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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Process Review: Fresno Canyon Small Tapestry

The Park ranger had told Steve and me that if we were willing to drive six more rugged miles we would witness a spectacular overview of the Fresno Canyon that few people get to see. This is an opportunity we wouldn’t dare miss. And the park ranger was right. Oh, what a view! From this high point above the valley the view is phenomenal! I welled up with emotion as I looked over the glorious beauty of God’s creation.

The memory of that scene is in this small tapestry. Most of my small-tapestry weaving happens when we travel, where we make even more memories, which I store up in my heart. I pull from these stored treasures to weave tapestries that reawaken the fond memories.

Landscape - woven small tapestry.
Fresno Canyon photo printed in black and white is used for the cartoon. Instead of an exact picture of the image, I aim for a representation of the memory, expressed with color.
Relaxing in the Casita travel trailer. Wood carving and tapestry weaving.
During a brief rainstorm while at Caprock Canyons State Park, Steve and I relax in the Casita with our handcrafts. Wood carving and tapestry weaving.
Small tapestry in progress.
Warp is blue 12/6 cotton. Weft is triple strands of 6/1 Fårö wool. I use the tapestry needle to weave.
Weaving in the sunshine on a camping trip.
Weaving in the sunshine at Davis Mountains State Park after returning from a hike.
Small tapestry of a Texas landscape.
Finished weaving one Texas landscape while enjoying another.
Small tapestry with finished and braided edges.
Warp ends are woven and braided.
Linen backing for mounting a small tapestry weaving.
Linen is cut to size and pressed. Narrow rod sleeves are sewn into place.
Backing a small tapestry for framing.
Linen backing is hand-stitched to the back of the small tapestry.
Simple frame for a small tapestry.
Steve designed a simple frame for the small tapestry.
Finished Fresno Canyon tapestry.
Finished Fresno Canyon tapestry. A treasured memory kept and framed.
Texas landscape small tapestry - framed.

May your memories become treasures.

Thankful for you! Happy Thanksgiving,
Karen

19 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    This is beautiful, Karen! Such a creative way to display.
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Beth

  • Lynn says:

    Awesome,Karen! What a wonderful way to use the talents God has given you to display His glorious creation! And, I agree with how perfect this great way is to display it. Love your photos. How about one with your smiling face in it sometime? 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynn! It’s fun to weave scenes like this. I’m so thankful for Steve’s constant encouragement.

      Sure thing, I can put my smiling face on here. 🙂 Thanks, that’s a good request.

      Love,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Beautiful!! Good design with the gift of color. I hope your heart sings with memory every time you look at it.

    Happy thanksgiving!

    Nannette

  • Annie says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Karen to you and your family!

    What a blessing that you and Steve are able to meld your talents together to create such beauty.

  • Joanna says:

    Wow. What amazing textile shorthand, Karen. It’s all there, even for someone who hasn’t been there. I can almost smell the wonderful Texas blend of hot dust and baking evergreens perfuming the air and sense the vastness of the landscape. Just lovely.

    Am I correct in thinking Steve’s frames make it possible to change out your tapestries? Do you rotate them to prevent sun damage?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, You sure have a great description for someone who hasn’t been there!

      Steve’s frame is not made for changing it out. I’m not sure any two of my tapestries are exactly the same size. Not many been mounted or framed. This frame has a sawtooth picture hanger on the back, and just hangs on a nail on the wall. This one is hanging on a wall that doesn’t get direct sun.

      Happy Thanksgiving,
      Karen

      • Joanna says:

        And a happy Thanksgiving to you and your family too. We have so much to be thankful for despite the crazy state the world is in.

  • D'Anne says:

    Very nice, Karen and Steve! You’re two very talented people. Hope you will enjoy a lovely Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Linda Landry says:

    Hi Karen,
    I don’t know if you noticed: In the picture of your tapestry on the cement patio in front of your Casita, your tapestry seems to have a moon landscape in a dark sky. I had to take a long second look to realize that what I thought was a moon was in fact the tire to the Casita!
    Great work! Your talent to recreate beautiful landscapes is definitely a blessing! You must take after our (heavenly) Father for your creative skills.
    Linda

  • Lucy, Kent ~ England says:

    Hi Karen,
    I just stumbled on your post, I’ve only recently begun weaving. I have made 2 stained glass windows for two late husbands. In Aug I put my 2nd late husband’s ashes in sea of The Hebridean Isles (his request involving a 960 mile journey by rail and sea, solo in my wheelchair!). I’d thought about combining my photos to make a stained glass window that summed up my adventure.
    Having seen your lovely work I think I may well do one in glass and a second in weaving.
    Thank you for the inspiration.

