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.

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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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Home in Texas on the Drawloom

The sky is the limit! That is my conclusion after weaving a few designs using the Myrehed combination drawloom. The shaft draw and the single unit draw systems are combined on this ingenious apparatus that is attached to an otherwise ordinary loom. The shaft draw system enables me to weave repeated patterns. The single unit system enables non-repeat patterns. This narrow warp is my playground to do both.

Myrehed Combination drawloom - learning its potential.
Pattern shafts (the wood bars) and single units (with black and white draw cords) are combined for this warp. 36 pattern shafts, including the X shaft. 132 single units.
Setting up the Myrehed combination drawloom.
Central design area uses a repeat of 30 pattern shafts threaded in a straight draw. Side borders use a repeat of 5 pattern shafts. Lift heddles and lanyard clips on the single unit draw cords attach the draw cords to the all the individual units (single units) on the pattern shafts.

I use the computer to create designs. ”Home in Texas” shows the back of our house, with its massive stone chimney. The tree in the scene is a tracing of the oak tree that I pass as I walk up the hill to my drawloom studio. The airplane is a copy of the Mooney that our pilot friend took us in to fly over Enchanted Rock. I am delighted to discover that I can use a drawloom to bring features of personal meaning such as these to life.

Making a gridded pattern for weaving on the drawloom.
Photo of our back deck. Using Affinity Photo, I set up a grid on the page to represent 30 pattern shafts. I then import my photo onto the gridded page.
Creating a simple gridded pattern on the computer.
Simple outline is created and saved as a separate image. The filled-in outline becomes my drawloom pattern.
Creating gridded designs in Affinity Photo.
Oak tree that I pass on the hill up to my drawloom studio. After importing the photo, I adjust the opacity to fade the picture, which makes tracing easier.
Tracing a tree in Affinity Photo to make a drawloom pattern.
I use a pen tool in Affinity Photo set at 3 pt to do the tracing. Now I can fill in the outline and copy and paste the image onto my chart that I will print and then use at the loom.
Drawloom weaving, using the Myrehed Combination.
Houses are woven with 30 pattern shafts. The hearts in the corners and the added details above the houses use the single unit draw cords. The tree is beginning to appear between the two houses on the left.
Myrehed Combination drawloom.
Two draw handles are pulled for the pattern on the side borders. Single unit draw cords are pulled and held in place on the hook bar above the beater.
Our Texas Home - woven on the drawloom.
Our Texas Home

The words of the Creator have life in them. It’s as if he puts his thoughts on the loom and weaves them into being. Let there be light! He speaks; and it is so. Listen closely. Hear the Grand Weaver say, Peace to you. And it is woven so. You are his workmanship, bringing his design to life.

Experimental warp on the drawloom.
More ideas are forming, even as this fabric begins to hug the cloth beam.

May your life reveal the Creator’s design.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

25 Comments

  • Kelly says:

    Wow, that is amazing!

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Mind blown! Wow!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, The drawloom attachment changes everything. At the root of it all, though, is normal weaving. The draw handles and cords turn it into a giant counted cross stitch machine. 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Wanda says:

    Fabulous! I love seeing what you weave!

  • Judy Goodwin says:

    I took a drawloom class at Vavstuga Studios in MA. I loved being able to create the designs. Would love to do more of it. Your work is wonderful

    • Karen says:

      Hi Judy, That’s great that you had the drawloom experience at Vavstuga. I’m sure it was wonderful! Creating the designs on the computer has been quite a learning curve for me. I’m beginning to enjoy it. 🙂

      Thank you,
      Karen

  • Kevin B says:

    Ah, so much to learn! As always your weaving is beautiful and very inspirational! Thank you for sharing!

  • Betsy says:

    Oh, wow!! Very cool.

  • Charlene says:

    There is a great deal more than the threads of fibre weaving through your blog posts and the story of your art. I catch a thread or two, sometimes in what you write; “May your life reveal the Creator’s design” and sometimes in the comments; “May I add, amen.”

