Swedish Art Weaves with Joanne Hall

Krabbasnår (or Krabba), Rölakan, Halvkrabba, Dukagång, and Munkabälte (Monksbelt). These unique weaves have intrigued me since I first saw photos of them. Some of the designs look like hand-stitched embroidery. The Swedish Art Weaves workshop with Joanne Hall introduces the simple techniques used for weaving these traditional patterns. I’m thankful to have the opportunity to learn how to weave these beautiful designs for myself.

Swedish Art Weaves workshop with Joanne Hall.
Joanne brought examples of Swedish art weaves for the students to view.

Joanne’s presentation to the San Antonio Handweavers Guild was enlightening. Photos of her travels to Sweden show how the rich weaving heritage there continues to thrive. That, along with Joanne’s knowledge of Swedish weaving traditions, gives context to these Swedish art weaves.

Krabbasnår, a Swedish art weave.
Krabbasnår (krabba) is a laid-in technique with a plain weave ground. The pattern uses three strands of wool Fårö yarn. The warp is 16/3 linen.
Weaving Krabba, a Swedish art weave.
Besides maintaining warp width, the temple is useful for covering up the weft tails to keep them out of the way.
Workshop with Joanne Hall. Swedish Art Weaves.
Joanne explains the next step to workshop participants.
Swedish Art Weaves sampler, with Joanne Hall.
Dukagång is another laid-in technique with a plain weave ground. A batten is placed behind the shafts to make it easy to have the pattern wefts cover two warp threads. (A jack loom can do the same by using half-heddle sticks in front of the shafts.) Dukagång can be woven as a threaded pattern, but then the weaver is limited to that one structure, instead of having different patterns all in the same woven piece.
Fascinating way to weave monksbelt!
With threaded monksbelt, as I have woven previously, the monksbelt flowers are in a fixed position. With this art weaves monksbelt, the monksbelt flowers can be placed wherever you want them. Half-heddle sticks at the back, batten behind the shafts, and a pick-up stick in front of the reed–a fascinating way to weave this traditional pattern.
Swedish Art Weaves workshop with Joanne Hall. So much fun!
Last loom standing… Time to pack up. As I prepare the loom for transport, I detach the cloth beam cords. Now we can see the right side of what I have woven.
Swedish Art Weaves with Joanne Hall. Fun!
From the top: Krabbasnår, Rölakan Tapestry, Halvkrabba, Dukagång, and Munkabälte.

Väv 2/2013 has instructions for the art weaves. I have the magazine issue, but Joanne’s workshop brings the historical techniques to life and makes them understandable. That is exactly the prompting I needed to begin exploring these fascinating patterns on my own loom.

Weaving Swedish art weaves from the back.
Back at home, my little loom is getting ready to weave some more beautiful Swedish art weave designs.

May something historical be your new interest.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

18 Comments

  • Beth says:

    Beautiful! I’m curious, how long did it take to weave this piece?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth,

      As with most weft-faced weaves, this is not fast weaving. I was happy to be able to finish this much in a 2 1/2-day workshop. I’m eager to do more of this slower-paced weaving at home.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Charlotte says:

    Brilliant that you were able to take your loom…your beautiful loom…your piece is absolutely lovely. The colors in your top match the colors in your cloth. Fun!!!! And, lovely cloth!!!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlotte,

      I’m fortunate to have a countermarch loom small enough to be dismantled and relocated. It was a satisfying workshop. So enjoyable to make these unique patterns in the cloth!

      Thank you,
      Karen

  • Vivian says:

    Your explanation is bright and helpful. I will shelve these weaving methods. I have been interested in the weaves and you have helped untangle the concepts as well as highlight the various groups of Swedish weave structures.

  • Cindie says:

    How timely, I’ve just written my deposit check this morning for a guild workshop we’ll be having with Joanne this coming fall.

  • Jane Milner says:

    I recently took the same class with Joanne Hall at the Eugene Textile Center in Eugene, Oregon. Lots of fun, and I learned a lot!

