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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Discovery Towels Workshop in Eureka Springs

Seven enthusiastic weavers came to the Discovery Towels Workshop I presented a few days ago. We had three wonderful days together. Thick and thin threads can do spectacular things when you combine them in the warp and weft. And Eureka Springs, Arkansas is the ideal setting for such a weaving adventure! This is a unique, quaint little town like none other. The Victorian-style homes, and the twisting, winding roads that follow the hillside contours make you feel like you are in a storybook village. We happened to be there at the same time as the annual Volkswagen Festival and Parade, which defies description. You just have to experience it for yourself.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Debbie Davis of Red Scottie Fibers, our gracious and knowledgeable host, provided the perfect setting in The Shoppes at Fleece ‘N Flax. Her classroom space is full of Glimåkra countermarch and counterbalance looms. What could be better?!

Weaving workshop with Karen Isenhower.

Discovery weavers!

You will be amazed when you see the beautiful towels that these seasoned and not-yet seasoned weavers produced! It was a joy to have some time with these enthusiastic discoverers.

May you enjoy the thrill of discovery.

~~On a personal note, regarding hurricane Harvey, Steve and I tried to drive home to Houston on Sunday, after our stay in Arkansas. We were unable to return all the way home because of flooded roads and highways, so we diverted our route to drive out to our place in Texas hill country. So far, our Houston home has not flooded, but our loved city is suffering greatly. Please keep these brave people, including many of our dear friends, in your prayers.~~

Yours,
Karen

20 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    I hope you, your family, and your Houston home remain safe!

    So glad you had a great workshop. Love these towels!

  • Kay Rideout says:

    I hope you and your family and home are spared from the flooding.

  • Holly Deluce says:

    Very glad your safe Karen. My thoughts and prayers to everyone in the Houston area.

  • Bev Romans says:

    Karen, I am so thankful you are safe and out of harm’s way. Thank you, Lord! Great answer to prayer that you were away teaching and have your hill country home to divert to. I am continuing to lift up the Gulf Coast in prayer. And the towels are beautiful! Bev

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bev, We are thankful to be out of harm’s way. News from our neighbors this morning is that the water on our street is finally receding. That’s a big relief!

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Oh Karen,
    I have been worried about you the last few days and I’m so happy to hear you are ok! Stay safe, lots of prayers going on for Texas.
    Liberty

  • D'Anne says:

    I wondered where you were. Glad you are safe and out of Houston. We are safe and dry here, but some of our weaving friends are not so fortunate.

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, I’ve been concerned about our weaving friends. I know some parts of Katy got hit pretty hard. I’m glad you’re doing okay, too.

      Karen

  • Becky Scott says:

    Very treasured memories. Thank you for sharing your time and knowledge. You and Debbie make a great team. I got caught up in the Volkswagon parade and counted about 350 of them, all shapes, sizes,and models. what a hoot!! Also praying.

    • Karen says:

      Becky, Great memories for me, as well! Too bad you weren’t driving a VW so you could fit in. Haha

      Our prayers make a difference. Thanks!
      Karen

  • tsw says:

    I am so relieved to hear that you are dry and safe and that your home is ok. You have been in my thoughts daily.
    Isn’t Eureka Springs the coolest place? I wish that I was enough of a weaver to have taken your class, but weaving is going to be my ‘dream job’ after I retire in two years. I love those towels, and your students did great. You have the soul of a teacher, Karen. When are you going to write a weaving book?

    Theo

    • Karen says:

      Hi Theo, I appreciate your kind concern! Yes, Eureka Springs is a fun place to be.

      When am I going to write a weaving book? You’re reading it. Haha. I do have teaching in my soul. I love the idea of helping other people learn.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Angie Roberts says:

    Looks like it was a very fun and educational workshop,
    beautiful towels. Prayers, positive thoughts coming to you and your community.
    Blessings

  • Ettenna says:

    Keep Montana in your prayer- we are literally burning up…

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Another Small Tapestry Loom

One more little tapestry loom? I signed up for Rebecca Mezoff’s Weaving Tapestry on Little Looms online class, and ordered a Hokett loom to go with it. This petite 7″ x 8″ loom is made by Jim Hokett, who uses exotic woods for the looms. Mine is made of bubinga and chechen woods. Very pretty and nice to the touch! This is a 6-dent loom, and I have warped it double, to have 12 ends per inch.

Hockett loom warped for weaving a small tapestry.

Hokett 6-dent loom is warped 12 ends per inch by warping 2 ends per dent. I am not accustomed to using a tapestry beater or a shed stick. It will be fascinating to try some new things!

New Hokett loom - starting sample for Rebecca Mezoff's class.

I did some weaving while riding in the car. I finished the header, a short hem, and a row of special knots for the hem’s turned edge.

In this course, I am practicing some basic small loom tapestry techniques. Rebecca has a very organized, clear teaching style, so it’s a joy to learn from her. As I practice, I am reviewing things I have learned previously; and I am picking up great tips that are new to me. And, for once, lo and behold, I am weaving tapestry from the front!

May your new year start with learning something new.

Happy Year End,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Leigh Grundy says:

    I almost bought one of those little hokett looms once for sampling. They are so cute. What would you do with such a little tapestry? I can’t wait to see.

