Pictorial Tapestry Weaving

Inspired by some of Joanne Hall’s exquisite large tapestries, I have been taking steps to learn her techniques. This fascinating style that is unique to Joanne enables her to weave large tapestries at a comfortable pace. My Lizard tapestry last year was a step in this direction. (See Quiet Friday: Lizard Tapestry.) One thing that the lizard taught me is how much more I need to learn. So, you can imagine my delight in having the opportunity to take a Pictorial Tapestry Weaving workshop taught by Joanne Hall last week! (Contemporary Handweavers of Texas Conference in Fort Worth was the setting.)

Texas Wildflowers, tapestry by Joanne Hall.
Texas Wildflowers, tapestry by Joanne Hall. Photo credit: Steve Isenhower 2013
Detail of Texas Wildflowers, tapestry by Joanne Hall.
Detail of Texas Wildflowers. Threaded in rosepath, with a linen warp. Woven with butterfly bundles of wool yarn. Photo credit: Steve Isenhower 2013

Things to remember: Don’t beat hard. Bubble the weft more. Color theory is invaluable for adding depth and intensity. Simplify the cartoon. And countless more bits of insight and instruction! I am invigorated in my pursuit to develop these tapestry skills. Expect to see a tapestry on my 120cm Glimåkra Standard in coming days.

Workshop looms.
My hand-built countermarch loom is perfect for a tapestry workshop. Betsy brought her Glimåkra Julia loom.
Tapestry sampler in Joanne Hall's workshop.
Workshop sampler gives students various tapestry techniques to practice. We learned techniques of other tapestry weavers, such as Hans Krondahl and Helena Hernmarck, as well as Joanne’s unique approach.
Tapestry workshop with Joanne Hall.
Fellow student Cindy created this pear, taking advantage of the rosepath threading to add pattern to the image.
Joanne Hall's tapestry workshop.
Joanne, center, explains the process of creating a cartoon. She spreads out photos of flowers as a starting point for students’ cartoons.
Joanne Hall's tapestry sample.
Joanne’s tapestry sample demonstrates the outcome of her process. A portion of the photo was enlarged from which she drew the cartoon.
Tapestry workshop.
Fellow student Deborah creates a flower from her original cartoon.
Making a tapestry cartoon.
I am choosing to make my cartoon from an enlarged portion of a lily photo.
Weaving from a cartoon in tapestry workshop.
Color studies and technique exercises all come together in the last part of the tapestry sampler. Weaving from a cartoon.
Tapestry progress.
Time to take the loom apart and head home. Checking my progress with the photo before packing up.
Lily sample from tapestry workshop with Joanne Hall.
Lily sample is finished at home.

I find myself pondering how experiences fall into place in our lives. There are times when the stepping stones seem to be set out before us, showing the way, when we don’t know exactly where we are going. The Lord knows where I am going. He knows me. And he kindly sets out the next steps. Perhaps he smiles as he sees our delight when we figure out that we are the bundles of yarn in his tapestry.

May your joy in learning never cease.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

21 Comments

  • Petrina says:

    Thank you for sharing this. It is so interesting.

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Beautiful! Looking forward to seeing your progress. I don’t have the patience for tapestry.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, You might be surprised. In some ways it is similar to the inlay I’ve seen you do, but on a larger scale.

      In any case, I’m pleased that there are so many directions we can go with yarn and threads and a loom.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Wow! Karen, you are always doing something amazing! Thank you for sharing the workshop since I was unable to attend any this year.

    I am curious as to how you were able to bring your loom. It doesn’t look very portable.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, The whole conference was a great experience. Maybe you will be able to attend next time, 2021 in San Antonio.

      These Swedish looms are easy to take apart and put back together. Think of it as large Lincoln Logs. The side gables are the biggest pieces. The rest —beams, crossbars, treadles, lamms— all fit into two large duffel bags. The gables and the duffel bags fit in the back seat of our Toyota Tacoma.

      Karen

  • Charlotte says:

    Oh my darling Karen! It is wonderful, reading your blog, this morning. En route to the Navajo Nation, our vehicle died in Albuquerque. What a story I have to share…His goodness to us…to place His people in our path…each one learning of us and needing prayer for themselves and their families. What a miraculous day He had planned.
    Thank you for being YOU! Thank you for taking such grand pictures from our workshop with Joanne. It passed by us all too quickly.

  • Betsy says:

    So fun to re-live the class through your pictures! Love your lily, that came out very well. I still haven’t put the Julia back together, I want to give it new dowels, so a trip to Lowe’s is on the list.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, I’m so glad my CM loom had a sister in the room! It was fun to get to weave side-by-side with you.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Vivian says:

    It is so uplifting to learn from your heroes. It is a well of kindness that keeps on giving. Thank you for sharing. I appreciate the breakdown of technique and you were able to make tapestry seem just a little more approachable.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Vivian, “Hero” is a good word to describe Joanne. We are fortunate that she is so willing to share her expertise.

