En Plein Air Weaving

It is delightful to weave in scenic surroundings! After two full days of hiking and exploring remote vistas in Big Bend Ranch State Park we had a leisurely do-nothing day. Time to take the loom outdoors. En plein air weaving!

Casita in Maverick Ranch RV Park at the base of Lajitas Mesa.
Our campsite is at the base of Lajitas Mesa.
Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas.
Hiking the Fresno Divide Trail in Big Bend Ranch State Park in west Texas.
Mountainous view in the desert of Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas.
Mountainous views in the desert.
Fresno Canyon in Big Bend State Park, Texas.
Fresno Canyon vista, with the mountains of Mexico in the distance.
En plein air tapestry weaving by the Casita travel trailer.
En plein air tapestry weaving during a leisurely morning. Camera tripod cover doubles as a loom topper that prevents the loom from scratching the Casita.
Casita Travel Trailer - tapestry in progress!
Wool yarn for the Casita tapestry is wound on labeled cards and kept in spare Tupperware Modular Mate containers.

We also went exploring in Big Bend National Park.

Hiking the Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park.
Hiking in Santa Elena Canyon, with Mexico to my left and USA on my right. And the Rio Grande River in between.
Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park.
Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park, the least visited National Park in the United States.

And then, I like to wind down the day with some quiet evening tapestry weaving in the Casita. And Steve pulls out his travel pouch for some leisurely woodcarving. Ah…all is well.

Tapestry weaving of our Casita Travel Trailer.
Ending the day with some quiet tapestry weaving.

May you find delight in your surroundings.

Happy adventuring,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Nannette says:

    Just when I think God’s world cannot possibly be more beautiful, surprise! Wow, oh wow!

    Nannette

  • Beth says:

    What a treat for you! Thank you for sharing photos of this part of our country. It’s breathtaking!

  • Lynn says:

    Love the photos and seeing what you are doing – thanks for sharing!

  • Annette says:

    Big Bend National Park has been on my bucket list for years. I am so glad that you are adventuring there, Karen. At least I get to enjoy it vicariously.

    You have a definite talent for tapestry weaving! I have yet to try that, also. Although I purchased a tapestry weaving book about a year thinking that I would like to try that,too, someday. For now I will just enjoy my bucket list vicariously with you. Keep posting, Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I hope you do make it out to Big Bend! It’s definitely worth the drive.

      Thank you for your encouraging words about my tapestry weaving. I don’t feel very confident in that area. I like doing it, though, so I keep trying.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    Hi Karen,

    What a great way to retire! Exploring more of Texas is on my list. We made a trip to the hill country a couple of years ago and I thought I could surely give up my die-hard Yankee status.

    May I ask what your warp and weft are, and approximate sett? Your tapestries are wonderful, don’t sell yourself short. The emotion and character of the subject/setting come through quite powerfully.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, When you make it back to the hill country, be sure to come by for a visit!

      The warp is 12/6 cotton rug warp; the sett is about 10 epi. I have 16/1 linen weft that alternates with the wool pattern weft. Most of the weft is 2 or 3 strands of wool – 6/2 Tuna and 6/1 Fårö wool, but there are a few other odds and ends mixed in.

      I appreciate your kind thoughts so much! My intent is to present expressive tapestry weaving, and it sounds like that is what comes across to you.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    Thanks for your reply. My hubby gave me a Mirrix Big Sister and I want to be sensible about the sett.
    Your portrait of your granddaughter was so loving and the funny little gecko made me laugh every time I got a glimpse.

    Thanks for the invitation. Same goes for you if you’re up in Colorado.

  • Linda says:

    Seeing your frame loom reminds me of days gone by.

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Process Review: First Drawloom Warp

There are two questions I hear most often. 1. How long did it take? 2. What is it going to be? These are hard questions to answer. I admit that I stumble around to find satisfying answers. 1. How long? Hours and hours. 2. Cloth. It is going to be cloth. What will the cloth be used for? I don’t know. But when I need a little something with a pretty design, I’ll know where to find it. There are two finished pieces, though, from this first drawloom warp: the Heart-Shaped Baskets table runner (adapted from a pattern in Damask and Opphämta, by Lillemor Johansson), and a small opphämta table topper that I designed on the loom. The rest are samplers, experiments, tests, and just plain fun making-of-cloth. Oh, and I wondered if I could take the thrums and make a square braid…just for the fun of it.

