide show was just what I needed on a dreary rainy morning! Such a lovely small piece. I am so impressed with your color gradation/detail. May I ask what yarns you use for these small weavings? Many thanks! And yes the ending is so sweet!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pamela, I’m happy the slide show had an uplifting effect for you!

      I’m able to get some of the color gradation because I use three strands of Fårö wool. Using three strands enables me to make subtle changes in the color. The sett is 10 epi.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Little Lucia in tapestry is a wonderful moment in time, Karen. You did a fantastic job!

  • Libertyquilts@yahoo.com says:

    Oh Karen, she is so beautiful! You were so brave to take on such a difficult piece!! Love it and her
    Libby

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    Great interpretation of the photo. It looks like she is watching you from every angle!
    And yes, I believe you should do a tapestry of each of the other grandchildren. Otherwise, what will they think?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, Yes, surprisingly, her eyes do follow you across the room. I will give that some serious thought – each of the grandchildren…

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • The precision of decision needed with each color choice when weaving tapestry explains how Penolope was able to ward off suitors while Odysseus was away. What non weaving person would voice an opinion deciding if one or two strands of a pink was needed for the ear lobe’s center, more than once?

    It is a beautiful jewel with Mona Lisa eyes.

    Nannette

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Quiet Friday: Square Dots

It was six weeks ago that I began winding the warp for these towels. The thread for my next Glimåkra Standard project is due to arrive tomorrow. Just like I like it—revolving door weaving. I have no doubt that this set of towels will become family favorites. They are a feast for the eyes, and a tactile delight for the hands. Seeing the color on the reverse side takes my breath away. This whole experience has been the weaving satisfaction that I’ve come to cherish!

"Square Dot" towels. Satin dräll. Karen Isenhower

Square Dot towels. Ten shafts, ten treadles. Two block five-shaft satin dräll. 8/2 cotton warp. Weft is 8/2 cotton and 22/2 cottolin, and 16/2 linen for the white stripes on the red towel.

I did face difficulties near the end of the warp. The shed started deteriorating with some of the shafts, but I was determined to finish off the last towel to its full length. That meant coaxing the low profile shuttle through for a few inches. Consequently, I did have more errant floats to repair than usual. But, isn’t it wonderful that we can fix just about anything in this weaving adventure?

Fixing floats on a towel that was at the end of the warp.

End of warp. What I didn’t see at the loom is that one shaft in particular was not behaving. There were at least eight floats along that one warp end. After repairs and washing and pressing, the errors are barely noticeable.

I made a warp from thread on leftover quills to weave up some hanging tabs on my band loom for three of the towels. And I found a linen piece in my “band stash” that is perfect for the red and white towel.

Enjoy the slideshow that I made for you with details of the process.

May you weave some family favorites.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Oh, these are lovely! Both sides!

  • Karen, these are beautiful! Your color choices are wonderful.

    Does your pattern have a balanced tie-up? I’m ready to try a ten shaft pattern on my ten shaft counterbalance loom, but it would have to be a balanced tie-up in order for me to use the dräll pulleys. Is the pattern readily available? Where would I look?

    I enjoy reading your blog posts.
    Jenny B

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenny, Thank you! Managing color choices is one of the things I enjoy most in my weaving space, so I really appreciate your compliment.

      You can find this draft in The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, p.172 (mine is “Sample 8”).

      Joanne Hall tells me that it is possible to tie up the two block satin with a counterbalance tie-up. The tie-up on countermarch is a little easier than a counterbalance tie-up, but she has seen weavers able to weave this very fast on a counterbalance loom.

      I’ll be interested in hearing if you try it.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

      • I have the book. I’m excited to give this pattern a try. It has so many possibilities. My loom has been empty for over a month due to lack of inspiration and other life problems getting in the way. Hopefully I can get something on Julie in a few days.

        Hopefully you won’t mind if some of mine end up similar to yours. I think it was the colors that attracted me to the weave first, and then seeing the reverse side made me love them even more.

        Thanks for steering me to the pattern.

        Jenny B

        • Karen says:

          Hi Jenny, I would be thrilled to pieces and honored if you chose to weave something similar to mine! Oh I do hope your inspiration at the loom returns quickly, and that some of the weight you carry is lifted.

          The reverse side is amazing!

          In case it helps, here are the colors I used: (All Bockens)

          Warp – 8/2 cotton #471 lt red (it’s coral to me)
          Weft –
          1. 8/2 cotton #557 slate with band of 22/2 cottolin #2003 silver
          2. 8/2 cotton #470 beige with band of 22/2 cottolin #2004 gray
          3. cottolin #2080 red with band of 16/2 linen #0005 golden bleached
          4. cottolin #2017 rust with band of 8/2 cotton #470 beige (This one has the least contrast, and it is also my favorite.)

