Process Review: Weaving Rhythm

“With so many looms, how do you decide what to weave every day?,” I was asked. The answer lies in my Weaving Rhythm. I have five floor looms. I happily aspire to meet the challenge of keeping all of them active.

Glossary

Weaving Rhythm ~ A pattern created across time, through a regular succession of weaving-related tasks.

Arrange individual tasks to keep each loom consistently moving forward in the weaving continuum.

Weaving Continuum ~ The cycle for each loom that is continually repeated.

When the first few centimeters are woven on a new project, begin planning the next project. When finishing is completed for the current project, wind a new warp and dress the loom for the next project.

First Things First ~ Prioritize daily tasks to maintain the Weaving Rhythm.

  1. Finishing
  2. Dressing
  3. Weaving

Do some finishing work first. Do some loom-dressing tasks next. The reward, then, is sitting at one of the dressed looms and freely weaving for the pleasure of it.

Weaving bath towels on the Glimakra Standard.
Glimåkra Standard, 120cm (47″), vertical countermarch. My first floor loom. Weaving the third of four bath towels, 6-shaft broken and reverse twill, 22/2 cottolin warp and weft.
Weaving hanging tabs for bath towels.
Glimåkra two-treadle band loom. Weaving hanging tabs for bath towels. 22/2 cottolin warp and weft.
Glimakra 100cm Ideal. Sweet little loom.
Glimåkra Ideal, 100cm (39″), horizontal countermarch. My second floor loom. Dressing the loom in 24/2 cotton, five-shaft huckaback, for fabric to make a tiered skirt. Ready to start sleying the reed.
Hand-built Swedish loom.
Loom that Steve built, 70cm (27″), horizontal countermarch. My third floor loom. Weaving the header for a pictorial tapestry sample, four-shaft rosepath, 16/2 linen warp, Tuna/Fårö wool and 6/1 tow linen weft.
Sweet little Glimakra Julia 8-shaft loom.
Glimåkra Julia, 70cm (27″), horizontal countermarch. This is my fifth (and final?) floor loom. Weaving the first of two scarves, eight-shaft deflected double weave, 8/1 Mora wool warp and weft.
Weaving lettering on the drawloom.
Glimåkra Standard, 120cm (47″), horizontal countermarch, with Myrehed combination drawloom attachment. This is my fourth floor loom. Weaving some lettering for the seventh pattern on this sample warp, six-shaft irregular satin, 16/2 cotton warp, 16/1 linen weft. 35 pattern shafts, 132 single unit draw cords.

Give Thanks ~ Live with a thankful heart.

Every day I thank the Lord for granting me the joy of being in this handweaving journey. And I thank him for bringing friends like you along with me.

May you always give thanks.

With a grateful heart,
Karen

21 Comments

  • Den says:

    Your weaving is always an inspiration. I look forward to each post. Thank you.

  • Karen says:

    You amaze me! I have too many different hobbies and have to dedicate hours each day to different projects!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, You have some wonderful experiences with using your gifts. I have so much more I want to learn about weaving, and I enjoy digging in to this weaving arena.

      Happy weaving and everything else,
      Karen

  • marianne poling says:

    I love your idea of a “weaving rhythm…” immersing oneself in a “weaving life” that will increase skills and enjoy the gifts weaving brings every day! I tend to weave as a “reward” after all the daily tasks are completed. unfortunately, weaving gets pushed to the back of the line and then I don’t weave as much as I would like to. This was eye-opening for me and I am going to try and find my “weaving rhythm!”

    I really enjoy your blog!
    Marianne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marianne, I like that you identified increasing skill and enjoying the gifts. That does explain why I focus on getting a good rhythm. There are always other necessary things to do to care for family and friends, but it’s good to be mindful of being stewards of the gifts we’ve been given, too. All of life deals with finding priorities and balance.

