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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Tools Day: Click Test

It is not easy to see sleying errors in this fine-dent reed. I unknowingly quadrupled the ends in four of the dents, instead of the specified two ends per dent. When I check as I go, I find the errors while they are still easy to fix.

How to check and double-check for sleying errors:

  • Tie ends into threading groups, using a loose slip knot. (I do this before threading the heddles.)
  • Sley one threading group. (I sley right to left.)
  • Visually check the sleyed group of ends for skipped dents and crowded dents.
  • Do a Click Test. Use the hook end of the reed hook to count the dents by running the hook along the reed…click, click, click… Make sure the number of clicks matches the number of dents needed for that group of ends.
    —This is how I caught my errors. When the dents came up short in the Click Test, I knew I had some crowded dents that I had failed to catch in the visual check.
  • Move ends and re-sley as needed.
  • Sley each remaining group of ends, checking as you go, visually and with the reed-hook Click Test.

Reed is sleyed. Dressing the loom for double-weave towels.

Two ends per dent in this 70/10 metric (equivalent to an 18-dent imperial) reed.

May your errors be few and fixable.

Happy sleying,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Great tips! I warp F2B, sley the reed left to right and the heddles right to left.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, No matter what warping method we use, it’s good to find any denting errors as soon as possible. After the weaving begins it’s much more of a hassle to correct, isn’t it?

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Ouch. Better at the click than 10 rows into the weaving.

    Thank you for the lesson to correct.

    Nannette

  • Lise Loader says:

    Hello Karen,

    I have been following your work for many months, love your teaching and can’t wait for your next project.

    Unfortunately I don’t get the clicking of a hook to check if skip or crowded reed. Is there a video or some kind of demo for me to learn from. I have some mistakes when I’m dressing the loom and it is frustrating when the skip or the crowing is right of the middle of the reed, if you know what I mean.

    Lise

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lise, That will be a good subject for a short video. Thanks for the suggestion. I can do that next time I dress the loom.

      I do know what you mean about finding a denting error — and it always seems to fall right in the middle of the reed!

      What I mean by the “click test” is this – I know that if I have 40 ends in a threading group, and there are 2 ends per dent, that there should be 20 dents with threads in them when I finish sleying that group of threads. I am counting the dents with the tip of the reed hook (it’s hard for me to count the dents without something touching the actual spaces, and my finger is too large for that with this fine-dent reed). As I move the reed hook along the reed, it makes a sound (“click”) at each dent. I listen for 20 “clicks” to check that I have those 40 threads in 20 dents.

      I’m always looking for ways to check my work as I go so that when I get to the weaving part it’s smooth sailing! But even so, a few mistakes still manage to slip through sometimes. That’s weaving! But thankfully, mistakes are fixable!

      I hope that makes sense.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Good morning, Karen.

    I am also not sure what you mean by clicking the reed in terms of how that will show a mistake. Perhaps a short video in future when you need to sley again?

    I like the colors in the warp that you are using! Is the yarn a variable one? Or did you mix colors thread by thread? And what are you making? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I’ll make a short video about the “click test” next time I dress the loom. Thanks for the suggestion!

      Read my answer to Lise, and see if it makes sense to you.

      The warp colors alternate. Since I wind with 2 threads at a time, I’m able to wind the 2 colors at the same time and then thread them alternately in the heddles.
      I am making hand towels for my daughter. This is double weave with twelve shafts. (My first attempt at weaving with twelve shafts.)

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    I love how you are always challenging yourself and growing as a weaver. I can’t wait to see the progress on these towels. After reading your response to Lise, I understand the click test perfectly. I am going to adopt this practice also.

    Thank you for taking the time to clarify for us.

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Tapestry Reveals Lizard Toes

I fully intended to weave a floral image for my first four-shaft tapestry. Flowers have interesting and beautiful colors and shapes. However, while I am taking pictures for that very purpose at the garden center near our Texas hill country home, a bright green lizard catches my eye. Stunning in color and detail!

Bright green anole in Texas hill country.

Bright green lizard stops to pose for the camera at the garden center. He strikes a different pose for the image I am using for my tapestry.

Four-shaft tapestry lizard.

Foot of the lizard is seen on the cartoon under the warp near the right-hand side.

This cute little fellow, technically a green anole, is my tapestry subject! With every wool butterfly and placement of weft, I am hoping for a fruitful outcome—a 3’ x 4’ tapestry of a (recognizable) bright green lizard on a wooden post.

Four-shaft tapestry - lizard foot.

Five lizard toes to weave.

Tapestry of a green anole in Texas.

Tapestry woven from the side, meaning the selvedge seen here will be the upper edge of the tapestry when it is hung.

Four-shaft tapestry.

Nearing completion of the first twenty centimeters.

Fruitful. We want to know that the things we say and do have lasting value. We want to live in a way that bears the fruit of positive outcomes, don’t we? When results are slow in coming, or not readily seen, it can be discouraging. It’s time to trust the Lord. Don’t be disheartened. Instead, think of long-term cultivation. What looks uncertain now will be a distinct part of the image when you look back. Any mistakes woven in are proof of our humanness. And that proof reminds all of us that we need a Savior. Keep weaving.

May you see the good fruits from your labor.

Happy weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Amen and Amen and Amen, Karen! 🙂

  • Alice Martin says:

    It looks like you have 2 colors in your warp. Which is a great idea to show you are always in the opposite shed.

