Wild Linen Rya

Rya knots and loops of threads look chaotic at first. These linen rya knots will never be tame, but that’s to be expected. Linen butterflies have created a swath of wild rya “flowers” planted in a smooth linen “lawn.”

Making rya knots with a bundle of linen threads.
Continuous weft bundle forms loops between rya knots.
Linen rya knots.
Loops are clipped. Green butterfly is for the background plain weave weft.

Each section of rya starts with a butterfly made of several strands of linen in assorted weights and colors. I tie each rya knot on a pair of warp ends, leaving a loop between knots. There are two to three passes of plain weave between each row of knots. When I finish a butterfly, I go back and clip all the loops. After the loops are cut, I trim the tops of the threads to even out the rya “flower garden.”

Linen rya knots on a linen weft-faced background.
Tops of the rya threads are trimmed. I intentionally leave a few shorter and longer threads, for interest.
Linen rya knots on a weft-faced linen background. Tapestry/inlay sampler.
Linen rya knots on a weft-faced linen background. Wild linen “flowers” growing out of a smooth linen “lawn.”

When things around us look a mess and don’t make sense, full of knots and loops, there is one thing we must do. Keep holding on to faith. Fight to keep your faith strong. Faith in Christ Jesus will carry you through uncertainty and will reveal the first ray of hope. The loops will be clipped, the threads will be trimmed. A garden of color will emerge. Faith waits for that.

May your faith be strong.

All the best,

Rya for the Rest

This loom doesn’t get first priority. This sweet little loom is at our Texas hill country getaway. Usually there are several fixer-upper projects to be done around the place. But I’m glad the loom is there. It calls to me to come and sit down, to get absorbed in linen threads and colors. The loom is a resting place for me. A place where ideas take shape and new dreams begin.

Sweet little hand-made loom.
Sweet little loom sits in a corner of the living room beckoning me to come and rest for a while.
Rya knots and inlay. All linen.
Green weft butterfly weaves the background. A yellow bundle, not seen, hangs under the warp and is added here and there for the “dots” in the green. Rya butterflies are in assorted combinations of colors. All linen.

I’m at the rya section of this tapestry and inlay sampler. It is a fun exercise in creativity. The rya knots are tied using a continuous weft bundle. After a few rows are woven I clip the loops that are formed, and trim them down a little to shape the pile.

Linen rya knots!
Explosion of linen threads. Several sizes and types of linen are combined in the rya butterflies that are used to make the rya knots.
Weaving linen rya knots. Weaving from the front.
Weaving from the front means that all the loose inlay weft tails, and spliced wefts, are hanging down on the back.

Make time for rest. We need periods of rest built into the rhythm of our lives. Intentional rest acknowledges our human limitations and inadequacy, which leads us to put our trust in the Lord. And that is where the best hopes and dreams get their start.

May you enjoy sweet rest.

With you,

Tools Day: Rag Rug Finishing Video

Do you know how easy it is to finish the ends of a rag rug that you plan to hem? You cannot trust a sewing machine to do the job. Neither a zig-zag stitch nor a serged edge adequately catches all the ends, as they do for other handwoven items. Hand-tied knots will ensure that your rug endures the test of time.

Large rag rug cut from the loom. Instructions for finishing ends.
Rag rug is cut off the Glimåkra Standard loom. A warp thread header (1 cm) is woven at both ends of the rug, and about 5 cm of scrap header (scrap fabric strips) is woven outside of that. The scrap header helps keep the rug from unravelling when it is removed from the loom.

The following video details the few simple steps needed to prepare your rag rug for hemming.


  • Two-pound walking weights
  • 5″ Sacking needle (I found mine at WeavingSouthwest)
  • Hair comb
  • Cutting mat
  • Acrylic ruler
  • Rotary cutter

May you finish what you start.

All the best,

Quiet Friday: Rya Rag Rug

I wasn’t happy with a simple “X” for the design area, but I struggled to come up with something better for this rug. And then, Steve and I went to the symphony. There, on the floor, in the long hallway, was the inspiration I needed for the pattern design on this rug!

Design inspiration for a rug.
Design inspiration is found on the floor on the way to the symphony.

Despite all that went wrong from the start, and how many things I had to undo and do over, I must tell you that I really did enjoy weaving this rug. The rya knots and loops made it fun and interesting. And this unique fluffy rug will always remind me of that sweet symphony date with my honey, when he patiently waited as I pulled out my iPhone to snap a few shots of the floor. Now that’s love.

Counting warp ends on the warping reel.
Counting warp ends on the warping reel.
Dressing the loom starts with pre-sleying the reed.
Dressing the loom starts with pre-sleying the reed.
Ski shuttle and temple for making large rag rug.
Ski shuttle holds doubled weft–fabric cut into 3/4″-wide strips.
Cutting fabric strips for rya knots.
Three different lengths of fabric strips are used for making the rya knots.
Placing rya knots in large rag rug.
Adding more rya knots.
Large rag rug with rya knots and loops.
Loops are made with the help of a wooden dowel.
Rag rug with inlay, using a brown paper cartoon under the warp.
Brown paper cartoon under the warp has the outline for the pattern. Lines on the cartoon, showing where to change the inlay technique, are inked onto the warp as a guide.
Making loops on a rag rug. Fun!
Making loops.
Extra warp width after re-sleying the reed.
After weaving a sample at the very beginning, I re-sleyed the reed, spreading the warp ends further apart. Excess warp ends, because of the increased width, are chained on both sides. Future band loom warps?
Another do-over.
Don’t ask. Almost finished weaving, and another do-over happened.
Cutting off!! Time to celebrate!!
Cutting off! Time to celebrate!!
Handwoven rag rug with rya knots and loops.
Sculpted inlay appearance is achieved by graduated lengths of the rya strips and heights of the loops.

Rag rug with rya and loops. Karen Isenhower

May your design inspiration come from unanticipated places.


Storm Troopers in a Rag Rug?

There are some crazy prints embedded in my rag rugs. I buy cotton fabric in five-yard lengths. When I scan the fabric bolts at the store, I look for specific colors and interesting patterns. More prints make it into my rugs than solid colors.

Fabric for another interesting rag rug!
Drawn to a bolt of fabric with a touch of blue on a mostly-white background, I was surprised to find the popular sci-fi vehicles in the print. Storm Troopers can hide in plain sight on this rug.

Unusual prints can add hidden surprises to a rug. Take Star Wars prints, for example. No one will know that the Millenium Falcon or Storm Troopers are in the finished rug. After all, the fabric has been sliced into strips, and is used only intermittently as weft and inlay. But the weavershe knows, and smiles about it. Am I a Star Wars fanatic? No, not by a long shot. I selected the fabric for its colors and effect. I wanted to make something new out of these popular movie prints.

Rag rug with rya knots and loops.
Where are the Storm Troopers? There are a few hiding among the rya strips, and some are in the weft rows that stand out as black and white.
Creating loops on a rag rug.
Loops are created on the rug, using a wooden dowel. And a five-yard strip of Millenium Falcon fabric waits on the ski shuttle, ready to be hidden in the weave.

This is what our Savior does for us. Jesus takes us as we are and makes us completely new. We each come marked with unusual prints, and wonder what can be made of us. Jesus is not patching and fixing things, leaving us in our original state. He is making something completely new. Our personality and individual features are still there, for our Grand Weaver finds a way to make them into something good. Perhaps he smiles at the thought.

May your unusual prints bring a smile to your Maker.

With you,