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

Leave a Reply


Process Review: First Drawloom Warp

There are two questions I hear most often. 1. How long did it take? 2. What is it going to be? These are hard questions to answer. I admit that I stumble around to find satisfying answers. 1. How long? Hours and hours. 2. Cloth. It is going to be cloth. What will the cloth be used for? I don’t know. But when I need a little something with a pretty design, I’ll know where to find it. There are two finished pieces, though, from this first drawloom warp: the Heart-Shaped Baskets table runner (adapted from a pattern in Damask and Opphämta, by Lillemor Johansson), and a small opphämta table topper that I designed on the loom. The rest are samplers, experiments, tests, and just plain fun making-of-cloth. Oh, and I wondered if I could take the thrums and make a square braid…just for the fun of it.

First warp on my drawloom. Success!
Opphämta piece on the left, with Fårö wool pattern weft. Heart-Shaped Baskets runner on the right, with red 16/2 cotton pattern weft. Ten pattern shafts.

I will let the pictures tell the story of this first drawloom warp.

May you have plenty of things to make just for fun.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

15 Comments

Leave a Reply


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

12 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

  • Anne says:

    Karen,
    I have had the good fortune to acquire a drawloom. It is an 8 shaft with 50 pattern shafts and was in pieces when I first saw it. I have two books which refer to draw looms but I have never seen one set up. I have managed to get it put together and I am now looking for resources so I can learn how to use it. That is where I hope you will be able to help me.

    Any suggestions you can give me will be greatly appreciated.

    The two books I have are The Big Book of Weaving for the CM parts and Damask and Oppamta with Weaving Sword or Drawloom.

    Thanking you in advance.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Anne, You are fortunate, indeed, to have acquired this treasured loom!

      The best resource I have seen is “Drawloom Weaving; An introduction to warping and weaving on a drawloom,” by Joanne Hall. She tells and shows everything you need to get started. I have not seen anything else that clearly explains setting up the drawloom and weaving on it. I know you can get Joanne’s book through GlimakraUSA.com.

      The Big Book of Weaving is great for learning to dress the CM loom, and Damask and Opphämta has some useful drawloom patterns. I have also found some drawloom patterns in some older Swedish weaving books and in some of the Väv magazines.

      If there is any way you can take a class, that would be great. I learned much in Joanne’s hands-on class in Montana. I know that Vavstuga in Massachusetts also offers a drawloom class, which I’m sure is good, too.

      I’m excited for you!
      Karen

Leave a Reply


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

Leave a Reply


Keep Advancing the Warp

This is a series of learning experiences—some easy, and some quite challenging. I am near the end of the first panel of the tapestry/inlay sampler. All along the way, I encounter obstacles. Like a broken warp end. Again. That broken warp end is discouraging. Surely, I should be able to keep that from happening by now.

Tapestry/inlay sampler. All linen weft.

Broken warp end on the right selvedge required taking out several rows of weaving so I could splice the warp.

Meanwhile, a simple line of soumak makes a pleasing border for this curve. It defines the shape with a slightly raised line. Over three, around one…all the way across. This part is nice and easy.

Soumak border on tapestry sampler.

Soumak technique, Step 1.

Soumak border line on tapestry sampler.

Soumak technique, Step 2.

Peaceful setting for the weaving loom!

Despite another broken warp end, the warp is advanced and the weaving continues. It helps to weave in a peaceful setting.

Daily life is not always easy. Put your eyes on God, not on the obstacles you face. And don’t worry about your own inability to navigate the circumstances. Trust God to carry you. He has carried you this far, and will continue to show himself strong on your behalf. Those broken warp ends are spliced, and the weaving continues. The selvedge may show some evidence of having had trouble, but the soumak outlines and other woven features will draw the eye. There is victory in advancing the warp to continue the sampler to the end.

May you advance through the obstacles you face.

With you,
Karen

Leave a Reply