    Is your small loom a Glimakra? What is it?

  • Anonymous says:

    I just got myself a 32 in Heddle. I’d like to make small Matt’s and runners. I live in Chilliwack B.C. Can you direct me to a class?

    • Karen says:

      Hi new weaver, I am not connected with any rigid heddle loom classes. There are some good books on rigid heddle weaving. A book by Syne Mitchell, Liz Gipson, or Jane Patrick would be a great place to start.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Ladella Williams says:

    Ladella from Portland Oregon actually knows Joanne Hall! Also she went to college with my cousin! I highly recommend her as a weaver with considerable experience! She has a wealth of knowledge and experience! Happy Weaving! I have been weaving forever it seems!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ladella, How wonderful that you have a personal connection with Joanne. Her weaving knowledge and experience can’t be matched. What I love about Joanne is her kind and gentle manner as she patiently passes on her knowledge to her students.

      Thank you for chiming in!
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Arlene says:

    Facinating.. can you suggest a book but I could follow the technique …thanks in advance Arlene

    • Karen says:

      Hi Arlene, Yes, I recommend Heirlooms of Skåne: Weaving Techniques, by Gunvor Johansson. Vavstuga.com carries the book. The author covers all these techniques in detail. It’s a beautiful book.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Weaving Ideas – Year in Review Video

Everything starts with an idea. And some of those ideas become tangible expressions of dreams come true. Who knew that a simple idea in 2012 would lead to a seven-year exploration of weaving through The Big Book of Weaving? (See Weaving through The Big Book.) Who knew that weaving on a drawloom in 2016 at Homestead Fiber Crafts would plant the idea of weaving on a drawloom of my own? (see Quiet Friday: Day at the Drawloom.) And who knew that an idea in 2013 to write about my weaving journey, calling it Warped for Good, would bring friends like you to come and enjoy the journey with me? For these things and so much more, I am truly grateful.

Siblings Tapestry is 3 cm away from completion!
Siblings Tapestry is three centimeters away from completion.
Drawloom rag rug - single-unit.
Single-unit drawloom rag rug is ten centimeters into testing everything–draw cords, sheds, shuttles. After a few more adjustments the actual rag rug weaving will commence.

Your ideas are priceless. That’s because you are priceless. You were made in God’s image, with the ability to imagine wonderful intricacies through creative thinking. In fact, you began as God’s idea. As we walk with him, we become the tangible expression of his dream come true.

Grab a cup of coffee or tea and sit here with me to reminisce over the past weaving year.

May this year bring your best ideas ever.

For you,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Karen: You are such an awesome servant and ambassador for God! Your comments have always captured my attention, but this one really spoke to me! I even wrote your words down to read to a friend who has a birthday today. I respect and admired your creativity and the effort you invest in sharing! It all takes time and effort, but I can see that your heart is in what you do…and your heart belongs to God. May God continue to bless you in this year of 2020! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joyce, It’s a pleasure to be able to share what I enjoy. Thanks for your thoughtful words. I’m glad to have you along with me.

      Happy weaving new year,
      Karen

  • Joanne Hall says:

    It was fun to see all that you have done this past year. And I enjoyed seeing that photo of our winter drawloom class and the samplers on the drawlooms. You have done a lot of weaving already in your new home. I look forward to what you weave after our art weaves workshop next month. See you then.
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, That drawloom class was a highlight for the year. I’m thankful to be in a place and season of life that suits my weaving endeavors.

      I am looking forward to the art weaves class. I still have so much to learn!

      See you soon,
      Karen

  • Cynthia H. says:

    Karen, what an amazing artist you are, beautiful work. Cant wait to see what you will be working on next. Say hi to Steve for me. Cynthia H.

  • lanora dodson says:

    This was inspiring on SO many levels! It brought a sense of peace, wonder, and excitement all at the same time. Thank you for sharing and cannot wait for the coming year to see what you’ll be creating!

