Cutting Off Celebration!

Is there anything as exciting as cutting off? Oh sure, there will be some errors to mend. And only wet finishing will reveal the true nature of the cloth. But after investing hours and hours at the loom, cutting the fabric off is a celebration. This is the moment when the work of this weaver’s hands is finally revealed!

While admiring and examining the fabric as it comes off the loom, I am already moving onto the next step–finishing. Here are a few of my regular practices.

  • Thread-mark the right side of the fabric on each sample and individual piece before completely removing the fabric from the loom. This removes guesswork later. Thread a blunt-tip needle with 6 – 8″ of warp or weft thread, and make a 1/2″ stitch through the fabric. Leaving a loose loop, tie the ends of the thread together in a square knot on the right side of the fabric.
Weaving tip: Thread-mark the fabric.

Knot in the thread tells me that this is the right side of the fabric. Thread marks are sewn onto each piece before removing the fabric from the loom if the difference between the right and wrong side of the fabric is less than obvious. Thread marks remain until hems are turned under.

  • Tie sequential knots in the thread marks. e.g., First towel has one knot, second towel has 2 knots, etc. This enables accurate record-keeping measurements before and after wet finishing for individual items.
Weaving tip: How I number the towels on a warp.

After washing, I count the number of knots in the thread to know which towel is which. Before and after measurements enable me to calculate the amount of shrinkage that occurs, which helps for planning future projects.

  • Cut pieces apart before washing.

1. Two weft picks have been woven for each cutting line. The two threads make an easy guide path for the scissors.

Cutting line between woven items.

Cutting line for separating the woven pieces. Cut between the two red weft threads.

2. Use the same cutting-line color for every project (I use red, unless red is one of the weft colors in the project). This helps prevent accidental cutting at weft design stripes in the piece (which I did once –Oops!– before establishing this rule).

3. Pull out the cutting-line threads. Any remaining thread residue is easily removed with a lint roller.

Pulling out the cutting line.

Red cutting line thread pulls off, leaving a straight woven edge for finishing.

  • Finish the cut edges with an overlock stitch on a serger or with a zigzag stitch (preferably a three-stitch zigzag, according to my friend, Elisabeth) on a sewing machine.
Getting ready to wet finish these M's and O's towels!

All items are prepared for washing. Errors have been mended, and cut edges have been finished with the serger.

M's and O's (Sålldräll) after washing. Karen Isenhower

Lovely texture of the M’s and O’s (Sålldräll) structure is revealed after washing. A few more finishing steps remain: pressing, adding handwoven hanging tabs, and hemming.

Humans are not finished until they are loved. Love is patience and kindness at the core. We want to be on the receiving end of that, don’t we? We all need someone to love us–to carry our burdens, to believe us, to hope the best for us, to endure with us. It’s in the finishing that we discover the value, the corrections needed, and the beauty that has been woven in. This is the love of God to us. This is the finishing work of Jesus Christ, and his love in us.

May you have many cutting-off celebrations.

With love,
Karen

PS It’s good to be back with you! I hope you had a pleasant and weaving-full July.

20 Comments

  • Carol Ashworth says:

    Nice ideas! God is good God is great!! It’s is true JOY when we give ourselves to Jesus Others and You!!

  • Marjorie says:

    Nice to have you back again!

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Great to have you back! These are going to be beautiful! Nice tips.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, Thank you so much! I am thrilled to be here.
      These towels and table runner are going to be some of my very favorite handwoven items. They are simply elegant.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • carla weitzel says:

    I was happy to see this post. I was never sure if I should cut towels apart before or after laundering. This seems much easier.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Carla, I like to cut towels apart before washing because a long piece tends to twist up more, which can lead to some permanent creases. In fact, I had some problem with that on the long table runner in this set. If I have an extra-short sample, I may leave it connected to a towel and then cut them apart after washing, so the short piece doesn’t get too battered in the wash.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Cherie says:

    I so look forward to your posts! So often I am encouraged to try new ideas, and always walk away with a sense of blessings and community! Thank you!

