Weaving through The Big Book

It took me seven years of study, practice, and mistakes to complete this rigorous Swedish weaving curriculum! You have been with me through much of it right here. I’m talking about The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. I made it through the book, sequentially, page by page, warp by warp. 43 warps in all! Remember the blue 12-shaft double-weave blanket I had on the loom in June? That is the final project in the book.

Handwoven double weave blanket. 12 shafts.
Double-weave wool fabric is ready for wet finishing, where it will be transformed into a soft, cozy blanket.

In the short video below, each completed project is presented in order in our Texas hill country home. Watch to the end to see the blue blanket in all its finished glory.

For nitty-gritty details, check out The Big Book of Weaving tab at the top of the page.

I. Secrets to success:

  • mindset of a student
  • determination
  • eyes on the goal
  • no option other than completion

One loom dedicated to the book.


II. Lessons learned:

  • technique
  • processes
  • planning
  • drafting
  • Swedish practices

Any mistake can be remedied.


III. Treasures gained:

  • patience
  • humility
  • endurance
  • focused attention
  • problem solving
  • creative freedom

Confidence.


IV. Prized perspectives:

  • new experiences
  • delight of dressing the loom
  • wonder of cloth-making
  • fresh ideas
  • joy of discovery
  • knowledge and understanding of the loom

Getting lost and absorbed in the whole process of weaving.

V. Favorite project: Old-Fashioned Weaving / Monksbelt (at 4:46 in the video)

Are we determined students of heavenly things? Oh, to know God’s will! Study what’s written, don’t lose heart, eyes on the prize, no option besides completion through Jesus Christ. One life dedicated to know him. Day by day, warp by warp, the Grand Weaver teaches us. We can know God’s will.

May you be a lifelong learner.

Happy Weaving to you,
Karen

36 Comments

  • Susie Redman says:

    Well done. It’s such a great book. I’m picking and choosing from the book – its a great way to learn.

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Your work is so inspiring, Karen. I recall many of these projects, here and in Handwoven. Do you have a personal favorite? One that you’ll perhaps explore even further? Kudos!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, Thank you so much! My personal favorite is the monksbelt piece—the large multicolor runner on the dining room table. And yes, I have monksbelt ideas that I would like to explore. Another one I’d like to play around with and learn more about is the turned rosepath—the long narrow red band. There are so many possibilities!

      Thanks for asking,
      Karen

  • Geri Rickard says:

    What a splendid presentation, Karen! You have accomplished so much, and each one is beautiful! Thanks for sharing, it was fun!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Geri, I’m glad you enjoyed the presentation. It was a lot of fun for me to put together, going back in time remembering all the projects.

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Such a feast for the eyes!

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Wow and Wow! Such an accomplishment! And your lovely home showcases all those projects beautifully. Thanks for making this video and thanks for your encouragement. I’m currently doing the Jane Stafford online guild lessons with a new video lesson and project every five weeks. Sometimes it feels a bit overwhelming but I’m determined to try each one. I’ve already learned so much!
    Thanks again for your encouragement and dedication, both to your weaving and for sharing your weaving and faith with others. It DOES make a big difference to many.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, I know how you feel. Many times I was overwhelmed and even discouraged about completing this mammoth dream. Keep pressing on with your lessons, it WILL be worth it–I promise! And between the hard parts, I really had a lot of fun! So enjoy it, too.

      I really appreciate your encouragement to me. It means more than you know.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Hi, Karen! I remember that you recommended this book to me last July was exploring what loom to purchase for my first multi shaft loom. I ended up purchasing a small table loom, a Louet Erica Loom so decided not to purchase the book since I would not have the capacity to work many of the projects.

    However, I recently purchased a larger loom and now, I believe that I will purchase this book. Thank you for sharing this and tweaking my memory of your recommendation.

    Everything you make is so beautiful! You are a wonderful inspiration to a beginning weaver.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, The Big Book of Weaving has been my tutor. I started with it as a complete beginner. It was written as a curriculum, so it has everything I needed to gain skill and confidence. I hope you find it a great resource for learning.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Karen Simpson says:

    That video is amazing. As I hadn’t found you then, I didn’t know that you were following this book and studying your way through it. What a lovely compilation of work and color. Thank you

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, Only a handful of people knew I was working my way through the book. I have mentioned The Big Book of Weaving here many times, but this is my first time to mention here on the blog that I was going through the book, step by step. I didn’t want too many people to “guess” what project I would do next… 🙂

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Congratulations, Karen! I remember when you started working through The Big Book of Weaving, but I didn’t remember it had been 7 years. What a great learning experience! Did you use all the same yarns as the projects called for?

