Archive for the ‘Weaving’ Category

Project Planning – Ready, Set, Sett?

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016
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One of the first factors that needs to be addressed in planning a weaving project is the sett of the yarn. Knitters talk about the gauge of the yarn – stitches per inch, for weavers it is sett. It tells you how dense the yarn will be in the warp (ends per inch) and the weft (picks per inch) and this information is used to determine how much yarn is needed for the project.

What makes sett feel intimidating is that it’s not a simple “if the yarn is this size, the sett is this” equation. You also have to factor in the weave structure as well as the intended use for the fabric. This is why we list a range of setts with all of our weaving yarns. If you look on the yarn page for tencel  on our website, or the shelf tag in the store, the sett is listed as 20 – 27 epi. The lower end of the scale is for plain weave and the upper end is more suitable for twills.

So where to begin if you have a mystery cone with no information? For the unknown yarns, start by using a yarn balance to determine the number of yards per pound. Knowing the fiber content is also useful as plant and animal fibers behave differently and this will affect the sett. If you can’t tell the fiber content just by look and feel, many people recommend doing a burn test. Be sure to follow safety guidelines if you try this. THere’s a fantastic chart for burn tests here, and a simple but eye opening video here.

So now you’ve got yardage and fiber information, the next step is to determine the range of setts that will work. I often use the Master Yarn Chart compiled by Handwoven magazine. It lists sett for all the yarns used in their projects since 2000 and will give you that range I was talking about above. You have to join their weaving community to see it, but it’s free and provides access to this and other great resources.

Understanding sett and using a swatch maker for your weaving, on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Another tool that just came out is the Swatch Maker 3-in-1 Loom. This little sample loom is brilliant as it allows you sample three different setts (8, 10 & 12 epi) to see which will work best with your chosen yarn. It’s a quick and easy way to test possibilities and minimizes the amount of yarn used for sampling. I’ve been using it to check my ideas for the cloth I want to weave for a summer top.

Understanding sett provides a good foundation for weaving beautiful cloth, take advantage of the available tools to explore the compatibility of yarn and sett for your next project.

Summer School for Weavers

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016
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Here’s my true (and unashamed) confession – I chose to go to summer school in high school. As an overachiever with a competitive streak I certainly didn’t need it for academic success; I just found fascinating classes that weren’t taught at other times and knew I didn’t want to miss out. I feel the same when I look at our summer schedule for weaving classes here at WEBS – there’s some unique classes and teachers that are not to be missed.

Weaving classes for beginners and advanced techniques this summer. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Jason Collingwood is one of the rock stars of the weaving world, known for his masterful rug weaving and teaching skills. We are lucky to have him at WEBS for a 3-day weekend workshop which will cover 4-end blockweave for rug weaving, starting with simple two-color designs and moving on to designing within the blocks as well as the addition of a third color. He will also talk about techniques such as clasped wefts and summer and winter.

Closer to home, we have our local weaving superstars offering classes in their areas of expertise. Scott Norris is known for the beautiful linen textiles he weaves and sells throughout the Northeast. He says of his favorite fiber: “I weave with linen whenever possible, because it remains resilient and lustrous as it fades and softens over time. When treated respectfully, cloth woven from linen can last nearly forever, providing an element of permanence that I admire.” Scott designed a class that will give weavers experience in handling, weaving and caring for linen yarn using a variety of weave structures. The class meets once a month starting in August, giving participants time to weave samples between class sessions. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn from a master and learn the tricks to tame and befriend linen.

For the rigid heddle weavers there is also an excellent chance to learn from an expert. Paula Veleta has been teaching RH weaving for years and has developed our curriculum for advanced beginner and intermediate weavers. In July she will teach a 2-day workshop on weaving with double heddles. This advanced-beginner class will teach students to weave using finer yarns to make more sophisticated projects. You’ll learn how to thread your loom using two rigid heddles, how to determine a proper sett, and how to created texture and pattern. Another don’t-miss event for deepening your skills.

For those looking to begin to weave, we will have our One-week Intensive for Beginning Weaving, also taught by Scott Norris. The class gets you started with all of the basics of weaving on a multi-shaft loom – warping, weaving, project planning and more. There are also a few spots left in our Introduction to Rigid Heddle Weaving 1-day class, which teaches you the basics of warping and weaving on a rigid heddle loom.

Summer is coming! School yourself in new ways to use your loom and expand your weaving horizons.