          Very happy weaving to you,
          Karen

  • Kay Larson says:

    They are just lovely! I look forward to seeing your next project.
    Kay

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kay, It won’t be long before you see my next project! I’m pretty excited about it…as always. 🙂
      Thanks so much for your kind words!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Joanne Hall says:

    That was a great slide show. And yes, the two block satin is such a beautiful weave. And your colors are so nice. Thanks for taking the time to share what you are weaving.
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, I appreciate your thoughtful words. That means so much to me! I’m accumulating a long list of things that I want to do more of, and this two block satin weave is one of them.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Liberty says:

    Oh Karen, I love these, my favorite color! Thanks for the slide show, it’s fun to see your whole process!!

  • Ruth says:

    Such beautiful work AGAIN! You are an inspiration and offer such an open and positive approach to fixing weaving issues. I recently finished an M’s and O’s table cloth with many floats over the last couple of inches of weaving due to a decreasing shed. Like you I was determined to have the whole length of that cloth. I thought I’d fixed all the floats but keep finding them as I use the cloth. Enjoy your new favorites.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, Oh I have floats in cloth that I use, too. They do like to hide when we have that needle out. Haha! But really, it’s a mark of distinction because it proves our fabric is handmade.

      Your kind words are a sweet encouragement to me. Thank you so much!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Angela W says:

    I’m new to weaving and discovered your blog. It has been very helpful. Thank you for all the good information especially your glossary. But what I have found most wonderful are the words of hope and encouragement to trust in our Lord. I really needed that right now. Blessings to you, Karen.

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Harmonized Weaving for the New Year

I have a grand idea for this new year! Put all three looms to work simultaneously to weave a coordinated set of textiles for the Texas hill country house. My Glimåkra Ideal loom and the little hand-built loom are bare and ready. Imagine the action! I’ll take you along as I wind warps, dress looms, and weave the harmonized threads. While I wait for ordered yarn, I am weaving the linen satin dräll towels that remain on the Glimåkra Standard loom. Soon, this loom will be bare and ready, too.

Linen towels in five-shaft satin dräll.

Beginning the third of six linen towels in five-shaft satin dräll. Two picks of red thread mark the cutting line between towels.

Before embarking on a new year of weaving adventures, though, I want to fully stop and count my blessings. And YOU are one of those amazing blessings. Thank you from my heart for being friends who share in this journey with me.

Take a look back with me through 2017!

Grateful for you,
Karen

20 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Great slide show! I so admire your work. Thank you for sharing and inspiring.
    Happy New Year, Karen!

  • JAN says:

    Good morning Karen!

    On this blustery cold day in New England, your presentation of your 2017 weaving projects, in review, was most welcome and inspiring. Currently I weave on a 12 harness Öxabäck.

    One question, what make and model sewing machine do you use?

    Unfortunately my Husqvarna 6030 appears to have seen it’s last days, so would appreciate knowing what modern machine works best for you, especially on heavier wovens, e.g. with use of rags (not necessarily rugs).

    Happy New Year,

    JAN

    • Karen says:

      Hi JAN, You weave on the Cadillac of looms, then, as I’ve been told! Wonderful!

      My sewing machine is my trusty 40-year-old simple Bernina. It does almost everything I need it to do, and I hope it never dies. Someday, I might add some sort of commercial sewing machine that can handle thicker and heavier things. I have sewn relatively thick seams on this machine; however, I must confess that I have also broken many needles in the process. I’ve never had a fancy computerized machine. I’m not sure I would know what to do with it.

      Happy New Year to you,
      Karen

      And bundle up. Brrr…

  • Linda says:

    Thank you for the lovely slide show! Happy New Year!

  • Enjoyed your slide show. It has been fun watching your projects develop this year. Your have a good eye for color.

  • ellen says:

    i am excited to see what comes next. i just bought a towel kit of yours from lunatic fringe. i am going to show my friend how to do this, before we go to vavstuga next fall.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ellen, Wow, so many exciting things on your horizon! Hooray to all of it, especially your upcoming experience at Vavstuga!

      Happy New Year,
      Karen

  • Nanette says:

    Beautiful slide show…and amazing productiveness. Do you have any “New Year’s resolutions” to suggest for those of us who seem to produce so little weaving despite good intentions and three looms? Do you weave all day every day? Do you not have other things you either want or must do? I really appreciate you taking the time to share all this weaving with others!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nanette, You are so sweet! My desire is to weave every day, but there are many days that other responsibilities keep me from the looms. It is rare that I spend more than one or two hours at the loom on any given day. The truth is, there are few things I would rather be doing than weaving.

      One thing that helps me is that I have a “revolving door” mindset with my looms. I don’t want to see my looms empty, so I keep a perpetual schedule of preparing for the next thing. When I have started the actual weaving on a loom, I sit down and plan the next project, and order the yarn. When the loom is empty, I wind the new warp. When I wind a warp, I take it immediately to the loom it is going to dress. And I can’t stop myself from weaving on a newly dressed loom!

      I’ve never had all three looms empty at one time, so my new grand idea of coordinating the three looms may also be my downfall. We shall see…

      Thanks so much for your gracious encouragement!
      Karen

  • Anonymous says:

    Karen, wow have you done a lot this past year, I am so happy that you have included us in your journey. Loved the video!
    Happy New Year my friend,
    Liberty

  • Carolyn Penny says:

    Amazing productivity and variety in your projects. The rotation of your looms and projects sounds like a wise method of coordinating the three. My best wishes in having three coordinating projects on three different looms. I am certain you can do it! — Carolyn Penny

    • Karen says:

      Hi Carolyn, Thanks so much for the vote of confidence! I’m excited about attempting this coordinated effort.

