Yarn Is My Paint

The best thing about weaving a pictorial tapestry? Having a cartoon to follow, with row-by-row definition. This Siblings tapestry has its joys and challenges. It is a joy to weave Ari’s hair, as if I get to comb his locks into place. At the same time, it’s a challenge to see up close what can only be recognized at a distance. Lucia’s shirt is a joy to weave because of the bright colors and distinct shading. But what a challenge to get the right value of turquoise for the leg of the rabbit hutch in relation to the value of orange in Lucia’s left shoulder.

Five different shades of butterflies for this hair.
Ari’s hair has butterflies in five different shades of brown. Sometimes while handling the yarn, it almost seems like real hair. And I reminisce about my sisters and I braiding each others’ hair way back when.
Color decisions in a pictorial tapestry.
Trying to find the right hue for the turquoise rabbit hutch. Choosing a darker hue helps make Lucia’s shoulder appear closer than the hutch leg.

The yarn is my paint. I make decisions and adjustments as I see how the colors interact. Under the warp, of course, is my cartoon with all the details—outline, hues, value changes. That cartoon is constant, unchanging, and reassuring. It’s the key to this whole process.

Under the warp is the detailed cartoon.
Right under the warp is the detailed cartoon. Hues are lightly colored in with color pencil, and value distinctions are penciled in.
Siblings tapestry in progress. Glimakra Standard loom.
Right at halfway on the Siblings tapestry.

In the joys and challenges we face, we make decisions based on what we see. Take a look below the surface. Look through the warp to see the cartoon. True love is in the details. Jesus instructs and guides through his love. Constant, unchanging, and reassuring. It makes perfect sense to follow the Maker’s cartoon.

Cartoon under the tapestry.
Cartoon held in place with a suspended warping slat and some plastic quilter’s clips.

May you grow in love.

With joy,
Karen

How Long Did it Take You to Weave That?

It’s the question we expect to hear. “How long did it take you to weave that?” “…Well, hours and hours, basically.” After almost three hours of threading, I am nearly to the halfway point. How can I convey all the necessary work of dressing the loom? Or, the time it takes to practice a new skill at the loom? Or, the finishing work of twisting fringe, hand hemming, or cutting and sewing?

Threading ten shafts.
Threading ten shafts. The two newest shafts are pale compared to the others. They haven’t yet developed the golden hue of the wood around them.

With any hand-crafted article, there is more than meets the eye. Why do we want to know how long it took to make it? Are we trying to measure value, or understand the maker’s process? Or, is it simply a statement of incredulity about something we didn’t know was possible?

Threading ten shafts--in silence.
For this threading, I sit in silence. No music, no podcasts, no wandering thoughts. I’m easily thrown off by distractions, especially when threading ten shafts.

Threading linen on ten shafts.
Half of the 16/2 linen warp is threaded.

We have a Maker. He fashioned our physical selves; we see that. He also made us with heart and soul. He starts the weaving process before we are born, and takes as long as he needs for the finishing. The Lord, our Maker, includes the necessary development of our character, and the intricacy of our personality, and our dreams and hopes. We are more than meets the eye. How long does it take to make a person? A lifetime.

May you enjoy the process.

Love,
Karen

Small Tapestry Revived

This little tapestry has been almost finished for a very long time. I stopped short of completion months ago. I’ve missed my small tapestry weaving, so I’m back at it. Only a few steps remain with this one. Soon this little color gradation sweetheart will be on the wall, to be enjoyed.

Small tapestry with color gradation.
Last few picks of this small tapestry are woven in one sitting. Warp thread header and waste yarn are added.

Small tapestry with color gradation.
Small tapestry frame makes an interesting artwork frame. But this tapestry must be removed so another tapestry can begin.

The finishing steps are not difficult. (Rebecca Mezoff gives excellent instructions in Weaving Tapestry on Little Looms.) After the piece is removed from the loom, it is steamed. Then, weft tails are sewn in and/or trimmed on the back. Half Damascus knots secure the warp ends. The hems will be folded under and stitched down. Then, this little masterpiece will be ready for mounting and display.

