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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Process Review: Dressing the Drawloom the Second Time

Dressing the drawloom the second time is easier than the first time. No slip ups or confusion. Just smoothly moving from one step to the next. (Read to the end to see what to expect for July.)

Winding skeins of wool yarn into balls.
Winding skeins of wool yarn into balls.

With my first drawloom warp the most challenging part was distributing the pattern shafts. (See Q and A with Joanne Hall and Drawloom Dressing.) This time something clicked and the light bulb turned on. Instead of blindly following steps, I now understand what I am doing, and why. And I am having fun in the process!

Winding warp on the warping reel.
Winding the warp on the warping reel, making two bouts.
Big fat wool warp chains.
Warp chains of 6/2 Tuna wool, ready to dress the loom.
Ready to thread pattern heddles.
After beaming the warp, the loom bench is moved to the back of the loom for threading heddles. Pattern heddles first, and then, ground heddles.
Sleying the reed on the drawloom.
With the reed sleyed, it’s time to return the ground shafts to the front of the loom and put the reed in the beater.
Leveling string is doing its job!
Warp is tied on, and the leveling string is doing its job.
Distributing pattern shafts on the drawloom.
Inkle band serves to separate pattern heddles as I distribute the pattern shafts.
Adding pattern shafts to the drawloom.
Pattern shafts are resting nicely on the pattern shaft holders. Their little hooks grab the Texsolv that connects them to the draw cords and handles.
Dressing the drawloom!
Pointed threading can be seen in the arrangement of the heddles on the pattern shafts.
Dressing the drawloom!
Drawloom setup is complete except for tying up the treadles. Treadle tie-ups on a drawloom are refreshingly simple.
Testing pattern sheds on the drawloom.
Testing pattern sheds by pulling some of the draw handles. After a few small adjustments, she’s ready to weave!
Wool on the drawloom.
First sample. 6/2 Tuna wool warp and weft, 4-shaft broken twill on the ground shafts, sett is 5.5 ends per cm, 16 pattern shafts with 1 extra shaft for the edges.

Friends, It’s that time again, when Warped for Good is put on pause for the month of July.

Thank you for sharing in this journey with me!

What’s on my looms: I am near the end of the blue double weave blanket on the Standard, and I am planning a new pictorial tapestry for that loom. The drawloom is dressed and in motion. And the Ideal loom is still sitting ready for rosepath rag rugs. Also, Steve and I have a Casita trip planned that will include some leisurely backstrap band weaving.

What’s on your loom right now? Share with us in the comments.

See you the first Tuesday of August! (In the meantime catch me over on Instagram @celloweaver.)

May your second times be better than your first times.

Keep on Weaving,
Karen

13 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Love the drawloom project! I’m getting ready to dress my loom for retro-inspired kitchen towels. Enjoy July!

  • Nannette says:

    Enjoy your July.

    I will be picking currants and black raspberries out of my backyard to sell at the farmer’s market.

    The weaving on the drawloom looks so warm. Ready for the autumn.

    Blessings

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I have fond childhood memories of picking black raspberries in our backyard, and eating them! Yum!

      If all goes as planned, I will finish the drawloom weaving in time to make a simple vest that I can wear this autumn. …we’ll see.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Charlotte says:

    Good morning, my sweet! Weaving has been suddenly interrupted. Father’s Day – 15 minutes before the close of service – my heart began racing. No pain. It being Father’s Day, I thought I needed food. While at the restaurant, pulse 158. Wayne wanted to head to the ER…light ache in jaw. They stopped my heart and thankfully, it started on its own. 3 drugs later, I was finally in my sinus rhythm. Orders to lay low. Sleep studies. Waiting. Terrible drug reaction. Waiting. Today…sleep study in near future. Home sleep study last Thursday. Waiting. Love you and thankful I remain on this side of heaven. HE has given me a new ministry with Semper Fi Fund. We should talk! I love you!!!!!

    • Karen says:

      Oh Charlotte, You’ve been through a lot! Hopefully, weaving will be back in rhythm for you. I’m thankful you’ve been given a way to bless others in the Semper Fi project.

      I don’t want you to rush off to heaven when you still have a mission here!

