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,”


  • Janie says:

    Would you mind sharing the draft for this rug? I am just at the point of wanting to do a double binding rug and am wondering how to get the variation in structure on each pick. Thanks.

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Janie,

      The draft for this rug is from “Swedish Rag Rugs 35 New Designs,” by VävMagasinet. “Happy Weaving,” from VävMagasinet is another book that has a double binding draft. Almost any Scandinavian rag rug book has double binding drafts.

      The variation in structure happens with the threading. Basically, there are two blocks; and since there is an upper and lower layer, the two blocks “trade places” from the front side to the back side.

      I will send you an email with a little more information.

      Happy Weaving,

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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,


  • chris b says:

    I love your videos Karen and learn so much from them. Thank you! Thank you!

  • Liz A says:

    Thank you for making the video. My fringe is going to look lots better next time I make it because of some of your ideas.

  • Karen says:

    Chris and Liz,

    Oh good! I am so happy you found the video helpful! I’m grateful you took the time to watch.

    All the best,

  • Sandy says:

    Terrific video! I learned fringe twisting a different way, without the first set of knots, and I’ve never been completely happy with the consistency. Thanks for showing me another option.

  • Liberty says:

    Beautiful scarves Karen! It’s nice to see how you do your fringe, I still need to learn so much and every little hint helps. Thank you!

  • Karen says:

    Sandy and Liberty,

    That’s the beauty of handcraft skills. There are multiple ways to produce desired results.

    I am not an expert, but I take a little of this, and a little of that, and eventually work out “my own” way. Truthfully, though, almost every little bit is something I have learned from a teacher or a book. Plus, a few things I learned the hard way through my own mistakes and mishaps.

    I’m glad to help you build up a repertoire of ways to do something, so you can get results you like.

    Thank you! I’m so glad you are here.

  • chris b says:

    Well Karen, as I have said your videos are really helpful. I have tried to use the twisters but did not knot my ends and of course they would slip off the fringe as I was twisting. Then I would get frustrated and go back to doing it by hand. Of course this killed my hands! So while I thought of knotting the ends I was too lazy (shame on me!), but now I know I should. Also, I can’t wait to try twisting the fringe on the loom as you showed in your previous video. Always wondered how this task was accomplished! Thanks again! And oh, your work is beautiful!

    • Karen says:

      Dear Chris, it makes me so happy that you find the videos helpful! Steve and I are having fun making them, so your comment is icing on the cake!

      When you do twist some fringe on the loom, let me know how it turns out.

      Thank you! and Happy Weaving,

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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,


  • linda says:

    Karen: go for it! it’s just thread. if you don’t like it when it’s done cut it up and make pot holders and dish towels. At some time someone had to be the first to try a new “weave”; if you don’t try…. it will always be that big WHAT IF. Try it on a sample loom first, then you’ll be able to see how it works and where you can change it to make it work for you. I have a friend who NEVER does anything by the seat of her pants. She always has to have instructions or someone show her how to do it the CORRECT way. I always think how boring and uneventful her life must be. Reaching beyond what we know, trying new things, BEING BRAVE, makes us richer and able to give more to others……so GO FOR IT!!!!!, linda

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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.



  • linda says:

    Karen: bands of any width can be woven on a regular floor loom. Then you can use beater bar. Or try turning your band loom so your sitting not on the side, but head on to the warp with weft perpendicular, then you can use a bigger shuttle and it becomes easy. Clamp the band loom to a table with a Jorgensen wood clamp from your husband’s shop if it moves too much. If you use both hands for the weaving (throwing the shuttle) then picking up the “beater” it may not be the way you learned, but necessity is the mother of invention of creativity, and isn’t that why “the master weaver “gave us the power to go beyond what we learn and make it better? These bands are great on purchased fleeces, around the collars and down the front, really dresses them up. linda

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, You make some really good observations.

