Which Side Is Up?

Two shuttles required! With double binding rag rugs, each weft pick is double. The two wefts fall into place above and under each other, creating a two-sided fabric. The solid green that is visible on the top of this rug forms a different shape underneath. On the top side it looks like a cross from this angle. Underneath, it looks like a capital “I.” As in, “Me, myself, and I.”

Double binding twill rag rug on the loom. Karen Isenhower
Rug design is formed two rag picks at a time. Ski shuttles are an efficient way to carry the weft picks across the warp.

One interesting thing about designing double binding rag rugs is that I end up with two rugs in one. Simply turn the rug over for a different look. When the cross is up, the “I” is not seen. Flip the rug over, and the “I” is seen, but the cross remains hidden.

Pride can ruin people. The essence of pride is comparing yourself to others, and putting yourself above. Like most people, I find it hard to deny my own flattery. But being humble means refusing an inflated view of yourself. During this week when the cross of Christ is remembered around the world, I want to make sure my “I” is under the cross. The one who humbled Himself more than we can imagine leads the way. Woven in, behind the cross, my “I” finds its true identity–no more, no less.

May you show your humble side.

Isenhower with an “I,”

Quiet Friday: Cotton Scarves

One thing I learned is the scarf with the longest warp floats has the greatest shrinkage rate. Another thing I learned – again – is to plan a longer warp than what I think I need. The third scarf is significantly shorter than the first two because I ran out of warp. Table runner, anyone? I always include length for sampling, but I need to include more, more, more. Still, I am very happy with the finished results. And, you have a new video to watch! (Scroll down to see it.)

Cotton warp for scarves is tied on.
Warp of 8/2 cotton is tied on in 1-inch/2.5 cm sections. The leveling string evens out the warp for immediate weaving.
Cotton lace weave scarf on the loom. Fringe twister video.
First scarf, with dark green weft, has the longest warp floats. This scarf ended up shorter than the second scarf, even though the first scarf’s length on the loom was longer than the second scarf.
Cotton lace weave scarves on the loom. Fringe twisting info, too.
Second scarf, with citrine weft, has a border element created with light green weft (same as the warp), including warp floats. The plain weave before and after the border element helps create a natural ruffle at each end of the finished scarf.
Cotton lace weave scarves on the loom. Springtime colors!
Saving the best for last, I used a series of springtime colors to create this scarf. The varied lengths of the floats give an illusion of colored ribbons crossing the scarf.

I wet finished the scarves in the washing machine, adding a small amount of Eucalan, on the gentle cycle, with warm wash and warm rinse, and very short spin. They went in the dryer on low heat until damp, and then hung to dry the rest of the way. The scarves came out lightly puckered, which is exactly what I had hoped for. I could have washed them in hot water and left them in for a longer amount of time if I had wanted the scarves more dramatically puckered.

Twisting fringe using a fringe twister tool.
Two scarves with fringes twisted. One waiting to be a film star in “Using a Fringe Twister.” This is before wet finishing.
Three cotton lace weave scarves, and fringe twisting video. Karen Isenhower
Wet finishing happens after the fringe has been twisted. These scarves have done it all. They are finished.
My favorite scarf. For now...
First seen on Instagram @celloweaver #warpedforgood

There’s nothing like finishing a fun project! Clearly, I know what to do next… Dress the big loom and keeping on weaving.

May you learn something new every day.

Happy Weaving,

Weaving in the Comfort Zone

I like the comfortable feeling of weaving familiar things. Especially rag rugs and narrow bands. I also like to push my limits, doing projects that have new things for me to learn. The problem is, sometimes I am afraid of getting in over my head.

Linen singles for a woven band.
Loose warp chain with eight yards (7.3 m) of 16/1 linen for a narrow band.
Threading band loom.
Threading the band loom, with the threading sequence taped to the wall.
Glimakra band loom threaded with 16/1 linen for narrow band.
Linen threads show their personality.