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, It’s hard to believe it’s been 7 years, isn’t it? For most of the projects I used the yarns that were called for, but in colors of my choosing. I did change a few, though. For instance, two projects call for paper yarn. I didn’t know a good resource for that, so I substituted 8/2 cotton for one, and 16/1 linen for the other. So, for those I have beautiful scarves instead of room screens, which suits me better anyway.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    Karen, I’m speechless. There are no words for my admiration of not only your artistic vision, but also the incredible amount of work clearly visible in the lovely video. Thank you for all the encouragement and advice you’ve given us you worked through the Big Book. MORE happy weaving to you. Joanna

    (My v. Favorite piece of your is also that fantastic monks belt. I think you captured all the lovely colors of the Texas Hill Country. It couldn’t be more perfect.)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, I’m fortunate to have a place where I can talk about things that I learn! Thanks for joining in!
      Every time I look at that monks belt piece, I get warm and fuzzy feelings. It’s so cheerful! I’m happy you like it, too!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • kerimae says:

    You inspire me! As you know! 🙂

  • Carolyn Penny says:

    Truly inspirational. Thank you for your diligence and following the goal.
    What a lesson in perseverance. Warm glow…… -Carolyn Penny

  • Vida Clyne says:

    Congratulations on completing such an amazing and inspirational project. I love all the patterns and the lovely colours. I have not got the book but your lovely video makes me think I will buy it. Thanks for sharing.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Vida, I am very happy to hear your thoughts about my adventure! This is one weaving book I wouldn’t do without. 🙂

      Thank you very much!
      Karen

  • Gail Goodrick says:

    What an inspiration this is! Your work is wonderful. I love your color choices. Love, love love…

  • Sue Blanding-Wilson says:

    So inspiring! I will look at my book with new eyes!

  • Maria Hanson says:

    Wow! I so enjoy following your work, but seeing everything in one video is just amazing! Congratulations on such a major accomplishment!

  • Penelope kept the suitors at bay for 10 years weaving one tapestry. What a remarkable legacy of a textile artist in 7 years!
    AND.. the hand wovens are not kept in a chest to pull out and admire. Basis the hems on the towels, they are being used. Beautiful!!
    Thank you for sharing. PS welcome back from your sabbatical.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Thank you for noticing. Yes, the articles were made to be used, and they are used and enjoyed.

      It’s good to be back.
      Karen

      • Anonymous says:

        One of the sweetest moments was when I saw one of my patched blankets worn to the point of being hand mended. Textiles will age one way or another. It fills my heart knowing the ones that pass through my hands are used daily.

        • Karen says:

          That is sweet to think of your handiwork being used to the point of needing hand mending. I agree that the best handwoven items are the ones being used.

          Karen

  • Cindy Buvala says:

    Wow! I am very impressed! A 10 minute video doesn’t do justice to the hours and hours of weaving work that precedes it. You are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your talent.

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Tools Day: Band Loom Warping Board

It is almost effortless to make a short warp for the band loom. All you need is a peg at the beginning and a peg at the end. You can use a spoke of the warp beam wheel, for instance, at one end, and the leg of an upside-down stool at the other. I normally use my warping reel, though, for even a simple warp, because the reel is so handy. However, I don’t have my warping reel here at the apartment, so I am turning my band loom into a handy warping board for this band loom project.

Using the Glimakra band loom as a warping board.

Using the Glimåkra band loom to measure a narrow cottolin warp.

How to Use the Band Loom as a Warping Board

Tools and supplies:

  • Glimåkra band loom
  • Thread for weaving a narrow band
  • Basket and/or spool holder(s)
  • Scissors

How to use the band loom as a warping board.

Starting at one peg and ending at another. The band loom becomes a simple tool for winding a short warp.

