Wary Weaving

Sugar Pie has been waiting in the wings. Now, his nose wriggles up to the fell line. The day that Ari and Lucia went with me to visit my neighbor, their attention went to the cute furry thing in the rabbit hutch. At first, the bunny was wary, but before long, Sugar Pie was nibbling carrot slivers from Lucia’s hand.

Beginning the bunny in the large pictorial tapestry.
First pick of brown for the bunny’s nose.

Now, I’m the wary one. The rabbit will make or break this tapestry. I made notes when I wove the rabbit on a narrow sample warp several weeks ago. With careful review of my notes, I am inching forward, giving attention to value contrasts that shape and define the animal. The good news is that when I reach the end of Sugar Pie’s soft, furry back, I will be at the tapestry’s finish line.

Color changes are outlined on the tapestry cartoon.
Color changes are outlined on the cartoon with colored pencil.
Pictorial tapestry in progress. "Siblings"
Ari and Lucia, two of my grandchildren, in a moment of childhood wonder. This tapestry tries to capture that wonder.

In trying times, our senses are heightened. Will we flourish, or merely squeak by? In all the confusion, where is clarity? In the chaos, where do we find calm? The Lord extends an open hand. The open hand is an invitation. Come and taste. Trust. Find deep satisfaction that reaches the soul. Courageously inch up to the greatest challenge of your life.

May you step into a worthwhile challenge.

With you,


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Small Tapestry Looms

The Hokett loom is proof that we don’t need everything we want. Simplicity often comes with fewer features, but it is still enough. I finished weaving one small tapestry sample on the simple Hokett loom, and I am pleased with the results. Now, I’m back to my little hand-built loom for the second sample. I’m spoiled by it’s tensioning device and the inlaid magnets that hold my needle.

Finishing small tapestry. Woven on Hokett loom.

Half-damascus knots, as demonstrated by Rebecca Mezoff, are used for finishing the edge of the small tapestry.

Hokett loom and small woven piece. Finishing in progress.

Finishing in progress. This small piece was woven with short hems that will be folded under.

The Weaving Tapestry on Little Looms online class (self-paced) by Rebecca Mezoff is going well. It’s great to view demonstrations that show details regarding yarn direction, headers, finishing, hems, and mounting, and more, from an expert tapestry weaver. My tapestry toolbox of skills is expanding! I’m thankful to have options of different looms to weave what I am learning.

Comparing two small looms--hand-built and Hokett.

The Hokett loom is smaller and more portable, even though the hand-built loom and Hokett loom have nearly the same weaving space.

What we need is more important than what we want. We don’t always see the difference between need and want. Lord, give us what we need today. May we long for nothing more than what you have promised to give. And may we show appropriate gratitude when given more than enough.

May you have what you need for today.


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Simple Eight-Shaft Twill?

This eight-shaft twill, woven with string yarn weft, has a delightful raised-surface texture. The distinct pattern makes it interesting to weave. The treadling is / / / / This sequence completes one full diamond in the pattern. Simple enough, right?

Raised surface of eight-shaft twill, woven with string yarn weft.

Ski shuttle is able to hold a large amount of the string yarn weft. The string yarn produces a raised surface on this eight-shaft twill.

Simple, but not easy. The treadling reverses direction every twelve picks. I can’t tell you how many times I forget which direction I am going. When I make an error, I don’t see it until I’m two or three inches past. I’ve had to undo and do over several times. But when I get it right, for longer and longer stretches, it is a satisfying weaving experience. Everything on the loom is set up for my success. It’s the internal and external distractions that keep me from experiencing the best.

Midi stringyarn for weft in woven bathmat.

Midi stringyarn has about 26 fine strands of cotton thread grouped together.

Eight-shaft twill woven bath mat. Karen Isenhower

Terra cotta tiles come to mind…

We want life to be satisfying. My soul longs and searches for living water. Internal and external distractions keep me from getting a satisfying drink, but God has everything ready for me when I come. Our souls were made to long for God. Is he really there? Yes, the Grand Weaver is. There is no better way to explain the warp on the loom.

May your distractions disappear.

