Wary Weaving

Sugar Pie has been waiting in the wings. Now, his nose wriggles up to the fell line. The day that Ari and Lucia went with me to visit my neighbor, their attention went to the cute furry thing in the rabbit hutch. At first, the bunny was wary, but before long, Sugar Pie was nibbling carrot slivers from Lucia’s hand.

Beginning the bunny in the large pictorial tapestry.
First pick of brown for the bunny’s nose.

Now, I’m the wary one. The rabbit will make or break this tapestry. I made notes when I wove the rabbit on a narrow sample warp several weeks ago. With careful review of my notes, I am inching forward, giving attention to value contrasts that shape and define the animal. The good news is that when I reach the end of Sugar Pie’s soft, furry back, I will be at the tapestry’s finish line.

Color changes are outlined on the tapestry cartoon.
Color changes are outlined on the cartoon with colored pencil.
Pictorial tapestry in progress. "Siblings"
Ari and Lucia, two of my grandchildren, in a moment of childhood wonder. This tapestry tries to capture that wonder.

In trying times, our senses are heightened. Will we flourish, or merely squeak by? In all the confusion, where is clarity? In the chaos, where do we find calm? The Lord extends an open hand. The open hand is an invitation. Come and taste. Trust. Find deep satisfaction that reaches the soul. Courageously inch up to the greatest challenge of your life.

May you step into a worthwhile challenge.

With you,
Karen

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Most Unusual Tapestry Tool

Suddenly, I am able to see the tapestry on the loom from a distant vantage point. Aha! I can see that the left shoulder of Lucia is nicely defined, and that her shoulder appears to be in front of the turquoise rabbit hutch. What I am not able to discern up close becomes crystal clear from a distance. I have an unusual tool in the basket at my loom bench that gives me this advantage. Binoculars! I use them whenever I want to get a better sense of the overall context, color, and definition of what I am weaving in the tapestry. By peering through the WRONG side of the binoculars I am able to view the tapestry as if from a great distance. It is just the help I need to keep pursuing this mystery of weaving wool butterflies on a linen warp to make a recognizable, memorable image.

Pictorial tapestry in progress.
Each row is a new adventure.
Pictorial tapestry on the Glimakra Standard loom.
Photo image of the complete scene sits in the windowsill by my loom. I frequently refer to the photo as I weave.
Binoculars - unusual tool at the weaving loom.
I wish I could show you what I can see through the wrong end of the binoculars. It always surprises me how the image is clearly shaped at a distance.
Weaving a picture of my grandchildren.
Skin tones blend for the area of Lucia’s neck that is coming into focus. Before long, I will get to play with her flyaway hair.
Weaving a pictorial tapestry of my grandchildren.
Greater distance from the tapestry provides more clarity of context. But still, we only get to see the slice of the image that is in view on the loom. It takes faith and patience for the rest.

May you gain the perspective you need.

Blessings,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Great discovery, Karen! Who would have thought it? Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joyce, A few years ago I saw a picture of another tapestry weaver looking at her work through a monocle, and that gave me the idea.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Beth says:

    Ingenious!!

  • Nannette says:

    What pretty colors. I can’t wait to see it completed.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I’m looking forward to that, too.

      Thanks,
      Karen

      • Nannette says:

        Back in town. I met with a builder to add a 4 season sunroom to the retirement house, back in the Wisconsin woods. I could have set up the loom in the basement and woven through the winter. But why have a home on the most beautiful piece of God’s world if you can’t enjoy it.

        Back to topic. Are you weaving this tapestry on the rosepath set up? If so, how are you keeping track of the pattern as you weave?
        Nannette

        • Karen says:

          Hi Nannette, Your sunroom sounds delightful.

          Great question. I have a very low-tech way of keeping track of my rosepath treadling sequence. I drew a small arrow with a black Sharpie on a small piece of blue painters tape. My weaving draft is hanging at the top of the beater on the right-hand side. Every time I am ready to move to the next treadle I move that little piece of tape to point to the corresponding square on the treadling draft.

          All the best,
          Karen

  • Kelly says:

    Wow, this piece will certainly be a labour of love! How rewarding it will be to finish.

