Rya Over Linen This Time

Slow and deliberate, rya knot tying is a satisfying exercise of patience. This background cloth feels like coarse canvas. You can imagine how robust the fabric is, with a hefty 8/2 linen warp, and the same, doubled, for weft. Threaded in a point twill, the cloth is simple, but texturally vibrant. The yarn pile, called rya, is made with combined threads of thick Åsborya wool, fine Mora wool, and fine 16/1 linen. (You can see my previous rya project in the post, Are You in a Pretty Mess? And if you want to see exactly how to make rya knots, check out this post –  Quiet Friday: Making Rya Knots.)

Forming rya knots in coarse linen fabric.

Rya knots are formed one at a time by wrapping around, under, and through each pair of raised warp ends. The background is woven between rows of rya knots with doubled linen weft, using a double bobbin shuttle.

I simply step on the “pile” treadle, which raises only shaft four, and tie rya knots around pairs of the raised ends. This process works because the fabric was planned and designed to have rya knots inserted on its surface. In a similar fashion, people are designed to receive God’s helping hand.

God wants to give us the ability to flourish in life. That’s his grace. We are made for that, and it happens when we offer “humble” threads. We must wear the cloth of humility as we interact with each other, revealing our coarse, simple, honest self. This is where God inserts his grace. In this process of his, he patiently makes us his work of art.

May you flourish in the things that matter.

Respectfully yours,


  • Thank you so much. We serve such a great GOD. I need to know how to double weave and with that, browsing through your vocabulary list to identify and refresh terms I needed, I found this entry that not only showed me the function of the double bobbin shuttle, but gave me the encouraging words of GOD’s love for me and that HE wants me to succeed. Thank you, Karen for the encouraging word.

    • Karen says:

      Dear Pam, Our Lord is so timely. I love it when He sends a word at the moment we need it–even through a blog post about weaving. Thank you for giving such a sweet reply.

      All the best,

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How Soft Is Your Pillow?

I have three short sample pieces from rug warps, where I had experimented with colors and design. I am making these samples useful by turning them into pillow covers. To complete them, I made pillow inserts to fit inside.

Rag rug cushion covers, with pillow inserts made to fit inside. Karen Isenhower

Rag rug pillow covers, with pillow inserts made to fit inside.

To get the most loft out of the polyester fiberfill, I run my fingers through clumps of it, pulling and easing it apart. I stuff these airy clouds into the pillow insert forms that I have sewn and then serge the edge of the insert closed. The durable and hearty rag rug pillow covers are pretty, but they are flimsy and floppy until the cloud-soft pillow forms are placed inside.

Like the pillow covers, your strongest asset is invisible. When we adorn our inner person with gentleness and a quiet spirit it brings clarity and courage to our outward demeanor. You would not fill the pillow cover with rocks, would you? Having cloud-soft humility instead of hard-headed stubbornness enables us to face any difficulty without becoming fearful or resentful. The beauty of your unique design is put in its best light by the loft of the pillow inside.

May you respond to difficulty with a gentle and quiet spirit.

(These three pillows are the newest additions to the Warped for Good Etsy Shop!)


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Tools Day: Rubber Bands

At the risk of telling you something you already know, I am going to show two ways I use rubber bands in my weaving studio. Yes, rubber bands. Simple, to the point of being simplistic. But I sheepishly admit, I didn’t know to do these things until I saw someone else do them; and then I expanded (pun intended) their practices to suit the way I like to work.

1. While it is common to put a rubber band on one treadle to act as a marker for your feet, I find it helpful to put rubber bands on two treadles for even greater efficiency. I put one rubber band on the first pattern treadle, and a second rubber band on the third pattern treadle. My feet never have to guess where to step. (With the rosepath tie-up for the rag rugs on the Glimakra Ideal loom, there are two plain weave treadles on the right, and then four pattern treadles. The rya weaving on the Glimakra Standard loom has one treadle on the right that lifts the warp ends for the rya knots, and four pattern treadles.)

Treadles marked with rubber bands for efficiency.