First warp on my drawloom. Success!
Opphämta piece on the left, with Fårö wool pattern weft. Heart-Shaped Baskets runner on the right, with red 16/2 cotton pattern weft. Ten pattern shafts.

I will let the pictures tell the story of this first drawloom warp.

May you have plenty of things to make just for fun.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

15 Comments

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All the Looms

The plan to keep every loom dressed is easy when there is only one loom. Now that I have four floor looms, it’s a tough plan to follow. The drawloomcheck. The Glimåkra Standard, dressed in Tuna wool—check. The two smaller looms are threaded, and just need tying on and tying up. So, I’m well on my way! The end of the first warp on the drawloom is in view, however. That means the drawloom will soon be back in the queue. And so it goes.

Winding a warp for rosepath rag rugs. 12/6 cotton. Spring colors.
Winding a warp for rosepath rag rugs. 12/6 cotton. Spring colors.
Warp for cottolin towels.
Warp for cottolin towels is threaded on the little hand-built loom.
Opphämta on the drawloom.
Opphämta on the drawloom. Pattern weft is 6/1 Fårö wool. The right side of the fabric is seen underneath, as it comes around the breast beam.
Threading heddles on the Glimåkra Ideal.
Threading heddles on the Glimåkra Ideal.
Blue and Almond Tuna wool warp.
Blue and Almond Tuna wool warp is tied on in 1″ sections.

I like to stay a step ahead of my looms. I’m ready to wind a new warp as soon as I finish cutting off. It’s the cycle of weaving. But I have trouble staying ahead.

Tying up treadles on the Glimakra countermarch.
Twelve shafts. Twelve upper lamms. Twelve lower lamms. Twelve treadles. This is an amazing system.
Warp is tied on. Ready for rag rugs!
Warp is tied on. Ready to add the leveling string.
Loom is dressed for small wool double weave blanket.
Loom is dressed. Treadle cords are adjusted. Ready for weaving!
End of warp on the drawloom.
End of warp comes near the pattern heddles. This is my first drawloom warp, so I’m waiting to see how far I can weave until I lose a good shed. So far, so good.
My first drawloom warp.
Closing chapter of my first drawloom warp. I’ll keep “turning pages” until the shed disappears.

We have good plans for our lives. But often, it’s tough to follow those plans. Too many things happen at once, and we don’t know how to stay ahead of it all. The thing to remember is that our plans stem from our inner commitments. When we commit our ways to the Lord, trusting him, he leads us through our days. Trust turns plans into achievements. And those are the plans worth pursuing.

May your best plans succeed.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

15 Comments

  • Robin says:

    I love your posts. You are such an inspiration. And it is so evident you went to vavstuga, using the techniques she taught. Going there for the basics class was a little retirement gift to myself last year.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Robin, Going to Vavstuga Basics was one of my best moves. I learned things from Becky Ashenden that I use every day. I’m glad you’ve had the Vavstuga experience, too!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Beth says:

    Robin is right, you are an inspiration! Your work is impeccable and motivating. I have only two looms and can’t seem to get them going at the same time.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, The truth about multiple looms is that you can only weave on one loom at a time.

      Now that all the looms are threaded I may focus on one loom at a time and weave it off. …unless I get distracted by another loom and decide to weave a little on it…

      Thank you for your kind words,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,

    About this time last year I warped up my homemade loom at the top of my skill set in rosepatth, then life got in the way. Last week I started a 6 week class at the Fiberwood studio near by. Chosen pattern is rosepath, to get my skills where they need to be (and girls night out with a friend).

    Such joy to know you have also chosen rosepath to show on your blog.

