Quiet Friday: Favorite Weaving Books

I know how to write music. I am experienced in playing improvisational music on my cello. And I don’t have a problem making up a tune to sing on the spot. But nothing touches the richness of music’s beauty like getting out the Beethoven Sonatas at the piano, or Bach’s Six Suites for the cello, or singing from an old-fashioned hymnal. Likewise, I do know how to write a weaving draft from scratch, but I usually find my starting point in one of my favored weaving books. There are countless designs and dreamy pictures. From simple to extraordinary. Sometimes I follow the instructions precisely. But most often, the improviser in me examines the elements and finds a new version to “play.”

Here are just a few of my favorite weaving books, and a sampling of what they have produced.

Some of my favorite weaving books!

Favored weaving books, in no particular order. Do you see a theme? Yes, I like to weave Swedish patterns from Swedish books on my Swedish Glimåkra looms.

Turned rosepath from "The Big Book of Weaving."

Rosepath band with turned rosepath.
Lundell, Laila, and Elisabeth Windesjö. “The Big Book of Weaving: Handweaving in the Swedish Tradition: Techniques, Patterns, Designs, and Materials.” North Pomfret, VT: Trafalgar Square, 2008.

From "Älskade Trasmattor." Rosepath rag rug.

Rosepath rag rug.
Hallgren, Ann-Kristin, and Monica Hallén. “Älskade Trasmattor: att Väva Som Förr.” Kalmar: Akantus, 2006. (“Beloved Rag Rugs: To Weave As Before”)

Rosepath rag rug. Karen Isenhower

My version of this rosepath rag rug makes itself at home in our Texas hill country getaway.

Rosepath rag rug from "Favorite Rag Rugs," by Tina Ignell.

Rosepath rag rug. My very first rosepath rag rug is positioned in a prominent place in our home where it is seen and stepped on every day. Much to my delight.
Ignell, Tina, and Catherine Zienko. “Favorite Rag Rugs: 45 Inspiring Weave Designs.” North Pomfret, VT: Trafalgar Square Books, 2007.

Rosepath rag rug in "Alla Tiders Trasmattor."

Another rosepath rag rug. No end to rosepath rag rug possibilities, it seems.
Hallgren, Ann-Kristin, and Monica Hallén. “Alla Tiders Trasmattor.” Akantus Edition, 2007. (“All Time Rag Rugs”)

Rosepath rag rug.

Rosepath rag rug uses alternating weft colors in the plain weave sections, adding visual texture.

"Stardust" scarf from "Happy Weaving from Vävmagasinet."

Called “warp-faced combination weave” in the book. I don’t know what else to call it. I wove this scarf when I didn’t know exactly what I was doing yet. If you see any mistakes, just think of them as “design elements.”
Johansson, Lillemor, Charlotta Bosson, Conny Bernhardsson, and Katie Zienko. “Happy Weaving from Vävmagasinet.” Glimåkra: Vävhästen, 2004.

Classic twill towels, from "Simple Weaves," by Björk and Ignell

Cottolin twill towels. I have a small sample piece. All the towels I wove are happily drying hands and dishes in homes of family and friends.
Björk, Birgitta Bengtsson, Tina Ignell, and Bengt Arne Ignell. “Simple Weaves: over 30 Classic Patterns and Fresh New Styles.” North Pomfret, VT: Trafalgar Square, 2012.

Double binding rag rug, from "Swedish Rag Rugs 35 New Designs."

Double binding rag rug. This sweet rug is resting in my Etsy shop, waiting for a new home.
Johansson, Lillemor, Pia Wedderien, Marie Rolander, Conny Bernhardsson, and Katie Zienko. “Swedish Rag Rugs: 35 New Designs.” Glimåkra: Vävhästen, 1995.

May you play as much music as you can find.

…and speaking of Etsy! The original River Stripe Towels and Table Centerpiece Cloth that I wove are now listed in the Warped for Good Etsy Shop. And there may still be one River Stripe Towel Set Pre-Wound Warp Instructional Kit (Workshop in a Box) left! UPDATE: THE KIT HAS BEEN SOLD.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

4 Comments

  • "Blekinges sommarfågel" says:

    You are an inspiration to those who are not able attend weaving courses in Sweden, but successfully forge ahead experimenting guided by the skillfully written and illustrated Swedish weaving texts, using high quality, oftentimes fine gauge imported yarn of natural materials. Keep weaving and inspiring others with your blog!

    • Karen says:

      “Blekinges sommarfågel,” The skillfully written and illustrated Swedish weaving texts open up a world of possibilities. I love to take a stack of the books and thumb through the pages, just to dream of what I might weave someday.

