Finer Weft for a Stronger Cord

I need a strong cord for a specific use. It needs to look nice, without drawing attention to itself. This cord will connect three small pieces of wood. I will reveal how they will be used after I finish weaving the cord.

Three wooden pieces for a special purpose...

Three wooden pieces to be connected for a purpose. What are they for? You are welcome to put your guess in the comments…

I chose 12/6 rug warp for the project, to make this a durable cord. With a band this narrow, the 12/6 cotton is too bulky for weft. I could not pull the selvedges tight. I need a finer weft that will draw the warp ends together and disappear at the selvedges. Black 16/1 linen works beautifully!

New woven narrow band. Need to change the weft.

Using 12/6 cotton rug warp for the weft proved to be unworkable for this narrow band. Light shows through the gaps at the selvedges.

Linen weft for this narrow band.

Black linen weft matches the black selvedge threads. The 16/1 linen enables tight and even selvedges for this 5/16″ (8 mm) band.

A change of heart changes everything. The condition of our heart is revealed in the way we behave toward others. Our thoughts and actions are a matter of the heart. To live in a manner that is unselfish, generous, kind, and content, we must do more than line up the right outward appearances. We must start with humility. Having the perfect warp means nothing if the weft interferes with a beautiful outcome. Humility, like the linen weft, is a posture of the heart that pulls everything else together.

May your heart be beautiful.

Warmly,
Karen

2 Comments

  • I can’t guess what the wooden pieces are for. They remind me of several times when I purchased a used loom from someone, and there were several wooden or metal pieces that came with it that neither they nor I knew what they were for. I am glad you know what these are for, and I am looking forward to finding out!

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Linen Is Never Boring

Simplicity, purity, new. It’s invigorating to start something fresh. Weaving this delicate cloth in neutral colors is calming, but not boring. The linen sheen makes it spectacular. This is the delightful texture of M’s and O’s on a cotton warp, with linen weft. Peer across the cloth at a lower angle and you will see the linen’s pearlescent glory embedded in the woven texture.

Weaving M's and O's with linen weft.

Structure of M’s and O’s puts interesting texture in the fabric. The texture will be intensified after the fabric is cut from the loom and wet finished.

Even though weaving seems like magic at this stage, it has been preceded by a lot of planning, precision, and patient work. This new creation is refreshing because it’s everything I had imagined it would be. And the linen is doing as expected–making the fabric “glow.”

Handwoven towel in M's and O's with linen weft.

One-shuttle weaving for most of the towel makes this a relaxing weave. You can see that the treadling pattern alternates between two blocks. (The camera doesn’t catch the linen’s sheen like the human eye does. Wish you were here to see it!)

Handwoven towel in M's and O's.

Towel has reached the midway point.

The best creation is what happens inside of you. There is hope for all those who long for a fresh start. The dusty and worn threads are replaced with a new warp. Cut my selfish ways off the loom, Lord. All the preparations have been done by the Grand Weaver that enable weaving to begin. Create a clean heart in me, Lord. Let my life glow with the linen of your Spirit woven through my soul.

May you be refreshed.

Love,
Karen

~They’re back~ Towel Kits ~

By request, I have put the towel kits back in my shop! The River Stripe Towel Set, Pre-Wound Warp and Instructional Kit, for $150 per kit, is now listed again in the Warped for Good Etsy Shop. Happy weaving!

10 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Beautiful, Karen! I’ve never worked with linen. When used as weft, does it have to be kept damp? Seems that I once read this was necessary when linen is used as warp but, I could be dreaming.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I like to keep linen weft a little damp because it behaves better for me that way. It doesn’t take a lot of moisture. Just holding a damp cloth around the wound quill for a few seconds is enough. The moisture makes the linen relax, and it lays more straight and flat in the shed. Without some moisture, the linen has a tendency to get little kinks and curls when you beat it in.

      When used as warp, some moisture can be helpful. Houston is pretty humid, but in drier climates some people run a humidifier when warping with linen.

      Linen is wonderful to work with. You should try it. Using it as weft is a good way to start.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Martha says:

    Beautiful work as always!

    • Karen says:

      That means a lot to me, Martha! Thank you so much. I feel like the threads are really the stars, I just got to put them on the loom. 🙂

      Karen

  • Bev says:

    Beautiful weaving! I have a special place in my heart for linen, since it is what I learned to spin first. And I having linsey/woolsey on my future to-do list!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bev, I admire anyone who can spin! Spinning linen seems like such an interesting process. Is linsey/woolsey linen and wool combined?

