Applique from Handwoven Remnants

This is the Christmas-tree-skirt project. I wove 3 1/2 meters of background fabric with 8/1 Möbellåtta warp and 6/1 Fårö wool weft. Now, having sorted through all my handwoven remnants, big and small, I have colors and textures for telling the Nativity story in appliqué. My friend with appliqué experience has advised me on materials and technique, for which I am enormously grateful.

Applique from handwoven remnants.
Remnant from the warp for towels I wove for my daughter becomes part of Mary’s garment.
Handwoven remnants cut for applique Nativity.
Donkey shape is cut from remnants from my wool vest project on the drawloom. Paper is on both sides of the double-sided fusible product. One side is peeled off to adhere the fusible to the back of the appliqué piece. (Always remember to draw the reverse side of the image onto the paper on the fusible.)
Applique from handwoven drawloom fabric.
Appliqué piece is face up, ready to be fused to the background.
Making handwoven applique Nativity.
Blue star is from opphämta on the drawloom. Green palm trees are from a long-ago rigid heddle scarf and from a warp of cottolin towels. Manger is pieced from some of my earliest floor loom fabrics. Swaddling cloth is fine cotton M’s and O’s. Baby’s halo is from Swedish lace curtain fabric. Every piece of fabric has a story.

Using a double-sided fusible product, I carefully cut out each shape. After laying all the pieces out in the proper arrangement, I fuse them, layer by layer, to the background fabric. The Nativity narrative is formed, piece by piece. I still have handwoven remnants to add to the lower edge, and embroidery to stitch around some of the appliqué shapes. I’m hopeful to complete all of it before Christmas.

Making a handwoven Christmas tree skirt.
This is the felt tree skirt I saw every year around our family’s Christmas tree when I was a girl.
Handwoven Christmas tree skirt.
Planning the arrangement of the appliqué pieces onto the background fabric.
Making a handwoven applique Nativity scene.
I start by fusing the manger into place because the head of baby Jesus is at the very center of the whole length of cloth.
Handwoven applique Nativity scene.
Wide variety of handwoven fabrics tell the Nativity story. Threads of linen, cotton, wool, and bamboo.
Handwoven applique Nativity project.
Scraps of paper backing indicate that all the pieces have been fused into place. Next, embroidery and other handwork, while considering the meaning of Christmas.

My remnant scene tells the story of God with us. The holy babe in a pieced-together manger reminds us that God loved us by sending Jesus to our worry-ridden world. Worries are the little things and big things that we would like to control, but can’t. Can we add one moment to our lifespan by worrying? Trust in Jesus replaces worry because it puts control back in the right hands.

May you live worry free.



  • Beth Mullins says:

    Oh my goodness! It’s going to be a gorgeous heirloom! How will you keep the edges of the cut woven pieces of cloth from fraying? I can’t wait to see this finished. No doubt you will have it completed before Christmas.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I think you’re right that this will become a cherished heirloom. I envision having it out year after year.

      Most of the cut edges are secured with the fusible that I used. And the embroidery that I’m planning to do will serve a dual purpose – stitching around vulnerable edges, as well as being decorative.

      Thank you,

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,
    What did we do before fusibles?

    Textiles. Taking scraps of this and that and with blessings of creativity from God something wonderful happens where before for waste.

    Who knew playing with fluff would end up spun yarn? Or, looping that yarn would lead to cloth. Or stains would lead to dyes. Or mended holes would lead to lace.

    We are blessed with the end result of those ‘discoveries’ and the ever present ‘waste not want not’ that makes sure we use every last scrap of our hard work.

    Please forgive my getting into the weeds. I am trying to figure out how there are 6 plastic container lids of varying sizes left over from packing up my crafts. I think this is in the realm of socks and dyers….

    Beautiful tree skirt. I am looking forward to the finished project under the Christmas tree this year.

    Kind regards,


    • Karen says:

      Hello Nannette, I enjoy your thoughtful response so much. Using every last scrap has a way of showing us that when we think we are all used up, the Lord whispers that He’s not quite done with us.

      Thank you for your lovely communication,

  • Karen says:

    Just beautiful!

