Process Review: Christmas Tree Skirt Fabric

This is a Christmas tree skirt in the making. The next stage of this special project will include appliqué and embroidery. The embellished tree skirt should be complete by the time Steve and I put up our Christmas tree this year. This luscious white-on-white wool cloth is just the beginning. Some colorful handwoven remnants will tell the rest of the story. I’ll let you know when that part is finished…

At the very end, with the back tie-on bar right behind the shafts.
Back tie-on bar is right behind the shaft bars. The shed is compromised, but I am still able to squeeze my shuttle through to weave enough picks to empty my quill.
Just off the loom, unwashed handwoven wool fabric.
Just off the loom, unwashed. 8/1 Möbelåtta unbleached wool warp and 6/1 Fårö bleached wool weft.

I thoroughly enjoyed the one-shuttle monotone weaving. It was a quiet stream amid my other rambunctious color-filled looms.

Handwoven fabric for a Christmas tree skirt.
Wash on delicate cycle in the washing machine. Place in dryer on low heat for ten minutes. Air dry to finish. Snuggle.

Here’s a view into the process of making this cloth.

May your days be merry and bright…

Happy early Christmas,
Karen

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Handwoven Detail Notes

It is the smallest of details that set handwoven towels apart from ordinary towels. With that in mind, I am writing some detail notes in the margin of my project notes. Borders: Towel 1 – sea blue, apple green – contrast thread – ultramarine; Towel 2 – ultramarine, sea blue – contrast thread – maize; Towel 3 – apple green, ultramarine – contrast thread – sea blue; Towel 4 – dusty, sea blue – contrast thread – apple green.

Cottolin bath towels coming up!
Beaming the cottolin warp for bath towels.
Warp is tied on and leveling string is attached.
Warp is tied on and leveling string is attached.
Preparing to weave 7-color bath towels.
Seven different colors of wound quills. All seven colors are in each towel, warp and weft. The weft sequence varies with each towel.
Boat shuttles vie for the starting line, like in a regatta.
One boat shuttle for each color. This reminds me of sailing with my dad and my sisters. Boat captains would vie for the regatta starting line, shouting, “Starboard!”

There are seven colors of cottolin in the warp, and the same seven colors in the weft, just like the accompanying hand towels I completed in April. (See Process Review: Jubilation Hand Towels.) Narrow warp-wise and weft-wise stripes of broken twill produce interesting patterns in the cloth. The deep borders I am planning on the bath towels give me a chance to add simple details that only a handweaver can do.

White ribbon shows where to place details on the handwoven bath towel.
After weaving a short section to test the threading, I start the first towel. A red line, as always, denotes the cutting/starting line. I placed marks on the white ribbon at the left that show me where to place details along the length of the towel.
Simple handwoven details make all the difference.
Single ultramarine thread is laid in with the sea blue to outline a change of treadling. A simple handwoven detail.

Have you ever identified a master craftsman by the specific details that show up in the hand-crafted article? In the same way, we can recognize our Maker’s hand through the magnificence of the details we see in each other. You are his masterpiece. Hand-written instructions guide the details. When we come to the Lord as our Maker and Redeemer, we find his hand-written details woven into our hearts, something only the Grand Weaver can do.

May you attend to the details.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    These towels are so beautiful…and as always, your words of faith, reminding us of the blessings we have been given by God. Thank you for your inspiration! I know you give the credit for all you do to our Lord. God Bless you! 🙂

  • Beth says:

    Beautiful color choices and details!

  • So pretty. I hope one day to be able to make towels like this. Thank you for your help to the weaving world.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Brigitte, One step at a time, and before you know it, you’re weaving the very things you were hoping to do. This has been my story, and I’m sure it will be yours, too!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    It is the details between common chocolate cookies and Boston cream pie.

    May we all enjoy Boston cream pie from a master craftsman.

  • Joanna says:

    Isn’t broken twill a blast to thread? I just love it. Your towels will be lovely.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, Yes, I do enjoy a threading pattern that requires thinking. The treadling is that way, too, with these towels. This is the kind of project that is very satisfying to do.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Anonymous says:

    Always love your posts! I love the way you incorporate a story into each post. I hope to weave this well one day! I’m a super beginner.

    • Karen says:

      Hi super beginner, You have a kind way of expressing yourself. Thank you for the encouraging words! I have no doubt by you will reach excellence in weaving. All it takes is time, practice, and patience. Enjoy the journey!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kristin G says:

    I look forward to seeing the finished towels. I’m sure they will be gorgeous! And I particularly enjoyed hearing about the memory of sailing with your family. Those must be precious memories!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kristin, Those sailing memories are memories I cherish! I’m looking forward to putting these towels to use as soon as they’re finished.

