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

22 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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Stony Creek Drawloom Rag Rug

I have woven umpteen rag rugs. But never one like this! Eight-shaft satin on the single-unit drawloom brings its own challenges, from managing draw cords to getting a decent shed. Add rag weaving to the mix and we have a whole new experience!

Cutting off drawloom rag rug.
Cutting off in 1-inch sections to make it easy to tie back on for the second rug on the warp.

Finishing has its own set of new challenges. My go-to method of tying knots to secure warp ends is unwieldy in this instance because the threads are extremely dense. By quietly doing some detail studies on a sample, I find a way to finish this unusual rug: Secure the ends with the serger. Then, sew two rows of straight stitches on the sewing machine for added security. Sew a narrow bound hem using some of the fabric that was used as weft in the rug. Steam press to finish.

Drawloom rag rug finishing details.
Serger cuts off the ends as it overlocks the edge. I pull out the scrap header little by little just ahead of the serger needles and blade.
Finishing drawloom rag rug - steps.
Two rows of straight stitching.
Bound hem on a drawloom rag rug.
Lightweight woven fusible interfacing backs the fabric used for the narrow bound hem.
My Grandma's thimble.
My Grandma’s thimble helps me hand stitch the back side of the bound hems.
Drawloom rag rug finished!
Finished and pressed.
Stony Creek Rag Rug woven on single-unit drawloom! (Design by Kerstin Åsling-Sundberg)
Dream come true! Stony Creek Rag Rug (Design by Kerstin Åsling-Sundberg)

I have another rag rug to weave on this warp. It will still be a challenge. With what I’ve learned, though, I’m anticipating a satisfying weaving and finishing experience.

We know what to do in normal circumstances. It’s in unusual times that we fall into dismay. Private time with Jesus turns confidential fears to confident faith. He treats our challenges like personal detail studies, showing us the way forward. His grace enables us to conquer the next challenge with confident faith.

May your confidence grow.

With faith,
Karen

31 Comments

  • Nannette says:

    Thank you for the beautiful description of a beautiful rug finish.

    Hem finishes is something I’ve struggled with. My sister works in a medical rehab facility and asked for personal medical masks to be given to staff and residents.. Finished with.my least favorite finish….. binding. And God provided a beautifully done technique for my next rugs..

    Now, onto the orchard in transit. The first nursery let me know fruit and nut trees/bushes are on their way to turn the retirement property into a perma-forest.

    Will I reap the fruits of the all the trees? Only God knows. But God will make sure a hungry soul will find them. Your posting this morning fed my soul. .

    Blessings to all.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Rugs can be finished in so many ways. I’m glad you have a use for this option of bound hems.

      Thank you for your kind words.
      Blessings to you,
      Karen

  • Geri Rickard says:

    Oh Karen, what a wonderful rug! It looked perfect in your lovely home!

  • Kay says:

    Absolutely lovely. You have inspired me to do a rag rug in the near future.

  • Beth Mullins says:

    It’s beautiful, Karen! I really like the bound finishing. Bravo!

  • Linda Miller says:

    Love reading your posts. Thank you for reminding me to find God in everything.

  • Betsy says:

    It’s just gorgeous, Karen! Wonderful job!!

  • LJ Arndt says:

    Such a beautiful rug. It makes me realize I need to start using the draw attachment on my loom and get to know it better. Your posts are so inspiring.

    • Karen says:

      Hi LJ, Oh I hope you do get familiar with your draw attachment! The possibilities are endless, and it is so much fun.

      Thank you, thank you,
      Karen

  • Martha says:

    Very beautiful rug, you worked hard on this one and it shows. Stunning! Job well done.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi Karen!
    What a nice rug!The colors, the neat finish…
    I just admire the way you work.
    Best regards
    Eirini

  • D'Anne says:

    Beautiful rug! You do exquisite work, Karen!

  • Gail Bird says:

    Beautiful rug.
    Enduring thoughts concerning confident faith.
    Thank you.