      Love,
      Karen

  • Geri Rickard says:

    Hi Karen! My loom projects are a runner on the drawloom in 35/2 linen for warp snd 16/1 for weft. It’s on a 21 shaft setup. On the other standard loom I’m just starting an easy batch of M&O towels in 16/2 cotton. I’m enjoying seeing your drawloom progress! Enjoy your July!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Geri, Thanks for sharing! It’s great to hear what you have on your looms. I’m looking forward to putting linen on my drawloom–it may be the next warp! And more and more shafts each time. And M&O’s is one of my favorites, so pretty.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Geri Rickard says:

    P.S. Just wanted to say my drawloom is set up on the Glimakra I bought from your former weaving teacher. The one you learned on! I forgot her name but at the time I bought it she was in the Denver area and downsizing.

    • Karen says:

      Geri, how cool! You are weaving on the loom I learned on from Leigh? That’s a beautiful loom and such sweet memories for me. Oh, that was a special time with Leigh.

      Thanks for letting me know!
      Karen

  • Maggie Ackerman says:

    Hi Karen, we moved last month and after painting every room in our downsized house, I’m still at blacking boxes and trying to do something with the smaller yard. My loom room is a nice room in the basement and unpacking will be a winter thing. However, still on my baby wolf loom is a scarf from NZ possum merino that I kept on my much pared down look room to sell the previous house. Must’ve worked cuz it sold in 5 days! Somehow I’m looking forward to winter!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, I know how big a job moving is. You’ve got some restful times to look forward to after you get fully settled in. You will have so much fun setting up your new weaving space! No doubt that loom with lovely weaving was what sold the house! Congrats on your quick sell.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Karen Reff says:

    What a great idea, to use woven bands for loom tools! I’m not a fan of weaving just to weave. There has to be a plan! Now, spinning…that’s different.
    Your drawloom weaving is going to be lovely. Enjoy!

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Cutting Off a Failure

I made an embarrassing blunder. No wonder this Tuna wool resists all my efforts. It’s the wrong yarn! Tuna is 6/2 wool—twice as thick as the 6/1 wool I should be using. Cowboy Magic won’t solve this sticky problem. (I thought it would, as I expressed in this post: Tame the Wool.)

The yarn is gorgeous, but my frustration level is pushing me to throw in the towel. I tried hard to make this work. I was so convinced I had the right yarn that I missed it even when reader Joan left a gentle comment asking if 6/1 Fårö yarn would work (I’m sorry for not listening, Joan). There is nothing left but to cut off this failure.

Cutting off out of frustration.
Every shed is a struggle. It seems impossible to get a clean shed with this “sticky” yarn. (It’s not the yarn’s fault, though.)
Cutting off a failure. Ouch!
Failed piece is cut off. There are unwanted floats everywhere, and the fabric is like cardboard because of the tight sett.
Cutting off a failed double weave project. Ugh.
Bottom of the double weave has even more unwanted floats than the top layer.

In this lowest moment a thought occurs to me. Re-sley the reed. An ounce of hope rises.

Re-sleying to a coarser sett. Hoping for success.
Reed is changed from 50/10 metric to 40/10 metric. This spreads the warp an additional 19.9 cm (7 3/4″).
Wool for a double weave blanket. Second try.
Sleying is complete and the new reed is placed in the beater.
Wool warp for a double weave blanket.
Warp is tied on and leveling string is tightened. On your mark, get ready, get set…

I re-sley to a coarser reed and tie back on. I hold my breath and step on the treadles. It works. And it’s gorgeous!

Double weave wool blanket on 12 shafts. Glimakra Standard.
Go! Night and day difference in being able to clear each shed.
Double weave at its finest. Wool blanket.
Double weave at its finest.
Weaving into the sunset!
Weaving into the sunset.
Double weave Tuna wool blanket on Glimakra Standard. Success!
Clean lines of double weave, with a (very) few unwanted floats that will be easy to fix later.
Double weave wool blanket. Success after starting over!
This is now a pleasure to weave!

Have you experienced great disappointment and loss of hope? Sometimes our own failure brings us to that point. The Lord makes things new. We come to Jesus with our failed attempts, and he exchanges our used rags of effort with his clean cloth of righteousness. In his forgiveness, the failure is cut off and removed. Our threads are re-sleyed and re-tied to make us gloriously new.

May you know when to cut off and start over.

Love,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Beth says:

    Where there’s a will, there’s a way! The “failure” would make lovely bolster pillows. We all make mistakes and move forward. The resleyed weaving is beautiful. I’m holding my breath about the project I’m about to start.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I thought about making a handbag out of the failed piece, but bolster pillows is another good idea!

