Warp Chains Are Beautiful

The reel spins ‘round, ‘round, ‘round one way, and then ‘round, ‘round, ‘round back the other way. Rhythmic, mesmerizing, and strangely soothing. Counting, as I wind two ends at a time, I find myself whispering “2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, ….” The warping reel is one of my favorite pieces of equipment. This warp has seven colors of 22/2 Cottolin for bath towels which are to accompany the hand towels I recently made. I am winding this in four bouts, and there are different color changes in each bout.

Winding a warp for cottolin bath towels.
First bout on the warping reel.
Making cottolin bath towels.
Second bout. Choke ties about every meter keep the ends from shifting as the warp bout is chained and taken to the loom.
Making a warp for handwoven bath towels. Cottolin.
Third bout. Each of the four bouts has nearly the same number of warp ends.
Glimakra warping reel - one of my favorite pieces of equipment!
Fourth bout.

I marvel at the combination of thread colors as I chain each bout off the reel. The warp chains look beautiful. They always do. Warp chains are dreams in the making, where anything is possible. Haven’t you dreamt of handwoven bath towels?

Winding a warp on the Glimakra warping reel.
Came close to running out of thread on some of the tubes. (I did have backup tubes, but not from the same dye lots.)
Beautiful warp chains!
Beautiful warp chains, ready for the loom.

When we listen closely, we can hear the inaudible. Our hearts can hear the softest whisper. “2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, …” Even the hairs on our head are numbered by the Grand Weaver who planned our existence. Our days are numbered, as well. And when our heart is listening, we can hear the quiet whisper of the Lord Jesus, “Are you weary and burdened? Come to me, and I will give you rest.”

May you listen for the softest whisper.

Gently,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Beautiful colors! I’m looking forward to seeing the warp spread across the reed. Best to you and yours!

  • Nannette says:

    The promise of the future beauty. The beginning of a process that completes at the plans and skills of the weaver. Time will tell.

    I always gorge on your color choices.

    Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, There’s always an element of time that holds the promise. I’m glad you enjoy the color choices. Choosing colors one of the most exciting parts about weaving for me.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • LJ Arndt says:

    Beautiful colors, looking forward to seeing the towel sets when they are complete and put together as the sets.

    • Karen says:

      Hi LJ, Making towel sets for our bathroom is something I’ve thought about doing for a long time. It’s nice to see it coming to pass. Thanks for your encouragement.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    Karen,
    Thank you for your thoughts about listening to the whispers in our lives. Your words are always a breath of fresh air and I appreciate your reminders to look closely into my life and know that God is working his miracles in the smallest things. Looking forward to seeing your bath towels – wrapping up in a handwoven bath towel is such a luxury!
    Blessings to you and yours.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, I like your words that God is working his miracles in the smallest things. So true!

      I suppose that handwoven bath towels are a luxury. It’s nice to be surrounded by handwoven articles, simple luxuries.

      Blessings to you,
      Karen

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Charted Territory on the Drawloom

The chart that hangs at the left side of the beater gives a glimpse of the overall design of this rag rug. It’s the second page of a three-page chart. It’s not easy to make sense of the design on the loom, seeing only a small slice of the big picture. I am eager to see the whole project woven, to see how it aligns with the design I’ve imagined.

Drawloom rag rug on the loom.
First color block of the rug was brown. The second color block is red. Two different red fabrics alternate.
Following a chart for the single-unit drawloom.
Chart hangs at the left side of the loom. A transparent ruler is clipped to the chart. I move the ruler up, row by row, to keep my place on the chart. Single-unit draw cords that are pulled are held in place along the hook bar just above the beater.

I drew the design in MacStitch, a cross-stitch design program. Then, I imported the gridded image into Photo Affinity to add vertical shaded stripes to match the 10 white-/10 black-cord arrangement of single-unit draw cords on the loom. Lastly, I printed the enlarged chart to use as my guide at the loom.

Drawloom rag rug in the making.
Drawloom rag rug in the making.

How does our present slice of life fit into the overall plan? Only God knows. But one thing is certain. The Grand Weaver has a purpose for your life. It’s a purpose that he will fulfill. You and I are the work of his hands, work that he will not abandon. Yes, we make our plans. The truth is, our best plan is that which aligns with the design he has imagined.