    Have a wonderful New Year.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Leigh, The little Hokett looms would be great for sampling for larger tapestries. I don’t have a specific end in mind. Sometimes I mount the small tapestry and put it in a frame. Most of the time, though, it’s an exercise for my fingers and my mind. I’m not at the point where I’m making masterpieces yet.

      Karen

  • Beth says:

    I followed Rebecca and her time spent in the Petrified Forest. I love her work and would one day like to take a class from her. The online class sounds like a great way to begin. I’m looking forward to seeing your progress.

    • Karen says:

      Beth, I follow Rebecca on Instagram. Her small tapestries from the Petrified Forest were very interesting. After seeing other students’ work on IG, I decided to go for it myself!

      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    I have put that class on my personal wish list. I got a Lost Pond hand-held loom for Christmas and I’ve never done tapestry. I will be visiting the person who gave it to me next summer; it would be nice to show her I’m using it! 🙂

    On that same trip I’m taking Basics at Vavstuga!!! :happy dance:

  • Louise Yale says:

    Also just bought a Hockett loom – in red zebra wood !! Same size as yours.

    Just experimenting with the loom now with traditional tapestry techniques and soumak which I really enjoy, Soumak stitches provide a 3 demensional accent or frame to the other stitches.
    Currently working with cotton perle but want to try silk.
    Planning to make a small flat purse for frequently used credit cards for my purse. I may add a braided necklace and wear it as a piece of textile jewelry.

    • Karen says:

      Louise, I love the wood. There is something special about holding wood in your hands that makes the tapestry work that much more interesting and special.

      I have done a little bit of soumak on this loom, too. It’s something I’d like to explore some more.
      I’d love to see what you’re making! The purse and textile jewelry sound fascinating!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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End of Warp Surprise

The end of the warp is a fantastic way to try out ideas for future weaving projects. I have some kid mohair/silk yarn on my shelf in blue, lavender, and tan. I wove some pretty shawls with this angelic yarn a few years ago on my rigid heddle loom. Hmm… would kid mohair/silk work as weft on the alpaca warp? This is a good way to learn. If it works, I know I can do it again, but on a larger scale. If it doesn’t work, I know what to avoid. The point is to learn.

Kid mohair/silk weft on alpaca warp.

Lavender mohair/silk weft on alpaca warp.

Alpaca warp and kid mohair/silk weft for a dreamy scarf.

As handweavers, we learn by doing. And in daily life, we learn by doing–walking in this manner or that. We do not walk alone. The Lord stands ready to teach every inquiring soul. My prayer is, “Lord, teach me; help me understand; help me walk.” Sometimes what we learn surprises us. The trial weft may be even better than the one we originally planned.

May you enjoy lifelong learning.

Blessed,
Karen

5 Comments

  • Carolyn Penny says:

    Yes, life long learning. The path is pleasant.

  • Chris says:

    Hi Karen,
    This is a very beautuful way to use mohair-silk as weft. Just wondering what the sett is for this pattern and where you found the draft?
    I have some kid mohair-silk yarn that is intended as knitting yarn but I would prefer to use it in weaving – I have a poncho in mind- and I am looking for a suitable draft that I could use or adapt.
    Thank you for sharing this very lovely project, it is most inspiring.
    Kind regards,
    Chris

    • Karen says:

      Hi Chris, The kid mohair-silk is dreamy yarn. I used a draft from “The Big Book of Weaving,” by Laila Lundell, p. 116. The warp was 3-ply alpaca yarn.
      I used a 30/10 metric reed (equivalent to 7.6 Imperial), and the sett was 6 epc, or about 15 epi.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Chris says:

    Hi Karen,
    Thank you very much for sharing this. I will check it out, the book you mention is in our Guild library.
    I’ve only very recently found your blog and I am hooked! Thanks for all the interesting posts and for your openness and honesty about the good times and not so good times in weaving
    Kind regards,
    Chris

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Young Weaver

I had a visitor this week. You might be surprised to see what a seven-year-old can do. Young Jamie picked out her colors, wound fabric strips on the ski shuttle, and wove a small rag rug. Almost all by herself! She helped me advance the warp, and remove warping slats as they came off the back beam.

Young weaver at the loom making her first rag rug.

After twisting the weft at the selvedge, Jamie angles the weft in the shed before beating. And this seven-year-old has plenty of strength to pack the weft in tightly with the beater.

It was rewarding to see my little friend catch on so quickly. She believed me when I told her she could weave a rag rug; and she trusted me to show her what to do. Weaving was a success because Jamie listened well, and followed my instructions. After she left, I wove the warp thread header, cut the rug from the loom, and tied the knots, leaving fringe. Now Jamie has her own little handwoven rag rug!

First rag rug by a seven-year-old weaver. Glimakra Ideal floor loom.

Warp ends are secured with overhand knots. The fringe adds a playful touch to Jamie’s first rag rug.

Trust in God is a bold thing; it is confidence in God through all of life’s challenges. Beware of anything that tempts you to question your trust in God. He comes beside us and faithfully guides as we walk through life. God is someone we can trust. When we listen well and follow instructions, he weaves something good through our hands.

May you listen well.

Trusting,
Karen

2 Comments

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