      Thank you for sending such encouraging words!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • kim says:

    I’ve lately been thinking about weaving as I think about cooking, and weaving book as I think about cook books.

    While we are learning, we start with something we see in a book or magazine (a recipe) and maybe weave that as it is, or make some small change like color (ingredients.) Maybe we are brave enough to tweak the “recipe” and use a different fiber, or a thicker one or thinner one. Then, once we have the basics down (boiling eggs, steaming rice, mashing potatoes) we can build on that knowledge and compose our own recipes (pattern combinations.)

    Books are inspiration. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for YOUR endless inspiration.

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Quality Rug Warp

After a few weeks of having to refrain from weaving, I am thankful that there was warp to weave one more rug. The quality of warp thread matters because it is the core of the rug. Never underestimate the value of good, strong warp thread for weaving rag rugs.

Rosepath rag rug almost complete!

First hem is going around the cloth beam. Weaving is almost complete!

I like to use 12/6 cotton from Bockens. This rug warp is a six-strand thread with high twist. The smooth, nearly-unbreakable thread enables me to ratchet up the tension on the warp. That high tension helps produce sturdy, tightly packed rugs with tidy selvedges. Knowing you are making a rug that will last is a very satisfying and enjoyable weaving experience.

Cutting off never gets old!

Cutting off never gets old.

Rosepath rag rug just finished. Karen Isenhower

Ta da! Hems are folded under for the picture. As soon as the hems are stitched, this rosepath rag rug will have its Etsy photoshoot.

With finishing nearly complete, this rag rug will be enjoyed on the floor of someone’s home. Most people aren’t aware of the structural elements of a rag rug, but they do notice quality in the finished work. People, too, have an inner core–the heart. The heart matters. The strength of our inward framework determines our outward attitudes and actions. Since true quality is found in a life that serves others, most everything comes down to a matter of the heart.

May your quality of life be noticeable.

Happy weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Barbara says:

    It’s amazing how a bunch of leftovers can be combined into something so beautiful. I’m so glad you are back to weaving again.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks, Barbara, it’s good to be back in the saddle. I’ve seen you turn leftovers from the refrigerator into a beautiful meal. Now, that’s amazing! 🙂

      Karen

  • Martha says:

    Beautiful rug! Have you tried linen rug warp or poly/cotton rug warp in your work. Both of them are supposed to last far longer than cotton.

    Love your article in Handwoven magazine – lovely.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Martha, That’s a good discussion point. I have used linen rug warp for a wool rug. It’s great for that; and I think it would work well for rag rugs, but it raises the expense considerably. I’m not sure I’d find buyers for that.
      I haven’t tried poly/cotton rug warp. Some of the comparisons may be against the popular 8/4 cotton rug warp, which will certainly have a shorter life.
      It would take a lot to wear out the 12/6 cotton in a rug.

      I’m glad you saw the Handwoven article! Thanks for the compliment.

      Karen

  • D'Anne Craft says:

    Wonderful to hear you are back at the loom! Take care of yourself so you can weave on and on and on………….

  • Sandra says:

    I live in Calgary, Alberta. Our closest weaving supply shop just closed this past summer. Where would you suggest the best place would be to order 12/6 rug warp cotton? Would like to buy Canadian..

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandra from Calgary, Welcome!
      It is disappointing to see weaving shops close…

      I’m sorry, I am not familiar with Canadian sources. I usually purchase Bockens 12/6 cotton from GlimakraUSA.com or Vavstuga.com, both in the USA.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Three Rosepath Rag Rugs For Now

There are three completed rosepath rag rugs on the loom, with warp remaining for at least one more rug. Since I don’t know how soon I will be able to weave the remainder, cutting off the completed rugs makes sense. After hemming, I will have three new rugs for Etsy. (Don’t miss the new Quick Tip video at the end of this post!)

Cutting off rosepath rag rugs, with some warp remaining to be woven.

As the warp ends are cut, they are tied into one-inch groupings to simplify tying back on to the tie-on bar.

Unrolling some new rosepath rag rugs!

Warping slats are used as spacers between rugs. Some of my slats are barely wide enough for this warp.

I look forward to full weaving days again, with both looms dressed, and shuttles zooming. That rag rug warp still on the loom will be a reward worth waiting for.

Rosepath rag rug ready to be hemmed. Karen Isenhower

One rug has warp end knots, and is ready for pressing and hemming.

Two rosepath rag rugs just off the loom. Karen Isenhower

Rosepath in two variations.

Rosepath rag rug ready to be hemmed. Karen Isenhower

Broad rosepath pattern lends elegance to this rag rug.

