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,
Karen

32 Comments

  • 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,
      Karen

  • 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,
      Karen

  • 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.

    Nannette

  • 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,
      Karen

  • 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,
      Karen

  • 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,
      Karen

  • Linda Cornell says:

    So beautiful and precious!

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Weft Auditions for Square Dots

I found sixteen weft colors to audition. And I am eliminating all but six—one main color for each of four towels, plus two border colors. This is five-shaft satin dräll hand towels with an 8/2 cotton warp. Good weft options on my shelves include 8/2 cotton, 22/2 cottolin, and 16/2 linen in various colors. And this time, we have square dots!

Weft auditions for 5-shaft satin dräll hand towels.

The warp is tied on and the lamms and treadles are tied up. All ten sheds (one for each of ten treadles) are checked and small adjustments made in the treadle tie-ups. Weft auditions commence!

Trying different weft options. Cotton, cottolin, linen.

Similar colors in different fibers. Teal in cotton, cottolin, and linen. Coral warp as weft would be an interesting monochrome option.

There is one qualification. The colors must fit the color palette of our Texas hill country home. A sample piece of thread doesn’t tell me enough; neither does a whole tube of thread. Twisting two colored threads together gives a decent clue, but even that is not enough. When the warp and the weft threads interweave on the loom the true colors are seen. And that’s when I can tell you which colors I will keep.

Weft auditions! Colorful hand towels.

Sample includes sixteen weft colors (two or three rows for some). Four are chosen for the main colors for a set of hand towels. Two extra colors are selected to use for border designs.

Square Dots cotton hand towels in 5-shaft satin dräll.

First towel has Slate 8/2 cotton weft, with an accent of Silver 22/2 cottolin for a border stripe.

Isn’t that the way it goes with truth? Hearing words isn’t enough; even extensive hearing isn’t enough. Paying attention to what you hear is good, but it mustn’t stop there. We need to understand. Hear and understand. The meaning of the words intersect with thoughtful reflection. Truth enters through understanding. And that’s when we can see which threads to keep.

May truth be woven into your life.

With you,
Karen

11 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Love your message, Linda! Thanks for your spiritual insights shared with us.

    Question: What is the white thread that looks almost like a basted thread, across the groups that are tied on for this warp? I can see that you were able to go right into weaving without a heading. Is that a technique or just good warping?
    Thanks for any suggestions you can offer! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joyce, It’s a lifelong journey to hear and understand, isn’t it?

      You are seeing the leveling cord. I use a length of seine twine (12/6 cotton rug warp) to go over and under each tied-on section of threads. The threads must be tied on with half of the bundle going over the tie-on bar and half going under the tie-on bar. The leveling cord is pulled tight, and the ends of the cord are tied through the hole at each end of the tie-on bar. This simple technique flattens out (levels) the warp, and enables weaving from the very start. No scrap weft necessary.

      It’s that simple. 🙂
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

    • Karen says:

      Joyce, I should have pointed you to this post I wrote about the leveling string – Tools Day: Leveling String.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Love the stripe!!

  • Joanne Hall says:

    I like the white. And that red would make a very cheerful towel.
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, The white practically pops off the fabric. It does look good. And the canary red is spectacular on the coral warp, which surprised me. Now I’m tempted to use the red, even though it didn’t make the final four, just because you said so.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    I must say that I like the sample with all the colors! At least for one trowel. I never heard of a leveling string. Perhaps because it wouldn’t work on a Rigid Heddle loom.

    I was so focused on the different colors of square that my brain did not compute the stripes. The comments about listening and understanding definitely apply to someone like me because I tend to get lost in the details. This was a very needed reminder.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I like the multi-colored sample, too! It may end up being a short towel, or something… You may be able to use a leveling string on your rigid heddle loom. I haven’t done that, but it might be worth some experimentation.

      Taking listening to the level of understanding is a constant challenge, and worth the effort it takes.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Two Threads Are Better than One

Here’s a secret: Two threads are better than one. To measure a warp, I always, without exception, wind the warp with two or more threads together. A warp that is wound with a single thread is prone to tangle as threads twist around each other. A warp wound with pairs of threads won’t do that.

Winding a linen warp. Always 2 threads together.

Choke ties secure the warp bout around the starting pin on the warping reel.

Smooth warping tip: Always wind a warp with at least two threads at a time.

I hold two threads in my right hand, with my little finger separating them, to wind the warp. My left hand turns the warping reel. I purchase enough thread to be able to wind with two tubes at a time. Any thread that remains unused goes toward another project.

I am particular about this warp. It’s linen, so consistency matters. Tangles would disrupt the even tension the linen needs. I have dräll in five-shaft satin in mind as I take each careful step to dress the loom. I expanded the loom to ten shafts to be able to weave this! Expect happy weaving, to be sure, but imagine how pleasant it will be to hold this dreamed-of cloth in my hand. That future cloth gives meaning to my present efforts at the loom.

One of my weaving spaces.

Various stages of weaving. Winding 16/2 unbleached line linen to warp the Standard loom. The Baby Loom (Glimåkra Ideal) in the background is in the middle of rag-rug weaving.