      I came perilously close to pulling all the yarn off the loom and calling it a total loss. What stopped me was the beauty of the yarn itself. I just had to find a way to make it work.

      I’ll be looking for your brave project on IG.

      Thanks for your sweet encouragement,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    I’m glad you figured out what the problem was and got it fixed. The colors are so pretty!

    Looking forward to seeing you next week!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, Fortunately, most weaving problems are fixable…when we calm down enough to think it through.

      I’m looking forward to seeing you, too, at the CHT conference next week!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Hi Karen,
    Very pretty lemonade.
    Thank you for explaining how to make a correction when plans need a little help.

    Kind regards,
    Nannette

  • Karen Reff says:

    It’s not fun when it’s happening, but oh, how good it feels to get everything straightened out! Good for you for sticking with it!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, Thanks! I came awfully close to giving up altogether. You’re right, it feels terrific to get everything straightened out. At loom everything (or almost everything) is fixable.

      Karen

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Tied On and Tied Up

Our transition to Texas hill country is finalized this week! The looms and I will be residing in the same house again. Let the weaving resume! One loom is dressed and waiting for me. Tied on above, and tied up below. Ready to weave!

The warp is tied on to the front tie-on bar in 1-inch bundles, with 1/2-inch bundles at the selvedges. And then, I add the leveling string which makes it look neat and tidy and READY.

Leveling string flattens and evens out the warp for no-waste weaving.

Warp is tied on to the front tie-on bar. Leveling string flattens and evens out the warp for no-waste weaving.

The upper and lower lamms are positioned, and the treadle cords are added and secured. It’s fascinating how simple and basic the whole system is. And how something this simple and basic can be the framework for boundless creative expression.

Under the warp. Intriguing view.

I sit on the treadle beam when I position the lamms, and then place the treadle cords in their holes. I’m always intrigued by the view of the warp and heddles from this vantage point.

Treadle cords on eight shafts.

Treadle tie-ups don’t frighten me. It all makes sense, and is part of the loom-dressing process that I enjoy.

If we think of prayer as something that gets us out of a crisis, or words to say in order to get what we want from God, we miss the whole point of prayer. And we face disappointment. Prayer always works. The work is not our clever words, nor the checking off of our wish list. Prayer is the framework of deep trust that stands ready for the Lord’s boundless creative expression. We pray because we trust him. Christmas—the birth of Christ—shows us that God always steps in at the right time.

May your framework be sure.

Advent greetings,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Sue Hommel says:

    Beautiful words to awaken to this morning Karen! I’ve recently added a countermarch to my studio, and I believe your blog and joy with your Glimakra helped me in my quest for the right loom to add. I chose the Julia and after some panic at the prospect of having to build it, I just took one step…then the next, and finally, I’m weaving and loving its simplicity and design. Looking forward to see what your new warp will become!

    • Karen says:

      Good morning Sue, How exciting! The simple beauty and functionality of these looms make them a joy to weave on. They also provide a constant learning experience, which is a good thing. There’s always a discovery just ahead!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Susan San Martin says:

    I love my Toika countermarche for the same reason: simplicity, plus an endless opportunity to adjust the loom . It is easy to understand how to fiddle with the sticks after awhile. The loom expresses the deep logic of creation!

  • Anneloes says:

    “Prayer is the framework of deep trust that stands ready for the Lord’s boundless creative expression. ”

    Would you believe that this was the exact thing I’ve been praying over these last few days? Beautifully written.

    Before I started weaving, I thought dressing the loom would be a tiresome process to rush through in order to dtart the REAL weaving. But it turned out to be my most favourite part of weaving, and every bit as real.

    Thank you again for your beautiful words and pictures.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Anneloes, I’m constantly amazed at how the Lord ties things together for us!

      I can relate. I was afraid that dressing the loom would be too complicated or difficult to do. What a pleasant surprise to find it so rewarding and not hard at all! It’s a joy.

      I appreciate your thoughtful comments.
      Karen

  • Martha Winters says:

    Hello, Karen,
    I have learned so much about weaving, and how it relates to life, from your blog. Thank you for sharing your insights and reflections so freely and beautifully.
    I would love to know a bit more about the ‘leveling string’ at the start of your warp. I’m not familiar with this and it looks quite useful for evening out the threads from the get-go. Much appreciation for your knowledge and awesome weaving!!

