About JoAnna

I'm a fiber artist.

Day at the mall

We spent the afternoon at a mall today. This is the first time in a while that I’ve spent any length of time in a mall/shopping center. It was quite a different experience than I would have expected. I suppose part of it is the time of year, folks running around trying to procure gifts for all the loved ones in their lives. I love the idea of gift giving, especially finding that perfect, right gift. But I was surprised to find myself almost completely overwhelmed by the amount of STUFF and people buying it.

At one point, I was in one of the larger dept stores and I was just struck by the thought of what it would look like if all the items in the store were simply in a pile. I mean just piles and piles of clothes and STUFF everywhere! It would be insane! It IS insane! And (pardon my French but..) what the HELL do we even NEED all that for?!

I know I’m a simply country gal at this point in my life but I do still like nice things. I appreciate a good pair of jeans, a nice sweater, a beautiful pair of leather boots, and a gorgeous handbag/purse. I know all the “big brands” and I even like the stuff they make (And own some pieces that I truly love) but I think the thought that all that stuff is so completely unnecessary for happiness struck me harder today than it has before previously because I have never been more happy to get home to my cows and milk them.

It’s a simple life we have here on the farm. But I love that after evening milking when I walk my cows back out to the pasture, I can look up and see a whole sky full of stars. You can even see the line of the Milky Way on a clear, cold night. It’s breathtaking. I love watching the sun rise each morning, again, while milking my cows.

I also love that we live, literally, 8 minutes from my favorite kayaking run! And what a wonderful way to spend a day! Using your muscles, in the water, outside.

I was reminded today of the things that drive me in this world. Family, comfort, enjoying Creation, and doing something that I feel makes a difference in this world. So here we are. Here are the things that I have been blessed with in my life:

Family. My husband is also my best friend. My daughter gets to grow up in a world where she spends the majority of her day with BOTH her parents.

Comfort. Our house may be small and it may be a simple workshop that we converted to a house but it’s ours. And we have a lovely little life here.

Creation. The Lord has blessed our business so much in the past couple of years. We are now to the point where we have the ability to take a couple of afternoons a week and spend them enjoying our new hobby: Whitewater kayaking. This sport is amazing, addictive and SO MUCH FUN! You get to be outside in this beautiful world and you get to work hard at the play you’ve chosen. I am one of those apparently rare individuals that actually enjoys hard work. I struggle to find things that are fun to do because…well…they aren’t hard enough…But kayaking is hard! But in the best way! This is something Ben and I have been able to do together several times a week. How awesome is that?!

I also love that my job and business help people. I feel that, in its own small way, our business changes people’s lives for the better. I had a customer come up to me last year and thank me with the deepest gratitude for providing her family with milk because it literally reversed her daughter’s health. THAT is why I do what I do.

All that being said, I felt like the Lord showed me this afternoon that I am content with my life. Yes, I am human and I still sin and covet and want “things”. But I don’t remember often feeling that sense of contentment with my life before. God is good. He has given me so much to be thankful for. I’m not wealthy, I’m not fancy or fashionable, but I am happy. And praise the Lord for that!



Life changes

It’s amazing to me how life changes so drastically. Two years ago, all I could think about was weaving! It was my passion and obsession. While I still love weaving and the product, I don’t think about it constantly anymore. Part of that is due to a new love in my life: our daughter, Erica. 11012761_10100598720401838_6296899894539027369_nI struggled a lot with the idea of backing off from weaving some and not being a production weaver anymore. It has been my life since I started weaving in college in 2007. I bought a loom and never looked back. I had to stop weaving while I was pregnant with E due to not being able to reach the treadles. ๐Ÿ™‚

Our farm has also reached a point where it requires more from both Ben and I. We’ve also finally reached the point where we are actually earning an income and able to do a few fun things each week. Balancing being a mama and full time farmer is such a challenge but so very worth it! We are just not like other families. Non-traditional, I think, is what you might call us. E is raised by both Ben and I and sees us equally as much. That is one of the reasons why we chose farming as a career path in the first place! We both felt strongly about the idea of children really knowing both parents and being able to both raise children together. Nothing has changed. E loves Ben almost as much as she loves me. (haha) She cries when he leaves and smiles a big ol’ “I love my daddy” smile when he comes back. When she’s sick or feeling icky bad, she actually prefers to snuggle with Ben. (Which melts my mama’s heart into a puddle on the floor)