  • Geri Rickard says:

    What an amazing project this is! Every piece tells a story, with each piece being a part of THE STORY. So meaningful in so many ways, and very inspiring. I can’t wait to see the finished tree skirt, but I say that about all of your projects! Thank you for sharing this process…

    • Karen says:

      Hi Geri, You express my sentiments perfectly, about being a part of THE STORY. What a grand story to be in. Thank you for contributing your thoughts!


  • Cynthia says:

    Wow please post when your finished, Would love to see.

  • Loyanne says:

    Oh! So very wonderful in so many ways. Thank you for sharing.

  • Karen Simpson says:

    This will be so moving…..

  • Elisabeth says:

    It is absolutely beautiful, what a treasure! And such a great use of remnants from all those projects.

  • Carolyn Penny says:

    That is just sweet. Blessings to you and yours!

  • Kristin G says:

    I’m very glad you’ve shared this process with us, Karen. It’s so inspiring! I love that you took what others might think of as waste and worthless (only to a non-weaver, of course ) and are turning it into a treasure! What a beautiful reminder of God’s redemption.

Leave a Reply

Warp Sequence Planning

When I wrap potential warp sequences on folded index cards it brings design thoughts out into the open. It makes the ideas tangible, helping me plan a pleasing warp. For this 8/2 cotton warp I am choosing colors from the plentiful selection I already have on my shelves.

Planning warp stripes with 8/2 cotton.
8/2 cotton left from previous projects fills the shelves. Each warp wrapping sparks ideas for more possible warps.

This warp will be woven as eight-shafttwill yardage, about 15 1/2 inches wide. The fabric will be cut and hemmed to make colorful arm and headrest covers for my mother-in-law’s comfy off-white recliner. I will increase the width of the stripes proportionately to fill the warp width. My mother-in-law will have the final say, but if you could help her decide, which set of warp stripes would you choose? Please let us know in the comments.

Planning warp stripes.
Planning warp stripes.
Planning warp stripes with 8/2 cotton.

What if our attitudes were made tangible? What would our thoughts look like if they were out in the open, wrapped like colored threads around our actions? With the love of Christ in us, forgiveness is the recurring thread. Forgiveness is for the undeserving. That is who we forgive. Because that is who we are when we are forgiven by God.

May the thread of forgiveness be woven in your life’s fabric.

With you,


  • Jo says:

    Hi Karen,
    I have enjoyed your weaving and your threads of wisdom for quite a while. This post on forgiveness is on target . Thank you for your insightful messages. I would choose the blue with salmon , yellow and orange. The yellow stands out like sunshine (Sonshine) of God’s forgiveness.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jo, Thank you for letting me know you are a part of this weaving journey. I enjoy hearing your reason for your choice of the warp wrappings.


  • Linda Cornell says:

    A very good reminder. We forgive because we are forgiven.

    The wraps are so beautiful in themselves. I lean toward 1 or 3 or 5…..blues with pop of color. It will be fun to see what your mother-in-law picks!

  • #2 and my reasoning is simple – bright, joyful and a reminder that your warmth and loving arms are surrounding her with the skills you have to share. Blessings!
    Bethany in Kingston ON Canada

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,

    Prefaced with not knowing what else is in the room and color preferences of your MOL…I am drawn to number 2.

    The warm colors bring a spark of excitement to the a
    off white chair.

  • Maria says:

    I look forward to reading your wonderful words each time you post. You inspire me to weave and be a better person! I would choose #3 and #5. I like the play of blue with the red and yellow.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maria, I’m encouraged by your kind words. It’s a joy to have you along. Thanks for giving your opinion on the warp wrappings.

      All the best,

  • patricia ahrens says:

    I agree with Karen. #2

  • Ellen Sturtevant says:

    #2 or 3. Like the pop of color in both. Hard to say tho without knowing what other colors are in her room. I’m sure you’ve considered color with all your selections.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ellen, You are right, I tried to include colors that would work in her room. And I didn’t include green at all because I know it’s not one of her favorite colors.

