Process Review: Drawloom Weaving without Errors

I found a way to practically eliminate draw cord errors on the single-unit drawloom. After making one too many mistakes while weaving this rag rug, I resolved to find a solution. True, I will still make mistakes, but now I expect them to be few and far between. (To view the first rag rug on this warp, see Stony Creek Drawloom Rag Rug.)

My most frequent error is having a draw cord out of place, either pulled where it shouldn’t be, or not pulled where it should be. And then, I fail to see the mistake in the cloth until I have woven several rows beyond it. I determined to find a way to eliminate this kind of error. (For an example of this kind of error, see Handweaving Dilemma.)

Test 1. Double check my work. Pull all the needed draw cords for one row and then double check all the pulled cords.
Results: This bogs me down. And I still fail to catch errors.

Test 2. Double check my work little by little. Treat every twenty draw cords as a section—ten white cords and ten black cords. Pull the cords in the first section. Double check. Pull the cords in the next section. Double check. And so on all the way across…
Results: Easy to do. I quickly catch and correct errors.

Now, I am implementing this incremental method of double checking my work on the little bit of warp that remains. With a Happily-Ever-After ending, the short Lost Valley piece is completed with NO draw cord errors! (Lost Valley is the name we’ve given our Texas Hill Country home.)

Woven Rag Rug and Lost Valley process in pictures:

May you learn from experience.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Geri says:

    Wow, more beautiful weaving and I love your new pieces!

  • Loyanne Cope says:

    Your work as always is stunning. Forgive me if you have mentioned your weft material before. The materials look shiny. Could you share what you use for weft. Thank you
    Loyanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Loyanne,

      The weft is 100% cotton fabric cut in 1 cm strips. It has some variance to it because of the way the strips turn in the shed, and because I alternated 2 different fabrics for each color block area.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    Well worth all the suspense! The pieces are amazing.

  • Nannette says:

    Hurray!!

    I hate rework almost as much as I hate looking at the mistakes.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I don’t think any of us enjoy doing the rework. There’s usually a solution to a recurring problem if we take the time to think it through.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Barbara Mitchell says:

    Oh, Karen, after seeing only a little bit at a time, how exciting to see your rugs off the loom and finished. Beautiful work.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barbara, I’m with you. Even being the one at the loom, I have to wait to see the whole thing. It’s always an exciting moment to unroll it!

      Thank you,
      Karen

  • Karen Reff says:

    I found that I made less errors by outlining the pattern areas with a dark black, thin marker. That line made all the difference for me.
    Your rug is Gorgeous!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, Thank you for that helpful tip. I will try it. I definitely found that my chart must be clearly in focus and have adequate contrast for the pattern areas. I reprinted my chart a couple times to make improvements. You have my wheels turning now. I may be able to add that outline on the computer in Affinity Photo where I make the chart. I will test that out!

      Many thanks!
      Karen

  • Marie says:

    Hi Karen
    Love your work. I have woven and owned both a Glimarka Single and an Oxaback combination drawlooms. They both have overhead draw systems. When I designed repeat patterns for the single unit, I always wove a sample of the design first. At the same time, I would add leashes to the cords for pattern selection. If design was a complete repeat, I would just push the leashes back and start over. If the design was on a point, I would weave to the point then return reverse pulling the leashes. I don’t know if this is possible on a Myrehed draw system?
    I also use a highlighter every ten squares on my design paper to correspond to the 10 dark thread in the draw warp.

    Have lots of fun

    Marie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marie, The overhead draw system sounds very useful. I have seen pictures of them. I don’t think the Myrehed system has the capability to save leashes, at least I am unaware of it.

      That’s a great suggestion to use a highlighter to mark the design paper. Anything that makes the chart more readable is a great idea! Thanks so much.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth says:

    What a beautiful result, as always, it is so intriguing what you are able to create on your drawloom! And what a great idea for the short warp you had left.
    Double checking your work little by little is a great idea! It is far from comparable to this, but I divide into “twenties” when casting on for knitting, placing markers as dividers. Like you said, it is so much easier to catch errors. I never thought about it for weaving, but now I know 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, We use this concept of double checking many times in the weaving process–in winding the warp, threading, sleying, and even in making calculations for planning a warp. It only makes sense to use the same concept in other processes.