    I love how you weave God’s word and inspiration in your posts!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alice, Good eye! Actually, there are three colors in the linen warp. The three colors are used together, and threaded as a single end.

      Thanks for the kind feedback!
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Now that the secret is out and you are progressing I see the toes and the muscles of the leg drawn on the cartoon. Thank you for the reveal. Never, had I considered a lizard portrait.

    This last weekend a creature was sited trying to gain entry into the garage. It was later researched to be a skink. It is the ONLY native lizard in Wisconsin, and not the bright green of the Texas anole.

    When I think I have seen it all, God adds His ‘ALL’. This week that ALL included lizards. Such diversity providing the continual unexpected.

    Nannette

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Hi Karen,
    He is so cute, can’t wait to see more toes!
    Liberty

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Double Weave Throw – Take Two

Nothing about the original draft is incorrect, but when I wrote it in pencil on my planning sheet, I transposed one. little. thing. The threading key. “X = plum; black square = other colors.” Exact opposite of what is written in the draft from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. (See When You Misread the Threading Draft, where I discover my dilemma.)

One little mistake. Big consequences.

Blind to my own mistake, even as I double check my handwritten draft.

Thanks to Fiberworks weaving software I am working out a solution. I adjusted the tie-up, so the treadle tie-ups on the first, third, fifth, and seventh shafts trade places with the tie-ups on the second, fourth, sixth, and eighth shafts. It works. And now, the one little threading error that is clearly visible seems like a breeze to correct!

Ready to weave a cotton double weave throw.

Tie-up adjustments bring the correct warp ends to the surface. Solid stripes of color are set to produce the desired design when woven.

One threading error. No big deal at this point.

One blue warp end stands out like a sore thumb. I’m glad to find this one threading error at this stage in the process.

There are times when my whole perspective needs an adjustment. It’s time for love. Love adjusts our view. At the heart level, love brings about changes in us. It re-sets our attention and motivations. Because God loved us, we can love, too. We don’t see, understand, or know everything now, which shows how incomplete we humans are. But the love that heaven knows is something we get to participate in here and now. Our cloth is far from perfected, but our love adjustments give us a glimpse of cloth from another realm.

May you make necessary adjustments.

Love,
Karen

10 Comments

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When You Misread the Threading Draft

What if you finish tying up the loom, eight shafts and eight treadles, having beamed, threaded, and sleyed 2,064 ends, and the first thing you see when you step on the treadles is… that you misunderstood the threading draft? Do you undo everything and re-thread? Not likely, if it took you eleven-and-a-half hours to do the threading in the first place. I am taking a deep breath. Time to walk away and think. Maybe I can adjust the tie-up, or maybe I can use it as is—a serendipitous design. Should I laugh or cry? My idea to serve my loved ones with handwoven gifts (See Weaving a Gift) is getting off to a rough start.

Double weave throw. Warp is tied on.

Warp is tied on. Ready to tie up the treadles.

Tie-up completed for eight shafts and eight treadles.

Lamms are connected. Treadle cords are positioned. Treadles are tied up. Eight shafts and eight treadles.

Double weave throw.

This view should show solid dark plum all the way across.

Double weave throw on the loom.

This view should show stripes of solid colors, not two-color stripes, with solid bands of dark plum in between.

Serve. I want to offer my best, especially when I’m making a gift for someone dear to me. It helps to look beyond the person, though, and realize my true service is to the Lord. Heart, soul, mind, and hands. I bring my misunderstandings and missteps of the heart to my Master Weaver, who has taken it on himself to make things right. And I’m reminded that as I serve someone with my weaving hands, the true gift is love. This double weave throw will be a reminder of that.

May you recover from your mistakes.

Humbly,
Karen

UPDATE: I have had a chance to put the draft on Fiberworks weaving software and work with it to adjust the tie-up. I think I found a solution. Stay tuned!

6 Comments

  • Joann says:

    Karen
    Thank you for your words of encouragement on weaving and on life. It is true about the mis-steps we make. It is also true how Jesus is always willing to help us through these times.
    Joann

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,
    My son has gifts in the kitchen second to none. His food on the buffet always wows and amaze. The ONE cake we all remember and recount with much love is the tender, chocolate layer cake that fell apart in the refrigerator before it was served. He scraped the pieces into a large mixing bowl and served it in a bowl with ice cream. It was not his plan for the cake, but it was more memorable than had it been served exactly as he planned it.
    God amazes me by how things do not always turn out exactly as planned. Often they turn out better after the dust (or chocolate) clears.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, So true! When I looked at the mis-threaded version on my software, it did look interesting. Even more so, the back side of the fabric is very pretty. I haven’t quite decided whether to correct my error by changing the tie-up, or not. Or maybe settle with a version that is a combination of the two.

      Thanks for sharing your story. Our family has a similar fond memory with a cake my mother-in-law made. It became known as “Flop Cake,” and has been intentionally repeated as a favorite.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    Oh Karen, what a blow! But how quickly you are recovering and you didn’t take the scissors to your project showing wonderful restraint. This throw when finished will have good memories and an important story to tell. I’m looking forward to seeing your progress and learning of the changes you make. Onward with prayerful consideration.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, Yes, it is a blow when you are excited about throwing the shuttle, and you get stopped in your tracks. But no, taking scissors to it never crossed my mind. One thing I enjoy about weaving is that there are always solutions! It may not come out as planned, but there is a way around this obstacle. That I know.

      Thank you for your kind and encouraging words!

      All the best,
      Karen

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