Handwoven Detail Notes

It is the smallest of details that set handwoven towels apart from ordinary towels. With that in mind, I am writing some detail notes in the margin of my project notes. Borders: Towel 1 – sea blue, apple green – contrast thread – ultramarine; Towel 2 – ultramarine, sea blue – contrast thread – maize; Towel 3 – apple green, ultramarine – contrast thread – sea blue; Towel 4 – dusty, sea blue – contrast thread – apple green.

Cottolin bath towels coming up!
Beaming the cottolin warp for bath towels.
Warp is tied on and leveling string is attached.
Warp is tied on and leveling string is attached.
Preparing to weave 7-color bath towels.
Seven different colors of wound quills. All seven colors are in each towel, warp and weft. The weft sequence varies with each towel.
Boat shuttles vie for the starting line, like in a regatta.
One boat shuttle for each color. This reminds me of sailing with my dad and my sisters. Boat captains would vie for the regatta starting line, shouting, “Starboard!”

There are seven colors of cottolin in the warp, and the same seven colors in the weft, just like the accompanying hand towels I completed in April. (See Process Review: Jubilation Hand Towels.) Narrow warp-wise and weft-wise stripes of broken twill produce interesting patterns in the cloth. The deep borders I am planning on the bath towels give me a chance to add simple details that only a handweaver can do.

White ribbon shows where to place details on the handwoven bath towel.
After weaving a short section to test the threading, I start the first towel. A red line, as always, denotes the cutting/starting line. I placed marks on the white ribbon at the left that show me where to place details along the length of the towel.
Simple handwoven details make all the difference.
Single ultramarine thread is laid in with the sea blue to outline a change of treadling. A simple handwoven detail.

Have you ever identified a master craftsman by the specific details that show up in the hand-crafted article? In the same way, we can recognize our Maker’s hand through the magnificence of the details we see in each other. You are his masterpiece. Hand-written instructions guide the details. When we come to the Lord as our Maker and Redeemer, we find his hand-written details woven into our hearts, something only the Grand Weaver can do.

May you attend to the details.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    These towels are so beautiful…and as always, your words of faith, reminding us of the blessings we have been given by God. Thank you for your inspiration! I know you give the credit for all you do to our Lord. God Bless you! 🙂

  • Beth says:

    Beautiful color choices and details!

  • So pretty. I hope one day to be able to make towels like this. Thank you for your help to the weaving world.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Brigitte, One step at a time, and before you know it, you’re weaving the very things you were hoping to do. This has been my story, and I’m sure it will be yours, too!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    It is the details between common chocolate cookies and Boston cream pie.

    May we all enjoy Boston cream pie from a master craftsman.

  • Joanna says:

    Isn’t broken twill a blast to thread? I just love it. Your towels will be lovely.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, Yes, I do enjoy a threading pattern that requires thinking. The treadling is that way, too, with these towels. This is the kind of project that is very satisfying to do.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Anonymous says:

    Always love your posts! I love the way you incorporate a story into each post. I hope to weave this well one day! I’m a super beginner.

    • Karen says:

      Hi super beginner, You have a kind way of expressing yourself. Thank you for the encouraging words! I have no doubt by you will reach excellence in weaving. All it takes is time, practice, and patience. Enjoy the journey!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kristin G says:

    I look forward to seeing the finished towels. I’m sure they will be gorgeous! And I particularly enjoyed hearing about the memory of sailing with your family. Those must be precious memories!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kristin, Those sailing memories are memories I cherish! I’m looking forward to putting these towels to use as soon as they’re finished.

      Thanks so much!
      Karen

Leave a Reply


Monksbelt Flowers on a Shoulder Bag

Remember Joanne Hall’s Swedish Art Weaves workshop that I took a few months ago? With the warp that was left, I explored some of the art weaves in more depth.

Monksbelt (Munkabälte), Dukagång, and Halvkrabba can be seen below the warp.
Monksbelt (Munkabälte), Dukagång, and Halvkrabba can be seen below the warp.

