Process Review: Weaving Rhythm

“With so many looms, how do you decide what to weave every day?,” I was asked. The answer lies in my Weaving Rhythm. I have five floor looms. I happily aspire to meet the challenge of keeping all of them active.

Glossary

Weaving Rhythm ~ A pattern created across time, through a regular succession of weaving-related tasks.

Arrange individual tasks to keep each loom consistently moving forward in the weaving continuum.

Weaving Continuum ~ The cycle for each loom that is continually repeated.

When the first few centimeters are woven on a new project, begin planning the next project. When finishing is completed for the current project, wind a new warp and dress the loom for the next project.

First Things First ~ Prioritize daily tasks to maintain the Weaving Rhythm.

  1. Finishing
  2. Dressing
  3. Weaving

Do some finishing work first. Do some loom-dressing tasks next. The reward, then, is sitting at one of the dressed looms and freely weaving for the pleasure of it.

Weaving bath towels on the Glimakra Standard.
Glimåkra Standard, 120cm (47″), vertical countermarch. My first floor loom. Weaving the third of four bath towels, 6-shaft broken and reverse twill, 22/2 cottolin warp and weft.
Weaving hanging tabs for bath towels.
Glimåkra two-treadle band loom. Weaving hanging tabs for bath towels. 22/2 cottolin warp and weft.
Glimakra 100cm Ideal. Sweet little loom.
Glimåkra Ideal, 100cm (39″), horizontal countermarch. My second floor loom. Dressing the loom in 24/2 cotton, five-shaft huckaback, for fabric to make a tiered skirt. Ready to start sleying the reed.
Hand-built Swedish loom.
Loom that Steve built, 70cm (27″), horizontal countermarch. My third floor loom. Weaving the header for a pictorial tapestry sample, four-shaft rosepath, 16/2 linen warp, Tuna/Fårö wool and 6/1 tow linen weft.
Sweet little Glimakra Julia 8-shaft loom.
Glimåkra Julia, 70cm (27″), horizontal countermarch. This is my fifth (and final?) floor loom. Weaving the first of two scarves, eight-shaft deflected double weave, 8/1 Mora wool warp and weft.
Weaving lettering on the drawloom.
Glimåkra Standard, 120cm (47″), horizontal countermarch, with Myrehed combination drawloom attachment. This is my fourth floor loom. Weaving some lettering for the seventh pattern on this sample warp, six-shaft irregular satin, 16/2 cotton warp, 16/1 linen weft. 35 pattern shafts, 132 single unit draw cords.

Give Thanks ~ Live with a thankful heart.

Every day I thank the Lord for granting me the joy of being in this handweaving journey. And I thank him for bringing friends like you along with me.

May you always give thanks.

With a grateful heart,
Karen

21 Comments

  • Den says:

    Your weaving is always an inspiration. I look forward to each post. Thank you.

  • Karen says:

    You amaze me! I have too many different hobbies and have to dedicate hours each day to different projects!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, You have some wonderful experiences with using your gifts. I have so much more I want to learn about weaving, and I enjoy digging in to this weaving arena.

      Happy weaving and everything else,
      Karen

  • marianne poling says:

    I love your idea of a “weaving rhythm…” immersing oneself in a “weaving life” that will increase skills and enjoy the gifts weaving brings every day! I tend to weave as a “reward” after all the daily tasks are completed. unfortunately, weaving gets pushed to the back of the line and then I don’t weave as much as I would like to. This was eye-opening for me and I am going to try and find my “weaving rhythm!”

    I really enjoy your blog!
    Marianne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marianne, I like that you identified increasing skill and enjoying the gifts. That does explain why I focus on getting a good rhythm. There are always other necessary things to do to care for family and friends, but it’s good to be mindful of being stewards of the gifts we’ve been given, too. All of life deals with finding priorities and balance.

      Thank you for your thoughtful words,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth says:

    Thank you so much for inspiring me to think through my own processes and priorities! My challenge is that I make things in a variety of techniques: knitting, weaving, sewing, and quilting…I am so happy I eliminated the rest of them

    Since I only have one floor loom I decided to think of these techniques as my “looms”. Each “loom” requires a slightly different process, and it was very useful to actually take the time to think through each of them, what part do I enjoy the most and what do I tend to put off. You have mentioned that you put finishing first to make sure it gets done. It is interesting how people are different, finishing is the easiest part for me, while dressing the loom tends to be put off, even with a warp waiting.
    Another interesting part for me is to pay attention to which of the different technique requires almost no motivation to get going. Do you see a difference when it comes to your looms? Or the kind of projects you are working on?

