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

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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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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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Almost Like Weaving Outdoors

I am practically outdoors in the middle of trees when I’m weaving. It’s refreshing to weave between corner windows. That’s how it is with the little loom at our Texas hill country home. I have windows beside my other looms, too. But this is different. Here, I have windows beside me and in front of me.

Color and weave plain weave placemats on the loom.

Corner windows for weaving pleasure. Color-and-weave plain weave placemats on the little loom.

Nature is resplendent with ornamentation and flourishes that influence my weaving. Colors, patterns, shading, and playful surprises. They work their way into my thinking and planning. Aren’t the Creator’s designs amazing?! So, to be surrounded by all that inspiration while weaving raises the enjoyment at the loom all the more.

Indian Paintbrush in Texas hill country.

Colors.

Texas hill country Algerita.

Patterns.

Prickly Pear Cactus in bloom in Texas hill country.

Shading.

Barrel cactus in bloom in Texas hill country.

Playful surprises.

Color and weave plainweave placemats.

Color – variation, pattern – color and weave, shading – two-pick stripes, playful surprise – offset warp stripes.

It is refreshing to experience the enjoyment of nature. We need that. Our minds need refreshing, too. Our minds can be freshened up. When we grow in the knowledge of God—who he is, what he is like, and what he wants—our minds are refreshed and renewed. It’s a breath of fresh air for our thinking. Like weaving out in the middle of the trees.

May you be refreshed.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    I am glad you see the wonders that Christ provides; they are reminders of His presence and you add to His creation when you weave with His inspirations! Thanks for sharing your faith from God! Happy weaving! Blessed weaving! 🙂

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Such beautiful inspiration! You are indeed fortunate.

  • Annie says:

    I enjoyed seeing the photos of nature through your eyes. It gave me a fresh perspective. As do your thoughts on our Heavenly Father. I always enjoy your posts and learn from them.

    Do you move your loom from place to place, Karen?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, This little loom stays in that spot by the corner windows. Steve built the loom for me specifically for our Texas hill country home, so I could have a loom to weave on when we go there. I have two other larger looms that stay in place in our Houston home.

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Thank you for including photos of Texas Hill country. It is beautiful and inspirational.

    The triad of purple / orange / green blessed by God.

    Thank you and may God continue to bless.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, The purple / orange / green triad in nature always seems stunning to me! Texas hill country has many visual delights!

      Blessings to you,
      Karen

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Tools Day: Mirror Mirror

When the front side of the fabric is on the underside, it helps to have a mirror. This is one of those times. A transparency can be woven with the weft turns on the front or on the back. I’m weaving this transparency with the weft turns on the front. The underside, therefore, has the crisper lines, and will (probably) be the right side of the finished transparency.

Weaving cotton chenille inlay on linen for a simple transparency.

Weaving from the back, the inlay weft turns look like scallops along the edge of the pattern area. The pattern on the underneath side of the cloth has smoother edges.

You can think of other weaves, as well, that have a different appearance on the back than on the front. That’s when a little mirror comes in handy. You can use a larger hand mirror, of course; but these are two little mirrors that I keep in the cart by my loom.

Mirrors at hand beside the loom.

Top drawer in the cart beside the loom holds small tools that are used during weaving.

  • A little wooden mirror with mother-of-pearl inlay that I picked up on one of my international travels.

Small hand mirror is used to view the underside.

Small hand mirror is used for a quick glimpse of the underside pattern.

  • A lighted extended little mirror that I picked up on one of my wanderings at Home Depot while my husband was shopping for tools. A Husky Round Lighted Inspection Mirror, “…for inspection of hidden, unlit areas in applications ranging from industrial maintenance and automotive repair to general homeowner DIY applications.” They forgot to add, “…and for handweaver inspections of the reverse side of the cloth.”

Lighted mirror extends to inspect underneath the cloth.

Lighted mirror extends to inspect the underneath side of the woven cloth. The telescoping handle makes it possible to view underneath a wide warp.

May you find tools that serve you well.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Julia says:

    I recently heard this song being sung and I thought of you right away. You are a beautiful reflection of the Divine.

    Take my life, and let it be
    Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
    Take my moments and my days,
    Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
    Take my hands, and let them move
    At the impulse of Thy love.

    Take my feet, and let them be
    Swift and beautiful for Thee.
    Take my voice, and let me sing
    Always, only, for my King.
    Take my lips, and let them be
    Filled with messages from Thee.

    Take my every thought, to use
    In the way that Thou shalt choose.
    Take my love; O Lord, I pour
    At Thy feet its treasure store.
    I am Thine, and I will be
    Ever, only, all for Thee.

    • Karen says:

      Sweet Julia,
      I learned that song as a child, and it remains deeply meaningful to me! It does describe a life that reflects Christ, and that is certainly the type of mirror I want to be.

      Thanks for sharing!
      Karen

  • Barbara says:

    I love the way that your willing to try new weave structures. I’ve never done a transparency,but it’s on my bucket list. Will have to have my husband pickup one of those mirrors at his next Home Depot forray.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barbara, Weaving this transparency is so enjoyable. It’s almost like weaving tapestry, but easier. Now I’m eager to do one that’s more advanced, with lots of butterflies! 🙂
      It’s not the first time I’ve found weaving tools at Home Depot or Lowe’s… The lights on the mirror really help since there’s less natural light under there.

      Happy weaving!
      Karen

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