      Thanks for participating,

  • Linda Adamson says:

    For me personally I would pick 2 or 3. I like lots of color. If she doesn’t like as much color then 6 has potential as you get variations of blues with a touch of black. A more restful but interesting warp.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, I included #6 for the very reasons you describe. It truly does look very restful. The black is actually navy blue. The iPhone camera does pretty good, but just can’t get it quite right. Thanks for your thoughtful response.

      Happy weaving,

  • Charlotte says:

    Good morning, dearest!

    As I picture the off-white recliner…#6 seems to pop in my mind. It would hide possible soil marks and be stunning against the recliner. But, then…you might want something more cheerful. What is her personality? What are her favorite colors, I wonder. No matter the color choices…the end product will surely bless her more than there are color choices to make.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlotte, I like your reasonable approach. Yes, there are several factors to consider. Personality – delightful and fun. Favorite colors – I know she favors blue, and also likes other colors in colorful things. It will be a great pleasure for me to make these for the woman who has enriched my life so much.


  • Annie says:

    Good morning, Karen.

    Rather a scary premise to have all of our thoughts out in the open for everyone to see! However, I do believe that God sees them all and that knowledge keeps me working on improving.

    My eyes keep returning to wrap #3. Bethany said it best, though, when she said any of them will be a reminder of your warm and loving arms around your mother in law. She is very blessed to have you for a daughter in law.

    Can’t wait to see what she chooses.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, Thankfully, God’s grace through Jesus supplies what we need to live for him. I’m glad to know your choice on the wraps. Yes, Bethany had a sweet way of expressing it.

      Thank you,

  • Joanna says:

    Number three for this old lady. Blue for the sky of Heaven, yellow for the Light that shines upon us all, and red for the love of our Maker. Back to the primary, cheerful colors, unmuddied by doubt. Lucky Mama to get such a thoughtful gift!

  • Jan says:

    Good morning Karen

    I choose No 2 for your MIL to wrap around her gentle precious body.

    I enjoy reading your posts, thank you for your inspirations.

  • Joanne Hall says:

    When I saw #3, my immediate thought was that I need to remember this and use it on something sometime. Charlotte is right about the blue #6, very practical and blue is very calming. But that #3, I really like it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, I, too, like #3. It seems well balanced and tidy, and most of all, cheerful. When I finished wrapping that one, it felt very familiar, as if I had done that same arrangement before. Maybe my memory copied a previous project?? 🙂

      Thanks for your input,

  • Mary says:

    Hello, Karen! I like #1, which reminds me of a lovely sunset after a summer day filled with everything I love to do; #4 with a nod to the bright yellow that shines out of the dark contrasts, the light with which we are all acquainted; and am drawn to the orderliness of #3.And thank you for the gentle reminder of the importance of ‘forgiveness for the undeserving’. Important, yet challenging. I will work on that.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mary, Oh yes, I can see the summer sunset in #1. What a wonderful description that fits. And the bright yellow in #4 does make the whole arrangement shine. Yes, #3 seems tidy to me, as I mentioned to Joanne. So many aspects to consider!

      Forgiveness for the undeserving is extremely challenging. I’m thankful we have been given an example.

      Thank you,

  • Jenna says:

    great idea. I hate doing samples but I could handle wraping the warp around cards.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenna, This is very easy and pretty fun. I fold a regular index card in half and put double stick tape on the back side to hold the threads.

      Happy wrapping,

Leave a Reply

Mug Rugs to Remember

Knowing I would be away from my floor looms for a while, I put a narrow cottolin warp on my little Emilia rigid heddle loom to take with me. Mug rugs—perfect for travel weaving, to use bits of time here and there. I had some bulky wool yarn and a few rag rug fabric strips to take for weft. In a burst of hopeful inspiration, I grabbed a bag of Tuna/Fårö wool butterflies, leftover from my Lizard tapestry (see Quiet Friday: Lizard Tapestry) a couple years ago, and tossed it in my travel bag as we were going out the door.

