Archive for the ‘Weaving’ Category

Ready, Set, Knit! Show 494: Kathy Talks With Leslie Ann Bestor

Saturday, July 15th, 2017
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It’s all about spinning and weaving on Ready, Set, Knit! today!! This week, Kathy is talking with our spinning and weaving manager, Leslie Ann Bestor, all about the New England Weaving and Spinning Seminar, which is happening THIS WEEKEND right here in Northampton! NEWS is taking place at Smith College, right up the road (5 minutes!) from our Northampton, Mass store. NEWS only happens every other year and it’s FREE, so you won’t want to miss this! Kathy and LA are also going to be talking about the Tour de Fleece, which is also going on right now. Join our Ravelry group for a lively discussion about the Tour de Fleece!

 

For more information about the New England Weaver’s Seminar, click here!

 

Steve’s Yarn Picks of the week:

 

Reminder:

The New England Weavers Seminar is being held this year at Smith College, just minutes from WEBS, here in Northampton. Check out their website for more information!

Upcoming Events

WEBS is holding our first-ever Spinning Summit this fall! From September 29th through October 1st, we’ll be holding classes, special Sunday shopping hours for participants, and other exclusive events. Our teachers include the amazing Jillian Moreno, Abby Franquemont, Amy King, and Beth Smith! Check out our brochure over here!

Registration for the WEBS Retreat has filled! If you missed out, please consider signing up for the waitlist. We had many people come off the waitlist last year!

WEBS is having a Rhinebeck Sweater KAL! There’s still time to sign up and start your sweater, so sign up now to join for a reduced rate!  Click here for more information and to register!

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for lots of great new products, contests and fun!

Check out all of our upcoming Events here.

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Time to Learn

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017
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My grandmother was a weaver and though I didn’t spend much time around her, I wanted to learn to weave and carry on the family tradition from a young age. I was quite nomadic after college and my first adult forays into the fiber world were in knitting and crochet because their portable nature satisfied my need to create with yarn.  I spent years playing and learning other creative techniques (felting, beading, embroidery and more) and at some point decided that I didn’t want to be “jack of all trades, master of none” so I focused on knitting as both creative outlet and career choice.

The longing to weave persisted, but I was afraid of spreading myself too thin so I decided I would take up weaving when I had at least 3 – 4 months to immerse myself in learning. It might mean that it would be later in life, but I wanted to give myself (and the craft) a chunk of time to thoroughly work through the beginner phase. Fortunately my mother stepped in to teach me again. My mom was my first mentor and inspiration in the world of making things. She was an excellent seamstress and knitter and taught me both at a young age (the knitting didn’t stick at the time, but was still in my hands when I came back to it after college). She, too, had always wanted to weave like her mother and had put it off to retirement. The time came and she took a class (at WEBS!) and my dad bought her a loom and she was on her way. The problem was, she was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and her brain couldn’t remember what she learned. She wove a few small samplers but had to give it up.

I weave on my mom’s loom now because I realized I couldn’t wait for the ‘perfect’ time to learn. I started working at WEBS a few years after my mom passed on and when the opportunity came to take a weaving class I jumped at it even though I didn’t have the luxury of making it the sole focus of my life. Sitting at the loom felt like coming home to me and I have become almost evangelical in urging people to follow their creative dreams.

LA shares her love of weaving and tells her weaving story on the WEBS Blog, blog.yarn.com

I have found many ways to continue my weaving and spinning education, starting with classes here at WEBS. We are lucky to have great teachers close by who instruct a wide range of basic and advanced classes, not to mention the many nationally-known guest teachers who present workshops in our store. Our Winter/Spring schedule is out, be sure to check out the offerings and sign up online or in the store.

Many of us also have access to local guilds that feature speakers and classes. I try to take advantage of these opportunities because they allow me to learn new techniques. Even if I decide not to pursue those ideas, I learn so much from being around other weavers, watching how they work with the tools, being inspired by what they create. Bonus for me is that I also learn more about how to teach!

