Author Archive

Rock and Rolag!

Thursday, October 1st, 2015
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We are counting down the days to Spinzilla – the international “friendly competition” to see which team can spin the most yardage. We have a great team this year and excitement is running high. Last year I had just learned to spin so it was all new. This year I not only have some spinning experience under my belt, but I realize the importance of preparation so I can optimize my spinning time.

la spin post

For starters, I am clearing off all my bobbins so I have room for all that new yarn I will be spinning. One bobbin-full I will wind into a ball and ply from inside and out as Sara described in this post. But I learned a new trick this week – I’m going to wind off onto an inexpensive storage bobbin so I can keep it on a bobbin to ply from but have my wheel bobbins free for more spinning.

The majority of my time, however, will be spent prepping fiber. Mostly that involves pre-drafting the roving which will save much time during spinning. And then there’s the playing with cards part – making rolags to blend fibers and colors. Now I just have to decide which set of hand carders to go with, or maybe the blending board from Louet……………..

Do you have any great tips for fiber prep?

Spinning with joy

Monday, September 21st, 2015
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I know, I know, I usually talk about weaving, but today I step from behind the curtain to reveal that I have a powerful obsession with spinning right now. It started with Spinzilla last year, when I made myself learn in order to support our team. Then there was a fiber binge at Rhinebeck and another one at SPA, but mostly I’ve kept it in check. Until now. Spinzilla is approaching again and not only is fiber piling up on my desk, but I convinced Kathy and Steve to bring in special fiber deals and now I have even more to stuff into my fiber closet.

Purchase your fiber for Spinzilla now! Fiber packs and exclusive colorways available at Read more on the WEBS Blog at

We started by teaming up with Louet to put together 2 great fiber packs. As a newer spinner, I am still learning about different sheep breeds and their characteristics, so I love the WEBSzilla Monster Mile pack. It contains a half pound each of 4 different breeds – Falkland (white), Cheviot (white), Shetland Moorit (brown) and Coopworth (grey). I’m looking forward to seeing how these spin up as well as dreaming about plying and dyeing the handspun yarn. There is plenty of fiber in this pack to spin a monster mile and enough variety to keep the spinning fresh and interesting.

The second pack from Louet we are calling the Spinzilla Fun Pack. It tips the scales with 4 pounds of fiber-y goodness and a completely different assortment of sheep breeds plus some dyed fiber to keep it exciting. The pack contains half pound bags of dyed Merino, Masham Top, light grey Romney sliver, medium Romney sliver, dark Romney sliver, Dorset sliver, Wensleydale sliver, and dyed Karaoke (soysilk) top. Lots of possibilities for blending and plying…

And then, because some of us are completely captivated with gradient dyes these days, we asked our friends at Frabjous Fibers to create a special colorway for us. They started with a base of 70% Blue Face Leicester and 30% Silk and dyed it a beautiful tonal gradient that moves from the deep blue of our logo through lighter shades of blue into grey. It’s packaged like their new Lambs Tail with 5 one-ounce puffs of tonally colored fiber that gradually change shade. I have this piled on my desk right now and I just keep petting the soft richness and marveling at the wavy crimp. I know, I have a problem.

And what of you? What will you spin in October?

National Spinning and Weaving Week

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015
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We’re rolling up to October, and around here that means just one thing – fiber frenzy! And it’s not just about the fiber itself, it’s about how we use it to create beautiful and unique things to adorn our bodies and our homes. National Spinning and Weaving Week, October 5 – 10, kicks off the month and we celebrate with a wide array of free demonstrations, mini workshops, special discounts and more.

In the spirit of sharing these time-honored arts, we will be featuring daily demonstrations of both weaving and spinning in the store from 11 am – 1 pm. These demos will be free and, we hope, will spark questions and conversation between the weavers and spinners and those watching. A great variety of techniques will be presented – both wheel and drop spindle spinning, floor looms, inkle looms, rigid heddle and more. If you’ve ever wanted to see fleece spun into yarn or watch yarn woven into cloth, come on over and check it out!