Mug rugs on Glimåkra Emilia rigid heddle loom.
Glimåkra Emilia 35cm (13.5″) rigid heddle loom. Narrow cottolin warp is from a previous warp-winding error that I had chained off and saved.
Mug rugs on my Glimakra Emilia rigid heddle loom.
Blue bulky wool yarn left from a long-ago project makes a good thick weft for mug rugs. Picks of navy blue tow linen are woven between picks of thick weft on some of the mug rugs.
Weaving mug rugs on my Glimakra Emilia rigid heddle loom.
Wool butterflies for the weft are made of several strands of Tuna and Fårö yarn.

Those colorful wool butterflies turned out to be my favorite element! They not only gave me colors to play with, they also provided variety, the spice of weaving. The forgotten Lizard butterflies will now be remembered as useful and pretty textiles.

30 mug rugs on the rigid heddle loom.
The end of the warp.
Mug rugs just off the rigid heddle loom.
Rag rugs for mugs!
Rag rug fabric strips are used for a few of the mug rugs. Rag rugs for mugs!
Mug rugs ready to be hemmed.
Mug rugs are cut apart to prepare for hemming.
Making handwoven mug rugs.
Hems have been folded and pressed under. Choosing bobbin colors to sew the hems.
Wool handwoven coasters.
Wool butterflies provided many different colors.
Handwoven wool coasters woven on a rigid heddle loom.
Alternating two different colors of wool butterflies was my favorite way to play with color.
Mug rugs for gifts.
Completed mug rugs, ready to be sent out as gifts.

How do you want to be remembered? Like my tapestry-specific butterflies put away on a shelf, our carefully-crafted words will soon be forgotten. Actions speak longer than words. Our deeds of faithful love will outlive us. Our actions that reveal the kindness of our Savior will stand the test of time. And that is a good way to be remembered.

Coffee or tea, anyone? Handwoven mug rug.
Coffee or tea, anyone?

May you be remembered for your deeds of faithful love.

Happy Weaving,


  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Very lovely Mug Rugs, but even more, your words of faith and encouragement! Thanks for sharing your skills and your faith! Very inspiring! God Bless! 🙂

  • Karen says:

    Amazing! Love the usefulness of leftover yarn!!! Even the small butterflies! Lovely!

  • Nannette says:

    WELCOME BACK TO THE BLOG!!! Hope you had wonderful travels.

    I love your reference to our gifts of today out living us. I repurposed crocheted lace of my long gone great grandmother. Wearing it with pride.

    In the case of textiles…. Everyday reminders of those beloved we never knew except through the work of their hands. What a blessing.


    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Thank you! It’s great to be back. Textiles are a vivid example of the work of our hands outlasting us. It is wonderful to see and use the quilts and needlework treasures of family members who came before us.


  • LJ Arndt says:

    Beautiful, I don’t have butterflies but I do have thrums that I think may fit the bill. I’ll have to take them on my next trip.

    • Karen says:

      Hi LJ, I think this would be a fabulous use of thrums! I definitely plan to make more of these mug rugs. Maybe I’ll need to start saving all my thrums again. Thanks for the idea.

      Happy weaving,

  • Barbara says:

    To everything a purpose. Your little video and bursts of colour brought a smile to my face this morning.

  • Anastasia says:

    These are beautiful. What a great project.

    When you fold the hem bit under… do you fold it twice (back on itself), and stich through what would then be three layers? So that a little strip of the “between the tops weaving” would still be visible on the bottom, but the cut edge would be secured?

    Please pardon my newbie questions. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Anastasia, Newbie questions are the best! You described the hems perfectly. Only one more detail to add— I serged the edges before folding and pressing them under, so nothing will unravel over time.

      When I do this again, I may make the hems longer. In which case, the edges will be zigzagged or serged, and the hems folded under twice, then stitched. That way the hem will show at the edges, not just underneath. I like them either way— hems hidden underneath, or hems as visual borders.


  • Kim Mills says:

    Thank you for your post. I’ve now have a new way to use up all those leftovers I have been collecting. Thanks as well for your inspirational words.

Leave a Reply

Tied Up in Knots

Every time you cut off a warp there is more to do before the woven material is ready for its end purpose. Do you enjoy tying knots? And, hemming rugs by hand? I don’t mind completing these final steps. It’s part of the whole weaving process. Three of the six rosepath rag rugs are now finished. Truly finished.