      If tapestry weaving seems more approachable, then I’ve accomplished one of my goals. Thanks!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    Hi Karen, thanks for another great post. Joanne’s wildflower tapestry is a marvel. I’m wondering where she managed to find so many colors in what appears to be the same weight of yarn. Was it perhaps woven in the era of the famous Paternayan yarns (gone now and sadly missed)?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, That’s a great question about the yarn. If Joanne sees this maybe she will leave a comment.

      In the workshop we used mostly 6/2 Tuna wool and 6/1 Fårö wool. We made butterflies with the equivalent of 4 strands of Tuna wool. Using several strands together introduces great ability for variety of color and shading.

      I agree that Joanne’s tapestries are marvels.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

      • Joanna says:

        Back in the day I did a lot of needlepoint using Paternayan Persian wool yarn. The yarn came as 3 strands of 2-ply yarn and that put-up, combined with an incredible color range, enabled the stitcher to create the exact shade needed. It spoiled me. Do you know the date of JH’s wildflower tapestry?

        • Karen says:

          Joanna, I’m sure your needlepoint images were spectacular!

          Joanne Hall’s Texas Wildflowers tapestry was installed the summer of 1995.

          Karen

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi Joanna,
      As Karen said, we used 2 ply Swedish wools, Tuna, 109 colors available from Glimakra. We can extend the color choices by also using the Faro yarn,an additional 74 colors, using two strands as one. I did some dyeing for the Texas Wildflowers tapestry, as it is hard to get clear pastel colors.
      Joanne

  • Amazing. Beautiful.
    Right place. Right time. The rose path warp on my loom is exceeding my filler on some rag rugs. This technique has inspired me to weave the last rug as a tapestry in a simple design from stringers of red currants.
    Always an inspiration. Always a blessing.
    Thank you.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I would love to do some tapestry rag rugs at some point. I was thinking about that earlier this morning. Good for you!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Cindy says:

    What a treat to open your blog for the first time since I signed up and see my little pear! I had so much to learn and Joanne stuffed as much as she could into my sponge of a brain. Not sure where it will lead, but such an intriguing path!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, Your pear deserved to be seen! It’s good to go as sponges. It will be interesting to see where all this leads!

      All the best,
      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Lizard Tapestry

This is the moment we’ve been waiting for! We finally get to see the whole tapestry. This lizard has given me quite a ride! I have learned plenty. Things I’m happy with myself about, like drawing a cartoon from a photograph, following the cartoon details, making and keeping track of butterflies. And some things I’d like to improve, like choosing colors that give the best contrast, managing the cartoon under the tapestry, and choosing where to pick the floats. I’m eager to do four-shaft tapestry again so I can learn some more!

I wove the fringe into an edging, ending with a small braid. Next, I will tack the edging and braids to the back, clip weft tails on the back, and sew on a backing fabric. And then, I’ll find a special place to hang this Lizard tapestry in our Texas hill country home, just a half mile from the place I saw and photographed the cute little green anole in the first place.

Finishing the ends on the Lizard tapestry.

Finishing the ends.

 

Lizard Tapestry.

Lizard Tapestry. Next steps are clipping weft tails on the back, adding a backing, and hanging in our Texas hill country home.

May your learning experiences take you for an exciting ride.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

~Change Is Coming~
With Steve’s approaching retirement, I am implementing some adjustments for Warped for Good. Friday posts will become less frequent, and by December you will receive new posts only on Tuesdays. Today is my final Quiet Friday post, something I’ve enjoyed doing once a month for the five and-a-half years Warped for Good has been active.

I invite you to continue joining with me on this weaving journey at Warped for Good!

24 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    The lizard is wonderful! It will be right at home in the Texas hill country.

    I’m happy for Steve and you! I have so enjoyed your bi-weekly posts as they bring bright spots to my mornings and will continue looking forward to weekly posts.

    All the best!

  • Betsy says:

    You captured him beautifully! I love that little lizard half smile. We see them a lot on our deck, and on the tree that grows just a few feet from the patio door.

    I will miss the second weekly posts, but hope you and Steve enjoy retirement as much as we do.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, Of the many critters we’ve seen out here, the little green anole is the cutest, and maybe the most harmless. 🙂

      I’m glad to hear you enjoy the retirement season. I think we have a lot to look forward to.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Robin says:

    This is so inspiring. I have never even thought of doing tapestry on my big loom!
    Love it! How long did it take you? Looks like a LOT of work!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Robin, This was on the loom for five months. Part of that time, though, we had a lot of disruptions, including moving to a new location.
      You’re right, it was a lot of work. But I really enjoyed the whole process!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Cute little guy.