    Thank you again for inspiring me to learn and grow!
    Love, Elisabeth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, From one thinker to another… There’s a fascination to figuring out structures and processes in life. I’m glad to hear this post prompted you to think through some things. You have certainly helped me to think through things, too.

      As far as motivation on different sorts of projects, I do find that I tend to be drawn to the fascination of the drawloom, to weaving a tapestry, and to weaving rag rugs. I need no motivation for those at all. Even so, I find enjoyment in every stage of the process on every one of the looms.

      Thanks for helping me think,
      Karen

  • Pamela Graham says:

    Wow, impressive! You are clearly an inspiration. I am curious about the drawloom; I thought you could only add a drawloom to a VERTICAL countermarch loom.
    Thanks,
    Pam

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pam, It is certainly easier to add a drawloom to a vertical countermarch. We (meaning Steve) modified the horizontal countermarch to fit with the drawloom frame.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Karen!

  • Helen P. says:

    Hello. I liked reading your posts a lot and here last I can see that you have a Glimåkra Ideal, I have the same. Unfortunately, I have a lot of problems getting the scales accurately, even though I know how to regulate various things. Maybe you can help me. Do you have an approximate measure of the basic binding to the Ideal loom. That is, the measure from shaft to short stool, the measure from short stool to long stool, the measure from long stool to tramp. Just like that, as a guide. Thanks in advance. Sincerely, Helen Pedersen.

    • Karen says:

      Hello Helen, Yes, I have a Glimåkra Ideal. Approximate measurements – from bottom of shafts to the short lamms is about 18cm, from short lamms to long lamms is about 18cm, from long lamms to treadles is about 23cm. The warp is not tied on yet, so these measurements are not exact.

      How many shafts are you using? Sometimes with more than 4 shafts, it is a little tricky to get everything to balance.

      Thank you,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Hi Karen,
    I noticed you begin planning the next project while weaving the current project.
    Just one future project? 😉

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!

    Nannette

  • Angela M Roberts says:

    Amen xoxo

  • Angela M Roberts says:

    One Question ? Do you keep them all warped and working,Simultaneously ??
    Or one at a time ?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Angela, Each loom is on its own independent schedule. They are rarely synchronized so that they are all in weaving mode at the same time. Usually, the looms are operating in different phases of the weaving continuum. So, each day I decide which loom to focus on next. I can only weave on one loom at a time, so sometimes a warp sits on the loom for a while until I can get back to it.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Hi Karen,
    I have a similar process, and have three looms that are usually active.
    When I was a fairly new weaver, I remember Anita Meyer saying that she has one project in the planning stage, one project in the weaving stage and one project in the finishing stage, and then working within the rhythms of her days. I follow a similar rhythm and it keeps me happy. I also have a fourth stage which is documentation and learning. Documentation so that I don’t forget what I have done, and learning because learning is a continuous lifelong adventure.
    Thanks for the inspiration today.
    Barbara

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barbara, You have a great system. Documentation is important, yes. I include it in my finishing stage. And I’m with you, learning is a lifelong adventure!

      Thanks for your great input,
      Karen

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Warp Chains Are Beautiful

The reel spins ‘round, ‘round, ‘round one way, and then ‘round, ‘round, ‘round back the other way. Rhythmic, mesmerizing, and strangely soothing. Counting, as I wind two ends at a time, I find myself whispering “2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, ….” The warping reel is one of my favorite pieces of equipment. This warp has seven colors of 22/2 Cottolin for bath towels which are to accompany the hand towels I recently made. I am winding this in four bouts, and there are different color changes in each bout.

Winding a warp for cottolin bath towels.
First bout on the warping reel.
Making cottolin bath towels.
Second bout. Choke ties about every meter keep the ends from shifting as the warp bout is chained and taken to the loom.
Making a warp for handwoven bath towels. Cottolin.
Third bout. Each of the four bouts has nearly the same number of warp ends.
Glimakra warping reel - one of my favorite pieces of equipment!
Fourth bout.

