Image in the Cloth

I am starting to see a fig. This tapestry is a short story about fresh figs and a cup of coffee. My full attention is on weaving while I’m at the loom. I’m always looking for the moment that a recognizable image forms in the woven wool and linen cloth. Attention flows from desire. And when I am weaving, there is no other place I’d rather be.

When I look through my monocular I get a distinct view of the first part of the fig.
Colors of wool (primarily 6/2 Tuna and 6/1 Fårö) are combined in butterflies to represent color values and hues that will become an image of a cut fig–mostly recognizable from a distance. An exciting challenge!

When our affections are set on the Lord Jesus, there is no other place we’d rather be than sitting in prayerful conversation with him. And, I imagine he is delighted when he sees his own image formed in us.

May you desire the best things.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Meet and Separate Strategies

Pictorial tapestry on the floor loom requires a good working knowledge of basic tapestry techniques. Doing small tapestries on a tapestry frame loom, line by line, is one thing I do to hone these basic skills. I have finally reached the happy realizaton that I am no longer frustrated by meet and separate.

After several rows of scrap wool to space the warp, I weave ten rows of 6/1 tow linen as a header.

Meet and separate is a simple concept. It’s not hard to understand. Two butterflies come toward each other (meet) in one shed, and they move away from each other (separate) in the next shed. If you are working with only two butterflies — piece of cake! But when you need to add one more butterfly in a row you can find yourself in a pickle!

Butterflies are arranged so that the heads of butterflies are next to each other, and tails of butterflies (which have been tucked to the back) are together.

Resources that help me understand basic tapestry techniques, including meet and separate:

The Art of Tapestry Weaving, by Rebecca Mezoff

Tapestry Design Basics and Beyond, by Tommye McClure Scanlin

Tapestry Weaving, by Kirsten Glasbrook.

Workshops by Joanne Hall for weaving tapestry on a frame loom.

Meet and separate. Two butterflies on the right-hand side don’t have “partners.” New butterflies will be added in the next row that will balance the meet-and-separate order.

Meet and Separate strategies:

  1. Add two butterflies at a time. Remove two butterflies at a time. (Easier said than done.)
  2. Add one butterfly near where you are ending another butterfly.
  3. Add a “two-headed” butterfly, with the two heads going in opposite directions.
  4. If you must add or remove a single butterfly, expect to reset one or more other butterflies. (To reset a butterfly, cut it off and tuck in the tail, and then reverse its direction.)
  5. Think ahead. You may find that the next row will need one more (or one less) butterfly, and the problem will resolve itself.
So far, not too complicated for meet and separate.
As the tapestry progresses it’s a continual dance of the butterflies.
More butterflies. More fun.

Every row is a game of strategy. Where is the best place to add in a new color butterfly? How can I add or remove a butterfly and cause the least disruption? It’s an intriguing puzzle. The frustrating part has become the fascinating part.

May your frustrations become your fascinations.

Glad to Meet,
Karen

Tapestry Story

It’s as if every row ends with a cliffhanger, and I want to see what will happen next. I know the end of the story, but I’m still eager to see how it plays out. This is how I experience tapestry weaving. I linger here as long as I can. When I do walk away from the loom, I’m already anticipating the next time I get to do this.

Butterfly wing. This second butterfly image shows more detail than the first butterfly image on this warp (which is now beginning to touch the cloth beam).
Cart with balls of wool yarn sits beside the loom for making new yarn butterflies as I go.

I use a cartoon of reduced size as a color reference for making butterflies. A black-and-white version shows me value contrasts. I twist strands of yarn together to find a specific hue and value. Each new butterfly becomes integral to the cliffhanger story. At the loom, my thoughts are fully engaged in the details of this story.

I combine various wool yarns until I find the right combination for the color I want to add to the tapestry. The thickness of each bundle of strands for a butterfly is approximately equivalent to the thickness of 4 strands of Borgs 6/2 Tuna wool yarn.
Every row brings new excitement.
Reduced-size cartoon helps me find the needed hue (color) and intensity (relative brightness or dullness) for yarn butterflies. The black-and-white version helps me see the value (range of light to dark as seen on a gray scale) in comparison to neighboring values.

When I pray, my thoughts are fully engaged in the details of life. Prayer answers our heavenly Father’s invitation to come and be alone with him. He listens as we talk to him about our life’s cliffhangers. Prayer is so much more than making requests. It’s about consulting with our Father to gain his heavenly point of view for the tapestry he is creating. When we see the strands come together just so, we know our life’s story is in the Grand Weaver’s hands.

May your cliffhangers have happy endings.

Your friend,
Karen

Tapestry Cartoon – Zoom In

For this second butterfly sample I am zooming way in, to expose more detail of the delicate stained-glass wing. Transforming the photograph into a weaveable cartoon is a fascinating task in itself. In real life, when do we ever get this close a look at the intricacy of the fluttering wing?

Butterfly wing detail for a tapestry.
Color rows of black, green, yellow, and gold wool weft are woven in a rosepath pattern to frame the beginning of the tapestry. My “go-by” is a smaller replica of the cartoon that is under the warp.

The primary reason for these butterfly samples is for me to gain a better understanding of how the details of the cartoon image relate to the sett of the warp on the loom. My goal is to thoroughly explore this style of tapestry. So, I aim to become adept in creating well-suited cartoons.

You can see the tapestry cartoon under the warp.
In progress. You can see the cartoon under the warp.

Let’s zoom in to the familiar scene of baby Jesus generations ago. The child born in a Bethlehem stable drew the attention of lowly shepherds, not impressive celebrities. Announced by angels, not by stately heralds. The detail clearly depicts something out of the ordinary: There is a kingdom that is not of this world. A King who shows up, not cloaked in royalty, but wrapped in the cloth on hand. What an intricate plan it is that a babe named Jesus would become our Savior King! And, that he transforms the image of those whose hearts invite him in.

May you examine the Christmas story in detail.

Looking forward to Christmas,
Karen

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