Siblings Tapestry and Process Video

Drum roll please… And now, I present to you: Siblings

Siblings Tapestry by Karen Isenhower

The Siblings tapestry is a woven expression of personal meaning. The tapestry tells a story of a singular incident, almost hidden in the excitement of the occasion. Lucia grasps Ari’s wrist as they approach Sugar Pie, the bunny. In that moment I see something worth keeping—precious sibling love.

Please enjoy this short video of the process of weaving and finishing the Siblings tapestry.

May you know the security of true love.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

32 Comments

  • Susie Redman says:

    Good morning- I did enjoy your video and seeing the finished piece. Ive only ever used a small frame for tapestry weaving but I think that Ill try using my floor loom. Thank you for the inspiration

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susie, I enjoy using a small tapestry frame, too. And using a big loom like this for tapestry is energizing, because your whole body is in motion as you weave. I hope you try it.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Wanda Bennett says:

    This is beautiful! Great job!

  • Susan San Martin says:

    It is in inspiring to watch your tapestry project from start to finish. You make it look easy, but I’m not fooled! I’m awe-struck!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susan, On one hand, I would say it is not easy; and on the other hand, I would say that once I get going I’m just following the cartoon and I feel like I’m coloring in a coloring book, which is not hard.

      Thank you for your compliment!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Bethany says:

    As a beginning tapestry explorer, I am stunned and so very much in awe of the talent, time and the raw beauty of sentiment that went into this glorious piece of fine art! Congratulations and I am delighted that the artwork is hanging, finished in your home studio. Be very proud and may this be a treasure for generatuions. God bless!
    Bethany in Kingston, ON

  • Geri Rickard says:

    Well, that was certainly worth the wait! It’s marvelous!

  • Kevin Baumann says:

    Such talent! You’ve created a beautiful work of art! Thank you for sharing with us!

  • Nannette says:

    Beautiful. Mary Cassat and Georgia O’Keefe in a textile format.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Nannette

  • Betsy says:

    Just beautiful, Karen!

  • Linda Adamson says:

    This is lovely in design, workmanship and message. Thanks for sharing.

  • Joanna says:

    Oh wow! Just . . . Wow!

  • D'Anne says:

    A special memory made by your hands,Karen! It’s beautiful!

  • Marcia says:

    I recently had the privilege of seeing an exhibition by Helena Hernmark who has a world reputation for her amazing and huge tapestries, many woven for corporate offices on commission. She moved part of her studio to a local art museum and was “Artist in Residence” for several months. From a distance, her pieces are photographic and she weaves on large Glimakra looms (Helena is a transplanted Swede). Do look her up…she is inspiring. In December I got to visit her real studio in my town when she received my copy of Vav Magazine by mistake, probably the highlight of my year!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marcia, I have a book of Helena Hernmarck’s work, and I study the photos in it for ideas and inspiration. I knew about her artist in residence at the Connecticut museum, but I didn’t find a way to make it there. I’m so glad you had the opportunity! How fortunate for you that your magazine was sent to the wrong address. Oh, visiting her studio must have been a real treat!

      I’m grateful that you thought of letting me know about Helena Hernmarck!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Aleta says:

    I was taught at my Grandmother’s side how to embroider and I developed a love
    of making pictures with needle and thread. I can’t draw a straight line or make a round circle with a pencil, but I love the cross stitch and how a picture slowly takes shape with the slow transition of color.
    I visited a museum recently with some fun loving friends and we saw some lovely pieces of hand made art, but there was nothing in that museum that spoke to me of a labor of love and passion like the “Siblings” tapestry.
    Last year I started to teach myself how to weave and twine, with the help of new friends in the guild I joined, but WOW. I see I have a very long way to go and learn. Thank you for sharing your prize with us. God Bless You.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Aleta, I admire your ability to create pictures with needle and thread. That ability will carry over as you explore tapestry weaving. Get all the books and resources you can to learn and practice the basics of tapestry weaving. And then, maybe you will be fortunate like I was to take a workshop or class from Joanne Hall, or another world-class tapestry weaver. I, too, have a very long way to go and learn. But that’s the joy of this weaving world—there’s always more to learn.

      God bless you and lead you, too,
      Karen

  • lanora says:

    Karen, thank you for inspiring us and
    letting us be a part of your adventure… It turned out beautiful! Tapestry is now on my list of ‘To Do’ items for sure!

