Author Archive

High Speed Projects

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015
Share Button

With the holidays staring me in the face, I’m thinking about quick gifts – something small that I can weave in quantity on a single warp,  yet lovely enough to be personal and appreciated. Although I’m in the tribe of weavers that believes one can never have too many handwovens in the kitchen, towels are more than I can bite off at this point. But what about…potholders?!And mug rugs? Narrow warps (fast threading) and small pieces (fast weaving), easy to make in sets by changing weft or treadling. And if I’m really down to the wire, I can full or felt the woven fabric and cut into individual pieces without having to hem because it won’t ravel.

Alternate uses for your weaving drafts: quick holiday gifts on the WEBS Blog. Read more at

For design ideas, I looked at some scarf drafts because they, too, are woven on a narrow warp and I can change to a heavier yarn to make them a good size for potholders. The two drafts that jumped out immediately are Draft #3 Pinwheel Scarf and Draft #58 Shepherd’s Check Scarf. Both are examples of Color and Weave, a technique that involves alternating stripes of light and dark colors in the warp and weft. I love the pinwheel, which is an 8-shaft pattern, because the shapes are so much fun. You can find many other treadling and tie up variations online to play with and make non-identical sets. The Shepherd’s Check uses 4 threads per stripe and the good news is that it can be woven either on a 4-shaft loom or a rigid heddle loom! With 4 shafts, you can weave a straight draw twill by threading and treadling 1-2-3-4, which will give the weave a diagonal slant. On a rigid heddle, you weave plain weave and still get the wonderful checked houndstooth look.

Then we have the yarn choices. I would go with a wool for this project because it will make a thick potholder that will protect the cook’s hands from the heat. Jaggerspun Heathers is a wonderful (and too often overlooked) wool with 498 yds in 100 gram skeins. One skein each of 2 colors will give you enough for dozens of small gifties like these. I chose a couple of color  combinations from their beautiful range of heathery tones to show in this drawdown. ( For the Pinwheel use Teal and Midnight and for the Shepherd’s Check use Chokecherry and Walnut) Another great option would be Valley Yarns Northampton which has a huge color spectrum ( For the Pinwheel use Lake Heather and Ocean Heather; for the Shepherd’s Check use Garnet and Fawn). Sett at 8 epi, this yarn will make thicker potholders. And both of  these yarns will felt wonderfully!

Do you have any ideas for last minute gift weaving?

Sharing Celebrations

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015
Share Button

One of my early weaving goals was to clothe my house in handwovens. And just as we have fancy clothes for special occasions, I like to dress up my house for the holidays with festive and unique table runners and place settings. It’s so easy and such a great way to play with color or weave structures. Generally I go with twills in colors that match the occasion and use warp stripes to draw the eye along the length of the table. It’s fun to throw in some some sparkle to reflect candlelight; a yarn like Gold Rush looks great mixed into the lighter colored stripes and you can vary the glitz by how many ends you use.

Holiday Runners, Valley Yarns Draft #90, draft available at Read more on the WEBS Blog at

Just in time for this holiday season, our new Holiday Runners draft presents two variations to weave beautiful table runners to decorate your home – one for Hanukkah and one for Christmas. They are both easy 4-shaft twill patterns and will add a special touch to your home. They are also quick to weave which leads right into one of my other favorite parts of holidays – sharing. I really enjoy weaving for family and friends because I feel connected as I think of them while weaving, and I know they will think of me when they use the finished piece. It’s a way to be present with each other even when we are not in the same place. With that in mind, Barbara wrote the draft with a 5-yard warp so you can make one for your home and one to gift to someone special. There’s even enough yardage to weave a special small mat. We envision it as a place to leave Santa some milk and cookies, but I’m sure you can think of other possibilities – a small gift bag or pillow, perhaps?

Changing our Stripes

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015
Share Button

When looking at patterns/drafts/designs it is sometimes hard (for some of us, anyway) to imagine them in another colorway. And yet, the original colors don’t always match the scheme of the room or person we are weaving for, or that particular color is out of stock or not in our stash. And this is a case where changing our stripes can be just the ticket for creating exactly what we want.

Changing warp and weft colors in your weaving drafts and the dramatic results. read more on the WEBS Blog at

One of our customers brought in some gorgeous dishtowels recently and I loved her color combinations, which she said were chosen for the kitchen of the intended recipient. I asked her what draft she used and did a double take when she told me it was one of ours – the Ribbon Towels by Carol Birtwistle. The Ribbon Towels draft has been one of our most popular drafts and features stripes of bright colors against a natural background with a medley of twill patterns. What really struck me in comparing Karen’s version to the original is that she not only changed the colors, but the arrangement of the stripes, which brought a different emphasis to the twill patterning. It ended up looking like a completely different towel.

Changing warp and weft colors in your weaving drafts and the dramatic results. read more on the WEBS Blog at

Another great example of this is Draft 07, the Dornik Throw. When Barbara designed it back in 2010, she used a rich palette with ocean blue, grape jelly and dark teal against the lighter whipple blue. We updated the pattern for the 2015 Weaving Sourcebook and the new colorway pairs navy and grey teal with steel and periwinkle for a distinctly different look and feel.

Changing up the colorway is a great way to take a draft and make it yours. One of the things I love about weaving is that I can choose my colors and create combinations that are custom fit for my project. Sometimes I design my own draft as well, but sometimes it’s a simple as changing the stripes on a draft I love. Have you changed the colorway on any of the WEBS drafts? Please share your results!

Fiber Community

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015
Share Button

We just wrapped a big week of events and activities – National Spinning and Weaving Week plus Spinzilla. I watched the gatherings and demonstrations and classes and it got me thinking about community, how we come together around our fiber passions and how different it is for the various forms of fiber fun.

National Spinning and Weaving Week brought together a whole community of crafters - read more on the WEBS Blog at

The act of weaving is generally a solitary endeavor, mostly due to the size of the looms themselves. They are not always portable and take up a lot of space, so fitting a bunch of them into a room is a bit of a challenge and it means that the weavers themselves are spread apart from each other. And there is always the concentration factor that makes conversation easier said that done. So weavers tend to gather at guilds and conferences, sharing their finished projects, inspiration and camaraderie.

Knitters, crocheters and spinners, on the other hand, gather while working on the craft, sharing works in progress as well as finished objects. It’s a different kind of sociability and community that can sometimes (but not always) be quite loud and boisterous, as we discovered last week. The tools are smaller so it’s easier to sit closer together and, if you choose your project with forethought, it is possible to continue creating while discussing inspiration, fiber sources, daily life, raising teenagers, movies and more.

And then there’s the crafting in public side of things. We always have demos as part of Spinning and Weaving week and I love to witness the interactions and questions, especially with the weavers who are not often seen throwing shuttles in public. As above, knitters/crocheters/spinners do this on a regular basis, just because they love to work on their projects and pull them out while waiting, bus riding, etc. This public side is great because it draws in people who are curious – those who’ve never seen it or wanted to try, those who remember a relative making beautiful things. It’s wonderful to share that these crafts are alive and thriving and they, too, can join in.

And this weekend is the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, one of the bigger gatherings of fiber aficionados of all sorts. The passion for creating cannot be contained and it will spill over in vibrant colors, enthusiastic conversations and the joy of communing with others as passionate as ourselves.

Rock and Rolag!

Thursday, October 1st, 2015
Share Button

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
Share Button

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
Share Button

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
Share Button

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
Share Button

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
Share Button

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?