Author Archive

Table Dressing

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016
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One of my favorite things about holidays is gathering with family and friends and sharing good food. I’ll admit I don’t get too fancy with house decorations, but since once of my weaving goals is to clothe my house in handwovens I have taken to dressing the dining table with festive runners. Over the years I have woven everything from simple to complex. There are the last minute runners woven in plain weave on my rigid heddle loom using sparkly sock yarns and some lacy ones with elaborate fringes.

Last year Barbara designed a set of runners in 4-shaft twill that are elegant and beautiful. The Holiday Runner Draft #90 is shown in both Christmas and Hanukkah colors. This year I decided to change up the colors in the draft to create a Thanksgiving runner. It was fun to play with color possibilities in an autumn palette to create the warp and then I tried out a few options for the weft. Each gives a distinct look, with textured areas where the weft and warp are the same color. I usually put on extra warp so I can experiment with weft colors and find the best look. If you try this, be sure to step away from the loom and view the weaving from a distance to see how the colors balance, this can be quite different from what you see close up.

Valley Yarns Holiday Runner Draft #90, see alternate colorways on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

I’m kind of taken with this idea and plan to weave for other seasons and occasions. Maybe one in red, white and blue for the Fourth of July family reunion? What special events will you use as inspiration for woven table dressings?

3D What??!!

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016
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When I was at Convergence this summer I looked across the aisle and saw a table piled with what looked brightly colored UFOs. Imagine my surprise when I saw the person at the booth pick one up at start spinning yarn with one! My curiosity was piqued and I went over to check it out.

Snyder Spindles now available at yarn.com  Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

I met Scott Snyder, the spindlemaker, and he told me the brightly colored arms on his drop spindles are made on a 3D printer. Talk about a modern twist on an ancient craft! I wondered about the plastic he used and he said he uses Polylactic acid (PLA), which is derived from renewable resources like cornstarch and tapioca roots and is biodegradable.

These spindles are like a Turkish-style drop spindle, with arms that slide out of the cop, giving you a beautiful center-pull ball of handspun yarn.The Destiny features 4 arms that interlock on the shaft and is a hybrid variable weight spindle. It’s made of 3D printed plastic arms, hand turned hardwood shafts and steel screws. The combination of materials used allows for the mass to be on the outside of the spindle, to increase duration of the spin. The screws are removable so you can fine tune the weight of the spindle. You can choose either Mini or Medium depending on your size needs.

Scott also makes a Turkish Glider, available with either 3D printed arms or finely polished wood. The Glider arms swoop outward with a slight upward tilt at the end, allowing the spinner to spin a lot of fiber in one cop.

In addition to the fun and playful colors of the 3D printed spindles, we are also carrying the beautiful wood spindles that Scott makes. These also feature a shaft that is hand-turned on a lathe and have a small final at the top to hold the half-hitch. The wooden spindles are available in turkish and glider styles and, because I love anything sheep-ish, we brought in some that have sheep cut outs on the arms.

If you like to carry your spinning with you and want a beautiful, portable tool, be sure to check out our new toys!

Spinning my Wheels

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016
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My passion for fiber and color runs deep and I love to knit, weave and crochet, but I resisted the siren song of spinning because I was afraid. And then, two years ago I accidentally volunteered to be captain of the WEBS Spinzilla team and my worst fears were realized – I loved spinning! Down the rabbit hole I went and another fiber obsession has been added to my bag of tricks. I was afraid that spinning would distract me from weaving – and it has – but it has also given me another way to create and deepened my understanding of fiber and yarn and how they work and interact – useful information for my other creative outlets.

Of course, learning to spin opened me to a whole new world of color, texture and fiber and the overwhelming desire to have it all at my fingertips! I kept finding more things I wanted WEBS to carry and started organizing spinning events to learn more about the craft. More fiber, more spinners, life is good, right? The success of Spinzilla and the feedback from spinners at our events has brought a resurgence in spinning at WEBS. Steve and Kathy want to further strengthen our spinning area and decided to create a position to oversee that. I am honored that they asked me and excited to add spinning to my role at WEBS as Weaving and Spinning Manager.

