Simple Eight-Shaft Twill?

This eight-shaft twill, woven with string yarn weft, has a delightful raised-surface texture. The distinct pattern makes it interesting to weave. The treadling is / / / / This sequence completes one full diamond in the pattern. Simple enough, right?

Raised surface of eight-shaft twill, woven with string yarn weft.

Ski shuttle is able to hold a large amount of the string yarn weft. The string yarn produces a raised surface on this eight-shaft twill.

Simple, but not easy. The treadling reverses direction every twelve picks. I can’t tell you how many times I forget which direction I am going. When I make an error, I don’t see it until I’m two or three inches past. I’ve had to undo and do over several times. But when I get it right, for longer and longer stretches, it is a satisfying weaving experience. Everything on the loom is set up for my success. It’s the internal and external distractions that keep me from experiencing the best.

Midi stringyarn for weft in woven bathmat.

Midi stringyarn has about 26 fine strands of cotton thread grouped together.

Eight-shaft twill woven bath mat. Karen Isenhower

Terra cotta tiles come to mind…

We want life to be satisfying. My soul longs and searches for living water. Internal and external distractions keep me from getting a satisfying drink, but God has everything ready for me when I come. Our souls were made to long for God. Is he really there? Yes, the Grand Weaver is. There is no better way to explain the warp on the loom.

May your distractions disappear.

Happy weaving,


  • Julia says:

    Gorgeous, Karen! I certainly know that experience of such a treadling. You probably have a good solution, but here is one that worked for me. Write out the treadling just as you’ve done here on this post, and assign each step it’s own number 1-24. As you treadle count the numbers 1 – 24. At first it takes a while for the muscle memory to kick in, but pretty soon you will be floating along on those glorious Living Waters and singing praises the whole way!

    • Karen says:

      Dear Julia,

      That is a great suggestion! It makes perfect sense to number each step like that.
      I am definitely going to try it.

      Thank you so much!

  • Sandy says:

    I love the thought, like your loom is set up for your success, our Master weaver sets us up for success too. And I often get distracted. There’s always hope, & redemption…..a do over ūüôā

    What is “String Yarn”?

    • Karen says:

      Yes, there are do overs. I’m so thankful for that.

      String yarn is multiple strands of thin thread used together as one. It is commonly used for the thick weft in rep weave. I find that it also works as an alternative to fabric strips in rag rug weaving. Vavstuga sells it in three sizes and in many colors.

      All the best,

  • Debbie says:

    Lovely fabric and pattern. Love the texture in it! What will you use the fabric for? Thoroughly enjoy your thoughtful metaphors.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Debbie, I love the texture in it, too! It begs to be touched. I intend for this to be a large bath mat. I could change my mind after I see it off the loom… It will be a rug or mat of some sort.

      Thank you for your sweet encouragement!

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    I love this mat Karen, I can’t wait to try something like it myself! I am doing a Christmas gift for my Daughter next, then I’m going to try it! Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Liberty, That’s great! I think you will really enjoy weaving something like this! It’s almost like weaving a rag rug, except with this string yarn you don’t have to load the shuttle as often.


  • linda says:

    I have a stash of yarns cotton rayon wool novelty. I’m trying to use them up so when I do placemats, rugs….. I grab 5 different cones of complimentary colors and wind them on a shuttle to see if they’ll work. 99% of the time they do. I guess that’s string weft.

  • linda says:

    your project looks great. love it!

  • Kathryn says:

    Hi Karen,

    What’s the set on this project? Also, what do you use for the warp? I’m thinking of using hemp yarn for something new.


    • Karen says:

      Hi Kathryn,
      I away from all my notes at the moment, and I don’t remember the sett for this. I’m guessing about 8-10 epi. The warp is 12/6 cotton rug warp, as I recall. When I get home in a couple days I’ll check my notes and send you an email to verify the sett and the warp. I’ve never woven with hemp. I’m sure that will give you lovely results!

      All the best,

  • marlene toerien says:

    HI what is the draft for this.

    Thank you
    Marlene T.

  • Ellen Redman says:

    Hi Karen,

    I see this is an old thread, but I am looking to weave a bath mat myself. I did some experimenting with string yarn (after one of my adventures at Vävstuga) and found it is a lovely texture. BUT, I had a lot of difficulty making a nice transition when I needed to start and end a shuttle full of it. Do you have any tips for not ending up with a thready/frayed join?

    Love your blog and work!


    • Karen says:

      Hi Ellen, I cut the ends of the stringyarn to a tapered point to reduce bulk, and then overlap the tapered ends in the shed.

      I hope that is helpful.

      Thanks so much for your kind words.

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Quiet Friday: Woven Baby Wrap Baby

A new life in the family is cause for celebration and thanksgiving! I had the privilege of weaving a baby wrap while my daughter carried the new little life inside of her. A wrap being woven to hold Lucia, and a baby being woven in the womb. Beautiful and more beautiful. God’s blessings on Eddie and Melody as they love the gift they have been given.

Handwoven baby wrap holding new baby.

