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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Biggest Challenge of Weaving a Pictorial Tapestry

Lucia grasps Ari’s plump wrist as they bravely inch a step closer to the rabbit hutch. For them, it’s a step of faith. Sugar Pie, the bunny, is wide-eyed at their approach. You’ll see the bunny later in the weaving of this pictorial tapestry.

Detail of a pictorial tapestry in progress.
Lucia’s tiny thumbnail is on top of Ari’s hand. Contrast in skin color is exaggerated to make the two arms distinct from each other.
Color gradation in a new large tapestry.
Five shades of orange/red butterflies are used to make the fabric of Lucia’s orange shirt.

It is a huge challenge to work on one element, like the hands, while not being able to see it in the context of the whole picture. The row-by-row weaving is an act of faith. I peer through the wrong end of the binoculars, and stand on a chair to take pictures. And I’m reassured about the outcome. It’s not blind faith. It’s a series of carefully reasoned and thought-out steps.

Gaining a higher perspective.
Gaining a higher perspective by standing on a chair.

We see only a small slice of life at a time. Where do my day-to-day threads fit in the context of the big picture of a lifetime? Grace is amazing! Grace is unearned good favor. Grace is a final tapestry that makes sense of all the wanderings. Grace is good favor extended by God to all who trust Jesus. So, with God’s grace we walk by faith, with carefully reasoned and thought-out steps. And we extend grace at every opportunity, holding the wrist of our fellow adventurer to walk by faith together.

"Siblings" tapestry.
Siblings tapestry, work in progress.

Grace is amazing.

May your life make a difference.

Grace,
Karen

10 Comments

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What to Do with Linen Leftovers

These waffle-weave washcloths are made out of my linen leftovers. For years, I’ve been saving linen scraps: the small amount left on the tube, quills that weren’t used up, thrums that I couldn’t bear to discard, and skinny warp chains from the times I accidentally wound a few extra warp ends.

Using linen leftovers for a new warp.
To make this warp, I finished off about a dozen tubes that had small amounts of 16/2 linen.
Winding a linen warp.
Putting leftover threads together.

The warp is 16/2 linen. I alternated two colors at a time in the warp, so there are interesting color-and-weave effects that outline the “waffles” in the weave.

New linen warp.
Heddles are threaded in point twill for waffle weave, alternating two colors at a time.
Afternoon sun on a new warp.
Afternoon sun is a pleasant sight on a new warp.

The linen for the weft is everything from fine 16/1 line linen to coarse 8/1 tow linen. I am purposely leaving weft tails exposed. I expect significant shrinkage, so I will trim the tails shorter after wet finishing.

How to use linen leftovers.
Linen “weft-overs” include thrums, end of tubes, and accidental warp chains.

Ideas for this project originated with Clean with Linen, by Sanna Ignell in Väv 2016 No.2, p.6, and Handtowels made of linen, by Elisabet Jansson in Happy Weaving from Vävmagasinet, p.31.

Linen waffle weave.
Linen waffle weave.

Do you have precious leftovers you’ve saved from your journey through life? Memories we don’t want to lose. And memories we wish we could forget. All these leftover threads serve as reminders that we are meant for more than what we can produce on our own. Here’s the good news. Love invites us to hand over our collection of scraps. Listen to Love. His name is Jesus. He takes our linen discards, and, with nothing wasted, weaves his beautiful story of redemption in us.

May your leftovers be given new life.

Love,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Beautifully said, Karen! And great idea! 🙂

  • Robin says:

    Fantastic idea!
    Would love to see pix of the finished wash cloth. Perhaps a future post?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Robin, Thanks for giving your thoughts! I will be happy to show pictures of the wash cloths when they are finished! I’ll be as surprised as you at the results. I expect to get 10 wash cloths from this warp, so hang on, it may take a while.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    An album quilt I made for my daughter’s wedding was cobbled together of the obvious dress fabric from her childhood, but also needle work from her ancestors. Textiles too fragile to use as originally designed, but reinforced and added to the beauty of the quilt designed for the next generations to come.

    One block included a piece of weaving done on a home made loom by my husband’s grandmother.

    Leftovers from earlier generations kept to build something useful and beautiful.

    Nothing goes to waste in God’s world.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Your quilt sounds fantastic. What a wonderful gift, full of meaning.

      “Nothing goes to waste in God’s world.” Amen!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Linda Cornell says:

    Beautifully said!

  • Laurie says:

    Is that a plainweave hem? Does it contract the same as the waffleweave?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laurie, Yes, I am doing a plain weave hem. I am sure it will not contract the same as the waffle weave. I expect the hem to look a bit wavy. Since this is my first time to do waffle weave, I’m waiting to see what it does for sure. 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Charlotte says:

    I cannot believe, yet I must! The timing of your post – waffleweave wash cloths to my drawdown for the next project – waffleweave wash cloths! Isn’t this fun?!?!?!
    Mine will be 12/6 seine twine. The warp on the drawloom is nearly tweaked for a new run of Casita bath towels – Cottolin. The wash cloth warp will go on Julia once my Marines have come and gone. Also, for the Casita.

    The Inkle loom is warped for the hang loops…it’ll go to the mountains with us.