Ten shafts for dräll in five-shaft satin.

Ten shafts in place on the Big Loom (Glimåkra Standard) to prepare the loom for weaving dräll in five-shaft satin.

There must be meaning beyond this life for us to find meaning in this life. The end of the weaving is the beginning of the life of the cloth. There is purposeful preparation by the Grand Weaver, with a precisely measured warp. The back-and-forth shuttle is like the ticking of a clock, or the passing of years. The end is the beginning. Can you imagine the splendid setting the Grand Weaver has in mind for his hand-woven cloth?

May you keep the end in mind.

Yours,
Karen

9 Comments

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Yes, praise God! And thank you for the tip about winding two or more threads at once. I had never heard that before. I’m going to try it on my next warp. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, Let me know how it goes when you wind with two threads. I’m curious to see what kind of difference it makes for you.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    So I am wondering why ten shafts with a five shaft pattern? Will you be doing a double weave?
    As you know, I am a Rigid Heddle weaver, however, I am fascinated by floor looms and I am toying with the idea of learning how to weave on one. I have just ordered the draft book to learn how to read patterns and have started to research the different types of floor looms.
    I am curious to know why you chose the two looms that you mention here.
    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, You have some great questions!
      I can weave the satin with 5 shafts, but it would be the same all over. Ten shafts enable me to weave a pattern with two blocks. This gives the characteristic squares or rectangles in the fabric. It is still a single warp and weft, not a double weave structure.

      Your second question gives me an idea for another blog post – Why I weave on Swedish Looms. You can look for that in the near future. For now, I will say that I am fascinated with the simplicity, durability, and functionality of the Swedish countermarch looms. Everything about these looms work with anything I want to weave, from hearty rag rugs to fine linen lace, and make it a joy to dress the loom and weave.

      (Back when I was researching floor looms, like you are, a few well-meaning people told me the countermarch loom would be too complicated and/or too big. They were wrong. 🙂

      Thank you for asking!
      Karen

      • Annie says:

        Thank you for sharing that information, Karen. I have a clearer picture of your project now.

        And a better understanding of the Glimakra loom.

        Annie

  • Anonymous says:

    Your blog is very inspirational! Thank you.
    Linda

  • Tom Z. in IL says:

    Karen, it’s always a treat to stop by your blog. Your learning and experience have helped me a lot in the past even though I don’t comment a lot. This is a peaceful and relaxing place with lots of beautiful things and a great hostess! Thanks for just being here and passing on your knowledge and experience.

    I love the 2 thread cross and do it whenever I can. I adopted it a while back. I’ve found it’s a lot easier at the lease, to beam on with a 2 thread cross – less tangles and for me it seems easier to pick from for threading. I’ve even done a 4 thread and has no problems.

    Sometimes we must stand together in a group to better overcome the challenges of life. 😉

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tom, How thoughtful you are! I’m delighted to hear that you find this spot on the web to be a peaceful and relaxing place. Ahhh…

      You make a great point. A 2 thread cross does indeed seem easier to pick from for threading. I have also done 4 threads with no difficulties.

      And thank you for your superb conclusion. It helps to stand shoulder-to-shoulder when we face life’s challenges. We weren’t meant to go it alone!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Striped Warp Freedom

Winding a warp like this is intricate work because of the frequent color changes. These narrow warp stripes provide the perfect canvas for plattväv accents. The simple weft float pattern, woven across the width every five centimeters, adds embroidered-like stitches to the cloth. Everything else is a breeze. It’s plain weave.

Plattväv towels on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Cottolin warp and 16/1 linen tabby weft, with doubled 16/1 linen pattern weft.

It’s good to have a plain weave project every now and then. It’s a reminder of how freeing it is to let the boat shuttle fly back and forth between your hands. Rag rug weaving isn’t like that. Soft alpaca scarf weaving isn’t like that. I’m zipping along, …only stopping to move the temple, advance the warp, and add the black linen accents. No worries here.

Plattväv towels on the loom. Narrow warp stripes advantage.

Two red picks are woven for the cutting line that separates the towels. First towel is seen wrapping around the cloth beam.

Consider all that has been prepared for us to have a meaningful life. Why should I worry? Who wound the intricate warp and put it on the loom? Doesn’t the Grand Weaver know what it takes to complete his design? We enter the Lord’s place of rest through the door of trust. True rest is worry free. Let the shuttle fly. Let the weft floats embellish the cloth. Come enter the place of rest.

May your worries slip away.

Plain weaving,
Karen

17 Comments

  • Stephanie says:

    This is a lovely pattern. Could I do it on my RHL using pickup stick for the weft floats? Do you have a writtten pattern?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Stephanie, It’s been so many years since I’ve done pickup on a rigid heddle loom. I don’t have a good answer for you, except I think it would work. The pattern is published in Kalasfina Vävar. Basically, the weft float goes under the white stripes and over the colored stripes (with the reverse on the the back side). It seems like you could easily do that pattern with a pickup stick.