    I usually weave 1 3/4″ with sewing thread on the ends so that my hems are not thick. (But I am mostly using 5/2 cotton at this point, as a new weaver.) I see you are not…is this because you are using finer yarns?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cherie, I love the community of friends here! I’m glad you get that same sense.

      Great question! Thanks for asking. I’ve never used a different thread for my hems than what is in the towel or other item. I think that’s a great idea if you are using coarser threads. The weft in these towels is 20/1 linen, so it’s pretty fine to start with. I like to think of the hems as a design element of the towel, so the weft choice plays into that.

      All the best,
      Karen

      • Anonymous says:

        Your weaving is beautiful.
        I’ve used rug warp for my hems when doing rag rugs and always put in the contrasting cutting line, but with the coarser fabric I also try to zig-zag before cutting apart. I don’t have a serger and by careful folding one rug will fit under the machine arm. Cut one off and then sew the next one 🙂

        • Karen says:

          Thank you for the compliment!

          I’ve used rug warp for hems on rag rugs, too. Sounds like you have a great system! Thanks for sharing.

          All the best,
          Karen

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Morning Karen, glad your back and all these towels are beautiful!
    Liberty

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty, I’m glad to be back! These towels turned out even better than I had hoped. I’m glad you like them.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Betty Morrissey says:

    Thank you for sharing your tips and practices! Lovely towels.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betty, It’s a joy for me to get to share about the things I’ve learned and stumbled onto along the way. Thanks for letting me know you get something out of it.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Angie says:

    Happy to see you back as well. I did take notice that you had separated the towels before washing, seems it would work much nicer.Thanks for your wonderful tips and messages.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Angie, Thanks for the warm greeting! Separating the towels before washing does work well for me. And then, after drying them and pressing them, they are ready for hemming.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Julie says:

    Hi Karen

    I just love your videos and I am learning so much from them, and they are truly inspiring, I hope to be able to weave as beautifully as you do one day. I’m a newbie to weaving you see so I’m watching loads of videos at the minute. I have just managed to pick up a Glimakra standard countermarch loom second hand (with 8 shafts and 8 treadles) and I am so lucky have it. However, there are no videos on the web or on Youtube (that I can find) about seeing how the lams operate and about how to tie up lams with shafts and treadles according to the desired pattern. So any advise or comments would be hugely appreciated. I have seen other tie up videos but with different looms so unsure if its kind of the same??

    Can’t wait to see your next project x

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julie, I am so happy to hear that you are learning things from my videos! Thanks for letting me know.

      How exciting that you ended up with an 8-shaft Glimakra Standard countermarch loom! You will love it!! It will take some learning and practice, but you will find it is a great loom for anything you want to weave.

      There are some excellent books that describe in detail how the lamms and treadles are tied up on a countermarch loom. Different types of looms do have different ways of being tied up. I have listed my three favorite resources at the end of the post at this link: Quiet Friday: Warping Back to Front with Confidence.

      If you are reading a Scandinavian weaving draft, the upper lamms correspond with the black squares in the draft, and the lower lamms correspond with the white (or empty) squares in the draft. (I hope that is helpful!)

      My next project on this loom (Glimakra Ideal) will be rag rugs. But first, I’m going to concentrate on the other loom (my Glimakra Standard) to make significant progress on that project!

      Let me know how it goes as you get set up and get started weaving.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Alpaca Warmth

Now that the fringe is finished, and the scarf has been washed, it is ready to be worn! The textural detail of this scarf is striking. An observer may not be aware that the woven pattern is that of an eight-shaft wavy (undulating) twill. But they are sure to notice the gentle drape of the long, warm scarf. The unique curvy ribbed surface is secondary.

Alpaca scarf in an eight-shaft wavy twill, with lattice fringe.

Alpaca scarf in an eight-shaft wavy twill, with lattice fringe.

I can’t think of anything more rewarding than spending time with beloved family! It’s been super sweet to be surrounded with such special adults and little children the last few days to celebrate Christmas together.