Mini Workshops to Celebrate Spinning and Weaving Week at WEBS! Read more on the WEBS Blog at

And if you’d like to get a taste of new techniques and expand your skills, we will have mini-workshops .covering a wide range of topics. These will run from 3 – 5 pm, Monday – Friday and cost $5 each. Learn how to draft and add just the right amount of twist to the fiber you spin, or try your hand at plying from a center pull ball. And delve into weaving topics from the beginning (determining sett and sley, winding a warp) to the end (hemstitching and edge treatments) of the process. Full workshop descriptions are on our website and you can register online, in the store or by calling customer service at 1-800-367-9327.

The week wraps up with a special event with Dave and Pam van Stralen from Louet North America. On Friday and Saturday, October 9 & 10, we will have Louet looms, spinning wheels and drum carders set up for hands-on demonstrations so you can try them and see how well they work. Dave will answer questions about the products and as an added bonus, he will do free tune ups on Louet spinning wheels! And since Louet makes beautiful yarns in addition to the spinning and weaving tools, they will be bringing a trunk show of knitted and crocheted garments for customers to check out and try on. We will have an in-store special sale – buy 4 balls of Louet yarn and get one more free, a great way to run with the inspiration from the trunk show.

We hope you’ll join us for some of the fun activities during Spinning and Weaving Week.

Something New!

Friday, September 4th, 2015
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One of the best parts of my job this year has been helping with the development of a new line of coned yarn for weavers. We looked for something close to home and are proud to say that the cotton is grown, spun and dyed in the USA. The fun really began, however, with creating the color palette. It was equal parts giddy excitement (I can pick any color I want!) and challenging (the colors have to play well together). I was satisfied with what we we put together, but even more so when I saw them all on the shelf – it just looks happy. And now that it’s here, it’s time to launch our newest Valley Yarn – 6/2 Unmercerized  Cotton in 30 gorgeous colors.

Valley Yarns 6/2 unmercerized cotton now available at WEBS and online at Read more on the WEBS Blog at

A little heavier than the 8/2 cotton we know and love for dishtowels and and other household handwovens, the 6/2 is deliciously soft and cozy and will be perfect for blankets, throws, shawls and, of course, thicker towels. We have been sampling it in a variety of weave structures and the hand is lovely and shows great definition for laces and twills.

We began brainstorming ideas for projects as soon as we got the first samples of the yarn and asked a few weaving friends to design drafts for us. Chris Hammel’s Summer Garden Towel was in our booth at NEWS and now you can buy the draft and weave it yourself. Thick and absorbent, this delightful towel combines the new Valley Yarns 6/2 Cotton with our Valley Yarns 10/2 Cotton and is woven in a Summer and Winter structure. I love the feel of it and I think I may expand the draft to weave bath towels for our house.

Valley Yarns 6/2 unmercerized cotton now available at WEBS and online at Read more on the WEBS Blog at

We have more drafts to come – a summer shawl in a blended draft of lace with overshot borders, a dishtowel in a crepe weave and warm color palette, and here’s a sneak peek of the cuddly cozy baby blanket that is guaranteed to be the favorite lovey for a special little one.

So join us in welcoming our new ‘baby’ – Valley Yarns 6/2 Cotton. What will you make with it?

Warp Speed Ahead

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015
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Greetings from the Weaving Room! Let’s talk warping, shall we? I’m not talking about how to get it on the loom, but figuring out how much you need. It’s one of those things that seems so basic once you know how to do it, but until you cross that threshold of ‘knowing’, it can feel as intimidating as solving algebraic equations the first time. I am here to be your empathetic life coach and gently show you that you can be the master of this, you can free yourself and weave 4 towels when the draft is written for 2, and you can use online tools to help!

Begin with what you are making. How about some towels? I want them to be 28″ long when they are finished – off the loom, hemmed and washed. Hemmed (or fringed) means that I actually weave a bit more cloth to turn under for the hems or leave out for fringe. That means I will add 2 more inches (1″ for each end) to the total length for each.