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Yarn Is My Paint

The best thing about weaving a pictorial tapestry? Having a cartoon to follow, with row-by-row definition. This Siblings tapestry has its joys and challenges. It is a joy to weave Ari’s hair, as if I get to comb his locks into place. At the same time, it’s a challenge to see up close what can only be recognized at a distance. Lucia’s shirt is a joy to weave because of the bright colors and distinct shading. But what a challenge to get the right value of turquoise for the leg of the rabbit hutch in relation to the value of orange in Lucia’s left shoulder.

Five different shades of butterflies for this hair.
Ari’s hair has butterflies in five different shades of brown. Sometimes while handling the yarn, it almost seems like real hair. And I reminisce about my sisters and I braiding each others’ hair way back when.
Color decisions in a pictorial tapestry.
Trying to find the right hue for the turquoise rabbit hutch. Choosing a darker hue helps make Lucia’s shoulder appear closer than the hutch leg.

The yarn is my paint. I make decisions and adjustments as I see how the colors interact. Under the warp, of course, is my cartoon with all the details—outline, hues, value changes. That cartoon is constant, unchanging, and reassuring. It’s the key to this whole process.

Under the warp is the detailed cartoon.
Right under the warp is the detailed cartoon. Hues are lightly colored in with color pencil, and value distinctions are penciled in.
Siblings tapestry in progress. Glimakra Standard loom.
Right at halfway on the Siblings tapestry.

In the joys and challenges we face, we make decisions based on what we see. Take a look below the surface. Look through the warp to see the cartoon. True love is in the details. Jesus instructs and guides through his love. Constant, unchanging, and reassuring. It makes perfect sense to follow the Maker’s cartoon.

Cartoon under the tapestry.
Cartoon held in place with a suspended warping slat and some plastic quilter’s clips.

May you grow in love.

With joy,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Beth says:

    I admire your patience…and very much so, your talent.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, Thank you so much for your thoughtful insights. You’re making me reflect on patience and talent. Patience doesn’t seem hard for me most of the time—at the loom, at least. I like the whole slow process, so I’m not in a hurry about it. Talent, on the other hand, seems elusive. I think patience and talent may be related. The more patient I am to practice what I know, the more talented I get. 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,
    You are an artist nose to toes. To do the weaving that you do requires a working skill of the craft. No matter how much I tried, the skill to make music from the viola was not possible because the craft was beyond my physical ability. As much as the mind desires, without the craftsmanship foundation to describe creativity, nothing happens. Mathematics, so necessary with science and engineering and business. Color theory with the visual. Mechanical understanding of the instrument, viola or loom or CNC or human body.
    You are constantly sharing as you explore the craft of weaving. Your craftsmanship is honed to the best it can be. With that, the blessing of being an artist occurred. It is like running barefoot in a field as a child with no cares… Just the freedom of no boundaries.
    God has blessed you with being a textile artist and you have extended that to the world with your blog.
    Praise God. Thank you Karen.
    Nannette

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Process Review: Drawloom Jewels

It is exciting when Maverick walks by. Although he never comes in my drawloom studio, he does stop for a moment to look my way. You’ll see him in the slideshow video below. But what happens inside the studio is even more exciting, especially when it’s time for cutting off!

Drawloom with 16 pattern shafts.
Drawloom, set up with sixteen pattern shafts. I graph out the designs in Excel on my computer. Then, I print out the gridded pattern to use at the loom. I keep my place in the pattern with a magnet and magnet board made for cross-stitch embroidery.

This is Tuna wool, so I expect some shrinkage, but how much? I take careful measurements before and after wet finishing. Besides the main piece of fabric that I’m using for a garment, I have two sample pieces. I can experiment with the samples before wet finishing my garment fabric.

Here are my findings:
Sample 1. Hand wash and air dry.

10% shrinkage in width; 13% shrinkage in length.

Sample 2. Machine wash (3 minutes agitation on a gentle cycle, with a short spin) and machine dry (low setting) till damp, finish with air drying.

13% shrinkage in width; 14% shrinkage in length.

