Weaving through The Big Book

It took me seven years of study, practice, and mistakes to complete this rigorous Swedish weaving curriculum! You have been with me through much of it right here. I’m talking about The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. I made it through the book, sequentially, page by page, warp by warp. 43 warps in all! Remember the blue 12-shaft double-weave blanket I had on the loom in June? That is the final project in the book.

Handwoven double weave blanket. 12 shafts.
Double-weave wool fabric is ready for wet finishing, where it will be transformed into a soft, cozy blanket.

In the short video below, each completed project is presented in order in our Texas hill country home. Watch to the end to see the blue blanket in all its finished glory.

For nitty-gritty details, check out The Big Book of Weaving tab at the top of the page.

I. Secrets to success:

  • mindset of a student
  • determination
  • eyes on the goal
  • no option other than completion

One loom dedicated to the book.


II. Lessons learned:

  • technique
  • processes
  • planning
  • drafting
  • Swedish practices

Any mistake can be remedied.


III. Treasures gained:

  • patience
  • humility
  • endurance
  • focused attention
  • problem solving
  • creative freedom

Confidence.


IV. Prized perspectives:

  • new experiences
  • delight of dressing the loom
  • wonder of cloth-making
  • fresh ideas
  • joy of discovery
  • knowledge and understanding of the loom

Getting lost and absorbed in the whole process of weaving.

V. Favorite project: Old-Fashioned Weaving / Monksbelt (at 4:46 in the video)

Are we determined students of heavenly things? Oh, to know God’s will! Study what’s written, don’t lose heart, eyes on the prize, no option besides completion through Jesus Christ. One life dedicated to know him. Day by day, warp by warp, the Grand Weaver teaches us. We can know God’s will.

May you be a lifelong learner.

Happy Weaving to you,
Karen

38 Comments

  • Susie Redman says:

    Well done. It’s such a great book. I’m picking and choosing from the book – its a great way to learn.

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Your work is so inspiring, Karen. I recall many of these projects, here and in Handwoven. Do you have a personal favorite? One that you’ll perhaps explore even further? Kudos!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, Thank you so much! My personal favorite is the monksbelt piece—the large multicolor runner on the dining room table. And yes, I have monksbelt ideas that I would like to explore. Another one I’d like to play around with and learn more about is the turned rosepath—the long narrow red band. There are so many possibilities!

      Thanks for asking,
      Karen

  • Geri Rickard says:

    What a splendid presentation, Karen! You have accomplished so much, and each one is beautiful! Thanks for sharing, it was fun!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Geri, I’m glad you enjoyed the presentation. It was a lot of fun for me to put together, going back in time remembering all the projects.

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Such a feast for the eyes!

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Wow and Wow! Such an accomplishment! And your lovely home showcases all those projects beautifully. Thanks for making this video and thanks for your encouragement. I’m currently doing the Jane Stafford online guild lessons with a new video lesson and project every five weeks. Sometimes it feels a bit overwhelming but I’m determined to try each one. I’ve already learned so much!
    Thanks again for your encouragement and dedication, both to your weaving and for sharing your weaving and faith with others. It DOES make a big difference to many.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, I know how you feel. Many times I was overwhelmed and even discouraged about completing this mammoth dream. Keep pressing on with your lessons, it WILL be worth it–I promise! And between the hard parts, I really had a lot of fun! So enjoy it, too.

      I really appreciate your encouragement to me. It means more than you know.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Hi, Karen! I remember that you recommended this book to me last July was exploring what loom to purchase for my first multi shaft loom. I ended up purchasing a small table loom, a Louet Erica Loom so decided not to purchase the book since I would not have the capacity to work many of the projects.

    However, I recently purchased a larger loom and now, I believe that I will purchase this book. Thank you for sharing this and tweaking my memory of your recommendation.

