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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Tried and True: Center the Reed

Eleven hours and thirty-six minutes into this project, the starting line for weaving is just around the corner. Wind the warp, and beam it. Thread the heddles. Sley the reed. Unlock the back beam ratchet. Move the countermarch to the front of the loom. … Pause when you think about moving the twelve shafts and the reed forward with the countermarch. Reach. Wiggle. Pull. Wiggle. Pull some more. Got it. Now, put the reed in the beater. Relax? Almost, but not yet.

Time to move the whole shebang forward.
Reed is sleyed, so reed support cords have been removed. Time to move the whole shebang forward.
Ready to insert the reed into the beater.
Plastic-coated wire is threaded through the ends of the shaft bars because I don’t have shaft pins long enough for twelve shafts. After coaxing and wiggling the mass of shafts forward, with the countermarch above them, I am ready to insert the reed into the beater.
Basics: How to center the reed.
As I put the reed in the beater I make sure all of the ends are free, and not trapped in the beater’s grip.

We must not forget to center the reed. I center the reed just as soon as the reed is in the beater.

How to Center the Reed

(We are actually centering the warp that is in the reed.)

Supplies needed: Tape measure (or string)

1. Using the tape measure, measure from the right edge of the warp in the reed to the outer edge of the beater on the right-hand side. Hold the tape measure with your fingers marking the measurement.

Center the reed.


2. Holding that measurement, place the tape measure at the left edge of the warp in the reed stretching out toward the outer edge of the beater on the left-hand side.

How to center the reed.


3. Note the difference in measurement between the right side and left side. Move the reed in the beater to center.


4. Repeat the first two steps until the measurements are the same on both sides.

Centering the reed.
Tips for centering the reed in the beater.
Tips for centering the reed in the beater.
Reed is centered.

Now you can relax. Enjoy the moment, because you are that much closer to seeing fabric take shape!

May you enjoy the process you’re in.

Patiently,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Trina says:

    Only a weaver would appreciate the amount of concentration that has gone into getting to this point! Well done!

  • Beth says:

    Gosh! So much involved with setting up a countermarch. I’ve only dealt with easy-peasy jack-types. I agree with Trina’s sentiment.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, The countermarch seems straightforward to me. It’s all I know. Having 12 shafts does add some complexity though, I admit.

      It’s what we get from the loom that counts, and I always admire the cloth you weave!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    I do not yet enjoy setting up the loom. It is so hard to wait to throw the first shuttle. But, like all things worth doing, the solid foundation makes the end result beautiful.

    Praise God .

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I find the setting up process calming (most of the time), but I understand that each of us approaches the loom differently. Point well taken that a solid foundation makes the end result beautiful.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Thank you for always showing us your process! It is fascinating. I had to chuckle at the “eleven hours and thirty -six minutes…” I recently spent hours working on a cramming and denting project only to find as I began to weave that I’d missed a dent in the sleying. Then missed catching it when I tied on. And when I first started to weave! Oh boy, patience is required then, for sure. It is important to love the process and the blessing of it all. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, I think denting errors are the worst of all. After I finished sleying this one I realized that I had missed the step of checking the number of dents in each grouping. I’m hoping, hoping that I won’t have to regret that later. But even re-sleying becomes part of the whole process, doesn’t it?

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Vivian says:

    What a beautiful warp. It is inspiring.

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Weaving Rhythm Awakening

All the looms are bare right now. Four empty, quiet looms. But they won’t be quiet for long. I have thread/yarn and plans ready for each loom. I hear a rumbling as the looms begin to wake up. Before long, the weaving rhythm will be fully awakened in this place!

