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: How Far Will Your Quill Go?

Do not overfill your quills. It may seem efficient to load the quill as much as possible so you can weave as far as possible. Like me, you may have to learn this the hard way. A too-chubby quill that has to be coaxed through the shed takes more time and effort than winding a few extra quills. So much for efficiency.

Cottolin bath towels on the Glimåkra Standard.
Cottolin bath towels on the Glimåkra Standard, in twill, broken twill, and reverse twill.

It helps to have an idea of how far the thread on a quill will go. With this information, you can wind a few in advance without ending up with an excess of wound quills at the end of your project. I like to have the next quill ready to go when I am weaving so that I can put the new quill in my shuttle and keep weaving with very little interruption. This is especially helpful when the treadling sequence is tricky, like with the reverse twill in every other large color block on these cottolin bath towels. 3-2-1-6-5-4

How to Estimate Weaving Distance for Filled Quills

1 Start a new quill, leaving a 4 – 5 cm tail on the surface of the cloth. Or, start a new quill at the beginning of a color change.

How to measure how far a quill will weave.
End of one thread. Ready for a new quill.
How to know how far a quill will weave. Tutorial.
With the threads overlapping in the shed, the tail of the thread on the new quill lies on the surface.

2 Weave until the quill has emptied. Leave a 4-5 cm tail on the surface of the cloth.

How to know how far a full quill will weave.
Quill has emptied. Tail is brought out to the surface of the cloth.

3 Replace the empty quill in the shuttle with a new quill and continue weaving 1 – 2 cm further.

4 Measure the distance from the first weft tail, or line of color change, to the second weft tail. Place a straight pin, in line with the first weft tail, directly under the second weft tail. Measure from the pin to the second weft tail. This is the approximate weaving distance you can expect to cover with a new quill. Notate the quill’s estimated weaving distance on your project notes for future reference.

Tutorial on how to know how many quills you need to wind.
Measure the woven distance.

5 Trim the weft tails close to the surface.

6 Increase accuracy by repeating the process three times, and then use the average as your quill’s estimated weaving distance.

The large color blocks on this bath towel are 14 cm long. A single full quill will weave 5 1/2 – 6 cm; therefore, I make sure I have 2 full quills, plus at least another half-filled quill before I start a new color block section. It’s nice to be able to leave my foot on the treadle while I change out quills, so I don’t lose my place.

Cottolin bath towels.

May your efforts prove to be efficient.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Beth says:

    Oooo! I love these colors!

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,

    I just noticed you work in metric measurements. I hadn’t before. Hmmm. Is that the side effect of transposing 2.54 cm per inch so many years? Metric does make the math easier.

    Moving/estate sale in 5 weeks. The epiphany is textile projects will have to wait until the basement in Wausaukee is set up. The last visit I made up north the home made floor loom was to the point of hooking up the castle. I stopped after I put it on backwards.

    Thank you for your reality touchpoints.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I started using metric measurements for weaving after going to Vavstuga Basics. It makes sense to me.

      Blessings on all your transition events.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    You always give us such great tips! Thanks, Karen. And thanks for using metric measurements, I wish everyone did.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, I’m happy if a tip is helpful to you. As I mentioned to Nannette, metric measurements make sense to me for weaving. I am not a math whiz, so I like the simplicity of metric math.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Linda Adamson says:

    I really like your colors as well. Did you set the cottolin at 24 epi? If so is it thick enough this way?
    Linda

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, These really are comfort colors for me. I’m using a metric 50/10 reed, so my sett is 10 ends per cm, equivalent to 25.4 epi. So, 24 epi would also be a good sett for this twill. I wouldn’t call these towels thick, but they will be soft and absorbent. My experience with Bockens 22/2 Cottolin is that the cotton/linen blend makes great towels. They seem to get softer and more absorbent the more they are used and washed and dried.

      I haven’t made cottolin bath towels before, so hopefully I can give you a good report when we start using them!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Maureen says:

    Hi Karen,
    May I ask, what are you using for a bobbin? It doesn’t seem to be the rolled piece of paper that is usually used for a quill. Where did you get them, is it from purchased yarn? I’ve found that some of the empty yarn spools don’t fit in my Glimakra quill shuttle.
    Your weaving is always so inspiring, you have a wonderful colour sense and technique.
    Maureen

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maureen, The quills that I use are narrow cardboard tubes made for this purpose. These cardboard quills function like the rolled piece of paper that you describe, and come in different sizes to fit the Glimakra quill shuttles. I purchase the cardboard quills from weaving suppliers in the USA, like GlimakraUSA.com or Vavstuga.com. If I need extra quills, I make them from rolled paper, too.