    Oh how I love the direction of our path and sharing it, such a sweet gift!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlotte, How fun! And believe it or not, yesterday I finished the drawdown for my next project on the Standard – Cottolin bath towels! Wow, you and I are really in sync.

      Love,
      Karen

  • Betty Morrissey says:

    HI!
    Can’t’ wait to see them. Love how everything finds its purpose.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betty, With purpose there’s hope. And we all need hope. I’ll keep you posted on the progress and finishing of these washcloths. Stay tuned…

      All the best,
      Karen

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Weaving Plans on Paper

I doubt myself when I start weaving something. But it’s a good time to question everything. The first twenty centimeters are designated for sampling. Is this the right sett? How is the weft density? What treadling order will I use? Which weft color(s) works best?

Trying out some treadling patterns.

Trying out some treadling patterns for this cotton throw. Undulating twill is planned.

It helps to see it on the loom. I plan on paper, and get excited when I see a ready warp on the warp beam. But nothing is settled until I’ve passed the sampling tests. The plan on paper is what I think I want. And then, unanticipated adjustments and changes are necessary at the loom. In the end, I expect the actual weaving to be better than my original plan.

Sampling before weaving a cotton throw.

More sampling of treadling patterns.

Testing weft colors for undulating twill cotton throw.

Testing weft colors.

When we think we must have what we planned, we give up a better way. We lose our way when we insist on having our way. Jesus came to us as an infant (the Christmas message), leaving his rightful heavenly position. To follow Jesus is to deny myself like he did. Some of the testing means telling myself no. In return, I gain the life I could not see on my paper plan.

May you give up some of your favorite plans.

With Advent thoughts,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Beautifully said, Karen! Too often, I don’t want to deny myself, but when I follow Him, I am at peace, as I know He wishes, all the time. So there is much joy in giving up my plans. Thanks for sharing and reminding me. Thankfully, we have Him to follow, every day! His love is not measured by our standards, and it is everlasting! Merry Christmas to you and yours! 🙂

  • Anneloes says:

    Beautiful! Both the sample, as well as your message of encouragement. I hope to get better at letting go of my ‘paper plans’ in life.

  • Beautiful work, may God’s blessing be upon you this Christmas

  • Ruth says:

    Life is what happens while we are making plans is a favorite saying of a dear friend. Your reflections on paper plans and letting go to follow Christ’s example coincide with that statement and remind me to follow Christ’s path and not my own. Blessings to you and yours as we follow the light of Christ during the coming year.

    • Karen says:

      Ruth, Your friend’s saying rings true with me. How much better to willingly let go of how we thought things should be, than to hold tightly to our ‘paper plans’ and miss the joys of living life to the fullest. What a relief that we have Christ to follow!

      Blessings to you,
      Karen

  • Beautiful weaving. Beautiful thoughts.

    Merry Christmas from the great white north.

    Nannette

  • Alison says:

    Thank yo Karen for sharing. I would have liked to have seen what your paper plans look like also, as they are part of the process. Your message is just what I needed.

    Alison

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alison, I don’t think I have done a post on project planning. I’ll have to do that! My paper plans hold the calculations, yarns, draft, and other details. I always have that piece of paper close at hand as I dress the loom and weave.

      I’m glad to hear that you gained something from today’s words.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Linda says:

    Your reflections are such a blessing.
    Thank you and may God continue to bless you.

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Band Loom Time!

Before I can hem these new towels, I need to make some hanging tabs. Band loom time! Making a warp for the band loom is one way to use up some of the weft on quills that didn’t quite get emptied when weaving the towels. Of the four colors in the towels, I am using aqua, poppy, and orchid for the hanging tabs. The bright marigold, my favorite of the four colors, may bring too much attention to itself, so I’m leaving it out. A hanging tab must be a stable and firm loop that becomes a pleasing part of the towel.

Planning to weave hanging tabs for handwoven towels. Karen Isenhower

Towels, before wet finishing, are spread out with the thread colors on top. I am trying to determine which colors will work together in woven hanging tabs for all four towels.

Glimakra band loom. Hanging tabs for handwoven towels.

Eleven ends are just enough for weaving a narrow band. (The two ends in the center are doubled in the heddle and counted as one.)

Glimakra band loom, making hanging tabs for handwoven towels.

Simple symmetrical design with aqua, poppy, and orchid colors. To use as hanging tabs for towels, the band is cut into short pieces, about ten centimeters (four inches) each. Each cut tab is then sewn into the hem of a towel.

Established. Stable (root word of e-stabl-ish) and firm. That’s how important our faith is as we walk through life. Everything hangs from it. So it must be woven carefully and stitched in securely, a pleasing part of who we are. Stable and firm in faith as we live for the Lord—that’s a beautiful way to live.

May your finishing details be pleasing.

With you,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Laura says:

    Your towels are beautiful. Love the little bobbin you are using. Do you mind telling me where you got that from? Love all your posts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laura, Thank you! My husband carved the little band loom shuttle for me. You probably know that you can use a short cardboard quill for band weaving, but I will email the specs of the little shuttle to you in case you or someone you know wants to carve one.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Thank you for sharing the design and craft process for finishing the beautiful towels. So true is the need for a firm foundation in life. Nannette

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