Weaving Mistakes I Would Rather Avoid

I got off to a bad start with this towel. I ripped out the border and started over at least three times. Each time I fixed an error I made a new mistake. And if that wasn’t enough, all the undoing weakened two warp ends, causing them to break. Ugh. Time to walk away and come back later.

Weaving error revealed.
Weaving error is revealed when I snap a pic for Instagram. White weft picks are out of order in the center of the weft border stripes.
Removing a weaving error.
After removing the first error, and weaving a re-designed border, I discover another mistake. Using ultra caution in good lighting, I clip the wefts between the center warp ends back to the error. Then, I carefully pull out each cut weft. And try, try again.

I believe in persistence, but we need to recognize when to give up and stop trying so hard. Could my own insistence on progress get in the way of progress? Yes. Coming back rested, with unclenched hands, I found myself able to complete the task with ease. Where did all the difficulty go?

Hand towels on the loom.
Success at last!

When I insist on my own way to overcome hardships in life, I don’t get very far. My frustrations blind me to my own errors. Relief comes when I acknowledge the limits of my efforts and put my trust in someone greater. The Lord multiplies what we put in his hands. Jesus once fed a crowd with the bread and fish from one person’s lunch basket. He starts with what we give him; and he increases it. As a result, when we come back to face the hardship, much to our surprise, we find our hands able.

May you know when to walk away and start over.


Big Dream Tapestry Starts Here

I dream of doing four-shaft tapestry with rosepath threading on my floor loom. I’m not there yet. It is an ambitious goal. I am inching my way toward that goal by facing little problems on my tiny frame loom and working out solutions as I go. Learning to follow a cartoon is part of the process.

Little girl tapestry in process, with Borgs Faro wool.
Little girl is being woven from the back, one row across at a time. The weft is Borgs Fåro wool, a single-ply that packs together nicely for tapestry weaving.

I derived the cartoon for this tapestry from a picture in a children’s book. The cartoon, held in place behind the warp threads, is my constant guide. As I make ongoing judgments about colors and other details, the cartoon keeps me on course and shows me the desired outcome.

Life is full of choices. If I purposely align myself with integrity, like a tapestry weaver following a cartoon, I have a guideline for decisions. But if I carelessly keep things in my path that tempt me, it’s like covering up parts of the cartoon with random post-it notes. The picture gets obscured. Our surroundings can set the stage for making good choices. And one good choice leads to another good choice. That’s the beauty of practicing with small things. When the time comes for four-shaft tapestry, I’ll be ready.

May you flourish in your surroundings.

A step at a time,

Quiet Friday: Thick and Thin

A vote of confidence from someone you look up to can make a world of difference. When I saw Joanne Hall’s exquisite towel made with thick and thin threads, I asked her, “Do you think I can weave something like that?” “Of course you can;” she replied without hesitation, “it’s plain weave.” Keep in mind that I was a complete novice on the floor loom; and I barely knew how to handle one shuttle, much less two! I plunged into the ambitious project and came out with a winner! The blue and cream towel hangs on the oven door in my kitchen as a daily reminder of the powerful impact of an encouraging word. Thank you, Joanne!

Cotton tea towel, thick and thin. Karen Isenhower
First thick and thin towel, completed as a beginning weaver. This is one of Erica de Ruiter’s designs, found in “The Best of Weaver’s Thick’n Thin,” Edited by Madelyn van der Hoogt.

Thick and thin is just as fascinating this time around. It is delightful to revisit a rewarding experience. Who knew that plain weave could be this much fun?

Zebra warp on Glimakra warping reel.
Zebra warp with thick and thin threads on my new Glimakra warping reel. One of three bouts, 10 1/2 meters.
Warping trapeze in action.
View from the crossbar at the top of the warping trapeze, looking down. Ready to untie choke ties and add weights to the warp bouts.
Threading Texsolv heddles.
Thick ends alternate with thin ends as the heddles are threaded. Left hand separates the shafts‘ heddles for ease of threading.
Ready to weave thick and thin towels!
Weaving begins as soon as the warp is tied on and the leveling string is secured. I use the first few inches to check the threading and sett, and to do some sampling.
Border pattern for cottoln towel on the loom.
First border is captured with my iPhone camera so that I can easily reproduce the pattern at the other end of the towel.
Plain weave with three shuttles creates interesting patterns.
I added a second double bobbin shuttle to make it easier and quicker to switch weft colors. Plain weave gets even more interesting with three shuttles!
Thick and thin cottolin towels on the Glimakra Ideal loom.
End of the third towel.
Black and white towels on the loom. Karen Isenhower
View from under the breast beam. I love to see the fabric rolled up on the cloth beam.
Temple in place for weaving black and white cottolin towels.
Temple keeps the fabric at the optimum width for weaving. Red cutting line serves as the separation between the end of one towel and the beginning of the next. Ready to start another fascinating pattern.

May you give a vote of confidence to someone who needs it.

Happy weaving,

Pass the Test with Black and White Weft

Who knew you could do so much with black and white? The pattern for this third black and white towel differs from the first two. Each new towel is an opportunity to create a new pattern.

Cottolin towels (thick & thin) on the loom.
Two red picks mark the end of towel #2. I always use red for the cutting line between pieces to prevent accidentally cutting at the wrong spot.

For the first four towels I am putting myself to the test, using only black and white weft. The color restriction turns out to be a designer’s advantage. It forces me to consider possibilities that I might have overlooked if I had allowed myself to include other colors. I get excited when I see ideas turn into cloth on the loom. It is still as delightful as it was the very first time I threw a shuttle. If you are a weaver, you know what I mean.

Here is an amazing thought: You can bring delight to God. It brings delight to the Lord when we trust in him completely. He knows the right plans, and knows when to stick with black and white, and when to throw in a splash of color. Think of his delight when we go along with his ideas, and the resulting woven cloth of our lives brings a smile to his face.

May your ideas turn into delightful cloth.

Happy weaving,

Weave the Portable Way

What do you do when you are away from your looms for a week? Portable weaving, of course. I thought about bringing my band loom, but fitting the band loom in the car turned out to be more of a hassle than it is worth. So the band loom stayed home.

Glimakra band loom with cottolin warp.
Band loom stays home.

I have my inkle loom with me instead, as well as my small tapestry frame. Steve is taking a woodcarving class from Dylan Goodson this week at the Texas Woodcarvers Guild Seminar; and while he is in class I am keeping my hands busy with portable weaving.

Woodcarving class by Dylan Goodson.
Steve beginning to shape his relief carving, following the finished example by his instructor, Dylan Goodson.
Linen inkle band.
First inkle band of the week is linen.
Cottolin inkle band warp.
Cottolin warp for the second narrow inkle band.
Cottolin inkle band.
Second inkle band almost finished.
Small tapestry on portable frame loom.
Start of a small tapestry of a little girl, derived from a picture in a children’s book.
Cottolin inkle band. Karen Isenhower
Time to put on one more inkle warp!
Woodcarver doing relief carving.
Adding more details to the relief carving. Good carving takes time and patience. Like weaving.

May you enjoy passing the time away.

Happy portable weaving,