Another wonderful place to expand your horizons is at a regional conference like NEWS, the New England Weavers’ Seminar which will happen July 13 – 16, 2017 in Northampton. These conferences generally have a slate of classes in addition to gallery shows and exhibits. Look for one in your area, there are dozens spread around the country and well worth attending. Besides, there is nothing so satisfying as hanging out with the folks that speak your language and understand your passion!

I see another year of learning in 2017, I have signed up for a workshop in tablet weaving and another in shadow weave. I may add a rep weave class if I’m feeling really adventurous. What will you learn in the coming year?

Begin as You Mean to Go On

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016
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Many years ago, while listening to a New Year’s podcast of Cast On with Brenda Dayne, she uttered the phrase “Begin as you mean to go on” and it has stuck with me to this day. I reflect on it every year as January 1st approaches, this idea of anchoring intentions with action, solidifying new beginnings by consciously working on them. Some choose to make resolutions or set goals, but for me the simplicity of that phrase means that I begin by doing.

The first step is reflection, looking back at this year and forward to the one to come. And then I plan for a New Year’s Day that includes the things I want to nurture in my life. Weaving and spinning are both on the list, of course. It’s easy to get carried away with a 3-page list of ideas, but I’m narrowing it down so that I can enjoy some quality time with my creative side as well as my family.

Inkle loom weaving and more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

I want to make something for my sister so I dusted off my inkle loom and weaving cards and pulled out Candace Crockett’s great book , Card Weaving for inspiration. I forgot how quick and easy it is to set this up and get weaving! I’ve started a narrow band (1/4″) to use as a strap to hold her thread snips while weaving.  It will be a fun project and small enough that I’ll be able to weave serious yardage that day.

On the spinning side, I’ve just about finished spinning a bundle of Frabjous Fibers 3 Feet of Sheep and I’ve been pondering how I’m going to ply it. Lo and behold, I walk past the spinning area today and see the new issue of PLY magazine, with the theme of plying! I love this magazine for its in-depth articles and tutorials and I’m looking forward to curling up with it tonight and exploring ideas for what to do with my singles. My project for January 1st will be to ply these gorgeous colors into a stunning yarn.

So that is how I plan to begin the new year, doing the things I love and will continue to do throughout the year. What will you begin as you mean to go on?

It’s the little things

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016
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I love unusual little things – handy tools that tuck into pockets or small pouches, ordinary accessories that are made with a special touch, small gifts that don’t break the bank yet bring smiles and joy. Naturally, that means I delight in the holiday season and the chance to search for little treasures to surprise my family and friends. Part of the joy for me is finding something special that the giftee can use in creating things. Don’t get me wrong, nothing beats a box of bonbons, but I am a practical person and want the gift to be useful and long lasting.

With that in mind, I cast my eye around the weaving and spinning realm to see what little delights fit the bill. First there are the unsung heroines of weaving – the Floating Sues, made by Jim Hokett. These beautiful gadgets fall into the category of “that’s so simple, I could have made it myself”, which then leads to “but why would I make them when these are so beautiful and such a great deal”. Floating Sues look like a spindle with hooks on both ends and a beautiful chunk of wood in the middle. They are made to hang on floating selvages or to weight down broken warp ends. After years of dealing with canisters of pennies and fishing weights, I love the simplicity and ease of these. They come in 2 size options and if I need more weight I can add something on the bottom hook.

Floating Sues from Hokett make a wonderful addition to any weaver's tool box. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

For spinners, we recently started carrying Snyder Spindles, wonderful little Turkish drop spindles made from beautiful woods or with colorful 3D printed arms. I wrote about them in the this post last month, so it felt like cheating to go on about them again, so I turned my gaze farther afield and spied the shimmery braids of 50/50 Merino Tencel Top from Frabjous Fibers. I know it’s a bit fluffy to stuff into a pocket, but it’s a wonderful gift, nonetheless. It’s something new and different, the colorways are dreamy and that shine! I envision spinning a lightweight 2-ply to knit into a sensuous shawl.