    Comparatively, I find my own weaving journey so intimidatingly small as I read about your journey, but then I remember the joy isn’t in comparison, the joy is in our created uniqueness.

    It is fascinating – both in this created life God has given us and to share your unique contribution with you. Thank you for such detail in both photo and description. I thoroughly enjoy both.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlene, The underlying threads you insightfully detect are at the heart of all my intentions. I’m pleased to have you join me in this little corner of the created life God has given us.

      Your friend,
      Karen

  • Shari says:

    You have truly embraced weaving! So much to discover. When I was visiting my best friend Janet in Austin last October we went hiking at Enchanted Rock. Very special place. Be well.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Shari, I’m so happy to know that my little mention of Enchanted Rock meant something to you. Having had hiked Enchanted Rock a few times, it was very exciting to get to see it from the air!

      Be well to you and yours,
      Karen

  • Linda Adamson says:

    Lovely. How long does it take you to set up your loom? Where did you learn how?
    Linda

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, This warp took me a good 12 hours to set up. I was determined to get it done, so I spent about 3 hours, 4 days in a row. I enjoyed the process – it all seems so amazing how the systems work together. But this is why most drawloom weavers put on looooong warps. This current warp is only about 5-6 yards long because this is for planning out designs to use on larger pieces in the future. Besides, I still need the practice of dressing this loom often enough so that I don’t have to start from scratch with my memory.

      I took a drawloom class from Joanne Hall at her studio in Montana. It was excellent!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Linda Cornell says:

    I enjoy your posts and weaving inspirations! I hardly know what a draw loom is but it’s cool to see what you produce in it! Most particularly, your intertwining of faith through your weaving is mist inspiring. God continue to bless you!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, It wasn’t that long ago that I hardly knew what a drawloom was, either. It’s been an interesting learning journey.

      I’m glad the intertwining of faith through my weaving experiences resonates with you.

      Thank you,
      Karen

  • Connie says:

    All I can say is, WOW! Thanks for sharing.

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Tried and True: Designing with Fibonacci

Before starting, I sketched out several versions of the finished blanket, showing different sizes and arrangements of the rectangle blocks. My favorite version is one with a random look. This twelve-shaft double weave has three blocks. Block 1 is a solid color across the warp. Block 2 has a narrow, vertical contrasting rectangle. Block 3 has a wide, horizontal contrasting rectangle. The warp threading determines the width of the rectangles. But the height of the rectangles is determined by the treadling pattern. I decided to use a Fibonacci sequence of numbers in random order to guide my treadling options as I weave.

Double weave blanket.
Rectangles vary in size.

Low-Tech Random Fibonacci Sequence

1 Determine the desired range of the Fibonacci sequence. 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13

2 Determine the number of repeat options for each block (one repeat is 4 picks per double-weave layer).

  • Block 1, solid color – 2 repeats every time
  • Block 2, narrow rectangle – 2, 3, 5, 8, or 13 repeats
  • Block 3, wide rectangle – 1, 2, 3, or 5 repeats

3 Write each number of the sequence on individual squares of paper. Make three sets of these numbers. 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13

4 Fold each paper square in half and place in a container at the loom. Mix thoroughly.

Designing with random Fibonacci numbers. Low tech!
Fibonacci numbers are ready for eyes-closed random selection.

5 Randomly select a paper square to reveal the number of repeats for the next narrow or wide rectangle block.

Fibonacci numbers as design tool.
Assignment for the next rectangle block – three repeats. The lines indicate that this number can be used for Block 2 (narrow, vertical) or Block 3 (wide, horizontal).

For this blanket I have a woven hem and border, and then two repeats of Block 1 (solid color) between alternating Block 2 (narrow) and Block 3 (wide) rectangles of varying heights.

Double weave wool blanket.
Back side has reverse colors.
Double weave Tuna wool blanket.
Block 1 (solid blue across) stays a consistent size between the white rectangles.

Surprise is built in which makes it hard to leave the loom. “Just one more block,” I tell myself…

Double weave blanket. Fibonacci for design.
View of the cloth beam reveals the variety of sizes of rectangles. Eager to see it off the loom!

