Threads of Grace

The kneeling wise man in Steve’s hand-carved Nativity reminds me of the heart posture that speaks louder than words. Bowing in humility, we bring our gifts to honor the King of kings. Little did we expect the King to come as an infant, to grow up among his subjects, to give his life for us.

Kneeling wise man is added to hand-carved nativity.
The kneeling wise man is this year’s addition to the hand-carved Nativity. Carvings in Spanish Cedar by Steve Isenhower

How shall we end this year, and begin the next? With humble hearts, grateful for each new day—for each thread of grace woven in our lives by the Grand Weaver’s strong and gentle hands.

Hand-carved Nativity. Drawloom-woven runner.
Hand-carved Nativity by Steve Isenhower. I wove the background piece on the shaft drawloom at Homestead Fiber Crafts in Waco, Texas. Warp is black 16/2 cotton; weft is red and blue 16/1 linen.

May you end this year with gratitude.

Warmly,
Karen

Process Review: Jubilation Bath Towels

Jubilation Bath Towels are completed, just in time for Christmas! They go with the Jubilation Hand Towels I wove earlier this year, named with my father in mind. (See Process Review: Jubilation Hand Towels.) Nothing deterred my father from deep abiding joy. These bath towels are a tribute, as well, to my husband’s patience. He requested handwoven bath towels a few years ago. Laughably, my first eager attempt resulted in towels scratchy enough to be used as sandpaper back scratchers. Now, finally, we have absorbent and soft handwoven cottolin bath towels suitable for my Prince Charming.

Cottolin bath set. Handwoven bath towels, hand towels, wash cloths.
Jubilation Bath Set. Four bath towels, four hand towels, two wash cloths. Cottolin warp and weft. Six-shaft broken and reverse twill.

Don’t you love it when the end of the warp yields bonus results? Just enough warp to make a pair of wash cloths, in which every one of the seven colors of quills was emptied. Hurrah!

Handwoven bath towel set. Glimakra Standard loom.
Cottolin bath towel set, soft and absorbent. All quills were emptied off in the final length of warp, making colorful wash cloths.

Enjoy the start-to-finish process with me in this slideshow video:

May jubilation reside in your home.

With the joy of celebrating Christ’s birth,
Karen

Handwoven Applique for Christmas

Our family celebrated a birth-day last week. Meet baby Isaac, our ninth grandchild! Also, this week, I am finishing up the pictorial scene of another celebrated birth-day. Each appliqué piece is stitched to the background, using various threads, needles, and simple embroidery stitches to help convey the details of this humble historical event.

Newborn baby
Welcome to our family, baby Isaac.
Six-shaft twill in Mora wool.
Handwoven remnants for Christmas tree skirt.

Many firsts are represented in these handwoven scraps. My first floor loom project, first handwoven curtains, first 8-shaft weave, first linen warp, first drawloom piece, etc. There are some special family memories here, too—wedding gifts, baby wrap, housewarming… Humble beginnings and handwoven treasures generated by love.

Handwoven Christmas tree skirt.
Handwoven applique Nativity project.
Handwoven applique Nativity project.
Handwoven Christmas tree skirt.
Handwoven applique Nativity project.
Stitching handwoven applique.
Reverse side of handwoven Nativity project.
Handwoven Nativity scene.

Birth is a picture of the fullness of God’s grace. The birth of our ninth grandchild is as glorious as the birth of the first. Each new child brings yet-unwrapped gifts. The birth of baby Jesus is a picture of the fullness of God’s grace brought within reach of all. His humble beginnings, with manger bed and young parents, animals and stars watching—all so wondrous to ponder. Christ Jesus came into the world, to be wrapped in scraps of cloth! We are still unwrapping the gifts he brought to us from heaven—forgiveness, peace, and enduring joy. God with us, Immanuel.

Christmas tree skirt Nativity. All handwoven!

May your home be filled with heavenly treasures.