12/6 cotton rug warp in Pear and Brass for rag rugs.
Glimakra 100cm Ideal countermarch loom has moved into the spot vacated by my recently-acquired Glimakra Standard 120cm countermarch loom that we have moved to a new location.
12/6 cotton rug warp in Pear and Brass for Rosepath rag rugs.
6/2 Tuna wool for a 12-shaft double weave blanket.
Glimakra 120cm Standard countermarch loom in its favored position in our home. This loom has not been moved.
6/2 Tuna wool in Lapis Lazuli and Almond for a 12-shaft double weave blanket.
Vavstuga pre-wound warp for towel kit.
Handbuilt little 70cm countermarch loom in its perfect little corner by the windows. Pre-wound warp from Vavstuga (Mary’s Towel Kit) that my dear friend Elisabeth is letting me weave.
22/2 Cottolin in Sapphire and Yellow Ochre for towels.
Moving the Glimakra Standard loom to its new studio space.
Glimakra 120cm Standard countermarch loom…in pieces. We are moving the newest loom in the family to a room that is next to Steve’s carving workshop.
Starting to put together the new drawloom.
Glimakra Standard horizontal countermarch loom is being reassembled in its new Drawloom Studio! The drawloom boxes have been opened and parts sorted and organized. Let the fun begin!
The room is undergoing some renovations, too.
New jacks for th horizontal countermarch to fit with the drawloom attachment.
Draw attachment frame obstructs the jacks in the horizontal countermarch on the 120cm Standard loom. So Steve made all new horizontal jacks for the countermarch.
New drawloom!
Loom has an extension added at the back. We put it at its fully extended length to make sure it fits in this room. It does!
New drawloom! Just about ready to start!
Glimakra Standard with Myrehed Combination Drawloom–Shaft draw system and single unit draw system.
Unbleached 16/2 cotton for I-don’t-know-what-yet. But I will soon!
Book pictured is Drawloom Weaving, An introduction to warping and weaving on a drawloom by Joanne Hall.

May you see your best dreams unfold.

Happy, Happy Weaving,
Karen

18 Comments

  • Debbie says:

    You are gathering quite a herd of beautiful looms!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Debbie, I can’t deny it. Each one fills a purpose. However, the reality is that I can only weave on one at a time. So I think I’m done gathering looms…for now.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kelly says:

    Wow, so many looms, it’s like a dream!

  • Betsy says:

    Oh, look at my baby all dressed up in a drawloom! I thought you couldn’t put a drawloom on a horizontal CM loom, but I guess you found a way. Very interesting! One of these days i’d like to see that. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, Your baby is just waiting for you to come and see her! As soon as I get her all dressed and ready I’ll let you know. I’d be thrilled for you to come out!

      Yours,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Wow! I look forward to your postings on the progress.

  • Mary says:

    Wow!! I am excited to see what you bring forth from that draw loom!! Have fun!!

  • Alice says:

    You are an inspiration, my dear!!!!

  • Robyn Tanchum says:

    What a lucky girl you are to have so many beautiful looms! I too am a lover of Glimakras. I love their simple beauty, the way they whisper while you weave, and the ease of treadling. Can you help me with a warping question, please? Where do you put the raddle when you warp back to front? I have tried Joanne’s method of putting the raddle on the back beam, but I would prefer to rest it further toward the front, perhaps on top of the castle or even resting, clamped, to the shafts. The lease sticks would be in their usual position per Joanne’s method.
    Also, I wonder if you have any tie-up tips for the original Ideal that doesn’t have the “doorway”and extra room that the Standard has. I find the tie-ups truly tough to reach. Thank you! I LOVE your blog!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Robyn, I have never used a raddle. I just pre-sley the warp ends in a reed. So I don’t have an answer for you on that one.

      For the Ideal, I do most of the tie-ups from the front of the loom. It can help to set the treadles on a box so that you can have both hands free for the tie-ups. I also usually put in all the treadle cords first, and then attach the cords to the treadles. That seems to make it a little easier. I also take breaks so I don’t strain my back.

      I’m so happy to have you coming here. Thanks for asking great questions!
      Karen

  • Shari says:

    Amazing! You are the Gkimakra poster child!

  • Annie says:

    I am so happy to see your draw loom dreams come true, Karen. Life is good!