I marvel at the combination of thread colors as I chain each bout off the reel. The warp chains look beautiful. They always do. Warp chains are dreams in the making, where anything is possible. Haven’t you dreamt of handwoven bath towels?

Winding a warp on the Glimakra warping reel.
Came close to running out of thread on some of the tubes. (I did have backup tubes, but not from the same dye lots.)
Beautiful warp chains!
Beautiful warp chains, ready for the loom.

When we listen closely, we can hear the inaudible. Our hearts can hear the softest whisper. “2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, …” Even the hairs on our head are numbered by the Grand Weaver who planned our existence. Our days are numbered, as well. And when our heart is listening, we can hear the quiet whisper of the Lord Jesus, “Are you weary and burdened? Come to me, and I will give you rest.”

May you listen for the softest whisper.

Gently,
Karen

9 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Beautiful colors! I’m looking forward to seeing the warp spread across the reed. Best to you and yours!

  • Nannette says:

    The promise of the future beauty. The beginning of a process that completes at the plans and skills of the weaver. Time will tell.

    I always gorge on your color choices.

    Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, There’s always an element of time that holds the promise. I’m glad you enjoy the color choices. Choosing colors one of the most exciting parts about weaving for me.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • LJ Arndt says:

    Beautiful colors, looking forward to seeing the towel sets when they are complete and put together as the sets.

    • Karen says:

      Hi LJ, Making towel sets for our bathroom is something I’ve thought about doing for a long time. It’s nice to see it coming to pass. Thanks for your encouragement.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    Karen,
    Thank you for your thoughts about listening to the whispers in our lives. Your words are always a breath of fresh air and I appreciate your reminders to look closely into my life and know that God is working his miracles in the smallest things. Looking forward to seeing your bath towels – wrapping up in a handwoven bath towel is such a luxury!
    Blessings to you and yours.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, I like your words that God is working his miracles in the smallest things. So true!

      I suppose that handwoven bath towels are a luxury. It’s nice to be surrounded by handwoven articles, simple luxuries.

      Blessings to you,
      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Linen Satin Dräll

This is one of those weaving projects that puts you on top of the world. Everything about it. Linen, ten shafts, five-shaft satin weave, ten treadles, gorgeous Moberg damask shuttle, single-shuttle rhythm, full-body weaving, magical fabric. I did have more than my share of knots in the warp, and a few skipped threads and selvedge loops. But you will see no evidence of those glitches now. All you will see is the natural beauty of linen, with its characteristic unevenness. And the reflective satin dräll weave, with its light-catching trickery.

The warp is Bockens unbleached 16/2 line linen. Two of the towels use 16/1 golden bleached linen for the weft. At my husband’s request, the remaining three towels have 16/2 linen weft, in ecru. The thicker weft helps make these into robust absorbent handtowels. A table square finishes off the set.

Enjoy the process with me as I reminisce over the start-to-finish pleasure of weaving these towels.

Winding a linen warp.

Linen warp chains.

Tying on the linen warp.

Tying up 10 treadles on a countermarch!

Sampling weft colors on a linen warp.

Sunlit linen damask weaving.

Hidden patterns in the 5-shaft satin.

Linen 5-shaft satin dräll!

Beautiful Moberg damask shuttle.

Spliced warp ends.

Linen satin dräll on the loom.

End of the warp is near. So many warp end repairs!

Cutting off! Linen 5-shaft satin dräll.

Just off the loom--linen 5-shaft satin.

Glimakra band loom. Hanging tabs for towels.

Ready to sew handwoven hanging tabs on new linen towels.

Just off the loom--linen 5-shaft satin handtowels.

Handwoven linen towel with handwoven hanging tab.

Handwoven set of linen satin dräll towels. Karen Isenhower

May you find pleasure in what you do.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

18 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Exquisite, Karen!

  • JAN says:

    Nice finishing touch with hand woven hanging tab. Had you ever though of putting another one in the middle of the long edge so the towel can be hung on a hook above the sink?

    • Karen says:

      Hi JAN, I haven’t done that, but it’s a great idea. I would need to figure out how to attach it, since there is not a hem on the side. These tabs would be a little too thick to fold the ends under, but could certainly do that with tabs made with thinner threads. Have you done it?

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Janet says:

    Beautiful towels and beautifully woven!

  • Betsy says:

    Wonderful towels! And I’m so impressed that your husband knows enough about yarn to recommend 16/2 over 16/1.