~How to do the shrinkage calculations~
First measurement (on the loom) minus the second measurement (after washing and drying) equals the difference. The difference divided by the first measurement equals the percentage difference.
For example, 50 cm – 43.5 cm = 6.5; 6.5 / 50 = 0.13; 13% shrinkage.

The first sample fabric is softer than the unwashed fabric, but not as soft as I’d like. The second sample fabric is beautifully soft, like a nice warm sweater. So, with confidence, I wet finish the garment fabric—with great results. It’s perfect for the fall/winter vest that I’ll soon be wearing, made from this fabric!

Wool garment fabric from a drawloom.
Like a sweater, this soft fabric will be comfortable to wear.
Making a pattern for handwoven garment fabric.
Muslin pattern for a simple vest. First, I’ll make a vest out of a wool throw, woven on my rigid heddle loom ages ago. Then, I will cut into the new drawloom fabric, with confidence about the fit.

Enjoy this photo show of the drawloom process.

May you enjoy the process you’re in.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

6 Comments

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Tapestry Butterflies and Video Tutorial

Wool butterflies are my crayons. I use them to color the spaces of my color-by-number cartoon that’s under the warp. I am using Borgs 6/2 Tuna wool and Borgs 6/1 Fårö wool in this tapestry, combining strands of various colors to get just the right hue, value, and intensity. Getting that right is the hard part. Winding butterflies is the easy part. Especially if you learned it from Joanne Hall, as I did.

Pictorial tapestry beginning.
Start of new tapestry. Butterflies are composed of specific colors to achieve desired results for contrast, shading, and depth.

It is essential to know how to make a good butterfly when you want to weave a tapestry on a big floor loom like this. A good butterfly is compact enough to easily pass through warp ends. And secure enough to stay intact through all those passes. It also needs to have a tail that is simple to extend. A good butterfly never ends up in a knot or a jumble of threads, but instead, gives your hands pure delight as it flows through your fingers to color your tapestry.

Colorful tapestry butterflies.
Detail of colorful tapestry butterflies.
New butterfly is ready to fly in.
New butterfly is ready to find its place in the mix.

This video shows how I make my tapestry butterflies.

May your days be colored with delight.

From the crayon box,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Beautiful colors! 🙂 Nice, simple video. 🙂

  • Charlotte says:

    Good morning, dearest! What a lovely way to start my day…a fresh cup of coffee and your sweet video. I am so thankful that we were able to take Joanne’s workshop. I finally finished my sample and realize how much I like the movement in the cloth. There isn’t a cartoon in mind, for me. But, I hope one day to dream up something and put it on the floor loom.

    Thank you for blessing me with your faithful love and kindness…

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlotte, I, too, am grateful for that pictorial tapestry workshop! Movement in the cloth is a good way to describe it. It’s such a satisfying way to do tapestry.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Well, isn’t that slick?! Thanks to you and Joanne for sharing this trick!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, It is slick! Before I learned this simple method, my butterflies were nothing but trouble, coming undone and ending up in knots. Something so simple can make a huge difference.

      Have a great day!
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Thank you for the video on butterflies, Karen! I have tried them from a book illustration and was thoroughly disappointed. They were loose and sloppy so I bought tapestry bobbins instead.
    I am saving this video for a future planned project.

    May you have a blessed day. I am looking forward to seeing what you create with with these butterflies.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, It’s nice to have butterflies that hold together. I had trouble with mine, too, before learning this method.

      This tapestry will give me many hours of enjoyment! I’ll show it little by little.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Butterflies were used on a cardboard tapestry loom for a 1973 high school art project. The slick wrapping was not taught.

    It would appear there is more to learn, even I areas I was confident..

    Don’t know about West Texas, but after a humid, rainy and sunless Monday..Tuesday is dry and cloudless. Beautiful day! New skill! God is in the heavens today.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, You have a great memory. It’s sweet that you remember these details from a high school art project.

      In this part of Texas (not quite considered West Texas), sunshine and scattered clouds have been the norm. Every day is a good day!

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Allison Grove says:

    Thanks for this video. I’ve struggled with using butterflies, but now realize I haven’t been winding the tail end tight enough and too few times. Allison

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