Help for the Color Challenged

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016
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Color can be one of the most challenging aspects in planning a weaving project. It is often hard to predict how colors will interact in a woven pattern. This task is even more difficult for those coming from a knit/crochet background as the threads intersect in a completely different way. I know I can fall into a rut of using formulas from the traditional color wheel – complementary colors for contrast, analogous colors because they all go together. The resulting cloth usually looks okay, though not always as exciting or rich as I would like.

Liven up your color choices with the Color Grid! Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

This is why I love the Color Grid from Gail Callahan, the Kangaroo Dyer. She has taken the color wheel and transformed it into a color palette in a flat grid. It has an overlay that allows you to select color combinations that are both harmonious and interesting. Start by choosing your base color and the overlay shows the close family, those colors that are closely related and work well together. These colors are safe and what we often rely on because we know they look good together.

It’s great to add some of those to the project, but the real secret is to find the spark that will make your design pop. That’s just what the Color Grid does by highlighting an accent color through a window in the overlay. These sparks of color can be used in small proportions to liven things up, to take a piece from ‘okay’ to ‘wow!’. Working with this tool I have become more adventurous in my color choices and my weaving has become more engaging.

There are some drafts in our 2016 Weaving Sourcebook that illustrate the idea beautifully. In the Summer Garden Towel (Draft 85), blue and green predominate and the thin stripes of brick color draw the eye and make the design really pop out. The Waffle Weave Buddies (Draft 86) also have a striping pattern, this time on a background of white. The aqua and periwinkle are related and look lovely together and the rust adds a spark that keeps the colors from looking monotonous.

Give it a try and send us some pictures, I’d love to see how you work with colors.

P.S. True confession – I also use the Color Grid to help plan my flower beds and the results have been gorgeous!

“Weavers, Break Out Your Skeins!”

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016
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I am often asked by weavers if they can only use coned yarns for weaving. The answer is an enthusiastic no! After all, why should crocheters and knitters get to hog all the fun colors, textures and feels of skeined yarns? Of course, there are factors that determine the suitability of yarn for warps, so be sure to evaluate your yarn first. The yarn needs to be strong enough to withstand tension as well as the abrasion of the reed moving back and forth. Hold a piece of the yarn and pull firmly. Keep in mind that the tension will be spread across the entire warp and please don’t yank, because there is no yanking in weaving. More importantly, hold the yarn taut and scrape with the side of your thumbnail. See how it behaves with abrasion – does it pull apart or fuzz out?

How to choose the right knitting yarn for your next weaving project on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Another characteristic to keep in mind is the stretch factor. Yarns spun for knitting/crocheting are often springy and stretchy, which is great for sweaters, but not always compatible with looms. Some of these yarns continue to stretch under tension and then spring back when taken off the loom, resulting in a very dense piece of cloth (i.e. scarf that drapes like a rug). Give your potential warp a strong pull and release to see just how elastic it is. It’s not that you can’t weave with stretchy yarns, just use enough tension to create a good shed while resisting the temptation to over tighten. And probably avoid the spandex.

Weft yarns, on the other hand, are a wide open garden of creativity. Yes, the weft needs to play well with the warp in terms of intended care, shrinkage and wear. But the weft is free from the constraints of tension, abrasion and size so let your imagination run free.

Our Weaving Sourcebook for 2016 features a few drafts using skeined yarns. The XOXO Shawl, draft 91, is woven with Hatfield an exceedingly soft laceweight baby alpaca that feels like a wearable hug. Lisa Hill designed a beautiful deflected double weave pattern that creates circles and dots of color. Each face of the cloth shows a different color emphasis, making it fun to wrap and change the look.

How to choose the right knitting yarn for your next weaving project on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Sunderland is one of the newer yarns in our Valley Yarns collection. Also spun in 100% baby alpaca, it is a worsted weight with a palette of rich heathered tones. Paula Veleta designed the Golden Plum Tartan Scarf, Draft 99, for the rigid heddle and the gorgeous effect comes from the carefully placed lines and blocks of stunning color.

Do you have a favorite skeined yarn you like for weaving?

Rigid Heddle Revels

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016
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Spring is here and with it is the 2016 Weaving Sourcebook. Our annual weaving catalog is not only filled with color cards of our coned yarns – oh so helpful – but features pictures and links to our new crop of weaving drafts. This year we are especially proud of the stunning array of projects for Rigid Heddle looms. These drafts run the gamut from beautiful colorwork to textured weaves and unique finishing techniques. It’s a great time to be a rigid heddle weaver!