Handwoven undulating twill alpaca scarf.

Wavy twill gives the scarf a distinct textural element.

Soft, warm, and long handwoven alpaca scarf.

Celebrating Christmas joys in Texas hill country.

Handwoven long and soft alpaca scarf.

My daughter Melody models the alpaca scarf. Her husband, Eddie, is the photographer.

You are set apart to be a blessing. Let that blessing begin at home, and reach out from there. As alpaca fiber is known for its warmth and wearability, this scarf is perfect comfort for a cold winter day. May our homes, also, be known for the warmth and comfort that comes from being a place of blessing.

May you stay warm.

Merry Christmas, still,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    The scarf is beautiful and looks so soft! I hope you had a wonderful time with all your family!
    Liberty

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty, Thanks! The scarf is fun to wear. It’s long enough to wrap around once or twice, but it’s not heavy.
      We really had a great time with family. I hope you did, too!

      Karen

  • Stunning !~! The undulating pattern mesmerizes as I look at it. And alpaca’s incredible lightness creates a jewel of a scarf. Wow. Does it get cold enough where you live for this ?

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Lynda,
      😉 It doesn’t get cold enough here very often. On those few days that it is cold enough, 2 or 3 days in the last couple weeks, I’m glad to have it around my neck.
      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Halvdräll

Halvdräll is one of those Swedish weaves that takes your breath away. How can I describe the exquisite simplicity and stunning splendor of this fascinating cloth? With halvdräll, every moment at the loom is pure joy. I keep thinking, I get to weave this! And every weaver knows no comparison to the delight of pulling beautiful just-woven fabric off the cloth beam.

Enjoy the journey with me now as I reflect on the halvdräll fabric from beginning to end.

Choke tie serves as a counting thread as the cottolin warp is wound.

Choke tie serves as a counting thread as the cottolin warp is wound.

Red linen to be used as pattern weft on white cottolin warp.

Red linen is anticipating a starring role as pattern weft.

Sampling various linen color options for halvdräll table squares.

Sampling various color options for the pattern weft. Red may be one star among several.

Halvdräll table squares on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Second table square has blue and green for block I and red for block II. The back of the first table square, with all red pattern weft, is seen between the breast beam and the knee beam.

Halvdräll table squares on the loom. Elegant neutral tones.

Neutral tones with subtle elegance.

Weaving in the afternoon sunlight.

Light play dances on the colorful woven fabric.

Halvdräll table squares, with linen pattern weft, just off the loom!

Celebration time! When the cloth is cut from the loom the weaver is able to see a complete view of the woven fabric for the first time. Woo hoo!

Folding edge under for hemming. Handwoven table squares.

Wet finished and pressed. Ready for hemming.

How to do a blind hem. Very simple for handwovens.

Blind hem, with sewing needle and thread. Needle goes under one warp end, and is inserted through folded edge of hem for 1/4 inch. Continued stitching across the hem is virtually invisible when complete.

Label added.

Label added.

Hemmed, pressed, and ready to make a statement!

Hemmed, pressed, and ready to dress up a table.

Handwoven halvdräll table square. Karen Isenhower

May you find delight in your journey.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

13 Comments

  • Betsy says:

    Karen
    Thanks for sharing the whole process. I can’t decide which one is my favorite!
    Betsy

    • Karen says:

      Betsy, It was hard for me to decide on a favorite, too! I am keeping one, and the other three are going as gifts and/or Etsy items. (I am keeping the one that goes the best with my china — The one with red and blue, and a little bit of green.)

