Swedish Overshot Experience

Experience builds on experience. The more I practice the classic Swedish weave structures, the more freedom I have in the process. Dice weave, halvdräll, and, now, this monksbelt, are all related. These are variations of overshot. I am putting what I know into practice, even though this is the first time I have woven monksbelt on my own loom. (My prior experience with monksbelt was first in a workshop with Joanne Hall, and then, under Becky Ashenden’s tutelage at Vävstuga Swedish Classics.)

Colorful Fårö wool is used for the monksbelt pattern weft.
Colorful Fårö wool is used for the monksbelt pattern weft.

Plan projects from start to finish, dress the loom single-handedly, use complex threading and complicated treadling, and weave with multiple shuttles. Do you relish these challenges? It is possible to weave things that don’t require as much training or practice. You can find a pattern on Pinterest or in a magazine, and do what “everybody” is doing. Not much is required of “everybody” in the crowd.

Classic monksbelt pattern with innovative color variations.
Classic monksbelt patterning is repeated with different color variations.
Swedish overshot, such as monksbelt, uses two shuttles--one for fine thread, and one for the thicker pattern weft. Warp is 16/2 cotton. Ground weave weft is 16/2 cotton. Pattern weft is 61 Fårö wool. Sett is 22 1/2 ends per inch. Weft density is 30 pattern picks per inch, with 2 tabby picks in between.
Swedish overshot, such as monksbelt, uses two shuttles–one for fine thread, and one for the thicker pattern weft. Warp is 16/2 cotton. Ground weave weft is 16/2 cotton. Pattern weft is 6/1 Fårö wool. Sett is 22 1/2 ends per inch. Weft density is 30 pattern picks per inch, with 2 tabby picks in between.

But some people strive to learn, and practice what they learn, building on previous experience. Consider truth. You are responsible for the truth you know. The more you are taught, the more that is required of you. And as you practice the truth you know, you discover the freedom that comes along in the process.

May you grow in experience.

Happy weaving,
Karen

Designing at the Loom

For the most part, I am designing this monksbelt at the loom. Even so, I have guidelines regarding color order, sequence of tabby and pattern colors, and treadling order. Each time I remove the temple, I make mental notes for the upcoming segment. When I advance the warp, I step back to get a better idea of where I’ve been, and where I want to go.

Monksbelt with Faro wool pattern weft.
Two tabby picks of blue 16/2 cotton are between each Fårö wool pattern pick. Purple wool weft is carried up the selvedge a short distance under the blue wool weft .

The challenging part is the weft rep tabby. I make a high arch with the tabby weft, and change sheds before beating the weft in. Inconsistency shows up as streaks, especially with darker weft, like the blue tabby I’m on now. When it seems like too much effort to get it right, I have to remember that I am not just making yardage; I am developing skills and habits for successful weaving.

Saturated colors bring high contrast to the monksbelt pattern.
The intensity of saturated colors provide high contrast. Lavendar wool appears gray when deep purple and dark blue are introduced.

It takes planning and caring to build a home. It takes wisdom. Homes are built with wisdom. It’s like designing at the loom. We can’t see into the future, but we can set guidelines that help us make a good design. There is always a challenging part, in every stage. All the more reason for consistency in our convictions. Home is not just a place. Home is where we learn to love.

May your home be your family’s favorite place.

Designing,
Karen

Weaving Slowly

After a solid hour of weaving, I have produced only two more inches (5 cm) of woven fabric. I am completely enthralled with the process, though, of this intriguing monksbelt weave. Some of the best things take the most time.

Monksbelt on the loom. Karen Isenhower
Walnut boat shuttle is an Ebay find. It appears to be an antique Swedish shuttle. I like the way it fits in my hand. The fabric measures 4 inches (10cm) from the beginning of the Rust and Brick section to the fell line.

I long to feel the completed cloth in my hands. This weft rep monksbelt is new to me. I honestly don’t know how the hand and drape of the final cloth will be. There is nothing I can do but wait. And, at two inches (5 cm) per hour, that’s a long wait. But I won’t give up. I have enough experience at the loom to know that this is going to be a treasured piece…if I don’t get impatient and cut it off early.