So here we are. A new stage of life, a change in a blog. I have stayed away from blogging for a long time because I didn’t feel like I should blog about my life on a weaving blog…Silly, as it’s my life and my blog. I get so worried about pleasing others that I forget what I might need. I think I’d like to simply share my life and my thoughts here. Whatever thoughts I feel might be interesting to other people. I also want to be able to be an encouragement to other mamas out there, if possible. As I stated before, we are non-traditional. I know there have got to be other mamas out there that are also non-traditional that are looking for someone who might be on the same (or similar) path. So here I am! Here I am with my imperfections and mess to share with you! I don’t want to just be another “mom blog”. Because I feel like I am so much more than just a mom. Yes, I am a mom, but I’m also a farmer, a dairyman…person…maid…person, a business owner, as well as a new whitewater kayaker. That’s my life. ๐Ÿ™‚ So I want it to be a “that” blog. Whatever you would define me as. Probably just a person. (which I’m okay with!) So here’s to more about life!

A few photos

Here are a few snap shots taken at the spring TACA fair by Tammy Gentuso. She walks around photographing all of the booths, vendors and sights at TACA fairs and happily shares the images with the artists. If you’re a facebooker, you can check out TACA’s page for more shots from the show. And you can also check out more images of my work on my facebook page: www.facebook.com/orchardhousestudios


My hand dyed Bronson lace shawls and infinity scarves


Felted wool clutch bags


Hard at work at my loom demonstrating.


My sister-in-law and booth helper extraordinaire!

Brief update

My goodness it’s been busy around here!

Three weeks ago was the spring TACA Fair in Nashville. It was a windy, soggy affair but there was a huge sense of commraderay amongst the vendors. Although I would have thought the rain, wind, and chilly temperatures would have driven people away, we still had quite a decent turn out and it somehow ended up being the best spring show of the three I’ve done! (In terms of sales) setup went smoothly too. Mom and I knocked it all out in about 2 hours. Impressive!! Definitely a fun weekend. And I received notification that I have been pre-accepted to next year’s spring show! I got a respectable 5.6 out of 7 on my on-site score. Last year I got a 4.5, the absolute minimum you can receive in order to be pre-accepted.

Since TACA went so well, I’m now out of most of my inventory. Unfortunately, so are most of my galleries… so I’m currently working on making up some summer weight infinity scarves but I’ve had a few problems with sett.ย  I’m using 10/2 tencel and intentionally setting it very loose for a lightweight, almost gauzy look. I did one warp sett at 18 epi and after wet finishing and ironing, I’ve decided this is just a touch too loose. I have resleyed the reed to 20 epi to see if that will fix the problem. I think one of the problems on the 18 epi warp was that I was using a 6 dent reed triple sleyed. I think it left reed marks and caused some wonky spreading and separating in the warp. I believe I’ve woven with 10/2 cotton at 20 epi and been happy with the results but I can’t remember. So I’ve changed to my 10 dent reed double sleyed and hopefully that will help fix some of the problems.

In farm news, it’s nearly June and I have yet to shear my sheep. It’s been an unusually wet and chilly spring so I don’t feel too horrible. At this point since we’re so close to moving them to a new pasture by our new barn,ย  I’m considering waiting until they are moved and I can get them into the new barn and shear them there.ย  We shall see.

In the personal department, Ben and I celebrated our 6 year anniversary yesterday! It seems like no time at all and at the same time, it seems as though we’ve always been married. We didn’t do a whole lot yesterday. Our big celebration is going to be buying cabinets for our kitchen!! I am so excited! One big step closer to finishing the house. ๐Ÿ™‚

So there you are. The past month in 4 paragraphs. ๐Ÿ™‚


Spring Awakening

What a lovely weekend this turned out to be. While I didn’t make much money at the festival I was at, I got to spend most of the day with a fellow weaver and friend, Allison! We talked weaving the whole day and it was SO FUN!!! I didn’t realize how much I really need to talk about weaving to someone who actually understands what I’m saying. My husband is pretty much the most amazing man in the world. (Nope. You can’t argue. He’s totally awesome) and while he understands weaving, knows all the terms and is even extremely helpful with helping me work through ideas, he isn’t a weaver. So I still don’t quite get the same outlet as I do from talking to someone who is. It also helps that Allison and I went to the same school and had almost all the same fibers classes together. ๐Ÿ˜‰ her work is absolutely beautiful and I am so impressed with the beautiful, quality craftsmanship that she displays in every aspect of every piece she makes. Not to mention incredible color sense!