For a warp of approximately two meters:

  • Put the warp thread on the floor below—quills in a basket, and/or thread tubes on spool holders.
  • Using two or more ends, tie the ends together with an overhand knot. (I used three ends together for this warp.)
  • Bring the warp ends up around the warp beam and over the back beam.
  • Loop the knot on the starting peg.
  • Draw the ends from the starting peg to the ending peg, around the band loom, following this path:
  1. Starting peg–upper heddle peg nearest back beam
  2. Lower heddle peg nearest back beam
  3. Back beam
  4. Warp beam
  5. Cloth beam
  6. Front beam
  7. Lower heddle peg nearest front beam
  8. Ending peg–upper heddle peg nearest front beam
  • Follow the winding path in reverse order back to the starting peg.
  • Continue winding until you have reached the desired number of ends.
  • Cut the ends and tie off at the starting peg or the ending peg.
  • Tie one or two choke ties, if needed. (I didn’t need them for this short warp.)
  • Carefully remove the warp and dress the band loom as usual. (For a tutorial on dressing the band loom, click here: Quiet Friday: Band Loom Warping and Weaving.)
  • Weave to your heart’s content.

Weaving hanging tabs for towels on my Glimakra band loom.

One meter of woven band is cut off. The remaining band warp is tied back on. Weaving can resume at any time.

Preparing to sew handwoven ribbons onto handwoven towels for hanging.

Ends secured, and cut in 10.5 cm lengths, the tabs are ready to be sewn onto the double weave towels.

May you find tools you didn’t know you had.

Happy band weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

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Dream Weave and Slow Reveal

This project is a slow reveal. I am showing what I am doing now, but I am waiting to tell what this will become. There is a flurry of preparation behind the scenes. In time, you will see what develops on the loom. You and I both will find out if I am jumping in over my head. Or, if I can, in fact, pull this off.

Warping reel with 16/2 linen for a new warp.

Warping reel with 16/2 line linen for a new warp.

Dressing the Glimakra Ideal loom with linen.

Linen shows itself to be a beautiful mess.

This is a gorgeous linen warp, with three shades of 16/2 linen: sable, northsea blue, and persian blue. I am dressing my Ideal loom to almost full weaving width: 93 centimeters. The sett is 3 ends per centimeter in a 30/10 metric reed (equivalent to 7.6 ends per inch). I am intensely eager and cautiously optimistic regarding this weaving adventure.

Linen. Dressing the loom.

Linen. Sable, northsea blue, and persian blue. Bockens linen comes with color numbers only. It is interesting to see the names given to the colors by different suppliers. These creative color names are from Vävstuga.

Ready to beam this linen warp on my Glimakra Ideal loom.

Pre-sley reed is in the beater. It’s time to grab some warping slats, slide the lease sticks forward, and beam the warp.

Love is like a hidden dream in your heart, awaiting expression. Love goes with you. It is a treasure you get to bestow on others. In some cases, your treasure may be their only hope. The God of love with us weaves the love of God in us, as his faithfulness is revealed over a lifetime. If we could see the end result the Grand Weaver has in mind, most certainly it would make us smile.

May the God of love and the love of God be with you.

Secretly,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Julia says:

    I’ve no doubt whatsoever that you will be completely successful in this endeavor. You’ve shared a few detours in your weaving, but I’ve yet to see a failure.

  • Linda says:

    This is fun for me to watch as I’ve never warped with pure linen.

  • Maggie Ackerman says:

    I’ve worked with a linen warp before on a rag rug and had issu s with fraying and breaking until I wet the warp while weaving. Will you have to wet this warp to weave without fraying? Gorgeous colors. Whatever this becomes will be beautiful.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, Oh yes, I know exactly what you’re talking about. I’ve had to do the same at times, putting a little dampness on the selvedge threads. But I’ve also had quite a few experiences with linen that gave me no problems whatsoever. I hope, hope, hope this one will refrain from fraying. We shall see…

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Betsy Greene says:

    I’m looking forward to following this project. You’re using a very open sett. I have an idea but I will keep it to myself and see if I’m right. I like your use of a multi colored warp. It’s going to add some visual interest and depth to the … whatever. I’m quite sure you are not jumping in over your head. You are a very strong swimmer!
    Betsy

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, I agree, I think the multi colored warp will add visual interest and depth. I may be able to swim this, but I’m still taking a deep breath as I jump in.