      Thank you for your thoughtful words,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth says:

    Thank you so much for inspiring me to think through my own processes and priorities! My challenge is that I make things in a variety of techniques: knitting, weaving, sewing, and quilting…I am so happy I eliminated the rest of them

    Since I only have one floor loom I decided to think of these techniques as my “looms”. Each “loom” requires a slightly different process, and it was very useful to actually take the time to think through each of them, what part do I enjoy the most and what do I tend to put off. You have mentioned that you put finishing first to make sure it gets done. It is interesting how people are different, finishing is the easiest part for me, while dressing the loom tends to be put off, even with a warp waiting.
    Another interesting part for me is to pay attention to which of the different technique requires almost no motivation to get going. Do you see a difference when it comes to your looms? Or the kind of projects you are working on?

    Thank you again for inspiring me to learn and grow!
    Love, Elisabeth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, From one thinker to another… There’s a fascination to figuring out structures and processes in life. I’m glad to hear this post prompted you to think through some things. You have certainly helped me to think through things, too.

      As far as motivation on different sorts of projects, I do find that I tend to be drawn to the fascination of the drawloom, to weaving a tapestry, and to weaving rag rugs. I need no motivation for those at all. Even so, I find enjoyment in every stage of the process on every one of the looms.

      Thanks for helping me think,
      Karen

  • Pamela Graham says:

    Wow, impressive! You are clearly an inspiration. I am curious about the drawloom; I thought you could only add a drawloom to a VERTICAL countermarch loom.
    Thanks,
    Pam

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pam, It is certainly easier to add a drawloom to a vertical countermarch. We (meaning Steve) modified the horizontal countermarch to fit with the drawloom frame.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Karen!

  • Helen P. says:

    Hello. I liked reading your posts a lot and here last I can see that you have a Glimåkra Ideal, I have the same. Unfortunately, I have a lot of problems getting the scales accurately, even though I know how to regulate various things. Maybe you can help me. Do you have an approximate measure of the basic binding to the Ideal loom. That is, the measure from shaft to short stool, the measure from short stool to long stool, the measure from long stool to tramp. Just like that, as a guide. Thanks in advance. Sincerely, Helen Pedersen.

    • Karen says:

      Hello Helen, Yes, I have a Glimåkra Ideal. Approximate measurements – from bottom of shafts to the short lamms is about 18cm, from short lamms to long lamms is about 18cm, from long lamms to treadles is about 23cm. The warp is not tied on yet, so these measurements are not exact.

      How many shafts are you using? Sometimes with more than 4 shafts, it is a little tricky to get everything to balance.

      Thank you,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Hi Karen,
    I noticed you begin planning the next project while weaving the current project.
    Just one future project? 😉

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!

    Nannette

  • Angela M Roberts says:

    Amen xoxo

  • Angela M Roberts says:

    One Question ? Do you keep them all warped and working,Simultaneously ??
    Or one at a time ?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Angela, Each loom is on its own independent schedule. They are rarely synchronized so that they are all in weaving mode at the same time. Usually, the looms are operating in different phases of the weaving continuum. So, each day I decide which loom to focus on next. I can only weave on one loom at a time, so sometimes a warp sits on the loom for a while until I can get back to it.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Hi Karen,
    I have a similar process, and have three looms that are usually active.
    When I was a fairly new weaver, I remember Anita Meyer saying that she has one project in the planning stage, one project in the weaving stage and one project in the finishing stage, and then working within the rhythms of her days. I follow a similar rhythm and it keeps me happy. I also have a fourth stage which is documentation and learning. Documentation so that I don’t forget what I have done, and learning because learning is a continuous lifelong adventure.
    Thanks for the inspiration today.
    Barbara

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barbara, You have a great system. Documentation is important, yes. I include it in my finishing stage. And I’m with you, learning is a lifelong adventure!

