Less Thread Than You Expect

Four cones should be plenty to wind a warp for two huck lace shawls. I knew it would be close, but not THIS close! With several rounds to go on the warping reel, one cone emptied out, and then another, and then another. I finished with just a tiny bit of thread left on one cone. That’s about how I feel about motherhood right now.

Only a tiny bit of bamboo thread left after winding warp!
Four spools of thread unwind in this crate as I wind the warp, four warp ends at a time. When I need to keep stubborn threads separated, I turn the crate on its side and each thread goes through its own opening. This 10/2 bamboo thread behaved beautifully and did not need that kind of intervention.

When I held our baby girl for the first time so many years ago, wedding bells were in the far distant future. Plenty of time for this baby to be a little girl, and eventually grow up. Of course, Melody will always belong in our family; and now we’ll have another son who belongs, too. But when she walks down the aisle in May, this stage of parenthood is finished. Yes, we have had enough time, but it still seems too short. Shouldn’t there be more thread on the cone?

Calculations a little to close for comfort. Barely enough for the warp!
After the third cone was completely empty, I started running contingency plans in my head. Would I need to re-work the draft for fewer ends? I knew these were the last four cones of this color on the shelf when I ordered them, so grabbing one more cone would not be an option.

The greatest sense of belonging comes from being a daughter or son of the most loving Father. He promises to walk with us through every stage. And with his heavenly perspective, he always seems to know exactly how much thread we will need.

May you make the best of your relationships with the time you have.


Weft in the Background

With nine shades of blue, four shades of gold, and mixed strands of white / grey / lavender, in various weights of wool, the rya is a tactile and visual delight. There is a lovely surprise under the shaggy rya tendrils that you will not see unless you spread the strands apart and peer down to the cloth. The wool background weft forms a delicate repeating pattern underneath. And that hidden ground weft is the very thing that secures every tedious row of hand-tied rya knots. Like the background weft, when we choose to build others up, we weave a lasting foundation into our relationships.

47 rya knots across each row, forming a shaggy pillow top. Karen Isenhower
Shaggy pillow top. Each row of rya knots is made by slipping individual strands of wool yarn around pairs of warp threads, snugging them into secure knots. There are 47 rya knots across each row.

Sure, more knowledge and experience improves my skills. Skills that I can show off. Knowledge without love is a danger zone, though, that leads to arrogance. I can puff up myself through knowledge, or I can build up others through love. Wouldn’t we rather be the background weft that allows the rya to stand out? Our knowledge, with love as the operating system, has the capability of building up others. What love builds, lasts.

 (More thoughts about rya knots, and love as an operating system HERE.) 

May you find your place in the background.

Truly yours,

Having Fun with Rya Knots

What is your operating system? I am not referring your computer or mobile device. I am talking about the mindset behind your weaving endeavors. Quality, quantity, visual appeal? Decide what kind of weaver you intend to be, and you will operate out of that.

Tying rya knots is new for me. Each 4 1/2″ / 12 cm cut piece of wool yarn (I have an assortment of Åsborya, Tuna, Jason Collingwood rug wool, Mattgarn, and some novelty knitting yarn) is tied around two pairs of warp ends, producing a shaggy pile. Threaded for rosepath, two pattern repeats are to be woven as background between each row of rya knots, using doubled fine wool as weft.

Tying rya knots. Fine wool for rosepath background.
Fine Borgs Mora wool, doubled, on the shuttle forms the background rosepath cloth for rya knots. The knots stay on the front of the cloth, leaving the back of the cloth flat.

Certainly, we do aim for quality in our woven creations. Being intentional, that mindset works like an operating system. Everything from choosing materials to practicing for improvement reflects that foundational mindset. We can decide on an operating system for our lives, too.

You are gifted. Maybe your talent is design, or efficiency of motion, or color expression. You have other gifts, too, that spill into your relationships, such as problem solving, leading, or serving. Choose love as your operating system. When your gifts operate out of love, your gifts are not wasted. The fabric of relationships in your life will reflect the strength and grace of your operating system.

May your fabric quality be stunning!

With love,

What Linen Is Like

Linen makes a strong warp. Known for strength and longevity, linen cloth endures for years and years. It is almost impossible to break a linen thread with your bare hands. Why, oh, why, then, is it so easy to break linen warp ends while weaving?! One reason: Abrasion. Linen is like a gentle heart. It needs to be cared for and nurtured; but don’t underestimate the underlying strength.

Bound Rosepath on the loom. Five shuttles with colorful Brage wool yarn.
Five shuttles with colorful Brage wool yarn, each one waiting its turn as weft in the bound rosepath weave. The 16/3 unbleached linen warp, completely hidden in this weft-faced weave, gives lasting strength and stability to the cloth.

At the start of this bound rosepath project I had several linen warp ends break at the selvedge. The weaving was drawing in; consequently, the ends at the outer edges were receiving abrasion from the reed, causing the ends to fray and break. So, I began using more weft for each pick, by increasing the angle of weft in the shed. By doing this, I stopped the excessive draw-in. This simple correction made all the difference. No more broken warp ends. The reed is not a threat when appropriate weaving practices are in place.

Stay gentle, my friend. Gentleness feels; so be aware of the abrasion, and make corrections. Don’t allow bitterness or disappointment to linger from times of hardship, wearing you to the breaking point. The people in your life need your gentleness. Gentleness is the underlying strength of satisfying relationships.

May your most important relationships gain strength because of your gentleness.

Your friend,

Here are previous posts with views of the bound rosepath on the loom:

Thanks Giving

Do You See What I See?

You May be Looking at the Under Side

Not Your Usual Search Engine

You Thought You Were Finished?

Tying the fringe into careful overhand knots is taking longer than the time it took to weave the three-yard-plus length of fabric. I would rather just do the weaving part. But without clearly defining the edges of the woven cloth by securing the ends, the whole fabric is at risk of unravelling. (To view this alpaca/Tencel throw on the loom, click HERE and HERE.)  We form distinct edges on our life’s fabric through the interactions we have with people around us.

Tying fringe on handwoven lace weave alpaca shawl.
Each knot of six warp ends were carefully tied around a straight pin, snuggling the knot right up to the edge of the fabric. As the knot is tied, I gentle pull each strand individually, which secures the knot and gives an even finish.

With relationships, it is tempting to take the easy way out. Quicker, painless, and less stressful. But it is the challenges from other people that help define who we are. Without the clarity of knowing what we stand for, we are at risk of falling for anything. Don’t avoid the often tedious work of making sure all your ends are secure.

Our challenges to each other sharpen us, finishing us for a greater purpose. Like iron sharpening iron, it is the abrasion that sharpens us, defines our edges, and brings the point of our lives into focus. All those loose ends tied into knots–ahh, the process is worth it.

May your finishing edges be as beautiful as you are.

With a few more loose ends,