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

When You Misread the Threading Draft

What if you finish tying up the loom, eight shafts and eight treadles, having beamed, threaded, and sleyed 2,064 ends, and the first thing you see when you step on the treadles is… that you misunderstood the threading draft? Do you undo everything and re-thread? Not likely, if it took you eleven-and-a-half hours to do the threading in the first place. I am taking a deep breath. Time to walk away and think. Maybe I can adjust the tie-up, or maybe I can use it as is—a serendipitous design. Should I laugh or cry? My idea to serve my loved ones with handwoven gifts (See Weaving a Gift) is getting off to a rough start.

Double weave throw. Warp is tied on.
Warp is tied on. Ready to tie up the treadles.

Tie-up completed for eight shafts and eight treadles.
Lamms are connected. Treadle cords are positioned. Treadles are tied up. Eight shafts and eight treadles.

Double weave throw.
This view should show solid dark plum all the way across.

Double weave throw on the loom.
This view should show stripes of solid colors, not two-color stripes, with solid bands of dark plum in between.

Serve. I want to offer my best, especially when I’m making a gift for someone dear to me. It helps to look beyond the person, though, and realize my true service is to the Lord. Heart, soul, mind, and hands. I bring my misunderstandings and missteps of the heart to my Master Weaver, who has taken it on himself to make things right. And I’m reminded that as I serve someone with my weaving hands, the true gift is love. This double weave throw will be a reminder of that.

May you recover from your mistakes.

Humbly,
Karen

UPDATE: I have had a chance to put the draft on Fiberworks weaving software and work with it to adjust the tie-up. I think I found a solution. Stay tuned!

Stay Ahead of Empty Quills

What a delight to weave with just one shuttle for a change! It is relaxing to weave this Swedish lace wrap. Even moving the temple and getting up to advance the warp becomes part of the natural rhythm of weaving.

Exchanging empty quill for a filled one.
Empty quill is replaced with a filled quill from the loom bench basket. Smooth operation. My foot needn’t even leave the treadle.

There is one thing that breaks my stride. An empty quill. If I have to stop in the middle of a sequence to wind more quills, I lose momentum and sometimes I even lose my place. Solution? Stop ahead of time at a sensible place in the sequence and wind quills to put in my loom basket. Then, while weaving, it’s a seamless motion to change quills and keep going. It’s a pause instead of a dead stop.

Hemstitching at the end of this wrap.
Hemstitching at the end brings the weaving stage of this piece to a close.

We need to prepare for those times when people seem harder to love. It helps to think ahead, and fill our heart basket with the thoughts of kindness and humility that are essential to keep going. We have a good reason to love each other. We have been loved first. God so loved us that he gave his son. This is the Christmas news. God sent his son to be born here on this earth to be with us hard-to-love people and to save us. That’s good news worth celebrating!

May your heart basket be filled with love.

Christmas Blessings,
Karen

Rag Rug Playground

This is a rag rug playground! I am weaving miniature rugs—rosepath rag rug hot pads. My small countermarch loom is perfect for this exploration. Without tabby or with tabby? Planned weft or hit and miss? Vibrant colors or soft neutrals? Weft inlay or plain and simple? So many possibilities! My “idea bank” is exploding.

Mini rag rugs for hot pads.
Reverse treadling adds a diamond design element at both ends of this mini rug.

Handwoven hot pads. Mini rosepath rag rugs.
Color choices are inspired by views outside this Texas hill country window.

My goal is to weave as many different versions as possible. No two alike! Sure, they all have the same 12/9 cotton warp and all-cotton-fabric-strips weft, but with all sorts of variations. Most will be gifts. Handwoven hot pads, making it to the kitchens of friends, to serve them well.

Rosepath detail in mini rag rugs. Making hot pads.
Rosepath detail.

Rosepath rag rug hot pads on the loom.
White fabric strips are used as tabby weft to highlight the blue rosepath pattern.

Rosepath inlay with mini rag rugs--hot pads.
Deep purple fabric strip is used for weft rosepath inlay over a plain weave background. Woven hot pads wind their way around the cloth beam, separated by scrap weft and warping slats.

There is no one like you, with your hopes, dreams, and pains. You touch others like no one else can. Your life makes a difference. Your life matters because it matters to God. Your Creator had good things in mind when he formed you. Lord, place us where we will best show your handiwork, where we can humbly serve those you’ve given us to love.

May you live on purpose.

Your friend,
Karen