Tools Day: Fringe Twister

A hemstitched edge deserves twisted fringe. You have to overlook the amount of time it takes to put this finishing touch on your handwoven articles (often as much, or more, time than it took to weave the cloth in the first place). You do it because you care about the end result. The hemstitching and fringe are the mat and frame for your work of art. Begin well and finish well.

Tools for twisting fringe.

Step 1: (First, with fabric not yet washed and dried, cut all fringe strands on both ends of article to an equal and even length.) A pair of two-pound walking weights holds the fabric in place for tying knots. This fringe twister tool has a long handle and four little alligator clips.

Steps for making twisted fringe.

Step 2: Tie an overhand knot a fingertip-length away from the end, securing four ends together. (Other projects may have more than four ends grouped together.) This extra step holds the secret to clean cut fringe ends (see step 7).

Fringe twister at work.

Step 3: Let each little alligator grab a knot in it’s teeth, four in a row. Crank the handle around until the twisted threads begin to kink back on themselves. Count the number of turns of the handle and repeat that same number of turns for each grouping.

Making twisted fringe. Step-by-step.

Step 4: Grab the strands from the first two alligators’ mouths, being careful not to let the strands unwind. Combine the two thread groups and tie an overhand knot a fingertip-width away from the first knots.

Making twisted fringe. Step-by-step pics.

Step 5: After the knot is tied, let the strands unwind in your hand, keeping them from tangling with neighboring threads. Snug the knot by holding the knot and pulling on the two smaller knots, one at a time.

Bamboo Shawl, ready to trim edges of fringe. Explanation about twisting fringe.

Step 6: Wet finish the fabric by a method suitable for the type of thread or yarn being used. Air dry completely, or other suitable method for drying. While still damp, separate and straighten each twisted fringe.

Secret for clean cut fringe ends.

Step 7: First set of knots are cut off, removing the frayed ends, and leaving clean cut ends.

Finished Bamboo Huck Lace Shawl. Karen Isenhower

Step 8: Wear your lovingly handmade creation to a very special occasion, such as to your daughter’s wedding.

This is a lesson for raising children and letting them go, too. You weave for years, give time-consuming attention to the finishing touches while they are in your hands, and then you let them go. Wedding in four days!

May you take the time to finish well.



  • Elisabeth Munkvold says:

    You do such beautiful work! I love the subtlety of the pattern and that the finishing touches are so clean and simple. Isn’t it interesting how what appears subtle and simple can sometimes be the most time consuming and challenging to make?

    And what a perfect way to prepare for your daughter’s wedding — to take the time to do something relaxing and peaceful in what is typically a very stressful period of a mother’s life.

    Have a wonderful week!


    • Karen says:

      Elisabeth, you are right about handwork being relaxing and peaceful. It’s like sitting in an oasis that is hidden somewhere in the center of a bustling city. With your hands busy, you are not in a rush, and you have time to sit and reflect and enjoy the quiet. I think there are very few people that “get” that.

      Thank you for the blessing dear friend.


  • Donde venden ese aparato para torcer los hilos?, quizas algun conocido me lo puedan comprar y traer, gracias

    Where they sell this device to twist the wires ?, maybe one known me what to buy and bring Thanks

  • Ashlee says:

    I recently wove a blanket for my little girl and wondered how to get around ending up with those frayed ends so this is exactly what I was needing! Thank you so much for posting! When you use the item and then wash it again does it fray at that point? Thank you again!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ashlee, I’m happy that you found this information useful! How special to weave a blanket for your little girl!

      I think you can expect the ends of the fringe to come out more fuzzy after washing, but they should stay pretty even, especially after it is dry. It will depend on what fibers you used and the washing method.

      Happy weaving,

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Count the Last Time Around

Counting down the days. Trying to reign in emotions as memories flood my mind of my little girl growing up. And resisting mild panic as I see loose ends dangling in wedding preparations. When I measure a warp, it is essential to accurately measure how many threads have accumulated around the warping reel. I keep track with a simple counting string. Measuring days is not that straightforward. Days pass by too quickly and too slowly at the same time.