  • Nannette says:

    Karen,
    Thank you for sharing!
    I will need to watch the video a 4 or 8 or 10 more times to absorb everything you did in 2019.
    The close ups are welcome.
    Nannette

  • Beth Mullins says:

    You’ve had a beautiful, productive year! You and your work are so inspiring, bringing excitement, curiosity, and clam all at the same time. I can’t wait to see the siblings completed and what’s to come in 2020.

    Happy New Year, Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, It’s good to have a sense of accomplishment. I always enjoy seeing your beautiful woven creations on IG. We both had a year rich with weaving. I’m glad to have your friendship on this journey.

      Happy New Weaving Year,
      Karen

  • Johanna McGuirk says:

    Dear Karen

    I am very keen to get the details for the electric bobbin winder as I am frustrated using the hand drill. Would it be possible to supply me with more details please? Hopefully my husband or son can put one together for me.
    Kind regards
    Johanna

    • Karen says:

      Hi Johanna, I am happy to share the details for the electric bobbin winder that Steve made for me.

      I will send you an email with the information.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Karen, thank you so much for sharing your video. It was both inspiring and calming. A beautiful expression of pure creativity expressed through our traditional craft. Love your work.
    Barbara

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Pictorial Tapestry Weaving

Inspired by some of Joanne Hall’s exquisite large tapestries, I have been taking steps to learn her techniques. This fascinating style that is unique to Joanne enables her to weave large tapestries at a comfortable pace. My Lizard tapestry last year was a step in this direction. (See Quiet Friday: Lizard Tapestry.) One thing that the lizard taught me is how much more I need to learn. So, you can imagine my delight in having the opportunity to take a Pictorial Tapestry Weaving workshop taught by Joanne Hall last week! (Contemporary Handweavers of Texas Conference in Fort Worth was the setting.)

Texas Wildflowers, tapestry by Joanne Hall.
Texas Wildflowers, tapestry by Joanne Hall. Photo credit: Steve Isenhower 2013
Detail of Texas Wildflowers, tapestry by Joanne Hall.
Detail of Texas Wildflowers. Threaded in rosepath, with a linen warp. Woven with butterfly bundles of wool yarn. Photo credit: Steve Isenhower 2013

Things to remember: Don’t beat hard. Bubble the weft more. Color theory is invaluable for adding depth and intensity. Simplify the cartoon. And countless more bits of insight and instruction! I am invigorated in my pursuit to develop these tapestry skills. Expect to see a tapestry on my 120cm Glimåkra Standard in coming days.

Workshop looms.
My hand-built countermarch loom is perfect for a tapestry workshop. Betsy brought her Glimåkra Julia loom.
Tapestry sampler in Joanne Hall's workshop.
Workshop sampler gives students various tapestry techniques to practice. We learned techniques of other tapestry weavers, such as Hans Krondahl and Helena Hernmarck, as well as Joanne’s unique approach.
Tapestry workshop with Joanne Hall.
Fellow student Cindy created this pear, taking advantage of the rosepath threading to add pattern to the image.
Joanne Hall's tapestry workshop.
Joanne, center, explains the process of creating a cartoon. She spreads out photos of flowers as a starting point for students’ cartoons.
Joanne Hall's tapestry sample.
Joanne’s tapestry sample demonstrates the outcome of her process. A portion of the photo was enlarged from which she drew the cartoon.
Tapestry workshop.
Fellow student Deborah creates a flower from her original cartoon.
Making a tapestry cartoon.
I am choosing to make my cartoon from an enlarged portion of a lily photo.
Weaving from a cartoon in tapestry workshop.
Color studies and technique exercises all come together in the last part of the tapestry sampler. Weaving from a cartoon.
Tapestry progress.
Time to take the loom apart and head home. Checking my progress with the photo before packing up.
Lily sample from tapestry workshop with Joanne Hall.
Lily sample is finished at home.

I find myself pondering how experiences fall into place in our lives. There are times when the stepping stones seem to be set out before us, showing the way, when we don’t know exactly where we are going. The Lord knows where I am going. He knows me. And he kindly sets out the next steps. Perhaps he smiles as he sees our delight when we figure out that we are the bundles of yarn in his tapestry.