Figuring warp yardage, some simple measurements and a handy online calculator. Read more on the WEBS Blog at

Now, how many towels do you want? We’ll go with a lovely set of 4 for Aunt Betsy and 2 for me, but remember the finishing I mentioned above? We have to account for that, too. When you take the cloth off the loom, the yarn relaxes and there is some take up where it goes over and under the weft threads rather than lying in a straight line. Additionally, the towels will probably shrink some in the wash. It’s important to allow for this in your planning. A general rule of thumb is to add 10 – 15% to the length of your warp.

Finally, we arrive at the all-important ‘loom waste’. This is the beginning and end part of the warp that attaches to the loom, but is never woven. It runs from the warp beam in back to the back of the heddles, and in the front it is the amount used to tie the ends to the front apron rod. Necessary, but never part of the woven project, this amount must be added to your total warp length. You may know the amount your loom uses for waste, and in cases of yarn shortages or expensive threads you may want to measure it precisely. But for most floor looms 36″ is sufficient unless your loom is very deep.

You can use this handy calculator from Weavolution to do all the math for you, but here we come to the part where I beseech you to err on the side of excess. I round up to whole numbers, partly because it’s just simpler with my warping board, but mostly because of the freedom it gives me to play with weft colors, different treadlings and sett. And – gasp – I will often add an extra yard just for such purpose.

And that’s how simple it is! And now that you get that part, you’ll see how easy it is to take a draft for 2 towels and add enough warp to make four.

Go forth and warp with confidence.

Hand Held Happiness

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015
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Greetings from the Weaving Room! I don’t know about you, but I love the beautiful grain lines of wood almost as much as fiber. Since I am not a woodworker, this means that I treasure and appreciate hand-crafted wood tools to use in weaving. And that has lead to an excited buzz around here as we unpack the boxes of beautiful looms and shuttles from Jim Hokett of Hokett Would Work. It’s always fun to get new things here, but you know it’s really special when the staff are already laying claim to most of the first order.

The Hand Looms are sweet, small looms perfect for tapestries and weaving small samples to test ideas, colors, hand, etc. The center part is shaped so that you can hold it in one hand while weaving with the other. We have 2 sizes plus it is available in a kit which includes a little beater, tiny stick shuttle, needle stick, skewer and enough carpet warp for a couple project and instructions for warping and weaving.

Hokett hand crafted weaving tools and looms. Read more on the WEBS Blog at

And then there are the end-of-warp shuttles – petite and gorgeous (sigh, that wood grain gets me every time!), these shuttles have a very narrow profile, making them ideal for situations when you have a small shed. Instead of a bobbin, the shuttle has a paper quill held in place with a spring-loaded bar (kind of like those pins in watch bands) which is easy to pop in and out yet stays firmly in place while weaving. Although the name specifiies skill in narrow sheds, I also plan to try them with my rigid heddle because their light weight should allow them to sail across a wider warp without nose diving to the floor.

Tapestry weaving in progress on a Hokett hand crafted loom. Read more on the WEBS Blog at

And, finally, my nominee for the “Genius why-didn’t-I-think-of-that Idea” are the Floating Sues. They look so innocuous, yet are brilliant in function. Hang them from your floating selvages with the hook on one end. If you need more weight, add it to the hook at the other end. Voila! Couldn’t be simpler. They also work well with broken warp ends and I love that I will no longer search for random stacks of pennies.

I’m now pondering my first foray into tapestry weaving and looking forward to working with such beautiful tools. Do you have special hand made tools that you use for weaving?

Vacation Weaving

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015
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We have reached the dog days of summer and time for vacation. Days of relaxing on the porch, sipping iced beverages and, of course, creating something with fiber. For many years my projects centered around knitting, mostly because it is so portable. But two years ago my sister hauled her 4-shaft table loom along and I became inspired to venture outside my usual travel boundaries.

