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,

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,

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!),

Quiet Friday: Making Rya Knots

One at a time. Like anything else, you do get faster as you get the hang of it. I select and arrange the colors for the upcoming row, and then I settle into a rhythm. With my right foot pressing the treadle, I use both hands to manipulate both the raised warp ends and the loose wool strands. It is a relaxing and satisfying trek from the right-hand side of the warp to the left, one rya knot at a time.

I am letting the pictures speak for themselves. I forgot to take a picture of the completed rya knot pillow top square while it was still in view on top, so you get to crawl under the breast beam with me at the end to see it from underneath.

Ready for another row of rya knots.

Cardboard template for cutting rya strands. How-to pics.

Cut yarn for rya at both ends of template. More how-to pics.

Clothespin keeps cut yarn colors together for rya knots. More rya how-to pics.

Assortment of wool yarn separated for planning rya knots. How-to pics.

Mixing blue wool strands for rya knots. Pics with rya knots.

Rya first step - around 2 doubled warp ends.

Rya second step - Under and through.

Rya third step - Pull the "legs" down.

Rya fourth step - Pull the yarn evenly into place.

Rya fifth step - Snug it up to the fell line. Rya knots how-to pics.

Pillow top with rya knots, viewed from under loom, looking up. Karen Isenhower

May you enjoy taking your sweet time.

Little by little,

Other popular Quiet Friday posts you may like:

Quiet Friday: Warping Trapeze

Quiet Friday: Rag Rugs

Quiet Friday: Cutest Loom Ever

Wedding Plans Come to Light

The next eight-and-a-half weeks may be the most exciting and challenging weeks I have ever known as a mom. My daughter is getting married! How quickly things change. One day your daughter is in a nice relationship; the next day she’s engaged. We already have the dress, the venue, the date, and the photographer. Oh, and the groom worth waiting for! And that’s no small answer to prayer.

Rya knots for pillow. Back of pillow being woven in background weft.
Rya knots that form the top of the pillow turn the corner around the breast beam. The back of the pillow is being woven in the flat pattern of the wool background weft.

Our grand weaver is light. There is absolutely no darkness in him at all. Bright, brilliant, and radiant. That light illumines every step, every decision. The motion of the vibrant rya strands ends in an abrupt line as the weaving moves on to the flat surface of the back fabric of the pillow. The once-hidden intricate pattern behind the rya knots is now in full view, in full light. (For more about that hidden background weft, click HERE.) The source for strength and endurance has already been set into place. Now, it’s time to fearlessly live it out.

May you find light on your path.

Your friend,