Conversation with Joanne Hall

Drive up to this storybook cottage, and you can tell there is something special about it. It’s the home of Ed and Joanne Hall. When I arrive, Joanne greets me and takes me down the hand-crafted pine stairs to her delightful weaving studio dotted with floor looms.

Storybook cottage in Montana mountains.
Driving up to the Hall’s home and Joanne’s weaving studio in Montana.
Welcome!
Välkommen = Welcome

I recently had the joy of learning the ins and outs of drawloom weaving in this storybook studio in Montana. After the class ended, Joanne and I sat at her kitchen table to share some thoughts about weaving.

Joanne Hall
Joanne Hall
Photo credit: Ed Hall

Come join us, and sit in on our conversation…

If you could keep only one loom, what would it be?

The 59” Glimåkra Standard. That would be my loom, with a drawloom. A big loom is easier to set up, easier to warp because I can step inside it, and easier to weave on than a little loom. As you get older you need every advantage you can get.

Butterflies, woven by Joanne Hall on a single unit drawloom.
Butterfly piece was woven on the very first warp Joanne put on her drawloom. The warp is 20/2 cotton, unbleached; and the weft is 16/1 linen.
Being a tapestry weaver, I had to add more colors, so I laid in some colors and then I put a little gold leaf here and there. I did not want to add anything that looked like embroidery. I wanted my new work on the drawloom to have all the elements woven in.
– Joanne Hall

What would you weave on that loom?

I would mostly make narrow warps. I could weave some blankets or larger things, as well, because it’s easy on that loom. It is easy to beat and so easy to treadle. I could also weave tapestry on it.

Describe the drawloom you would use.

With the Myrehed combination, I would have both the shaft drawloom and the single unit drawloom. I do like images, like tapestry weaving, so I would enjoy weaving with the single unit drawloom.

Story of the Immigrants, woven by Joanne Hall on single unit drawloom.
Story of the immigrants.
Three of my grandparents immigrated from Sweden to America. This tells the story of their journey–walking, riding, then endless days on the boat, then walking again, all the way to Minnesota.
– Joanne Hall

Are there any weaving secrets you’d like to share?

One important thing to know is to wind a warp with more than one thread, especially a long warp. It is easier to beam and you will prevent problems when you wind with two or more threads. And doing so may also have a positive effect on weaving that warp.

Another thing to consider is that once you start weaving, plan to invest in good equipment. Some weavers start out buying the smallest, least expensive equipment. That’s okay for getting started, but don’t spend too much time with inferior equipment. Once you start warping looms, get a big vertical warping reel that is more than two yards around. You can wind a warp in half an hour, an hour at the most. And the warp will be more even and accurate than one wound on smaller equipment.

If someone wants to learn more about weaving, what is a good way to start?

Go someplace where you can take a class weaving on floor looms, even if you have never woven before. Keep in mind that researching online can be more confusing than helpful. In a class you will learn much faster and you will probably get better information.

Church Door by Joanne Hall.
Front door of Joanne’s father’s father’s (grandfather’s) church in the small town of Ör, in Dalsland, Sweden. The “6” near the door was part of the date on the church, 1661.
Woven on single unit drawloom by Joanne Hall.
Wooden Shoes, woven by Joanne Hall.
From a photo Joanne took in a small red house in an outdoor museum in the place where her mother’s family lived. These wooden shoes were on a rag rug in front of the fireplace.
Woven on single unit drawloom by Joanne Hall.
Fence in Sweden, woven by Joanne Hall.
Fence that is typical of fences all over Sweden. This came from a photo of the fence around an outdoor museum in Falköping Sweden, Joanne’s mother’s grandparent’s home.
Single unit drawloom, woven by Joanne Hall.

Any final thoughts?

In Sweden, weavers guilds are different than they are here in the US. Most everyone in Sweden can join a guild, called a vävstuga, which in Sweden is a place with looms—floor looms, big floor looms. You meet there as often as you want, and you can weave on floor looms in the company of other weavers, who are very helpful. If we had that, it would be wonderful.

That would be wonderful, indeed! I think I got a little taste of that, right here in your Montana studio. Thank you!

Happy Weaving,
Karen and Joanne

15 Comments

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Drawlooms in Montana

Montana is beautiful, with snow-capped mountains and big-sky sunrises! It’s there that I took Joanne Hall’s fantastic drawloom class last week. My confidence level about setting up and weaving on my drawloom shot up 100 per cent! (And Steve got to experience fishing on the ice with Joanne’s husband Ed!) Please continue all the way to the end of this post to read about submitting a question for Joanne to answer.

Gorgeous Montana mountains by Joanne's weaving studio.
View from Hall Lane, in front of Joanne and Ed’s home.

Cathleen and Deborah and I wove on the shaft drawloom, the single unit drawloom, and the Julia loom set up with half-heddle sticks to weave opphämta. What joy! …even in the challenges of learning new things.