  • Elisabeth says:

    What a beautiful rug! I’m impressed you could secure the warp threads like that, I really like how it opened up for that beautiful finish.
    Do you think the warp ends could be secured like that when making a wowen hem for a regular rag rug, too? I struggled to secure warp ends without tying knots, I tried but wasn’t able to “catch” the warp threads with the sewing machine needle.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, Thank you!

      I have had the same experience on other rugs with trying to secure warp ends with the sewing machine. The needle doesn’t catch all the ends. What made the difference with this one is that there are so many threads close together. The serger was able to catch most of the ends. I set a short stitch length on the sewing machine, too, to make even more certain that every warp end would be stitched, with two rows of stitching.

      I will still tie knots on a usual rag rug, with the normal 3 epc sett. The sett on this one is 7 doubled ends per centimeter. A big difference.

      Also, I’ve learned some things. For the next rug on this drawloom warp I will weave a longer header, instead of the 8-pick header I did on this one. Then, I will be able to secure the ends AND fold it under, which will help to secure them even more.

      Long answer. 🙂 Thanks for asking.
      Karen

      • Elisabeth says:

        Thank you! This explains the difference. I have a problem with a few warp ends on one of my door mats which has a wowen hem. I have been able secure them on the back (not very pretty) and it has endured several rounds in the washer since 🙂

  • Tercia says:

    Beautiful and a great piece…saving that and need to give it a try!

  • Janis Schiller says:

    Having seen a small section of this rug up close and personal when it was on your draw loom, all I can say is WOW when I see the finished piece.
    Fabulous job

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Drawloom Rag Rug Color Transition

This is a huge project. Four shades of blue from dark to light span the nearly one-and-a-half-meter-long rug. I have reached the final color-transition section. I am eagerly awaiting the day this rug will be rolled out!

Rag rug on the drawloom. Color transition.
Transitioning from one color to the next.

My measuring ribbon shows me where to make the color changes. I alternate two weft colors (C and D) through the transition area to blend the hues. All the while, I stop after every half-unit of four picks to manage the draw cords. A graphed chart tells me exactly which of the 164 draw cords to pull or release. In this way the graphic designs are woven into the rug, row by row. I weave in quiet, allowing me to put full attention on each move.

Drawloom rag rug.
View of the underside of the rug as it goes from the breast beam to the knee beam.
Single unit drawloom rag rug.
Draw cords are arranged by tens, alternating black cords and white cords. I pull the cords as they correspond to the prepared chart hanging at the left side of the loom.

We need hope in these unsettling times. Jesus invites us to admit our fears and failures, and put our trust in him, and follow him. And this is the message Jesus gives his followers: I am always with you. The Lord gives strength and courage. As our Grand Weaver, he has his full attention on us. So be strong and take courage.

May you have hope that lasts.

Love,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Linda Cornell says:

    Thank you for the words of encouragement today.

    God bless you.

  • Linda Adamson says:

    Please send a photo when the rug is finished. Happy Easter! He is risen!

  • Nannette says:

    Pretty colors. I noticed the pattern is reversed on the back. Or, is there an actual back once it is cut from the loom?

    We now have a Palm Sunday grandson. He came quickly. 15 minutes from leaving the house.

    In their hospital, dads were allowed in with admission, but have to stay the entire time. They are not allowed in if they leave. This is where modern technology comes to play. 31 seconds of video played over and over by the toddler who is fascinated by his baby brother.

    We are watching the toddler and entertaining him with driveway chalk art. The neighbors are enjoying this as much are he is.

    The stories to be told at future Thanksgiving tables…. none of which are relevant to your beautiful weaving. Except… the enjoyment of God’s gifts.

    And of course. This is Wisconsin. The game playing with this year’s election. It makes my head hurt.

    This is a remarkable Holy Week.