May you get a glimpse of your life’s design.

On purpose,
Karen

20 Comments

  • Nannette says:

    Oh my goodness!!!

    Just when I think I’ve seen it all, there is more. God is great!

    How are you getting such even widths on your rag warps?

    Kind regards,
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I like the way you notice detail.

      I’m not sure if you’re asking about the rag wefts, or about the width of the warp overall…

      For the rag wefts –
      I fold the fabric yardage and put it on my cutting mat. I use a clear quilting ruler to measure off 1 cm (3/8”), and slice it off with my large-blade rotary cutter. It takes a lot of cutting for a rug this size with strips this thin. I usually cut 40 strips, then weave them, then cut 40 more, then weave them, and so on.

      For the width of the warp –
      I use a temple, and I bubble the weft. Both factors help keep the warp width uniform size.

      Thanks for asking,
      Karen

      • Linda Adamson says:

        Curious about the 3/8″ strips. It appears you are using only one strip at a time so the front and back will be different colors. Is that correct?
        What set are you using? Wondering how thick it will be when finished.

        • Karen says:

          Hi Linda, I am using only one fabric strip at a time. The back is the reverse of the front. In other words, where you see the red on front, you will see the predominant warp threads on the back, and vice versa.

          The sett is 7 doubled ends per centimeter (I think that’s about 18 doubled ends per inch), which makes the warp very dense. The first rug from this warp is about the same thickness as my “regular” rag rugs, but I would say the rug is stiffer and feels more densely packed.

          Thanks for asking,
          Karen

  • Joanne Hall says:

    I look forward to seeing the completed rug. This is a very interesting desigtn.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, It will be gratifying to see the whole rug at once. I tried to come up with a design that is simple enough to work with the scale of this rug.

      Thank you,
      Karen

  • Linda Adamson says:

    Fascinated by the drawloom. Could I contact you to talk more about it?

  • Elisabeth says:

    That’s impressive, and the design is quite dramatic. Now I am curious to see it finished 🙂
    I like the possibilities a draw loom offers, but I am afraid it would be too complex for me.
    It is a challenge to be content with only seeing today, but to be able to focus on the present day and the task at hand, that’s where I find the beauty of life

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, It helps to know one’s purpose. The drawloom isn’t for everyone. But when you come out to see me, I’d like to give you a swing at mine. 🙂

      I agree with you, that it is so important to focus on the present day we have–a gift that’s been given to us.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Anna Zinsmeister says:

    It looks really interesting. It’s so good to see a rug being woven using the drawloom. It shows that it can be a very versatile loom. I like your work!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Anna, I am touched by your words of affirmation. Thank you!

      I have always been interested in rag rug weaving, so when I got a drawloom, I knew this was something I wanted to try. Yes, indeed, this is a very versatile loom. I will never run out of things to learn and try on it.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • LJ Arndt says:

    Beautiful work. I’m really new to draw loom and have a question from the photo. Are you using a shaft and individual draw on your loom. The shafts being pulled and on the pegs below the draw attachment. In the photo, right now, there are no individual warp ends selected. Am I interpreting the photo correctly. Thank you, looking forward to seeing the finished rug.

    • Karen says:

      Hi LJ, You are asking pertinent questions. I do have the Myrehed combination draw frame; however, this project is not using the shaft draw system at all. This is completely woven with the single unit draw. In the second picture you can see the shaft draw handles near the top of the draw frame. They are not being used on this project. The single unit draw cords are the black cords and white cords that you see, some of which are pulled and held in place by the pegs on the hook bar. In other words, these draw cords that are pulled are lifting individual units of threads. Whereas, if any of the shaft draw handles were pulled, they would be lifting pattern shafts holding certain units of threads.

      Does that clarify?

      My next “death-defying feat” will be to use the combination–both shaft draw and single-unit draw on the same project. I’m still wrapping my mind about how that will work. Coming soon…!

      Thank you!
      Karen

      • LJ Arndt says:

        It does. I have a shaft draw system that I’ve only used a couple of times and so interested in learning it’s possibilities. Thank you for the great explanation.

  • Loyanne Cope says:

    Super neat!