Single unit drawloom weaving.
Single unit drawloom has the capability of weaving imagery, and even words, like “Lost Valley,” the name of our Texas hill country home.
Single unit drawloom in Joanne Hall's weaving studio.
Single unit drawloom in Joanne Hall’s weaving studio.
Half-heddle sticks for weaving opphämta.
Joanne demonstrates how to use half-heddle sticks and shows us some opphämta samples.
Shaft drawloom weaving. 6/2 tuna wool warp and weft.
Pattern has Xs that show where to pull the shaft draw handles. The red dot of a straight pin keeps my place as I follow the rows from bottom to top.
Shaft drawloom in Joanne Hall's studio.
Pulled pattern shaft handles are secured in the hook bar.
Weights hang on the pattern units in the drawloom.
Normally, one two-ounce U-shaped weight hangs on each pattern unit. In this case, with 6/2 Tuna wool, two weights hang on each pattern unit.
Drawloom samplers unrolled! 6/2 tuna wool warp and weft.
Wool yardage and samplers are unrolled and cut off the 120cm Glimåkra Standard loom. Oh, the colors and patterns!

Joanne taught us how to understand patterns and drafts, and how to make our own patterns. And we dressed the drawloom—we threaded pattern heddles and ground heddles, and distributed pattern shafts. Boy, did we students make mistakes! But with quiet Joanne, there is always a way to fix anything that matters. She is a picture of grace.

Distributing pattern heddles on the drawloom.
Deb separates pattern heddles that will be placed on the next pattern shaft.
Pointed threading of pattern heddles on the drawloom.
After undoing some beginner errors, we finally have all the pattern heddles in order (pointed threading) on the eleven pattern shafts.
Weights under the drawloom.
One weight hangs on the long heddles of each six-thread pattern unit.
In the loom together! Karen (me), Cathleen, and Deborah enjoy the expertise and kindness of Joanne.
Eight-pointed star on the shaft drawloom at Joanne Hall's drawloom class.
New 16/2 cotton warp on the shaft drawloom. I emptied a few quills to weave the traditional eight-pointed star pattern. Meanwhile, Joanne watched treadles, lamms, and shafts to fine tune the sheds. Everything is just right!

Striving to look good to other people, we face unwelcome judgment. Striving to please ourselves, we face demands of perfection. But when our heart strives to please the Lord, we receive grace. Our failures fade in importance as our confidence in his faithfulness grows. Know who you are working for. The imperfect images we weave in the cloth are a humble gift of gratitude back our Grand Weaver.

Wool shaft drawloom sampler.
Wool shaft drawloom sampler, at home now in my drawloom studio.
Shaft drawloom sampler from Joanne Hall's drawloom class.
Reverse side of wool sampler was face up on the loom.
Single unit drawloom sampler.
Single unit drawloom sampler. Our Lost Valley home, with details that remind us of our 2018 transition year.
Draw cords and handles are in place on the new drawloom.
Draw cords and handles are in place. Forty more will be added soon.
Shaft drawloom is just about ready for first project!
Shaft drawloom is ready. Single unit drawloom parts will be added later.
Please excuse me now while I go wind a warp!

May your imperfections be greeted with grace.

Love and grace,
Karen

~What are your questions? Joanne has answers~

Are you curious about drawlooms? Are you considering a drawloom for yourself? Do you have a drawloom and wish you could ask an expert for help? Please put your question about drawlooms and/or drawloom weaving in the comments below, or send your question to me through Get in Touch. Joanne Hall’s answers to two selected questions will be included in next week’s post. Please submit your question by this Friday, February 8.

16 Comments

  • Nancy Malcolm says:

    Oh, how lucky you are! I am searching for the loom, then take her class. It seems to be taking forever!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nancy, I know what you mean. I searched for quite a while, too, to find a loom. And then, all of a sudden, at just the right time, there it was! You have a lot to look forward to.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Marilyn Cann says:

    Karen, my brain tingles at all the learning you did last week! The picture of Montana way lovely too, but I added to that my knowledge that it was bitterly cold in that part of the country! Have fun playing with your drawloom when you get set.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marilyn, So much learning! Hopefully, the important parts will stick with me.

      It was cold, but we didn’t get the bitter Artic cold that some places were getting last week. I think they got some of that right after we Texans left. Whew!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,

    The draw down loom is something I did not know existed. At first glance, confusing. As I continued reading, exciting.

    I look forward to your adventures.

    Blessings,

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, It has taken me a while to peel off the confusion about drawlooms. I think I’m beginning to understand how they work. I’m super excited to get the whole thing set up!

