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

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

Slow Me Down with Inlay

I intended to weave this part quickly, and move on. But when I noticed I could see the end of the warp I changed my mind. I’m going to do something that will slow me down—inlay. It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing. Now’s my chance before I run out of warp.

Weaving on the combination drawloom.
One handle is drawn for the simple side borders design. The beginning blue border motifs were also woven using draw handles, connected to pattern shafts.

I am adding blue 16/1 linen inlay to the center motif. The same color blue is laid in at the center motif on the side borders, as well.

Blue linen inlay on the combination drawloom.
Blue linen inlay leaves floats between the raised pattern threads.

Draw the pull-handles for the borders – draw single unit cords – throw the shuttle – lay in the blue thread – throw the shuttle and lay in the blue thread two more times. Move up one row on the chart, and follow the same sequence as before. Ever so carefully, learning as I go. Delightfully slow as molasses. Intently paying attention, and thinking about what I would do differently next time.

Drawloom. Weaving a sign for house guests.
Draw cord pegs just above the beater create interesting shadows.

Changing your mind changes your direction. When the Lord sees our thoughts turning in his direction, he reveals more and more of himself to us. Like small lines of color added a row at a time, the image becomes more and more distinct. With the warp we have remaining, there is still time to see the Grand Weaver’s image woven in us.

May you know when to change your mind.

Making room for Jesus,
Karen

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

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