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

9 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

  • 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!!

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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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Tools Day: How to Set a Temple and Video

The temple is one of my favorite tools. I have a collection of them. I happily use a temple for almost everything I weave. And I certainly wouldn’t dream of weaving a rag rug without one!

Temple instructions and video.

Temple in place.

Rag rugs are especially susceptible to draw-in, and a temple helps reduce that by maintaining the proper width of the rug. Draw-in distorts the shape of a rug, contributes to uneven warp tension, and can make selvedge threads break. A temple also aids in getting tight selvedges, and enables the firmest beat possible. (My favorite temples to use, even for rugs, are the wooden ones made by Glimåkra.)

How and why to use a temple for rag rugs.

Spaced rep rag rug, using fabric strips and warp thread for weft.

Temple Tips:

  • Set the temple to the proper width. (The video below shows how I do it.)
  • You can set the temple into the cloth as soon as there is is enough woven for two or three teeth to sink into. Then, move the temple up when you have woven enough to set all the teeth into the cloth.
  • Even with a temple, place adequate weft through the shed. The tool works best in conjunction with careful weaving practices.
  • Watch out for the sharp points! I get pricked when I forget and reach around the selvedge to straighten something out.
  • Make sure the temple is far enough back from the fell line that it won’t scrape the edge of your beater. I have a scar on my beater because it was hitting the temple. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice until the damage was done.
  • Move the temple frequently. For consistency at the selvedges on a rag rug, I move the temple at least every inch.
  • Remove the temple by moving the slider with one hand, while holding the center part down with the other hand. Keep the pin in place and the temple will draw up in the center. Then, disengage the teeth from the cloth on both sides.
Spaced rep rag rugs on the loom. Tutorial for using a temple.

Width in the reed for this rag rug is 90 cm on this 100 cm loom. I keep a supply of temples so that I have what I need for any weaving width.

 

May your tools serve you well.

Happy weaving,
Karen

4 Comments

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Quiet Friday: Painting with Yarn and Animated Images

I have often wished I had the skill of artistic drawing. How wonderful it would be to portray a slice of creation using pencil lines, or pastels, or with watercolors and a paintbrush. Instead, though, I’ve been delighted to find that I can “draw” and “paint” with threads and yarn. By capturing a slice of creation through my iPhone camera lens, the hard part has already been done. All I have to do is translate the photo into a woven image. And what a joy that is!

Here is a glimpse of my process of weaving the Texas hill country Cactus and Bluebonnets transparencies.

(Don’t miss the amazing animated images at the end of this post that my son, Daniel, made of these woven transparency projects!)

Yarn for a woven transparency.

Planning a woven transparency.

Beginning cactus woven transparency.

Weaving a transparency. Cactus.

Weaving a transparency. Cactus.

Weaving a transparency. Cactus.

Weaving a transparency. Cactus.

Weaving a transparency. Cactus.

Cactus woven transparency just off the loom!

Woven transparency cactus. Karen Isenhower

Planning a woven transparency.

Beginning bluebonnets in a woven transparency.

Woven transparency. Bluebonnets

Woven transparency. Bluebonnets

Woven transparency. Bluebonnets

Bluebonnets woven transparency just off the loom!

Woven transparency bluebonnets. Karen Isenhower

Bluebonnets photo morph to woven transparency.

May you find joy in what you’ve been given to do.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

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