      Thank you,
      Karen

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Weaving through The Big Book

It took me seven years of study, practice, and mistakes to complete this rigorous Swedish weaving curriculum! You have been with me through much of it right here. I’m talking about The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. I made it through the book, sequentially, page by page, warp by warp. 43 warps in all! Remember the blue 12-shaft double-weave blanket I had on the loom in June? That is the final project in the book.

Handwoven double weave blanket. 12 shafts.
Double-weave wool fabric is ready for wet finishing, where it will be transformed into a soft, cozy blanket.

In the short video below, each completed project is presented in order in our Texas hill country home. Watch to the end to see the blue blanket in all its finished glory.

For nitty-gritty details, check out The Big Book of Weaving tab at the top of the page.

I. Secrets to success:

  • mindset of a student
  • determination
  • eyes on the goal
  • no option other than completion

One loom dedicated to the book.


II. Lessons learned:

  • technique
  • processes
  • planning
  • drafting
  • Swedish practices

Any mistake can be remedied.


III. Treasures gained:

  • patience
  • humility
  • endurance
  • focused attention
  • problem solving
  • creative freedom

Confidence.


IV. Prized perspectives:

  • new experiences
  • delight of dressing the loom
  • wonder of cloth-making
  • fresh ideas
  • joy of discovery
  • knowledge and understanding of the loom

Getting lost and absorbed in the whole process of weaving.

V. Favorite project: Old-Fashioned Weaving / Monksbelt (at 4:46 in the video)

Are we determined students of heavenly things? Oh, to know God’s will! Study what’s written, don’t lose heart, eyes on the prize, no option besides completion through Jesus Christ. One life dedicated to know him. Day by day, warp by warp, the Grand Weaver teaches us. We can know God’s will.

May you be a lifelong learner.

Happy Weaving to you,
Karen

43 Comments

  • Susie Redman says:

    Well done. It’s such a great book. I’m picking and choosing from the book – its a great way to learn.

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Your work is so inspiring, Karen. I recall many of these projects, here and in Handwoven. Do you have a personal favorite? One that you’ll perhaps explore even further? Kudos!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, Thank you so much! My personal favorite is the monksbelt piece—the large multicolor runner on the dining room table. And yes, I have monksbelt ideas that I would like to explore. Another one I’d like to play around with and learn more about is the turned rosepath—the long narrow red band. There are so many possibilities!

      Thanks for asking,
      Karen

  • Geri Rickard says:

    What a splendid presentation, Karen! You have accomplished so much, and each one is beautiful! Thanks for sharing, it was fun!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Geri, I’m glad you enjoyed the presentation. It was a lot of fun for me to put together, going back in time remembering all the projects.

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Such a feast for the eyes!

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Wow and Wow! Such an accomplishment! And your lovely home showcases all those projects beautifully. Thanks for making this video and thanks for your encouragement. I’m currently doing the Jane Stafford online guild lessons with a new video lesson and project every five weeks. Sometimes it feels a bit overwhelming but I’m determined to try each one. I’ve already learned so much!
    Thanks again for your encouragement and dedication, both to your weaving and for sharing your weaving and faith with others. It DOES make a big difference to many.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, I know how you feel. Many times I was overwhelmed and even discouraged about completing this mammoth dream. Keep pressing on with your lessons, it WILL be worth it–I promise! And between the hard parts, I really had a lot of fun! So enjoy it, too.

      I really appreciate your encouragement to me. It means more than you know.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Hi, Karen! I remember that you recommended this book to me last July was exploring what loom to purchase for my first multi shaft loom. I ended up purchasing a small table loom, a Louet Erica Loom so decided not to purchase the book since I would not have the capacity to work many of the projects.

    However, I recently purchased a larger loom and now, I believe that I will purchase this book. Thank you for sharing this and tweaking my memory of your recommendation.

    Everything you make is so beautiful! You are a wonderful inspiration to a beginning weaver.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, The Big Book of Weaving has been my tutor. I started with it as a complete beginner. It was written as a curriculum, so it has everything I needed to gain skill and confidence. I hope you find it a great resource for learning.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Karen Simpson says:

    That video is amazing. As I hadn’t found you then, I didn’t know that you were following this book and studying your way through it. What a lovely compilation of work and color. Thank you

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, Only a handful of people knew I was working my way through the book. I have mentioned The Big Book of Weaving here many times, but this is my first time to mention here on the blog that I was going through the book, step by step. I didn’t want too many people to “guess” what project I would do next… 🙂

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Congratulations, Karen! I remember when you started working through The Big Book of Weaving, but I didn’t remember it had been 7 years. What a great learning experience! Did you use all the same yarns as the projects called for?