Last week, when I awoke from surgery, the relentless pain I had been experiencing in my left leg and lower back was gone. Completely gone! It made me think of heaven. Ancient writings tell us that the lame will leap like a deer, and that sorrow and sighing will flee away. There’s no place for pain in heaven. All the people there have been healed and restored. That’s a reward worth waiting for. And I won’t be surprised if there are at least a few in heaven who are weaving away to their heart’s content.

May you know what to do while waiting.

Wishing you well,
Karen

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These Sensational Towels!

What can compare to the thrill of unrolling freshly-woven cloth? Pulling, and pulling, and pulling until you get to the very beginning of the warp. As every towel unwinds, I do a micro evaluation, knowing that complete scrutiny comes later. I could not be happier with these towels! They are every bit as sensational off the loom as they were to weave. What a joy to be a weaver!

Towels galore just coming off the loom!

Back to the beginning! Cottolin thick and thin handtowels are coming off the loom.

It wasn’t that long ago that I was winding lopsided quills, dropping the shuttle more than occasionally, and struggling to understand weaving drafts. Desire and a willingness to learn have pushed me through these and other barriers.

Handwoven towels ready to be hemmed.

Ready for hemming.

Black and white and a little red. Handwoven towels.

Black and white and a little red, ready for hemming.

Photo shoot for new handwoven towels. Karen Isenhower

Getting set up for a photo shoot. Photos are used in Etsy listings.

Willingness is more important than capability. Being willing sets the stage for learning. We all start incapable. God doesn’t expect us to be capable. He does expect us to be willing. God weaves His purposes on earth, not through the capable people, but through the willing. In weaving, and in life overall, I want to embrace and preserve the willingness factor that keeps me learning.

Thick and thin structure is a handweaver's playground. Karen Isenhower

Thick and thin structure is a playground for a handweaver to imagine and develop designs. Cottolin handtowels and table runner. Designer kitchen, anyone?

And as we yield our will to our Creator, what joy is ours as we learn how to truly live!

May you never stop learning.

(You can see a few of these items now in the Warped for Good Etsy Shop.)

Happy Weaving,
Karen

11 Comments

  • Marie Kulchinski says:

    Great job! Beautiful collection. Would make a wonderful weaving monograph on what you can do with one warp by being creative. Thank you for sharing.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you, Marie! I love your idea of a weaving monograph. I wouldn’t have thought of that! I need to do a little research on how to do something like that.

      Karen

  • Dianeore says:

    A beautiful set of towels, Karen! Reminds me of a draft I saw in an old Weavers – I may have to dig that one up now! Happy hemming!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you! The hemming wasn’t bad. I finished it in a couple days. I hemmed the table runner by hand; and I hemmed the towels on my sewing machine so they can stand up to years of washing and drying.

      All the best!
      Karen

  • Liberty says:

    Hi Karen,
    I love them, all that black and white with a wee bit of red! Beautiful!

  • Karen says:

    They really are sensational! Striking!

  • Karen says:

    Liberty and Karen,

    What a treat for me to get to enjoy this weaving journey with you!

    Thank you!
    Karen

  • Claudia says:

    Those towels and the table runner are so exciting!
    What keeps them from unraveling until you do the hemming?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Claudia,
      I’m thrilled by your enthusiasm!! The fabric is tightly woven, so it does not unravel easily. Even so, when I cut the towels apart, I stitch the cut ends with my serger (overlock) sewing machine. You could do the same thing with a zig-zag stitch on a sewing machine. Great question! Thanks for asking.

      Karen

  • Annette says:

    Beautiful collection! What structure did you use?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annette, I’m glad you like this collection of towels.

      This is plain weave, using thick threads and thin threads in the warp and weft.

      Thank you,
      Karen

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When Black and White Take Over Your Loom

Some things are black and white. Piano keys, penguins, old movies, and this new cottolin warp. Other things are not black and white. Petunias, peacocks, sunsets, and most of my weaving. Black and white is uncomfortable for someone like me who prefers to engage with color. Ten-and-a-half meters is a loooong time to be weaving without a colorful palette.

Warping reel with black and white warp.

Second bout of three. New Glimåkra warping reel is used to wind 10.5 meters of cottolin (60% cotton; 40% linen) in black and white.

I need to add more towels to my Etsy shop, so I did some Google “research” to find popular kitchen colors. Black and white is one of the current trends. I decided to go for it. Using color for some of the weft should be enough to remind me that the black and white is temporary, and that a colorful warp will eventually be on the loom again.

When we need reminders that everything will be okay, the Lord brings something or someone into our lives to show us that he cares. God is good. Even a small sign of his goodness is enough to help and comfort us. A touch of color on a long black and white warp may, in fact, be color at its greatest impact.

May goodness cross your path.

Warped for good,
Karen

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