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

Tools Day: Band Loom Warping Board

It is almost effortless to make a short warp for the band loom. All you need is a peg at the beginning and a peg at the end. You can use a spoke of the warp beam wheel, for instance, at one end, and the leg of an upside-down stool at the other. I normally use my warping reel, though, for even a simple warp, because the reel is so handy. However, I don’t have my warping reel here at the apartment, so I am turning my band loom into a handy warping board for this band loom project.

Using the Glimakra band loom as a warping board.
Using the Glimåkra band loom to measure a narrow cottolin warp.

How to Use the Band Loom as a Warping Board

Tools and supplies:

  • Glimåkra band loom
  • Thread for weaving a narrow band
  • Basket and/or spool holder(s)
  • Scissors

How to use the band loom as a warping board.
Starting at one peg and ending at another. The band loom becomes a simple tool for winding a short warp.

For a warp of approximately two meters:

  • Put the warp thread on the floor below—quills in a basket, and/or thread tubes on spool holders.
  • Using two or more ends, tie the ends together with an overhand knot. (I used three ends together for this warp.)
  • Bring the warp ends up around the warp beam and over the back beam.
  • Loop the knot on the starting peg.
  • Draw the ends from the starting peg to the ending peg, around the band loom, following this path:
  1. Starting peg–upper heddle peg nearest back beam
  2. Lower heddle peg nearest back beam
  3. Back beam
  4. Warp beam
  5. Cloth beam
  6. Front beam
  7. Lower heddle peg nearest front beam
  8. Ending peg–upper heddle peg nearest front beam
  • Follow the winding path in reverse order back to the starting peg.
  • Continue winding until you have reached the desired number of ends.
  • Cut the ends and tie off at the starting peg or the ending peg.
  • Tie one or two choke ties, if needed. (I didn’t need them for this short warp.)
  • Carefully remove the warp and dress the band loom as usual. (For a tutorial on dressing the band loom, click here: Quiet Friday: Band Loom Warping and Weaving.)
  • Weave to your heart’s content.

Weaving hanging tabs for towels on my Glimakra band loom.
One meter of woven band is cut off. The remaining band warp is tied back on. Weaving can resume at any time.

Preparing to sew handwoven ribbons onto handwoven towels for hanging.
Ends secured, and cut in 10.5 cm lengths, the tabs are ready to be sewn onto the double weave towels.

May you find tools you didn’t know you had.

Happy band weaving,
Karen

Eight Bouts Is Enough

A zillion threads—2,064 ends, to be exact. I wound the warp in four bouts. And then, …a sinking feeling! I had wound each bout with exactly half the ends needed. This double weave throw, almost the full weaving width of the loom, needs 1,032 more ends.

Winding a colorful warp.
Winding one bout of the warp.

One warp bout of several.
One bout.

Warp bouts.
Two bouts.

Warp bouts for double weave throw.
Three bouts.

Four warp bouts for double weave throw.
Four bouts. Not enough.

I had counted ends as if there were only one layer. I did all four bouts that way. Yikes! Now I am winding four more identical bouts. I will put the lease sticks through all eight bouts. Somehow. Thoughtful study of the details on my planning sheet would have prevented this major error. But I knew what I was doing, and could remember the important things. Or, so I thought. And I was eager to get started…

Winding a cotton warp.
Winding more warp bouts.

Double weave warp with 2,064 threads!
Eight warp bouts. Ready to begin dressing the loom.

Walk. How we walk through life matters. To walk in a manner pleasing to God we need to know what he wants, and give that our full attention. If I run ahead, eager for the next experience, and neglect to consult the Grand Weaver’s project notes, I’m asking for trouble. The vibrant-colored warp will still get on the loom, but this is called learning the hard way.

May you learn most things the easy way.

Learning,
Karen

Simpler Warp Stripes

Narrow stripes on the warp beam are stunning. But to wind a warp like that means frequently cutting threads and tying knots. Right? …not necessarily! You don’t have to wind a warp with stripes in order to have a striped warp on the loom. I didn’t know that. I thought that tying knots is the price you pay to get warp stripes. Winding this warp was a breeze! The secret? A separate warp chain and set of lease sticks for each color. I combined the threads, keeping them in proper order, as I put them on the back tie-on bar. That part was a little tricky, but will only get easier with practice.

Stripes on the warp beam are so enticing! Linen.
Unbleached and golden bleached linen pair up for this striped warp.

Knowledge. Knowledge gives us freedom to do things in a new way. This is why prayer is effective. Not praying for so-and-so to change, but asking that they may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. And then, God takes it from there. Your prayer may be what it takes to initiate a new outlook on life for someone else. Much like finding a different way to put stripes on the loom.

May you find a new way to simplify.

Happy weaving,
Karen

Two Threads Are Better than One

Here’s a secret: Two threads are better than one. To measure a warp, I always, without exception, wind the warp with two or more threads together. A warp that is wound with a single thread is prone to tangle as threads twist around each other. A warp wound with pairs of threads won’t do that.

Winding a linen warp. Always 2 threads together.
Choke ties secure the warp bout around the starting pin on the warping reel.

Smooth warping tip: Always wind a warp with at least two threads at a time.
I hold two threads in my right hand, with my little finger separating them, to wind the warp. My left hand turns the warping reel. I purchase enough thread to be able to wind with two tubes at a time. Any thread that remains unused goes toward another project.

I am particular about this warp. It’s linen, so consistency matters. Tangles would disrupt the even tension the linen needs. I have dräll in five-shaft satin in mind as I take each careful step to dress the loom. I expanded the loom to ten shafts to be able to weave this! Expect happy weaving, to be sure, but imagine how pleasant it will be to hold this dreamed-of cloth in my hand. That future cloth gives meaning to my present efforts at the loom.

One of my weaving spaces.
Various stages of weaving. Winding 16/2 unbleached line linen to warp the Standard loom. The Baby Loom (Glimåkra Ideal) in the background is in the middle of rag-rug weaving.

Ten shafts for dräll in five-shaft satin.
Ten shafts in place on the Big Loom (Glimåkra Standard) to prepare the loom for weaving dräll in five-shaft satin.

There must be meaning beyond this life for us to find meaning in this life. The end of the weaving is the beginning of the life of the cloth. There is purposeful preparation by the Grand Weaver, with a precisely measured warp. The back-and-forth shuttle is like the ticking of a clock, or the passing of years. The end is the beginning. Can you imagine the splendid setting the Grand Weaver has in mind for his hand-woven cloth?

May you keep the end in mind.

Yours,
Karen