Happy weaving,


  • Julia says:

    Gorgeous, Karen! I certainly know that experience of such a treadling. You probably have a good solution, but here is one that worked for me. Write out the treadling just as you’ve done here on this post, and assign each step it’s own number 1-24. As you treadle count the numbers 1 – 24. At first it takes a while for the muscle memory to kick in, but pretty soon you will be floating along on those glorious Living Waters and singing praises the whole way!

    • Karen says:

      Dear Julia,

      That is a great suggestion! It makes perfect sense to number each step like that.
      I am definitely going to try it.

      Thank you so much!

  • Sandy says:

    I love the thought, like your loom is set up for your success, our Master weaver sets us up for success too. And I often get distracted. There’s always hope, & redemption…..a do over 🙂

    What is “String Yarn”?

    • Karen says:

      Yes, there are do overs. I’m so thankful for that.

      String yarn is multiple strands of thin thread used together as one. It is commonly used for the thick weft in rep weave. I find that it also works as an alternative to fabric strips in rag rug weaving. Vavstuga sells it in three sizes and in many colors.

      All the best,

  • Debbie says:

    Lovely fabric and pattern. Love the texture in it! What will you use the fabric for? Thoroughly enjoy your thoughtful metaphors.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Debbie, I love the texture in it, too! It begs to be touched. I intend for this to be a large bath mat. I could change my mind after I see it off the loom… It will be a rug or mat of some sort.

      Thank you for your sweet encouragement!

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    I love this mat Karen, I can’t wait to try something like it myself! I am doing a Christmas gift for my Daughter next, then I’m going to try it! Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Liberty, That’s great! I think you will really enjoy weaving something like this! It’s almost like weaving a rag rug, except with this string yarn you don’t have to load the shuttle as often.


  • linda says:

    I have a stash of yarns cotton rayon wool novelty. I’m trying to use them up so when I do placemats, rugs….. I grab 5 different cones of complimentary colors and wind them on a shuttle to see if they’ll work. 99% of the time they do. I guess that’s string weft.

  • linda says:

    your project looks great. love it!

  • Kathryn says:

    Hi Karen,

    What’s the set on this project? Also, what do you use for the warp? I’m thinking of using hemp yarn for something new.


    • Karen says:

      Hi Kathryn,
      I away from all my notes at the moment, and I don’t remember the sett for this. I’m guessing about 8-10 epi. The warp is 12/6 cotton rug warp, as I recall. When I get home in a couple days I’ll check my notes and send you an email to verify the sett and the warp. I’ve never woven with hemp. I’m sure that will give you lovely results!

      All the best,

  • marlene toerien says:

    HI what is the draft for this.

    Thank you
    Marlene T.

  • Ellen Redman says:

    Hi Karen,

    I see this is an old thread, but I am looking to weave a bath mat myself. I did some experimenting with string yarn (after one of my adventures at Vävstuga) and found it is a lovely texture. BUT, I had a lot of difficulty making a nice transition when I needed to start and end a shuttle full of it. Do you have any tips for not ending up with a thready/frayed join?

    Love your blog and work!


    • Karen says:

      Hi Ellen, I cut the ends of the stringyarn to a tapered point to reduce bulk, and then overlap the tapered ends in the shed.

      I hope that is helpful.

      Thanks so much for your kind words.

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Simplest Rag Rug Stripe

An isolated thin weft stripe makes a bold statement. One simple technique greatly improves the efficiency of weaving such a stripe in a rag rug. This method eliminates the need to weave weft tails in at the beginning and end of the stripe. So, besides being efficient, the selvedges look better too.

How to Weave a Thin Weft Stripe (Two Picks)

1 Weave up to the stripe placement. No need to end the weft if the same weft will continue after the thin stripe.

Rag rug on loom. How to make thin stripes.

2 Place the first pick of the stripe in the shed, leaving a long tail of about 6 inches / 15 cm, or more.

How to make thin weft stripe in rag rug. Step by step pics.

3 Beat in the first pick of the stripe.

Making thin stripe in rag rug. How to.