May your joy in learning never cease.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

21 Comments

  • Petrina says:

    Thank you for sharing this. It is so interesting.

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Beautiful! Looking forward to seeing your progress. I don’t have the patience for tapestry.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, You might be surprised. In some ways it is similar to the inlay I’ve seen you do, but on a larger scale.

      In any case, I’m pleased that there are so many directions we can go with yarn and threads and a loom.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Wow! Karen, you are always doing something amazing! Thank you for sharing the workshop since I was unable to attend any this year.

    I am curious as to how you were able to bring your loom. It doesn’t look very portable.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, The whole conference was a great experience. Maybe you will be able to attend next time, 2021 in San Antonio.

      These Swedish looms are easy to take apart and put back together. Think of it as large Lincoln Logs. The side gables are the biggest pieces. The rest —beams, crossbars, treadles, lamms— all fit into two large duffel bags. The gables and the duffel bags fit in the back seat of our Toyota Tacoma.

      Karen

  • Charlotte says:

    Oh my darling Karen! It is wonderful, reading your blog, this morning. En route to the Navajo Nation, our vehicle died in Albuquerque. What a story I have to share…His goodness to us…to place His people in our path…each one learning of us and needing prayer for themselves and their families. What a miraculous day He had planned.
    Thank you for being YOU! Thank you for taking such grand pictures from our workshop with Joanne. It passed by us all too quickly.

  • Betsy says:

    So fun to re-live the class through your pictures! Love your lily, that came out very well. I still haven’t put the Julia back together, I want to give it new dowels, so a trip to Lowe’s is on the list.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, I’m so glad my CM loom had a sister in the room! It was fun to get to weave side-by-side with you.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Vivian says:

    It is so uplifting to learn from your heroes. It is a well of kindness that keeps on giving. Thank you for sharing. I appreciate the breakdown of technique and you were able to make tapestry seem just a little more approachable.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Vivian, “Hero” is a good word to describe Joanne. We are fortunate that she is so willing to share her expertise.

      If tapestry weaving seems more approachable, then I’ve accomplished one of my goals. Thanks!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    Hi Karen, thanks for another great post. Joanne’s wildflower tapestry is a marvel. I’m wondering where she managed to find so many colors in what appears to be the same weight of yarn. Was it perhaps woven in the era of the famous Paternayan yarns (gone now and sadly missed)?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, That’s a great question about the yarn. If Joanne sees this maybe she will leave a comment.

      In the workshop we used mostly 6/2 Tuna wool and 6/1 Fårö wool. We made butterflies with the equivalent of 4 strands of Tuna wool. Using several strands together introduces great ability for variety of color and shading.

      I agree that Joanne’s tapestries are marvels.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

      • Joanna says:

        Back in the day I did a lot of needlepoint using Paternayan Persian wool yarn. The yarn came as 3 strands of 2-ply yarn and that put-up, combined with an incredible color range, enabled the stitcher to create the exact shade needed. It spoiled me. Do you know the date of JH’s wildflower tapestry?

        • Karen says:

          Joanna, I’m sure your needlepoint images were spectacular!

          Joanne Hall’s Texas Wildflowers tapestry was installed the summer of 1995.

          Karen

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi Joanna,
      As Karen said, we used 2 ply Swedish wools, Tuna, 109 colors available from Glimakra. We can extend the color choices by also using the Faro yarn,an additional 74 colors, using two strands as one. I did some dyeing for the Texas Wildflowers tapestry, as it is hard to get clear pastel colors.
      Joanne

  • Amazing. Beautiful.
    Right place. Right time. The rose path warp on my loom is exceeding my filler on some rag rugs. This technique has inspired me to weave the last rug as a tapestry in a simple design from stringers of red currants.
    Always an inspiration. Always a blessing.
    Thank you.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I would love to do some tapestry rag rugs at some point. I was thinking about that earlier this morning. Good for you!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Cindy says:

    What a treat to open your blog for the first time since I signed up and see my little pear! I had so much to learn and Joanne stuffed as much as she could into my sponge of a brain. Not sure where it will lead, but such an intriguing path!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, Your pear deserved to be seen! It’s good to go as sponges. It will be interesting to see where all this leads!