Spinning fibers from Louet, Spunky Eclectic and more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

We still have a few fiber specials from Spinzilla to take advantage of. The fiber packs we put together with Louet are a great way to learn about how to spin different breeds. Each pack has just enough of each breed  to develop your skill in spinning and enough variety to keep boredom at bay. There’s also some great colorful braids from Spunky Eclectic in the Autumn Welcome colorway she designed for us with 2 fiber options – easy to love and spin BFL or a luscious Polwarth/Mohair/Silk blend. To round out the sweet deals, we have what my friend Liz calls a box of crayons – the Lamb’s Tail Medleys from Frabjous Fibers. Also in 2 bases – superwash BFL or Merino/Bamboo/Nylon – these are a random assortment of colors with unlimited possibilities.

I am looking forward to expanding the fibers, tools and classes for spinners. Please feel free to contact me with suggestions; I want to hear what you’d like to see here!

Monster Miles to Go Before I Sleep

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016
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Yes, folks, we have circled the wheel of seasons and it’s time to get geared up for Spinzilla! It is a large event (worldwide!), but I do realize that some may not have the slightest inkling of what I’m talking about, so let me explain: Spinzilla is a friendly competition sponsored by the Spinning and Weaving Group of TNNA (The National Needle Arts Association) that takes place during the first week of October. The challenge is to see who can spin the most yarn in one week, either in the team category or as an individual (“Rogue”) spinner. The underlying purpose, beyond showing the world just how amazing spinners are, is to deepen our spinning skills by pushing ourselves to spin, spin, spin – practice makes us better, right? And the fringe benefit of the event is that all the registration fees go support the NeedleArts Mentoring Program.

Find out how to join Team WEBS for the 2016 Spinzilla events. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

 

WEBS has sponsored a team for the last 2 years and we are looking forward to another week of fun and fiber-full gatherings. Our team is already full but we know there are many more who’d like to join the fun as well as those who want to play but don’t want the pressure of competition (um, yeah, it can get a little intense on the team – last year we spun 126,000 yards!). So we invite you to go Rogue! Sign up as a Rogue spinner on the Spinzilla site and join us at our spin ins at the store. It’s a great way to meet local spinners, get inspired and pick up some tips, and share the laughter and camaraderie of other fiber-loving folk.

Welcome to the Weaving Room!

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016
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We recently revamped the weaving room at our store and it’s amazing how small shifts can completely open things up. If you are in the neighborhood, or just passing through, we invite you to drop in and see the changes. And if you live further afield, here’s a virtual tour of our dynamic showroom.

The new arrangement not only feels more spacious and inviting, the layout allows us to showcase the different styles of looms and weaving. All of the tapestry looms are now together, so you can compare the Schacht, Mirrix and Hokett looms and decide which fit your needs the best. You’ll find beaters, bobbins and other tapestry tools there as well.

Read all about the new weaving room on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

The small looms also have a home together on the table in the center of the room. Inkles and Inklettes are great for weaving bands that can be used for belts, straps and more. And if you are looking for a loom to start your young ones on, we have the ever-popular Potholder looms in addition to Lap Looms and School Looms.

Read all about the new weaving room on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

At the other end of the spectrum we have the Toika looms anchoring the front corner of the room. These great looms from Finland are available in both a traditional countermarch configuration or the computer-assist model with up to 32 shafts. We have drastically reduced the price on our floor model to make room for the new upgraded ES model. The floor model is a 40″ 16-shaft computer-assist Eeva and it comes with Weavepoint 7.2 software, a loom bench, 100 heddles per shaft and a cog wheel warp advance system. The discount is now 20%, which will save you over $2,000 and there’s only one, so don’t hesitate!

We hope to see you soon in our new-and-improved space.