The Textured Towel (Draft 92) uses double heddles to handle both the fine size of the 8/2 cotton as well as add great texture to make these towels really pop. Our 8/2 cotton  has such a great range of colors, you can match the décor of any kitchen. I’ve got a family wedding coming up and a set of these towels will be perfect for a gift to the young couple. As many of you know, I love to make sets by varying the weft colors and this plaid design will be great for playing with stripe placement.

The Nightscape Pillow - draft now available at yarn.com Read more about this and other new drafts and products in the 2016 Weaving Sourcebook on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Another fun textured design is the Nightscape Pillow (Draft 98) woven with Brimfield. The decorative popcorns are created by pulling up loops across a single pick in a bright color that makes it really pop. The background stripes are in plain weave with a syncopated color order that keeps things lively. Brimfield is one of our newer yarns and is soft and squishy with a color palette that continues to expand.

We round out the hand manipulated drafts with the Comfy Couch Throw (Draft 100) made with the supersoft Superwash DK in both solid and hand dyed colors. The unique construction of the throw is set up in the warp, where some slots are left empty. This creates channels of weft floats in the middle of the cloth and loops along the edges. The panel is woven in two pieces which are then joined together by pulling the edge loops through each other to form a decorative seam and finished selvedges. Surface texture is added by using the weft floats to anchor crochet chains in a color pattern of choice.

So celebrate your rigid heddle loom and add some new techniques to your weaving vocabulary!

What is your favorite thing to weave on your rigid heddle loom?

2016 Weaving Sourcebook

Monday, March 21st, 2016
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Each year we work behind the scenes to bring you a weaving catalog chock full of new and exciting products and this year we’ve outdone ourselves! Flip through the new Weaving Sourcebook now!

weaving

In these pages you will find new yarns, like our Hatfield and Sunderland, both 100% Baby Alpaca, or our 6/2 Cotton in 29 stunning colors! Our new favorite tool is the Swatch Maker from Purl & Loop. Plan out your next weaving project with confidence! And speaking of next projects, we have 18 Brand New drafts for you in this catalog with 6 that are perfect for Rigid Heddle!

What exciting weaving projects will you create in 2016? Join our email list now to make sure you don’t miss out on any great deals, and if you don’t already receive a copy of our catalog you can request one here.

Lifelong Learning and New Opportunities

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016
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You have probably heard me proclaim the joys of learning new things in weaving, so it will not surprise to hear that I am quite excited about Convergence 2016, the conference put on by the Handweavers Guild of America. Convergence is held in alternate years and moves locations to create access for as many regions as possible. This year it will be in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from July 30 – August 6 and I’m happy to report that we will have a booth (several, actually).

WEBS will be at Convergence 2016. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

I must admit, I’m kind of a conference junkie. They make me feel like I’m at an all-you-can-eat buffet created by master chefs – such an array of delicious choices and even if I can’t try them all, I can talk to others who taste the ones I haven’t. The scheduling is also very flexible, allowing one to dip a toe in with an afternoon workshop or go for total immersion with a multi-day class. One of the great advantages of a national conference is the chance to take a class with a teacher you might not get to experience otherwise. I have a friend who has taught weaving for several decades and she always signs up for Convergence classes because she wants to keep learning, both weaving techniques and teaching styles. I take this advice to heart and try to fit in at least one class amidst the busyness of our booth.

We’ll also have our booth loaded up with yarn, tools, books and more. Will we see you there?

Sharing your love of crafting

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016
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I’ve spent the last decade or so teaching lots of strangers to knit and crochet. And while I’ve also done a bit of that with my family, teaching my daughters to crochet when they were little, I’ve never crafted with my Mom. When I was growing up she wasn’t the crafty one on the family, I had a plethora of grandmothers of different generations for that! Now that life has slowed down a bit for her she’s itching to spend some time making and crafting. We’ve talked about what we can do together, and work on while we’re apart, and she’s intrigued by the possibilities of weaving.