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, It’s hard to believe it’s been 7 years, isn’t it? For most of the projects I used the yarns that were called for, but in colors of my choosing. I did change a few, though. For instance, two projects call for paper yarn. I didn’t know a good resource for that, so I substituted 8/2 cotton for one, and 16/1 linen for the other. So, for those I have beautiful scarves instead of room screens, which suits me better anyway.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    Karen, I’m speechless. There are no words for my admiration of not only your artistic vision, but also the incredible amount of work clearly visible in the lovely video. Thank you for all the encouragement and advice you’ve given us you worked through the Big Book. MORE happy weaving to you. Joanna

    (My v. Favorite piece of your is also that fantastic monks belt. I think you captured all the lovely colors of the Texas Hill Country. It couldn’t be more perfect.)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, I’m fortunate to have a place where I can talk about things that I learn! Thanks for joining in!
      Every time I look at that monks belt piece, I get warm and fuzzy feelings. It’s so cheerful! I’m happy you like it, too!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • kerimae says:

    You inspire me! As you know! 🙂

  • Carolyn Penny says:

    Truly inspirational. Thank you for your diligence and following the goal.
    What a lesson in perseverance. Warm glow…… -Carolyn Penny

  • Vida Clyne says:

    Congratulations on completing such an amazing and inspirational project. I love all the patterns and the lovely colours. I have not got the book but your lovely video makes me think I will buy it. Thanks for sharing.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Vida, I am very happy to hear your thoughts about my adventure! This is one weaving book I wouldn’t do without. 🙂

      Thank you very much!
      Karen

  • Gail Goodrick says:

    What an inspiration this is! Your work is wonderful. I love your color choices. Love, love love…

  • Sue Blanding-Wilson says:

    So inspiring! I will look at my book with new eyes!

  • Maria Hanson says:

    Wow! I so enjoy following your work, but seeing everything in one video is just amazing! Congratulations on such a major accomplishment!

  • Penelope kept the suitors at bay for 10 years weaving one tapestry. What a remarkable legacy of a textile artist in 7 years!
    AND.. the hand wovens are not kept in a chest to pull out and admire. Basis the hems on the towels, they are being used. Beautiful!!
    Thank you for sharing. PS welcome back from your sabbatical.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Thank you for noticing. Yes, the articles were made to be used, and they are used and enjoyed.

      It’s good to be back.
      Karen

      • Anonymous says:

        One of the sweetest moments was when I saw one of my patched blankets worn to the point of being hand mended. Textiles will age one way or another. It fills my heart knowing the ones that pass through my hands are used daily.

        • Karen says:

          That is sweet to think of your handiwork being used to the point of needing hand mending. I agree that the best handwoven items are the ones being used.

          Karen

  • Cindy Buvala says:

    Wow! I am very impressed! A 10 minute video doesn’t do justice to the hours and hours of weaving work that precedes it. You are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your talent.

  • Karen Reff says:

    I haven’t looked at that book in so long. I’m definitely going back for another look! I hope you realize what an amazing thing you’ve done!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, I frequently go to the book for reference. It answers so many questions for me.

      I just took one step, and then the next step, and so on. I’m not sure I would have started had I known how long it would take me. But I’m very happy to have taken that first step…and so on.

      Thanks for your sweet encouragement,
      Karen

  • […] in 2012 would lead to a seven-year exploration of weaving through The Big Book of Weaving? (See Weaving through The Big Book.) Who knew that weaving on a drawloom in 2016 at Homestead Fiber Crafts would plant the idea of […]

  • Rebecca says:

    I just bought this book this week after purchasing (and setting up) an Oxaback Lilla. I have spent years happily weaving on a LeClerc Nilius jack loom but wanted to try something different. Well … right now my head is exploding! Such a challenging process. This video is the inspiration I need right now to carry on during these confusing first few weeks. Your work is absolutely extraordinary! Beautiful … thank you for sharing with us.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rebecca, Congratulations on your determination to learn something new! It all happens a step at a time… Before you know it, you are weaving the beautiful fabrics you imagined.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Roelline says:

    Hello Karen,

    So inspirational what you have done, I haven’t seen anyone doing such a fine job as you Did, before .
    At the moment I’m working my way through the JST course. But the way you did it I will surely remember to pick up after that! Probably not as thorough as you did. But I try to make my way through. Thank you very much for your inspirational idea

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Process Review: First Drawloom Warp

There are two questions I hear most often. 1. How long did it take? 2. What is it going to be? These are hard questions to answer. I admit that I stumble around to find satisfying answers. 1. How long? Hours and hours. 2. Cloth. It is going to be cloth. What will the cloth be used for? I don’t know. But when I need a little something with a pretty design, I’ll know where to find it. There are two finished pieces, though, from this first drawloom warp: the Heart-Shaped Baskets table runner (adapted from a pattern in Damask and Opphämta, by Lillemor Johansson), and a small opphämta table topper that I designed on the loom. The rest are samplers, experiments, tests, and just plain fun making-of-cloth. Oh, and I wondered if I could take the thrums and make a square braid…just for the fun of it.

First warp on my drawloom. Success!
Opphämta piece on the left, with Fårö wool pattern weft. Heart-Shaped Baskets runner on the right, with red 16/2 cotton pattern weft. Ten pattern shafts.

I will let the pictures tell the story of this first drawloom warp.

May you have plenty of things to make just for fun.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

15 Comments

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Weaving Hearts

Pulling the draw handles for each four-thread unit of weaving is like doing counted cross stitch on the loom. I enjoyed cross stitch in the 1980’s and I am enjoying this drawloom version now. Very much. I started this Heart-Shaped Baskets table runner on Valentine’s Day—a fun way to celebrate the day!

Heart-Shaped Baskets. Adapted from pattern in Damask and Opphämta, by Lillemor Johansson.
Heart-Shaped Baskets. Adapted from a pattern in Damask and Opphämta, by Lillemor Johansson.
Drawloom hearts.
Red 16/2 cotton weft on unbleached 16/2 cotton warp. The dark weft on a light warp makes consistency in beating that much more important.

Like weaving on any floor loom, I want to have consistency in my beat and in my selvedges. Inconsistencies in these basics can detract from the drawloom imagery of the final cloth. The main thing is to keep paying attention. And keep joyfully pulling those draw handles to create more hearts of love.

Drawloom hearts.
Stripes at the edges prove to be a challenge for getting consistent selvedges.
Table runner on the drawloom.
Table runner is woven in broken twill on four ground shafts, with eleven pattern shafts.

Grace is a gift of favor, not an earned reward. Forgiveness is the giving of grace. And gratitude results from receiving grace. Grace makes us graceful. Giving and receiving grace with consistency is what we’d like to see in ourselves. That’s when the love of God, in whose image we’ve been made, is most clearly seen in us. So we practice what we know to do. And pay attention. And keep joyfully weaving a heart of love, by God’s grace.

May you be grace – full.

Gratefully yours,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Nancy Malcolm says:

    I have seen that draft in the book. It is so Beautiful on your loom!! I hope to convert my loom for drawloom someday. Enjoy!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nancy, You have a lot to look forward to! It is fun to use patterns like this from a book. And it’s not that hard to make your own patterns, too!

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Janet says:

    Very nice Karen! Looks like you are having a great time 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janet, Thanks! Yes, I’m having a great time. There is so much more to try. I have yarn waiting in the wings for my next warp on this drawloom!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    I am amazed by what you are able to do with your draw loom, Karen! Not only is this heart pattern delightful but also the other towels I can catch glimpses of. I definitely understand why you wanted a draw loom and I am so happy that your dream came true.

    You are the most graceful woman I know, Karen and a wonderful inspiration as a Christian and a weaver.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, It’s fascinating to me, too, how much the drawloom can do. I have worlds more to uncover on this loom!

      Your kind words are very touching. That means a lot to me.
      All the best,
      Karen

  • Kelly says:

    The more I see draw loom weaving, the more I start to think that I need a draw loom! For now, I will have to relegate it to a “one day” possibility and appreciate the looms I already have.
    Your hearts are beautiful!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kelly, Maybe there’s a double meaning to the word “draw” in draw loom, as we are “drawn” to it. It’s a good thing to appreciate what we have.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Good afternoon Karen,

    There is so much to learn. Thank you for leading.

