Tapestry that Tries to Copy

The jumble of yarn looks like a random play of colors. But if you look a little closer, and push the yarn butterflies out of the way, you can tell that the color choices are deliberate. You see only a hint of the image, though, until you look through the back end of the monocular, or step up on the step stool to have a look from up above the weaving. That’s when you get an overview of what’s on the loom.

New tapestry project.
Yarn butterflies each have a mix of wool, mostly 6/2 Tuna and 6/1 Fårö yarn.
Weaving a new tapestry on the floor loom.
The mix of colors in each yarn butterfly is a deliberate selection for the specific hues, values, and intensities I want to portray.
Tapestry of a butterfly wing.
View from my seat on the loom bench.

This warp is a study project. I want to test some tapestry techniques to help me develop my style. I made the cartoon by cropping and enlarging a photograph I took years ago. The butterfly had just emerged from its chrysalis! The subject for my study: the butterfly’s intricate wing.

Tapestry on the floor loom, and how to view it.
Peering through the *wrong* end of the monocular gives me a distant view of the tapestry in progress.
Get a view from higher up to get a better perspective on life.
I stand on a stepstool near the loom to get an even broader view of the tapestry from a distance. This perspective shows me how effective my yarn selections are (or are not) for the image I want to create.
Intricate butterfly wing - subject for tapestry study.
Cartoon in a reduced size helps me see the color distinctions. Photo in black and white helps me see value contrasts.

Who designed the butterfly wing? A stained-glass artist may conceive it. A tapestry weaver may copy it. A silk dyer may imagine it. But only our Creator could bring it to life. God makes himself known. Push the obstacles out of the way. Look for design. Gain a higher perspective. With each woven row, the image becomes more and more clear. When the butterfly wing begins to flutter you know you are witnessing something from the mind of God.

May you see what is hidden.

Happy weaving,
Karen

Lizard in Black and White

Some things are better seen without color. Hence, an enlarged version of my lizard in black and white. Variances in value are not as easily discerned in the full-color print. These subtle value distinctions bring realism to the lizard tapestry. For this reason, I sort all the yarn into small groups of color and value, which clarifies my choices for each wool butterfly.

Lizard portrait in black and white for tapestry project.
Lizard portrait in black and white shows nuances in color value.

Yarn Sorting Process:
1. Select yarn colors for the tapestry.

2. Group like colors together.

Sorting wool yarn for a tapestry. Tutorial.
Wool yarn, much of which has been accumulated from previous projects.

For each color group (I have seven color groups):
1. Arrange yarn on a white background in value order, from light to dark. Take a picture.

Arranging yarn by color value for tapestry.
Green, from light to dark.

2. Take another picture using the smart phone black and white setting (“Noir” in the filters on my iPhone).

Yarn in order by value. Blog post explanation.
Photo shows that a couple adjustments are needed for the yarn-value order.

3. Adjust yarn to make value order corrections.

Yarn in order by color value. Suggestions on blog post.
Adjustments made.

4. Divide the yarn into three value sections. 1. light, 2. medium, 3. dark.
5. Label baskets to hold each yarn section; i.e., “G 3” for green, dark.

The preparation for a project like this is immense. And tedious. But this is a weaving adventure. Indeed, the results may very well be astounding. That’s my hope.

Yarn for tapestry sorted by color and value. Tutorial.
Little baskets of yarn next to the loom, sorted by color and value.

Life itself is a full color project. Immense and tedious. Rise above these earthly things. Our Grand Weaver sees the value distinctions that we miss with our natural eye. What hope this gives! Trusting him through this real life adventure brings assurance of astounding results. Setting my mind on these “above” things turns troubles into treasures whose values will be evident in the final real tapestry.

May you persevere.

With you,
Karen

Four-Shaft Tapestry Adventure

Most of my preparation for this project has been separate from the loom itself. The loom is dressed and ready. That’s the easy part. The lion’s share of the work is in developing the cartoon. This project is my first four-shaft tapestry. My usual tapestry work is on a small portable tapestry frame. This is BIG in comparison. 93 centimeters (36 1/2 inches) in the reed.

Glimakra Ideal with linen warp, ready to weave a tapestry.
Linen warp is tied on. Treadles are tied up. Sheds are clean. This Glimåkra Ideal is ready and waiting for the weaver.

Cartoon is on a table behind the loom undergoing cartoon prep.
Warp beam. Cartoon is on a folding table behind the loom undergoing cartoon prep.