Choosing yarns for a first weaving project. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

I happen to have two rigid heddle looms, a 20″ Flip and a 10″ Cricket. So we’ve planned to spend a weekend day together this winter so I can show her how to warp the Cricket, as I warp my Flip, and we can both start weaving a scarf. I want to make sure that this simple starter project keeps her interest so I want to use a yarn with lots of great color play for an interesting finished fabric. I’m loving the new Scheepjes Invicta Color and the Louisa Harding Pittura, both of which will create interesting fabric in plainweave.

Once she’s gotten through that first project I’ll let her borrow my copy of the Weaver’s Idea Book, and then I might get her a copy of Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom just so I can borrow it from her!

Who will you share your love of crafting with this year?

Weaving White Sale!

Thursday, January 21st, 2016
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I have always loved a White Sale–that January staple where you can load up on all the things that you need for your house but never seem to buy during the rest of the year. This year WEBS is holding our version of a White Sale, a Weaving promotion that is too good not to take advantage of.

weaving white copy

From January 22 through January 29, customers who buy 3 cones of Valley 8/2 Cotton or Valley 6/2 Cotton will receive a free download of our new weaving eBook, Favorite Five Dish Towels. The best part, for all of our readers and customers, is that the White Sale will be online as well as in-store! We’ve included some very well-loved drafts as well as a few newbies, and a bonus small dish cloth is yours as well.

The drafts are written for both 4-shaft as well as 8-shaft looms, and they all work well for both 8/2 and 6/2 cotton. You’ll be able to make Carol Birtwistle’s sprightly Ribbon Towels, Chris Hammel’s beautiful and evocative Garden Towel with either a summer or winter weave structure, two of Barbara Elkin’s designs, the Modified Star Work dish towel and the Waffle Weave Buddies, as well as a new draft, the Crepe Towel. Your bonus, the Petite Dish Cloth, is a tiny work of art, and would be perfect as a housewarming gift along with some handmade soaps and a lovely soap dish.

It’s not often that you get to make your own White Sale! Let us know your color choices and the delighted reactions you see if you decide to bestow one of these designs on a deserving friend for the bleak midwinter.

Baby Blankies

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016
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I’ve always loved making things for babies. It’s such a joy to celebrate their arrival and a great opportunity to surround them with our love in the form of woven/knitted/crocheted snugglies. Baby things are usually quick and for weavers a baby blanket is the perfect palette to play with design and color ideas and sure to get oohs and ahhs from the new parents. We just received Tom Knisely’s lovely book Handwoven Baby Blankets. Tom has created a soft and cozy collection of beautiful, colorful designs with projects for both 4- and 8-shaft looms. He also covers what size to make, materials and finishing. The blanket drafts cover a wide variety of structures and most could easily translate to larger throws.

Valley Yarns weaving drafts available at yarn.com Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

We’ve got some great drafts designed for our Valley Yarns line as well. One of the recent baby blankets was designed by Lisa Hill using our 6/2 Unmercerized Cotton. XOXO Baby Blanket (Draft #87) is a deflected doubleweave that creates sweet circles of color and a squishy softness that is perfect for babies. Each side of the blanket features a different interplay of the colors and the yarn is machine washable, making it perfect for the on-the-go life with children.

Another favorite draft is the Bouquet of Hearts Blanket – 40th Anniversary Draft #12 woven on a rigid heddle loom. Lace heart motifs are created using a simple technique called Brook’s Bouquet and the blanket is woven in two panels that are then sewn together. We have a video tutorial for the Brook’s Bouquet to make it even easier to pick up. The blanket is woven with Valley Yarns Longmeadow, another machine washable cotton blend that is cushy soft. The blanket is soft and cuddly and the lace creates a great texture for tiny fingers.

Valley Yarns weaving drafts available at yarn.com Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Rounding out our picks of the baby blanket drafts is Barbara Elkin’s Blooming Leaf Baby Blanket – Draft #59. A 4-shaft pattern in Shadow Weave, this blanket is woven with 5/2 Cotton and creates a beautiful heirloom blanket with classic appeal. As with the other drafts, different colorways can be chosen to highlight bold, pastel or neutral tones.

It seems like babies come in waves; suddenly 3 friends, a neighbor and a nephew are all expecting a new addition to the family. Blankets are so quick and easy – add an extra yard of warp and weave a second blankie to have on hand for the next little bundle. One of my favorite things to do when giving handmade baby gifts is to tell the parent it comes with a string attached – they have to send me a picture of the baby wearing or wrapped in the present. That way I get a lovely picture of the baby, plus a picture for my weaving archives.