Meet the Maker: Johil of The Modern Loom

By Samantha Barr
May 03, 2021

Professional textile designer Johil Ross worked in New York City for over a decade designing bedding for boutique brands and department stores before opening her own studio, The Modern Loom. Every piece of hers is hand-woven on wooden floor looms using natural and sustainable materials like wool, cotton, and linen.

The Modern Loom will be popping up this week at our Mother’s Day Market, open in the HudCo Atrium from Wednesday, May 5, through Friday, May 7, each day from 9am to 6pm. We spoke with Johil about jump from the corporate world to small business and where she finds inspiration for her line.

Although you haven’t reinvented the loom, your designs bring new life to the aged technique of weaving. Where do you find inspiration for your designs and color palettes?
I have always been very attracted to architecture. I love the contrast of the hard geometry and bold shapes against the soft color and light of the sky. So right now l am really into bold color blocking mixed in with softer ombrés. Color is a HUGE inspiration for me! I can find inspiration almost anywhere, so I have to kind of tame myself when it comes to color. I love looking back at rich cultural references from trips I have taken, but I also love the vibrant colors from nature that I see on a walk in the woods right after it rains—the colors really come to life when everything is wet!

What is a must have for your studio set-up?
There are many working parts and one thing doesn’t really work without the other. A loom is critical to weaving, but then I also need the warping board to get the yarns on the loom and shuttles to get the yarn back and forth while weaving. So everything is all connected. I guess one thing that I really need apart from the weaving supplies is a high work table for cutting and pinning fabric to sew together. That is more of a technicality that saves my neck and back!

How has your background in textile design and working for a larger bedding company influenced the way you work? What has been the most challenging part of working for yourself and the most rewarding?
One of my favorite parts about working for bedding companies was doing the trend and story boards. I love branding and setting a style and mood for product to live in. I think that those things are kind of always in the back of my mind when designing. I am always imaging the product in a space before I go and make it.
The most challenging part of working for myself has been getting my work schedule down. With a 2- and 7-year-old, life can get a little chaotic, so it is a constant struggle to create a routine that sticks!

After working at larger companies for the past 12 years where I was primarily on the computer all day, I am so grateful that I get to be more hands-on now! I have always loved the physical aspect of weaving and making things. Moving around all day, winding yarns, weaving, sewing, doing many different aspects of the business keeps me interested in what I’m working on and my energy for new ideas flowing.

If you had to pick a favorite design which would it be? Are you more for pops of color or neutrals?
Probably yellow and gray stripe—my heart will always beat a little faster for the pops of color.

Where’s your favorite place to source yarn?
My favorite yarn is from @harrisvilledesigns.
They have been making yarn for over 200 years in New Hampshire in a water-powered textile mill. They have beautiful yarns with great texture and color, and I love that it is all made in the U.S. and that the mill is run by water power!