      Have an amazing New Year!
      Karen

  • Alison says:

    Thank you for sharing Karen. So inspiring to see your successes from the past year. I will take a hint from you (from one of your messages above) and try and keep my three looms warped at all times! This year I start a three year weaving course with Liz Calnan (in Australia) and I’m very excited to take my weaving to a much more professional and accomplished standard. I look forward to seeing what you get up to this year.
    Alison

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alison, What a great opportunity you have to take a three-year weaving course! That sounds fantastic. You’ll need to teach me some of the tips and skills that you learn.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    What an amazing variety of items you accomplished this past year! I was already in awe of the quality of your weaving and now I am floored at how much you accomplished in just a few hours a day!

    Thank you so much for sharing. I am looking forward to the new year and your new projects.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I never feel like I’m weaving that much, but when I look back I’m a little surprised myself! I’m not particularly fast, but I’m pretty consistent. It makes me think of a recording of “The Tortoise and the Hare” that my sisters and I listened to when we were girls. I can still hear the deep voice of the tortoise, “I may be slo-o-o-o-w, but I’m su-u-u-u-u-re!” HaHa, that’s me.

      Thanks,
      Karen

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Quiet Friday: My Young Apprentice

Any handweaver who finds willing and able help is indeed fortunate. If you find an apprentice you love to have at your side, that’s even better. I consider myself especially blessed to have such an apprentice—a young lady who frequents my weaving studio and shares my delight in the wonder of turning threads into cloth.

Young apprentice. First time at the loom.

First time at the big loom.

Cotton and linen tubes of thread sorted and arranged by color.

Cotton and linen tubes of thread are all sorted by type and arranged by color. Thanks to my young apprentice.

Juliana assisted on this spaced rep rag rug project from start to finish. She helped me beam the warp and thread the heddles. I wove four of the rugs, and she wove one complete rug herself. It is only fitting for her to help with the cutting off! And, oh, what a joy it is to see freshly woven rugs roll off the cloth beam!

Finishing the rugs is still ahead. When we have them hemmed, I will bring you an update with pictures of our completed treasures.

Five rag rugs rolled up, ready for finishing.

Five rag rugs rolled up. Next step is to tie warp ends and hand-stitch hems.

Enjoy the slideshow video below that shows our process. And enjoy our cutting off celebration as shown in the following detail shots. (Photo credit: Christie Lacy)

Cutting off!

Cutting off!

Cutting off!

Cutting off - A few ends at a time.

Rag rug cutting off!

Untying the warp. Rag rugs just off the loom.

Releasing new rag rugs from the loom.

Taking new rag rugs off the loom.

May you keep your youthful delight.

Thankful,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Julia says:

    What a joy and delight for you BOTH! Juliana is beautiful and a wise one indeed to choose a true master at the loom for her mentor. It is always best, when possible, to learn from the most skilled, talented, and wise teachers.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia, It’s when we teach others that we learn the most. I’m still learning, so it’s great to have someone to share in the process!

      Thanks for your kind and generous thoughts!
      Karen

  • Beth says:

    Juliana is as fortunate to have you as a teacher as you are to have her as an apprentice. She seems very captivated by the process. Looking forward to seeing your next joint effort.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, It is invigorating for me to witness this sweet young lady’s fascination with weaving. Her expressions of delight so often match how I feel about the process.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Marjorie says:

    If I move to Texas, could I be your *old* apprentice??

  • D’Anne says:

    Lucky Juliana to have you for. a teacher!

  • Jane Milner says:

    I am a returning weaver (had a 4 shaft table loom in the ’70’s…and now have a Glimakra Ideal. I’m wondering about storing my cones and tubes of fiber…how do you deal with dust and fading if they are stored on open shelves?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jane, Welcome back to the world of weaving! I’m sure you’ll enjoy getting back in the swing of things.

      My wool and other yarns are stored in a closed closet. The tubes of cotton and linen are on the open shelves, partly because I derive such pleasure having them in full view in my weaving studio, and partly because I like to see at a glance what I have available. The shelves are not in direct sunlight, so I’m not too concerned about fading, at least I haven’t seen that to be a problem. As far as dust goes, I don’t think too much dust settles on them because I’m moving them pretty often. I try not to keep a huge stash. I like to use as much of what I have on the shelves, and then add to that as needed for specific projects. I may not be the best one to ask about dust. It’s something I only see in other people’s houses. 😉

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • What a wonderful opportunity for you both! She can learn the joy of learning and of weaving at the hand of a mentor and you can share your love and knowledge with her thus learning more as well! I agree that teaching others is always the best way to learn more ourselves and the gift of sharing that knowledge is priceless! Bless you both!
    Charlynn

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlynn, I couldn’t agree more. It’s a wonderful opportunity for both of us. This is a win – win arrangement!

      I appreciate your thoughtful words!
      Karen

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