Handwoven baby wrap with baby Lucia. Photo credit: Eddie Fernandez (Lucia’s daddy)



Woven baby wrap, handwoven by the baby's grandmother.

In her mother’s arms… Photo Credit: Eddie Fernandez (Lucia’s daddy)

May you love and be loved.

Lola (Grandma)


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Below the Warp

Important things are happening below the warp on my eight-shaft countermarch loom. Eight upper lamms, eight lower lamms, and eight treadles beneath the lamms are at work. Shaft cords connect shafts to lamms. Treadle cords connect lamms to treadles. When the loom is all tied up, stepping on a treadle raises some shafts and lowers others, making it possible to send the weft across in a shuttle. And weaving happens.

Countermarch loom tie-up.

Heddles line up like soldiers, holding each warp end in place. Shaft cords reach down from the lower shaft bars and are attached to the upper lamms with little Texsolv anchor pins.

Tying up Glimakra Standard countermarch loom.

Treadle cords hang loose from the upper and lower lamms, each cord in its proper position.

Everything below the surface matters. When you start weaving, it won’t take long to see if all the connections work. When everything behind the reed and underneath the warp is set up properly, you can expect a pleasant weaving experience.

Tying up countermarch treadles.

Treadle cords reach down to the treadles to finish the line of connections. Cords are threaded onto a sharpened dowel beneath the treadle to hold the cords in place.

Joy is evidence of what is happening below the surface. You can see joy on the face of someone who looks to the Lord and trusts in Him. Joy is more than a smile. It’s a radiance that starts on the inside. Trusting in the Lord produces positive connections below the surface. That deep trust is formed through life’s most difficult moments– joy that is cultivated there endures. Like weaving on a countermarch loom, joy depends on true connections.

May you have reasons to smile.

Joyful Weaving,


  • Sandy Huber says:

    Hi Karen,
    “….that deep trust is formed through life’s most difficult moments-joy that is cultivated there endures” I’ve found that to be true as well.
    ….the joy of the Lord is my strength (Neheniah 8:10)
    I found your blog doing a Google search for, hand woven plain weave and loop rug. Your blog encourages me to keep learning & growing in my weaving & in my faith. Thank you for posting…..I will look forward reading your archives & to future posts.

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Those Little Heddle Eyes

Threading¬†heddles on eight shafts requires a different approach than my usual four-shaft routine (¬†You Can Prevent Threading Errors). With four shafts, the heddles fit nicely between my five fingers. I would need nine fingers on my hand to thread eight shafts in the same manner. The important thing is that every warp end gets inserted through the correct heddle. I have to position my loom bench¬†and adjust the height of the shafts. I need to be able to see and feel the heddle eyes …all the way to the back shafts. I take the warp ends in strict order, as they lay in the lease sticks, and insert each one through the correct heddle.
Threading eight shafts. Glimakra Standard loom.

Warp ends, threaded in pairs, go through heddle eyes in a specific order.

Threading an eight-shaft block twill.

Threading is complete for this eight-shaft block twill.

It can be a struggle to find that little heddle eye on the first shaft, way at the back, but you keep at it until you find it. Temptation is a trap, and we all get caught. There is a way out.¬†All the warp ends have a way out…through the heddles.¬†Look for the exit that God provides. And then run through it. You’ll find yourself in the right place at the right time. And the¬†need for explanations and¬†excuses is gone. With the warp threading¬†completed, we know our Grand Weaver is ready to weave¬†something marvelous.
May your threading errors be few.


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Not Afraid of Eight Shafts

The big loom is getting dressed. Block twill on eight shafts. New yarn for a new project brings excitement. And intimidation. With 12/6 cotton rug warp and string yarn weft, this is going to be a bath mat. Hopefully.

String yarn in terra cotta for woven mats with Texas style.

String yarn in this midi size comes in many colors. I chose terra cotta to give the planned mats a Texas flavor.

Rug warp ready for dressing the loom.

Three bouts of 12/6 cotton rug warp are ready for dressing the loom.

It’s been a couple years since I’ve done an eight-shaft block twill, and this one has some interesting twists. I’m not afraid to try it, though, because I am following a draft from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. I may make mistakes in the process, but my fears about trying this project evaporate as I refer to Laila’s instructions.

Eight shafts in "resting" position while beaming the warp.

Lower shaft bars are lifted up and placed on the upper shaft bars to move them out of the way for beaming the warp. The large safety pins prevent shaft bars from slipping out of place.

Threading heddles on eight shafts.

Threading heddles on eight shafts, one threading bundle of 48 ends at a time. There are two warp ends per heddle.

There are bigger fears than weaving woes. We face them every day in our families and in our communities, and in our private musings. Fear is a tyrant that holds us with threats and demands. Fear is the language of the pessimist within. Prayer opens us up to freedom from fear. We need clear instructions that give us confidence to face whatever comes. When we pray to the Lord regarding the things we are fearful about, he hears and answers. And he frees us from our fears.

May you rise above your fears.

Happy loom dressing,


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