Tapestry Story

It’s as if every row ends with a cliffhanger, and I want to see what will happen next. I know the end of the story, but I’m still eager to see how it plays out. This is how I experience tapestry weaving. I linger here as long as I can. When I do walk away from the loom, I’m already anticipating the next time I get to do this.

Butterfly wing. This second butterfly image shows more detail than the first butterfly image on this warp (which is now beginning to touch the cloth beam).
Cart with balls of wool yarn sits beside the loom for making new yarn butterflies as I go.

I use a cartoon of reduced size as a color reference for making butterflies. A black-and-white version shows me value contrasts. I twist strands of yarn together to find a specific hue and value. Each new butterfly becomes integral to the cliffhanger story. At the loom, my thoughts are fully engaged in the details of this story.

I combine various wool yarns until I find the right combination for the color I want to add to the tapestry. The thickness of each bundle of strands for a butterfly is approximately equivalent to the thickness of 4 strands of Borgs 6/2 Tuna wool yarn.
Every row brings new excitement.
Reduced-size cartoon helps me find the needed hue (color) and intensity (relative brightness or dullness) for yarn butterflies. The black-and-white version helps me see the value (range of light to dark as seen on a gray scale) in comparison to neighboring values.

When I pray, my thoughts are fully engaged in the details of life. Prayer answers our heavenly Father’s invitation to come and be alone with him. He listens as we talk to him about our life’s cliffhangers. Prayer is so much more than making requests. It’s about consulting with our Father to gain his heavenly point of view for the tapestry he is creating. When we see the strands come together just so, we know our life’s story is in the Grand Weaver’s hands.

May your cliffhangers have happy endings.

Your friend,
Karen

Happy New Warp – Year in Review Video

The 2021 cloth is cut from the loom. Let’s unroll the year to see how it looks. I see cherished moments. Treasured memories. New friendships. Family relationships enjoyed. Mistakes made. A few heartbreaks. Sorrow and rejoicing are intertwined at times. Besides the finished fabric, there are a few odd remnants worth keeping in my heart. And, like most thrums, there are some things I am not going to hold on to.

Cloth beam on the Glimakra Julia. Linen dish cloths.
Final project of 2021. Linen dish cloths, with warp made from what was left on several tubes of linen. Glimåkra Julia, using 8 shafts, 8 treadles.
Glimakra Julia - linen dish cloths!
Good-bye, 2021. Nine linen dish cloths, plus one large blue rectangle at the end. Washing dishes has never looked so good!

Three weaving highlights: 1. Eye of the Beholdertapestry of my mom. The Lord used the making and finishing of this woven portrait to reiterate His nearness when I needed it most. 2. Siblings, tapestry from the previous year, earned the HGA (Handweavers Guild of America) Award at the Contemporary Handweavers of Texas Conference last summer. 3. The yellow huckaback three-tiered skirt, Tiers of Joy, ought to earn an achievement award. However, the real reward is a genuine sense of accomplishment through perseverance.

Rag rugs up next!
First warp of 2022. Glimåkra Ideal. Double-binding rag rugs coming up. Hooray!

Know when to let go. 2022 is a new warp on the loom. Some things from last year don’t belong. We have a fresh start with no room for complaints. Threads on the loom are rich with hope, ready for the intersection of thoughtful wonder and exploration. Look for results of tangible beauty.

Please enjoy looking back at the weaving journey of 2021 with me. I’m grateful to have you here, and look forward to more good times together!

The three highlights: Process Review: Eye of the Beholder, Siblings Tapestry and Process Video, Process Review: Tiers of Joy!

May you know what to hold, and what to let go.

Happy New Warp (Year),
Karen

Tapestry Cartoon – Zoom In

For this second butterfly sample I am zooming way in, to expose more detail of the delicate stained-glass wing. Transforming the photograph into a weaveable cartoon is a fascinating task in itself. In real life, when do we ever get this close a look at the intricacy of the fluttering wing?

Butterfly wing detail for a tapestry.
Color rows of black, green, yellow, and gold wool weft are woven in a rosepath pattern to frame the beginning of the tapestry. My “go-by” is a smaller replica of the cartoon that is under the warp.

The primary reason for these butterfly samples is for me to gain a better understanding of how the details of the cartoon image relate to the sett of the warp on the loom. My goal is to thoroughly explore this style of tapestry. So, I aim to become adept in creating well-suited cartoons.

You can see the tapestry cartoon under the warp.
In progress. You can see the cartoon under the warp.

Let’s zoom in to the familiar scene of baby Jesus generations ago. The child born in a Bethlehem stable drew the attention of lowly shepherds, not impressive celebrities. Announced by angels, not by stately heralds. The detail clearly depicts something out of the ordinary: There is a kingdom that is not of this world. A King who shows up, not cloaked in royalty, but wrapped in the cloth on hand. What an intricate plan it is that a babe named Jesus would become our Savior King! And, that he transforms the image of those whose hearts invite him in.