    Nice job.

    Nannette

  • Rachel Lohman says:

    Wishing you all the best in retirement with blessings surrounding both of you. .I have enjoyed the bi-weekly “warping” and learned a lot from you. Never knew that a tapestry could be done on the loom as you shared with us. The lizard will give color and joy wherever he is hung. Will miss you on Friday mornings but look forward to Tuesday’s! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and joy in the weaving of life. God bless!

  • susie weitzel says:

    Even more beautiful than I was imagining. Best wishes in retirement. So happy for both of you. Your talent and imagination are so inspiring. You have encouraged me to try projects I would not have tried otherwise. Again best wishes

  • Liberty says:

    Oh Karen, he is fabulous, I just love it!! What a long journey the two of you were on!
    Sorry to see you will be with us only once a week now, but I know you and Steve will be having a great time enjoying retirement now!!
    Hugs and love to you my friend,
    Liberty

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty, This was on the loom longer than I’d like to admit, but I enjoyed every part of it!

      It’s great to have you on this journey with me.

      Your friend,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Karen,
    Your little lizard turned out beautifully! What size is the finished piece? Hope we get to see him at the November WOW meeting.

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, I haven’t measured it yet, but on the loom it was about 36” x 48”. I’ll bring it to the meeting next week!

      Thanks for your sweet encouragement to me!
      Karen

  • Tonya Leach says:

    Karen,
    Where did you learn 4 shaft tapestry? I am fascinated! I will also miss your more frequent posting but I do hope you and yours enjoy retirement!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tonya, I have not seen very many examples of four-shaft tapestry like this.

      I learned it from Joanne Hall, who generously shares her knowledge and experience. Her work is amazing and something I’d like to emulate. I have a long way to go in that regard.

      Helena Hernmarck is another person I’m aware of who weaves in a similar style. I’ve studied pictures in a book I have of her work.

      I found one other individual on Instagram from Sweden who has examples of this type of four-shaft tapestry. I’m always on the hunt for this kind of tapestry to observe.

      Thanks for your kind sentiments,
      Karen

  • Lyna says:

    Thank you for bringing us along on your lizard tapestry journey! If possible, could you show how you finish it–how close do you trim the tails, how the warp ends are handled, how the backing fabric is attached, how is it hung?
    Or just say “Look it up in this ___ book,” because we know you are busy going into another season of life! Looking forward to Tuesdays!
    God bless, Lyna

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lyna, It’s my pleasure to have you come with me on this journey! Everything is better with friends along.

      I’ll do my best to show the finishing that I do, though I’m still learning that part, too.
      I did make a little video a while back that shows the method I use to finish the warp ends. You can see it at the end of this post – Quiet Friday: Little Tapestry Diary.

      Thanks for being here,
      Karen

  • It looks wonderful, until I saw your lizard it hadn’t occurred to me that a floor loom could be used for tapestry; one day I might have to try it too.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rachelle, I like using the floor loom for tapestry. This was my first attempt doing that, and I intend to do it again! Who knows, maybe I’ll have to add another loom just for tapestry. 🙂

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Karen Reff says:

    That’s pretty amazing!

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Final Batch of Butterflies

That last little bit of lizard toe? It’s long gone. This week I am making significant progress on the tapestry. My pace is picking up and the end is in view. What a joy ride this has been!

Last tip of a green lizard toe at the breast beam.

Last tip of a green lizard toe makes its way around the breast beam.

Coming to the end of this lizard tapestry!

End of the measure tape is in view.

I am closing in on the final ten centimeters. That means it’s time to evaluate the ten centimeters just passed. And to make a few more butterflies, enough to take me all the way to the end.

Four-shaft tapestry. Butterflies are prepared for each new section.

Butterflies are prepared in advance for each ten centimeters of weaving.

Forgiven people forgive. Think of forgiveness as the lavish supply of yarn that’s been given us through the name of Jesus. There is no shortage. And we make our butterflies from that supply. People fail us, disappoint, and even do damage. Being ready to forgive is like making butterflies in advance. Thankfully, our small wool butterflies are close at hand for us to weave grace in the moment it is needed.

May you have a lavish supply.

Love,
Karen

9 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    I cannot wait to see this off the loom!

  • Marjorie Clay says:

    How many hours a week do you spend weaving, on average? I’m trying to weave more and think/read about weaving less! I need a role model!!

    Marjorie

    I’m really excited to see this piece off the loom. Though I’ve followed all of your posts, the image I have of the entire piece is very vague!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marjorie, I probably average about 1-2 hours at the loom a day. I always wish I had more hours to spend weaving. I try to do all my chores and other responsibilities first in the day, because once I sit down at the loom I don’t want to leave. And, any day without weaving feels incomplete.
      I do track my weaving time on an app–it says I spent right about 14 hours weaving this past week.