    Everything you make is so beautiful! You are a wonderful inspiration to a beginning weaver.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, The Big Book of Weaving has been my tutor. I started with it as a complete beginner. It was written as a curriculum, so it has everything I needed to gain skill and confidence. I hope you find it a great resource for learning.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Karen Simpson says:

    That video is amazing. As I hadn’t found you then, I didn’t know that you were following this book and studying your way through it. What a lovely compilation of work and color. Thank you

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, Only a handful of people knew I was working my way through the book. I have mentioned The Big Book of Weaving here many times, but this is my first time to mention here on the blog that I was going through the book, step by step. I didn’t want too many people to “guess” what project I would do next… 🙂

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Congratulations, Karen! I remember when you started working through The Big Book of Weaving, but I didn’t remember it had been 7 years. What a great learning experience! Did you use all the same yarns as the projects called for?

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, It’s hard to believe it’s been 7 years, isn’t it? For most of the projects I used the yarns that were called for, but in colors of my choosing. I did change a few, though. For instance, two projects call for paper yarn. I didn’t know a good resource for that, so I substituted 8/2 cotton for one, and 16/1 linen for the other. So, for those I have beautiful scarves instead of room screens, which suits me better anyway.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    Karen, I’m speechless. There are no words for my admiration of not only your artistic vision, but also the incredible amount of work clearly visible in the lovely video. Thank you for all the encouragement and advice you’ve given us you worked through the Big Book. MORE happy weaving to you. Joanna

    (My v. Favorite piece of your is also that fantastic monks belt. I think you captured all the lovely colors of the Texas Hill Country. It couldn’t be more perfect.)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, I’m fortunate to have a place where I can talk about things that I learn! Thanks for joining in!
      Every time I look at that monks belt piece, I get warm and fuzzy feelings. It’s so cheerful! I’m happy you like it, too!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • kerimae says:

    You inspire me! As you know! 🙂

  • Carolyn Penny says:

    Truly inspirational. Thank you for your diligence and following the goal.
    What a lesson in perseverance. Warm glow…… -Carolyn Penny

  • Vida Clyne says:

    Congratulations on completing such an amazing and inspirational project. I love all the patterns and the lovely colours. I have not got the book but your lovely video makes me think I will buy it. Thanks for sharing.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Vida, I am very happy to hear your thoughts about my adventure! This is one weaving book I wouldn’t do without. 🙂

      Thank you very much!
      Karen

  • Gail Goodrick says:

    What an inspiration this is! Your work is wonderful. I love your color choices. Love, love love…

  • Sue Blanding-Wilson says:

    So inspiring! I will look at my book with new eyes!

  • Maria Hanson says:

    Wow! I so enjoy following your work, but seeing everything in one video is just amazing! Congratulations on such a major accomplishment!

  • Penelope kept the suitors at bay for 10 years weaving one tapestry. What a remarkable legacy of a textile artist in 7 years!
    AND.. the hand wovens are not kept in a chest to pull out and admire. Basis the hems on the towels, they are being used. Beautiful!!
    Thank you for sharing. PS welcome back from your sabbatical.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Thank you for noticing. Yes, the articles were made to be used, and they are used and enjoyed.

      It’s good to be back.
      Karen

      • Anonymous says:

        One of the sweetest moments was when I saw one of my patched blankets worn to the point of being hand mended. Textiles will age one way or another. It fills my heart knowing the ones that pass through my hands are used daily.

        • Karen says:

          That is sweet to think of your handiwork being used to the point of needing hand mending. I agree that the best handwoven items are the ones being used.

          Karen

  • Cindy Buvala says:

    Wow! I am very impressed! A 10 minute video doesn’t do justice to the hours and hours of weaving work that precedes it. You are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your talent.

  • Karen Reff says:

    I haven’t looked at that book in so long. I’m definitely going back for another look! I hope you realize what an amazing thing you’ve done!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, I frequently go to the book for reference. It answers so many questions for me.

      I just took one step, and then the next step, and so on. I’m not sure I would have started had I known how long it would take me. But I’m very happy to have taken that first step…and so on.

