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.

Love,
Karen

20 Comments

  • 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,
      Karen

  • 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,

    Nannette

    • 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

  • 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!

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • 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.

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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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It Is Going to Be All White

I am getting ready for Christmas. When I was a little girl, my Aunt Helen made a Christmas tree skirt for our family. It was a simple white felt skirt, with added colorful felt silhouettes depicting Christ’s Nativity. I want to reproduce that Christmas tree skirt using handwoven fabric. This fabric on the Ideal loom will be the base of the skirt. I will use some of my myriad handwoven fabric remnants for the colorful Nativity appliqué.

Weaving wool fabric for a Christmas tree skirt.
Möbelåtta warp on the right, and Fårö weft on the left.
Fabric for Christmas tree skirt.
Temple in place for consistent beat and tidy selvedges.

The warp is unbleached 8/2 Möbelåtta wool. The weft is bleached 6/1 Fårö wool. The 6-shaft point twill fabric is delightful. Perfect for what I have in mind. It is peaceful, soothing, restful, and calm. You can see that everything is going to be all white.

Wool fabric for Christmas tree skirt.
Six-shaft point twill.
Fabric for Christmas tree skirt.
In anticipation of Christmas.

There is a time for color, action, and noise. But we also need a time for serenity, stillness, and quiet reflection. Going alone to sit in the Lord’s presence gives us just that. It is there that we can pour out our heart in prayer. The Lord meets us where we are when we pray. And He tells the trusting heart that everything is going to be all right.

May your heart be at rest.

With you,
Karen

PS Floating Selvedges. Last week I asked if you could tell which one of these four towels was woven without floating selvedges. (1 – 4, with the towel on top as #1.) See Process Review: Jubilation Hand Towels

Four new handwoven towels.
Three of the four towels were woven with floating selvedges.

The towel that was woven without floating selvedges is the same towel that received the most votes. Towel #2!

It seems counterintuitive that weaving twill structures without floating selvedges could produce a pleasing edge. But most of the time the small floats that appear at the edge are inconsequential, especially after wet finishing. (By the way, I am weaving the white point twill mentioned above without floating selvedges, as well.)

Thank you for your wonderful participation!

6 Comments

  • Joanna says:

    That’s a really lovely fabric, Karen. And yes, it’s calm, soothing, and absolutely self-assured. I’m a lover of winter and the can see the joyful little swirls of snow and ice crystals dancing over the blanket of snow. Your tree skirt is going to be stunningly beautiful.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, It does look like ice crystals on a layer of snow. It’s pretty. I think it’s going to be a lovely fabric to hold, too. Like a lightweight little blanket.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Karen,
    Are you sure you live in Texas? Your handling of white on white brings memories of last December.

    Well done.

    Nannette

  • Elisabeth says:

    What a great idea for this beautiful fabric! You already know that I really like white on white, not to mention utilizing leftover fabric for the appliqué, love it!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I have been carrying this project idea in my mind for a few years. It feels good to get it started. White on white has always been a favorite of mine, too, though I haven’t done much weaving of it.

      Thanks,
      Karen

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No Hurry at the Little Loom

I hope you haven’t forgotten about this sweet little loom at our Texas hill country home. It is refreshing to be able to start right back up and weave another placemat. This is a breeze, even with two double-bobbin shuttles. Color and weave brings plenty of design play. Over the weekend I was able to squeeze in enough weaving time to finish one more placemat.

Color and weave cotton placemats.

New placemat begins. Two red picks will become the cutting line that separates placemats.

Peaceful setting for unhurried weaving.

Peaceful setting for unhurried weaving.

There is no hurry or urgency with this project. Other events, transitions, and necessities have taken precedence the last few months. It’s nice to have a ready loom that doesn’t hold a deadline. Simple two-treadle plain weave during a transitional season is a welcome respite.

Color and weave cotton placemats on the loom.

Two doubled-weft picks of dark coral make a line of contrast in the color-and-weave cotton placemat.