Monksbelt on the loom.

Monksbelt with 9 colors of Faro wool pattern weft. Karen Isenhower
Palette of nine wool pattern colors has been selected for this monksbelt project. Changing the ground weft and the pattern weft at differing intervals produces an active cloth, reminding me of musical counterpoint.
Monksbelt on the loom in the late afternoon.
Weaving in the late afternoon–a relaxing and satisfying experience. Temple awaits on the beater, to be re-positioned when the photo op is over.

Do you have a prayer waiting to be answered? Sometimes it takes a while. Does that mean that God didn’t hear, or that he doesn’t care? If we could see the invisible, I think we would see things being woven into place–at the right time, in the right way. Do not give up on God. Ask, seek, knock. And remember that our heavenly Father has good in mind for us.

May you rest in the wait.

Patiently,
Karen

One Color Too Many

I have forty-five shades of Fårö wool. That’s better than a giant box of crayons! Monksbelt and Fårö wool–is there anything better?! I have narrowed it down to nine colors. For the weft rep ground weave, a few tubes of 16/2 cotton off my shelves will do nicely.

Planning Swedish monksbelt with Fårö wool and 16/2 cotton.
Nine cakes of Fårö wool lined up against the wall. The wool is used for the monksbelt pattern weft. Seven colors of 16/2 cotton will serve as the ground weave, background for the pattern.

As always, I sample to see what works, and what doesn’t. I want a collection of colors that make a strong, but peaceful, statement. One misplaced color will spoil the effect. After trying various wool and cotton combinations, I see that the teal cotton must be removed. This color is welcome in other settings, but here it is out of place.

Removing the teal quill from the collection of colors.
One quill is eliminated–teal. The brash contrast between the green wool and teal cotton is immediately apparent as the cloth is woven.

Faith is like a determined collection of colors that are meant for each other. Do not underestimate the power of faith. When lined up like close-knit friends, when put into action, when woven into the warp, it’s phenomenal! However, faith is strongest when fear is removed. Taking the teal out of the lineup makes all the difference. Now, I weave this with confidence, knowing it works. Have you heard the account of Jesus calming the storm? He told the wind and waves, “Be still.” Strength and peace. That’s the power of faith.

Monksbelt on the loom. Wool and cotton. Karen Isenhower
Monksbelt weaving project starts with a bold statement. With the sampling now complete, I can weave the selected colors with assurance.

May you find the color that needs to be removed.

With strength and peace,
Karen

Perfect Warp Tension?

Two fingers gently test the resistance of the threads, from the center of the warp, moving outwards to the right, and to the left. This is how I evaluate the warp tension. I don’t rush; and I give the effort all my attention. Weft rep, where the ground weft almost completely covers the warp, is especially susceptible to hills and valleys from uneven warp tension. After I have made several tension adjustments, I tie on the leveling string. Next is tying up lamms and treadles, and winding quills. Then, the joy of weaving this monksbelt begins!

Cotton warp with leveling string, getting ready to weave monksbelt!
Leveling string is in place across the beginning of the warp. Lamms, which can be seen below the warp, are tied up next. And then, the treadles are tied up. After that, weaving begins!

The ability to feel unevenness in warp tension is a learned practice. Being attentive is half the battle; and patience is the other half. Taking time on the front end reduces correction time after weaving has begun.

Sampling at the beginning of monksbelt project. 16/2 cotton and 6/1 Fårö wool.
Classic Swedish weave, monksbelt, is woven here with 6/1 Fårö wool for the pattern weft, over 16/2 cotton for the weft rep ground weave. Sampling has begun!

Skilled listening is a learned practice, too. Listening is more than hearing, isn’t it? Pay attention to how you listen. It matters. It takes a gentle touch to listen with a heart of understanding. When we listen with an unbending heart, we only hear what we want to hear. Patience on the front end results in fewer corrections later.

May you hear and be heard.

Gently,
Karen