Is My Weft Showing?

In warp-faced weaves, like this band, the warp is what you notice. When the weft is placed correctly, it is not seen at all, except at the selvedges. And even then, when the weft is the same color as the outermost warp end, as it usually is, the weft thread blends in and is virtually invisible.

Glimåkra two-treadle band loom.

Four strands of aqua cottolin (cotton/linen thread) are threaded together to form the “dots” in the center of the woven band. Brown weft matches outer warp ends. Glimåkra two-treadle band loom.

The weft is doing its best job when it remains out of view. You could say the weft’s purpose is to make the warp look good. Consistency is the hallmark of a high quality woven band. I aim for that by pulling the weft snug, but not too snug, on each pick. If the weft thread is visible between warp ends, it’s a sign that the weft is not properly placed.

Humility is the hidden weft that holds relationships together. Humility preserves relationships. We must never let selfish ambition or conceit be our motivation for anything. “Me first” has no place in healthy relationships any more than weft is meant to be seen in warp-faced weaves. We are at our best when we make those we love look good.

May you know when to stay out of view.

At your service,


  • Colleen says:

    Excellent, excellent analogy! I will be thinking of this often. Now a question. Since you sit at the side of this loom so you can’t see the tape from the end, how do you maintain an even width?

    • Karen says:

      Colleen, That’s a great question! The first answer is practice, practice, practice. Secondly, some people advise measuring the width frequently, or using a template to measure as you go. I do neither. I strive to pull the weft just right, and get the “feel” of it. Not very scientific, but the more I practice, the more even my bands become.


  • linda says:

    Karen is a great weaver and has lots of the answers; may I recommend a book everyone who weaves should have. “A Key To Weaving” by Mary Black. anyone who strives to be a master weaver will quickly learn this is the book they will find ALL the requirement weaving patterns in. Like most masters level projects the weaving masters requires one to weave all the different weaves in a variety of colors, setts, materials, and sizes then a master piece ( something not written before). Mary Black’s book has all the basics for each weave structure, so it can be expanded upon. Karen’s site is WONDERFUL and insightful. Thank you Karen. LPJ, linda

Leave a Reply

Every Tapestry Has a Story to Tell

I am getting a late start on this month’s tapestry diary, so I am selecting a smaller palette of colors and a narrower warp. This is doodling with yarn, using a few simple shapes and a handful of colors.

Tapestry frame with small monthly tapestry diary.

Tapestry frame hangs where we see it daily. Art in progress.

Here I go blending colors and making color gradations again–in miniature. Three strands of red, and then one of the reds is replaced with orange; next, another red is replaced, making it two oranges and one red; and finally, the last red says goodbye and now the three strands are all orange. And why not insert two rows of yellow blends between each two rows of the red-to-orange gradation? The whole thing is a wordless color story. It requires several colors to do this, each one having its part to play. Some colors work better together than others, but every color has a place. Each color strand is essential to the story.

Two picks of weft create a wavy line.

Two picks of a weft color (or blend) create a wavy line. A single pick of a color creates a dotted line.

You and I are not here to please and satisfy ourselves. We are here to tell a bigger story. We worship God by using our individual gifts to serve and to function in harmony with others. The resulting woven tapestry, when finished, will reveal the skill of our Grand Weaver.

May you blend well in your relationships, using your gifts.

Better together,


Leave a Reply

Rag Weaving with a Boat Shuttle

This is a simple way to make a rag weave table runner. The M’s and O’s weave structure provides a great framework. What I like about narrow fabric strips is that you can wind them on quills, just like yarn, and weave with a boat shuttle. It is fast weaving that breezes right along.

Rag weave table runner on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Boat shuttle holds quill with narrow fabric strips to weave table runner. In view below the table runner are pot holders that were woven using unbleached cotton multi-strand yarn.

I could use a small ski shuttle for this, as if I were weaving rag rugs. Or, I could even place the weft across by hand on this narrow-width warp. The most efficient way is the boat shuttle, and the main thing is to get the weft across so weaving can happen. In life and relationships, it is love that needs to get across.

Patience and kindness are universal expressions of love. Love never fails. It started with the patience and kindness of God. As we draw toward Christmas, consider the meaning of the holiday–that God so loved the world. His patience and kindness toward humanity meant sending His son to our world. And that baby, named Jesus, became God’s way of taking love across the gap between heaven and earth.