  • louise says:

    Amazing piece! I love it! The texture is wonderful in it..It looks like you skipped places in order to achieve the texture. Could you coment on that?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Louise, Thank you for such kind words! This is threaded in rosepath, a particular four-shaft twill threading. I use a rosepath treadling pattern in between plain weave rows. So, part of the texture you see comes about naturally through the floats (skipped threads) in the rosepath.
      Thanks for asking about it.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Linda Cornell says:

    So beautiful and precious!

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Tapestry Promise

You will see the front of the Siblings tapestry. I promise. When I cut a tapestry from the loom the weaving is finished. But the tapestry is not complete until the finishing is finished. And I have substantial handwork yet to do before this tapestry is ready for display.

Cutting off a new tapestry!
Cutting off the tapestry.
Back of the Siblings tapestry.
View of the back of the tapestry. Non-distinct imagery.

I am securing the ends in a woven edging. Then, I will trim weft tails, stitch things down around the perimeter, and put on a backing. Additional hand-stitching work will stabilize the whole piece. When you see the Siblings tapestry again, you will see it in full view on the wall right behind my loom.

Woven edging on the new tapestry.
Warp ends are woven together along the edge, and will end with a short braid.
Tapestry just off the loom. Finishing process.
Edge will be folded under and stitched down before the backing is added.

Hope is built on promise. Do not forget God’s promise. Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. And, Jesus expresses the promise to His followers, I will be with you always. We see the tapestry of life from the human side, the unfinished side. Hope, paired with patience, takes us through the uncertain future. We have assurance of the Lord’s grace, His meticulous handwork, bringing His work to completion. In the meantime, we give Him our burdens and He gives us rest. As promised.

May your hope be strong.

With you,
Karen

16 Comments

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Process Review: From Drawloom to Garment

I warped the drawloom with gray 6/2 Tuna wool several months ago with the goal to make fabric for a reversible vest. The beautiful drawloom fabric turned into dreamy garment-worthy fabric after washing! (See Process Review: Drawloom Jewels)

Weaving garment fabric on the drawloom.

And then I hit two huge hurdles.

Hurdle 1. Fit.

In order to cut into handwoven drawloom fabric, I need assurance that the end result will fit me. My sewing assistant helped me refine a commercial pattern.

My sewing assistant, Miss Fit.
Meet my sewing assistant, Miss Fit.

After umpteen muslins and two or three mock-ups, I finally got the fit I was after. Confidence to cut!

Hurdle 2. Garment Construction Uncertainties.

Do some detail studies, my dear friend Elisabeth said to me. Her advice got me over the insecurity hurdle. A detail study is making a small sample to test a hypothesis or answer a question. I made a list of everything I wanted to know about constructing a vest from this type of handwoven wool fabric. And then, using some of the extra fabric from the sampling at the beginning of the warp, I did a detail study for each point on the list. Twelve detail studies in all.

(If you are interested in seeing my complete list of 12 detail studies for this project, click HERE to send me an email and ask for my “Detail studies”.)

Here are a few examples of my findings:

  1. Zigzag before or after cutting? // Zigzag before cutting, stitch width 3, stitch length 2 1/2
  2. Lapped seams? 3/8”, 1/2”, 5/8”? // Yes, lapped seams, overlap 1/2”, stitch basted line to guide placement
  3. Neck and armhole curves – staystitch with hand running stitches or machine stitching? 1 row or 2? // Hand running stitches, 2 rows
Detail studies for handwoven garment construction.
Detail study testing lapped seams.

From the results of the detail studies I was able to compile a step-by-step garment construction plan. Confidence to sew!