    Thank you for making the world a better place.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, You are correct, the pattern is reversed on the back. Who knows, maybe I’ll use the back as the main side. Or, probably flip it over from time to time.

      I’m glad your new grandson had a healthy entrance. Congratulations!

      With resurrection in mind,
      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Square Dots

It was six weeks ago that I began winding the warp for these towels. The thread for my next Glimåkra Standard project is due to arrive tomorrow. Just like I like it—revolving door weaving. I have no doubt that this set of towels will become family favorites. They are a feast for the eyes, and a tactile delight for the hands. Seeing the color on the reverse side takes my breath away. This whole experience has been the weaving satisfaction that I’ve come to cherish!

"Square Dot" towels. Satin dräll. Karen Isenhower

Square Dot towels. Ten shafts, ten treadles. Two block five-shaft satin dräll. 8/2 cotton warp. Weft is 8/2 cotton and 22/2 cottolin, and 16/2 linen for the white stripes on the red towel.

I did face difficulties near the end of the warp. The shed started deteriorating with some of the shafts, but I was determined to finish off the last towel to its full length. That meant coaxing the low profile shuttle through for a few inches. Consequently, I did have more errant floats to repair than usual. But, isn’t it wonderful that we can fix just about anything in this weaving adventure?

Fixing floats on a towel that was at the end of the warp.

End of warp. What I didn’t see at the loom is that one shaft in particular was not behaving. There were at least eight floats along that one warp end. After repairs and washing and pressing, the errors are barely noticeable.

I made a warp from thread on leftover quills to weave up some hanging tabs on my band loom for three of the towels. And I found a linen piece in my “band stash” that is perfect for the red and white towel.

Enjoy the slideshow that I made for you with details of the process.

May you weave some family favorites.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Oh, these are lovely! Both sides!

  • Karen, these are beautiful! Your color choices are wonderful.

    Does your pattern have a balanced tie-up? I’m ready to try a ten shaft pattern on my ten shaft counterbalance loom, but it would have to be a balanced tie-up in order for me to use the dräll pulleys. Is the pattern readily available? Where would I look?

    I enjoy reading your blog posts.
    Jenny B

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenny, Thank you! Managing color choices is one of the things I enjoy most in my weaving space, so I really appreciate your compliment.

      You can find this draft in The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, p.172 (mine is “Sample 8”).

      Joanne Hall tells me that it is possible to tie up the two block satin with a counterbalance tie-up. The tie-up on countermarch is a little easier than a counterbalance tie-up, but she has seen weavers able to weave this very fast on a counterbalance loom.

      I’ll be interested in hearing if you try it.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

      • I have the book. I’m excited to give this pattern a try. It has so many possibilities. My loom has been empty for over a month due to lack of inspiration and other life problems getting in the way. Hopefully I can get something on Julie in a few days.

        Hopefully you won’t mind if some of mine end up similar to yours. I think it was the colors that attracted me to the weave first, and then seeing the reverse side made me love them even more.

        Thanks for steering me to the pattern.

        Jenny B

        • Karen says:

          Hi Jenny, I would be thrilled to pieces and honored if you chose to weave something similar to mine! Oh I do hope your inspiration at the loom returns quickly, and that some of the weight you carry is lifted.

          The reverse side is amazing!

          In case it helps, here are the colors I used: (All Bockens)

          Warp – 8/2 cotton #471 lt red (it’s coral to me)
          Weft –
          1. 8/2 cotton #557 slate with band of 22/2 cottolin #2003 silver
          2. 8/2 cotton #470 beige with band of 22/2 cottolin #2004 gray
          3. cottolin #2080 red with band of 16/2 linen #0005 golden bleached
          4. cottolin #2017 rust with band of 8/2 cotton #470 beige (This one has the least contrast, and it is also my favorite.)