Weft tails that will be sewn in and/or trimmed.
Tapestry was woven from the front, so all the weft tails are on the back.

Sewing in and trimming weft tails.
Weft tails have been sewn in and/or trimmed on the back of the weaving.

Finishing ends on a small tapestry.
Warp ends are secured with half damascus knots. Two-pound walking weight helps hold the little tapestry in place.

Here is an ancient description of an interesting woman, as told by another woman.

Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
—from Solomon’s book of Proverbs

Small tapestry is ready to be hemmed.
Small tapestry with color gradation is ready to be hemmed. Ends will be folded under at the soumak lines, and stitched into place.

This is the type of woman I admire. Wear the best clothes that money can’t buy—strength and dignity. She has optimism. No anger. She speaks with wisdom and kindness. These are finishing touches I ask my Maker to work in me. To be a woman ready for what she was made for.

May you be finished.

Kindest regards,
Karen

Rag Rugs with a Zillion Threads

It thrills me to weave rag rugs again! This is spaced rep, and I am weaving almost the full width of this 100 cm (39″) Glimåkra Ideal. That means there are zillions of threads involved. 724 warp ends, to be exact.

Getting ready to weave spaced rep rag rugs.
Spaced rep is warp faced, but the weft is not completely covered. There is enough space between warp ends for some of the fabric-strip weft to show.

This is a type of warp rep, but it is not completely warp faced because there is space between the warp ends. It is also similar to the thick-and-thin weaving I have done with hand towels. Thick weft (fabric strips) alternates with thin weft (12/6 cotton rug warp). Pattern blocks change with two thick picks in a row.

Stripes for spaced rep rag rugs.
Stripes on the warp beam and back beam is a handsome sight.

With all those threads these rugs are made to last. They will outlast me, I’m sure. And my children, and grandchildren. But eventually, even these rugs will wear out.

Testing weft options for some rag rugs.
Testing weft options and trying out block patterns.

Everything but God ages and wears out. Even this earth and the heavens that we see will someday wear out. That’s when it’s good to know the Maker. He keeps those who have made him their trust. And, when we wear out and come to and end, he has a place for us where we will enjoy him forever.

May you make things that last and last.

Happy weaving,
Karen

Make Magical Fabric

Another magical experience at the loom! Double weave lets you weave two separate layers of fabric simultaneously. And then, the top and bottom layers can switch places in defined blocks. I don’t know who thought this up, but they were brilliant!

Double weave cotton baby blanket on the loom.
Cotton baby blanket for a dear friend’s first grandchild. This friend is amazed at the weaving process, and says that this woven fabric looks calming. Careful arrangement of the two shuttles ensures that the double-weave selvedges are woven closed.

The hard part was tying up the treadles. For a countermarch, working with eight shafts requires a more delicate balance under the loom. For a while, I was concerned that I might not get more than two decent sheds on this. But after several adjustments, I finally got a great shed with every treadle! Someone who looks at the final cloth will never know the effort that took place behind the scenes. But they may wonder at the amazement of handwoven cloth. Or not. (You’ve probably met someone who is not duly impressed with handwoven goods.)

Double weave baby blanket on the loom.
Long stripes in the middle of the baby blanket. I added dashed lines at the ends of the stripes for added detail interest.

Double weave cotton baby blanket on the loom.
Beginning sample reaches the cloth beam. Sample area at the beginning of the warp was used to test weft colors and to practice getting the appropriate weft density.

What do we see as ordinary that, truth be known, is full of wonder? One person may interpret an unusual event as an amazing sign from God. Another person experiences the same event and considers it nothing more than happenstance. If I say I won’t believe until I see evidence, I will never find evidence that satisfies me …even if I come face-to-face with a miracle. Keep the wonder. When you see handwoven cloth, let the work of the Maker’s hands bring wonder and awe. And know there are significant hidden details that are beyond our grasp.

May your fabrics be magical.

Happy weaving,
Karen