      Thanks for your encouraging words!
      Karen

  • Hmmmm..
    Monochromatic ‘starry starry night’ blues going on the warp. A visual surprise. I was expecting the high contrast of the plum blanket as I scrolled down the posting, instead of my go-to color pallet. As always the colors are wonderful (and grown up).
    ~ a yard wide— That width could be used for much. Clothing, drapery, household linens… …. I will have to wait as you share to progress.
    You are going full steam ahead with a new challenge.. Oops CHALLENGE. I am dragging my feet getting back to the new warp on my loom set up for rosepath rag rugs. I will be brave and go forward, after I complete the patched baby blanket with lime green and turquoise turtles. 🙂
    Nannette
    .

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Isn’t this one of the things we like about weaving – the CHALLENGE? Thrill and fright. But there’s no challenge at the loom that can’t be tackled and overcome.

      Rosepath rag rugs?? How fun! I’ll trade you… 😉 naw, just kidding. Go for it. You can do it!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Transferring Warp Ends Takes Courage

There are four pairs of overlapping warp chains, with stripes to line up. I created a mess. A few options to consider: 1. Give up. 2. Weave it as is, destroying the design. 3. Use two sets of lease sticks, and expect problems with threading (2,064 ends). 4. Transfer all ends to a single set of lease sticks, arranging threads in order for each stripe.

Eight warp chains...to correct a huge winding error.

Each of four warp chains were duplicated when I realized I had wound only half the correct number of ends in each chain.

Option 4 seems the riskiest. If I lose the cross while transferring threads, I have an even bigger mess. It’s all or nothing. Go for it! Fortunately, my apprentice, Juliana, arrives in the nick of time to give me a hand.

Transferring color stripes to one set of lease sticks.

Lease cross is tied separately for each color “partial” stripe.

Transferring two warp chains to a single set of lease sticks.

Stripes from the two warp chains are transferred to a single set of lease sticks. Now the stripe colors are at their full correct width.

Preparing to transfer warp ends.

For the four center warp chains, each section of color is separated and tied at the cross. It takes an extra set of hands to transfer them in order to the primary set of lease sticks.

Delicate transfer of warp ends accomplished!

All warp ends are now successfully transferred to a single set of lease sticks. Let the loom dressing begin!

It worked! All the threads are successfully transferred to one pair of lease sticks. What a relief! I can beam the warp knowing that all is well. A beautiful double weave throw is imminent.

Pre-sleying the reed at the loom.

Warp is pre-sleyed at the loom. So far, so good.

Double weave warp ready to beam!

Ready to beam! Looking forward to this dressing and weaving experience.

We all have made a mess of our lives, and we know it. We hear of options to fix things, but one seems the riskiest: Transfer everything to God. But what if I mess that up, too? There’s good news. God transfers us. When we place our trust in Jesus Christ, God transfers us from our messy state to his good order. And the result is a weaving that showcases his workmanship—a beautiful you.

May you take a worthy risk.

With you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Glad this worked! Even more happy that God works messes out for us! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joyce, It is a relief when we see things begin to work out! And what a relief it is to trust our great Lord with the most important things in life.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    I like this thought.

    And so glad the mess worked out. But I knew quitting was never an option for you, Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Annie, You are right. Quitting was a thought that flickered for a moment, but I never really considered it an option. You may know me a little to well. 😉

      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    I know that was frustrating, Karen. Been there, done that, although with a smaller warp. Perseverance pays offf!

    • Karen says:

      D’Anne, That is so true! Perseverance does pay off! I think that is something that has been a part of me since childhood – quiet perseverance. Thanks for making me stop and reflect on that for a moment.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Linda says:

    God does fix our messes in unexpected ways. …. when we ask. And I thought 398 ends of only two colors were a challenge! Perspective and perseverance are helpful tools.

    Thank you for sharing your faith!

    Linda

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, It is crucial for us to have the humility to ask God for help out of our messes. Perspective and perseverance are indispensable!

      Thanks!
      Karen

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Simpler Warp Stripes

Narrow stripes on the warp beam are stunning. But to wind a warp like that means frequently cutting threads and tying knots. Right? …not necessarily! You don’t have to wind a warp with stripes in order to have a striped warp on the loom. I didn’t know that. I thought that tying knots is the price you pay to get warp stripes. Winding this warp was a breeze! The secret? A separate warp chain and set of lease sticks for each color. I combined the threads, keeping them in proper order, as I put them on the back tie-on bar. That part was a little tricky, but will only get easier with practice.

Stripes on the warp beam are so enticing! Linen.