      Thanks for your sweet encouragement,
      Karen

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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

15 Comments

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Dream Weave and Slow Reveal

This project is a slow reveal. I am showing what I am doing now, but I am waiting to tell what this will become. There is a flurry of preparation behind the scenes. In time, you will see what develops on the loom. You and I both will find out if I am jumping in over my head. Or, if I can, in fact, pull this off.

Warping reel with 16/2 linen for a new warp.

Warping reel with 16/2 line linen for a new warp.

Dressing the Glimakra Ideal loom with linen.

Linen shows itself to be a beautiful mess.

This is a gorgeous linen warp, with three shades of 16/2 linen: sable, northsea blue, and persian blue. I am dressing my Ideal loom to almost full weaving width: 93 centimeters. The sett is 3 ends per centimeter in a 30/10 metric reed (equivalent to 7.6 ends per inch). I am intensely eager and cautiously optimistic regarding this weaving adventure.

Linen. Dressing the loom.

Linen. Sable, northsea blue, and persian blue. Bockens linen comes with color numbers only. It is interesting to see the names given to the colors by different suppliers. These creative color names are from Vävstuga.

Ready to beam this linen warp on my Glimakra Ideal loom.

Pre-sley reed is in the beater. It’s time to grab some warping slats, slide the lease sticks forward, and beam the warp.

Love is like a hidden dream in your heart, awaiting expression. Love goes with you. It is a treasure you get to bestow on others. In some cases, your treasure may be their only hope. The God of love with us weaves the love of God in us, as his faithfulness is revealed over a lifetime. If we could see the end result the Grand Weaver has in mind, most certainly it would make us smile.

May the God of love and the love of God be with you.

Secretly,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Julia says:

    I’ve no doubt whatsoever that you will be completely successful in this endeavor. You’ve shared a few detours in your weaving, but I’ve yet to see a failure.

  • Linda says:

    This is fun for me to watch as I’ve never warped with pure linen.

  • Maggie Ackerman says:

    I’ve worked with a linen warp before on a rag rug and had issu s with fraying and breaking until I wet the warp while weaving. Will you have to wet this warp to weave without fraying? Gorgeous colors. Whatever this becomes will be beautiful.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, Oh yes, I know exactly what you’re talking about. I’ve had to do the same at times, putting a little dampness on the selvedge threads. But I’ve also had quite a few experiences with linen that gave me no problems whatsoever. I hope, hope, hope this one will refrain from fraying. We shall see…

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Betsy Greene says:

    I’m looking forward to following this project. You’re using a very open sett. I have an idea but I will keep it to myself and see if I’m right. I like your use of a multi colored warp. It’s going to add some visual interest and depth to the … whatever. I’m quite sure you are not jumping in over your head. You are a very strong swimmer!
    Betsy

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, I agree, I think the multi colored warp will add visual interest and depth. I may be able to swim this, but I’m still taking a deep breath as I jump in.

      Thanks for your encouraging words!
      Karen

  • Hmmmm..
    Monochromatic ‘starry starry night’ blues going on the warp. A visual surprise. I was expecting the high contrast of the plum blanket as I scrolled down the posting, instead of my go-to color pallet. As always the colors are wonderful (and grown up).
    ~ a yard wide— That width could be used for much. Clothing, drapery, household linens… …. I will have to wait as you share to progress.
    You are going full steam ahead with a new challenge.. Oops CHALLENGE. I am dragging my feet getting back to the new warp on my loom set up for rosepath rag rugs. I will be brave and go forward, after I complete the patched baby blanket with lime green and turquoise turtles. 🙂
    Nannette
    .

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Isn’t this one of the things we like about weaving – the CHALLENGE? Thrill and fright. But there’s no challenge at the loom that can’t be tackled and overcome.

      Rosepath rag rugs?? How fun! I’ll trade you… 😉 naw, just kidding. Go for it. You can do it!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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