  • Martha says:

    Karen, this rug is so pretty. I can hardly wait to see it when it is finished.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Martha, I’m glad you like it! It’s a fascinating project to work on. Like you, I am eager to see it rolled out.

      Thanks so much!
      Karen

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Drawloom Rag Rug Color Transition

This is a huge project. Four shades of blue from dark to light span the nearly one-and-a-half-meter-long rug. I have reached the final color-transition section. I am eagerly awaiting the day this rug will be rolled out!

Rag rug on the drawloom. Color transition.
Transitioning from one color to the next.

My measuring ribbon shows me where to make the color changes. I alternate two weft colors (C and D) through the transition area to blend the hues. All the while, I stop after every half-unit of four picks to manage the draw cords. A graphed chart tells me exactly which of the 164 draw cords to pull or release. In this way the graphic designs are woven into the rug, row by row. I weave in quiet, allowing me to put full attention on each move.

Drawloom rag rug.
View of the underside of the rug as it goes from the breast beam to the knee beam.
Single unit drawloom rag rug.
Draw cords are arranged by tens, alternating black cords and white cords. I pull the cords as they correspond to the prepared chart hanging at the left side of the loom.

We need hope in these unsettling times. Jesus invites us to admit our fears and failures, and put our trust in him, and follow him. And this is the message Jesus gives his followers: I am always with you. The Lord gives strength and courage. As our Grand Weaver, he has his full attention on us. So be strong and take courage.

May you have hope that lasts.

Love,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Linda Cornell says:

    Thank you for the words of encouragement today.

    God bless you.

  • Linda Adamson says:

    Please send a photo when the rug is finished. Happy Easter! He is risen!

  • Nannette says:

    Pretty colors. I noticed the pattern is reversed on the back. Or, is there an actual back once it is cut from the loom?

    We now have a Palm Sunday grandson. He came quickly. 15 minutes from leaving the house.

    In their hospital, dads were allowed in with admission, but have to stay the entire time. They are not allowed in if they leave. This is where modern technology comes to play. 31 seconds of video played over and over by the toddler who is fascinated by his baby brother.

    We are watching the toddler and entertaining him with driveway chalk art. The neighbors are enjoying this as much are he is.

    The stories to be told at future Thanksgiving tables…. none of which are relevant to your beautiful weaving. Except… the enjoyment of God’s gifts.

    And of course. This is Wisconsin. The game playing with this year’s election. It makes my head hurt.

    This is a remarkable Holy Week.

    Thank you for making the world a better place.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, You are correct, the pattern is reversed on the back. Who knows, maybe I’ll use the back as the main side. Or, probably flip it over from time to time.

      I’m glad your new grandson had a healthy entrance. Congratulations!

      With resurrection in mind,
      Karen

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Happy Ending Rag Rug Warp

Welcome to my weaving studio, which doubles as our home, I said, as they walked up to the front door. Our luncheon guests were introduced to the weaving environment of the Texas hill country home that Steve and I enjoy. Our time together was refreshing, filled with lively conversation over a home-cooked meal, complete with discussions about looms, threads, and like-minded pleasures.

Lunch with honored guest, Joanne Hall.
Steve and I enjoy lunch with honored guest, Joanne Hall, and a few members of the San Antonio Handweavers Guild.
Karen, Janis, Joanne Hall, Henriette, Vesna, and Cindy.

Six rosepath rag rugs encompass the cloth beam, with the back tie-on bar just inches behind the heddles. It seems only fitting that the woman who gave me my first rosepath rag-weaving experience should be given the cherished scissors for this momentous occasion. Joanne, will you do us the honor of cutting off? I couldn’t have wished for a happier ending of this warp.

Joanne Hall does the honor of cutting off the rag rugs.
Joanne Hall, ready to cut off the rag rugs.
Cutting off rag rugs.
Cutting off.
Unrolling the cloth beam with new rosepath rag rugs.
Unrolling rugs from the cloth beam.
Six new rosepath rag rugs, ready for finishing.
Six new rosepath rag rugs, ready for finishing.

We all have wishes, some of which we make public, and some remain as closely-held secrets. It’s those deep wishes that make us who we are. God knows your name. He knows your deep desires. One day, all our secret wishes will be rolled out like a stretch of rag rugs for the Maker to examine. Amazingly, he offers grace to cover the wrongs. And He embroiders his Name on the hand-crafted souls that belong to him.