    Your prayer on grace touched my heart.

    Nannette

  • Karen says:

    Isn’t it fun?! I love playing with my drawloom!

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Quiet Friday: Linen Satin Dräll

This is one of those weaving projects that puts you on top of the world. Everything about it. Linen, ten shafts, five-shaft satin weave, ten treadles, gorgeous Moberg damask shuttle, single-shuttle rhythm, full-body weaving, magical fabric. I did have more than my share of knots in the warp, and a few skipped threads and selvedge loops. But you will see no evidence of those glitches now. All you will see is the natural beauty of linen, with its characteristic unevenness. And the reflective satin dräll weave, with its light-catching trickery.

The warp is Bockens unbleached 16/2 line linen. Two of the towels use 16/1 golden bleached linen for the weft. At my husband’s request, the remaining three towels have 16/2 linen weft, in ecru. The thicker weft helps make these into robust absorbent handtowels. A table square finishes off the set.

Enjoy the process with me as I reminisce over the start-to-finish pleasure of weaving these towels.

Winding a linen warp.

Linen warp chains.

Tying on the linen warp.

Tying up 10 treadles on a countermarch!

Sampling weft colors on a linen warp.

Sunlit linen damask weaving.

Hidden patterns in the 5-shaft satin.

Linen 5-shaft satin dräll!

Beautiful Moberg damask shuttle.

Spliced warp ends.

Linen satin dräll on the loom.

End of the warp is near. So many warp end repairs!

Cutting off! Linen 5-shaft satin dräll.

Just off the loom--linen 5-shaft satin.

Glimakra band loom. Hanging tabs for towels.

Ready to sew handwoven hanging tabs on new linen towels.

Just off the loom--linen 5-shaft satin handtowels.

Handwoven linen towel with handwoven hanging tab.

Handwoven set of linen satin dräll towels. Karen Isenhower

May you find pleasure in what you do.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

18 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Exquisite, Karen!

  • JAN says:

    Nice finishing touch with hand woven hanging tab. Had you ever though of putting another one in the middle of the long edge so the towel can be hung on a hook above the sink?

    • Karen says:

      Hi JAN, I haven’t done that, but it’s a great idea. I would need to figure out how to attach it, since there is not a hem on the side. These tabs would be a little too thick to fold the ends under, but could certainly do that with tabs made with thinner threads. Have you done it?

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Janet says:

    Beautiful towels and beautifully woven!

  • Betsy says:

    Wonderful towels! And I’m so impressed that your husband knows enough about yarn to recommend 16/2 over 16/1.

    Your little bowl of pegs next to the treadles reminds me of my last project, huck placemats. I could remember the treadling, but not the 18 repeats. So I had a bowl like yours with 18 pegs, and after every repeat I moved one peg to another bowl. And every once in a while I’d crawl around the Julia counting the repeats in case I made a mistake, lol.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, Haha, I may have given the wrong impression about my husband. He specified thicker, less dainty towels, and I chose the appropriate size of linen.

      What a great way to keep track of repeats. I’m going to remember that!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nancy Nordquist says:

    These are absolutely beautiful! Than you for sharing so many photos and details of the process.

  • Joanne Hall says:

    Yes, this weave is magical and so fun to weave. And thank you for the beauticul photos. Did you use your phone to take these photos?
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, I feel so “at home” weaving something like this. It is satisfying and rewarding.

      I use my iPhone 7 for all my photos. Steve has a very nice digital SLR camera, but I do best with the simple little iPhone. And it’s always in my pocket or on the table beside me. I take way too many pictures, and then I whittle them down to my very favorites to share here.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Barb says:

    Beautiful design, beautifully woven. The joy & pleasure you have in weaving shows in every finished project. Each time you use these towels, you will be reminded of your enjoyment of the process of weaving. Thank you for sharing your talents and inspiring other weavers to find that joy!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barb, Your thoughtful comments mean so much! If I can inspire another weaver to find a little more joy in this wonderful weaving process, that would be fantastic!
      Part of the pleasure of having towels like this in my home is getting to see others enjoy the results, too.

      Thanks so much,
      Karen

  • Angela says:

    Beautiful and inspirational!

  • Gretchen says:

    Love these Karen!! So simple and classic… and perfect! Beautiful.

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