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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Christmas Weaving Promise

This is the third and final gift promise from last Christmas. A Cornflower and Willow 8/2 cotton warp will become a throw in wavy (undulating) twill for my daughter-in-law Lindsay. I am hopeful that I will be able to finish it before Christmas. As promised. (See Weaving a Gift.)

Winding a warp with pretty Willow and Cornflower 8/2 cotton.

Winding the warp on the warping reel. Willow and Cornflower 8/2 cotton.

Warping reel. 8/2 cotton warp.

Second of four bouts for this warp.

8/2 cotton warp chain. A pretty way to start a project!

Warp chains are such a pretty way to start a project.

May you make and keep good promises.

Happy weaving,
Karen

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Stained Glass Scarf Surprise!

A pleasant surprise arrived in the mail this week—the November/December 2018 issue of Handwoven magazine. Guess what?! My Stained Glass Scarf made it to the front cover!

Stained Glass scarf warp - brilliant blue!

Four shades of blue are carefully arranged to make a brilliant blue 8/2 cotton warp.

Stained Glass scarf - on the cover of Handwoven Nov/Dec 2018.

Two scarves. I wove one to keep, and one to send to the Handwoven editorial team.

Stained Glass scarf/wrap in Handwoven Nov/Dec 2018

Swedish lace adapted from a draft by Else Regensteiner in The Art of Weaving. Her draft was for a tablecloth. I made it into a scarf/wrap instead.

Stained Glass scarf from Handwoven Nov/Dec 2018

Twisting the fringe. This cotton scarf/wrap calls for fringe that is a little bit chunky. I feel like I’m dressed and ready for fun when I wear it!

Handwoven Nov/Dec 2018 - Stained Glass scarf on the cover!

Credit: Cover Photograph by George Boe from Handwoven November/December 2018 magazine. Copyright © F+W Media 2018. Photograph of magazine by Eddie Fernandez.

May your day be filled with pleasant surprises.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

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Quiet Friday: Threads of Love

Talk about thick and thirsty towels! Double weave makes these hand towels thick. And the linen in the cottolin threads makes them highly absorbent. The colors are fantastic together. When our daughter Melody moves with her little family to Chile, she can set up her new home with these made-for-her towels. My love is woven into every single pick.

I have included two short little videos just for the fun of it. Enjoy!

This project started in my weaving studio in our Houston home, where I beamed the warp.

Colors for Towels

Winding a warp for double weave towels.

Beaming the warp for towels.

And then we decided to move! We sold the house and moved into an apartment. The big loom was dismantled, with the towel warp on the back beam. Then, we moved all the pieces to our Texas hill country home.

Dismantled loom for moving.

Moving a Glimakra Standard loom.

Putting the Glimakra Standard loom back together.

Recently, I spent a week there to finish dressing the loom and weave all four towels. Whew! (Here’s what I did that week: Testing Color Surprises with My Little Helper and Weaving Deadline)

Threading 12 shafts. Double weave towels coming!

Lower lamms ready to go!

Starting the hem on double weave towels.

Double weave cottolin towels on 12 shafts. Karen Isenhower

From the back beam. Double weave on 12 shafts.

Double weave towels. Loom with a view!

Squares in a double weave towel.

Towels on the cloth beam. Karen Isenhower

Double weave towels on the loom.

Double weave cottolin towels on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Towels on the cloth beam.

Glimakra Standard loom in Texas hill country.

Cutting off!

Cutting off! Double weave towels.

Fresh double weave towels, ready for finishing.

I wove hanging tabs on my band loom. And I discovered that I could showcase both sides of the colorful towel if I stitch the hanging tab on the side of the towel, off center.

Glimakra band loom.

Hanging tabs for towels woven on Glimakra band loom.

Hanging tab stitched to side of towel.

The towels are hemmed and pressed, ready to brighten the day!

Double Weave cottolin towels. Side A.

Double weave cottolin towels. Side B.

Double weave cottolin towels! Karen Isenhower

Cottolin towels, hanging from the side. More pics on the blog.

May you put threads of love into everything you do.

Love,
Karen

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Melody Towels

I am stepping out of the box with this combination, trusting that what is seen only in my mind’s eye will have an extraordinary impact. This warp will become towels for my daughter Melody. I chose cottolin threads in colors that remind me of the colorfully painted homes we saw on our visit to Chile a few years ago when Melody was living there. Aqua, light poppy, marigold, and orchid.

New warp on the warping reel.

Mix of colors that remind me of Chile.

Warping reel. Winding a new colorful warp!

First of three bouts on the warping reel.

Beaming the warp with a warping trapeze.

Beaming the warp with the help of the warping trapeze.

Cottolin towel warp being beamed.

Warp beam with new cottolin warp for towels.

We trust what we can see—a chair to hold us, and an airplane to fly us. But unseen things are also part of our trust—the chair maker’s glue, and the air that aerodynamic engineers depend on. Earth and heaven, seen and unseen. Jesus, seen on earth, made the unseen God visible. Trust the unseen.

May you step out of the box.

Trusting,
Karen

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  • ellen b santana says:

    every week you remind me to trust God. and i can’t wait to see these towels. thank you. ellen

  • Nannette says:

    Beautiful colors. They remind me of summer..

  • Lynette says:

    I look forward to seeing the woven cloth, with the pattern you have chosen.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, It’s nice to hear from you. I think this will be very interesting to weave. I’m glad you are following along.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    Oh my! What a beautiful color scheme you have chosen for these towels. What color(s) will you weave with? Are you using plain weave, twill, basket ….? Will there be bands of color or will the warp do the “talking”? Thank you taking me on your journey. Your work is always inspiring as are your words.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, I’m glad you like this color scheme! I’m really fond of it, too. I will make decisions about about the weft when I do some sampling with different colors. I’d like to try out several options to see what I like the best. This will be another doubleweave with two plain weave layers, but this time I’m using 12 shafts–my first time to use 12 shafts.

      Thanks so much!
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Wow! I like the color combination! I am also excited to be on this journey with you, Karen.

    And I frequently need to be reminded to trust in God. Your message is appreciated.

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