Quiet Friday: Thirteen Cushions

There is always room for more cushions and pillows. What better way to use handwoven fabric? Making cushions puts the fabric to use where it can be seen and touched. The very first project on my first floor loom was fabric for a throw pillow, with a cottolin warp and 16/2 linen weft. Unsightly selvedges are nowhere to be seen!

Cotton and linen cushion. Handwoven fabric.

First project on the Glimåkra Standard floor loom.

From the all-linen blue and brown dice weave cushions to the wild and hairy pillows with rya knots, each one makes a statement. Each one says, in its own way, “Welcome to our home.”

All-linen handwoven dice weave cushions.

Linen Dice Weave Cushions

Thirteen cushions, all handwoven. Karen Isenhower


Enjoy this little slide show video I made for you.

May your handwoven fabric be put to good use.

Happy Weaving and Sewing,


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In My Rigid Heddle Days

My grandmother made a sweet little pinafore that my sisters and I wore when we were babies–each in our own time. Several years ago I came across that simple little “apron,” and made a pattern from it. My first granddaughter received the little pinafore from me almost six years ago, made from fabric I wove on my rigid heddle loom. Now, this little pink and green pinafore is being handed down to my expectant daughter, for her little baby girl, due this summer. And her baby will have the prettiest handwoven burping towel (or light little blanket) any baby has ever had. Nothing is too good for a grandbaby, right?

Baby girl pinafore made from handwoven fabric. Rigid heddle loom.

Fabric woven on a rigid heddle loom is used to make a baby girl’s pinafore. The pinafore pattern came from my grandmother’s handiwork. The background quilt shows more of my grandmother’s skill with fabric, needle, and thread.

Baby towel and baby pinafore. Handwoven.

Handwoven towel and pinafore. Fit for a little princess.

I want to give something more important than things to my grandchildren. I want to give them the stories of the wonders God has performed in my lifetime. The stories that connect one generation to another. The stories that are woven from ancient stories. Pass down the ancient stories. Weave the threads that the child can wear for life.

May your children’s children remember your stories.



  • Laurie Mrvos says:

    Karen –
    The pinafore is adorable. Great colors! That burping towel is beautiful. I love everything about it. Can you tell me more about it?

    These will are wonderful heirlooms for your grandbabies.


    • Karen says:

      Laurie, the burping towel is from my recent warp of thick and thin. With this piece, I tried to make it as colorful as possible. It is 100% cotton and will get softer and softer with each washing. I’m glad you like it!
      Thanks for the encouraging words!


  • Pattty says:

    Very cute, that would make a great adult apron!

  • linda says:

    Karen: I hope your family has a sense of the worth of a hand made item. My children and grand children have no idea how much goes into making a hand woven, knitted, quilted, ,or a tailor made piece. I give it to them, it’s a “ya thanks” and the next thing I know the 7 year old has it in the dogs bed. These are children who have seen me at work making these items, and seen my husband making furniture and bowls. I’ve explained to parents and grandchildren these items are one of a kind and cannot be reproduced quickly or possibly at all. I’ve asked them to consider them a hug from grand ma and grand pa, and to love them. They are Christian children who experience God each day. I hope whoever gets your works of art keep them as well as your mother and you did the pinafore, respects the hours of work, and the love that goes into each piece. LP&J linda

    • Karen says:

      Linda, I hear what you are saying. A gift made by your hands is a gift from the heart. It carries with it hours of time, countless amounts of effort, and personal attention. From the giver’s perspective, all these are symbols of love. I like how you put it – consider these things as a hug from grand ma and grand pa.

      Your children and grandchildren are very blessed to have you!


  • Anonymous says:

    I’m about to attempt a grown up version of something similar soon – as a crossover apron. I have been pondering the design for a while now, have my fabrics selected but need to get on and get drafting. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Judy says:

    Passing down family stories is so important and you are so fortunate to have creative people in your family. I love the quilt that your grandmother made and it sounds like she enjoyed making things for the special people in her life.

    • Karen says:

      Judy, thanks for sharing your warm thoughts! I so enjoy using the quilts my grandmother made. She did enjoy making things for special people, and she also passed on the stories of faith that are so important in our family.


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Tools Day: Magnets

I am trying a new thing–magnets. Little magnets hold a cartoon in place behind my small tapestry. The magnets need to be strong so the cartoon does not shift. Yet, I want to be able to adjust or to completely remove the cartoon easily.

Small tapestry woven from the back, line by line.

Small tapestry is woven from the back, line by line. Three strands of Fåro wool are blended for the weft.

I have noticed other tapestry weavers using small rare earth magnets for this purpose, so I decided to give it a try. “Steve, do we have any rare earth magnets on hand?,” I asked. Steve went out to the garage, and came back with these. Perfect! Finally, a use for the magnets he had salvaged from worn out electric toothbrushes over the years!

Magnets for holding a cartoon behind a small tapestry weaving.

Magnets, salvaged from worn-out electric toothbrushes, give an extremely tight grasp for holding a cartoon behind a small tapestry.

Magnets hold the cartoon behind the weaving. Old toothbrush magnets!

With magnets in place, it is easy to raise the cartoon to ink the warp at strategic points, and then to let the cartoon drop out of the way while weaving. The tight toothbrush magnets keep the cartoon from shifting out of place.

Bridge under construction... Small tapestry.

Bridge under construction…

May you know what to discard and what to keep.

Until next time,


  • Steve says:

    As Karen’s husband, I would like to point out that it is very satisfying that my wife has thanked me for salvaging the magnets from worn out electric toothbrushes. As I have salvaged them over the years, I must have misunderstood her often-said comments. I guess she really must have shared my vision for repurposed toothbrush magnets after all.