Unbleached and golden bleached linen pair up for this striped warp.

Knowledge. Knowledge gives us freedom to do things in a new way. This is why prayer is effective. Not praying for so-and-so to change, but asking that they may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. And then, God takes it from there. Your prayer may be what it takes to initiate a new outlook on life for someone else. Much like finding a different way to put stripes on the loom.

May you find a new way to simplify.

Happy weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Karen says:

    Beautiful!
    Question: So…2 warps, one color on each set of lease sticks. You held them and spread the correct number of threads for each stripe? Sliding the remainder of the warp over til the next counted out stripe…and kept them on the 2 setts of lease sticks, but ended up with those lease sticks held together and tied on to the back rod together?

    Sounds like a lot of good possibility. Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, Yes, that’s close to what I did. Alice-Ann’s comment below mentions putting dowels the ends of the warp chains. I did that, except I used warping slats because they were handy.

      There is great possibility with this. I am certainly going to explore it more on future projects!

      Thanks for starting a conversation,
      Karen

  • Marcia Cooke says:

    I’ve avoided warp stripes like the plague, although I’ve wound them at Vavstuga. Still can’t wrap my brain around your method, though I’ve done it on the rigid heddle. Must ponder 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Marcia, I’ve done it twice, now, so I think I can do it again with more confidence. I will bring any new insights or procedures here.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Alice-Ann Ferderber says:

    OK, I followed some of that and think I see it the way Karen does. But I think maybe the lease sticks are place in the usual positions, not wound on? Add x amount of one color off the end of the warp chain and slip them on the back bar, get the amount of color #2 from warp chain #2 and slip them off that end of warp and onto the back bar. Correct? I think I might place a dowel in the ends of each chain just to keep them straight instead of having to reach all the way to the lease sticks to get the correct ones. I can see that the stripes would have to be an even number if you don’t want to cut and tie. Very clever, we need a little video!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alice-Ann, I am still figuring out specific procedures for doing this, but your description is pretty close to what I did. I moved all the threads to a separate dowel first, 4 from chain #1, and 4 from chain #2, and so on. After that, I moved them to the tie-on bar. That made it a little easier to deal with separations between beam cords.

      The stripes do need to be even numbers (pass pairs), but the numbers in each warp chain can vary. On the first project, I had narrow stripes between wider stripes. You have to plan the spacing for spreading the warp, but it wasn’t a problem.

      Also, I’d like to attempt putting all the ends on a single set of lease sticks, but I was too chicken to try that this time around.

      A video is a great idea! Perhaps on my next stripes project. 🙂

      Thanks for your input!
      Karen

      • Alice-Ann Ferderber says:

        Thanks Karen. My brain did not want to cope with taking 4 threads off one warp, then 4 off another and at the same time putting them on the back bar. Doing the stripe size choice before putting it all on the back beam might be a bit more work, but makes perfect sense to me! One could even sit at a table with the two (or more) warps being supported. The balancing act was not working in my head. Not on the first try anyway. I would make a mess even with both sets of lease sticks tied to the loom. I am liking this more and more. I can hardly wait for the video!

  • SM says:

    Could you also just wind separate warps and pre-sley them into their stripes? Or am I misunderstanding what’s been said?

    • Karen says:

      Hi SM, Yes, you can wind separate warp chains and pre-sley them into the pre-sley reed in order. That is what I did, putting a stick through the end loops of each warp after it is pre-sleyed. The tricky part comes after that in getting all the end loops onto the tie-on bar. With one warp chain, you can flip the reed over the lease sticks to get all the end loops to pull out. With two sets of lease sticks, I had to do more “hand picking” and there are more sticks and things poking around to have to manage.

      It’s not easy to describe the process in words. I think a video is in order…as soon as I figure it out a little better myself. 😉

      Thanks for joining the conversation,
      Karen

  • SM says:

    Oh! I get it! Sorry about that. For some reason my brain wasn’t registering that you were all talking about the END loops…even though that’s what everyone said. . Yes, now I can see where that would be a factor. Thanks for walking me through this; I would love a video! I just wound a thin-striped warp and it was not fun with all the starting and stopping. Have a great day!

    • Karen says:

      SM, Don’t worry, it’s confusing to begin with.

      I have wound many, many striped warps, and I don’t really mind it that much. But still, this new method will probably be a game changer for me.

      All the best,
      Karen

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