Eight Bouts Is Enough

A zillion threads—2,064 ends, to be exact. I wound the warp in four bouts. And then, …a sinking feeling! I had wound each bout with exactly half the ends needed. This double weave throw, almost the full weaving width of the loom, needs 1,032 more ends.

Winding a colorful warp.

Winding one bout of the warp.

One warp bout of several.

One bout.

Warp bouts.

Two bouts.

Warp bouts for double weave throw.

Three bouts.

Four warp bouts for double weave throw.

Four bouts. Not enough.

I had counted ends as if there were only one layer. I did all four bouts that way. Yikes! Now I am winding four more identical bouts. I will put the lease sticks through all eight bouts. Somehow. Thoughtful study of the details on my planning sheet would have prevented this major error. But I knew what I was doing, and could remember the important things. Or, so I thought. And I was eager to get started…

Winding a cotton warp.

Winding more warp bouts.

Double weave warp with 2,064 threads!

Eight warp bouts. Ready to begin dressing the loom.

Walk. How we walk through life matters. To walk in a manner pleasing to God we need to know what he wants, and give that our full attention. If I run ahead, eager for the next experience, and neglect to consult the Grand Weaver’s project notes, I’m asking for trouble. The vibrant-colored warp will still get on the loom, but this is called learning the hard way.

May you learn most things the easy way.



  • Annie says:

    Oh, Karen! That is the hard way! Your perseverance is so admirable!

    I can definitely relate to this lesson in life and in weaving. It seems I frequently don’t pay enough attention to the Holy Spirit ‘s direction or pattern directions. One benefit of learning the hard way, though, is same mistakes are rarely made.

    I love all the colors I see. I am looking forward to seeing the work in progress.

    Have a blessed day, Karen.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, Sometimes I wish I could go back a little in time and do it correctly from the start. With weaving, fortunately, if something can’t be undone it usually can be fixed. I don’t want all those threads to fail. I have too much invested in it—time and $.

      I think I can safely say I will never make this mistake again!

      Listening to the Holy Spirit’s directions is one of the most important lessons in life.

      Thanks so much for your input!

  • Barb says:

    Your post is so timely! Something was wrong with my scarf project, it just didn’t look right. Eager to get going, I started weaving. It soon became apparent that the sett was wrong. Off it came & I re-sleyed. I read your post and thought I should read the draft & instructions again before I started weaving. It was an ‘aha’ moment, I was not treadling correctly either.

    Thank you for sharing your insights!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barb, These mistakes can happen so easily when we are eager to get started. They are just as easily avoided if we slow down enough to review our own information. Hopefully, we are learning to not make the same mistake again! We can be an encouragement to each other!

      Happy weaving,

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Quiet Friday: Linen Satin Dräll

This is one of those weaving projects that puts you on top of the world. Everything about it. Linen, ten shafts, five-shaft satin weave, ten treadles, gorgeous Moberg damask shuttle, single-shuttle rhythm, full-body weaving, magical fabric. I did have more than my share of knots in the warp, and a few skipped threads and selvedge loops. But you will see no evidence of those glitches now. All you will see is the natural beauty of linen, with its characteristic unevenness. And the reflective satin dräll weave, with its light-catching trickery.

The warp is Bockens unbleached 16/2 line linen. Two of the towels use 16/1 golden bleached linen for the weft. At my husband’s request, the remaining three towels have 16/2 linen weft, in ecru. The thicker weft helps make these into robust absorbent handtowels. A table square finishes off the set.

Enjoy the process with me as I reminisce over the start-to-finish pleasure of weaving these towels.

Winding a linen warp.

Linen warp chains.

Tying on the linen warp.

Tying up 10 treadles on a countermarch!

Sampling weft colors on a linen warp.

Sunlit linen damask weaving.

Hidden patterns in the 5-shaft satin.

Linen 5-shaft satin dräll!

Beautiful Moberg damask shuttle.

Spliced warp ends.

Linen satin dräll on the loom.

End of the warp is near. So many warp end repairs!

Cutting off! Linen 5-shaft satin dräll.

Just off the loom--linen 5-shaft satin.

Glimakra band loom. Hanging tabs for towels.

Ready to sew handwoven hanging tabs on new linen towels.

Just off the loom--linen 5-shaft satin handtowels.

Handwoven linen towel with handwoven hanging tab.

Handwoven set of linen satin dräll towels. Karen Isenhower

May you find pleasure in what you do.

Happy Weaving,


  • Beth Mullins says:

    Exquisite, Karen!

  • JAN says:

    Nice finishing touch with hand woven hanging tab. Had you ever though of putting another one in the middle of the long edge so the towel can be hung on a hook above the sink?

    • Karen says:

      Hi JAN, I haven’t done that, but it’s a great idea. I would need to figure out how to attach it, since there is not a hem on the side. These tabs would be a little too thick to fold the ends under, but could certainly do that with tabs made with thinner threads. Have you done it?