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Shari says:

    Amazing! The complexity and beauty and feeling so empowered to make beautiful textiles.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Shari, It seems complex until you start to understand it. It’s really pretty simple—just sticks and strings that do specific things. It opens up a world of beautiful weaving!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth says:

    I am so happy you got your drawloom, and that you were able to take Joanne’s class this soon.
    Your weaving journey har been amazing, and it is such a pleasure to be invited into your weaving world through your blog!

    Elisabeth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I feel very fortunate that the timing of everything has worked out so smoothly.

      It’s wonderful to get to share my weaving journey with friends like you!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    I enjoyed seeing the pictures and reading your commentary, Karen. Is that your drawloom in the last photos? Have a wonderful time learning and weaving, and thanks for sharing your journey.

  • Janet says:

    I’m so excited to hear about your recent trip, Debbie and I are headed there in April and I can’t wait!!
    Janet

  • Thank you for sharing your experience and photos. Beautiful work. I am heading out there mid April and so looking forward to it. For some unexplainable reason I am so drawn to the big Swedish looms and the drawloom. I have an older Glimakra standard in storage and getting time with kind Joanne and the class I will know if it’s something for me or not. I will likely be less experienced than the other participants and your last paragraph is a reminder to not compare myself or lack of expertise but to enjoy.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Denise, Since you are drawn to the big Swedish looms, I am confident that it will be a great joy for you to weave on them. I’m excited for you! Your class with Joanne will be just what you need! No need to worry about lack of expertise. Just go with an attitude willing to learn. Enjoy!

      (And I know two others in the April class. You’ll be in GREAT company!)

      All the best,
      Karen

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One Thing on My Weaving Bucket List

I have a weaving “bucket list.” Making a handwoven jacket is on that list. I took a step toward that dream with Michele Belson’s (of Lunatic Fringe Yarns) workshop on pattern drafting last week. This Contemporary Handweavers of Texas Conference workshop was exactly what I needed.

Michele Belson's workshop. Body block pattern drafting.

Taking precise body measurements is the first step in making a body block pattern draft. The measurements are then transferred to the pattern paper in a systematic way. My handwoven “Mary Poppins” bag on the floor holds all my supplies for the day.

Making body block pattern draft in Michele Belson's workshop.

Front and back bodice patterns in progress.

Making a muslin in Michele Belson's workshop.

Making a muslin by transferring pattern markings and adding seam allowances.

I can weave fabric for a jacket. And I have sewing skills to sew a jacket. But the fitting! That’s been the missing link for me. And who wants to cut into handwoven fabric when the fit is not a sure thing?

Making a muslin from a body block pattern draft in Michele Belson's workshop.

Muslin pieces are sewn together so the bodice can be fitted.

Fitting a muslin in Michele Belson's workshop.

Michele Belson checks the fit of the muslin. After some small adjustments, she pronounces it a perfect fit! Ease will be added, suitable to the garment being made, when the time comes to make a garment pattern.

Adjusting a commercial sewing pattern in Michele Belson's workshop.

Michele demonstrates how to use the finished body block pattern draft to adjust the fit of a commercial pattern.

Mindful attention to details. Processing information to apply it to the work in your hands. Learning a glossary of terms. Combining new skills with old ones. Listening, with an intent to understand. These are elements of wisdom. Think of the created world around us. Look at the detail, complexity, and beauty in it. Is it any surprise that our Creator is the source of wisdom? Wisdom is the key to skillful work. And, as always, it must be applied and practiced. I will certainly practice fitting and sewing. And then, when it’s time, I’ll weave jacket fabric, and let wisdom guide me in cutting it.

I’m curious, do you have a weaving bucket list, too?

May you cross something off your bucket list.

Happy sewing,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Joanne Hall says:

    Back in the old days when I was teaching sewing pattern making, we called it a sloper. Did you hear that word being used? After careful fitting, we made the sloper out of cardboard. Then, you could use it to make any type of garment. My usual problem was not adding enough ease.
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, I am familiar with the term sloper, but I didn’t hear Michele mention that. She did say to make the pattern on poster board, so that’s exactly what I did when I came home. I’m not ready to draw my own jacket pattern, but I’ve started an attempt to adjust a commercial pattern. We’ll see how it goes.

      Thanks for chiming in!
      Karen

  • D'Anne Craft says:

    What a great class! I am looking forward to seeing your creations, Karen. So glad you took Michele’s class.

  • Sandy says:

    Good for you! So many people are afraid of taking this step. As a former patternmaker in the fashion industry, I can’t wait until my weaving skills are up to the task of making yardage for a garment for myself. I’m sure it will be a rewarding experience, as I’m sure that making your jacket will be.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandy, I’m impressed that you have experience as a patternmaker! Weaving yardage for a garment will be wonderful accomplishment. I can’t wait to see what you make!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Peg Cherre says:

    Sounds like a great workshop, and one that I need! I’ve got 2 lengths of handwoven fabric now that I’m afraid to cut into. I’m going to suggest this as a local workshop.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Peg, Maybe you can start with making something small with your handwoven fabric. I’ve had fun making bags and things, and even a hat from smaller pieces, as well as a skirt that didn’t take much fitting. That has helped build my confidence for cutting into the fabric. If you get a chance to take Michele Belson’s workshop, though, I would recommend it!