          Very happy weaving to you,
          Karen

  • Kay Larson says:

    They are just lovely! I look forward to seeing your next project.
    Kay

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kay, It won’t be long before you see my next project! I’m pretty excited about it…as always. 🙂
      Thanks so much for your kind words!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Joanne Hall says:

    That was a great slide show. And yes, the two block satin is such a beautiful weave. And your colors are so nice. Thanks for taking the time to share what you are weaving.
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, I appreciate your thoughtful words. That means so much to me! I’m accumulating a long list of things that I want to do more of, and this two block satin weave is one of them.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Liberty says:

    Oh Karen, I love these, my favorite color! Thanks for the slide show, it’s fun to see your whole process!!

  • Ruth says:

    Such beautiful work AGAIN! You are an inspiration and offer such an open and positive approach to fixing weaving issues. I recently finished an M’s and O’s table cloth with many floats over the last couple of inches of weaving due to a decreasing shed. Like you I was determined to have the whole length of that cloth. I thought I’d fixed all the floats but keep finding them as I use the cloth. Enjoy your new favorites.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, Oh I have floats in cloth that I use, too. They do like to hide when we have that needle out. Haha! But really, it’s a mark of distinction because it proves our fabric is handmade.

      Your kind words are a sweet encouragement to me. Thank you so much!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Angela W says:

    I’m new to weaving and discovered your blog. It has been very helpful. Thank you for all the good information especially your glossary. But what I have found most wonderful are the words of hope and encouragement to trust in our Lord. I really needed that right now. Blessings to you, Karen.

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Valentine Towel

“That red would make a very cheerful towel.” She was right! It is very cheerful. When someone whose weaving expertise I admire mentions a color, I want to use that color instead of the one I originally planned. This towel, with its red-and-white cheerfulness, is a testament to the positive influence of another person. The towel also makes me think of valentines. Perfect timing for this week. Do you remember giving innocent sentiments of love to classmates in elementary school on Valentine’s Day?

Cotton 10-shaft satin dräll towels.

Beginning of towel with red 8/2 cotton weft. Golden bleached 16/2 linen is used for a decorative band on the towel.

Colorful and cheerful square dot towels.

White linen border near the end of the red towel. Ten shafts and ten treadles for five-shaft satin dräll.

Square Dot towels. Red and white on coral!

Predominant red on the reverse side of the towel is cheerful indeed! One “Square Dot” towel remains on this warp.

Give. Now, we offer each other genuine expressions of love, not limited to one day of the year. When you give love you are giving something of great value—a part of yourself. God loved all of us by giving his dearly loved son. That’s the love that holds us and keeps us. His love influences us for the better. He so loved us, and so we love.

May the day of love come every day for you.

Love,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Beth says:

    These are lovely! I can’t wait to see them completed.

  • maggie leiterman says:

    The weaving is lovely! Thanks for sharing! Your comment about classmates in elementary school reminded me of a box of mementos that I have tucked away in a drawer.The box and the content of the box belonged to my mama (1915-2005,) the content of the box is a collection of valentines that she cherished that were from her classmates and others. I cherish them and I hope someone in my family will take care of them after I go to the great beyond.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, How special to be the keeper of your mother’s treasures! It’s always fascinating to think of the childhood of a previous generation. Thanks for telling about it!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Martha says:

    Karen that towel is just lovely, the pink and red compliment each other perfectly. Yummy!

  • Joanne Hall says:

    Those thoughts of valentines bring us back to a most delightful time in our lives of giving and sharing. And thank you Karen for continuing to share with us.
    Joanne

  • Elisabeth says:

    A beatiful color combination! And what a wonderful idea to pull out a special towel to celebrate those special days. These beautiful towels could even double as tabletoppers. And the red towel would make a statement for Christmas, too 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, It’s one of the joys of weaving that we can set aside particular towels or fabric for special occasions! And yes, I will probably use these as lovely table runners, too. I like to keep a handwoven topper – towel or square or runner – on my kitchen table to set the atmosphere in the room.

      Great input, as always! Thanks,
      Karen

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