Tapestry Portrait Progress

Once I get going, it’s not easy to put this Lucia tapestry portrait down. Each new row is another chance to turn it over and see how she’s coming along. A long car drive gives me a good stretch of weaving time. While Steve drives, I weave on my small tapestry frame. As a result, I am making considerable progress on Lucia this week.

Detailed cartoon gives direction for color blending and color changes. Magnets along the side of the frame loom hold the tapestry needle that I use for the weaving.

I am trying to withhold judgment until it is finished. And a close-up view shows details of the yarn, but doesn’t give a good perspective of the portrait overall. I am learning quite a bit through this process, un-weaving when necessary, and moving forward ever so slowly.

Small tapestry portrait in progress.

Lucia portrait. Three strands of Fårö wool for weft gives good options for color blending.

Beloved. Lucia is one of my beloved granddaughters. No matter what details happen in her life, she has my affection. Your beloved is someone you care for deeply, earnestly desiring their highest good. Spouse, children, friends, blog readers…those you choose to give yourself to. You want them to “be loved,” not only by you but by the Master tapestry weaver. To know the Grand Weaver’s love is to know you are loved in detail. It includes forgiveness, which looks a lot like un-weaving. He knows exactly how to weave the portrait of you, his beloved.

May you be loved.

Love,
Karen

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Wild Linen Rya

Rya knots and loops of threads look chaotic at first. These linen rya knots will never be tame, but that’s to be expected. Linen butterflies have created a swath of wild rya “flowers” planted in a smooth linen “lawn.”

Making rya knots with a bundle of linen threads.

Continuous weft bundle forms loops between rya knots.

Linen rya knots.

Loops are clipped. Green butterfly is for the background plain weave weft.

Each section of rya starts with a butterfly made of several strands of linen in assorted weights and colors. I tie each rya knot on a pair of warp ends, leaving a loop between knots. There are two to three passes of plain weave between each row of knots. When I finish a butterfly, I go back and clip all the loops. After the loops are cut, I trim the tops of the threads to even out the rya “flower garden.”

Linen rya knots on a linen weft-faced background.

Tops of the rya threads are trimmed. I intentionally leave a few shorter and longer threads, for interest.

Linen rya knots on a weft-faced linen background. Tapestry/inlay sampler.

Linen rya knots on a weft-faced linen background. Wild linen “flowers” growing out of a smooth linen “lawn.”

When things around us look a mess and don’t make sense, full of knots and loops, there is one thing we must do. Keep holding on to faith. Fight to keep your faith strong. Faith in Christ Jesus will carry you through uncertainty and will reveal the first ray of hope. The loops will be clipped, the threads will be trimmed. A garden of color will emerge. Faith waits for that.

May your faith be strong.

All the best,
Karen

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Quiet Friday: Handwoven Handbags

Is there such a thing as too many handbags, pocketbooks, tote bags, and purses? Of course not. Naturally, my favorite handbags are made from handwoven fabric. Linings made from remnants, handwoven bands used for shoulder straps, hidden zippers, and, of course pockets–these are the details that other people will seldom notice. Yet these are the details that make me smile every time I use one of these bags.

Handwoven handbags - with 1 minute video.

Nineteen handwoven handbags. Various sizes, fibers, styles, and purposes. And colors. Lots of colors!

…You know that box of handwoven bits and pieces? Those weavings from the end of the warp, and the “scraps” from various projects? Hmm… looks like I might need to make another handbag or two.

Here is my collection of handwoven handbags, divided into a few categories. Plus, a short video just for the fun of it!

Rigid Heddle Loom

Handbags from fabric woven on a rigid heddle loom.

Wool, novelty chenille yarn, crochet cotton, and narrow fabric strips are used for weft in these bags. Buttons are from my grandma’s button jar. The small rag-weave pocketbook has a permanent home in my daily handbag. The fabric for these bags was woven on my Beka 32″ rigid heddle loom.

Handwoven fabric for handbags from the rigid heddle loom.

Linings are from remnants of other sewing projects. Bag handles were woven on my inkle loom.

Travel Finds

Handwoven handbags from international travels.

Trips to The Philippines yielded interesting woven goods by artisans there. The green stripe tote bag is woven from native plant material, and the teal and burgundy purse is a beautiful example of ikat weaving. The colorful weft-faced woven shoulder bag and the purple bag with lovely weft-float patterning came from travel to Chile.

Project Carriers

Handwoven project bags.

Large tote bag, woven with 1/4″ fabric strips for weft, carries my “show and tell” when I go to my weaving study group. It’s known as the “Mary Poppins Bag.” Rag-rug bag in the center has straps, woven on the band loom, that were woven into the bag. This bag carries my portable tapestry weaving. The rag rug bag on the right carries my one-and-only crochet project.

Special Use

Handwoven handbags.

Linen bag has beads woven into the fabric. It is lined with satin. Rag-weave purse is simply a flat piece folded in half, with lining and pockets added to the inside. The blue bag is wool, woven in a weft-cord technique. The fabric was partially fulled to produce the ribbed texture.