Christmas blessings,
Karen

Applique from Handwoven Remnants

This is the Christmas-tree-skirt project. I wove 3 1/2 meters of background fabric with 8/1 Möbellåtta warp and 6/1 Fårö wool weft. Now, having sorted through all my handwoven remnants, big and small, I have colors and textures for telling the Nativity story in appliqué. My friend with appliqué experience has advised me on materials and technique, for which I am enormously grateful.

Applique from handwoven remnants.
Remnant from the warp for towels I wove for my daughter becomes part of Mary’s garment.
Handwoven remnants cut for applique Nativity.
Donkey shape is cut from remnants from my wool vest project on the drawloom. Paper is on both sides of the double-sided fusible product. One side is peeled off to adhere the fusible to the back of the appliqué piece. (Always remember to draw the reverse side of the image onto the paper on the fusible.)
Applique from handwoven drawloom fabric.
Appliqué piece is face up, ready to be fused to the background.
Making handwoven applique Nativity.
Blue star is from opphämta on the drawloom. Green palm trees are from a long-ago rigid heddle scarf and from a warp of cottolin towels. Manger is pieced from some of my earliest floor loom fabrics. Swaddling cloth is fine cotton M’s and O’s. Baby’s halo is from Swedish lace curtain fabric. Every piece of fabric has a story.

Using a double-sided fusible product, I carefully cut out each shape. After laying all the pieces out in the proper arrangement, I fuse them, layer by layer, to the background fabric. The Nativity narrative is formed, piece by piece. I still have handwoven remnants to add to the lower edge, and embroidery to stitch around some of the appliqué shapes. I’m hopeful to complete all of it before Christmas.

Making a handwoven Christmas tree skirt.
This is the felt tree skirt I saw every year around our family’s Christmas tree when I was a girl.
Handwoven Christmas tree skirt.
Planning the arrangement of the appliqué pieces onto the background fabric.
Making a handwoven applique Nativity scene.
I start by fusing the manger into place because the head of baby Jesus is at the very center of the whole length of cloth.
Handwoven applique Nativity scene.
Wide variety of handwoven fabrics tell the Nativity story. Threads of linen, cotton, wool, and bamboo.
Handwoven applique Nativity project.
Scraps of paper backing indicate that all the pieces have been fused into place. Next, embroidery and other handwork, while considering the meaning of Christmas.

My remnant scene tells the story of God with us. The holy babe in a pieced-together manger reminds us that God loved us by sending Jesus to our worry-ridden world. Worries are the little things and big things that we would like to control, but can’t. Can we add one moment to our lifespan by worrying? Trust in Jesus replaces worry because it puts control back in the right hands.

May you live worry free.

Love,
Karen

Process Review: Christmas Tree Skirt Fabric

This is a Christmas tree skirt in the making. The next stage of this special project will include appliqué and embroidery. The embellished tree skirt should be complete by the time Steve and I put up our Christmas tree this year. This luscious white-on-white wool cloth is just the beginning. Some colorful handwoven remnants will tell the rest of the story. I’ll let you know when that part is finished…

At the very end, with the back tie-on bar right behind the shafts.
Back tie-on bar is right behind the shaft bars. The shed is compromised, but I am still able to squeeze my shuttle through to weave enough picks to empty my quill.
Just off the loom, unwashed handwoven wool fabric.
Just off the loom, unwashed. 8/1 Möbelåtta unbleached wool warp and 6/1 Fårö bleached wool weft.

I thoroughly enjoyed the one-shuttle monotone weaving. It was a quiet stream amid my other rambunctious color-filled looms.

Handwoven fabric for a Christmas tree skirt.
Wash on delicate cycle in the washing machine. Place in dryer on low heat for ten minutes. Air dry to finish. Snuggle.

Here’s a view into the process of making this cloth.

May your days be merry and bright…

Happy early Christmas,
Karen