Plain weave, like the solid blue section, and the band of brown, uses the two treadles on the right on this Glimakra Ideal loom. The rosepath pattern, in orchid, and the dots and dashes, in dark pink and blue/black, uses the remaining four treadles.

Treadles with rubber bands for easy treadling.

Five treadles are used for this rya weaving on the Glimakra Standard loom. The treadle on the right lifts the warp ends on the second shaft, onto which the rya strands are tied. The remaining four treadles are used to weave a rosepath pattern in the cloth.

2. Rubber band the thread label around the tube of thread. This is the simplest way to keep track of fiber information–fiber content, weight, color number, brand. I also cut a short length of the thread and stick it to the sticky side of the label. This helps me get the labels back on the correct tubes, especially when using several threads of different colors.

One way to keep thread labels from getting mixed up.

With similar colors, like these two tubes of 12/6 cotton rug warp, it helps to keep an identifying strand attached to the label. I always try to put the label back on its tube as soon as possible to prevent mix-ups.

May you find simple solutions to do what you do better.

(Have you checked out my new Etsy shop yet?)

Happy Weaving,

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Right Now Is the Best Time

What do you do with a blank slate? Do you feel empowered or immobilized? It is easy to get stuck in over-planning instead of jumping right in and doing something. I am facing a blank slate now with the rya weaving. I finished the first two rya pieces on this warp (the first one HERE; the second one HERE), and now I have time to think about the color and design for the third piece. I have a good assortment of wool yarns to choose from, about twenty-five different colors.

Rosepath weaving on the loom. Glimpse of rya knots on the way to the cloth beam.

First rya section is seen wrapping around the cloth beam, and the second piece is on its way there, with bits of the red wool strands seen hanging down. Now ready to begin the third set of rya knots.

Sometimes all the options overwhelm me and I freeze, doing nothing instead of doing something. I can think about the next steps all day long, but until I act on the ideas nothing happens.

Opportunities come and go. If we are immobilized because we fear making a mistake, we miss the chance to make a difference in the moment. Your best opportunity is right now! Whatever you have in front of you…whatever you know to do…no matter how small or seemingly insignificant…do it. Do the next thing now. And if you don’t care for how it comes out, …there’s always next time!

May you find yourself moving forward with gusto.

Happy Weaving,


  • Betsy says:

    Sometimes, when I am overwhelmed by too many chioces, I will put a project aside and do something else. Not another project, but another activity that is engaging. When I go back to the project a choice will “feel” right. It’s kind of like the decision to “sleep on it.”

    • Karen says:

      Betsy, that is fantastic advice! I like it because it is not advocating avoidance, but it is giving the grace to let your mind think about it in the background. I know exactly what you’re talking about because I’ve experienced it, too. Now I can use that as an intentional strategy.


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Are You in a Pretty Mess?

You might think this looks like a mess. Maybe there is a vague sense of pattern and color, but doesn’t it look like the assortment of rya knots are in a random arrangement? Guess again. Let me give you another view.

Rya knots, an assortment of colors in wool yarn.

Each colored wool strand is knotted by hand around doubled warp ends. Mora wool is doubled on the quill in the shuttle for the background weft, woven in a rosepath pattern.

Change the perspective of the camera, and you will see the simple, but distinct, pattern and order that is woven into this design.

Layered rya knots on the Glimakra Standard loom.

A simple stripe arrangement enhances the layered look of rya knots. The row of reds and violets is repeated to give prominence to that color family.

We think we are able to know all there is to know, but that’s just not true. We see from a human perspective. Is it possible that there is more than science, education, and philosophy can explain? God is greater than we think. His view of his creation is from a higher angle. He knows what he made and how he designed things to operate. We study and discover how it all works, but we didn’t make it. Our grand weaver is great. No one knows how great he is. But when things look like a pretty mess, we can trust he has a plan that will weave the assorted threads into a beautiful work of art.

May you see beauty even when things seem to be a mess.

In a pretty mess with wedding plans (only two weeks to go!),

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