Handwoven lining in a handwoven purse.

Lining for this bag is made from extra fabric after weaving cotton/linen fabric for cushions, and the pocket is a remnant from a two-block twill tencel scarf.

Daily Use Favorites

Favorite handwoven handbags! Karen Isenhower

Representing some of my “firsts.” The brown and blue small shoulder bag is from one of my first cottolin towel projects. This is what I did when the last piece was too short to use for a towel. The green and turquoise clutch has remnants of my first ever handwoven towel, my first rosepath rag rug, and my first big rep weave project! The blue shoulder bag is the bag I use every day. It’s a remnant from the baby wrap I wove for my daughter’s first baby. It’s lined with a remnant from an Easter dress I made for her when she was a little girl.

May you carry your handiwork with you.

Happy weaving,
Karen

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  • Mary Kay Stahley says:

    I would love to know where to get patterns to make a bag. Have yardage and really want to turn it into a purse

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mary Kay, I have found a few good commercial patterns for an assortment of bags.

      I used McCall’s 3894 to make the large tote bag. (I did break several sewing machine needles when sewing the very thick corners.)
      And I used Simplicity 2201 for the green and teal clutch. Other patterns that I have not used yet are Simplicity 9949 and Simplicity 2274. All of the patterns have multiples sizes and shapes of bags. There are probably some more good patterns out there now. I’ve had these for several years. I enjoy browsing the pattern books at the fabric store.

      For some of the bags, I folded and played with the fabric to make up a simple design.

      For the shoulder bag that I currently use all the time, made from the baby wrap remnant, I purchased a bag at the store that I thought would work well with handwoven fabric. I took it home and ripped out all the seams to deconstruct it. Then I had the basic shapes, which I reconfigured to exactly what I wanted. I made a practice bag first out of denim before using the handwoven cloth to make the final bag.

      I hope that gives you some ideas!
      Karen

  • D'Anne Craft says:

    It was so much fun to see all your beautiful bags, Karen! Nineteen is certainly not enough!! Hope you keep making more and sharing them with us. You have a wonderful sense of color!

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Hi, Karen,
    You had the icon to share to Facebook, so I shared this post with my Rigid Heddle Adventure group. They’ve been talking a lot lately about creating bags. Thanks for the post!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, That’s wonderful! The rigid heddle loom is perfect for making fabric for bags because it’s so easy to use a variety of fibers in the warp and in the weft. It’s a fun adventure!

      Thanks so much for sharing!
      Karen

  • Angela Roberts says:

    Truly an inspiration, as always
    Thank you Karen

  • Kantilal Doobal says:

    Please quote me a Magazine for which I wish to submit and an article dealing with woolen durrie weaving.
    thanks

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kantilal, Thank you for asking.

      I don’t know a magazine that has an article about woolen durrie weaving. “Väv” magazine sometimes has articles about different types of rug weaving, and “Handwoven” magazine sometimes has articles about rag rug weaving. The March/April 2017 issue of “Handwoven” has instructions for a “Swedish Rosepath Rag Rug” that I designed.

      Karen

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If a Warp End Is Frayed…

I noticed that a warp end was starting to fray, but I kept on weaving. I thought I could make it past the weak spot. Well, I was wrong. The warp end broke. So much for happy weaving! A broken warp end at the selvedge is no fun, especially on a weft-faced piece like this. Looking back, I wish I had taken time to splice in a new length of thread when I first noticed the weakness. But at the time, I didn’t want to be bothered with that. I just wanted to weave.

Tapestry / inlay sampler on small countermarch loom.

Weaving right along. I start to notice some abrasion on the warp end at the right selvedge. I’ll be extra careful. I can keep weaving and enjoy myself, right???

Broken selvedge end on the right. Ugh.

Warp end on the right selvedge frayed to the breaking point. Gone! The weaving must be removed far enough back to reach at least 1/2″ of the warp end in front of the break. That reaches back into the red portion–the first section of the sampler.

Tapestry / inlay sampler on small countermarch loom.

Pin is inserted to secure a new selvedge warp end. The fourth end from the right showed some fraying, so I am splicing in a new piece of 12/9 cotton warp. Learned my lesson.

Original selvedge warp end is now being spliced back in (green flathead pin). Second splice is complete, with thread tail hanging out, to be trimmed after this is off the loom.

Tapestry and inlay sampler. Spliced warp ends fix frayed threads.

Two sections of the tapestry and inlay sampler are complete.

We tell ourselves if we do what we want, we will be happy. That’s a delusion. Happiness will fail you. It doesn’t last. I was only happy weaving until the thread broke. There is something better than happiness. Faithfulness. It’s better to be faithful in the moment, even if it puts a delay on being happy. Faithfulness lasts. Next time, I hope to choose the long satisfaction of faithfulness over the short-lived gain of happiness.

May your broken selvedge ends be few.

Faithful weaving,
Karen

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