      I have the printed image by my loom as I weave, and I still have a hard time reconciling what I see on the loom to that complete image. I’m super eager to see it rolled out!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing the finished tapestry. It will be wonderful, i’ Sure!

  • It is exciting anticipating the completion.

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Tapestry at Full Snail Speed

I am determined to have this off the loom before it’s time to move again. I know exactly how many “weaving days” I have left in this apartment. Steve’s retirement is just around the corner. His last day at work will be our last day here. And I know exactly how many centimeters I have left to weave on this piece. We already moved the loom once in the middle of this tapestry. Once is enough! I intend to make significant weaving progress every single day.

Measure tape shows progress on the tapestry weaving.

My measure tape shows that I have woven 80 centimeters. I will cross the finish line when I reach 125 centimeters.

Now that the image of the lizard is finished all the way to his toes, no more pretty green, blue, or red butterflies. I am removing anything that clutters my focus. Full (snail) speed ahead!

Weaving a lizard in four-shaft tapestry.

Lizard’s foot tries to grip the breast beam. There is no longer a need for butterflies in the lizard’s colors. Only the background log remains.

Weaving four-shaft tapestry on a Glimakra Ideal loom.

All the green, blue, and red butterflies have been removed. A simple color palette remains–white, yellow, tan, gray, brown, and black.

Faith is that kind of determination. Faith is more than thinking you believe something or someone. It’s pouring yourself into pure-hearted focus to trust fully in God. Faith is being so convinced that Jesus is the answer that you will stop at nothing to reach him. Where there’s that kind of will, there’s a way.

May you reach your most-pressing goal.

Your speedy snail,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Beautiful description of faith! Our strength comes from God and He helps us to persevere as we move toward the goal. TRUST is the fuel that keeps us forging ahead. God bless you as you reach this goal…and others, ahead for you. 🙂

  • Good morning Karen,
    ~ 2/3rds of the way complete with most of the kinks worked out. Nice place to be in. A firm foundation established. Everything in place to complete your tapestry.

    Kind regards,

    Nannette

  • Annie says:

    I hope the determination to reach your goal will not rob you of the joys of weaving, Karen. I can’t believe how the time is flying and how fast the move is coming. I know you looking forward to it, though.

    Thank you for sharing your rag rug process at the WOW meeting. I learned a great deal. I have your handout with my notes to reference when make my next one.

    I have no doubt that you will reach your goal.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, It will take a lot to make me lose my joy in weaving. This tapestry weaving is a true pleasure, and when I’m at the loom I lose track of time and everything else. Unless something totally unexpected happens, I’m sure to meet my goal.

      I’m happy to hear you benefitted from the rag rug demo. I hope I get to see your next rag rug!

      Thanks friend,
      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Tapestry in Transition

There is no room for timidity at the loom. It takes courage to dismantle a loom that has a tapestry on it. Dismantling and reassembling a loom doesn’t scare me. But taking a loom apart in the middle of a cherished project? That’s another question altogether. The hardest part was the waiting in between. You can imagine my mix of emotions through the tapestry transition—up, down, and every which way! And then, the moment of truth…Finally…When the warp is evenly tensioned, and the butterfly wefts make their first pass through. The lizard has been awakened. Hallelujah!

This slideshow video takes you through the steps of taking the loom down…And putting it up again.

Weaving continues now as if there had been no interruption.

Almost at the halfway mark on this tapestry.

Five more centimeters will be halfway! The “6” is sixty centimeters.

Lizard tapestry. Top of the head almost finished.

Finishing up the top of the head.

Lizard tapestry. Progress!

Lizard is making himself at home.

May you see the rewards of your courage.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Joanne Hall says:

    That is a great slide show. I am looking forward to seeing the rest of the tapestry. Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, There’s one more foot on the lizard, and after that it’s all background. I’m eager to see the whole thing rolled out, too.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    I so admire your weaving, patience, and organizational skills. Can’t wait to see more!

  • Cute expression on the face of the lizard. Remarkable to accomplish with yarn.

    Nannette

  • Karen says:

    I agree with Beth’s comments above and also want to add “courage”….
    I don’t think I would have been brave enough to take the entire loom apart. I would have been renting a biiiiggg truck and would have found every friend of our sons possible to load the entire loom into the truck!!
    Well done, you!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, I might have done that, too, if it were an option. Getting the loom down the stairs and out of the house would have been the biggest problem. Haha.

      Sometimes a person gets courageous when there is no other option. Cutting off the partial tapestry didn’t seem like an option.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Rachel says:

    Courage was your husband taking apart and putting back the loom! God blessed you with a loving, wonderful man! Love that the lizard went right back where he was wanted! Enjoyed your video!

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