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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Thankfully No Cartoon

My small tapestry isn’t following a cartoon. This time, I am making it up as I go. It’s an exercise in spontaneity, which is good for someone who is most comfortable when she knows exactly what comes next.

I know enough of the fundamentals of tapestry weaving that I can “wing it.” It also helps that I have enough past mistakes in my experience to have learned a few things. Think of this improvisation as another dimension of practice. A challenge that turns into a learning experience. I have much to learn, so I’m thankful for the experience.

Small frame-loom tapestry. Travel weaving!

Small frame-loom tapestry. Fåro wool weft, 12/6 cotton warp.

Sometimes life’s turns give us some weaving to do without a comfortable cartoon to follow. We make it up as we go. An exercise in spontaneity? Yes. Even in this, though, we see the improvised design emerge. Give thanks. The Grand Weaver who taught you how to get this far has your learning experience in mind when He brings you to another challenge. Knowing we have much to learn, let’s give Him thanks!

May you learn enough to enjoy “winging it.”

Happy Thanks-Giving,
Karen

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Casita Tapestry

As Steve and I sign off little by little from activities and responsibilities here in Houston, the taste is bittersweet. Bitter, because moving away from time-tested friends is heart wrenching. Sweet, because an unknown exciting adventure awaits. Bitter, because unknown is uncomfortable. Sweet, because heart-connected friendships are treasures that distance can’t destroy. Bittersweet, but not bitter-ness, or sugary-sweet pretense. It’s life. Texas hill country living and Casita adventures are less than a month away! It’s all good.

Tapestry of our Casita travel trailer.

We are naming our Casita travel trailer “La Perlita” – (“Little Pearl”).

Glimakra Freja tapestry frame. Expressive tapestry weaving.

Large Glimåkra Freja tapestry frame and expressive tapestry weaving.

Tapestry of our new Casita.

Adventures are coming soon…
We will pick up our new little pearl the day after Steve retires and pull it to our hill country home.

May you have friends by your side when you face bittersweet seasons.

All the best,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    What an exciting time for you and your husband. I hope your long-standing friends visit you in the Hill Country; something exciting for them. Wishing you all the best!

  • susie weitzel says:

    Our guild is holding a mini workshop on tapestry weaving in January. After seeing your tapestry weavings I am so anxious to try something new !! Not that I need anything new to add to my already long list. LOL.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susie, Don’t think of it as adding something new, haha. It’s still in the realm of weaving, isn’t it? You never know, you may find out tapestry becomes your favorite thing to do. At the very least, with a frame loom it gives you the option of portability so you can weave wherever you are. 🙂
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Blend, blend, blend, … Surprise, solid black wheels. Nice.

    Transition, gotta roll with it.

    First snow of the season came this morning. The background went from golds and browns to white. Gardening season is over. Weaving begins.

    Blessings.

    Nannette

  • Linda Adamson says:

    New adventures can be exciting. If God has called you to go then you will be following his will. Blessings and safe travels!

  • Cynthia says:

    New adventures. I love it. I for one am one of the ppl Steve has invited, So be looking for me! He will be greatly missed here.

  • Lyna says:

    How long do it take to drive between Houston and your Hill Country home? What is your closest big city now? The Wikipedia article about Texas Hill Country says it covers 25 counties. Sounds interesting to explore!

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Lyna, It takes us about 4 1/2 hours to drive from Houston to our place in Hill Country. The town nearest us is Kerrville, and we are not far from Fredericksburg. And we’re only an hour from San Antonio. There are many beautiful and interesting places to explore in Texas Hill Country. Be sure to stop by if you’re in the area!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Donna says:

    I’m in Bandera. Must be fairly close. There’s also a wonderful town called Comfort. Awesome, but sometimes expensive antique stores

    • Karen says:

      Hi Donna, Bandera! That’s right around the corner. We should get together sometime.

      I’ve been to Comfort a couple times, too. It’s a charming little town. One great thing about Comfort is it has a weaving shop – The Loom Room.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Heart of a Tiny Tapestry

Though small, this pocket-sized tapestry took a few months to complete. A car ride here, a coffee shop there, a move across town, and an imminent move across the state—this tiny tapestry has been in the background through it all.

Car-ride weaving.

Car-ride weaving.

Coffee-shop weaving.

Coffee-shop weaving.

The weft tails are neatly trimmed, but the back is completely exposed. I’m not weaving the tails in this time, nor covering them with a fabric backing. Just hold the tiny tapestry in your hand and feel it. Remember that all the pleasant color distinctions and pick-and-pick samples on the front side have a back side, too. True, the back doesn’t make as much sense. However, I want my friend who is receiving this to see and touch the heart of the weaving.

Finishing ends of small tapestry.

Using a needle to pull the warp ends back through the warp thread header. After pulling through, the warp ends are trimmed close to the surface. The weft tails are also trimmed to about 1/2″.

Steaming the tiny tapestry. 12/6 cotton warp pulls together nicely as the back of the tapestry is steamed.

Exposed back of the tiny tapestry weaving reveals trimmed weft tails.

Exposed back of the tapestry reveals trimmed weft tails.

Tiny tapestry. Visual and tactile satisfaction.

Visual and tactile satisfaction.

This is a picture of grace. Look at the heart of the matter. We so often rely on the rules. Break a rule, and you’re condemned. But Jesus is interested in the heart. A pure heart doesn’t stand condemned. This is why the gift of his forgiveness is so wonderful. God knows the exposed messy side of our tapestry. Yet, his grace sees us as perfectly covered by Christ Jesus himself.

May your hands keep making.