      Your kind and encouraging words mean a lot to me.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kristin Girod says:

    That’s a wonderful tip, Karen! I’m definitely going to try that with my next project. And I’ve always trimmed my tails after washing. Do you trim to the fabric while on the loom no matter the size or type of yarn?

    • Karen says:

      Kristin,

      Good, I’m glad you found this tip helpful!

      I trim weft tails as I go–regardless of size or type of yarn. I like to trim as much as possible while it’s on the loom because I don’t want to have to go back and do it later. 🙂

      I try to make sure to have my weft threads overlap enough in the shed to take into account shrinkage that will happen with washing and drying. If you trim before it’s washed, the added benefit is whatever bit of thread that is left on the surface will nicely disappear as it shrinks into the cloth.

      Happy weaving!
      Karen

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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

16 Comments

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Handwoven Detail Notes

It is the smallest of details that set handwoven towels apart from ordinary towels. With that in mind, I am writing some detail notes in the margin of my project notes. Borders: Towel 1 – sea blue, apple green – contrast thread – ultramarine; Towel 2 – ultramarine, sea blue – contrast thread – maize; Towel 3 – apple green, ultramarine – contrast thread – sea blue; Towel 4 – dusty, sea blue – contrast thread – apple green.

Cottolin bath towels coming up!
Beaming the cottolin warp for bath towels.
Warp is tied on and leveling string is attached.
Warp is tied on and leveling string is attached.
Preparing to weave 7-color bath towels.
Seven different colors of wound quills. All seven colors are in each towel, warp and weft. The weft sequence varies with each towel.
Boat shuttles vie for the starting line, like in a regatta.
One boat shuttle for each color. This reminds me of sailing with my dad and my sisters. Boat captains would vie for the regatta starting line, shouting, “Starboard!”

There are seven colors of cottolin in the warp, and the same seven colors in the weft, just like the accompanying hand towels I completed in April. (See Process Review: Jubilation Hand Towels.) Narrow warp-wise and weft-wise stripes of broken twill produce interesting patterns in the cloth. The deep borders I am planning on the bath towels give me a chance to add simple details that only a handweaver can do.

White ribbon shows where to place details on the handwoven bath towel.
After weaving a short section to test the threading, I start the first towel. A red line, as always, denotes the cutting/starting line. I placed marks on the white ribbon at the left that show me where to place details along the length of the towel.
Simple handwoven details make all the difference.
Single ultramarine thread is laid in with the sea blue to outline a change of treadling. A simple handwoven detail.

Have you ever identified a master craftsman by the specific details that show up in the hand-crafted article? In the same way, we can recognize our Maker’s hand through the magnificence of the details we see in each other. You are his masterpiece. Hand-written instructions guide the details. When we come to the Lord as our Maker and Redeemer, we find his hand-written details woven into our hearts, something only the Grand Weaver can do.

May you attend to the details.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    These towels are so beautiful…and as always, your words of faith, reminding us of the blessings we have been given by God. Thank you for your inspiration! I know you give the credit for all you do to our Lord. God Bless you! 🙂

  • Beth says:

    Beautiful color choices and details!

  • So pretty. I hope one day to be able to make towels like this. Thank you for your help to the weaving world.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Brigitte, One step at a time, and before you know it, you’re weaving the very things you were hoping to do. This has been my story, and I’m sure it will be yours, too!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    It is the details between common chocolate cookies and Boston cream pie.

    May we all enjoy Boston cream pie from a master craftsman.

  • Joanna says:

    Isn’t broken twill a blast to thread? I just love it. Your towels will be lovely.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, Yes, I do enjoy a threading pattern that requires thinking. The treadling is that way, too, with these towels. This is the kind of project that is very satisfying to do.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Anonymous says:

    Always love your posts! I love the way you incorporate a story into each post. I hope to weave this well one day! I’m a super beginner.

    • Karen says:

      Hi super beginner, You have a kind way of expressing yourself. Thank you for the encouraging words! I have no doubt by you will reach excellence in weaving. All it takes is time, practice, and patience. Enjoy the journey!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kristin G says:

    I look forward to seeing the finished towels. I’m sure they will be gorgeous! And I particularly enjoyed hearing about the memory of sailing with your family. Those must be precious memories!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kristin, Those sailing memories are memories I cherish! I’m looking forward to putting these towels to use as soon as they’re finished.