I finished off the linen warp by making a front and back panel for a small shoulder bag. A monksbelt pattern is scattered like flowers on the front. The back has various stripe patterns in weft-faced plain weave. I wove a shoulder strap on my band loom using 6/2 Tuna wool for warp and 12/6 cotton for weft.

Weaving Monksbelt with half heddle sticks.
Half-heddle sticks and batten in front of the back beam, for weaving monksbelt patterns.
Pick up for monksbelt.
Pick-up stick in front of the reed is being used to weave a monksbelt flower “petal.”
Handwoven shoulder bag in progress.
Back panel has varying stripe patterns.
Cutting off.
Cutting off.
Glimakra band loom. Narrow wool band.
Narrow wool band for the bag shoulder strap.

The bag has simple construction, mostly hand-stitched. In one of my remnant bins I found a piece of wool fabric that I wove several years ago. It’s perfect for the sides and bottom of the bag. The lining uses pieces from fabric that went into my latest rag rugs, and has pockets, of course.

Making a handwoven wool bag.
Overhand knots secure the warp ends.
Construction of a wool shoulder bag.
Ready to assemble all the parts.
Constructing a small handwoven wool bag.
Handwoven wool pieces are hand-stitched together.
Handwoven wool bag construction.
Bag construction continues with stitching the back in place.
Magnet closure on a handwoven bag.
Magnet closure is added to the lining before stitching the lining in place. Knots and fringe outline the top of the bag.

This bag with Monksbelt Flowers is for carrying sweet memories, happy moments, and heavenly dreams.

Handwoven shoulder bag.
Inside of handwoven wool bag.
Pockets in the lining.
Monksbelt Flowers handwoven shoulder bag.

Resources: Swedish Art Weaves workshop with Joanne Hall; Heirlooms of Skåne Weaving Techniques, by Gunvor Johansson; Väv Scandinavian Weaving Magazine, 2/2013.

This is the time for my annual pause for the month of July. I appreciate you joining me in this weaving journey!

I look forward to being back with you again Tuesday, August 4. In the meantime, joyfully draw living water from the source, Jesus Christ.

May you carry no more than necessary.

With love,
Karen

20 Comments

  • NancyNancy Malcolm says:

    Beautiful! As always.

  • Beth says:

    It’s wonderful! Love the playful flowers.

  • Averyclaire says:

    This is absolutely marvelous! I am a new weaver and am truly impressed with all your projects. So much to learn so little time! Thank you for sharing your lovely work! I can only dream

    • Karen says:

      Hi Averyclaire, Welcome to the delightful world of weaving. No matter how much time we have, thankfully, there will always be more to learn.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth says:

    What a great way to use a class project! It’s such a happy bag 🙂 I think my favorite details are the asymmetrical flowers and the exposed fringe on top. I admire your creative use of remnants.

    Enjoy your pause!
    Love, Elisabeth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I wanted to make asymmetrical flowers because that is possible only with the pick-up method, and not possible with standard monksbelt threading. The exposed fringe on top is one of my favorite details, too. It came about because it was simpler than trying to fold the edge under.

      Thanks!
      Love,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    I can’t add to above comments..

    Enjoy your sabbatical!!

    Nannette

  • Maria Slayman says:

    I love how it all came together from your stash! Bet that felt good! Beautiful!

  • Joanne Hall says:

    I love how the light colored centers in your monksbelt flowers jump out and say,”look at me”. This is a great design. And I like how you have the knots and linen ends sticking out. That is very effective.
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, It was fun to try to make a monksbelt design that would show off the possibilities of this method. This was a fun “playtime” at the loom. The knots and linen ends sticking out was an afterthought, but I liked the idea to show off the light-hearted concept of the scattered flowers.

      Thanks for your encouragement,
      Karen

  • LJ Arndt says:

    I love the view thru the loom of seeing the weaving that you did at the workshop thru the loom and then the newest weaving still showing on top of the warp.

    • Karen says:

      Hi LJ, That’s my favorite view. There is something intriguing about looking through the warp to the previously-woven fabric.