  • olly douglas says:

    hello
    having been a tapestry dabbler for some time have begun to weave daily during this pandemic’s lockdown today while searching the internet for ideas i came across your blog for the first time.
    the little houses and other tapestry diaries are such an inspiration to me and i am encouraged to go for it and make my own.
    thank you also for your christian values which clearly enhance your work.

    • Karen says:

      Hello Olly, I am very glad that you received encouragement here to delve into purposeful tapestry weaving. Making a tapestry diary is a wonderful learning experience, and has a way of drawing you in.

      I am touched by your comment about my Christian values. That’s the basis for all I do.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Pictorial Tapestry Weaving

Inspired by some of Joanne Hall’s exquisite large tapestries, I have been taking steps to learn her techniques. This fascinating style that is unique to Joanne enables her to weave large tapestries at a comfortable pace. My Lizard tapestry last year was a step in this direction. (See Quiet Friday: Lizard Tapestry.) One thing that the lizard taught me is how much more I need to learn. So, you can imagine my delight in having the opportunity to take a Pictorial Tapestry Weaving workshop taught by Joanne Hall last week! (Contemporary Handweavers of Texas Conference in Fort Worth was the setting.)

Texas Wildflowers, tapestry by Joanne Hall.
Texas Wildflowers, tapestry by Joanne Hall. Photo credit: Steve Isenhower 2013
Detail of Texas Wildflowers, tapestry by Joanne Hall.
Detail of Texas Wildflowers. Threaded in rosepath, with a linen warp. Woven with butterfly bundles of wool yarn. Photo credit: Steve Isenhower 2013

Things to remember: Don’t beat hard. Bubble the weft more. Color theory is invaluable for adding depth and intensity. Simplify the cartoon. And countless more bits of insight and instruction! I am invigorated in my pursuit to develop these tapestry skills. Expect to see a tapestry on my 120cm Glimåkra Standard in coming days.

Workshop looms.
My hand-built countermarch loom is perfect for a tapestry workshop. Betsy brought her Glimåkra Julia loom.
Tapestry sampler in Joanne Hall's workshop.
Workshop sampler gives students various tapestry techniques to practice. We learned techniques of other tapestry weavers, such as Hans Krondahl and Helena Hernmarck, as well as Joanne’s unique approach.
Tapestry workshop with Joanne Hall.
Fellow student Cindy created this pear, taking advantage of the rosepath threading to add pattern to the image.
Joanne Hall's tapestry workshop.
Joanne, center, explains the process of creating a cartoon. She spreads out photos of flowers as a starting point for students’ cartoons.
Joanne Hall's tapestry sample.
Joanne’s tapestry sample demonstrates the outcome of her process. A portion of the photo was enlarged from which she drew the cartoon.
Tapestry workshop.
Fellow student Deborah creates a flower from her original cartoon.
Making a tapestry cartoon.
I am choosing to make my cartoon from an enlarged portion of a lily photo.
Weaving from a cartoon in tapestry workshop.
Color studies and technique exercises all come together in the last part of the tapestry sampler. Weaving from a cartoon.
Tapestry progress.
Time to take the loom apart and head home. Checking my progress with the photo before packing up.
Lily sample from tapestry workshop with Joanne Hall.
Lily sample is finished at home.

I find myself pondering how experiences fall into place in our lives. There are times when the stepping stones seem to be set out before us, showing the way, when we don’t know exactly where we are going. The Lord knows where I am going. He knows me. And he kindly sets out the next steps. Perhaps he smiles as he sees our delight when we figure out that we are the bundles of yarn in his tapestry.

May your joy in learning never cease.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

21 Comments

  • Petrina says:

    Thank you for sharing this. It is so interesting.