Weaving on your summer travels. Read more on the WEBS Blog at

Last summer I had just learned to weave on an inkle loom and decided that our family vacation would be the perfect time to learn new techniques and play with ideas. I picked up Anne Dixon’s The Weaver’s Inkle Pattern Directory and packed up my trusty Inklette and some yarn and headed off. I felt pretty confident with the basic warping and weaving, so I chose to tackle something more adventurous and turned to the section on pick up. The book is not only filled with gorgeous, inspiring bands, it gives you multiple design options on a single warp. So I warped it up and started to play with weaving different motifs and patterns. It was fun watching the designs emerge and since it was for sampling, once I got bored adept with one, I’d move on to another. And the best part – when I pulled it off the loom I cut it into sections and gave my family “commemorative” bookmarks from our vacation.

This summer I plan to continue my newly created tradition of learning new techniques and giving family members a handwoven souvenir from our week at the lake. I’m still debating whether to take my Zoom Loom or forge ahead with my newest weaving obsession – tablet weaving. (Who am I kidding? They are both going into the suitcase!)

Do you weave on your vacations?

More Inspiration

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015
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Greetings from the Weaving Room! It’s been a great year for weaving books, with many new and revised editions being released. The latest to catch my eye is Lucienne Coifman’s Rep Rips Reps. I have not yet tried my hand at Rep weave, but there are a couple of projects in here that inspire me to warp something up.

REP, RIPS, REPS Weave by Lucienne Coifman, available at

The book is filled with gorgeous photos of colorful, stunning weaving. She starts with an overview of the technique and special considerations, including setting up the loom, reading rep weave drafts and finishing the pieces. There are many inspiring projects to weave and I love that she gives options for 2-, 4- and 8-shaft so that you will be able to join the fun regardless of your loom set up. Rep is commonly used for rugs, placemats and wall hangings and there are plenty of these. But, wait, there’s more! Lucienne gives us game boards and mazes and bags. My favorite are the delightful boxes that I can picture holding jewelry or treasures on my bureau.

The appendix rounds out the instruction by talking about different threadings and tie ups as well as how to design your own project on either 4- or 8-shafts.

Join us on Saturday, July 11th at 12:30 pm for a special book signing with Lucienne at our booth at the New England Weavers’ Seminar in Northampton.

Cone Cornucopia!

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015
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Greetings from the Weaving Room! We received a shipment of mill end cones this week and I am having trouble concentrating on my job. This is what happens when you work in the candy shop of the fiber world. I keep making ‘detours’ as I walk through the warehouse and find myself standing in front of these lovelies. My desk is filling with cones in different color groupings, adorned with sticky notes listing yardages, setts and calculations for projects.

It’s always a heady atmosphere when we get mill ends because they are so hard to come by these days. I have 2 coping strategies, but unfortunately they directly contradict each other so I only have a 50-50 chance of getting it right. The first one says – ‘surround yourself with the beautiful colors and feels, give it a few days and maybe you’ll realize that as much as you love it you’re never going to get to that project.’ This strategy has saved many a paycheck (and also led to a few regrets). The second theory goes – ‘this color/hand is stunningly awesome and it’s going to go really fast and if you don’t grab it now it will be gone forever.’ This has led to my embarrassingly large stash and membership in Hoarders’ Anonymous (and some great finds at the year-end guild auctions).

But enough about me! You really just want to know what’s back in that warehouse, right? Okay, this is what we got:

Mill End cones on sale at WEBS - more on the WEBS Blog,

 4.1nm Cotton Viscose Mill End is a delightful blend, with a thick & thin cotton core wrapped with viscose. The viscose gives it a beautiful sheen and the varied thickness will add great texture to your weaving. Suggested sett is 20-28 epi, but remember to always weave a sample before starting your project. 54% Cotton/46% Viscose. 18 colors

$12.99 by the cone, full cones only. Cones weigh approximately .55 lb., with ~1320 yards.

30s Yorkshire Wool Mill End on 250g cones is a finely spun, 100% wool, single ply weaving yarn with a spectacular range of colors including some rich, heathery shades. The fine weight will weave up into beautiful yardage for garments as well as lightweight throws, blankets and more. Recommended sett is 30 – 35 epi, but remember to always weave a swatch before starting your project.  55 colors

$12.99 by the cone, full cones only. Cones weigh approximately .55 lb., with ~4224 yards.