      Thanks for chiming in,
      Karen

  • Lyna says:

    “May you carry no more than necessary.” A great reminder to cast our cares on Him!
    Have a blessed July!

  • Cynthia says:

    Hey Karen. Lovely. I have gobs of scrap quilt fabric. Too bad we don’t live closer, you could be going through my scraps for linings to your things.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cynthia, It’s fun to find ways to use scraps. It’s probably good that I don’t have access to your quilt fabric scraps. I have plenty of my own to use up. 🙂

      All the best,
      Karen

Leave a Reply


Handwoven Scarves Embellished with Flair

You could say I finished these scarves too late. Winter in Texas has come and gone. But I prefer to think of it as considerably early. When cool weather comes back around in a few months, I’ll be ready. I began with the draft for the lovely Stardust scarf, designed by Mona Nielsen, published in Happy Weaving, from VävMagasinet, p.74. I simply substituted the yarn and colors in the book with what I had on hand.

New warp on warping reel for winter scarves.
Warp is mostly 6/2 Tuna wool, with some 7.5/2 Brage wool included.
Stripes on the back beam. What a lovely sight!
Made with yarn on hand. This means that additional stripes have been added to the plan.
Weaving by the fire in the middle of winter.
Weaving by the fire in the middle of winter. Mora 20/2, a fine wool, is used for weft.
Two new wool scarves coming off the loom!
Two scarves coming off the loom.
Fringe twisting.
Fringes are cut and twisted.

The scarves are delightful, but the icing on the cake is the addition of fluffy, furry pompoms, an embellishment with youthful flair. And that is exactly what I will put on at the first sign of autumn chill.

Making pompoms to embellish the handwoven scarf.
Some of the thrums are used in making pompoms.
With the Pom and Tassel Maker by Red Heart I can make seven pompoms at a time.
With the Pom and Tassel Maker by Red Heart I can make seven pompoms at a time. I wrapped the yarn around 100 times, making full and thick pompoms.
Each furry ball is shaped and trimmed.
Each furry ball is shaped and trimmed. I used 8/2 cotton for the 12″ tie around the center of the pompoms.
Adding pompom embellishments to the scarf.
Each pompom is stitched to 3 – 4 twisted fringes. Seven pompoms at each end of the scarf.
Handwoven scarves with pompoms!
Now, the scarves are ready for wet finishing. Notice how you can see the separate strands of yarn in the pompoms before they are washed.
Handwoven scarves with pompoms, hanging to dry.
Scarves have been washed by hand in warm water in a large sink, with Eucalan delicate wash. I purposely gave them as much agitation as I could by hand. They are hanging to dry. Notice how the pompoms have slightly felted, making them even more soft and furry.
Winter scarf amid spring bluebonnets in Texas hill country.
Winter scarf amid spring bluebonnets in Texas hill country.

Some things are certain. The sun will rise tomorrow. The seasons will follow their schedule. The faithfulness of the Lord our God will never end.

May you dress in youthful flair.

Warmly,
Karen

22 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Very pretty! I love the pompoms!

    Take care!!

  • Charlotte says:

    So, so, so precious! And! Your scarf is pretty special, as well!!!

  • Marianne says:

    It’s gorgeous! What a clever way to add Pom poms!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marianne, Thank you so much! The idea for the pompoms came from the book Happy Weaving. That’s what drew me to this scarf pattern.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    Hi, Karen!

    I love the colors and pattern of this scarf. And the pom poms are the perfect touch. Thank you telling us how they were made and attached. I always learn from you.

    Please stay safe and healthy.

    Annie

  • Janet says:

    Love the addition of Pom Poms. I haven’t used tuna wool before but recently purchased many skeins for a throw. I know you’ve used quite often, what do you find the best sett for a lovely drape for a twill structure?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janet, My favorite twill blanket from Tuna wool is the one I made at Vävstuga. You can see the info for the project here: Swedish Wool Blanket.
      Tuna wool is an excellent choice for a throw. I think you will enjoy weaving with it, too!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth says:

    What a beautiful and “happy” scarf I have never seen this pom pom maker before, a neat tool, thank you for showing us!
    Elisabeth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I happened upon the pompom maker while browsing at Hobby Lobby. I knew I wanted this embellishment for my scarves, so I was happy to find a helpful tool. It beats cutting out cardboard circles to wrap with yarn–one fluff ball at a time. It wouldn’t be hard to make a similar tool at home.