Follow my process pictures of the garment construction to see the results:

Cutting lines marked with basting stitches.
Cutting lines marked with basting stitches.
Cutting lines marked with basting stitches.
Tracing paper is used for the pattern, which allows me to clearly see the placement of the pattern on the fabric.
How to stitch basted cutting lines.
Making an X with the basting thread at the corners. This helps clarify exactly where to stitch and cut. (One of Elisabeth’s helpful tips.)
Preparing handwoven cloth for garment sewing.
Buttonhole twist thread is used for the basted lines. It makes an easy guide for the sewing machine needle to follow. The zigzag stitches are just inside the line.
Sewing a handwoven garment.
Basting stitch on the front side piece is a guide for positioning the lapped seam.
Sewing a vest from handwoven drawloom fabric.
Handwoven vest. Ready for handwork details.
Ready for hand work.
Hand-stitching work by the fireplace.
Two rows of running stitches around the armholes and neck opening.
Blanket stitch on handwoven garment.
Blanket stitch is used to embellish and strengthen the armholes, neck, front edges, and lower edge of the vest.
Blanket Stitch
Completed vest from drawloom fabric.
Completed vest from drawloom fabric.
Reversible handwoven vest.
Reverse side.
Handwoven reversible vest. Drawloom Woven.

May you find ways to leap over your hurdles.

Love,
Karen

35 Comments

  • Geri Rickard says:

    Oh My! It turned out so well, though there was never any doubt in my mind! You must be so proud! I love how it looks on you. You are so inspiring!

  • Tena says:

    This is so stunning! As a beginner weaver, I hope to aspire to constructing woven garments someday!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tena, Constructing woven garments is something I have wanted to do for a long time. I’m glad to see you’re on the same quest!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Marianne says:

    I’ve been peeking at your website for years and have always found it so inspiring! Your creativity seems to be boundless! Your vest turned out beautifully! Thanks for so generously sharing your process in making your projects. I have found so many tips and helpful instruction from you about weaving and also life!

    • Karen says:

      Marianne, Thank you for your heart-warming comment. It is my delight that someone like you comes along on this journey with me!

      Thank you, thank you,
      Karen

  • Bev Romans says:

    An absolutely beautiful result, Karen! And you have taken such care in each step along the way.

    Blessings to you!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bev! It’s taking time to mind the details that brings about good results, as you know very well in your beautiful quilting projects.

      Blessings to you, too!
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    It’s gorgeous, Karen! I am in awe of your patience, as well as your weaving and sewing skills.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, It’s this gorgeous loom of yours that made it possible. I have the pleasure of sitting at the drawloom and making things from it. Yes, it did take an extra degree of patience to push this project to completion.

      Thank you, friend,
      Karen

  • Joanne Hall says:

    I really need to get my Tuna yarn drawloom fabric made into a vest. Thanks for showing us yours. I started to think that I needed to make it a pullover to avoid all the hand stitching in the front. Hmmm. I am still thinking.
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, I’m eager to see what you do with your beautiful Tuna yarn drawloom fabric! The hand stitching was very pleasant to do. I enjoyed it. I’d sure like to see a picture of your vest when you complete it.

      Happy thinking,
      Karen

  • LJ Arndt says:

    Awesome. Love the pattern and colors.
    Question. Was the back done in 1 piece or 2, if 2 could it have been one piece or to fit properly did it have to have a center seam?

    • Karen says:

      Hi LJ, Thank you!

      Great question. I intended the back to be one piece, and the sides to each be a single piece. But I was able to get a better fit by putting in a back seam, and making a seam down the sides. This was part of my fit dilemma. I wove the fabric with those single pieces in mind, but the outcome of the mock-ups was just too boxy for my petite frame. Someone with more fitting experience may be able to make the single back piece work.

      Thanks for asking,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    I can’t decide which side I like best! Both look great on you, Karen.

    I am going to download your steps because I hope to get the courage to try sewing with my handwoven fabric someday soon. As I am just a beginning level sewer, I was surprised at all the consideration needed; such as the width of seams, length of stitches, etc.. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    Oh, and I recently purchased the book you recommended to me, Karen. The Big Book of Weaving by Laila Lundell. My plan is to do as you recommended and follow through from the beginning.

    Looking forward to your future posts.

  • Shari says:

    You are truly amazing and so capable! How timely to talk about embracing your hurdles! Can’t imagine KI would have hurdles! You and your vest look lovely! There is a woman sheep farmer, weaver environmentalist in CA who has raised the sheep and wove the fiber into yardage and sold the yardage on a limited basis. I bought a small amount and have been thinking about what to make with it. It’s a beautiful white, unused fabric! Your experience and blog posting here will be immensely useful for my sewing project. Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Shari, Me and hurdles? oh yes, more than you’ll ever know!