May you be known for patience and kindness.

Good Christmas to you,


  • linda says:

    That’s the best use of M and O’s I’ve ever seen. I’ve never liked the weave structure. I’ve even tried it in warp weight linen on a finer background. happy Chris-Quan-Hansika to all. love, peace, and Joy, linda

    • Karen says:

      Linda, I feel very honored by your gracious comment, especially considering your vast experience. I’m glad you like this M’s and O’s version. Thank you!

  • Darlene says:

    Your fabric strips look so neat and even…can you describe how you cut the fabric strips?

    • Karen says:

      Thanks for asking, Darlene!
      Most of my fabric is in five yard lengths. I fold the fabric on my cutting table, so I am cutting through several layers, to cut along the lengthwise grain. I use a large-blade rotary cutter and a cutting mat, and an acrylic cutting guide ruler, to cut the fabric into 3/4″ strips. I taper the ends of the strips for overlapping in the shed.

      I hope that helps!

      Happy Weaving,

Leave a Reply

Serve the Best Color

It is surprising how much difference this cream color makes. If I use the same gold color for the weft that is in the warp, as I had planned, the gold weft looks harsh across the gold warp. Switching to a weft in a lighter shade tones down the gold in the warp and gives the cloth a softer appearance. It makes sense to use weft colors that enhance the warp, even when it means changing my plans.

Goose-eye handtowels on the loom. Choosing the lighter shade weft.

Goose-eye handtowels. This is the beginning of a 10-meter / 11-yard warp.

You have the opportunity to create the best outcome for others by adjusting to meet their needs. We get to serve others through the gifts God gives us. You are gifted. Maybe in speaking encouraging words, or in hands-on helping. Whatever your gifts, when you use them to serve others, you are the hands of God’s grace. And that grace may be the color someone else needs to soften their circumstances.

Loving one another means serving, giving God’s grace to each other. That is when relationships flourish, when we adjust our plans to the other person’s advantage. In other words, I choose the weft that makes you look good.

May your gifts bring the best color to your relationships.

Happy Weaving,

Leave a Reply

Creative Expression at its Best

Many variables are possible on this rosepath threading, but I find creative freedom by imposing certain limitations for the design of the rag rugs. The overall design concept gives me direction for arranging colors and setting a treadling pattern for each rug.

Rosepath rag rug on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Overall rosepath is featured on this rag rug, appearing as a diagonal white grid on the top side, with subtle color changes in the background weft. Previous rug is seen wrapping around the cloth beam below.

How many times have I gone off track, only to realize that I didn’t really get on a track in the first place? When I start without clear intentions, I set myself up for inconsistent results (HERE is one example). This is true for weaving rugs and for dealing with people. If I determine to live by a standard of kindness, those clear intentions will shape how I speak and act.

We can protect relationships with kindness, which is at the heart of love. The greatest enemies to love are biting words, a sharp wit at someone else’s expense, and shading of the truth. Who wants to be on the receiving end of that? Self-imposed limitations on our words open up creative expressions of kindness. The beauty that is formed by these sincere expressions is a beauty that stands out, being different from the norm; and it’s a beauty that endures.

May you experience someone else’s kindness today.

Come check out my new Etsy! Just click on the Etsy Shop page above. Let me know what you think.

With you,


1 Comment

  • Brenda Adams says:

    Hi Karen,
    I grew up watching my grandfather weave rugs, Summers I would help him with craft fairs and also learn a little of what he did.
    My grandfather died at the age of 91 still weaving rugs and was blind, he learned to weave rugs at a camp for the blind early in his years. He has been gone for 20 years and he has left to me one of his looms. I look at it all the time and know he would want me to enjoy it as much as he has.
    He is known in Lacrosse, WI as the blind rug weaver.
    His name was Oscar Erickson and I’m his grand daughter Brenda Adams, I live in a little town in Illinois named Hampshire.
    I would love to set his loom up and show my children what their great grandfather did to support his family and did because he loved it so much.
    I would love the chance to talk with you and share more information if you had time. I look forward to talking with you.
    Thank you,

Leave a Reply