      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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One Thing on My Weaving Bucket List

I have a weaving “bucket list.” Making a handwoven jacket is on that list. I took a step toward that dream with Michele Belson’s (of Lunatic Fringe Yarns) workshop on pattern drafting last week. This Contemporary Handweavers of Texas Conference workshop was exactly what I needed.

Michele Belson's workshop. Body block pattern drafting.

Taking precise body measurements is the first step in making a body block pattern draft. The measurements are then transferred to the pattern paper in a systematic way. My handwoven “Mary Poppins” bag on the floor holds all my supplies for the day.

Making body block pattern draft in Michele Belson's workshop.

Front and back bodice patterns in progress.

Making a muslin in Michele Belson's workshop.

Making a muslin by transferring pattern markings and adding seam allowances.

I can weave fabric for a jacket. And I have sewing skills to sew a jacket. But the fitting! That’s been the missing link for me. And who wants to cut into handwoven fabric when the fit is not a sure thing?

Making a muslin from a body block pattern draft in Michele Belson's workshop.

Muslin pieces are sewn together so the bodice can be fitted.

Fitting a muslin in Michele Belson's workshop.

Michele Belson checks the fit of the muslin. After some small adjustments, she pronounces it a perfect fit! Ease will be added, suitable to the garment being made, when the time comes to make a garment pattern.

Adjusting a commercial sewing pattern in Michele Belson's workshop.

Michele demonstrates how to use the finished body block pattern draft to adjust the fit of a commercial pattern.

Mindful attention to details. Processing information to apply it to the work in your hands. Learning a glossary of terms. Combining new skills with old ones. Listening, with an intent to understand. These are elements of wisdom. Think of the created world around us. Look at the detail, complexity, and beauty in it. Is it any surprise that our Creator is the source of wisdom? Wisdom is the key to skillful work. And, as always, it must be applied and practiced. I will certainly practice fitting and sewing. And then, when it’s time, I’ll weave jacket fabric, and let wisdom guide me in cutting it.

I’m curious, do you have a weaving bucket list, too?

May you cross something off your bucket list.

Happy sewing,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Joanne Hall says:

    Back in the old days when I was teaching sewing pattern making, we called it a sloper. Did you hear that word being used? After careful fitting, we made the sloper out of cardboard. Then, you could use it to make any type of garment. My usual problem was not adding enough ease.
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, I am familiar with the term sloper, but I didn’t hear Michele mention that. She did say to make the pattern on poster board, so that’s exactly what I did when I came home. I’m not ready to draw my own jacket pattern, but I’ve started an attempt to adjust a commercial pattern. We’ll see how it goes.

      Thanks for chiming in!
      Karen

  • D'Anne Craft says:

    What a great class! I am looking forward to seeing your creations, Karen. So glad you took Michele’s class.

  • Sandy says:

    Good for you! So many people are afraid of taking this step. As a former patternmaker in the fashion industry, I can’t wait until my weaving skills are up to the task of making yardage for a garment for myself. I’m sure it will be a rewarding experience, as I’m sure that making your jacket will be.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandy, I’m impressed that you have experience as a patternmaker! Weaving yardage for a garment will be wonderful accomplishment. I can’t wait to see what you make!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Peg Cherre says:

    Sounds like a great workshop, and one that I need! I’ve got 2 lengths of handwoven fabric now that I’m afraid to cut into. I’m going to suggest this as a local workshop.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Peg, Maybe you can start with making something small with your handwoven fabric. I’ve had fun making bags and things, and even a hat from smaller pieces, as well as a skirt that didn’t take much fitting. That has helped build my confidence for cutting into the fabric. If you get a chance to take Michele Belson’s workshop, though, I would recommend it!

      Karen

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