    God does provide to the ready student.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I’m happy to hear you are interested in rosepath. Rosepath rag rugs are at the top of my list of favorite things to weave. It’s been way too long since I’ve had them on the loom.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Maria says:

    I just finished my first “ throw” . It was 46 wide in the reed. I had a terrible time keeping the edges and the floater broke a few times. Not my best weaving to say the least. How wide do you do your blankets and do you have any tips for weaving wide pieces? I would love to try the Tuna wool- what epi do you use for it?
    Thanks Karen!
    Maria Navarra

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maria, I know what you mean about facing challenges with a wide weave. I don’t use floating selvedges, so I can’t answer to that. I do use a temple. I find the temple helps me get consistent selvedges with wider widths. The weaving width of my biggest loom is 47″, and I have woven nearly that full width. Getting just the right tension on the warp is necessary, so that it’s just tight enough. If it’s a bit too loose, my shuttle wants to fall through.

      Here’s a page from Vavstuga’s website with a “recipe” for a Tuna wool blanket. I would go with that for a first time Tuna wool throw. It makes a terrific throw. http://store.vavstuga.com/product/yarn-borg-woo-tuna.html

      The one I have on the loom right now is double weave, and the sett is pretty dense, so it takes some patience and practice to make the wool open up with a decent shed.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Karen says:

    The last time I got both of my looms warped at the same time I took a photo….so I could prove I did it and so I could remember it….ha. Thank you for your encouragemment and inspiration, including a journey of faith.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, Don’t forget it has taken me about 3 months to finally get all the looms (almost) dressed. Haha. There’s never a chance to get bored around here.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Good morning, Karen. Thank you for the inspiration regarding best laid plans.

    And the inspiration for weaving. I purchased a Megado recently and I am struggling with the follow through and putting it into use. Life does try to side track. However, I need to remember to hang onto the plan and trust in God.

    Hopefully, I will get to the Hill Country one day to visit.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, We would be delighted to have you come for a visit!

      There are many things in life more important than dressing looms. I’m sure those are the things you are attending to.

      I have found that I can make it a practice to go to the drawloom every morning after breakfast, even if for a short time. And, it surprises me how those minutes add up over time and now I’m almost at the end of the warp. I think, How did that happen?

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Liz says:

    I am so blown away with how prolific you are with weaving! It takes me all day to dress my little Schacht! I am inspired watching your work! Thank You!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liz, It’s all one step at a time, little by little, day after day. It adds up. I think you’re doing quite well to dress your loom in a day!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Tried and True: Center the Reed

Eleven hours and thirty-six minutes into this project, the starting line for weaving is just around the corner. Wind the warp, and beam it. Thread the heddles. Sley the reed. Unlock the back beam ratchet. Move the countermarch to the front of the loom. … Pause when you think about moving the twelve shafts and the reed forward with the countermarch. Reach. Wiggle. Pull. Wiggle. Pull some more. Got it. Now, put the reed in the beater. Relax? Almost, but not yet.

Time to move the whole shebang forward.
Reed is sleyed, so reed support cords have been removed. Time to move the whole shebang forward.
Ready to insert the reed into the beater.
Plastic-coated wire is threaded through the ends of the shaft bars because I don’t have shaft pins long enough for twelve shafts. After coaxing and wiggling the mass of shafts forward, with the countermarch above them, I am ready to insert the reed into the beater.
Basics: How to center the reed.
As I put the reed in the beater I make sure all of the ends are free, and not trapped in the beater’s grip.

We must not forget to center the reed. I center the reed just as soon as the reed is in the beater.

How to Center the Reed

(We are actually centering the warp that is in the reed.)

Supplies needed: Tape measure (or string)

1. Using the tape measure, measure from the right edge of the warp in the reed to the outer edge of the beater on the right-hand side. Hold the tape measure with your fingers marking the measurement.

Center the reed.


2. Holding that measurement, place the tape measure at the left edge of the warp in the reed stretching out toward the outer edge of the beater on the left-hand side.

How to center the reed.


3. Note the difference in measurement between the right side and left side. Move the reed in the beater to center.


4. Repeat the first two steps until the measurements are the same on both sides.

Centering the reed.
Tips for centering the reed in the beater.
Tips for centering the reed in the beater.
Reed is centered.