After finding a subject for the tapestry, I have been drawing the cartoon and a cartoon key. And I have the yarn. Now, I am determining colors, distinguishing values, and arranging my yarn into a workable order. To tell the truth, the cartoon scares me. It shows me how grand a task I’ve signed up for. But there’s no turning back. I’m committed. (I will show you the cartoon when I’m further along…)

Wool being sorted for 4-shaft tapestry.
Wool, mostly 6/2 Tuna and 6/1 Fårö, with a few other wool yarns thrown in. These are some of the colors going into the planning of the cartoon.

Distinguishing between different values in the wool yarn assortment.
Black and white photo helps distinguish between the different values of the yarn colors. Contrast in values help define the woven image.

The cartoon shows the intent of the tapestry designer. Likewise, heaven shows the Grand Weaver’s perfect plan. Heaven holds the true picture. Heaven and earth, two parallel realms. Jesus came to earth to bring us into that heavenly version of the tapestry. When we put our trust in him, our colorful threads in various hues and values are woven together in the grandest tapestry ever.

May you take a bigger step than you have before.

Courageously (with knees knocking),
Karen

Not Just Any Old Weft

The weft makes or breaks a weaving project. 16/1 linen weft requires careful weaving, but the quality of Swedish Bockens linen won’t disappoint. If you use superior quality warp thread, like this Swedish Bockens Nialin (cottolin), it makes perfect sense to choose a weft that equals that degree of excellence.

Platväv table runner. Linen weft.
Plattväv table runner. Black 16/1 linen is doubled for the pattern weft in this plattväv design. The background tabby weft is golden bleached 16/1 linen.

When I weave useful items on my loom, I want them to stand the test of time. I want these plattväv towels and table runner to outlive me. So, no skimping on quality. Time and patience are woven into the cloth, with artisan details and carefully applied skills. Perfection? No, not this side of heaven. But making the most of what I’ve been given is one way I show gratitude to my Maker.

Plattväv table runner. Linen weft.
End of towel kit sample warp has enough room to weave a companion short table runner with plattväv squares. All weft tails will be trimmed after the fabric has been wet finished.

End of warp closes in.
Weaving as far as feasible. End of warp closes in.

We have much to be grateful for. The Lord’s enduring love is of measureless worth and quality. It’s the basis for our unwavering hope, which sustains us through every adversity. This isn’t a knowledge of the love of God. This is the actual love of God, poured into willing hearts. Love changes everything. This love is the weft that makes perfect sense for the completion of something as valued as you or me. What if every fiber of our being reflected the love of God? How beautiful!

May your finest qualities be seen and cherished.

Love,
Karen

PS Plattväv towel kit is in development. The kit includes a pre-wound warp and sufficient weft to weave four hand towels, and one companion short table runner/table square. PLUS, special access to one or two short instructional videos.

Almost Forgot the Hanging Tabs…Again

I was ready to hem the plattväv towels. But then, I thought of one more thing–I need a woven band for the hanging tabs! Since the towels have black borders, I decided to weave a simple band in black cottolin, with a single white dotted line down the center. I measured the little warp, put it on the band loom, and quickly wove it up.

Black woven band with dotted white line. Glimakra band loom.
Single white thread produces dotted white line in the woven band.

I love the classy black band with the white dotted line. However, I don’t love it with these towels… Too wide, and too… black. It’s going into my band stash box. Someday, when I least expect it, I’ll find this band in the box; and it will be exactly what I need at the time. So, I started over at the band loom this morning, and wove a new band.

White dotted line on handwoven band. Glimåkra band loom.
Second chances are possible with a Glimåkra two-treadle band loom. It doesn’t take long to weave a second band if the first one doesn’t work out.

Woven band, ready to be cut into hanging tabs for towels.
Ready to be cut into hanging tabs for the plattväv towels.

Ready to hem towels, with hanging tabs included. Karen Isenhower
Hem, turned twice to the back of the towel, is pressed and ready to be stitched. The ends of a coordinating hanging tab will be stitched in the seam. The black woven band is stashed away for future use. The narrower gray band fits the style of the towels.

Joy is ignited by giving thanks. Gratitude changes your outlook. Instead of seeing the black band as a setback, it’s a gift for the future. The gray band is a reminder to be thankful for second chances. To whom will we give our thanks? To our looms? No. To each other? Yes. And to our Maker who gave himself for us? A resounding, joyful yes.

May you continuously be thankful.

Thankful for you,
Karen