      Thanks so much!
      Karen

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Tried and True: Checklist for Winding a Warp

I am winding a narrow warp for my next drawloom project. My warping reel is in a little four-foot-by-four-foot corner of my drawloom studio, and has just enough room to maneuver. When I am ready to wind a warp the first thing I pull out is my trusty checklist. I use a checklist for efficiency. It keeps me on track. And it’s more dependable than my memory.

Checklist for Winding a Warp

__ Weigh warp thread and write the amounts on the project notes. By weighing the thread before and after a project, you will know exactly how much warp thread was used in the project.

__ Stick a sample four-inch thread to each thread label; put a rubber band around the tube. After you finish winding the warp, you can quickly pair each yarn with its correct label because of the sample thread stuck to the label.

__ Bring supplies to the warping reel. If your warping reel is in a different room, or in a separate building, like mine is, make sure you have all you need before you head to the warping reel.

+ Thread for the project

+ Thread stand, if not already in place

+ Scissors

+ Choke ties

+ Project notes, with fully completed draftAn incomplete draft may give faulty information. Also, a review of the project notes and draft is a good idea, especially if weeks or months have passed since you wrote it all down.

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Set up the warping reel for warp length. Use a guide string, or measure the distance needed to place the pegs and turning pin at the right place on the warping reel for the warp you are going to wind.

Checklist for winding a warp.
Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Set out the thread on the thread stand. Wind the warp with two or more threads at the same time, for best results.

__ Hang or tape up the project notes at eye level. Project notes show the warp sequence and other vital information.

__ Take note of warp length, number of bouts, and number of ends in each bout. Aim for 25 cm (10”) or less in the reed, or 200 or fewer ends, per bout. For the drawloom, wind the warp in pattern unit increments when possible.

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Wind first bout, counting warp ends. Use a cord between groups of ends to keep track of the counting.

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Visually check the warp order. Check to see that the warp order on the warping reel matches the warp sequence on the project notes. (I added this step to my checklist after the time I omitted 6 threads at the center of a warp, discovered after threading the loom.)

__ Tie off around the turning pin or the outside peg. Always wind the last pass with two or more threads together so you can tie them around the pin or peg.

__ Tie the lease cross; and tie choke ties on the warp. Tie the cross first, and tie any passes of the warp directly above the cross. Then, spin the wheel and tie the warp wherever it passes on the side opposite the cross. Also tie at the turning pin, at the top and bottom of the loop.

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Chain the warp bout. Start the chain by holding the loop at the turning pin, and pull out the pin. Chain the warp, ending at the cross. (I use my knee, not so gracefully, to control the turning of the reel as I chain the warp.)

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Place the warp bout on the loom, with the lease cross end going through the beater.

__ Wind remaining bouts, following the same procedure. When you place the warp chain on the loom double check the warp sequence to make sure the bouts are in the right order.

Checklist for winding a warp.
Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Roll up the thread tubes, replace labels, weigh thread and write down amounts, and place thread tubes in project bin. Each loom has its own project bin to hold the thread for that project.

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Put away the choke ties, scissors, and thread holder.

__ Fold up the warping reel.

Checklist for winding a warp.

Get ready to dress the loom!

Checklist for winding a warp.

May you enjoy the process.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Elisabeth says:

    Thank you so much! I realize it has been awhile, long enough to forget the steps. I’ll wind a warp today following these instructions. Then I will have two towel warps and can hopefully dress the loom without my usual long pause I’ll weave the easy one first, to get back into it, and have as a goal to have some towels ready as Christmas gifts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I’m glad you can use this! A checklist really helps me when I’ve been away from the loom for a while. I don’t have to re-think everything. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your towels. They will be beautiful, I’m sure!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Ah, yes, tie the cross. I don’t know how many times I’ve come *this close* to forgetting that step.

  • Karen Simpson says:

    Thank you so much….I’ve never weighed before to determine usage amount…will do. I also number my bouts with a sticky…learned the hard way..ha….

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, I’ve learned a lot of things the hard way, too. 🙂 I also weigh my weft thread before and after. The accumulated data helps when planning new projects.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Barbara says:

    I use a different color tie at the top of the lease cross so I know which way is up when taking the warp bout to the loom. Got confused once with a striped warp, took a bit of “undoing” to be sure I didn’t have the same colored stripes next to each other.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barbara, Thanks for sharing your helpful tip. Getting the warp bouts mixed up at the loom is not fun. Some of our best lessons come through fixing our mistakes!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Summa Irukalam says:

    This is terrific! Thank you.

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