      Thanks so much!
      Karen

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Tried and True: Checklist for Winding a Warp

I am winding a narrow warp for my next drawloom project. My warping reel is in a little four-foot-by-four-foot corner of my drawloom studio, and has just enough room to maneuver. When I am ready to wind a warp the first thing I pull out is my trusty checklist. I use a checklist for efficiency. It keeps me on track. And it’s more dependable than my memory.

Checklist for Winding a Warp

__ Weigh warp thread and write the amounts on the project notes. By weighing the thread before and after a project, you will know exactly how much warp thread was used in the project.

__ Stick a sample four-inch thread to each thread label; put a rubber band around the tube. After you finish winding the warp, you can quickly pair each yarn with its correct label because of the sample thread stuck to the label.

__ Bring supplies to the warping reel. If your warping reel is in a different room, or in a separate building, like mine is, make sure you have all you need before you head to the warping reel.

+ Thread for the project

+ Thread stand, if not already in place

+ Scissors

+ Choke ties

+ Project notes, with fully completed draftAn incomplete draft may give faulty information. Also, a review of the project notes and draft is a good idea, especially if weeks or months have passed since you wrote it all down.

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Set up the warping reel for warp length. Use a guide string, or measure the distance needed to place the pegs and turning pin at the right place on the warping reel for the warp you are going to wind.

Checklist for winding a warp.
Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Set out the thread on the thread stand. Wind the warp with two or more threads at the same time, for best results.

__ Hang or tape up the project notes at eye level. Project notes show the warp sequence and other vital information.

__ Take note of warp length, number of bouts, and number of ends in each bout. Aim for 25 cm (10”) or less in the reed, or 200 or fewer ends, per bout. For the drawloom, wind the warp in pattern unit increments when possible.

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Wind first bout, counting warp ends. Use a cord between groups of ends to keep track of the counting.

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Visually check the warp order. Check to see that the warp order on the warping reel matches the warp sequence on the project notes. (I added this step to my checklist after the time I omitted 6 threads at the center of a warp, discovered after threading the loom.)

__ Tie off around the turning pin or the outside peg. Always wind the last pass with two or more threads together so you can tie them around the pin or peg.

__ Tie the lease cross; and tie choke ties on the warp. Tie the cross first, and tie any passes of the warp directly above the cross. Then, spin the wheel and tie the warp wherever it passes on the side opposite the cross. Also tie at the turning pin, at the top and bottom of the loop.

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Chain the warp bout. Start the chain by holding the loop at the turning pin, and pull out the pin. Chain the warp, ending at the cross. (I use my knee, not so gracefully, to control the turning of the reel as I chain the warp.)

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Place the warp bout on the loom, with the lease cross end going through the beater.

__ Wind remaining bouts, following the same procedure. When you place the warp chain on the loom double check the warp sequence to make sure the bouts are in the right order.

Checklist for winding a warp.
Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Roll up the thread tubes, replace labels, weigh thread and write down amounts, and place thread tubes in project bin. Each loom has its own project bin to hold the thread for that project.

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Put away the choke ties, scissors, and thread holder.

__ Fold up the warping reel.

Checklist for winding a warp.

Get ready to dress the loom!

Checklist for winding a warp.

May you enjoy the process.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Elisabeth says:

    Thank you so much! I realize it has been awhile, long enough to forget the steps. I’ll wind a warp today following these instructions. Then I will have two towel warps and can hopefully dress the loom without my usual long pause I’ll weave the easy one first, to get back into it, and have as a goal to have some towels ready as Christmas gifts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I’m glad you can use this! A checklist really helps me when I’ve been away from the loom for a while. I don’t have to re-think everything. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your towels. They will be beautiful, I’m sure!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Ah, yes, tie the cross. I don’t know how many times I’ve come *this close* to forgetting that step.

  • Karen Simpson says:

    Thank you so much….I’ve never weighed before to determine usage amount…will do. I also number my bouts with a sticky…learned the hard way..ha….

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, I’ve learned a lot of things the hard way, too. 🙂 I also weigh my weft thread before and after. The accumulated data helps when planning new projects.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Barbara says:

    I use a different color tie at the top of the lease cross so I know which way is up when taking the warp bout to the loom. Got confused once with a striped warp, took a bit of “undoing” to be sure I didn’t have the same colored stripes next to each other.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barbara, Thanks for sharing your helpful tip. Getting the warp bouts mixed up at the loom is not fun. Some of our best lessons come through fixing our mistakes!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Summa Irukalam says:

    This is terrific! Thank you.