Expanding Horizons

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016
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Like many weavers, I have my favorite structures that I love to work with. At the same time I love to explore and try new ideas. Sometimes this involves an immersion in the new technique, with lots of reading and maybe yards of gamps and design work to understand it in detail. Other times I want to glean the basics about a structure and weave some projects without having to create my own designs. It’s a great way to see if I want to go further/deeper with that technique, or put to rest a fascination that turns out to be less-than-thrilling in reality.

LA shares her love of resource materials for new techniques and new knowledge on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

My favorite resource for such explorations is the periodical Weaver’s Craft, published by Jean Scorgie, former editor of Handwoven magazine and longtime weaving teacher. Each issue features a weave structure and presents a solid explanation of the concepts and interlacement of threads as well as 3 – 4 drafts for projects to put the information into practice. The articles are clear and thorough and all the drafts are for 4-shaft looms. She also includes sidebars and articles about basic weaving topics – threading heddles, reading drafts, finishing details.

The most recent issue of Weaver’s Craft, #31, focuses on Warp Rep and contains many tips for weaving and designing with this structure. The drafts range from rug mugs and rep runners to a great tote bag with clever handles. One of my favorite issues is #21, Double Weave Pick-Up. She shows 2 different ways to work the pick up, with troubleshooting tips and great step-by-step photos. I love doing small projects to try new ideas and this issue has a series of rug mugs to weave with graphed designs to use plus info on how to graph your own designs. I’m looking forward to weaving a few sets of these.

Where do you turn when you want to learn something new?

Twist and Shout

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016
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I have a fondness for twisted fringe. It is so clean and elegant and adds a beautiful finishing touch to a handwoven piece. I took a stroll through our display racks to show you some fun variations to mix up the twisting.

Fringe options for your woven goods on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

First there is the graceful sophistication of the long lace fringe on the Champagne Celebration Shawl. It’s like a luxurious waterfall that I just want to run my fingers through.

Another exquisite touch is to add beads in the fringe. For the Zephyr Shawl the beads were added to a single end at the edge of each bundle and then that end was pulled into the adjacent bundle for twisting, resulting in a row of beads interspersed between the fringes at the end of the shawl. A different technique was used for the Plaited Twill Shawl to place the beads throughout the length of the twisted fringes. To achieve this effect, beads are strung on several ends of the bundle and held in place at intervals along the threads, the beads become locked in place as the fringe is twisted.

If you have more than one color in your warp, there are a few ways to handle it. When there are random or asymmetrical color changes across the warp you can just twist in bundles across, ending up with some solid color twists and some with a barber pole effect when two colors twist together, as in the Labyrinth Throw and the Dornik Twill Throw.

Another option that works well with a double weave or a more symmetrical color order is to twist the fringes in single color bundles. The resulting fringe allows each color to stand out on its own, looking crisp and clean. The XOXO Shawl is a deflected doubleweave shows this beautifully with all three colors represented in the fringe. And the fringe on the Turned Taquete Scarf shows both colors bold and pure, alternating across the edge.

Many people twist their fringes by hand, but I prefer to use the Leclerc Fringe Twister. This handy and very simple device makes the work go quickly and saves me from hand cramps.

Do you have any favorite fringe tips? Share your pictures, you know we love show and tell!

Spin Cycle

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016
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We are nearly halfway through July and the Tour de Fleece. The what?! You mean you haven’t heard that spinners are spinning along with the Tour de France? We are and it’s great fun as well as a great way to get into a rhythm of spinning every day. I know it is making a big difference for me as the daily workout helps me spin more consistent yarn and improve my technique. I made some adjustments in my hand position after our workshops with Beth Smith last month and having dedicated time every day allows me to practice and become comfortable with that. On the challenge days I am working on plying, trying some new methods to spin a 3-ply. There’s still some room in our Tour de Fleece SpinShops on July 17th, so check out the event page for descriptions of the array of fantastic spinning workshops and join us for some fiber fun!

