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

13 Comments

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Q and A with Joanne Hall and Drawloom Dressing

You will be happy to hear that my drawloom is all dressed and set up. And it works! Every glide of the shuttle reveals exceptional magic in the cloth. Even better than I had hoped.

Drawloom pattern heddles. Sorting into units.
Pattern heddles are long, with a normal 1/2-inch eye. Breast beam is used for sorting pattern heddles into units and then adding a 2-lb weight (lingo) to each unit. In this case, four heddles make one unit.
Separating pattern units onto pattern shafts on the drawloom.
Inkle band from my “band stash” helps me separate pattern units that will be placed onto a pattern shaft.

I had a few nervous moments while dressing this expansive loom, struggling with the pattern shafts. I learned the hard way that attempting a shortcut can mean taking much longer to complete the task. But, in the end, everything straightened out. Whew!

Small mishap when setting up the drawloom. But all is well now.
Oops. I successfully distributed pattern units onto one pattern shaft, moving it onto the pattern shaft holders. So, I thought, Why not do two shafts at a time? Uh oh. Not a wise move for a beginner like me.
Drawloom with ten pattern shafts, plus one extra shaft.
Ten pattern shafts, plus one extra shaft for selvedge threads. After fixing my little mishap, I took my time to finish transferring pattern units to the pattern shafts.
First project on my new drawloom. Pattern from Väv 1/2011.
Drawloom’s first project is mostly practice and samplers. This pattern is taken from Learn Damask in a Day, by Tina Ignell in VävMagasinet, January, 2011, pgs. 40-41.
Eight-pointed star with diamonds. Pattern from "Drawloom Weaving," by Joanne Hall.
Eight-pointed star is seen often in traditional patterns. This eight-pointed star with diamonds is found in Drawloom Weaving, by Joanne Hall, p. 12. I created the border design at the loom.
Drawloom weaving.
Light catches the warp threads in the 4-shaft broken twill as the cloth goes around the breast beam.

May your struggles turn into triumphs.

Your friend,
Karen

~What are your questions? Joanne has answers~

Janet, who is interested in drawloom weaving, asks these questions.
Joanne Hall provides the answers.

Q: I am trying to determine where to put a drawloom. How much floor space does a drawloom take? And how much additional area will I need around the loom?

A: These are good questions. Many weavers think about these things when they become interested in getting a drawloom.

Glimakra Standard with Myrehed drawloom.
Glimåkra 120cm Standard, with Myrehed drawloom. Photo from Drawloom Weaving, by Joanne Hall.

Width –
For either the 100cm, 39.5-inch Ideal or the 100cm Standard, the width of the loom is 4 1/2 feet. Part of this is the ratchet wheel that sticks out 5 inches from the loom frame. The 120cm, 47-inch loom would be 8 inches wider.

Length with the loom extension –
Without considering space for the bench, the depth is 7 1/2 feet. The Ideal loom will have the same depth as the Standard loom. The Standard loom can be set out another 1 1/2 feet further, which may be nice if one wants to have 50 pattern shafts.

One occasionally needs to stand on the left side of the loom during warping. You need to stand at the back of the loom and walk along the right side the loom to move the ratchet wheels. When beaming the warp, it is good to have two or three feet of space either at the front or the back of the loom. During warping, you will need space at one side of the loom to move the pattern shafts and warping sticks in and out of the loom.

So, you need about 6 – 7 feet by 12 feet, but some get by with a few inches less.

Q: Can any Ideal or Standard loom be converted to a drawloom? What are the “must haves” to look for in a used loom that will be set up as a drawloom?

Joanne Hall at her single unit drawloom.
Joanne Hall at the 100cm Ideal loom with single unit drawloom. (The drawloom extension is no longer made for the Ideal loom.) Photo from Drawloom Weaving, by Joanne Hall.

A: I frequently hear from weavers who send me photos of a loom and drawloom that they have found online. They want to know if $3800 is a good price for it. Often it is 40 years old and is being sold by the grandson, who cannot answer your questions.

If you are hoping to save a little by finding a used loom, it is best to purchase a used Glimakra Standard loom of any width and any age and then purchase the drawloom new. That way, you can get help when you need it. Plus, the Myrehed drawlooms have advantages over the older-style drawlooms.

I love my Myrehed drawlooms and once you try it, you will find that it is not so mysterious, but instead, a lot of fun to weave on.