On Sunday afternoon, my mother and I decided to do a little QCE dyeing (quick, cheap and easy). A friend of hers recently gave her a bag full of Rit dye. I had a white over sweater that needed to be not white and she had some silk scarves that also needed to be not white. So naturally, they all went into a pot of dye and off we went. Once we did the first pot, we started thinking about all these other things that we owned that also needed to not be white….so one small dye pot turned into a total of three dye pots! The great thing about Rit dye is you pretty much just add water and 20 minutes later, you’re done! The colors aren’t quite as brilliant, nor are they as colorfast as fiber reactive dyes, but if you just want something to no be white, they are just about perfect.

Working with my mom on fibers and textiles is just about one of my favorite activities. We each have our own style and taste but we work well together and get lots accoplished too. Not to mention that we always have fun! We both get excited about color and yarn and the feel of fabric. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love reading about other people who also work with their moms on fibers and textiles. I love the idea of crafts being preserved and passed on from parent to child.

I think I hear my studio calling my name. I have to get a few more things woven up before the TACA fair in a couple of weeks. Can’t wait!

On shuttles

I was reading an article today by the well known weaver and writer, Madelyn van der Hoogt. It was an answer to a question about end feed shuttles. Madelyn gave the pros and cons of using an end feed shuttle but at the bottom of her answer she said that she prefers using a boat shuttle simply because she likes the sound of the bobbin rattling as the yarn pulls off.

This resonated with me because I’ve experienced the exact same thing.ย  A few years ago I began researching end feed shuttles. Particularly Bluster Bay Woodworks end feed shuttles. The biggest problem that I found at the time was that they only made end feed shuttles in a 15″ size and I was weaving mostly scarves at the time and preferred 11-11.5″ shuttles. Then Bluster Bay began making mini end feed shuttles, 11″ size. I bought one with a gift card and was very excited to test it out! I will admit that I sturggled a bit with the tension hooks and have since decided I may prefer a spring loaded model. I didn’t mind it though. As I threw the shuttle, it pulled evenly and consistently leaving nice selvages. But I really just missed the rattle that you only get from a boat shuttle. Hearing that lovely sound helps me develop my weaving rhythm more quickly and brings back fond memories of the weaving studio in college. I loved the sound of many looms working, each with its own rhythm and pace. Each loom making its own music. Each weaver conducting the piece. Without the soundย of the boat shuttle,ย  part of the music is missing. I’ve been told by several professional weavers that they use only end feed shuttles and that those are the only type of shuttle you really need but I just can’t bring myself to give up my lovely,ย  well worn LeClerc boat shuttles.



Recently I’ve been reading the Art Biz Blog and have been finding it very helpful. Alyson (the writer/maintainer of the blog) has been a real encouragement. She has said a few things in posts that have stuck with me about blogging.

1. Blog. It gives customers/people a way of sharing your life which is what they want! They want content!

2. Blog regularly. On a predictable schedule. Even if it’s only once a week, try to make it the same time every week.ย 

There have been a few other things that have stuck out to me, but we’ll deal with those first. Let me just say that I am a pretty routine/schedule oriented person. This has not always been the case, but since my life is run in 12 hour blocks of time between milking times, pretty much everything is on a schedule and a routine now.ย 

My weeks are pretty much the same without much change. I guess that’s probably one reason why I often shy away from blogging. Not much changes besides what’s on my loom and as it’s winter, not much has changed on my loom because I’ve been busy with the animals.

Anyway, all that to say, I am feeling encouraged and want to start blogging again regularly. Since my life is fairly scheduled, I think I can begin scheduling a time to blog once a week. Once a week isn’t as daunting as everyday and I think I can handle that. I just have to figure out which day works best for my sched so bear with me as I test run this over the next few weeks.

Hopefully I’ll be able to be more faithful about blogging. It’s one of the big things they tell you to do for online marketing in a business. That and tweet…which I don’t do…yet…We’ll see. Anyway, I’ll be working on blogging ideas over the next few weeks and trying to come up with a good pattern that works well for me. ๐Ÿ™‚ Stay tuned…