      Thanks for your great input,
      Karen

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Welcome to My Loom

The computer is a worthwhile instrument for creating designs to weave. I like the flexibility and repeatability it gives me for drawloom designs. I’m also using the computer to develop the cartoon for my next pictorial tapestry. The computer work takes time—usually more time than I think it should.

Cottolin bath towels on the loom.
Come in our front door to see what is on the loom. Nearing the end of the first bath towel on this cottolin warp.

When I sit at the loom, though, time slips away unnoticed. This is where I’d rather be.

Cottolin bath towels on the loom.
Deep borders on these towels have treadling changes and contrast-thread inlay for added interest.
Start of the second cottolin bath towel on the loom.
Red cutting line is woven between the first and second towels.
Weaving bath towels on the Glimakra Standard loom.
First bath towel begins to wrap around the cloth beam.

I’m starting the second of four bath towels on my Glimåkra Standard. The loom, with its colored threads and cloth, is the first thing to greet you as you come in our front door. Welcome. Let’s put the computer away for a while and simply enjoy ourselves. There’s no better time than now.

v
Previously woven hand towels that match these bath towels have not yet been used. They are presently folded and displayed in a pottery bowl on the dining room table in the next room.

May you make time for making.

Happy Planning and Weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Beth says:

    These are beautiful! The loom is also my happy place.

  • Tena says:

    Your posts always inspire me. I’ve been weaving about a year. I hope to be as good as you someday.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tena, Thank you for your kind words. Welcome to the world of weaving. All it takes is to keep going, a step at a time. You’re almost there!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Love this! I have done one kitchen towel in a cottolin warp & weft, and it is wonderfully absorbent! Definitely planning to do more! What kind of loom is the one in these photos? It looks very tall, and I love the way the woven cloth wraps around the front beam with a board in front to protect it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Caroline, Yes, my cottolin towels are my favorite because of their absorbency.

      This is a Glimåkra Standard loom, 120cm (47″), countermarche. The fabric protection board at the front is great for protecting the cloth on the breast beam. The fabric protection board also allows me to lean up against it, which takes strain off my back as I reach to throw the shuttle.

      Thank you,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,

    My favorite colors sprung up when I opened your blog. How neat the edges are, rolled under the loom.

    Yes! There is order in the world. ( spent last night in the basement sorting through memories wrapped in 1997 newsprint. 3 piles.. Keep, sell, gift to children. :).) Sweet, sweet organization courtesy of warped for good!!
    Thank YOU.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, It’s interesting how certain colors can draw us in. I’m glad that you are finding your way through this transition time. Thank you for your sweet encouragement.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    These towels are gorgeous. Are you really going to let people use them?
    We always had display towels growing up that my mother gave strict instructions to look at, don’t touch! I think these would be perfect for that.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, Thank you! I understand the sentiment. It gives me joy when people use the towels and other articles I make. These bath towels (and hand towels) are specifically for Steve and me to use. My first attempt at bath towels a few years ago didn’t go so well. Let’s just say those “towels” became bath mats. So we are looking forward to some decent beautiful handwoven bath towels.

      I will be happy if we can use these towels so much that we wear them out. That will mean I get to make some more. 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Barbara Mitchell says:

    Like you, I enjoy the slow, thoughtful process of working at the loom, as the stress and cares of the world are forgotten. These towels look calm and peaceful, and yet still a little exciting, with the little runs of twills and colour accents. Simply beautiful.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barbara, I agree with you. The loom gives us a chance to take a break from normal stress and cares as we put our attention on the rhythm of weaving.
      My favorite thing about these towels is the little twill accents that run through them. Thank you for your sweet words.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Tried and True: How Far Will Your Quill Go?

Do not overfill your quills. It may seem efficient to load the quill as much as possible so you can weave as far as possible. Like me, you may have to learn this the hard way. A too-chubby quill that has to be coaxed through the shed takes more time and effort than winding a few extra quills. So much for efficiency.

