Hazards and Rewards of Weaving a Portrait

When you want a better photograph you snap another picture. When you want a better tapestry you take out what you’ve woven and weave it another way. I recently showed you my progress on the tapestry of my mother. (See Tapestry of the Heart.) As I viewed the tapestry in photographs I could see that the 6/1 tow linen that weaves between the rows of wool was too bright. The golden bleached linen is lovely on its own, and melts into the background on the sides of the portrait. But this bright linen draws undo attention to itself within the darker portions of the tapestry because of the stark contrast. The day after that post I undid everything back to the starting line.

Weaving a four-shaft tapestry portrait.
Take One, with golden bleached 6/1 tow linen weft threads interspersed.

Undoing a few weeks of tapestry weaving is not physically hard to do, but making the decision to undo it is hard, indeed. Since then, I have been weaving every day to get back to the point where I stopped everything. This time, I am using a different color tow linen that will make all the difference.

Wool butterflies for a tapestry portrait.
Take Two. Golden beige tow linen, as seen in the header rows, is interspersed in the weaving.
Tapestry portrait in progress.
I was able to save and reuse some of the wool butterflies from the first take.
Tapestry portrait of my mother.
Almost back to where I stopped. Besides changing the linen weft color, weaving a second time allowed me to make other improvements to the tapestry, as well.
Is that a look of approval?
Small sample of each butterfly is pinned to the picture beside my loom. I choose colors for each wool bundle in correlation to its adjacent colors, working out the colors a few steps ahead of my weaving. …Is that a look of approval?

Now, instead of golden bleached, the linen thread is a golden beige that disappears into the fabric, while holding everything together. Come to think of it, that is an apt picture of a mother’s influence.

May you know when to go back to the beginning.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Tapestry of the Heart

It is a daunting task to weave a tapestry of an important person. Do I have enough skill to give what this project deserves? I started with a photograph of a beautiful woman in her eventide years, and made a workable cartoon. The person in the picture is someone who has significantly influenced my appreciation of beauty all around. This is my mother.

Tapestry weaving that starts with a photo of a beautiful woman.
Photo enlargement is printed and taped onto poster board. I keep it near the loom for reference while I’m weaving.
Planning a new 4-shaft pictorial tapestry!
Cartoon replica is printed and taped to foam board. I plan out butterflies for the first few rows of the tapestry and pin them in their place on the picture. Yarn overflow is on the windowsill beside the loom.

In preparation for the tapestry, I have been weaving sample areas of the cartoon. The eyes, the chin and neck, the mouth, the edge of the ear. The biggest lessons I’ve learned are to exaggerate contrasts in value, and to dull the colors that are adjacent to colors that I want to appear bright. It’s time to step out and give myself to the task. This is where I aspire to show more than the unique features of my mother’s face. It’s where I show her heart.

Beginning wool butterflies for a new tapestry.
First row of the tapestry has only four butterflies. Additional butterflies are added gradually over the next few rows. (Tapestry begins with a few rows of white 6/1 tow linen.)
Weaving a pictorial tapestry of this lovely woman.
Printed reference cartoon helps me check my work as I go along. The cartoon that is under the weaving on the loom is not only larger, it is printed at a lighter setting, which makes a better weaving guide for me.

A generous heart always has enough. Giving out of our surplus is not generosity. However, if I give you what I’d rather keep, I give you some of myself. Give time, resources, support. Share talents, fascinations, insights. Mom, thanks for giving me so much of yourself.

May your loved ones benefit from your generosity.

With gratitude,
Karen

Time to Weave

I would like to finish this skirt project in time to wear the skirt this summer. Huckaback (huck lace) is easy to weave, but it takes time. All I need is time.

Weaving fabric for a tiered skirt.
Huckaback with five shafts and five treadles on the Glimåkra Ideal.

Linen weft threads pack in tighter and make better selvedges when they are dampened. I need a tight weave to square the pattern that is coming on the next two skirt tiers. And the edge of the skirt flounce is a selvedge that will be fully exposed, so tidy selvedges are a must. It takes a little bit of time to hold a damp cloth against the thread as I wind a quill, or to wrap a damp cloth around a quill that’s already wound. It’s worth it. In the scheme of things, that little bit of time is nothing…and everything.

Weaving fabric for a tiered skirt.
By dampening the 16/1 linen weft I am able to get a tight weave without having to beat as hard.
Linen weft in schoolbus yellow!
The edge with the poppy-thread border will be the lower edge of each tier on the three-tiered skirt. I’m paying special attention to the selvedge, and dampening the linen weft really helps!

We all have a little bit of time. Look at your hand. A lifespan is no longer than the width of your hand. A lifetime is one moment to God. Our life begins and ends in one breath of God. This little bit of time we have is nothing…and everything. This is how God loved us in our little bit of time: he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not perish but have timeless life with him.

May you have a little bit of time.

With you,
Karen

Palms Up

I distinctly remember the thrill of weaving my first two-block twill on eight shafts. It was a linen table square woven on a Glimåkra Standard loom in Joanne Hall’s delightful Montana studio. That classy linen table square came home with me, …and my first floor loom came soon after–a Glimåkra Standard of my own!

Two-block twill linen table square.
Linen table square, woven at Joanne Hall’s studio.

I can still hear Joanne’s gentle instruction about holding the shuttle. “Palms up.” This way is easy on the hands and wrists. I’ve had considerable practice since those lessons in Montana. Now, I send the shuttle across the warp and catch it securely with ease. That same two-block twill “Linne” pattern is on my Julia loom now, bringing back those fond memories. It comes as no surprise that watching threads on eight shafts become woven cloth is just as thrilling now as it was that very first time.

Linen table runner on 8 shafts.
Linne Table Runner on the Julia in golden bleached, olive green, and midnight blue 16/2 line linen.

Deliberate hands send the shuttle through the shed, and receive it as it comes through to the other side. God’s hand is faithful. Trust-worthy. Think of his hand as open, palm up. Carrying, sustaining, and holding us securely. Trust puts us into the Lord’s faithful hand.

May you remember what you’ve been taught.

Happy Weaving, Karen

Tried and True: Linen

Take a short stroll through our home and you will see and touch linen in all its superb versatility. Linen warp and weft speaks of elegance. Yet, this natural fiber is right at home with ordinary daily living. Linen, oh, how it sings!

I am thrilled to be dressing the Julia now with 16/2 linen on eight shafts. We will have another linen highlight to grace our home—a table runner for our dining room table.

Bockens 16/2 line linen for a handwoven runner.
It is a happy day when new tubes of Bockens 16/2 line linen arrive at the door.
Making a linen warp.
Winding two threads together at a time on the warping reel.
8-shaft Julia and linen warp.
Dividing the warp into three bouts makes it easier to spread and beam the warp with even tension across the warp.
Glimakra Julia 8-shafts. Glorious linen!
Golden bleached linen is a gorgeous backdrop for the olive center section and contrasting midnight blue borders.

Is there anything more vibrant than the sheen of linen saturated with color? And, have you noticed that plain unbleached linen is anything but plain? Linen fills both ends of the spectrum—glowing exuberant color and natural wrinkled humility. Linen, oh, how it sings! There’s always room for more music in the home.

May your home be filled with everyday elegance.

Happy Weaving,
Karen