May you be greeted by random (happy) surprises.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

18 Comments

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Weaving Deadline

I had a deadline for weaving these towels. Eight days. I finished dressing the loom at our Texas hill country home on Monday afternoon, and wove in long and short increments throughout the week. Mostly short increments. After all, I had little grandchildren to enjoy at the same time. And sweet interactions with my daughter and her husband. I finished weaving the four towels on Saturday evening, and cut them off on Sunday morning, just in time to bring them back with me to Houston to do the finishing work.

Cloth beam fills up with double weave towels.

Cloth beam fills up with double weave towels.

Four double weave towels. Time for cutting off!

Four towels woven. Time for cutting off!

Cloth puddle of double weave towels. Cutting off!

Cloth puddle.

Double weave towels just off the loom.

Aqua is the main color on the front of the towels. The reverse side has Poppy as the main color.

Freshly woven towels, ready for finishing work.

Ready for finishing. This week I will be mending errors, wet finishing, hemming, and sewing on labels.

I was highly motivated. I knew this may be my only chance to finish these towels for Melody before she and her precious family move to Chile in the near future. Now, she will be able to take a woven piece of my love with her. Know your roots. Where are you rooted? When your life takes root in good soil it will grow. Rooted in love, your life will blossom to bless others. And those are roots you can plant anywhere in the world.

May you bloom where you are planted.

With love,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Very Beautiful, the towels and your advice. At times, I wonder, “Why am I doing this project?”, especially when I have been challenged with warping or broken threads…but when it comes off the loom and you think of the person you will share it with, love IS the answer! The Greatest of These is Love!

  • Beth Mullins says:

    They’re so pretty and the colors perfect for Chile! Melody is very lucky. You are very kind. Can’t wait to see them finished.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I had Chile in mind when I selected these colors. One of the towels will stay with me, so I’ll have a Chile towel in my home that will remind me of Melody. I’m excited to see how they are after wet finishing.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Laine says:

    More information on mending errors please.
    As a beginner I have many 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laine, Thank you for asking! Beginners aren’t the only ones with errors. I make my fair share of errors, too. Haha! I have quite a few skipped threads and floats to take care of on these towels.

      Here’s a link to a previous post to get you started: What to Do About Weaving Errors

      I hope that helps!
      Karen

  • Angela says:

    The towels are beautiful. What technique are you using? Is it double weave? You weave so many beautiful projects and you have such nice messages.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Angela, That’s very kind of you to say such sweet things.

      These cottolin towels are woven in double weave. After washing they should be soft and absorbent.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Quickly becoming a decade ago I set up my almost forgotten 4 harness loom on the 3 season porch to provide something to occupy my time during the never ending treatment of DCIS. The result was a stack of small rag rugs the size used in front of a kitchen sink. They were gifted to sibs and nieces and nephews Christmas 2010.

    Faded from use but with years of wear left. The rugs are used in bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways, kitchens and the outside stoop of my daughters house. I am amazed at how the work of my hands is a part of the lives of so many people I love.

    May the people you love and those you do not know enjoy the work of your hands.

    Nannette

  • Lyna says:

    I was wondering…what do you do with your thrums/loom waste? The colors of this warp are so luscious it would be a shame to throw away any of it!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lyna, You are asking someone who just had to downsize from a full-size house to a small transition apartment. After saving my thrums for a few years and not finding a use for most of the beautiful threads, I decided to discard them when the weaving is finished. With the exception of linen. I do have a project in mind for all my linen thrums.

      I use threads from the thrums to do my repair finishing work. I have used thrums for choke ties before, but I have enough re-usable choke ties that I prefer. I have used thrums tied into longer pieces to wrap gifts and packages.

      I don’t want to store things anymore. It doesn’t seem like a waste to me because I got the best part of all the beautiful threads in my handwoven towels.

      How would you use the thrums?