And for those of you in our neck of the woods, drop by the store to see the gift table up front. There are many small trinkets we brought in just for the holidays, all of them fiber-related and fun – gift tags, mugs, laser-carved wooden gauges and ornaments and more. They are here for now and in small quantities, so you will only find them in the store. Come in and take a look!

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?

Weaving as art

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016
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Woven wall hangings and art pieces have really made a comeback in the last year. This is a craft that is portable and perfect for a quick burst of creative expression. Rachel Denbow’s new book “Woven Art” breaks down the process beautifully and walks you through not only the processes of creating woven art, but the steps needed to make your own small projects looms.

Rachel Denbow's  Woven Art and the Hokett Hand Loom make a great gift! Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

If you’re not ready to construct your own loom we have some excellent options for you! From the Harrisville Designs Peg Loom and Lap Loom for small projects, to the Schacht School Loom and Tapestry Loom for larger projects. The Hokett Hand Loom (or full Kit) makes a beautiful gift when paired with this book.

Have you created your own woven art?

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!

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?

Project Planning – Color me Happy

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016
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How do you decide what colors to use in your weaving? Sometimes I have a sense of color family – towels to match the kitchen, a throw to complement the couch, my sister’s favorite color for a shawl. But even then I have to decide which shade to use, which colors to combine in warp and/or weft. I talked in a previous post about the Color Grid, which helps me come up with a palette that is both interesting and harmonious. The next step is to look at how to place those colors to achieve the look and feel that I want.

I recently fell in love (again) with a lovely cotton/linen yarn from Juniper Moon called Zooey. One of the things that drew me to this yarn was the incredible depth and saturation of the colors. It is also soft and cool and I knew I wanted to weave fabric for a simple summer top. I started by choosing an assortment of colors and went to work on figuring out out to arrange them in a way to showcase their vibrant beauty.

Planning your next weaving project - choosing colors on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Because the colors will be the focus, I decided to weave this on my rigid heddle in plain weave. A great and inexpensive way to look at color combos is to do a wrap – take a piece of cardstock or an index card and fold it into a strip that is approximately 1-2″ tall and 5-6″ wide. Warp several strips with different color combos and compare them to see what you like. Here are the wraps that I tried. In the top one I wrapped the colors randomly in stripes of varying widths. While I didn’t like the asymmetry, it did help to see how the colors played next to each other. For the next one, I wrapped five of the colors as single stripes repeating in the same order – didn’t like that at all, it was muddy and boring. The bottom wrap shows stripes of green separated by a progression of the other colors. That was a winner for me; I liked the strong lines of green and it looked good with all of the other colors.

The next step was choosing the weft. For this step I put a 10″ wide warp on the loom. I wanted it to be big enough to really see the effect of the weft, plus I wanted to check the hand of the fabric. My test weft yarns were all lighter weight than the warp because I wanted a fabric with a light hand and good drape. I tested 3 different yarns, using a different color in each (and was absurdly proud of covering 2 facets in one warp). After weaving the samples, I serged the edges and cut them apart, then washed and dried them.

Here’s what they looked like. The top sample was woven with Brassard 8/2 Cottolin (Royal c0963), the swatch in the middle used Valley Cotton 8/2 (Algiers Blue 2194), and the bottom was with Valley Cotton 6/2 (Aubergine). The verdict? I eliminated the bottom swatch because it was too heavy and the colors looked indistinct. The other two were equally nice in terms of drape and hand, so it came down to the colors. Although I liked the light blue in the middle swatch, it felt a bit washed out and I really wanted to see the vivid colors. The result is that the top swatch came out on top because it captures both the look and feel I want for my summer top.

I know many weavers groan about the idea of sampling.  It is time-consuming, not to mention yarn-consuming, to sample. But for me it’s a good investment, because I’m not gambling with my project. I know that the cloth I take off the loom will be what I wanted to create. I’ve got the loom warped up and I’ll give you a peek when I’m done with the next step.

How do you decide on colors?