  • Janet says:

    Beautiful towels and beautifully woven!

  • Betsy says:

    Wonderful towels! And I’m so impressed that your husband knows enough about yarn to recommend 16/2 over 16/1.

    Your little bowl of pegs next to the treadles reminds me of my last project, huck placemats. I could remember the treadling, but not the 18 repeats. So I had a bowl like yours with 18 pegs, and after every repeat I moved one peg to another bowl. And every once in a while I’d crawl around the Julia counting the repeats in case I made a mistake, lol.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, Haha, I may have given the wrong impression about my husband. He specified thicker, less dainty towels, and I chose the appropriate size of linen.

      What a great way to keep track of repeats. I’m going to remember that!

      Happy weaving,

  • Nancy Nordquist says:

    These are absolutely beautiful! Than you for sharing so many photos and details of the process.

  • Joanne Hall says:

    Yes, this weave is magical and so fun to weave. And thank you for the beauticul photos. Did you use your phone to take these photos?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, I feel so “at home” weaving something like this. It is satisfying and rewarding.

      I use my iPhone 7 for all my photos. Steve has a very nice digital SLR camera, but I do best with the simple little iPhone. And it’s always in my pocket or on the table beside me. I take way too many pictures, and then I whittle them down to my very favorites to share here.

      Happy weaving,

  • Barb says:

    Beautiful design, beautifully woven. The joy & pleasure you have in weaving shows in every finished project. Each time you use these towels, you will be reminded of your enjoyment of the process of weaving. Thank you for sharing your talents and inspiring other weavers to find that joy!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barb, Your thoughtful comments mean so much! If I can inspire another weaver to find a little more joy in this wonderful weaving process, that would be fantastic!
      Part of the pleasure of having towels like this in my home is getting to see others enjoy the results, too.

      Thanks so much,

  • Angela says:

    Beautiful and inspirational!

  • Gretchen says:

    Love these Karen!! So simple and classic… and perfect! Beautiful.

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Anticipation Is Looming!

Everything starts on paper and in my mind. And then the action begins! Warps are ready now to dress two more looms. One in linen, and one in cotton. Linen for chair-seat upholstery, and cotton for kitchen towels.

Counting linen warp ends on the warping reel.

Counting thread goes over and under groups of warp ends (in this case, 40 ends) to help me keep track of the number of ends being wound on the warping reel. 8/2 linen, unbleached.

Cotton thread is measured out on the warping reel.

Solid color cotton is wound (measured out) on the warping reel.

These are part of the coordinating textiles I’ve been designing for our Texas hill country home. (See Awaken the Empty Looms)  I am looking forward to the moment these fabrics become visible! The anticipation is electric! I will know the success of my plans when I can see and feel the fabric. Every step, including getting these threads ready for the loom, gives me a preview glimpse of the actual fabric to come.

Two linen warp chains, ready for dressing the loom.

Two warp chains are prepared. This is a striped warp, and the chains will be spread separately, each with its own set of lease sticks.

Three warp chains of 8/2 cotton, ready to dress the loom!

Nothing like big, soft warp chains of 8/2 cotton!

Visible. Actual love is visible. It’s much more than kind thoughts and intentions. It is threads of kind thoughts that become touchable fabric in someone else’s life. Jesus Christ is the love of God made visible, in that God sent His Son so that we could fully live. How appropriate for us to make such a fabric visible for each other.

May you get a glimpse of the fabric to come.



  • Annie Lancaster says:

    Good morning, Karen. I can see that you have been quite busy!. The work you do to make a beautiful Handwoven home for your family is definitely love in action. Generations will treasure your creations.

    I didn’t realize that linen was a good upholstery thread. I have only used cottolin and that has been for towels. I am waiting until I purchase a multi shaft loom before trying linen as I have been told the rigid Heddle loom will not keep enough tension. I rather like the natural colors.

    I hope you have a blessed day, Karen.


    • Karen says:

      Good morning, Annie, Linen is such a pleasure to work with, and the natural colors are so restful. You could use linen for weft on your rigid heddle loom. Many times I’ve done a cotton or cottolin warp and linen weft.

      I don’t actually know if linen makes a good upholstery fabric, but thought I would try it. This is a heavier thread – 8/2 line linen. I have a small piece from a couple years ago that I wove in 8/2 linen and I like the weight of it.

      Your friend,

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Tools Day: Eliminating Warp Knots

You are not going to believe how many knots I came across in this 16/2 linen warp! Too many. As I wound the warp I made the decision to leave most of the knots, and deal with them on the loom. (I did remove knots that were close to the beginning or ending peg on the warping reel.) I lost count, but I’m sure I have spliced the warp on this five-and-a-half-meter project at least a dozen times. (To see more details about how I splice the warp, visit this blog post and video: How To Splice the Warp – Video.)