      All the best,
      Karen

      • Lyna says:

        I can see the point in tossing when finished, I come from an old German farmer background and must resist the “box of string too short to use,” black-hole-of-clutter tendency. I was wondering if thrums, sorted by fiber type, would make a good shaggy rug. What do you have planned for your linen?
        “What do you do with thrums?”could be a good question to ask your Facebook friends to discuss, collect and evaluate ideas for a future post. Just an idea for your oh-so-abundant (not!) free time!
        Thanks for posting even when life get busy! I especially appreciate your reflections on weaving as a metaphor for walking with God.
        Bless!

        • Karen says:

          Lyna, I’m a little too familiar with the old German farmer background. If you only knew… Haha! That’s in my heritage, which may be why I have to fight the tendency to think “someday I could use this for something…” Thrums could probably be used for some rya weaving. Until I have that planned I’m not keeping my thrums. (Don’t tell my mother.) 🙂

          I’d rather be weaving than checking FB, so I don’t do much of that.

          It’s so good to have you along on this journey!
          Karen

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Cloth Beam Matters

Does it matter what happens at the cloth beam? Why not let the woven fabric go around the beam as is and forget about it? You have worked diligently at every stage to ensure an even warp. Now, preparing the cloth beam for cloth will ensure the warp remains even.

Warping slats are placed on the cloth beam.

Warping slats cover the cords and knots on the cloth beam so the handwoven fabric has a flat surface to lay against.

Warping slat over the tie-on bar prevents the tie-on threads from putting bulges in the fabric. Bulges can distort the fabric and put uneven tension on warp ends.

Warping slats around the cloth beam for a smooth start.

When the warping slats have covered one full revolution of the cloth beam, no more slats are needed. The twill pre-measured tape on the floor gives a clue to the extended length of this table runner on the loom.

The cloth beam holds obstacles that threaten the evenness of your warp. Any raised surface on the beam, like beam cords and tie-on knots, will distort the warp tension as the woven fabric wraps around it. Warping slats solve the problem. I lay in the slats around the beam, one by one, as I advance the warp. This forms a flat surface around which my freshly-woven fabric can hug as the cloth beam turns.

M's and O's long table runner. Linen weft.

Long M’s and O’s table runner on the loom. The sample piece and towel that preceded the table runner have already reached the cloth beam.

Fear makes obstacles for our path that disturb our peace and threaten our well-being. Trust in the Lord. Trust pushes fear aside. The day you are afraid–the moment you are afraid–put your trust in God. Know that the Lord is for you. Your trust in Him forms a firm layer to build your life on. Like the warping slats that are in place for your handwoven cloth, your trust in God is a foundation on which to roll the fabric of your life.

May you walk without fear.

Peace,
Karen

6 Comments

  • ellen santana says:

    whoa, never thought of that. i have been using paper on the warp beam and when i tried the slats they fell out of place when i loosened the warp at the end of a session. do you keep it taut always?es

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ellen, I do keep the warp under tension. I don’t see a need to completely loosen the warp at the end of a session. If I know I may not get back to it for a few days, I may loosen the warp a little, but there is always adequate tension on the warp for slats to stay in place. I have also left a warp under tight tension for days or weeks, and have never noticed an adverse effect.

      Also, when winding the warp, unless it is linen, I only put in slats every fourth round. So that means if some slats slip, it’s only a few on the outer layer.

      (I love my warping slats. I have found various uses for them, besides how they are “supposed” to be used.)

      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    Hi Karen,
    A couple of questions:
    Do you add slats on the cloth beam as your fabric is woven or just on the initial “round” to cover knots and such?
    Did your husband make your slats and what is the thickness of the slats you use?
    I love your sharing of knowledge! So many “little” things that make weaving more of a joy.
    Ruth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, Great questions!
      I add the slats just on the initial round. After that, the fabric just rolls onto itself.
      My husband did make some of my slats, but most of my slats were purchased from a Glimakra dealer. I think the slats are about 1/8″ thick.

      Yes, it is the little things that make a difference in the enjoyment and the quality of weaving.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Linda Sloan says:

    What a wonderful message. Love your website.

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