      Karen

  • Suzie C. says:

    It’s interesting to me how we all have different tastes. As a beginner, I can appreciate your woven pieces because I’m not at that level.
    However, for me, the colors above just aren’t my taste, but MOST of your work I simply adore! I DO love red and white, or blue and white, but only on certain things. Now, I DO love the neutral tones above, but as I keep studying it, I think it’s the pattern that I’m not especially attracted to.
    Do you find that true among weavers, that everyone prefers certain patterns over others, and seem to be drawn to certain colors/color combos than others?
    When I look through weaving magazines, there are some things that I’m instantly drawn to because of the colors or patterns, even if it’s an item I wouldn’t want to weave. I worked as an artist/designer before my current profession, and as I traveled around the country working with other artists, I found it fascinating that we all had such a variety of tastes. But then again, it’s so important that we’re not all the same, or else we wouldn’t have the variety we do!
    Unrelated to that, where do you get your labels? I’d love to order some as I hope my next project will be good enough to give to some family members. It would be great to put that label on so they realize it truly was handmade!
    Oh, and also unrelated to the color/pattern comment, I find it fascinating how a project ‘changes’ after it’s wet-finished. I’ve only done a few projects, and they were so simple that I didn’t see too much of a transformation. I’m anxious to see how my current project will look when off the loom and wet finished, as it’s a little more complicated than what I’ve done so far!
    Thank you for your blog–you are inspiring with every post!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Suzie,

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! I love variety, so I think it would be a shame if everyone liked all the same things. 🙂 I do think that over time I grow to enjoy some things more, like a acquired taste in music, or culinary arts. The more I study something, the easier it is for me to know why I like one thing and not another. As a weaver, it’s an important part of the process because you learn what you want to spend your time on; and, conversely, where you’re happy for the experience, but don’t care to do more of it.

      I get my labels from Heirloom Woven Labels. Your family members will appreciate that label that shows them you really did weave it!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kris Stark says:

    Stunning! Thank you for showing the entire process in one blog! I so enjoy all your blogs. God Bless, Kris

  • linda says:

    Karen: color choice is in the mind of the weaver. The artist sees in their mind the finished product and where it will go in their life. My pallet is not as open and inventive as yours, but I’m not you. ALL your pieces have been perfect as to color, pattern, and usage. JUST RIGHT. Swedish weaving has strong colors, perhaps because the natural background is so white. Have you ever done a krogbrog rug ? now there’s a colorful piece of weaving on 3 shafts. So many ideas so little time. Karen I love your weaving. LP&J,linda

    ps going to vermont to work on a burnt orange runner in colonial overshot. weft is bouclet on 20/2 warp. It’s old ski patrol colors and will go on my dining table. it’s also the new color in my house at home. love ya!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda,

      The artist sees in their mind the finished product and where it will go in their life.

      What a wonderful way to express it! So true.

      I do have a wide range in my personal color palette, and I am constantly trying to push myself to incorporate colors that wouldn’t be my “first pick.” I like to see if I can make them work — I love that challenge. And sometimes they don’t work that well, but many times I am pleasantly surprised at the results. And, you really don’t know how well the colors will play with each other until all the final finishing is finished. 🙂

      I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your vote of confidence!

      I have not done a krogbrog rug… yet. I will do one at some point. Yes, they are beautifully laden with color.

      Your colonial overshot runner sounds wonderful! Send me a picture when you have it finished. I’d love to see it!

      Love,
      Karen

  • Janie Payne says:

    They are all so beautiful! I wouldn’t want to eat on them, spills, etc!!!!

    • Janie Payne says:

      Oh I forgot, where do you buy your red linen? I tried to read the label, but was unable to get a clear view. Thank you, Janie

    • Karen says:

      Janie, Thank you! I know the feeling about not wanting handwoven specialty items to get messed up! But I plan to use mine where I can see it and enjoy it. I can always wash it! 🙂

      The linen is 16/1 line linen by Bockens, color #517. I purchased mine from GlimakraUSA. Other suppliers that carry Bockens are Vavstuga and Lone Star Loom Room.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Gretchen says:

    So beautiful as always Karen… I would love to see your draft for these at our next WOW meeting! I have technical questions! Happy Weaving… See you soon.

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Even Better After

Many, many hours of work have gone into making these handwoven towels. Their stunning capacity as beautiful, absorbant, and useful things isn’t realized, however, until the cloth is subjected to the finishing process. Wet finishing never ceases to amaze me. These towels! They are transformed from special to spectacular!