      Your undyed wool yardage sounds lovely! I know you’ll make it into something memorable. I’d love to see pictures when you’re done.

      Thanks for all your kind words,
      Karen

  • Shari says:

    The above posting has a typo. The yardage is natural, undyed yardage. I think the weave structure is twill.

  • D'Anne says:

    Beautiful work, Karen! I wish you were here to model it for us at WOW. We miss you!

  • Mary Still says:

    Wow! Beautiful!

  • Allison Grove says:

    Gorgeous fabric! Thanks for sharing your process and how you worked through it.

  • Nancy Martin says:

    Dear Karen, what a find to have found you in cyber space! So enjoy your website and your talents and your sharing and blogs etc. Wow, your work is an inspiration and the vest is beautiful. What a wonderful experience it must be to have totally created this wearable garment from simple thread to weaving to designing and cutting and sewing. Amazing!! God bless you and so glad I “tuned” in. Best regards, Nancy

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nancy, You have touched my heart. You so perfectly captured my sentiments! – It is extremely satisfying to start with thread and design actual fabric, and end up with a wearable garment. It feels like a dream come true.

      God bless you,
      Karen

  • Kristin Girod says:

    Your vest is beautiful and looks so lovely on you! Thank you for your generosity in sharing your project experience with us. Your blog is a treasure!

  • Lovely work, it’s nice to see someone doing woven garments rather than tea towels or scarves; much as I love those things I started weaving in order to make my own fabric for sewing.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rachelle, How fascinating that you started weaving so you could make garment fabric. It’s something I’ve been interested in for quite a while, too. It’s tricky to get all those skills to work together, but it’s fun to keep learning.

      Thanks for chiming in!
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Karen,
    You are such a detail person.
    BEAUTIFUL vest!!!!
    Perfect to go over a sequined gown or jeans.
    I hope you wear it often.

    Nanette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, You’re right, I do enjoy paying attention to detail.

      I don’t have a sequined gown, so mostly it will go with jeans or a simple skirt.

      Thank you so much!
      Karen

  • Ladella Williams says:

    Very interesting to see this view. I recognize many of the responders names. In awe as I only weave on an 8 shaft Bergman. I have woven on others drawlooms though! So am familiar with the process. At least four projects or more. I can enumerate many including one that is in one magazine.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ladella, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Drawlooms are very interesting looms to weave on. There are projects in some Väv Magazine issues that I would like to try.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Waiting to Cut Off the Tapestry

I desperately want to unroll this tapestry so we can see the whole thing. The tapestry and its linen header are finished. But it’s not quite time to cut it off. First, I am weaving the rest of this beautiful linen warp. Not another tapestry, just a lacey rosepath weave using a tomato orange 6/1 tow linen weft.

One more row of weft for this Siblings tapestry!
With one more row of wool weft this tapestry is completed. Ten picks of linen in a plain-weave header follow. After that, a few rows of wool weft (leftover butterflies) are woven to secure the weft.
Linen on linen, with linen hemstitching.
Hemstitching secures the weft for this lacey weave.

It won’t take much time to weave this off, especially compared to the slower process of weaving the tapestry. Hemstitching, which does take time, will help keep this loosely-woven piece from unraveling when the warp is finally cut off. Soon enough, we will enjoy the full view of the completed Siblings tapestry.

View of the messy underside of the tapestry.
View of the messy underside of the tapestry.
Only a short distance remains on this beautiful linen warp.
Only a short distance remains on this beautiful linen warp.

Time. We all have it. And yet none of us knows how much of it we have. How many days have we been given? We don’t know. Time is temporary. Imagine a place where time isn’t measured. That’s heaven. Our short time here is but a pilgrimage to another destination. Our trust in Jesus opens heaven’s doors. In the meantime, the Grand Weaver’s warp will be woven, and not wasted, to the very end.

May you complete your pilgrimage in the time you’ve been given.

Blessings on your journey,
Karen

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Process Review: Fresno Canyon Small Tapestry

The Park ranger had told Steve and me that if we were willing to drive six more rugged miles we would witness a spectacular overview of the Fresno Canyon that few people get to see. This is an opportunity we wouldn’t dare miss. And the park ranger was right. Oh, what a view! From this high point above the valley the view is phenomenal! I welled up with emotion as I looked over the glorious beauty of God’s creation.