      If you try it, let me know how it works out!
      Karen

  • Lynette says:

    Thanks for the pictures and words that inspire us. I have a question – I’ve started using a temple more in the last few years of weaving and enjoy it. But when I look at my weft-wise stripes in a rag rug woven at high tension with my temple, the stripes at the end of the rug are still slightly curved or “smiling” at me, while the first few stripes are straight across. Do you have some wisdom on how to keep the stripes straight all the time? I’m advancing the temple about every inch.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, The smiley face that comes about in the weft could be an indicator that you need to make the weft wrap more tightly around the selvedges. If you don’t keep the weft tight around the selvedges, the selvedge warp ends become looser than the rest of the warp ends. The temple actually helps with this because you can keep the selvedges tight without drawing in the whole weaving. Be sure to pull the weft very snugly around the outer warp ends to keep the selvedges from loosening up.

      I hope that helps.

      Karen

  • Louise says:

    Can the plattvav accents be done as a loom controlled design feature on a 4 harness loom.
    Are diagrams with English instructions available?
    Thanks.
    Louise

    • Karen says:

      Hi Louise, Yes, the plattväv accents are loom controlled. This uses 4 shafts and 3 treadles. All the white ends are threaded on shafts 1 & 2, and all the colored ends are on shafts 3 & 4. Two treadles are for plain weave. The third treadle is connected to shafts 3 & 4 for the floats.

      I have only found this in Swedish books, but the drafts are easy to understand. I use Google Translate to figure out words I need to know. 🙂

      I’m thinking about making this project into a kit… Maybe some people would be interested?

      Karen

  • Louise says:

    Yes, I would be interested in a kit.

    Tried using the coputer translator and came up with a possible alternative name for this weave?
    munkabalte – swedish I think?

    Is this weave like Monk’s Belt?
    Louise

    • Karen says:

      Louise, Yes, plattväv is similar to monksbelt (munkabalte). They both have the weft pattern floats. Monksbelt uses two blocks, and this plattväv has only one block.

      Sounds like I need to do some kit planning.

      Karen

  • Louise Yale says:

    Please keep us posted on the kit. Do you have other kits?

  • Nancy Ryan says:

    I would love if you would produce a kit!!!

  • Pam says:

    Hi, Karen,
    It has been a while. I went to Penland School of Crafts this summer on a work study scholarship. Wow! the staff was wonderful and the students so very talented. Many different areas of art were available for study. I got to study weaving. During the early 20’s the school was established to teach women and men how to weave. This developed a market resulting in a rise in the economy of the folks in the Smoky Mountains. Now the school has many different concentrations including photography, iron smith, concrete, jewelry, letter press, and ceramics to just name a few.
    At PenlandI bought cotton-linen, 3/2 perle cotton and 100% bamboo fiber for warp. Most everyone said that it would not work and I should expect a waffle affect when finished. As we know every loom has its own personality. The loom I am using works best when the warp is very very tight. Which also worked well for the different weights of the warp I put on it. I separated the different colors and made stripes, and wove a left variation of a twill. A ribbon like design appeared where the smaller stripes occurred. I have yet to wash the piece, but no waffle shapes have appeared now that I have cut the 2 yards of fabric off the loom. How fortunate for me to see this article promoting stripes and your answer to Lynette question about the smiley sides of the salvages. I was trying to keep my salvages loose so as not to pull the warp in,but in doing so the salvages came up creating the weft higher at the edges. Now I know how and why that happened. Thanks for the insight.
    My next projects will be a crackle weave table runners for my sibling’s Victorian homes. They have as requested that one will have a tomato soup red palette and the other has a peanut butter palette. Sounds like lunch to me.
    Thank you Karen. In this crazy world we live in your words are both encouraging and soothing.

    • Karen says:

      Pam, It sounds like you had a fantastic experience at Penland School of Crafts! Weaving provides a constant learning experience. I’m glad you were able to identify what was happening at your selvedges.

      We all need encouragement from each other, don’t we?

      Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts!
      Karen

  • Anne says:

    I definitely think a kit would be great!

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Two Types of Weaving

My attention has been on the other loom for a couple weeks, but I have managed to sneak in to the big loom and add a little bit to this monksbelt project. I would like to have more to show, but this is it. What a contrast between the fast plain weave baby wrap (see Quiet Friday: Woven Baby Wrap) and this very slow two-shuttle monksbelt. I enjoy weaving both. There’s a time for fast; and there’s a time for slow.

Monksbelt on the loom.

White on white puts dramatic space between sections of color.

Each type of weaving produces a specific type of cloth. Very different textures. Very different purposes. Each beautiful in its own way. This reminds me of people, fashioned by the Lord. Individuals suited to specific tasks with purpose and meaning. This is our life discovery, to live the way our maker had in mind when he fashioned us with his hands.

May your life be rich with meaning.

Happy weaving,
Karen

2 Comments

  • Pam C. says:

    I’m always so blessed by the words you have not only of weaving but of the LORD. The LORD first and then weaving and pottery are my passion. I miss human contact and go for days without companionship so when I receive e-mail from you it is truly a blessing. Tha nk you for being there, Karen.

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