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Mug Rugs to Remember

Knowing I would be away from my floor looms for a while, I put a narrow cottolin warp on my little Emilia rigid heddle loom to take with me. Mug rugs—perfect for travel weaving, to use bits of time here and there. I had some bulky wool yarn and a few rag rug fabric strips to take for weft. In a burst of hopeful inspiration, I grabbed a bag of Tuna/Fårö wool butterflies, leftover from my Lizard tapestry (see Quiet Friday: Lizard Tapestry) a couple years ago, and tossed it in my travel bag as we were going out the door.

Mug rugs on Glimåkra Emilia rigid heddle loom.
Glimåkra Emilia 35cm (13.5″) rigid heddle loom. Narrow cottolin warp is from a previous warp-winding error that I had chained off and saved.
Mug rugs on my Glimakra Emilia rigid heddle loom.
Blue bulky wool yarn left from a long-ago project makes a good thick weft for mug rugs. Picks of navy blue tow linen are woven between picks of thick weft on some of the mug rugs.
Weaving mug rugs on my Glimakra Emilia rigid heddle loom.
Wool butterflies for the weft are made of several strands of Tuna and Fårö yarn.

Those colorful wool butterflies turned out to be my favorite element! They not only gave me colors to play with, they also provided variety, the spice of weaving. The forgotten Lizard butterflies will now be remembered as useful and pretty textiles.

30 mug rugs on the rigid heddle loom.
The end of the warp.
Mug rugs just off the rigid heddle loom.
Rag rugs for mugs!
Rag rug fabric strips are used for a few of the mug rugs. Rag rugs for mugs!
Mug rugs ready to be hemmed.
Mug rugs are cut apart to prepare for hemming.
Making handwoven mug rugs.
Hems have been folded and pressed under. Choosing bobbin colors to sew the hems.
Wool handwoven coasters.
Wool butterflies provided many different colors.
Handwoven wool coasters woven on a rigid heddle loom.
Alternating two different colors of wool butterflies was my favorite way to play with color.
Mug rugs for gifts.
Completed mug rugs, ready to be sent out as gifts.

How do you want to be remembered? Like my tapestry-specific butterflies put away on a shelf, our carefully-crafted words will soon be forgotten. Actions speak longer than words. Our deeds of faithful love will outlive us. Our actions that reveal the kindness of our Savior will stand the test of time. And that is a good way to be remembered.

Coffee or tea, anyone? Handwoven mug rug.
Coffee or tea, anyone?

May you be remembered for your deeds of faithful love.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

15 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Very lovely Mug Rugs, but even more, your words of faith and encouragement! Thanks for sharing your skills and your faith! Very inspiring! God Bless! 🙂

  • Karen says:

    Amazing! Love the usefulness of leftover yarn!!! Even the small butterflies! Lovely!

  • Nannette says:

    WELCOME BACK TO THE BLOG!!! Hope you had wonderful travels.

    I love your reference to our gifts of today out living us. I repurposed crocheted lace of my long gone great grandmother. Wearing it with pride.

    In the case of textiles…. Everyday reminders of those beloved we never knew except through the work of their hands. What a blessing.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Thank you! It’s great to be back. Textiles are a vivid example of the work of our hands outlasting us. It is wonderful to see and use the quilts and needlework treasures of family members who came before us.

      Love,
      Karen

  • LJ Arndt says:

    Beautiful, I don’t have butterflies but I do have thrums that I think may fit the bill. I’ll have to take them on my next trip.

    • Karen says:

      Hi LJ, I think this would be a fabulous use of thrums! I definitely plan to make more of these mug rugs. Maybe I’ll need to start saving all my thrums again. Thanks for the idea.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Barbara says:

    To everything a purpose. Your little video and bursts of colour brought a smile to my face this morning.

  • Anastasia says:

    These are beautiful. What a great project.

    When you fold the hem bit under… do you fold it twice (back on itself), and stich through what would then be three layers? So that a little strip of the “between the tops weaving” would still be visible on the bottom, but the cut edge would be secured?

    Please pardon my newbie questions. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Anastasia, Newbie questions are the best! You described the hems perfectly. Only one more detail to add— I serged the edges before folding and pressing them under, so nothing will unravel over time.

      When I do this again, I may make the hems longer. In which case, the edges will be zigzagged or serged, and the hems folded under twice, then stitched. That way the hem will show at the edges, not just underneath. I like them either way— hems hidden underneath, or hems as visual borders.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Kim Mills says:

    Thank you for your post. I’ve now have a new way to use up all those leftovers I have been collecting. Thanks as well for your inspirational words.

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