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Beautiful! Looking forward to seeing your progress. I don’t have the patience for tapestry.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, You might be surprised. In some ways it is similar to the inlay I’ve seen you do, but on a larger scale.

      In any case, I’m pleased that there are so many directions we can go with yarn and threads and a loom.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Wow! Karen, you are always doing something amazing! Thank you for sharing the workshop since I was unable to attend any this year.

    I am curious as to how you were able to bring your loom. It doesn’t look very portable.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, The whole conference was a great experience. Maybe you will be able to attend next time, 2021 in San Antonio.

      These Swedish looms are easy to take apart and put back together. Think of it as large Lincoln Logs. The side gables are the biggest pieces. The rest —beams, crossbars, treadles, lamms— all fit into two large duffel bags. The gables and the duffel bags fit in the back seat of our Toyota Tacoma.

      Karen

  • Charlotte says:

    Oh my darling Karen! It is wonderful, reading your blog, this morning. En route to the Navajo Nation, our vehicle died in Albuquerque. What a story I have to share…His goodness to us…to place His people in our path…each one learning of us and needing prayer for themselves and their families. What a miraculous day He had planned.
    Thank you for being YOU! Thank you for taking such grand pictures from our workshop with Joanne. It passed by us all too quickly.

  • Betsy says:

    So fun to re-live the class through your pictures! Love your lily, that came out very well. I still haven’t put the Julia back together, I want to give it new dowels, so a trip to Lowe’s is on the list.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, I’m so glad my CM loom had a sister in the room! It was fun to get to weave side-by-side with you.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Vivian says:

    It is so uplifting to learn from your heroes. It is a well of kindness that keeps on giving. Thank you for sharing. I appreciate the breakdown of technique and you were able to make tapestry seem just a little more approachable.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Vivian, “Hero” is a good word to describe Joanne. We are fortunate that she is so willing to share her expertise.

      If tapestry weaving seems more approachable, then I’ve accomplished one of my goals. Thanks!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    Hi Karen, thanks for another great post. Joanne’s wildflower tapestry is a marvel. I’m wondering where she managed to find so many colors in what appears to be the same weight of yarn. Was it perhaps woven in the era of the famous Paternayan yarns (gone now and sadly missed)?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, That’s a great question about the yarn. If Joanne sees this maybe she will leave a comment.

      In the workshop we used mostly 6/2 Tuna wool and 6/1 Fårö wool. We made butterflies with the equivalent of 4 strands of Tuna wool. Using several strands together introduces great ability for variety of color and shading.

      I agree that Joanne’s tapestries are marvels.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

      • Joanna says:

        Back in the day I did a lot of needlepoint using Paternayan Persian wool yarn. The yarn came as 3 strands of 2-ply yarn and that put-up, combined with an incredible color range, enabled the stitcher to create the exact shade needed. It spoiled me. Do you know the date of JH’s wildflower tapestry?

        • Karen says:

          Joanna, I’m sure your needlepoint images were spectacular!

          Joanne Hall’s Texas Wildflowers tapestry was installed the summer of 1995.

          Karen

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi Joanna,
      As Karen said, we used 2 ply Swedish wools, Tuna, 109 colors available from Glimakra. We can extend the color choices by also using the Faro yarn,an additional 74 colors, using two strands as one. I did some dyeing for the Texas Wildflowers tapestry, as it is hard to get clear pastel colors.
      Joanne

  • Amazing. Beautiful.
    Right place. Right time. The rose path warp on my loom is exceeding my filler on some rag rugs. This technique has inspired me to weave the last rug as a tapestry in a simple design from stringers of red currants.
    Always an inspiration. Always a blessing.
    Thank you.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I would love to do some tapestry rag rugs at some point. I was thinking about that earlier this morning. Good for you!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Cindy says:

    What a treat to open your blog for the first time since I signed up and see my little pear! I had so much to learn and Joanne stuffed as much as she could into my sponge of a brain. Not sure where it will lead, but such an intriguing path!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, Your pear deserved to be seen! It’s good to go as sponges. It will be interesting to see where all this leads!