Now you can relax. Enjoy the moment, because you are that much closer to seeing fabric take shape!

May you enjoy the process you’re in.

Patiently,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Trina says:

    Only a weaver would appreciate the amount of concentration that has gone into getting to this point! Well done!

  • Beth says:

    Gosh! So much involved with setting up a countermarch. I’ve only dealt with easy-peasy jack-types. I agree with Trina’s sentiment.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, The countermarch seems straightforward to me. It’s all I know. Having 12 shafts does add some complexity though, I admit.

      It’s what we get from the loom that counts, and I always admire the cloth you weave!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    I do not yet enjoy setting up the loom. It is so hard to wait to throw the first shuttle. But, like all things worth doing, the solid foundation makes the end result beautiful.

    Praise God .

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I find the setting up process calming (most of the time), but I understand that each of us approaches the loom differently. Point well taken that a solid foundation makes the end result beautiful.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Thank you for always showing us your process! It is fascinating. I had to chuckle at the “eleven hours and thirty -six minutes…” I recently spent hours working on a cramming and denting project only to find as I began to weave that I’d missed a dent in the sleying. Then missed catching it when I tied on. And when I first started to weave! Oh boy, patience is required then, for sure. It is important to love the process and the blessing of it all. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, I think denting errors are the worst of all. After I finished sleying this one I realized that I had missed the step of checking the number of dents in each grouping. I’m hoping, hoping that I won’t have to regret that later. But even re-sleying becomes part of the whole process, doesn’t it?

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Vivian says:

    What a beautiful warp. It is inspiring.

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Beaming Double Weave

This is double weave on twelve shafts. One layer is the gorgeous lapis lazuli blue. The other layer is neutral almond for contrast. I am spreading and beaming this 6/2 Tuna wool warp with two sets of lease sticks—one set for each layer/color.

Big fat warp chains. Tuna wool for double weave.
Big fat warp chains. Double weave on twelve shafts, with 6/2 Tuna wool for warp and weft.

When you have two sets of lease sticks, though, it is a serious challenge to get the two colors to alternate correctly as you move the end loops to a separate stick. The ends on the stick are then transferred to the back tie-on bar. I did breathe a sigh of relief when everything was finally lined up and in order.

Double weave. Ready to beam the wool warp.
Two sets of lease sticks carries the challenge of having clear visibility of the lease cross in both warp layers. After one or two do-overs, all the yarn is successfully moved to the back tie-on bar. Moving from right to left, I separate and straighten each warp end on the tie-on bar. Only a few more left to straighten.
Ready to beam this wool double weave warp.
Back tie-on bar all in order. Now ready to move the pre-sley reed to the beater and begin beaming the warp.

And I’m reminded again how beautiful a beamed warp is. It’s worth the challenges.

Tuna wool warp on Glimakra Standard.
Warp beam and back beam show the beamed warp.
Wool warp separated into threading groups.
Separated into threading groups for the next phase of dressing the loom.

That beautifully ordered wool on the back tie-on bar, now hidden from view, is an essential element for quality handwoven cloth. Kindness is that way. It’s a core trait deep in one’s character that is revealed in interactions with others. Kindness makes you beautiful. It’s not something you try to be. It’s something we wear. It’s our inner being dressed in the character of Christ.

May you be dressed in kindness.

Affectionately yours,
Karen

4 Comments

  • So much more to learn.
    Thank you for showing the way.
    Nannette

    Off topic… My goal today is to post photos of the Wasaukee February 15, 2019 snow fall that the fuel truck had to deliver to. And my Yooper husband played in. Thank you for the the intense color of your post. White on white is nice in small doses.

  • Elaine says:

    Beautiful! What are you making? And, what is on the back beam? It looks white and the beam looks wider. Your posts are inspiring in so many way. Thank you

    • Karen says:

      H Elaine, Thank you!

      You may be referring to the aluminum beam cover I have on the back beam (I have one on the breast beam, too). It protects the wood from getting grooves in it from the beam cords that run over it while beaming the warp. It’s a normal-size back beam, but I can see how the aluminum cover makes it look wider.

      I’m making a small wool blanket.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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