    Your little bowl of pegs next to the treadles reminds me of my last project, huck placemats. I could remember the treadling, but not the 18 repeats. So I had a bowl like yours with 18 pegs, and after every repeat I moved one peg to another bowl. And every once in a while I’d crawl around the Julia counting the repeats in case I made a mistake, lol.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, Haha, I may have given the wrong impression about my husband. He specified thicker, less dainty towels, and I chose the appropriate size of linen.

      What a great way to keep track of repeats. I’m going to remember that!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nancy Nordquist says:

    These are absolutely beautiful! Than you for sharing so many photos and details of the process.

  • Joanne Hall says:

    Yes, this weave is magical and so fun to weave. And thank you for the beauticul photos. Did you use your phone to take these photos?
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, I feel so “at home” weaving something like this. It is satisfying and rewarding.

      I use my iPhone 7 for all my photos. Steve has a very nice digital SLR camera, but I do best with the simple little iPhone. And it’s always in my pocket or on the table beside me. I take way too many pictures, and then I whittle them down to my very favorites to share here.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Barb says:

    Beautiful design, beautifully woven. The joy & pleasure you have in weaving shows in every finished project. Each time you use these towels, you will be reminded of your enjoyment of the process of weaving. Thank you for sharing your talents and inspiring other weavers to find that joy!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barb, Your thoughtful comments mean so much! If I can inspire another weaver to find a little more joy in this wonderful weaving process, that would be fantastic!
      Part of the pleasure of having towels like this in my home is getting to see others enjoy the results, too.

      Thanks so much,
      Karen

  • Angela says:

    Beautiful and inspirational!

  • Gretchen says:

    Love these Karen!! So simple and classic… and perfect! Beautiful.

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Stay Ahead of Empty Quills

What a delight to weave with just one shuttle for a change! It is relaxing to weave this Swedish lace wrap. Even moving the temple and getting up to advance the warp becomes part of the natural rhythm of weaving.

Exchanging empty quill for a filled one.

Empty quill is replaced with a filled quill from the loom bench basket. Smooth operation. My foot needn’t even leave the treadle.

There is one thing that breaks my stride. An empty quill. If I have to stop in the middle of a sequence to wind more quills, I lose momentum and sometimes I even lose my place. Solution? Stop ahead of time at a sensible place in the sequence and wind quills to put in my loom basket. Then, while weaving, it’s a seamless motion to change quills and keep going. It’s a pause instead of a dead stop.

Hemstitching at the end of this wrap.

Hemstitching at the end brings the weaving stage of this piece to a close.

We need to prepare for those times when people seem harder to love. It helps to think ahead, and fill our heart basket with the thoughts of kindness and humility that are essential to keep going. We have a good reason to love each other. We have been loved first. God so loved us that he gave his son. This is the Christmas news. God sent his son to be born here on this earth to be with us hard-to-love people and to save us. That’s good news worth celebrating!

May your heart basket be filled with love.

Christmas Blessings,
Karen

6 Comments

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Wavy Twill Rythym

I’m happy when I find my weaving rhythm, and I’m almost there with this scarf. This alpaca yarn is a weaver’s dream. No warp ends are breaking, and the weft compliantly scoots into place. That means I can put most of my attention on other details.

All those "oops" as I learn the treadling at the beginning of the warp.

Getting the kinks out at the start of the warp. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8; 1-3-5-7; 2-4-6-8. I always plan enough warp to be able to practice first. I have plenty of “oops” in the first few inches.

This wavy 8-shaft twill has straight twill threading, which means the pattern is in the treadling. It’s not difficult treadling…once you get the hang of it. But, as usual, it takes practice. It is tricky to find and correct errors because of the subtle curve in the pattern. The more practice I get, the smoother the weaving goes, and the fewer errors I make. There is no shortcut to the kind of confidence that comes from attentive practice.

Alpaca scarf, weaving in the afternoon sun.

Weaving in the afternoon sun. Whimsically weaving a bit of sunlight into the cloth.

Alpaca scarf on the loom. 8-shaft wavy twill.

When weaving rhythm takes off, quality improves, as does weaving enjoyment.