      Karen

  • Gorgeous Karen,
    Thank you for your time and wisdom, as well as weaving knowledge. You’ve encourage me to have a go with linen. There is so much brouhaha in much of the weaving talk here in Australia about using linen. How difficult it is, how fickle, how tetchy (all unfounded, no doubt). So most of us have backed away from such a ‘difficult’ fibre. Your example here shows us the very opposite. With careful planning and consideration for linen’s ‘needs’ why should we miss such weaving pleasure.

    I really admire the way you have crafted the Christian message into your daily work and passion. And, I must admit, after reading your blog posts I have really thought how I can apply the same ‘message’ into the writing work that I do for children. I write children’s books for my ‘day’ job (when not weaving!) and I endeavour to give a ‘heart’ message in all my books. One where my readers are touched by a subtle message from more than what I am. So, thank you for sharing with us.
    Regards,
    Alison

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alison, If I’ve encouraged you to try linen, I’m happy! I don’t think linen is anything to be afraid of. Yes, it has its own special characteristics, but with some knowledge and careful planning you’ll have success. Like I mentioned to Beth, starting with linen weft is a great way to get your toes in the water…

      And if I’ve encouraged you to live out your faith with a little more intention, then you are an answer to prayer.

      It doesn’t surprise me that you are a writer, as I see how beautifully you’ve chosen your words.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • SM says:

    I’m a new weaver and really enjoy your blog. I was wondering if you worry at all about different shrinkage rates for the cotton and the linen? I keep hearing people say that different fibres react differently. Or do cotton and linen both shrink the same?

    • Karen says:

      Hi SM, Great question! You raise a valid point. Yes, different shrinkage rates are an issue, and it can make a difference in the outcome of a fabric after wet finishing. Cotton and linen won’t necessarily shrink at the same rate. Cotton usually shrinks a little more than linen. In this instance, I’m hopeful that some differential shrinkage will work to my advantage in making a beautifully, softly puckered M’s and O’s textured fabric. But until I wash and dry the fabric, it’s only a guess. 🙂

      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

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When to Start Over

I have started this tapestry sampler three times. The biggest problem was the header. I had so much draw-in that warp ends were breaking at the selvedges. Cut off and tie back on. I knew what to do–bubble the weft. But again, the second time, I had too much draw-in. Maybe I can ease the width back out to where it should be… Nope. After several hours of weaving with beautiful linen butterflies, and breaking more warp ends, I gave up.

Texas hill country wildflowers!

Texas hill country wildflowers fill the landscape with color.

I carefully removed all of the linen weft, and took out all of the header. Start over. Again. I did what I should have done from the start. Bubble the weft MORE. It works! Now I have a great starting place for the tapestry weaving to flourish. Until I had a good header, I was wasting my time trying to make the tapestry work.

Beginning of linen tapestry sampler.

Successful header is the foundation for this hem of bleached and unbleached linen. Tapestry sampler begins with some color shading, using butterfly bundles of linen in vivid colors, borrowed from the wildflowers.

Windows beside the little loom light up the linen tapestry sampler.

Windows let in the Texas hill country sunshine.

Texas wild flower bouquet. Monksbelt cloth on the table.

Monksbelt cloth on the table borrows the colors of the wildflower bouquet.

Words are like a header for our view of the world. Words shape our thinking. Listen carefully to test words, like you test food on your plate by tasting it before eating the whole thing. Test the words you hear. And only swallow what is right and good. If the header is good, your tapestry can flourish.

May you hear words that pass the test.

With you,
Karen

As a follow up to Quiet Friday: Favorite Weaving Books, Besty Greene sent me this picture. I love it!

Hi Karen
I am sending you this message in the theme of your last blog post. Ta da! A rug inspired by your project in Handwoven.
Betsy

Rag rug inspired by Handwoven project.

Rag rug by Betsy Greene.

 

2 Comments

  • Cate Kauffman says:

    I’m curious to know what you mean by bubble the warp. I’m unfamiliar with that term.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cate, Bubbling the weft (not warp) is placing the weft in waves, or bubbles, across the shed. Click here to read my definition in the Weaving Glosssry: Bubbling. And here is a picture of bubbling the weft. I didn’t get a picture of placing the weft for the header, but this is a picture of the hem area of the tapestry.
      Bubbling the Weft

      Karen

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Tools Day: Double-Bobbin Shuttle

The first time I wove fabric that required a doubled weft I did not use a double-bobbin shuttle. I didn’t own one. I used a regular boat shuttle and sent it across twice, going around the outer warp end. Those first thick and thin towels came out beautifully. So I know it can be done.

Weaving with a double-bobbin shuttle. Tips.