      Karen

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Small Tapestry Looms

The Hokett loom is proof that we don’t need everything we want. Simplicity often comes with fewer features, but it is still enough. I finished weaving one small tapestry sample on the simple Hokett loom, and I am pleased with the results. Now, I’m back to my little hand-built loom for the second sample. I’m spoiled by it’s tensioning device and the inlaid magnets that hold my needle.

Finishing small tapestry. Woven on Hokett loom.

Half-damascus knots, as demonstrated by Rebecca Mezoff, are used for finishing the edge of the small tapestry.

Hokett loom and small woven piece. Finishing in progress.

Finishing in progress. This small piece was woven with short hems that will be folded under.

The Weaving Tapestry on Little Looms online class (self-paced) by Rebecca Mezoff is going well. It’s great to view demonstrations that show details regarding yarn direction, headers, finishing, hems, and mounting, and more, from an expert tapestry weaver. My tapestry toolbox of skills is expanding! I’m thankful to have options of different looms to weave what I am learning.

Comparing two small looms--hand-built and Hokett.

The Hokett loom is smaller and more portable, even though the hand-built loom and Hokett loom have nearly the same weaving space.

What we need is more important than what we want. We don’t always see the difference between need and want. Lord, give us what we need today. May we long for nothing more than what you have promised to give. And may we show appropriate gratitude when given more than enough.

May you have what you need for today.

Softly,
Karen

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Another Small Tapestry Loom

One more little tapestry loom? I signed up for Rebecca Mezoff’s Weaving Tapestry on Little Looms online class, and ordered a Hokett loom to go with it. This petite 7″ x 8″ loom is made by Jim Hokett, who uses exotic woods for the looms. Mine is made of bubinga and chechen woods. Very pretty and nice to the touch! This is a 6-dent loom, and I have warped it double, to have 12 ends per inch.

Hockett loom warped for weaving a small tapestry.

Hokett 6-dent loom is warped 12 ends per inch by warping 2 ends per dent. I am not accustomed to using a tapestry beater or a shed stick. It will be fascinating to try some new things!

New Hokett loom - starting sample for Rebecca Mezoff's class.

I did some weaving while riding in the car. I finished the header, a short hem, and a row of special knots for the hem’s turned edge.

In this course, I am practicing some basic small loom tapestry techniques. Rebecca has a very organized, clear teaching style, so it’s a joy to learn from her. As I practice, I am reviewing things I have learned previously; and I am picking up great tips that are new to me. And, for once, lo and behold, I am weaving tapestry from the front!

May your new year start with learning something new.

Happy Year End,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Leigh Grundy says:

    I almost bought one of those little hokett looms once for sampling. They are so cute. What would you do with such a little tapestry? I can’t wait to see.

    Have a wonderful New Year.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Leigh, The little Hokett looms would be great for sampling for larger tapestries. I don’t have a specific end in mind. Sometimes I mount the small tapestry and put it in a frame. Most of the time, though, it’s an exercise for my fingers and my mind. I’m not at the point where I’m making masterpieces yet.

      Karen

  • Beth says:

    I followed Rebecca and her time spent in the Petrified Forest. I love her work and would one day like to take a class from her. The online class sounds like a great way to begin. I’m looking forward to seeing your progress.

    • Karen says:

      Beth, I follow Rebecca on Instagram. Her small tapestries from the Petrified Forest were very interesting. After seeing other students’ work on IG, I decided to go for it myself!

      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    I have put that class on my personal wish list. I got a Lost Pond hand-held loom for Christmas and I’ve never done tapestry. I will be visiting the person who gave it to me next summer; it would be nice to show her I’m using it! 🙂

    On that same trip I’m taking Basics at Vavstuga!!! :happy dance:

  • Louise Yale says:

    Also just bought a Hockett loom – in red zebra wood !! Same size as yours.

    Just experimenting with the loom now with traditional tapestry techniques and soumak which I really enjoy, Soumak stitches provide a 3 demensional accent or frame to the other stitches.
    Currently working with cotton perle but want to try silk.
    Planning to make a small flat purse for frequently used credit cards for my purse. I may add a braided necklace and wear it as a piece of textile jewelry.

    • Karen says:

      Louise, I love the wood. There is something special about holding wood in your hands that makes the tapestry work that much more interesting and special.

      I have done a little bit of soumak on this loom, too. It’s something I’d like to explore some more.
      I’d love to see what you’re making! The purse and textile jewelry sound fascinating!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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