May your cloth beam keep filling up with deep-hearted wishes.

Your friend,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Geri Rickard says:

    Just beautiful, and your weaving studio/home is lovely! What fun having Joanne there!

  • Janis Schiller says:

    Thank you to you and Steve for a splendid day in the Hill country. And your rugs are lovely (as are so many other pieces in your home ). You have a great eye for putting colors together.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janis, We sure enjoyed having you. I appreciate your kind compliments. I do get a thrill from putting colors together.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Straight selvages. Even rows. Woven hems with a little ripple to compensate for the shrinkage. And, oh the colors!!! Combinations that pull me in to take a closer look. Beautiful.

    My husband is now t-minus 10 months to retirement. My floor loom is dismantled. Pieces leaning against the wall in a space 2Xs what the warping board takes. A couple milk crates of warp. Two airtight totes holding my books and supplies collected over the decades.

    Not much considering all the beauty such a small space can and has created.

    I am staying put for the next month. Grandbaby #3 is going to meet us by April 3rd.

    Until then… Your wonderful posts will feed my weaving creativity.

    Thank You

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Step by step, things come back together again. Enjoy the process. And congratulations on the coming new family member.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Rosepath Whispers

This fifth rag rug on the warp has the same classic rosepath design as the others. This rug, however, has rosepath as a whispered hint instead of the usual bold statement. Colorful beauty? Yes. Yet, it’s quiet. Restful.

*Rosepath Whispers* rag rug.
Hints of rosepath pattern.
Rosepath Whispers rag rug.
Design plan sits nearby for reference as I weave.

The rosepath pattern is fully present, but soft-spoken. In the pattern areas, there is only slight contrast between the pattern weft and ground weave weft. The print fabric that is used for some of the pattern weft leaves spots of color, which also helps to blend the pattern into the background. The hint of a pattern makes you take a second look to see what is really there.

Winnie the Pooh is going into this rag rug.
Winnie the Pooh fabric is used for some of the ground weave weft.
Texture from rosepath pattern.
Texture of the raised rosepath pattern is clearly seen from the edge.

A restful person is like that, making us want to take a second look to see what’s behind that demeanor. Rest is a form of trust. Trusting God’s grace means believing that God will give us what we need. And that brings rest, the kind that is on the inside. Deep inside, where the pattern of grace is fully present, our being is transformed. And whatever is on the inside will show on the outside. Colorful beauty? Yes; and quiet, too. Restful.

May you be restful on the inside.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Wanda Bennett says:

    This is beautiful!

  • Nannette says:

    Good Morning Karen. I just wove a rag rug using a print for the background of a simple rosepath. The pattern is in colors of the tabby. A subtle pattern is a beautiful thing. Your word: Whisper…

    Thank you for sharing.

    Nannette

  • Linda says:

    Very interesting!

  • Joanna says:

    Restful is such an underrated quality. Thanks for the reminder. I think I like this rug the most.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, In our busy world, it’s refreshing to find rest, and live in a restful state. This rug may be my favorite on this warp. I’m looking forward to seeing it rolled out on the floor.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Kathryn says:

    This is so beautiful! What a fun project. How do you get that part of the pattern to raise up like that?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kathryn, You are right—this is a very fun project. The rosepath pattern stands out because the pattern rows (with longer floats) are sandwiched between tabby (plain weave) rows. This is one of the reasons I enjoy weaving rosepath patterns—the pattern seems to be elevated above the background.

      Thank you,
      Karen

  • Anonymous says:

    thank you so much for your lovely website and for sharing your talent and beautiful work and your stick-toitveness through the years of weaving. Your work is inspirational as well as your encouragement and words of wisdom and encouragement. Sometimes we reach and find something that we need to hear or see when we are in a downtime and trying to come to life impacting decisions and feeling a lost. That was my experience today, but the words on your site were a reminder that God is in the picture and hope is always there. Thanks again, Nancy

    • Karen says:

      Dear Nancy, You are saying important things–God is in the picture. Yes, he certainly is. Hope is always there–Yes, always!

      It’s always my prayer, Nancy, that the words I write would meet the need of someone who reads them. It seems that God is answering prayers from both of us.

      Hugs,
      Karen

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