Did you know you are gifted? There are skills and insights that come easier for you than for other people. The gifts that God put in you, that are in your DNA, set you apart. Practice them to gain confidence. Put your attention on using your gifts. You may be surprised how much your gifts bless others. Finding your rhythm is worth the effort it takes. (And, on the subject of DNA, here’s an interesting perspective from Sarah H. Jackson, Textile Artist.)

May you unwrap your gifts.

With you,
Karen

17 Comments

  • Julia says:

    Oooo! Undulating twill. When I was a relatively new weaver, I was delighted to learn I could weave something so complex looking on my four harness loom. Yours is gorgeous and the alpaca yarn must feel so soft and delicious. I love the gentle color of your yarn.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia, Yes, this alpaca yarn is amazingly soft; and the natural alpaca color is so soothing to work with. And the undulating twill never gets old. It’s a very satisfying project.

      Karen

  • Lynette says:

    Karen, I enjoy so much reading your posts. It helps me in my weaving skills and gives me neat ideas to try. It also is encouraging to me in my walk with God. I recently got an older Glimakra standard loom I’m having fun getting acquainted with. What is the easiest way to move the beater back (and then forward again) on the notches? Do you use both hands, and put one under he beater and one on the upper cross bar to hoist it back? Mine weaves 52″ so is a rather heavy beater. I don’t want to have to get up to do it, because that is why I’m moving it – to avoid having to get up as often to release the ratchet. Just wondering how to do it with the least amount of body strain.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, It makes me so happy that you find value in what you read here.

      On my smaller Ideal loom, I can “pick up” the beater at the upper crossbar with both hands and move it back or forward a notch. Not so on the Standard. Mine is 47″, and it’s heavy for me, so I move one side at a time. I put one hand under the beater, with my elbow on the breast beam for support. The other hand is on the upper cross bar. I mostly use the front two notches. To move it to the third notch is a bit of a strain for me, so I usually avoid that.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Laura Rider says:

    Hi Karen, Looking forward to seeing the Alpaca scarf when finished…too bad we won’t be able to feel it…soft and cuddly, I’m sure, not to mention beautiful. I’m really curious about the breast beam on the loom, can you tell us about it.
    Happy weaving and thank you,
    Laura

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laura, I sure wish you could come over here and feel this soft and cuddly alpaca!

      The breast beam has an aluminum guard on it. What you see at the front of the breast beam is the fabric protector, aka “belly board.” It is a thin piece of wood that slips in at sides of the front of the breast beam, and protects the fabric from abrasion as it rounds the breast beam. As the weaver, I can lean right onto the breast beam without rubbing the fabric.

      Karen

  • Nanette says:

    Would you explain how you are using the tape/ribbon as a measuring device? I REALLY need to improve my system! Enjoying your posts very much. Nanette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nanette, Thanks for asking.

      I use twill tape, but grosgrain ribbon works, too. I mark the beginning and end measurement of the project onto the tape with a fine tip Sharpie. If there are hems, I include markings for that, too. I like to write the total # of inches or cm on the tape so I can reuse it without measuring it. I mark a line on the tape at the midway point, and if it’s a long project, I mark the 1/4 and 3/4 points on the tape. When you have an inch or two woven, line up the starting line and pin the tape to the woven fabric using two straight pins. Leapfrog the pins as you advance the warp.

      I hope that makes sense.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

      • Nanette says:

        Very professional! If I can find some tape on hand I will use this idea for the baby blanket I just started. You are very kind to answer all the questions people ask of you–and still get so much done! Nanette

  • Margaret says:

    New reader of your blog here, thanks for your interesting projects! Are you willing to share your draft for this turned undulating twill? I fiddled around on the weaving software and couldn’t quite get mine to look like yours. Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Margaret, Welcome! It’s great to have you.

      Many of my drafts start from ideas in Swedish weaving books, and I write the draft out with pencil and graph paper. This one came from “The Big Book of Weaving,” by Laila Lundell. I don’t have the book in front of me right now, so I’m sorry I can’t tell you the page number. The project in the book has “Wavy Twill” in the title.

      Thanks for your interest,
      Karen

  • Missie Hills says:

    Yes! I’m always telling people that everyone has a gift. You just have to find it. Then when you do, you should respect it by putting in the hours to develop it into something great.

    • Karen says:

      Missie, Good point. It does take hours and hours to develop a gift. Sometimes we think if we are gifted at something we shouldn’t have to work at it. But success comes when effort and time are invested in the gift.

      Karen

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