Cottolin tea towels just off the loom. Ready for wet finishing!

Towels have been cut apart, ends secured with the serger, and weaving errors repaired. It is time to throw them into the washing machine. Towels with red weft threads go in a separate load — just in case…

Handwoven cottolin handtowels just washed. Ready for one-time pressing.

Towels are removed from the dryer while they are still slightly damp. Now they are ready for pressing. If only I could hand them to you to touch…

I may be intimidated at the thought of wet finishing other items (as I talked about in Weaving Experience), but not towels. Especially cottolin handtowels like these. They are made for a lifetime of everyday use. I do not hesitate to throw them in the washer and dryer, because I know the towels will improve with the washing. And after the washing and drying, they’ll be ready for pressing (the only pressing they will likely ever require).

Handwoven cottolin towel - wet finishing.

Out of the wash, the towels have a delightful texture that is slightly puckered. Pressing will flatten the towel, but subsequent washings will renew the desired textural element.

Wet finishing and pressing of new handwoven cottolin towels. Karen Isenhower

Normal people do not press their handtowels, right? This is a one-time occurrence. Pressing after the first washing helps set the threads into place (or so I’ve been told). Happily, there is no color bleeding of the black or red threads!

When I drop the towels into the wash, I am making an exchange. I give up the unwashed, rough cloth, and get a softened, fulled fabric in its place. I lay down a burden, and receive a blessing in return. Jesus takes our soul’s heavy burden, a lifetime of self-imposed work, and exchanges it for his light load. You can put your heavy load down. And receive in return a softened fabric, washed, pressed, and ready for daily use.

May your load become lighter.

Softly,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Debbie Davis says:

    Wonderful blog post, Karen!

  • Loyanne says:

    Beautiful message and beautiful towels. Look forward to seeing Warped for Good in my email.

  • Amaryllis says:

    Hello Debbie, that they were beautiful! look, just as a suggestion, why not open a space on your website and put the drawings (DRAFTING) so we can make them.

    Greetings from Brazil!

    • Karen says:

      Hello Amaryllis from Brazil,

      that is a wonderful suggestion! I will see if I can figure out how to set up a page that shows the weaving drafts.

      For these towels, I started with a draft I found for silk scarves, and I adjusted the sett for the threads I wanted to use, and I also changed the threading to make it more interesting. I write all my drafts on paper, so I would need to transfer them to weaving software, which I do have. So, it is possible, but it may take a little time to get it done.

      Thank you for asking! and Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Wendy says:

    Lovely towels and a powerful thought!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you, Wende! I’m often surprised to find bits of insight to think about as I go about my weaving. I’m glad the things I think about mean something to other people, too, like you.

      Love,
      Karen

  • Liberty says:

    Beautiful towels, I love them, and the message is so true thank you for the reminder!

    Weave away!,
    Liberty

  • Bruce Mullin says:

    Hi Karen, thanks for an inspirational woven towel and message! I too would love to see your drafts. Thanks for all that you do
    Bruce

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bruce, and I am thankful that you and others keep coming back. It’s great to have weaving friends across the miles.

      I will seriously aim toward putting my drafts up. I can’t promise how soon that will happen.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Weaving Experience

It is possible to ruin hours and hours of handweaving efforts with a careless or ignorant misstep after the cloth is cut from the loom. Wet finishing intimidates me for that reason. Besides my own limited experience, I rely on instructions from advanced weavers, and any other research I can find. In the end, I take the plunge and hope for the best. If the worst happens, I take notes and chalk it up as a learning experience.

Halvdräll table squares just off the Glimakra Standard loom.

Just off the loom, four halvdräll cottolin and linen table squares await measuring for record keeping.

Linen pattern weft is characteristically wiry before wet finishing.

Linen pattern weft is characteristically wiry before wet finishing. Cottolin warp and background weft is somewhat stiff before it gets washed.