      All the best,
      Karen

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Process Review: Casita Tapestry

This little Casita travel trailer is a good symbol of the retirement phase for Steve and me. I started the tapestry a few months before our move to Texas hill country, in anticipation of our new adventures. And then, the day after Steve retired we went to Rice, Texas and drove away with our new Casita La Perlita (Little Pearl), as if to say, “Let the adventure begin!”

Just off the loom - "La Perlita" Casita tapestry.
Just off the loom, La Perlita Casita. 37 cm x 26 cm (14 1/2″ x 10 1/4″)

Enjoy the Casita tapestry review.

May your adventures come at just the right time.

Happy journeying,
Karen

20 Comments

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Travel Blessings

My adventure to Germany and Austria with my sister was incredible! Many firsts and many blessings. First time to visit Europe. First castle, first currywurst, first German symphony, first hike in the Alps, first Austrian apfelstrudel, first close-up mountain waterfall. And many, many more wonders, delights, and amazements. Any weaving? We visited a handweaving museum in Germany. And I did some occasional tapestry weaving in the evenings. The best tapestry times happened while sitting out on the balcony at our room in Innsbruck.

Weberplatz of Babelsberg, Germany.
Weberplatz of Babelsberg. These were weavers quarters in days gone by.
We had a picnic lunch on the castle steps.
We had a picnic lunch on the castle steps.
Weaving an image from Big Bend State Park, Texas, while enjoying the balcony view in Innsbruck, Austria.
Weaving an image from Big Bend State Park, Texas, while enjoying the balcony view in Innsbruck, Austria.

Be open for blessings. Look for blessings. I don’t mean life should be easy, conflict free, or always comfortable. The blessings are often hidden in long hours, tired feet, and foreign words. Be ready for the best lessons the Creator has for you. The Lord’s faithfulness is stamped into the gardens, mountain peaks, and waterfalls. His glory is written on every face, voice, and pair of hands. His blessings are tucked into secret places, awaiting our delighted discoveries. Live blessed.

May you be surrounded with blessings.

Your Wandering Weaver,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Thanks for sharing your journey and I’m glad you had a special time/memories with your sister. Your tapestry is looking very good! Blessing to you! 🙂

  • laura says:

    Thanks for sharing all those beautiful pictures. So much inspiration that nature and the older buildings have to offer. Thanks again, enjoy the rest of your trip.
    I have one question, what type of loom are you weaving on? So cute and compact.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laura, You are right about the inspiration from nature and the older buildings. I was constantly thinking in design terms as I viewed the various patterns and colors. I hope some of that comes out in future weaving projects.

      The little frame loom is one that my husband Steve made for me. I also have the Glimakra Freja frame looms that I really like to use. This handmade one is a little more portable for traveling.

      It’s good to be home,
      Karen

  • Beth says:

    Sounds like a fabulous time! You’re so fortunate to have a sister who’s also a friend. Thank you for sharing!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I am blessed to have two sisters who are dear friends. And so grateful to have these adventures with one of them!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Thank you for sharing all of your firsts with us, Karen!

    The tapestry is looking amazing. Quite the counterpoint of wide open spaces of nature to the view of crowded man made buildings of Innsbruck.

    Safe travels!

    • Karen says:

      Hi dear Annie, What a wonderful way to express the juxtaposition of the small tapestry with the view over the balcony!

      “Quite the counterpoint of wide open spaces of nature to the view of crowded man made buildings of Innsbruck.”

      Perfect description. And sometimes it’s a blessing to leave the wide open spaces in nature for Nachittag (afternoon) Kaffe und Kuchen at a cafe in crowded Innsbruck.

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Welcome back Karen,
    Weberplatz of Babelsberg is that where the you found those ancient looms in the video? I’d love to see more detail, if you have it.

    Your tapestry is coming along quickly. I look forward to it’s finish.

    May God be with you.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you, Nannette,

      The old looms were in the Handwebereimuseum in Geltow, Germany. They were fascinating. Most were 47-53 cm weaving width, and all with fly shuttles. The back beams were up high at the back of the looms, and they were all countermarch looms as far as I could tell. There were no English signs or explanations, so I just looked and enjoyed. I did not take a lot of pictures there.

      Here is a link of one of my Instagram posts with a video of a demonstration at the museum: Weaving demo.
      All the best,
      Karen

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