Tour de Fleece Spinshops at WEBS retail store. Details on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

I’m also looking lustfully at some of the travel wheels we have in our spinning section, thinking about upcoming summer trips. We have 2 nice options with another on the horizon. The Louet Victoria is delightfully compact and light, folds with ease and even has a built in carrying handle. The spinning is smooth and it has accessories including a jumbo flyer for plying or creating art yarns. The Sidekick by Schacht is another contender that features its own carrying strap, folds easily into a snug shape and is a dream to spin on. Later this summer we will have a new loom from Schacht – the Flatiron, which is a folding Saxony wheel with many options for set up. I plan to try it out as soon as it arrives and will let you know how it spins.

Will you be taking your spinning on the road this summer?

 

Home Schooling

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016
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Many years ago, when I discovered my passion for fiber, I yearned to study it in a focused way. I found there actually are colleges with such programs, but the circumstances of my life did not allow for being a full-time student. Thankfully, my mother (a resourceful reference librarian) sent me a stack of knitting books which became my textbooks for intensive home study.

Now that my fiber focus has expanded to include weaving I look for similar books to recommend to eager weavers wanting to learn more. I am happy to say that there are more than a few and here are two of my new favorites.

Expand your weaving skills this summer with fantastic new books! Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

I love Next Steps in Weaving because it is beautifully laid out for a progressive study of weave structures. The text is clear and straight forward and easy to understand for all levels of weavers. In addition to thorough descriptions of how the threads interact, she offers basic weaving tips to build overall skills and knowledge. There are plenty of samples to weave, which is a great way to reinforce the conceptual learning, and a few projects for each section of weaves.

Just released this spring, Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom offers similar learning opportunities for rigid heddle weavers. The subtitle is “For Beginners and Beyond” and it is certainly true as the book starts with the basics of warping and learning to weave, then progresses to more complex and beautiful techniques. A home study of this book would be a great way to learn how to get the most out of your rigid heddle and deepen your knowledge of both technique and design.

What books are your favorite study guides?

Tour de Fleece

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016
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Most people know about the Tour de France, but – hang onto your yellow jersey – have you heard of the Tour de Fleece? Spinners have taken it upon themselves to take their wheels (and spindles) for a spin and follow the great race. Unlike what happens in France, this Tour has no rules, just guidelines: spin each day the cyclists ride and rest on their rest days; on the mountain climb days challenge yourself with a new fiber, technique or yardage. Mostly just have fun and use the race as a way to pace yourself and spin almost daily for a month.

Tour de Fleece events at WEBS. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

WEBS is hosting a team again this year, so check our thread on our Ravelry page to join and be part of the fun. We will encourage and inspire each other to spin and have fun, share pictures and chat about spinning and why we love it so much.

And because I love a party with a purpose, we’ll be hosting a day of workshops and activities on July 17th at our store in Northampton. Join us for the day and spend time learning, shopping, gathering and spinning together with the folks that understand our love of twisting fiber into yarn. The daylong event (10 am – 4 pm) will feature workshops in the morning and afternoon with a slate of 4 different classes for both time slots. Options include hand carding, Navajo plying, spinning lace yarns, long draw, fractal spinning and more. All workshops are hands on and you will be able to sign up for your choices ahead of time.

The mid-day break will provide more activities as well as a chance for lunch (bring your own and we will provide cookies and fruit). Sit and spin, relax and shop (special spinning deals for the day), chat with spinning friends old and new. And because we’re trying to pack in as much as possible (it is a challenge day for the Tour, after all), we’ve got a couple more activities. Gather ’round the wheel display to hear about why spinning wheels have different drive styles and tensioning options and learn which features work best for the types of yarns you want to spin. Or stretch out with some gentle yoga focused on the muscles we use in spinning.

We hope you can join us for our special spinning day. I know I’m looking forward to it and to spinning along with the cyclists throughout the month of July.