Six new rosepath rag rugs, ready for finishing!
Six rosepath rag rugs. Rugs are cut apart and warping-slat dividers have been removed.

Tying the warp ends in overhand knots permanently secures the weft. These knots won’t work loose. I turn the hem, concealing the knots; and stitch the hem down. After I sew on my label, the work is complete.

Tying knots to finish a rag rug.
Warp ends are tied into overhand knots, four ends at a time.
Rag rug finishing.
Ends are trimmed to 1 inch.
Hand hemming a rosepath rag rug.
Hem is folded under and pressed. The needle catches a warp end from the fold and a warp end from the body of the rug. Rug warp is used as thread for hemming.

Jesus famously said, “It is finished,” when he was on the cross. His completed good work replaces our work of trying to be good enough, trying to fix everything, trying to control our lives. Our knots won’t hold. We can trust that his finished work will never be undone. God loves you. Trusting him is loving him back.

Rosepath rag rug, fresh off the loom.
One completed rug, named “Treasures,” for my neighbor’s home.
Handwoven rag rugs, named "Blessed Assurance." Made for a friend.
Pair of completed rugs, named “Blessed Assurance,” for another neighbor’s home.

May love securely hold you.



  • Beth says:

    They are beautiful, Karen!
    I’m curious, do you wet finish the rugs before using them on the floor?

  • Charlotte says:

    Blessed assurance…Jesus is mine…oh what a foretaste of Glory divine…

    I adore your two rugs entitled “Blessed Assurance”…absolutely adore them!

    As you may be aware, Art Camp was cancelled. Now…the Bluebonnet Rally is cancelled. For 9 years…our April has been spent serving 250 people in Bandera. Goodness…we are quarantined and home. Now, I have this wonderful time before me to play in the studio. We need to talk!!!!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlotte, The “Blessed Assurance” rugs are showstoppers, much to my surprise, since there is not a bit of blue in them. 🙂

      This is my story, this is my song. Our Lord is song-worthy all the day long.

      Love you,

  • ellen b santana says:

    i heard in a sermon that the phrase it is finished in the original language was words used in commerce, to signify that the debt was paid. so cool.

  • Kristin G says:

    Such lovely rugs and words, Karen! I’m so glad I got to see one of them up close at the guild meeting – they really are beautiful. You made my heart smile with the ‘Blessed Assurance” named rugs. What a wonderful song to have playing in my mind today.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kristin, I’m always happy when someone has a song in their heart. Glad to contribute to that!

      Your kind words are such an encouragement to me.

      Happy weaving,

  • Elisabeth Munkvold says:

    What a beautiful bunch of rag rugs you have made!
    I am cutting rags at the moment…in between other textile projects 🙂
    We are so blessed to always have something to do, even more so now when staying home has become our new daily life. The healthcare system needs for as many of us as possible to do just that!! My mom has been on lockdown (in Norway) for a week already.
    Take care and stay healthy!
    Love, Elisabeth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I’m glad to hear you have another rag rug project in the works. I agree, it is a blessing to have no shortage of things to do at home. It’s a good time to pray for our mothers, and those more vulnerable.

      Keep in health.

Leave a Reply

Siblings Tapestry and Process Video

Drum roll please… And now, I present to you: Siblings

Siblings Tapestry by Karen Isenhower

The Siblings tapestry is a woven expression of personal meaning. The tapestry tells a story of a singular incident, almost hidden in the excitement of the occasion. Lucia grasps Ari’s wrist as they approach Sugar Pie, the bunny. In that moment I see something worth keeping—precious sibling love.

Please enjoy this short video of the process of weaving and finishing the Siblings tapestry.

May you know the security of true love.

Happy Weaving,


  • Susie Redman says:

    Good morning- I did enjoy your video and seeing the finished piece. Ive only ever used a small frame for tapestry weaving but I think that Ill try using my floor loom. Thank you for the inspiration

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susie, I enjoy using a small tapestry frame, too. And using a big loom like this for tapestry is energizing, because your whole body is in motion as you weave. I hope you try it.