Cottolin bath towels on the Glimåkra Standard.
Cottolin bath towels on the Glimåkra Standard, in twill, broken twill, and reverse twill.

It helps to have an idea of how far the thread on a quill will go. With this information, you can wind a few in advance without ending up with an excess of wound quills at the end of your project. I like to have the next quill ready to go when I am weaving so that I can put the new quill in my shuttle and keep weaving with very little interruption. This is especially helpful when the treadling sequence is tricky, like with the reverse twill in every other large color block on these cottolin bath towels. 3-2-1-6-5-4

How to Estimate Weaving Distance for Filled Quills

1 Start a new quill, leaving a 4 – 5 cm tail on the surface of the cloth. Or, start a new quill at the beginning of a color change.

How to measure how far a quill will weave.
End of one thread. Ready for a new quill.
How to know how far a quill will weave. Tutorial.
With the threads overlapping in the shed, the tail of the thread on the new quill lies on the surface.

2 Weave until the quill has emptied. Leave a 4-5 cm tail on the surface of the cloth.

How to know how far a full quill will weave.
Quill has emptied. Tail is brought out to the surface of the cloth.

3 Replace the empty quill in the shuttle with a new quill and continue weaving 1 – 2 cm further.

4 Measure the distance from the first weft tail, or line of color change, to the second weft tail. Place a straight pin, in line with the first weft tail, directly under the second weft tail. Measure from the pin to the second weft tail. This is the approximate weaving distance you can expect to cover with a new quill. Notate the quill’s estimated weaving distance on your project notes for future reference.

Tutorial on how to know how many quills you need to wind.
Measure the woven distance.

5 Trim the weft tails close to the surface.

6 Increase accuracy by repeating the process three times, and then use the average as your quill’s estimated weaving distance.

The large color blocks on this bath towel are 14 cm long. A single full quill will weave 5 1/2 – 6 cm; therefore, I make sure I have 2 full quills, plus at least another half-filled quill before I start a new color block section. It’s nice to be able to leave my foot on the treadle while I change out quills, so I don’t lose my place.

Cottolin bath towels.

May your efforts prove to be efficient.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Beth says:

    Oooo! I love these colors!

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,

    I just noticed you work in metric measurements. I hadn’t before. Hmmm. Is that the side effect of transposing 2.54 cm per inch so many years? Metric does make the math easier.

    Moving/estate sale in 5 weeks. The epiphany is textile projects will have to wait until the basement in Wausaukee is set up. The last visit I made up north the home made floor loom was to the point of hooking up the castle. I stopped after I put it on backwards.

    Thank you for your reality touchpoints.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I started using metric measurements for weaving after going to Vavstuga Basics. It makes sense to me.

      Blessings on all your transition events.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    You always give us such great tips! Thanks, Karen. And thanks for using metric measurements, I wish everyone did.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, I’m happy if a tip is helpful to you. As I mentioned to Nannette, metric measurements make sense to me for weaving. I am not a math whiz, so I like the simplicity of metric math.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Linda Adamson says:

    I really like your colors as well. Did you set the cottolin at 24 epi? If so is it thick enough this way?
    Linda

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, These really are comfort colors for me. I’m using a metric 50/10 reed, so my sett is 10 ends per cm, equivalent to 25.4 epi. So, 24 epi would also be a good sett for this twill. I wouldn’t call these towels thick, but they will be soft and absorbent. My experience with Bockens 22/2 Cottolin is that the cotton/linen blend makes great towels. They seem to get softer and more absorbent the more they are used and washed and dried.