I do not weave over warp knots. A knot introduces a spot of vulnerability to the fabric. Knots can fray, loosen, or come undone over time, even if the knot is originally imperceptible.

In a couple instances, a knot distorted the tension of the warp end because of catching on a heddle or passing through the reed. For that reason, I now try to eliminate knots in the warp before they reach the heddles.

Tool: Warp Separator

  • Identify the warp end that has a knot, and insert the warp separator between warp ends to isolate the thread.

Warp separator to isolate warp with knot.

  • With a length of repair warp thread, follow the path of the original thread to splice in the new warp end, feeding it through the heddle of the original warp end.

Warp separator to isolate warp end with knot.

  • Bring the repair warp thread through the reed in the same dent as the warp end that has a knot.

Eliminating a warp knot.

  • Attach the repair warp thread near the fell by wrapping it around a flat straight pin.

Splicing a warp end.

  • Remove the warp separator from between the warp ends.

Warp separator for repairing a warp end.

  • Place a weight on the floor below the back beam. Wrap the repair thread around the weight two or three times to hold the thread at tension that matches the rest of the warp. Loosen the wrapped-around thread before advancing the warp, and then re-tighten before resuming weaving.

Splicing warp ends.

  • Weave one to two inches with both the original warp end and the repair warp thread in place.
  • Then, cut the original warp end with the knot (behind the heddles) and let it hang over the back beam.

Cutting a warp knot behind the reed.

  • The original and replacement warp ends overlap in the weaving for about one to two inches.
  • Remove the straight pin when it reaches the breast beam.
  • Re-attach the original warp end when it is long enough to secure in front of the fell line with a flat straight pin.
  • And then, cut and remove the replacement warp thread.
  • Trim all the spliced warp tails after wet finishing.

Spliced warp end to eliminate a knot in the warp.

Warp separator guy, ready to jump in and help!

Warp separator guy, ready to jump in and help!

This warp separator was a gift from The Weavers and Spinners Society of Austin, included in the goodie bag from last summer’s Contemporary Handweavers of Texas Conference. It would not be hard to make a warp separator like this from wood or sturdy cardboard. I have not been able to locate a supplier online.

If you know where to find a warp separator tool, please put a link in the comments.

May you have very few warp knots.

All the best,


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Counting at the Cross

I am winding a lovely all-blue warp on my warping reel. When I pause, as I do regularly to count the ends, it is easy to put the winding on hold. I tuck the pair of warp ends under a section of wound warp at one of the vertical posts of the reel. That holds it, and keeps threads under tension until I’m ready to continue where I left off.

Winding a warp on a warping reel.

Pair of warp ends are held secure while I stop to count another section of ends.

I stop after winding each section. I do the counting at the cross, always counting twice. A long twisted cord (one of my choke ties) marks my place, section by section. The count needs to be an exact match, of course, with the number of ends in the pattern draft.

Counting warp ends as I wind a warp on the warping reel.

Long twisted cord helps keep track of how many ends have been counted.

Cotton warp just beamed.

After the warp is beamed, each section is counted again to prepare for threading the loom.

The Christmas season reminds us that Jesus brought grace to earth. From manger to cross. The grace of the Lord Jesus is perfectly complete. Like a planned warp, there is nothing more to add. All the threads have been counted. And they match the divine plan. Any threads of my own effort would be threads that don’t belong. The grace of forgiveness comes purely as a gift.

May your counted ends match the pattern.

Christmas blessings,


  • Martha says:

    Beautiful blue warp! Love your warping reel, how many yards does it hold?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Martha, This is a Glimakra warping reel, 8′ in diameter. I’m not positive how many yards it will hold, but I’m guessing probably 14-15 yards. So far, my longest warps have been about 10-12 yards. The reel works great, and I really enjoy winding warps on it.


  • D’Anne says:

    What a lovely warp! Can’t wait to see what you’ll do with it!

  • S says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog and appreciate the time you take to write it. I have a question, too: I’ve read where you mention “counting the sections” several times for threading. What do you mean by that? What sections are you counting? Are they sections of the threading draft, and if so, how do I know what a section is on the draft?

    • Karen says:

      Hi S, That is a good clarifying question. Thanks for asking!

      What I mean by “section” is a pre-determined number of warp ends. In the case of this warp, there are regular color changes with a certain number of threads in each color, so I am counting sections of color. Many projects have all one color warp, or colors distributed in various ways. In those cases, I decide how many threads to count at a time–maybe 40, or 50–and that number of warp ends will make a “section” for counting purposes. The number of threads in a “section” doesn’t necessarily relate to the threading draft, except, of course, that the total number of warp ends must match up.

      Happy weaving,

  • S says:

    Thank you! That makes sense and I’m going to incorporate that into my warping process. Cheers!

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