If I’m not careful, I let the fear of failure keep me from trying. Decisions get put on hold. The big loom waits empty. Meanwhile, I stay in my comfortable zone. This new narrow linen band is that comfortable place for me. There is nothing wrong with enjoying this familiarity, letting the band practically weave itself. But at some point, I will have to step out of the boat, so to speak, and attempt the “impossible” things.

Linen band weaving on Glimakra two-treadle band loom.
Is there anything better than linen for band weaving? This is pleasure weaving. Glimåkra two-treadle band loom.

It has been told that Jesus walked on water. As the account goes, when Peter saw Jesus walk on water, he believed that Jesus could enable him to do the impossible, too. It’s not easy to walk on water. Just ask Peter; he faltered after just a few steps. But he tried! When we face insurmountable challenges, after sitting comfortably for a while, we need to try taking a few steps out on the water. Like Peter experienced, the hand of Jesus will be right there when we falter.

May you have courage to step into your next challenge.

Happy weaving,

My Wide Little Warp

I wanted to make a video for you, showing how I weave on the band loom. Unfortunately, I put on a wider warp than usual. My small hands can barely weave this wider band, putting me to the test. It is slow and sloppy as I struggle to make progress. Finally, though, the end is in sight! So much for pointing out common errors in band weaving. Ha.

Glimakra band loom weaving, using 12/6 cotton rug warp.
Band loom shuttle is carried through the warp with the left hand, and the right hand uses a tool, called a band knife, to beat in the weft. 1 3/4 inches / 5.5 cm is just wide enough that sending the shuttle through with one (small) hand is pretty tricky.

My difficulty in weaving this will show up in the finished piece. The main problem is lack of consistency. Some stretches are embarrassingly uneven and may not be usable. If I want to show someone else how to weave a wider band, I need to work on my own technique. I better get it right before I try to demo this for anyone else.

It is a virtue to correct your own mistakes before pointing out the faults of others. How easy it is to notice someone else’s “blind spot.” I wonder if sometimes we are seeing our own flaw, but we don’t recognize it until we see it on someone else. The next time I am tempted to highlight someone else’s mistake, I want to remember what it took to weave this band, errors and all.

May you always give, and receive, the benefit of the doubt.

P.S. I do have another video in the making. I’ll show you next week.
P.P.S. I will do a video on band weaving. Eventually.


This Rug in Particular

No improvising this time. Creating a rug to fit a particular space means staying true to the plan. In my measured design, each graph square represents two inches (5 cm) of woven length. So, I am not playing around with shortened or lengthened blocks. And no surprise colors, either. Every element has been determined in advance. I am paying close attention, being sure to measure accurately as I go. I keep thinking of my sister’s entryway, hopeful that this rug will be just right. (Sometimes I do play around with the design as I weave, like I described in Tools Day: Graph Paper)

Cotton yardage ready to cut for weaving rag rugs.
New cotton yardage is ready for cutting into strips for weaving double binding twill rag rugs. I am choosing four out of these six fabrics for this rug design.
Design graph for weaving a patterned rag rug.
Design graph sits on the cart next to my loom. A sliver of each selected fabric is scotch-taped to its color block on the graph for reference.

If I only consider the fun of weaving another rag rug, and fail to keep in mind the intended destination, I may create an interesting rug, but it won’t end up inside my sister’s doorway. The “fun” will be short-lived, and will produce disappointment or regret instead of finished satisfaction. That reminds me of something C.S. Lewis once said:

Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.

Double-binding twill rag rug on the loom.
Double-binding twill rag rug on the loom.

Dream of heaven. It’s the place where God Himself removes every cause of tears. No death, no mourning, or crying, or pain. Every thread and every color will be in place, as it should be. Just imagine the Grand Weaver, making preparations for our home coming, as He places the final handwoven rug on the floor. Perfect fit.

May you dream big.

To the Finish,