Happy Weaving,
Joanne

10 Comments

  • Amazing. Love the blue on the 8 pointed star pattern.
    What an elegant system.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Elegant is a good word for this system. The other side of the fabric is the exact opposite in warp-faced and weft-faced, reversing the colors. So the back of the 8-pointed star is just as pretty as the front.

      Happy day,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    You are so amazing, Karen! The patience and intelligence required to learn this system leaves me in awe. And, of course, the weaving skills you possess! I am so happy for you that this dream has come true. Your samples are gorgeous!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, There are a few more steps in setting up a drawloom, but it’s really not complicated. It helps that I’ve had a top-notch teacher!

      I’m going to have fun with all the possibilities on this loom!

      Happily,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth says:

    Absolutely beautiful, you’ll have so much fun on this one!
    You are a prime example of how far devotion and perseverance can take us, you truly inspire!

    Elisabeth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I’m having a great time with this. Perseverance doesn’t seem hard when it’s something you really want to accomplish.

      Thank you, friend,
      Karen

  • Linda Adamson says:

    Very interesting. Thanks for this.

  • Janet says:

    Karen, your first project looks fantastic! Way to get started on the right foot with a fantastic and patient teacher!! Thank you getting the questions to Joanne, very helpful!
    Janet

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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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Quiet Friday: Day at the Drawloom

There is a unique and special weaving place I have been privileged to enjoy on a few occasions. Homestead Fiber Crafts in Waco, Texas. You can immerse yourself in weaving there, in a setting that is entirely peaceful and pleasant. A rare find. And the people there are an important part of the treasure. Plus, tea and fresh biscotti from the bakery. And sometimes, homemade chocolate chip cookies, too.

(Don’t miss my little slideshow at the end of this post. Watch all the way to the end to see my favorite side of the finished piece.)

Last year, I heard about Fiber Crafts’ Weaving Extravaganza, where looms are dressed for various projects and you can reserve a loom for the day (or half day). And their big, beautiful drawloom was included. Sign me up! I wove a towel with chicks and “EGGS.” Sure, there are some pattern mistakes. But that doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of this learning experience.

Drawloom weaving.

Last year’s drawloom piece.

Now, this week I am at the drawloom again, relishing every moment. A black warp sets the stage for elegance, and I choose a poinsettia pattern that has been drawn on a piece of graph paper. Red and blue linen weft become brilliant in the black warp. I learn how easy it is to make an error in the pattern. And how hard it is to undo an error. But skill comes with practice. Finally, on my fifth (and sixth, and seventh) row of poinsettias, I complete the pattern without errors. And, the pattern mistakes on those first four rows only serve to prove the adage, “Practice makes perfect.”

Here’s a short Instagram clip of the sights and sounds of sitting at the drawloom in a room with other active weaving looms.

Myrehed combination drawloom frame

Myrehed combination drawloom frame.

Glimakra Julia loom. Drawloom towels hanging on wall. Homestead in Waco.

Other drawloom towel examples hang on the wall beside my friend Elisabeth. She is weaving a beautiful cotton waffle weave towel on a Glimåkra Julia loom.

May you expand your experience.

Happy weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Susie Weitzel says:

    Thanks for your posts and beautiful videos. It makes my chaotic world a little more serene.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am so happy for you, Karen! What a wonderful opportunity!

    I must admit that I had to go to the Glimarkra site to read up on the drawloom. It sounds incredibly complex! Your poinsettias are beautiful but I think I like the hens and eggs best.

    The Homestead Fiber crafts is on my bucket list. I am hoping to take some classes there later next year.

    Have a blessed day.

    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I’m glad you looked at the Glimakra site as a resource. It has great information about different types of looms. I read up on drawlooms there, too, recently.
      I hope you get a chance to visit Homestead. It’s such a pleasant place!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    FUN! Love those chickens! It’s amazing what one can do on the drawloom! I spent several days weaving on one once, made a beautiful pattern and decided I did not want to own one. I’m glad I had the opportunity to experience it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, Those chickens are pretty cute! While I was weaving, I was thinking, hmmm, how can I work it out to get one of these drawlooms in my home… hahaha. someday, maybe…

      Karen

  • Martha Witcher says:

    What a lovely and peaceful day you had at the draw loom. One of these days I just have to find somewhere near MN to learn the basics of draw loom, it has been calling to me for years. Love the chickens!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Martha, It was a very satisfying time at the loom. Minnesota surely has some drawlooms with all the Scandinavian weaving that comes from that region. I hope you find a chance to do that! You’ll enjoy it!

      All the best,
      Karen

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