Quiet Friday: The Teaching Side of Weaving

This time I get to teach. I enjoy being a student, learning new things, and new ways of doing things. I also love to teach. It is a wonderful opportunity to come alongside a learner, to lead someone to see what they can achieve, to open up a door to fresh possibilities. This week I am in the teacher role. I’m eager to get to know the students and see the double binding rag rugs they will create as a result of our focused time together. And I am looking forward to learning what the students will teach me!

Preparations for rag rug weaving workshop.
Compiling notes and assembling folders takes place in my office, which is in my music studio.

Social media business cards

Gathering supplies to teach rag rug weaving class.
With my checklist in hand, I make little piles of supplies, tools, and examples in my weaving room.
Workshop supplies are stacked in plastic tubs.
Workshop supplies are stacked in plastic bins. The big duffle bags holds example double binding rugs.
Car is packed for roadtrip to teach rag rug weaving workshop.
Car is packed while there is still daylight. Road trip begins very early the next morning.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

May you teach what someone else wants to learn.

Happy Weaving,

My Mistake that Made Rug Warp Snap

Draw-in can wreck your weaving. Avoid it at all costs. Did you know that draw-in can cause even 12/6 cotton rug warp to break? First, two ends on the right, and then, an inch later, two more in the middle. I had ten broken warp ends in all. Strong, sturdy, Swedish rug warp! I was weaving miniature rugs. Between the absence of a temple, and my failure to place in enough weft, the drawn-in warp ends could not stand the abrasion they got from the reed. What started out as a bright idea ended up a “learning experience.”

Miniature rag rugs, side by side.
Double binding warp is divided into four sections to weave individual mini rag rugs.
Four mini rag rugs on the loom. Draw in was a problem.
Draw-in happened gradually, and didn’t seem to pose a problem until near the end. Then warp ends started snapping.
Finishing miniature rag rugs.
Mini rag rugs off the loom. After making all repairs and finishing the ends, they will be hemmed and ready for use as mug rugs and hot pads.

Words reveal a person’s core. When abrasive thoughts continue time and again, words eventually break loose from the tongue. The warp end breaks, and the stability of the rug is compromised. It may seem like the warp end is the problem, but the problem is the abrasion that led up to the breakage. Fortunately, broken warp ends can be fixed, with time and effort. But learning to eliminate the abrasion in the first place is the tactic I want to employ.

May you strengthen your core.

Your friend,

Does Your Weaving Show Your Very Own Style?

Have you developed a style all your own? I can identify some tapestry artists by their work, even before I see their name on the piece. One friend of mine weaves gorgeous silk scarves, and another one makes handtowels with exquisite color. Their woven items consistently showcase their individual style. In our little weaving group we even say, “It looks like you.”

Double binding rag rug on the loom. Karen Isenhower
Rag rug on the loom is almost complete. Moving the temple frequently helps produce tight selvedges, which, in turn, help ensure a finished rug that lays completely flat.

For most, personal style happens over time, by repetition of favored designs or techniques, until particular skills become second nature for the artist. One day they wake up and realize they have developed their very own style. In other cases, the unique style is clearly intentional, and artistically so. Either way, it’s admirable. Eventually, someone may see a rug I’ve woven and say, “That looks like Karen!

Everything we see that is glorious is a window into the glory of God. Look through the window. The whole earth is filled with the glory of God. If our small artistic attempts are reflected in what we make, is it inconceivable that the wonders in our universe have the Creator’s signature? Everything glorious puts the Grand Weaver’s personal touch on display.

May you find your personal style.

Happy weaving,

Double Binding Fun

Do people know how much fun it is to weave rag rugs? Next week I’ll be in Arkansas teaching what I love. This ten-yard warp is giving me ample rehearsal time for explaining double binding techniques. Mostly, though, I want to introduce students to the thrill of rag rug weaving!

Two ski shuttles for weaving double binding rag rugs.
Double binding uses two ski shuttles, because the structure has two layers woven together. Each side of the rag rug is the reverse of the other side.

I am puzzled by weavers who are not fond of weaving rag rugs. “It’s too slow,” I’ve been told. “It doesn’t interest me.” And what about weavers who have never attempted to weave a rag rug? “What?!” I want to say, “You have a weaving loom, and you’ve never tried weaving a rag rug?” That tells you more about me than it does about them. People are drawn to what they know and love, and they see that thing differently than someone who is not drawn to it.

The goodness of God is like that for me. I’m drawn to it. God is good. One famous saying of Jesus is that the pure in heart will see God. That motivates me to examine my own heart. I can’t think of anything better than seeing the goodness of God.

May you be drawn to good things.

(There is one opening left in my double binding rag rug workshop next week at Red Scottie Fibers in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. It’s not too late to sign up! If you’re interested, let me know.)

Warped for Good,

Threads Where They Belong

Does your mind wander for repetitive tasks? Each of 780 threads must pass through the small eye of a heddle–the correct heddle–to create the cloth that I have in mind. Threading 8/2 cotton in a straight draw, 1-2-3-4, is easy enough that I do it almost without thinking. Precision at this stage, however, is critical.

Threading heddles with Bockens 8/2 cotton.
Each section of 32 threads is tied into an overhand knot after the threading has been double checked for accuracy.

My mind goes in a thousand directions, sometimes, while my fingers continue to place the threads. With my hands on “autopilot,” anything can happen. For this reason, I make it a habit to double check the threading accuracy for each section I finish, thread by thread, saying out loud, “1-2-3-4; 1-2-3-4; …”

Like a thread going through the eye of the correct heddle, I want each of my thoughts to go through the door of truth. Truth is the key to a purposeful life. We get trapped by faulty thinking, but truth brings us to our senses and unlocks the trap. Bringing cohesiveness and clarity to all aspects of life, truth enables us to see the cloth that is being woven. Isn’t it time to stop and double check the threads of our thinking to make sure each thread is going right through the eye of the heddle?

May you fulfill your purpose.

Yours truly,