Square pattern peeks through from below. Double-bobbin shuttle carries the doubled tencel weft for this kuvikas fabric.

The first time I used a double-bobbin shuttle I wondered if it was worth it. It was awkward and clumsy in my hands. Since that rocky introduction a few years ago, I have woven many meters with my double-bobbin shuttles. They have become cherished tools and efficient accomplices to some of my favorite fabric-making endeavors!

Tips for Weaving with a Double-Bobbin Shuttle (and a short video demonstration)

  • Practice. Make sure you allow extra warp length for practicing. You will probably need it at first. Have fun and laugh, and refrain from throwing the shuttle across the room.
  • Winding Equal Bobbins. Wind the first quill. Lay it close to the bobbin winder where you can see it easily. As you wind the second quill, attempt to match it in size to the first one. (Winding two quills with equal amounts of thread is no small challenge.)
Winding equal quills for a double-bobbin shuttle.

Visibility of the first wound quill is key for judging how much thread to wind on the second quill.

Winding quills for double bobbin shuttles.

Knowing when to stop is the trick. The ideal is for both quills to become empty at the same time. This only happens in your dreams. But sometimes you can get pretty close.

  • Sending the Shuttle. Sending the double-bobbin shuttle through the shed is the same as sending a regular boat shuttle across. The best release is done with a flick of the forefinger so the shuttle speeds across. Then, the doubled weft naturally snugs the selvedge, and the two threads are neatly aligned across the shed. With a slower, more timid shuttle send-off, the quills unwind unequally.
Weaving with a double-bobbin shuttle.

Holding the shuttle palm up, the forefinger launches the shuttle to glide quickly through the shed.

Results of timid shuttle send-off.

Timid or sluggish shuttle send-off lays unequal lengths of threads in the shed.

How to tips for weaving with a double-bobbin shuttle.

Deliberate send-off of the shuttle helps the threads to lay across the shed in equal lengths.

  • Receiving the Shuttle. Receiving the shuttle can be the awkward and clumsy part at first. Especially if you are trying to practice a quicker send-off. I catch the shuttle as for any boat shuttle, palm up. And then, if needed, I fold my two bottom fingers around the threads, guiding them to fall equally across the shed.
Using a double-bobbin shuttle. Tips.

After catching the shuttle, I gently close my fingers around the two threads, as needed, to guide them to fall evenly across the warp.

  • Weave. Enjoy the process.
Shuttle shadows. Karen Isenhower

Shuttle shadows.

May your practice produce perfection. (Well, maybe not perfection, but at least improvement.)

Happy weaving,
Karen

2 Comments

  • Debbie Moyes says:

    I have a stupid question. Why do you need to weave with two threads? Why not use one larger one?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Debbie, That’s a very smart question! It seems like it would make sense to weave with a larger thread instead of two thinner ones. Certainly easier. But two thinner threads have a way of laying better than one thicker thread, and fill the space better. Many drafts with a ground weave and pattern use a doubled weft for the pattern. Part of the difference is seen in wet finishing, too. The combined threads blossom out more than a single thread would.

      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

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Pretty Fine Threads

This towel project has 896 warp ends! 24/2 cotton is pretty fine (as in thin) for towels. These lightweight towels will have textural character from the M’s and O’s weave structure. The warp is unbleached cotton, except for some color near the borders. The weft, 20/1 half-bleached linen, is also finer threads.

Pencil and paper, and Fiberworks to design some towels.

Pencil and paper, Fiberworks, and tubes of thread are used in the design process.

I don’t often use the computer to design weaving projects. But this time simply writing out the draft on paper wasn’t enough. Fiberworks enabled me to work out a design I’m excited to put on the loom! That still wasn’t enough, though. I needed to keep at it to settle on the colors. Examining color combinations through color wrapping was a tremendous help in finalizing my design.

Color wrapping for designing cotton towels.

Solid color stripe sits next to a stripe with alternating dark/light colors.

In things that matter, it makes sense to keep pressing for answers. Take the extra steps to make sure you are on track. Search for answers. What you look for, you find. Is it possible that God shows Himself to those who want to find Him? It’s an honest quest. God, if You are there, let me find You. It’s worth the extra push. The fine threads, the design, the colors. The pretty fine threads do fall into place.

Which color combination would you choose?

Variations on a theme. Do you have a favorite?

I’m curious–which color wrapping combo would you select? Share your thoughts in the comments. You will see my choice when I warp the loom!

May you find your heart’s desire.

Happy weaving,
Karen

~UPDATE~ Towel Kits ~

The response for the towel kits last week was amazing! The kits sold out in a few minutes. I’m sorry if you were disappointed and were not able to snatch a kit.