Faith is trust. It’s the simple framework we long for when life gets complicated. Trusting the Lord is like knowing what to expect when you throw the shuttles, yet still being pleasantly surprised as you see the fabric form in front of you. His grace removes the hurry and the worry. We find his grace through faith. And isn’t that exactly the respite we need?

May you have a break from hurry and worry.

Happy weaving,
Karen

6 Comments

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Anticipation in the Final Stretch!

I can see the end of the warp! Finishing is in sight. And then, my daughter phones, “Mom! I’m headed to the hospital. This baby is ready!” Weaving suddenly becomes far less important… That was two weeks ago, and little Ari was born. Now, back at the loom, I’ll cross the finish line on this linen upholstery fabric before the day is over.

End of warp is near.

End of warp is seen on the back tie-on bar as it makes its final round on the warp beam.

Cotton double weave baby blanket covers newborn grandson.

Double weave cotton baby blanket covers baby Ari as he peacefully sleeps.

When the back tie-on bar becomes visible, it’s the beginning of the end. And then, the moment the back tie-on bar comes over the back beam I celebrate. It’s the final stretch!

Linen color-and-weave upholstery fabric.

Linen color-and-weave upholstery fabric.

Over the back beam, and lease sticks are removed.

Lease sticks are untied and removed after the back tie-on bar comes over the back beam. Two pairs of lease sticks were used with this striped warp.

We are participants in a great mystery! Christ in us. For those unfamiliar with the tools and methods of handweaving, it’s a mystery how threads can become cloth. But the handweaver knows. The great mystery of God is that Christ may dwell in us. For those who receive him, the peace of Christ rules within. His presence is woven in.

Short distance left to weave this linen fabric!

Short distance left to finish weaving this linen fabric.

The anticipation of finished cloth is nothing in relation to the anticipation of a new baby in the family. Imagine the anticipation of our holy Father to see the glorious threads of Christ woven in us.

May you participate in the mystery.

Happy weaving,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Linda Cornell says:

    Beautiful weaving, beautiful baby, beautiful Savior!

    Congratulations!

    God bless you and your family.

    Linda Cornell

  • Kay Larson says:

    Thank you for your blog. I love reading it each day with my breakfast. What a beautiful baby. Congratulations. You double weave blanket is lovely. What yarn did you use if I may ask? Many blessings to you and your family. God’s peace.
    Kay

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kay, It’s an honor to think of sharing breakfast time with you!
      The double weave blanket is 8/2 cotton, warp and weft. The sett was 5 ends per cm (about 12 epi), each layer, which is a loose sett, almost gauzy.

      All the best blessings,
      Karen

  • Linda Adamson says:

    Congrats on the beautiful grandson! Enjoy your blog.
    Linda

  • Annie says:

    Congratulations to you and your family on Ari’s arrival! Babies bring their own welcome.

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow, how can you think about anything else but Ari!!! What a beautiful boy! What a blessing for you and your family!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty, I don’t live in the same city as Ari, otherwise I would be cooing over him instead of sitting at the loom. 🙂 He is a good-lookin’ baby boy, that’s for sure. I’m pretty biased, as I should be.

      Thanks for sharing your sentiments!
      Karen

  • Betty A Van Horn says:

    WOW too cute Karen, what a joy! Congratulations. Love that God sees each new Christian with the same joy. I love the blanket around Ari.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betty, Yes, what a wonderful thought… that God welcomes each trust-er in Jesus as a new family member.
      The blanket suits Ari pretty well.

      Love,
      Karen

  • Cynthi says:

    I love all your pics including that cute baby. Makes you want to kiss those cheeks off.

  • tsw says:

    Congratulations to your family on the new arrival!
    I noticed the double lease sticks and was wondering why you used them double. I’ve never seen that before. Is there an advantage? Special circumstance that benefits from them? Thanks in advance.

    Theo

    • Karen says:

      Hi Theo, Thanks! Good eye to notice the double lease sticks. I mention the subject in this post: Simpler Warp Stripes. Basically, I had two separate warp chains, each with their own lease sticks, in order to put narrow stripes on the loom without having to cut and tie all the color changes while winding the warp.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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