2/16 Lambswool Mill End is not only gorgeous, soft and cozy, but it boasts some incredibly rich heather shades that will add depth and color to your weaving. This 100% wool yarn comes on 250g cones. Recommended sett is 24-30 epi, but make sure to always weave a sample before starting a project. 28 colors

$12.99 by the cone, full cones only. Cones weigh approximately .55 lb., with ~2464 yards.

9.4nm Wool Nylon Mill End 250g weaving yarn is a springy, tightly spun blend of wool with a little nylon. It has great texture – almost like a bouclé – and is available in a lovely array of colors. We see this working as a wonderful weft yarn, used alone or in combination with other yarns. Use as warp only with great care as it’s rather stretchy. Always weave a sample before starting a project. 93% wool/7% nylon. 56 colors.

$13.99 by the cone, full cones only. Cones weigh approximately .55 lb., with ~2475 yards.

3.5nm Flan Mill End is a fun yarn on 250g cones that’s 100% cotton, and will provide lots of interest and texture to your weaving. It’s got a zig-zaggy texture throughout, with variations in thickness, almost like a flake. Recommended sett is 16-24 epi, but remember to always weave a swatch before beginning your project. 40+ colors

$12.99 by the cone, full cones only. Cones weigh approximately .55 lb., with ~957 yards.

Mill End cones on sale at WEBS - more on the WEBS Blog,

The two wools have me thinking of yardage for a winter coat, while the 3.5nm cotton is jumping up and down, begging to be combined with an 8/2 or 6/2 cotton for textured snuggly baby blankets. What can you see weaving with these yarns?

Reading for Inspiration

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015
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Greetings from the Weaving Room! I love books and my personal reference library is full of everything from pattern dictionaries to technique books, structure-focused tomes and classics from weaving icons. I keep an eye out for new books coming in to the store, looking for inspiration and education.

I have found myself restless of late, yearning for my weaving to be more than just squares and rectangles. And then…..Simple Woven Garments, by Sara Goldenberg and Jane Patrick arrived this spring. Filled with gorgeous photography and layouts, this book is a great springboard into the world of sewing handwoven cloth. The project photos, of course, fall into the category of eye candy but I really loved that they took equal care in providing detailed, close up photos of techniques. Another nice feature is the use of side bars with suggestions for other fabric ideas and alternate styles. I’m a big fan of projects that encourage you to say “what if” and offer suggestions for making it uniquely your own.

The book starts with an introduction to sewing handwovens with information about shaping, sizing, cutting and sewing. I found the techniques to be simple and a great place to start (as opposed to feeling faint and intimidated at the thought that I need to learn French seams right away!). All the projects can be woven on either rigid heddle or shaft looms and the authors discuss the considerations for using one or the other. Some of the projects also incorporate knitting and I gotta say I love a good bi-craftual project.

Flame Lace Top from Simple Woven Garments by Sara Goldenberg & Jane Patrick - read more on the WEBS Blog at

Of course I checked to see which projects used WEBS/Valley Yarns and found the Flame Lace Top with 8/2 Tencel and Variegated 8/2 Tencel combined as the weft. I love the lacy texture of the weave and the clever pulled threads to provide shaping. I wasn’t sure, however, that the blouson look  was for me. After reading suggestions in the “Alternate Styles” box, I realized I could make one of those long open vests I’ve been coveting by increasing the length and cutting it down the center front (and perhaps making an inkle facing?). I could also use Valley Yarns 5/2 Bamboo for the warp (single stranded) to give it that wonderful drape……………

See, this is what happens when you read books – you get inspired and start to dream of what you can create!

And to further inspire you, Jane Patrick will be in town this summer to teach at NEWS (New England Weavers Seminar) and she will be signing books in our booth (bottom floor of the Campus Center at Smith College) on Thursday, July 9th from 6:30 – 7:30 pm. We will have Simple Woven Garments in addition to her other books – The Weaver’s Idea Book and  Woven Scarves. We hope you can join us!