      Happy weaving,

  • Wanda Bennett says:

    This is beautiful! Great job!

  • Susan San Martin says:

    It is in inspiring to watch your tapestry project from start to finish. You make it look easy, but I’m not fooled! I’m awe-struck!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susan, On one hand, I would say it is not easy; and on the other hand, I would say that once I get going I’m just following the cartoon and I feel like I’m coloring in a coloring book, which is not hard.

      Thank you for your compliment!

      All the best,

  • Bethany says:

    As a beginning tapestry explorer, I am stunned and so very much in awe of the talent, time and the raw beauty of sentiment that went into this glorious piece of fine art! Congratulations and I am delighted that the artwork is hanging, finished in your home studio. Be very proud and may this be a treasure for generatuions. God bless!
    Bethany in Kingston, ON

  • Geri Rickard says:

    Well, that was certainly worth the wait! It’s marvelous!

  • Kevin Baumann says:

    Such talent! You’ve created a beautiful work of art! Thank you for sharing with us!

  • Nannette says:

    Beautiful. Mary Cassat and Georgia O’Keefe in a textile format.

    Thank you for sharing.


  • Betsy says:

    Just beautiful, Karen!

  • Linda Adamson says:

    This is lovely in design, workmanship and message. Thanks for sharing.

  • Joanna says:

    Oh wow! Just . . . Wow!

  • D'Anne says:

    A special memory made by your hands,Karen! It’s beautiful!

  • Marcia says:

    I recently had the privilege of seeing an exhibition by Helena Hernmark who has a world reputation for her amazing and huge tapestries, many woven for corporate offices on commission. She moved part of her studio to a local art museum and was “Artist in Residence” for several months. From a distance, her pieces are photographic and she weaves on large Glimakra looms (Helena is a transplanted Swede). Do look her up…she is inspiring. In December I got to visit her real studio in my town when she received my copy of Vav Magazine by mistake, probably the highlight of my year!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marcia, I have a book of Helena Hernmarck’s work, and I study the photos in it for ideas and inspiration. I knew about her artist in residence at the Connecticut museum, but I didn’t find a way to make it there. I’m so glad you had the opportunity! How fortunate for you that your magazine was sent to the wrong address. Oh, visiting her studio must have been a real treat!

      I’m grateful that you thought of letting me know about Helena Hernmarck!

      Happy weaving,

  • Aleta says:

    I was taught at my Grandmother’s side how to embroider and I developed a love
    of making pictures with needle and thread. I can’t draw a straight line or make a round circle with a pencil, but I love the cross stitch and how a picture slowly takes shape with the slow transition of color.
    I visited a museum recently with some fun loving friends and we saw some lovely pieces of hand made art, but there was nothing in that museum that spoke to me of a labor of love and passion like the “Siblings” tapestry.
    Last year I started to teach myself how to weave and twine, with the help of new friends in the guild I joined, but WOW. I see I have a very long way to go and learn. Thank you for sharing your prize with us. God Bless You.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Aleta, I admire your ability to create pictures with needle and thread. That ability will carry over as you explore tapestry weaving. Get all the books and resources you can to learn and practice the basics of tapestry weaving. And then, maybe you will be fortunate like I was to take a workshop or class from Joanne Hall, or another world-class tapestry weaver. I, too, have a very long way to go and learn. But that’s the joy of this weaving world—there’s always more to learn.

      God bless you and lead you, too,

  • lanora says:

    Karen, thank you for inspiring us and
    letting us be a part of your adventure… It turned out beautiful! Tapestry is now on my list of ‘To Do’ items for sure!

  • louise says:

    Amazing piece! I love it! The texture is wonderful in it..It looks like you skipped places in order to achieve the texture. Could you coment on that?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Louise, Thank you for such kind words! This is threaded in rosepath, a particular four-shaft twill threading. I use a rosepath treadling pattern in between plain weave rows. So, part of the texture you see comes about naturally through the floats (skipped threads) in the rosepath.
      Thanks for asking about it.

      All the best,

  • Linda Cornell says:

    So beautiful and precious!

Leave a Reply