Five more towel kits are ready! The River Stripe Towel Set, Pre-Wound Warp and Instructional Kit, for $150 per kit, will be listed in the Warped for Good Etsy Shop today, Tuesday, April 4, 2017, about 3:00 p.m. (CT).

If these kits sell out I will make some more!

If you are not already on the Towel Kit notification list, and would like to be notified when the next round of towel kits are ready, please send me a message HERE.

Thank you!
Your weaving friend

33 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    The black and white is a great classic but, I’m attracted to the reddish combination.

    Congratulations on the towel kit sales!

    • Karen says:

      Beth, I agree that the black and white is a classic look. The reddish set is red and orange, but the white threads between the orange soften it and make it compatible with the red.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Sara Jeanne says:

    Personal favorite #2. As always, your blog is inspiring!
    Thanks Karen

    • Karen says:

      Sara Jeanne, It’s great to hear from you!
      #2 works well because the 2 colors are close in hue, which I tested by looking at the pics in black and white.

      Thanks for adding your thoughts!
      Karen

  • Julia says:

    Hmmm? Each color combination has its own character – can’t say which is my favorite, just like the seasons and the weather and children. Do we have to choose? Can’t we weave, experience, have each one? They are all so lovely!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia, Haha good answer. Well, you can have and weave each one if you want, but I’m only going to put these threads (almost 900) on the loom one time. I have to choose. 🙂

      Karen

  • Sandy Huber says:

    I like them all, but my eye keeps going to #2 🙂

  • Betsy says:

    I like all of them, but I would lean toward #4.

  • Cuyler says:

    Like #2 very much.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think I like #2 the best, but would be tempted to combine the # 2and # 4 together ☺
    Carolee

  • Doris Walker says:

    I actually like #2 & #3. But I am sure any of them would work up well.

  • Peg Cherre says:

    Interesting responses. So much about color is personal. I like #3 & #4 best…seem to be alone in that.

    • Karen says:

      Peg, I agree, so much about color is personal. That could be an interesting study – what factors contribute to an individual’s “color sense?”

      Karen

  • Gerda Hoogenboom says:

    Number 2, definitely. And good to hear your towel kits are doing so well. Would be tempted, but postage to France would make them too expensive to ever use.!!

  • Nanette says:

    Since these are such light towels, I wonder what kind they are…too light for kitchen? Good for finger tip? I like #4 but it might be too subtle for many places….I’d consider where it will go. A warp stripe is a big commitment–what will the weft be? Can/will you vary that with colors?..

    • Karen says:

      Nanette, I don’t think they will be too light for kitchen use. With linen weft they will make very absorbent towels. I am considering weaving a long length for a dining table runner…

      The overall weft is half-bleached linen. I plan to make weft stripes that match the warp stripes. The stripes will form a border “frame” on the four sides of the towel. If I make a table runner I will probably leave off the weft stripes.

      You are right about warp stripes being a big commitment. Hmm… sounds like material for a blog post. 😉

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • maggie says:

    my vote is #4. living in where i do green is a neutral. but i’ve found blue towels sell first. unfortunately i don’t like blue.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, Your comment makes me chuckle. I love blue – any shade of blue is my favorite color. So I purposely avoided blue because I wanted a challenge, and blue seemed too easy. 🙂

      Karen

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    I love them all, but I like #4, the best, soft and beautiful!

  • Bev says:

    Number 3 is my personal favorite with #2 as second choice, but my favorite color has always been red (but not pink) but 1 or 4 would probably fit most peoples color themes better.

  • Anonymous says:

    #1 is my fav, but 4 intrigues me…

  • Anonymous says:

    I’m drawn to number 4 because it is evocative of the colors we often see in flax when it is first spun.

  • Cindy Bills says:

    #3 and #2 are tied for me. I’m looking forward to seeing the weaving on your loom.
    Almost thirty years ago I came to a point in my life where I prayed that very prayer. If you are there, God, let me find you! And He did! So thankful He draws us to Himself. Words can not express. But I think you understand. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Dear Cindy, I am eager to wind this warp and dress the loom. With so many color viewpoints it will be interesting to see how the final arrangement works out!

      I’m so pleased and touched to hear your story. I’m sincerely grateful, too, that God draws us to Himself.

      Love,
      Karen

  • Irene says:

    I like 2 and 3, but 2 is my favorite. Love warm colors.

    Received the river stripe kit it. Thank you for shipping to Sarasota.

    Irene

  • Kathy says:

    2 and 3 also tied for me. 2 might be better just because it is different from usual red and white.

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