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Tools Day: Leveling String

Thirty-five years ago, I took a beginner rigid heddle loom class. Our teacher taught us to use strips of toilet paper (or fat scrap yarn) as weft at the beginning of the weaving to space the warp. After several inches of weaving, the warp ends would fall into alignment. Unless fringe is planned, that beginning warp goes to waste, not to mention the unsightly aspect of the throwaway weft. Here comes the leveling string to the rescue! This piece of 12/6 cotton seine twine is just what we need to get off to a good start with every project we put on the loom. The leveling string levels out the warp ends, and delivers a nice, flat weaving surface. It is superb to be able to weave fabric right from the very beginning of the warp!

The use of a leveling string is also described in my three favorite books that detail how to warp a loom:

  • The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell
  • Learning to Warp Your Loom, by Joanne Hall
  • Dress Your Loom the Vävstuga Way: A Benchside Photo Guide, by Becky Ashenden

Tools:

  • Front tie-on bar with a hole at each end (Joanne Hall writes, “If there are no holes in your bar, replace the cord with a thin stick.” I have not tried this, but I trust anything Joanne says!)
  • 12/6 cotton seine twine, the length of front tie-on bar, plus about 20 inches (I like to have plenty of string to tie the knots on the ends)

Steps:

1. Tie on warp in small bundles, about 1″ each, with half of the bundle’s ends going over, and half going under, the front tie-on bar (as seen in Step 3 pictures). Tie the ends together with a bow knot or other tie-on knot. (TIP – If you do not tie the knots too tight, it is easier to get even tension across the warp, and it is easier to tighten the leveling string in Step 4.)

2. Tie one end of the leveling string to one end of the front tie-on bar, using a slip knot with half bow.

Tying the leveling string. Tutorial pics.

Tying the leveling string. Step-by-step.

Leveling string - tying it on.

Tying on the leveling string. How to.

How to tie the leveling string.

3. Thread the leveling string over and under the tie-on bundles, going over the raised ends and under the lowered ends.

Threading the leveling string through the warp. Tutorial pics.

Leveling string going through the warp.

Tying the second end of the leveling string.

4. Tighten the leveling string while tapping it in with the beater.

Tightening the leveling string.

5. Tie the end of the leveling string to the end of the front tie-on bar, using a slip knot with half bow, as before.

How to tie the second end of the leveling string.

How to tie the leveling string.

Finishing the knot for the leveling string.

Why I use a leveling string.

6. Weave to your heart’s content.

Why the leveling string is so helpful!

When you get to the end of the warp, and are ready for cutting off, simply tug the loose end of the string at one end of the bar to release the slip knot, and pull the leveling string out of the warp.

May you weave as soon as possible.

Happy Valentine’s Day,
Karen

7 Comments

  • Ettenna says:

    Will this work if I lash my yarn on? Does one have to tie the threads to the bar?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ettenna, The only way I tie on is tying on to the tie-on bar. I don’t know if this works if you lash on. It’s worth a try! If you try it, please report back and let us know how it goes for you.

      Great question!
      Karen

  • Cindie` says:

    Hmm, sounds like we had the same beginning weaving teacher (minus the rigid heddle loom) My teacher of 31 years ago was incredible except for her way of spreading out the warp. It didn’t take me terribly long once weaving on my own to realize what a waste of warp using the toilet paper or rags were. I generally weave a few rows without beating, then beat, and repeat – the warp is spread out within an inch or less of weaving…….I use leftover yarn on bobbins around the same size as what I’ll be weaving with. I’ve seen your technique but never tried it – I’m definitely going to try it out on the next warp. Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindie, It wasn’t long for me, either, before I ditched the toilet paper routine. Ha ha, I guess that was a common “technique” for a while. Everything else for my teacher, too, was wonderful.

      I’d love to hear back what you think of this method after you try it. How does it compare to what you are used to?

      Happy Weaving!
      Karen

  • Julia says:

    This looks great. I’m guessing you have made sure your tension is even and all of your knots are secure before putting in the leveling string. Is this correct? Do you use a particular knot when tying the warp bundles to the front bar? Surgeons knot or something?

  • Ramona says:

    Where did you purchase your tie-on bar? My weaving width is 40 inches, so a lease stick is too small and seems not as stout as yours. Thank you for such insightful information!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ramona, The tie-on bar came with the loom. I’m sure one could be made to fit your loom. The wood needs to be good and solid, and straight.

      Karen

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