Halvdräll table squares with linen pattern weft. Karen Isenhower

Pieces are separated at the cutting lines, and cut ends of the cloth are secured with the serger. Then the cloth is placed in the top-loading washing machine, gentle cycle, with Eucalan delicate wash, with warm wash and cold rinse settings, adding several Color Catchers, and omitting the spin cycle. After rolling the wet pieces in clean towels to remove moisture, they are laid flat to dry. While still damp, they are pressed with a hot iron on the back side. And the linen comes out showing its true beauty!

Halvdräll table squares with linen pattern weft.

Waiting to be hemmed.

Wisdom is gained by those who pursue it. What is wisdom? Wisdom is truth being applied to real life situations. The wise become wiser still by listening with the intent to hear the meaning. Listening and learning. And then wisdom leads you to take action, often irreversible, because you believe the outcome will be right and good. How delightful when the wet-finished fabric exceeds your highest hopes!

May you become wiser than you are today.

In pursuit,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Betsy says:

    Really nice! I love halvdrall. I am admiring your selvedges. Do you always use a temple? I’ve only used a Toika temple and I always feel like I’m damaging the fibers unless I’m weaving a rug.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy,

      I love halvdräll, too! I find it immensely enjoyable to weave, and the results are satisfying.

      I am in the habit of using a temple on nearly everything. My Toika temples are reserved for rug weaving only. The metal temples are too heavy, and the teeth too coarse for fine materials, in my opinion. I much prefer the wooden temples by Glimakra, even for rag rug weaving.

      It seems like using a temple, and moving it frequently, does help with getting consistent selvedges. Wet finishing also helps. 🙂 I’m still trying to get “perfect” selvedges, so I thank you for your comment. I imagine yours are better than you think yourself, as well.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Anonymous says:

    Happy Weavers: Using or not using temples. perfect selvedges are really hard to accomplish with or without the temple. When linen is added to the process the perfect factor is thrown to the wind. Linen is notoriously hard to work with, and selvedges almost always have a “kink”, a twist, a slight pull in ,or a loop. Karen’s edges are BEAUTIFUL!. I personally do not use a temple and find myself pulling out at least once or twice until I get the magic writhem down (pedal, shuttle,pull edge, beat). SO Karen has inspired me to at least try a temple.I guess even OLD weavers can change. LP&J, linda

  • linda says:

    You all probably know this, but if one side of your weaving is less perfect than the other side, or you’re having trouble controlling edges on one side the solution, after all the usual tricks are tried, is to scoot your butt slightly to the troubled side. VOILA! edge gets much better and easier to control. L, lindaP&J

  • Kerry Fagan says:

    Could you clarify what is a ‘serger’, please?

    • Karen says:

      Kerry, Thank you for asking. A serger is an overlocking sewing machine the cuts the edge of the fabric as it sews an overlock stitch at the edge. You can accomplish nearly the same thing with a zig-zag stitch on a regular sewing machine. A zig-zag stitch may stretch the edge a little more than an overlocked stitch, but usually it works just fine.

      Karen

  • Leigh says:

    I really shouldn’t look at Google on my phone when I first wake up. Reading this title, having only recently opened my eyes, I had a horrible vision of your black and white towels with the red accent having bled red all over them.
    So glad that was not the case! And the Halvdral squares are beautiful!

    • Karen says:

      Leigh, Lucky for me that didn’t happen! oh wait… I haven’t washed the black and white towels with the red accent yet. They are still on the loom. Fortunately, I use only Bockens cottolin and cotton threads, and I have never had any problems with colors bleeding or fading. Still… when I put them in the machine I will hold my breath, and throw in several Color Catchers.

      I did have some concern about washing the red linen in the halvdräll squares, because I haven’t used that red before on a white warp. I did have some red linen lint to clean off the finished pieces, but fortunately, no bleeding or color transfer!

      Thanks for taking time to tell me what you thought! It gave me a good chuckle.
      Karen

  • […] may be intimidated at the thought of wet finishing other items (as I talked about in Weaving Experience), but not towels. Especially cottolin handtowels like these. They are made for a lifetime of […]

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