  • Laurie Mrvos says:

    I’m enjoying the comments as much as your wonderful post (and gorgeous work in progress!). I believe that Steve is cut from the same cloth as my husband!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    I just came across your beautiful work and I’m wondering what kind of loom you use for your tapestry weaving? Or do you have any suggestions on any to try? I’d love to be able to attempt tapestry weaving and the loom you use looks quite nice.
    Thank you very much for inspiring me.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Anne,

      What a pleasant way to start my day! Thank you for the warm greeting.

      The loom in this post is one my husband made for me, since I wanted one small enough to use while traveling. The loom I use that is a little larger is the Freja Tapestry Frame, lap size, from Glimakra USA.

      If you type in “Freja” in the search bar at the top of this page you can see some views of my Freja loom. There are other popular tapestry looms, but I like the Freja because it is simple, has a great tensioning device, and it is wood. I’m partial to the look and feel of wood.

      Happy weaving,

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi Karen,
    Thank you so much for answering my question.

    I rather agree with you about the look and feel of wood looms and that is partially why I think I was drawn to your work. I will definitely look into the Freja looms and see what they are all about. I’m hoping that they might be good enough for a beginner like me and easy enough to transport. I really like what you have done with your weaving on them and also the one that your husband made for you. You are a very lucky gal !!!

    I’ve got my work cut out for me I think as I’m also trying to figure out what type of warping material would be good and the type of yarn to use for the weaving. I’m hoping to study your work more so as to get off on the right foot. I’m not too familiar with all the coned yarn I see that is out there but I’m sure I’ll find something. If only there were small tapestry kits to also learn from.

    Well, thank you again for being so kind and helping me out. I certainly enjoy your creations and envy you quite a bit. You have given me a lot of inspiration and I look forward to seeing more of your beautiful things.

    Take care,

    • Karen says:

      Anne, I learned beginning tapestry weaving from Joanne Hall. If you ever have a chance to take a class or workshop from her, I recommend it.

      I use 12/6 cotton seine twine for the warp. (This is commonly used as rug warp, especially for Swedish rag rugs.) I warp the frame at about 10 ends per inch.
      For the weft, I use three strands of Fåro wool. This is a fine wool in a wide range of beautiful colors. Three strands of wool yarn have the advantage of packing well, and of giving you possibilities for shading by combining colors. I purchase most of my yarn, including the 12/6 cotton and the Fåro wool, from Glimakra USA. Because of the cost, I started with only a few colors, and have added colors a few at a time. A skein of Fåro wool will last a very long time for these purposes. It’s like starting with a box of 8 Crayola crayons even though we would love to have the Ultimate Crayon Bucket with 200 crayons! 🙂

      Keep in touch. I’d love to hear about your progress!

  • Anonymous says:

    I’m not familiar with Joanne Hall but I will look her up and see what I can about her. I do know that so far I have learned quite a bit already from your blog.
    Thanks for sharing what type of warp and weft material you use. That is very helpful to me and I love your crayon reference. New crayons are always so much fun aren’t they? 🙂
    I’ll look at Glimakra site and see what they offer seeing as I’m interested in one of those Freja looms. I just might have to start a wishlist. Hopefully I’ll soon be able to get myself started and thank you again for helping me out today. You have been so very, very kind. 🙂

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Happy Weaving New Year!

January 1st is more than just another day, isn’t it? It’s a time to review the past year and bring new dreams into the year ahead. This pivot point calls for gratitude. I am especially grateful for friends like you who walk with me on this weaving journey!

Thick and thin cottolin towels on this warp. One towel to go!

Thick and thin cottolin towels on this warp. One towel to go!

The end is near! The end of the warp, that is. Halvdräll on the loom.

The end is near! The end of the warp, that is. Almost ready for the final border of the halvdräll table square. There will be just enough warp left for a short sample piece.

First up in the new year I have thick and thin towels to finish, and the halvdräll is oh so close to the end of the warp (didn’t quite make it for Christmas). And one little girl is off the small tapestry loom, waiting for final finishing, mounting, and framing.

Little girl small tapestry.

Little girl small tapestry. After finishing the ends, the piece will be mounted on linen-covered foam board and placed in a frame.

Thank you for walking with me through 2015!

May you bring big dreams into the new year!

Joyful New Year,


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Caught by Surprise – in a Good Way

I’ve been published! The new issue of Handwoven magazine (January/February 2016) is out. Have you seen it? Sarah Jackson, the weaving editor, had noticed my blue dice weave pillows on Pinterest. When she contacted me to ask if I would consider submitting a project for the linen issue, I was caught by surprise. Who, me?! I simply enjoy weaving. I never thought about having something published. But here we are! The dice weave linen pillows project is in print. This is a milestone in my weaving journey; and an opportunity for which I am immensely grateful! (See the blue dice weave pillows in Invisible Zipper.)

Linen dice weave pillows. Karen Isenhower

Finished linen dice weave pillows are shipped off to Fort Collins, Colorado to meet the Handwoven editorial team.

Linen dice weave pillow project.

Linen issue of Handwoven has good information and interesting projects, including instructions for linen dice weave pillows.

Project in print!

In print!

We think everything is going according to our plans, and then we run into surprises. Even a good surprise involves challenges, stretching us out of our comfort zones. God is completely faithful. He has certainly been faithful to me. I find relief in knowing the Grand Weaver is overseeing the fabric of my life. What seems like a surprise to me is actually part of his carefully designed plan.

May you be caught in the act of making something good.

With gratitude,


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