Looking down at the counting string, measuring warp on the warping reel.

Looking down at the counting string that sections off every twenty threads. The counting string makes it easy to double-check the number of warp ends that are wound on the warping reel. This is the 12/6 cotton warp for the new rosepath rag rugs.

May your days be lengthened and/or shortened, as needed.

With sweet anticipation,


  • Eileen Crawford says:

    Thanks for the interesting view of counting time, like we count strings on the warping reel.

    Your reflections on time past and future, as you live in the now, come through your words.

  • Laurie Mrvos says:

    I feel that you must be sending her into this new phase of her life with many wise words and loving, firm guidance. She is a very lucky young woman, I am sure, and as bittersweet as this time must be, I say, well done, mom – well done.

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Best Kind of Music You Have Ever Seen

Do you have a melody? Being a musician at heart, it’s fun to think of my weaving loom as a musical instrument. This is an instrument that produces fabric instead of harmonies. Throwing a shuttle takes practiced precision, as does gliding my bow across the strings of my ‘cello. When I step on treadles to change sheds on the loom, I imagine myself on the bench of a majestic pipe organ, playing the low notes with my feet. Every pass of the shuttle brings the formation of a melody in color and pattern. Rosepath is the prettiest melody of all. And rhythm, of course, is felt and heard as I play the loom instrument.

Rosepath rag rug on the loom.

Rosepath rag rugs on the loom. Doing my favorite thing again.

I make textural melodies on my weaving loom. I am certain my maker takes note of the music I make here. Whatever you do with a thankful heart becomes a song. And that song is your gift to your maker. When you turn what you do into an instrument of praise you experience the smile of God.

I have a melody, and I have a Melody, whose birthday is today, and whose wedding is eleven days away. Maybe she needs a new rug as a housewarming gift…

May you sing your melody out loud.

With a thankful heart,


  • Suzie C says:

    How ironic!! Someone just posted a picture of their new loom on one of the Facebook weaving pages last week, and I commented that it looked like an organ! I said that instead of making music with the pedals, we make art with the treadles!

  • Maddie H says:

    Hi Karen, I love the rose path in this rug! I’m trying to figure this out myself so I was wondering if you have any suggestions for a beginner rose path gal. Any patterns or books that would help? Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Maddie, How exciting for you to start weaving a rosepath rug! My first rosepath rag rug (and still my favorite) was from “Favorite Rag Rugs 45 Inspiring Weave Designs” by Tina Ignell. It has beautiful designs, with clear instructions in English. The rug in this post is based on one of the drafts in this book.
      Let me know if you have any questions as you go along.

      Happy Weaving,

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Are You in a Pretty Mess?

You might think this looks like a mess. Maybe there is a vague sense of pattern and color, but doesn’t it look like the assortment of rya knots are in a random arrangement? Guess again. Let me give you another view.

Rya knots, an assortment of colors in wool yarn.

Each colored wool strand is knotted by hand around doubled warp ends. Mora wool is doubled on the quill in the shuttle for the background weft, woven in a rosepath pattern.

Change the perspective of the camera, and you will see the simple, but distinct, pattern and order that is woven into this design.

Layered rya knots on the Glimakra Standard loom.

A simple stripe arrangement enhances the layered look of rya knots. The row of reds and violets is repeated to give prominence to that color family.

We think we are able to know all there is to know, but that’s just not true. We see from a human perspective. Is it possible that there is more than science, education, and philosophy can explain? God is greater than we think. His view of his creation is from a higher angle. He knows what he made and how he designed things to operate. We study and discover how it all works, but we didn’t make it. Our grand weaver is great. No one knows how great he is. But when things look like a pretty mess, we can trust he has a plan that will weave the assorted threads into a beautiful work of art.

May you see beauty even when things seem to be a mess.

In a pretty mess with wedding plans (only two weeks to go!),

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