      I haven’t made cottolin bath towels before, so hopefully I can give you a good report when we start using them!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Maureen says:

    Hi Karen,
    May I ask, what are you using for a bobbin? It doesn’t seem to be the rolled piece of paper that is usually used for a quill. Where did you get them, is it from purchased yarn? I’ve found that some of the empty yarn spools don’t fit in my Glimakra quill shuttle.
    Your weaving is always so inspiring, you have a wonderful colour sense and technique.
    Maureen

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maureen, The quills that I use are narrow cardboard tubes made for this purpose. These cardboard quills function like the rolled piece of paper that you describe, and come in different sizes to fit the Glimakra quill shuttles. I purchase the cardboard quills from weaving suppliers in the USA, like GlimakraUSA.com or Vavstuga.com. If I need extra quills, I make them from rolled paper, too.

      Your kind and encouraging words mean a lot to me.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kristin Girod says:

    That’s a wonderful tip, Karen! I’m definitely going to try that with my next project. And I’ve always trimmed my tails after washing. Do you trim to the fabric while on the loom no matter the size or type of yarn?

    • Karen says:

      Kristin,

      Good, I’m glad you found this tip helpful!

      I trim weft tails as I go–regardless of size or type of yarn. I like to trim as much as possible while it’s on the loom because I don’t want to have to go back and do it later. 🙂

      I try to make sure to have my weft threads overlap enough in the shed to take into account shrinkage that will happen with washing and drying. If you trim before it’s washed, the added benefit is whatever bit of thread that is left on the surface will nicely disappear as it shrinks into the cloth.

      Happy weaving!
      Karen

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Handwoven Detail Notes

It is the smallest of details that set handwoven towels apart from ordinary towels. With that in mind, I am writing some detail notes in the margin of my project notes. Borders: Towel 1 – sea blue, apple green – contrast thread – ultramarine; Towel 2 – ultramarine, sea blue – contrast thread – maize; Towel 3 – apple green, ultramarine – contrast thread – sea blue; Towel 4 – dusty, sea blue – contrast thread – apple green.

Cottolin bath towels coming up!
Beaming the cottolin warp for bath towels.
Warp is tied on and leveling string is attached.
Warp is tied on and leveling string is attached.
Preparing to weave 7-color bath towels.
Seven different colors of wound quills. All seven colors are in each towel, warp and weft. The weft sequence varies with each towel.
Boat shuttles vie for the starting line, like in a regatta.
One boat shuttle for each color. This reminds me of sailing with my dad and my sisters. Boat captains would vie for the regatta starting line, shouting, “Starboard!”

There are seven colors of cottolin in the warp, and the same seven colors in the weft, just like the accompanying hand towels I completed in April. (See Process Review: Jubilation Hand Towels.) Narrow warp-wise and weft-wise stripes of broken twill produce interesting patterns in the cloth. The deep borders I am planning on the bath towels give me a chance to add simple details that only a handweaver can do.

White ribbon shows where to place details on the handwoven bath towel.
After weaving a short section to test the threading, I start the first towel. A red line, as always, denotes the cutting/starting line. I placed marks on the white ribbon at the left that show me where to place details along the length of the towel.
Simple handwoven details make all the difference.
Single ultramarine thread is laid in with the sea blue to outline a change of treadling. A simple handwoven detail.

Have you ever identified a master craftsman by the specific details that show up in the hand-crafted article? In the same way, we can recognize our Maker’s hand through the magnificence of the details we see in each other. You are his masterpiece. Hand-written instructions guide the details. When we come to the Lord as our Maker and Redeemer, we find his hand-written details woven into our hearts, something only the Grand Weaver can do.

May you attend to the details.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    These towels are so beautiful…and as always, your words of faith, reminding us of the blessings we have been given by God. Thank you for your inspiration! I know you give the credit for all you do to our Lord. God Bless you! 🙂

  • Beth says:

    Beautiful color choices and details!

  • So pretty. I hope one day to be able to make towels like this. Thank you for your help to the weaving world.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Brigitte, One step at a time, and before you know it, you’re weaving the very things you were hoping to do. This has been my story, and I’m sure it will be yours, too!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    It is the details between common chocolate cookies and Boston cream pie.

    May we all enjoy Boston cream pie from a master craftsman.