      I, too, think of this as a “happy” scarf.

      Thank you,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Such a fun scarf!

  • Nannette says:

    Hi Karen,
    What a pretty scarf. With the early Spring in Wisconsin, it is too warm to wear it here until November. More time for anticipation.

    My looms were taken to the retirement home Friday. The chipper was brought back so my sister can dispatch the 5 mature trees she dropped.

    Now I am going through my sewing room. Oh My, Why did I buy some of the things I am finding? Three piles. Donate, Sell, Take with me. Too many decisions. Where did I get all those cards of snaps from 1960?

    Are any of your readers in health care? I am wondering if the cloth face masks being shown as projects are something that can be used in the medical system, or are they just fashion statements? When the other grandchildren were born I would take a home made treat to leave with the nurses. This year I could leave some cheerful cloth masks…

    This latest grandson can come at any time.

    Blessings to all.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Congratulations on your coming grandson. Life is full of twists and turns. I’m glad you have a place for looms in your new home. That gives you something to look forward to.

      Blessings to you,
      Karen

  • Betty Morrissey says:

    Beautiful! May I ask, when weaving with a stretchy wool warp, do you tension it tightly so the stretch is maxed out?
    The pom poms are a great use of ends. Thank you for your kindness, always.

    Betty

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betty, Great question! No, I don’t tension tightly to max out the stretch of the wool. I don’t want to over-stretch the wool. You have to find a happy medium so that it is tight enough that the shuttle doesn’t fall through, but not so tight that it will stretch the fibers out too far.

      I’m always happy when I can find a good use for some of the thrums. Who knows, maybe I’ll start putting pompoms on everything. 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Jan says:

    These are gorgeous. I am so inspired by your weaving and sharing.
    Thank you

  • Barbara Mitchell says:

    Love these scarves and the pom-poms. I tried to put pom-poms on a scarf, but couldn’t get them tightly enough tied on to the end of the twisted fringe so they just ended up looking goofy and wishy-washy, so I cut them off again. Do you have a secret?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barbara, Thanks for asking! I think what helps is stitching the pom pom to a group of 3 or 4 twisted fringes, and the individual fringes are fairly thick. The tapestry needle with 8/2 cotton for the stitching thread goes through the fringes just above the knots and then through the center loop of the pom pom. I take the thread back around 3 or 4 times and then secure it with several small (hidden) stitches in the fringe/knot.

      Maybe you’ll have a chance to try it again. It does make a fun finishing for a scarf.

      All the best,
      Karen

Leave a Reply


Tried and True: Designing Handwoven Towels

How do you come up with a design for standout hand towels? Sometimes it’s nice to start with someone else’s ideas. There is a gorgeous wool throw, designed by Anna Svenstedt, in Favorite Scandinavian Projects To Weave: 45 Stylish Designs for the Modern Home, by Tina Ignell. This Colorful Throw—Reverse Twill makes a perfect template for designing eye-catching hand towels.

New handwoven towels.
Warp chains with seven colors of 22/2 cottolin for standout hand towels.

Decisions:

  • Colors – a set of seven colors, to be used in warp and weft
  • Fiber – 22/2 cottolin for warp and weft
  • Reed and sett50/10 metric reed, 10 ends per centimeter (~ 12-dent reed, 24 ends per inch)
  • Finished size of towel – 39.5 cm x 63 cm (15.5” x 24.5”)
  • Number of towels – 2 pairs of towels = 4 total
  • Spacing of warp stripes – add two more narrow stripes at each selvedge to balance the pattern

These decisions enable me to prepare a project plan, make calculations, and write a new weaving draft.