Simply yours,
Karen

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Quiet Friday: Lizard Tapestry

This is the moment we’ve been waiting for! We finally get to see the whole tapestry. This lizard has given me quite a ride! I have learned plenty. Things I’m happy with myself about, like drawing a cartoon from a photograph, following the cartoon details, making and keeping track of butterflies. And some things I’d like to improve, like choosing colors that give the best contrast, managing the cartoon under the tapestry, and choosing where to pick the floats. I’m eager to do four-shaft tapestry again so I can learn some more!

I wove the fringe into an edging, ending with a small braid. Next, I will tack the edging and braids to the back, clip weft tails on the back, and sew on a backing fabric. And then, I’ll find a special place to hang this Lizard tapestry in our Texas hill country home, just a half mile from the place I saw and photographed the cute little green anole in the first place.

Finishing the ends on the Lizard tapestry.

Finishing the ends.

 

Lizard Tapestry.

Lizard Tapestry. Next steps are clipping weft tails on the back, adding a backing, and hanging in our Texas hill country home.

May your learning experiences take you for an exciting ride.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

~Change Is Coming~
With Steve’s approaching retirement, I am implementing some adjustments for Warped for Good. Friday posts will become less frequent, and by December you will receive new posts only on Tuesdays. Today is my final Quiet Friday post, something I’ve enjoyed doing once a month for the five and-a-half years Warped for Good has been active.

I invite you to continue joining with me on this weaving journey at Warped for Good!

24 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    The lizard is wonderful! It will be right at home in the Texas hill country.

    I’m happy for Steve and you! I have so enjoyed your bi-weekly posts as they bring bright spots to my mornings and will continue looking forward to weekly posts.

    All the best!

  • Betsy says:

    You captured him beautifully! I love that little lizard half smile. We see them a lot on our deck, and on the tree that grows just a few feet from the patio door.

    I will miss the second weekly posts, but hope you and Steve enjoy retirement as much as we do.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, Of the many critters we’ve seen out here, the little green anole is the cutest, and maybe the most harmless. 🙂

      I’m glad to hear you enjoy the retirement season. I think we have a lot to look forward to.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Robin says:

    This is so inspiring. I have never even thought of doing tapestry on my big loom!
    Love it! How long did it take you? Looks like a LOT of work!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Robin, This was on the loom for five months. Part of that time, though, we had a lot of disruptions, including moving to a new location.
      You’re right, it was a lot of work. But I really enjoyed the whole process!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Cute little guy.

    Nice job.

    Nannette

  • Rachel Lohman says:

    Wishing you all the best in retirement with blessings surrounding both of you. .I have enjoyed the bi-weekly “warping” and learned a lot from you. Never knew that a tapestry could be done on the loom as you shared with us. The lizard will give color and joy wherever he is hung. Will miss you on Friday mornings but look forward to Tuesday’s! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and joy in the weaving of life. God bless!

  • susie weitzel says:

    Even more beautiful than I was imagining. Best wishes in retirement. So happy for both of you. Your talent and imagination are so inspiring. You have encouraged me to try projects I would not have tried otherwise. Again best wishes

  • Liberty says:

    Oh Karen, he is fabulous, I just love it!! What a long journey the two of you were on!
    Sorry to see you will be with us only once a week now, but I know you and Steve will be having a great time enjoying retirement now!!
    Hugs and love to you my friend,
    Liberty

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty, This was on the loom longer than I’d like to admit, but I enjoyed every part of it!

      It’s great to have you on this journey with me.

      Your friend,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Karen,
    Your little lizard turned out beautifully! What size is the finished piece? Hope we get to see him at the November WOW meeting.

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, I haven’t measured it yet, but on the loom it was about 36” x 48”. I’ll bring it to the meeting next week!

      Thanks for your sweet encouragement to me!
      Karen

  • Tonya Leach says:

    Karen,
    Where did you learn 4 shaft tapestry? I am fascinated! I will also miss your more frequent posting but I do hope you and yours enjoy retirement!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tonya, I have not seen very many examples of four-shaft tapestry like this.

      I learned it from Joanne Hall, who generously shares her knowledge and experience. Her work is amazing and something I’d like to emulate. I have a long way to go in that regard.

      Helena Hernmarck is another person I’m aware of who weaves in a similar style. I’ve studied pictures in a book I have of her work.

      I found one other individual on Instagram from Sweden who has examples of this type of four-shaft tapestry. I’m always on the hunt for this kind of tapestry to observe.

      Thanks for your kind sentiments,
      Karen

  • Lyna says:

    Thank you for bringing us along on your lizard tapestry journey! If possible, could you show how you finish it–how close do you trim the tails, how the warp ends are handled, how the backing fabric is attached, how is it hung?
    Or just say “Look it up in this ___ book,” because we know you are busy going into another season of life! Looking forward to Tuesdays!
    God bless, Lyna

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lyna, It’s my pleasure to have you come with me on this journey! Everything is better with friends along.

      I’ll do my best to show the finishing that I do, though I’m still learning that part, too.
      I did make a little video a while back that shows the method I use to finish the warp ends. You can see it at the end of this post – Quiet Friday: Little Tapestry Diary.

      Thanks for being here,
      Karen

  • It looks wonderful, until I saw your lizard it hadn’t occurred to me that a floor loom could be used for tapestry; one day I might have to try it too.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rachelle, I like using the floor loom for tapestry. This was my first attempt doing that, and I intend to do it again! Who knows, maybe I’ll have to add another loom just for tapestry. 🙂

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Karen Reff says:

    That’s pretty amazing!

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