  • Joanna says:

    Isn’t broken twill a blast to thread? I just love it. Your towels will be lovely.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, Yes, I do enjoy a threading pattern that requires thinking. The treadling is that way, too, with these towels. This is the kind of project that is very satisfying to do.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Anonymous says:

    Always love your posts! I love the way you incorporate a story into each post. I hope to weave this well one day! I’m a super beginner.

    • Karen says:

      Hi super beginner, You have a kind way of expressing yourself. Thank you for the encouraging words! I have no doubt by you will reach excellence in weaving. All it takes is time, practice, and patience. Enjoy the journey!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kristin G says:

    I look forward to seeing the finished towels. I’m sure they will be gorgeous! And I particularly enjoyed hearing about the memory of sailing with your family. Those must be precious memories!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kristin, Those sailing memories are memories I cherish! I’m looking forward to putting these towels to use as soon as they’re finished.

      Thanks so much!
      Karen

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Warp Chains Are Beautiful

The reel spins ‘round, ‘round, ‘round one way, and then ‘round, ‘round, ‘round back the other way. Rhythmic, mesmerizing, and strangely soothing. Counting, as I wind two ends at a time, I find myself whispering “2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, ….” The warping reel is one of my favorite pieces of equipment. This warp has seven colors of 22/2 Cottolin for bath towels which are to accompany the hand towels I recently made. I am winding this in four bouts, and there are different color changes in each bout.

Winding a warp for cottolin bath towels.
First bout on the warping reel.
Making cottolin bath towels.
Second bout. Choke ties about every meter keep the ends from shifting as the warp bout is chained and taken to the loom.
Making a warp for handwoven bath towels. Cottolin.
Third bout. Each of the four bouts has nearly the same number of warp ends.
Glimakra warping reel - one of my favorite pieces of equipment!
Fourth bout.

I marvel at the combination of thread colors as I chain each bout off the reel. The warp chains look beautiful. They always do. Warp chains are dreams in the making, where anything is possible. Haven’t you dreamt of handwoven bath towels?

Winding a warp on the Glimakra warping reel.
Came close to running out of thread on some of the tubes. (I did have backup tubes, but not from the same dye lots.)
Beautiful warp chains!
Beautiful warp chains, ready for the loom.

When we listen closely, we can hear the inaudible. Our hearts can hear the softest whisper. “2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, …” Even the hairs on our head are numbered by the Grand Weaver who planned our existence. Our days are numbered, as well. And when our heart is listening, we can hear the quiet whisper of the Lord Jesus, “Are you weary and burdened? Come to me, and I will give you rest.”

May you listen for the softest whisper.

Gently,
Karen

9 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Beautiful colors! I’m looking forward to seeing the warp spread across the reed. Best to you and yours!

  • Nannette says:

    The promise of the future beauty. The beginning of a process that completes at the plans and skills of the weaver. Time will tell.

    I always gorge on your color choices.

    Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, There’s always an element of time that holds the promise. I’m glad you enjoy the color choices. Choosing colors one of the most exciting parts about weaving for me.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • LJ Arndt says:

    Beautiful colors, looking forward to seeing the towel sets when they are complete and put together as the sets.

    • Karen says:

      Hi LJ, Making towel sets for our bathroom is something I’ve thought about doing for a long time. It’s nice to see it coming to pass. Thanks for your encouragement.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    Karen,
    Thank you for your thoughts about listening to the whispers in our lives. Your words are always a breath of fresh air and I appreciate your reminders to look closely into my life and know that God is working his miracles in the smallest things. Looking forward to seeing your bath towels – wrapping up in a handwoven bath towel is such a luxury!
    Blessings to you and yours.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, I like your words that God is working his miracles in the smallest things. So true!

      I suppose that handwoven bath towels are a luxury. It’s nice to be surrounded by handwoven articles, simple luxuries.

      Blessings to you,
      Karen

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