New handwoven towels.
Testing, testing…

When the loom is dressed, the design process continues as I begin weaving a sample section. This is where I decide what weft colors to use, the spacing of weft stripes, and specific treadling patterns. I add these notes to my project sheet, which I keep at the loom as my weaving roadmap.

Measuring for weft stripes.
I place my measuring twill tape along the reed to mark the spacing of the warp stripes. I will use that same spacing for weft stripes to make plaid towels.
Testing colors and patterns.
Sample weaving to try out colors, stripe spacing, and treadling patterns. And, simply to practice this broken reverse twill treadling, which requires concentration.
First towel starts after the red cutting line.
First towel starts after the red cutting line.

These hand towels are a preview. If they turn out as hoped, I may have to make some bath towels to match.

May your designs stand out.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Charlotte says:

    You will love the cottolin for your bath towels. I’ve used cottolin for warp and linen for weft. That works well. But, the balance of cottolin for warp and weft makes a wonderful bath towel.

    Your hand towels will be a treasure!!! The colors are smashing!!!!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlotte, I like the idea of using linen for weft with a cottolin warp. You would get the softness of the cotton in the cottolin and the extra absorbency of the linen. I may consider that for the bath towels. What size linen do you recommend for that?

      I’m already thinking these may be my favorite hand towels.

      Thanks!
      Karen

      • Charlotte says:

        I am sitting here at home, sipping my first cup of coffee. Hence, I don’t have my notes available to answer your question. But, I usually try a weft and weave a few rows of blocks to make certain I can square the block. If the yarn is too thick for the weft, but I’m crazy about it…I’ll weave 1/2 blocks for the cloth. I’ll treadle 1, 2, 3 and change to the next pattern row: 4, 5, 6. Does this make sense?

  • Anonymous says:

    Absolutely beautiful! Gorgeous colors. Eight shaft?

  • Joanna says:

    I wish you more joy with your plaid than I have had with mine. It’s been stalled on the loom forever. What was your inspiration for the color choices? I keep looking for echoes of your beautiful Texas Hill Country.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, I know it is disappointing when something on the loom is less than what we’d hoped. What if you just finished your towels off with a single weft color, having only the warp stripes? Would that work? At least you could get them off the loom sooner.

      I have a set palette of colors for our home in Sherwin-Williams paint chips. I spread those paint chips out when deciding on thread colors for weaving that will be used in our home. I have yarn samples of all the main yarn/thread that I use (Yarn in a Jar from Vavstuga is fantastic for this) so I can spread the yarn colors out, too, and find pleasing arrangements.

      I hope you find a way to put joy back into your towel weaving.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kevin says:

    Really beautiful! I love the colors and the pattern!

  • Barb says:

    Love the idea of using the warp stripe pattern as the spacing for the weft colors! It is an idea i will sample on the striped cotton towels on my loom. Thanks so much for sharing, I always find inspiration in your weaving journey.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barb, Copying the warp stripe spacing is an easy way to bring a cohesive look to the towels. Good for you to sample the idea for yourself.

      I sure appreciate your kind encouragement.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Beautiful weave.Love your color choices.

    Thank you. Much needed as I sit next to totes being filled with decades of craft supplies to be moved to the retirement home and the empty boxes to be filled for the anticipated rummage sale. The Reed Pleater will have to be sold. Can I let go of the silk screening supplies from my college days?

    In the next 9 months there is much to do to make the transition.

    Between you and Curmugeom66 my creative soul is renewed. (His last VLOG was snow blowing his yard just south of Green Bay.) That said, he has posted quite a few VLOGs using cottalin.

    Thank you for keeping me in the loop with your wonderful projects..

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I understand. I, too, had to let go of many prized saved things when we prepared for our retirement move. Happily, I have no regret of letting go, and I have not missed any of it. The move became my chance to start fresh. That doesn’t make your challenge any easier, but I hope you will be encouraged. You have a bright future to look forward to.

