Process Review: Tiers of Joy!

Would you believe me if I told you I had the exact length of fabric needed to cut out the three tiers for this skirt, with not a millimeter to spare? It’s true. Despite a profusion of fitting conundrums, detail studies, do-overs, ripping outs, mind-bending problem solving, and to-the-thread close calls, I never considered giving up. That’s not true. I did think of throwing in the towel. But, thankfully, my cheerleader husband won’t let me take that option.

Handwoven skirt in the making.
Measure thrice, cut once. When I changed the skirt pattern, my original measurements no longer applied. I made paper patterns for the tiers. That’s when I discovered just how close the length of fabric was to the length needed.

I have a deeper respect now for my friends whose sweet spot is garment design and construction. This Tiers of Joy experience has reminded me that handweaving is my sweet spot. It’s the thing I do that makes me say, “I was made for this.” When I’m at the loom I am soaring. What is your sweet spot? Let the breath of God make you soar.

Tiers of Joy handwoven skirt! designed and woven by Karen Isenhower.

Happily, I have a memorable handwoven skirt to wear on my date with Steve to the Symphony of the Hills Christmas concert next week.

Here’s a short slideshow video of this thread-to-garment story:

I am giving thanks for you! I’m glad you and I get to walk through this weaving (and sewing) journey together.

May your heart soar with thanksgiving.

Happy Giving Thanks,
Karen

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

Process Review: Fresno Canyon Small Tapestry

The Park ranger had told Steve and me that if we were willing to drive six more rugged miles we would witness a spectacular overview of the Fresno Canyon that few people get to see. This is an opportunity we wouldn’t dare miss. And the park ranger was right. Oh, what a view! From this high point above the valley the view is phenomenal! I welled up with emotion as I looked over the glorious beauty of God’s creation.

The memory of that scene is in this small tapestry. Most of my small-tapestry weaving happens when we travel, where we make even more memories, which I store up in my heart. I pull from these stored treasures to weave tapestries that reawaken the fond memories.

Landscape - woven small tapestry.
Fresno Canyon photo printed in black and white is used for the cartoon. Instead of an exact picture of the image, I aim for a representation of the memory, expressed with color.
Relaxing in the Casita travel trailer. Wood carving and tapestry weaving.
During a brief rainstorm while at Caprock Canyons State Park, Steve and I relax in the Casita with our handcrafts. Wood carving and tapestry weaving.
Small tapestry in progress.
Warp is blue 12/6 cotton. Weft is triple strands of 6/1 Fårö wool. I use the tapestry needle to weave.
Weaving in the sunshine on a camping trip.
Weaving in the sunshine at Davis Mountains State Park after returning from a hike.
Small tapestry of a Texas landscape.
Finished weaving one Texas landscape while enjoying another.
Small tapestry with finished and braided edges.
Warp ends are woven and braided.
Linen backing for mounting a small tapestry weaving.
Linen is cut to size and pressed. Narrow rod sleeves are sewn into place.
Backing a small tapestry for framing.
Linen backing is hand-stitched to the back of the small tapestry.
Simple frame for a small tapestry.
Steve designed a simple frame for the small tapestry.
Finished Fresno Canyon tapestry.
Finished Fresno Canyon tapestry. A treasured memory kept and framed.
Texas landscape small tapestry - framed.

May your memories become treasures.

Thankful for you! Happy Thanksgiving,
Karen

Two Kinds of Dressing

Before everyone arrives for our Thanksgiving family gathering, I am making pie crust for the pecan pie, dough for my “famous” cranberry bread, and doing the prep to make Gram’s turkey dressing. Each family is bringing their contributions to the meal (feast). Thanksgiving Day is a flurry of activity with too many cooks in the kitchen—just how we like it! And sitting at the table with the feast before us, we give thanks. Thanks to each other, and to our Creator. We are blessed!

Making perfect pecan pie for Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving feast prep. It takes two pastry chefs to make the perfect pecan pie.

And before everyone arrives I also manage to sley the reed on the Standard. A different kind of dressing—loom dressing.

Sleying the reed.
Two ends per dent in a 45/10 metric reed.

Sleying the reed.
I sit “inside” the loom on my loom bench to sley the reed.

Next step - tying on!
After the reed is sleyed, I remove the loom bench, lower the shafts, and move the countermarch to the front of the loom. Then, I place the reed in the beater and make sure it is centered. Next step–tying on!

Fresh warp on the back beam. Magical!
Getting dressed. Oh the beauty of a fresh warp going over the back beam! Magical.

A feast for the eyes and hands and heart. Thankful indeed!

May you give thanks,
Karen

Thankfully No Cartoon

My small tapestry isn’t following a cartoon. This time, I am making it up as I go. It’s an exercise in spontaneity, which is good for someone who is most comfortable when she knows exactly what comes next.

I know enough of the fundamentals of tapestry weaving that I can “wing it.” It also helps that I have enough past mistakes in my experience to have learned a few things. Think of this improvisation as another dimension of practice. A challenge that turns into a learning experience. I have much to learn, so I’m thankful for the experience.

Small frame-loom tapestry. Travel weaving!
Small frame-loom tapestry. Fåro wool weft, 12/6 cotton warp.

Sometimes life’s turns give us some weaving to do without a comfortable cartoon to follow. We make it up as we go. An exercise in spontaneity? Yes. Even in this, though, we see the improvised design emerge. Give thanks. The Grand Weaver who taught you how to get this far has your learning experience in mind when He brings you to another challenge. Knowing we have much to learn, let’s give Him thanks!

May you learn enough to enjoy “winging it.”

Happy Thanks-Giving,
Karen