The memory of that scene is in this small tapestry. Most of my small-tapestry weaving happens when we travel, where we make even more memories, which I store up in my heart. I pull from these stored treasures to weave tapestries that reawaken the fond memories.

Landscape - woven small tapestry.
Fresno Canyon photo printed in black and white is used for the cartoon. Instead of an exact picture of the image, I aim for a representation of the memory, expressed with color.
Relaxing in the Casita travel trailer. Wood carving and tapestry weaving.
During a brief rainstorm while at Caprock Canyons State Park, Steve and I relax in the Casita with our handcrafts. Wood carving and tapestry weaving.
Small tapestry in progress.
Warp is blue 12/6 cotton. Weft is triple strands of 6/1 Fårö wool. I use the tapestry needle to weave.
Weaving in the sunshine on a camping trip.
Weaving in the sunshine at Davis Mountains State Park after returning from a hike.
Small tapestry of a Texas landscape.
Finished weaving one Texas landscape while enjoying another.
Small tapestry with finished and braided edges.
Warp ends are woven and braided.
Linen backing for mounting a small tapestry weaving.
Linen is cut to size and pressed. Narrow rod sleeves are sewn into place.
Backing a small tapestry for framing.
Linen backing is hand-stitched to the back of the small tapestry.
Simple frame for a small tapestry.
Steve designed a simple frame for the small tapestry.
Finished Fresno Canyon tapestry.
Finished Fresno Canyon tapestry. A treasured memory kept and framed.
Texas landscape small tapestry - framed.

May your memories become treasures.

Thankful for you! Happy Thanksgiving,
Karen

17 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    This is beautiful, Karen! Such a creative way to display.
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Beth

  • Lynn says:

    Awesome,Karen! What a wonderful way to use the talents God has given you to display His glorious creation! And, I agree with how perfect this great way is to display it. Love your photos. How about one with your smiling face in it sometime? 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynn! It’s fun to weave scenes like this. I’m so thankful for Steve’s constant encouragement.

      Sure thing, I can put my smiling face on here. 🙂 Thanks, that’s a good request.

      Love,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Beautiful!! Good design with the gift of color. I hope your heart sings with memory every time you look at it.

    Happy thanksgiving!

    Nannette

  • Annie says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Karen to you and your family!

    What a blessing that you and Steve are able to meld your talents together to create such beauty.

  • Joanna says:

    Wow. What amazing textile shorthand, Karen. It’s all there, even for someone who hasn’t been there. I can almost smell the wonderful Texas blend of hot dust and baking evergreens perfuming the air and sense the vastness of the landscape. Just lovely.

    Am I correct in thinking Steve’s frames make it possible to change out your tapestries? Do you rotate them to prevent sun damage?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, You sure have a great description for someone who hasn’t been there!

      Steve’s frame is not made for changing it out. I’m not sure any two of my tapestries are exactly the same size. Not many been mounted or framed. This frame has a sawtooth picture hanger on the back, and just hangs on a nail on the wall. This one is hanging on a wall that doesn’t get direct sun.

      Happy Thanksgiving,
      Karen

      • Joanna says:

        And a happy Thanksgiving to you and your family too. We have so much to be thankful for despite the crazy state the world is in.

  • D'Anne says:

    Very nice, Karen and Steve! You’re two very talented people. Hope you will enjoy a lovely Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Linda Landry says:

    Hi Karen,
    I don’t know if you noticed: In the picture of your tapestry on the cement patio in front of your Casita, your tapestry seems to have a moon landscape in a dark sky. I had to take a long second look to realize that what I thought was a moon was in fact the tire to the Casita!
    Great work! Your talent to recreate beautiful landscapes is definitely a blessing! You must take after our (heavenly) Father for your creative skills.
    Linda

  • Lucy, Kent ~ England says:

    Hi Karen,
    I just stumbled on your post, I’ve only recently begun weaving. I have made 2 stained glass windows for two late husbands. In Aug I put my 2nd late husband’s ashes in sea of The Hebridean Isles (his request involving a 960 mile journey by rail and sea, solo in my wheelchair!). I’d thought about combining my photos to make a stained glass window that summed up my adventure.
    Having seen your lovely work I think I may well do one in glass and a second in weaving.
    Thank you for the inspiration.

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