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Process Review: Twelve Placemats

Twelve placemats just came off the loom! Now, for the finishing work. Measuring, examining, repairing, washing and drying, and hemming. Soon they will be ready to dress the table for a home-cooked meal. Mmmm… The focus is on food and fellowship. The placemats are there to catch the drips and crumbs. And then, washed and made ready for the next meal.

8/2 cotton for placemats.

Striped warp is beamed.

Tied on and ready to weave.

Color and Weave placemats.

Color and weave produces different patterns.

Weaving in the afternoon shadows.

Weaving placemats in a sunny corner.

Variety of stripes with color and weave placemats.

Sisters in the color family!

Color gradation and color and weave.

Interesting shadows at the loom.

Christmas. While our focus is on food and fellowship, a beautiful mystery plays out right in front of us. A baby named Jesus entered the world. Christmas celebrates this. Jesus came to take away our offenses, catching our drips and crumbs. The mystery of God is glorious. This is the mystery: Jesus takes our stains, and we who trust in him come out washed and made ready for glory. This is good news, for which a weary world rejoices!

Weaving at night by the fire, Christmas lights reflected.

Plain weave placemats in color and weave.

The End!

Cutting off! Twelve 8/2 cotton placemats.

May your table be dressed for good times.

Have a glorious Christmas,
Karen

28 Comments

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Tried and True: Color Gradation

When I decided to use up some of the quills that have collected, I stumbled on one of my favorite techniques—color gradation. The weft colors change gradually instead of making distinct weft stripes. Remember the placemats on the little countermarch loom? I am weaving the last few.

Color gradation on plain weave with color and weave effects.

Using up thread left on quills for some color gradation play.

Doubled weft gives opportunity for easy color gradation.

Color and weave effects on plain weave. 8/2 cotton weft is doubled.

The quills on a double-bobbin shuttle don’t always empty at exactly the same time. The quill that has thread remaining on it goes in a box for later use. Those quills in the box are what I’m using here. For this placemat I’m letting gradient color changes happen in varying increments, according to the amount of thread left on the quill. I have five shades of 8/2 cotton, ranging from coral pink to pumpkin.

Colors for gradient weaving.

Color “sisters” play well together.

This is the perfect setup for some subtle color gradation: Five closely-related hues, a double-bobbin shuttle, and a supply of leftover quills. For best effect, I arrange the colors in order, from light to dark, or dark to light.

Color Gradation

  • Weave a section with two quills of color A (the lightest color)
  • Weave the next section with one quill of color A and one quill of color B (one shade darker than color A)
  • Weave the next section with two quills of color B
  • Weave the next section with one quill of color B and one quill of color C (one shade darker than color B)

And so on…

What could be simpler?

Color gradation.

Pumpkin color adds a pleasing subtle accent to the corals and reds in the cloth.

May you make something beautiful with the little bits that you have.

Happy weaving,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Ruth Terry says:

    Such a lovely way to play with color. I often transition from one color to another without a hard line by weaving 1 pick with new color, 4 picks with old color, 2 picks with new color, 3 picks with old color, 3 picks with new color, 2 picks with old color, 4 picks with new color, 1 pick with old color and transition complete. Will try your double bobbin change next time I am ready to play with colors. Blessings during this advent season, Ruth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, Thanks for sharing another way to transition the colors. That’s a great way to achieve a lovely gradient.

      It would be fun to do a sample piece with various ways to do color gradations. Or, that would be an interesting study group project.

      Advent blessings to you,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    We turned on the Spurs game the other night and I took one look at the other team’s uniform and said “gradient!” Not something you often see in a basketball uniform, lol.

    Love the placemat!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, That’s too funny! Who else is even going to notice such things? …unless we call it the popular name-“ombré,” meaning shaded in French.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Vivian says:

    I realized on a recent project the subtle transition between two light colours, in different tones added depth. I decided to shake up the mix and make the transitions much narrower in the next project and didn’t have as near an interesting effect. It needed large areas each for contrast.
    I love your pattern too

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