4 Change sheds. Lay the long tail into the new shed.

Making thin stripe in rag rug. How to.

5 Send the shuttle across for the second pick, catching the previous weft to carry it up the selvedge.

Make a thin stripe in a rag rug. How to and pics.

6 As the weft goes across for the second pick, bring the shuttle all the way out.

Second pick of thin stripe. Explanation and pics.

7 Pull enough of the second pick through the warp to cut a tapered edge that will overlap the tapered edge of the long tail.

How to make thin stripe in rag rug.

8 Overlap the two tapered fabric strips in the shed.

Overlap in the shed. Rag rug instructions.

9 Beat in the second pick of the stripe.

Rag rug thin stripe.

10 Continue weaving with the previous weft that was carried up the selvedge.

Rag rug on the loom. Thin stripe tutorial.

If you’re like me, you are always on the lookout for ways to enhance weaving efficiency. One little tip can improve the whole weaving experience. When you know there is so much more to learn, and you are hungry to learn, every morsel of insight is delectable.

Has your soul ever felt hungry? Mine has. The Lord is ready to fill the hungry soul with good. He fills the empty. He satisfies the hungry, meeting the deepest need. One sweet morsel leads to another, inviting us to keep coming back. Taste and see that the Lord is good.

May you be hungry for good things.



  • Ruth says:

    What a clever idea! Thanks so much for sharing. Too bad I can’t put a rug warp on today and cement this idea in my brain. Blessings.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, this technique works equally well with thread or yarn for any two-pick stripe. I’ve done it this way for thin weft stripes in towels and throws, too. So, go ahead and try it out on your next project!

      Happy weaving,

  • Debbie Moyes says:

    That’s a great technique! And as I am weaving rag runner/placemats I will try it. I see I need to read more of your blog, but a quick question – is your threading 11223344 – and if so, is the reason for the pattern or something else? I generally do just a tabby.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Debbie, I’m glad you have a project going that you can try this with.

      The threading is 1234, with 2 ends per heddle and 2 ends per dent. Technically, it is supposed to be weft rep, but I was not able to completely cover my warp, as true weft rep should be. But the weft rep effect is what makes the rickrack zigzag more prominent than it would be with just tabby. Most weft-faced weaving will produce a wavy line with 2 picks, as in tapestry weaving.

      Happy weaving,

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How to Strip the Fun out of Weaving

No fancy stuff for this rug, like rya or loops. The main thing is to finish off this warp. I am eager to get on to the next project–monksbelt (munkabalte)! Even so, it is good to enjoy what you are doing, to be happy and content with what you have and where you are. There is no use complaining about having to finish this. …even though something else seems more exciting.

Simple rag rug on Glimakra Standard.

Simple rag rug using neutral colors. Dark weft stripe is produced by two consecutive rows of a dark brown print fabric as weft.

A grumbling attitude can strip all the joy from the current process. Grumbling poisons your thinking. It starts as a small complaint, but is never content to stay small. In fact, grumbling spreads to other people and corrupts their desires, too. Better to refuse it before it has a chance to begin. Notice and enjoy the blessing of the moment you are in. And so far, I haven’t found a rag rug I didn’t enjoy weaving. Now that’s a blessing!

May your attitude be worthy of imitation.

With contentment,


  • Shelly says:

    I love this rug, it’s simplicity is beautiful to me. A question, please: what’s the epi? Are they doubled? (I’m about to warp my loom for the second time and am mentally stuck on what epi to use for my next batch of rugs.)

    Thanks Karen, I appreciate your blog a lot.


    • Karen says:

      Hi Shelly,
      The sett for this rug is 5 epi, and yes, the ends are doubled. Most of my rag rugs, however, have a sett of 8 epi and the ends are not usually doubled, except at the selvedges.

      Thanks for asking! Have fun weaving your rugs!

  • Kris says:

    What a wise and wonderfully useful message, Karen! Thank you for your time and sharing your thoughts! You are a Blessing! Kris

  • Martha says:

    Karen, your rug is lovely. Your comments are living and enjoying the moment you are in are straight from the Buddhist Dharma – a wonderful way of life.

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