      All the best,
      Karen

Leave a Reply


Weaving Some Simple Borders

I need to free up this little loom in order to put on a different warp that has a deadline. So, now that I have returned from my travels, my attention is going to these towels. My friend is letting me weave this lovely cottolin warp that she got at Vavstuga.

Simple border stripe in first towel of the Vavstuga towel kit.
Simple border stripe in first towel. Straight twill.
Cottolin warp and 8/1 tow linen weft.
Cottolin warp and 8/1 tow linen weft.
Point twill on four shafts.
Point twill on four shafts. Three horizontal stripes made with half-bleached tow linen weft.

Straight twill, point twill, broken twill, and now “rick-rack.” And after that, a couple towels in plain weave. Everyone who weaves this Vavstuga towel kit and follows the instructions will end up with the same six towels. True? Not necessarily. I like to step off the expected path. That is why I vary the weft and include some type of simple border design on each towel.

Loom with a view. Texas Hill Country.
Three colors of 8/1 tow linen sit on the little blue table as choices for weft. Half-bleached, Unbleached, and Bronze.
Broken twill for a cottolin towel.
Changed the tie-up to broken twill, which allows me to keep a simple straight treadling pattern. Dashed weft pattern for the border stripe is produced by alternating the bronze linen weft with the half-bleached linen weft.
Color-blocked towel uses three neutral weft colors.
Long wavy vertical lines give the appearance of rick-rack. Again, I changed the tie-up to keep the simple straight treadling pattern. I use all three weft colors in this color-blocked towel.
Cottolin towels with 8/1 tow linen weft.
Plain weave, with four shafts and two treadles. The main body of the towel uses the unbleached linen weft. Two picks of half-bleached linen are sandwiched between several rows of bronze linen weft.

There is a wide path that is crowded with many people. It’s the common and expected way of life. It’s where you stay if you want to fit in with everyone else. But if you search for it, you’ll find an uncommon path. It’s narrow; and few find it. It’s the path of life that is found in Jesus Christ. Stand in the narrow path. That is where your unique features will show up as border designs that set you apart as a cherished child of God.

May you be set apart.

Happy weaving,
Karen

9 Comments

  • Joanna says:

    What a timely post this is! I have a long striped towel warp on that I was getting seriously bored with after only two towels. Right now it’s 4S/2T in a straight draw, but I was mulling over putting more treadles on and fiddling with the tie-up. Thanks for helping me decide (I’m prone to dithering). Bless you, Karen.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, I tend to thrive on variety. Maybe you’re like me in that regard? I have changed the tie-up three times on this warp so far. With only four shafts, it’s an easy way to change things up. The instructions that came with the Vavstuga towel kit gave different tie-up options, so I thought – why not do them all? 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kristin Martzall says:

    Your posts are so inspiring! How do you use the grosgrain ribbon? as a measuring device? Like a cash register tape bit not as bulky and fragile.?
    Thanks ,in advance ,for your help in explaining that process!

    Kris

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kristin, Welcome!
      The marked grosgrain ribbon came with the Vavstuga towel kit. I normally use twill tape for the same purpose – to pre-measure the desired length of what I am weaving. Here’s a blog post I wrote about it: Tools Day: Measured Weaving

      Happy weaving!
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Welcome home, Karen! I am sure that you missed your looms! Were you able to finish the tapestry from Big Bend?
    I also like to try different tie ups or striping when I make towels. I like the combination of striping and pattern you have with those colors.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I made some good progress on my Big Bend tapestry while away. But my floor looms have a louder voice in calling me than the portable frame loom does. I guess I better set aside some quiet evening time to finish the tapestry.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Linda Cornell says:

    Five sentences, so precious, choose the narrow path!

    Thank you and Blessings.

    Linda

  • Pam Cauchon says:

    Thank you, Karen, for such wise words. I had been questioning my decision to simplify my life. While simplification is good for contemplation it can be a bit lonely. Weaving provides those moments for contemplation and it is encouraging to hear from someone who is like-minded. To know Christ’s narrow path is well worth it. Then I realize I’m not so lonely after all. Indeed, thank you for the encouraging words.

Leave a Reply