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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Lizard Tapestry Disruption

I started the Lizard tapestry right before our big disruption. Selling your house means that every in-process project instantly becomes vulnerable. Yikes! After a sleepless night, I contacted my friend Joanne Hall. Can this weaving be saved? Yes!, she assured me, as she gave me instructions for dismantling the loom.

Getting ready to dismantle loom for relocation.

Yarn supply is packed up, including all the wool butterflies.

Getting ready to dismantle loom for moving.

Cartoon is removed.

Everything is logical about the process. Undo things, tie parts together, take things apart. And I don’t have to cut off the weaving? No. Remove the beam cords from the cloth beam. It’s that simple.

Lamms and treadles removed for moving the loom.

Lamms and treadles have been taken off.

Moving a loom without ruining a tapestry in progress!

Beam cords are removed from the cloth beam.

Removing the warp beam. Relocating the loom.

Steve unscrews a bolster that holds one side of the warp beam so I can remove the warp beam.

Warp beam removed! Hope to put this back together.

Holding the precious bundle!

Taking the loom apart.

Taken apart. Tapestry, reed, and shafts are rolled and bundled up in the fish beach towel.

Now all I have to do is wait

Relocating my loom.

Everything fits in the car, ready for transport.

All the dust has settled, the house transaction is done, and the loom has been re-located and put back together. It’s the first thing you see when you enter our ground-floor apartment.

Getting ready to re-assemble loom.

New location for the loom is in the living room of our apartment.

Simple Swedish loom assembling.

Simple Swedish loom assembling.

Re-assembling my loom after relocating.

Re-attaching the bolster to hold the warp beam.

Re-assembling loom after relocating.

Tapestry in view.

Using a spare heddle as a cord threader.

Spare Texsolv heddle works as a cord threader (I forgot to pack the “real” cord threader) to re-attach the cords on the cloth beam.

What about the Lizard? Can I resume where I left off? Good news: IT WORKED!

Ready to weave after relocating the loom!

Everything is put back together. Beam cords are re-attached. Yarn is unpacked. Warp is tensioned.

Lizard four-shaft tapestry.

Lizard foot grips the breast beam as weaving resumes!

When have you had to wait? Something you dearly long for is unreachable for a while. Waiting for the Lord is always waiting with hope. I trusted my friend’s advice. So, my hope was strong while I waited to see this lizard take shape again. In a similar way, I can trust the Lord when there is a disruption. Wait with strong hope. Wait for the grace to begin again.

May you wait patiently.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Kay Larson says:

    It looks like your move went pretty smoothly. Your tapestry looks so fun. I look forward to seeing completed. I treasure your posts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kay, It didn’t feel smooth while we were in the midst of it all, but now that things are relatively quiet again, I guess you’re right— It did go pretty smoothly.

      This tapestry is fun indeed. I’m looking forward to long uninterrupted sessions to enjoy it!

      Thank you for your sweet words.
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    So glad this worked out for you!

  • Betsy says:

    Joanne is such a help! I took my Julia from TX to WI for a workshop last May and went through the same process using her instructions. At least I didn’t have to worry about a project, just the header had been woven. The Julia gables come apart, so everything fit in a box except the back uprights. So cool.

    I will be looking forward to seeing that lizard emerge further.

    • Karen says:

      Betsy, Sounds like the Julia is a perfect workshop loom! Joanne has a wealth of knowledge and experience. It’s sweet that she is so willing to help.

      This lizard is going to get a lot of my attention in the next few weeks.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Good morning.
    I set up my new to me home made floor loom at a weekend house. There was 12″ of my first project on it when we decided to sell that house and look for our future retirement home. As it was dismantled each connection was marked with the same number using a sharpie. When it was put back back together 1 was matched up with 1… and so on. Now it is set up to dismantle and take anywhere.

    The people who designed looms were remarkable inspired.

    Blessings to all.

    Nannette

  • Annie says:

    I love the advice to “Wait with strong hope.” There are times when that advice is sorely needed.

    I, also, look forward to hearing about your adventures, Karen. And this one was a big one! It is a good thing that your apartment has a large living room!

    May you enjoy your temporary home.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annnie, I, too, often need a reminder to wait with strong hope. When things are difficult, hope can begin to waver.

      I don’t know if I would say this apartment has a large living room. The loom takes up a pretty good chunk of it. Fortunately, the room is large enough. 🙂

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Barb says:

    Thank you for for your posts, I have learned so much by reading them. And right now, just what I needed to deal with my own transitions. All the decisions and disruptions related to remodeling, selling a loom, and buying a new loom have been weighing me down. I have my eyes on a used Glimakra Standard, but it’s 1,800 miles away….. The pictures of moving your loom have been very helpful. Perfectly put, I can now wait with strong hope.

    I’m happy that your move has gone so well & you are temporarily settled.

    Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barb, I do understand the impact of life transitions. It can be stressful when you’re in the middle of it!

      I’m glad to hear that you are holding onto strong hope. Remember, just about everything is temporary.

      Hugs,
      Karen

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