May you examine the Christmas story in detail.

Looking forward to Christmas,
Karen

Tried and True: What a Little Piece of Tape Can Do

You never know when you’ll need a piece of blue tape. A roll of blue painter’s tape is among my essential weaving supplies. My favorite way to temporarily mark just about anything is with a piece of blue tape.

Blue Painters Tape for Temporary Markings

  1. Cut (or tear) the tape to size.
  2. Fold one edge of the tape under. This makes a little tab so that the tape is easy to remove or reposition.
  3. Use a fine point Sharpie to write on the tape.
Weaver's uses for blue painter's tape.
Tape prepared for pointing.

Three Examples

  • Keep your place. Draw an arrow on a small piece of blue tape. Use the arrow on the tape to follow along the threading or treadling draft. This eliminates confusion, especially after a pause.
Blue tape uses in the weaving studio.
Rosepath treadling for 4-shaft tapestry. Since there are plain weave picks between each rosepath row, I need something to remind me where I left off.

  • Measure the space. Draw a straight line on small pieces of tape. Measure the warp width on a tapestry frame or rigid heddle loom. Use the lines on the tape to mark where the first and last warp ends should lie on the loom. This eliminates guessing when warping the loom.
Uses for blue tape in my weaving studio.
Tapestry frame is ready for a new warp. After measuring for weaving width, and counting dents, I mark the dents with tape. No more guessing if I’m “almost there” when putting on the warp.
Blue tape to mark the rigid heddle. And other uses for blue tape.
By clearly marking the first and last slots/holes I can verify that my calculations are correct before I start warping the rigid heddle loom. This is helpful for direct warping and for indirect warping methods.

  • Number with Grace. Write out a series of numbers on a long piece of tape, leaving space between the numbers. Cut the numbers apart. Use the numbers to label pattern shaft draw handles on the drawloom. Place the numbers directly above the draw handles, arranged in groups of five for easy visual recognition. Use a separate series of numbers for border pattern shafts, if applicable. This temporary numbering system gives the advantage of being able to customize the numbering for each drawloom draft.
This is how I number my drawloom handles. Blue tape!
Using the Myrehed Combination Drawloom, I configure the numbers for the pattern shaft draw handles to coordinate with the single unit draw cords, which are grouped by tens. This makes my working chart that uses single units and pattern shafts much less complicated. For this reason, it doesn’t make sense to give my draw handles “permanent” numbers.

Have you found ways to use blue painter’s tape in your weaving studio? Share in the comments!

May your life leave marks that are more than temporary.

Have fun,
Karen

Be Weave-Able

I call her the ”Rain Girl.” She comes from an illustration in a very old children’s book on our bookshelf. The small tapestry is cute. But with its many slits and single warp wrappings, it falls short of what it could be. I compromised best practices to make it work.

New small tapestry - Rain Girl.
Small tapestry gets its start on a camping trip. Paint stir stick holds the cartoon in place under the warp.
Weaving a small tapestry from the back.
Weaving from the back. Long car rides are good for portable tapestry weaving.
Cartoon is not going to work for this small tapestry.
Checking the cartoon again.
Small tapestry almost finished. Rain Girl.
Finishing up the weaving of Rain Girl just before pulling back into our driveway after a long trip.

The main fault is with the cartoon. It isn’t weave-able. The image is too small for this sett. There must be a better way to weave this image.

Mounting a small tapestry on foam core board covered with flannel and linen.
Hems are stitched down. 1/2″ foam core board is covered with a layer of cotton flannel, and then natural colored linen.
Mounted small tapestry. Rain Girl.
Rain Girl, first version.

I am starting over with a whole new cartoon! I have now learned that Affinity Designer (computer graphics software) gives me the ability to create vertical parallel lines equivalent to my sett. With those lines in view I can see exactly how each part of the cartoon fits the warp spacing. I am turning the image on its side and enlarging it, and then, cropping to size. This cartoon is going to be weave-able.

Affinity Designer to create a new tapestry cartoon.
Screen shot from Affinity Designer. Image from book illustration is positioned on its side, enlarged, and cropped. View shows vertical lines that match the sett for the tapestry.
Creating a new tapestry cartoon in Affinity Designer.
New Rain Girl cartoon is ready for printing.

All of us have gone our own way. We insistently follow our own cartoon, compromising best practices, while struggling to make it work. There is a better way. Jesus Christ gave himself so that the Grand Weaver’s cartoon could be written on our hearts. In his hands we become his beloved tapestry. Be weave-able.

May your cartoon be just right.

Hopeful,
Karen