      I have only woven a narrow band on my floor loom one time. I’m definitely going to consider that next time I need a little wider band.
      I would like to be able to turn the band loom, and weave from the end, but that puts me out of reach of the two treadles. There might be a way to rig something to work around that, though. As you say, necessity is the mother of invention… hmm… I’ll have to work on that.

      I like your point that “the master weaver” has given us the ability to take what we learn and make it better. We can always grow in knowledge and understanding. Creativity and problem solving is a major part of that.

      Thanks for your input,

  • Joanna Dyson says:

    Hi Karen,
    I just posted a photo of my band loom on my Pinterest Board ‘Band Weaving’ that shows the treadle in an end-on position. I’m sure it could be an easy and reversible modification to your Glimåkra.
    And thanks for the tips for neat color changes and turns on rag rugs.

    • Karen says:

      Joanna, that’s awesome! I haven’t seen a band loom set up like that before. Yes, that certainly is something I could do with my Glimåkra. Super!!
      Here’s a link to your band loom pin in case anyone else is interested in seeing it.

      I’m so grateful for the help from my blog friends. Thanks Linda and Joanna.


  • linda says:

    Karen: have your husband move the Left pedal to the right side, lengthen the pedals so the heddle attatchment end is directly under the heddles. shorten the cord between the heddles and the pedals. now you should be able to sit at the front of the loom. linda

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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,


  • John O'Shaughnessy says:

    So beautiful as it weaves . Thanks for this post.

  • Joanna says:

    Beautiful! Karen, how wide have you cut your rags and is the width what makes such amazingly flat turns at your color changes? I don’t like to think I’m an envious person, but oh my, your skills are putting me to the test!

    • Karen says:

      As a matter of fact… Shhh… I do have a little secret for getting flat turns at the color changes. I didn’t like the bulges I had been getting at color changes, so I started experimenting with reducing the width of the fabric strip when beginning or ending a color. I simply trim down the tapered end to about half its width, so there is less bulk where the end of the strip is woven back on itself.

      About the width of these strips… MOST OFTEN, my rag rugs are sett at 8 epi, and the rags are cut at 3/4″. BUT this warp has a sett of 6 epi, so I’m using wider strips than usual. With this current rug, I am cutting the strips at 1″; however, this is a heavier fabric than I usually have–almost light upholstery weight. With the “normal” lightweight cotton of the previous rug, the strips were 1 1/4″.

      Anyway, I think the two things that make the biggest difference at the turns is 1) turning the fabric strip in a consistent manner at the selvedge, and 2) pulling the fabric strip taut at the selvedge.

      I’m not sure if that is skill, or if it’s just knowing the little tricks. But I’m honored by your kind compliment!

      There you have it. 🙂

  • Sandy says:

    It is looking beautiful. I really must try this sometime….your posts are very inspirational to me as a new weaver.

    And…I have that same cart next to my loom. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandy,

      In a way, every weaver is a new weaver, because there is so much to learn. Welcome to the club!
      Yay for Ikea! I don’t know how I would do it without that cart.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Happy weaving,

  • Cindy Quinn says:

    To me, your posts are such delightful gifts and I always look forward to them. I’m grateful for all techniques, helpful insight and beautiful photography you share as I work to relearn how to weave on my antique Kessinich 4S jack loom that’s been in storage for 20 years. My fondness for rag rugs keeps my interests piqued; how are you piecing your strips together in this rug using this weight of cotton?

    • Karen says:

      Cindy, your kind words really touch me. I appreciate that so much.

      That’s wonderful that you are firing up your antique loom to get back to weaving. That is exciting. Of course, rag rugs… That’s the most fun!

      I don’t do any piecing. I trim the ends of my fabric strips to a long taper, and I overlap the tapered ends in the shed. That’s all there is to it. I don’t do any folding, sewing, or pressing the fabric strips. I take the easy way out and just wrap them on my ski shuttle and go. If you want a smoother look, you’ll need to do more prep work; but this is how I do it. I like simple.

      Happy weaving,

  • Trish says:

    I learn as much from the sharing in comments and as do in your journey of the week Karen…..grateful!

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