Posts Tagged ‘weaving’

No New Ready, Set, Knit This Week – What are you listening to?

Saturday, July 11th, 2015
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There’s no new Ready, Set, Knit this week, so check out the archives and listen to your favorite episode, or catch up on some you’ve missed. Not having a new podcast this week got me to thinking about the different things I like to do when I’m crafting. I watch TV, listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks, and sometimes I just like to enjoy the silence. I have a backlog of podcasts that I need to catch up on and a pile of audiobooks that are waiting to be listened to. I think this weekend will be a good time to slow the go-go-go that’s been happening, take a little time to craft, and catch up on listening.

What’s your favorite “noise” to listen to while knitting, crocheting, weaving, or spinning?

 

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 yarn.com

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.

It Takes a Team

Thursday, June 25th, 2015
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A few members of our store staff got together to participate in the 2015 Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair Fleece to Shawl competition and they won! Strong collaboration and preparation before the event, creativity, communication and a bit of improvisation made the difference.

Ashley spun the warp (almost 800 yards of Abstract Fiber 2-Tone Blue Faced Leicester plied with Ashland Bay Mixed Blue Face Leicester); Mary warped our Norwood loom, store staff members created the team name, (Ply of the Tiger) and Carreen made team shirts for competition day.

WEBS staff members, "Team Ply of the Tiger" Compete in the Fleece to Shawl competition, more on the WEBS Blog - blog.yarn.com

On the competition day, the process of creating the shawl ran smoothly, with Mary (fighting a bad cold) carding the fleece; Meg and Ashley spinning singles for the weft; and Carreen plying the singles together to create the weft. Everyone was using their favorite spinning wheel, the Lendrum DT Complete.  Then it was Mary’s turn to start the weaving using a draft that WEBS founder, Barbara Elkins, created just for this event.  The team worked feverishly to make the deadline, while answering the many questions that curious onlookers asked throughout the afternoon.  Things were going swimmingly until the loom’s apron rods separated with 2″ left to weave!  Ashley held the loom in place until the weaving was complete. With minutes to spare, the team made fringe for the shawl and then time was up!

WEBS staff members, "Team Ply of the Tiger" and their winning shawl, more on the WEBS Blog - blog.yarn.com

In the end, the team won the event with a fabulous shawl, blue ribbons, swollen hands and blisters, and, best of all,  enthusiasm to do it all over again.  They’ve decided to enter the Sheep to Shawl competition at the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival in October!

The winning shawl is on display in the store–please stop by to see our staff’s beautiful work.

And if you’d like to share WEBS spinning adventures, please sign up for the Ravelry Tour de Fleece event beginning July 4.  See our Ravelry WEBS forum post to sign up.

Keep on spinning…

 

May Sales bring Summer Weaving

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015
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Greetings from the Weaving Room! What a glorious holiday weekend! I was reveling in that sweet transition from spring into summer, trying to maintain my personal balancing act between weaving and gardening. Having transplanted the seedlings into the gardens, now I turn to organizing my summer weaving. It’s the last week of our Anniversary Sale and there are some great yarns for warm weather projects.

Valley Yarns 5/2 Bamboo, on sale through May 31, 2015 in WEBS Anniversary Sale at yarn.com

One of my personal favorites is Valley Yarns 5/2 Bamboo. I love the subtle sheen of the yarn and the beautifully soft drape that makes it a perfect choice for summer scarves. We have some stunning drafts for this yarn, featuring a variety of weave structures. For a striking pattern in subtle tone-on-tone colors, try Draft #72 Advancing 5-end Twill Scarf. The Lemongrass Scarf, Draft # 78, is a simple 4-shaft scarf with two contrasting colors that really pop. And then there’s Virginia West’s delightful and colorful Lattice Scarf, Draft #04 from our 40th Anniversary series. A fun adventure in deflected double weave, it uses the bamboo to add an overlay of texture and depth to a tencel scarf.

Valley Yarns Fine Linens, on sale through May 31, 2015 in WEBS Anniversary Sale at yarn.com

Another good summer yarn is linen and we have most of our fine linens on sale this month. Linen is crisp and cool and lends itself well to towels, runners and other household textiles. Most of which, I might add, make magnificent wedding and housewarming gifts! And, naturally, we have some fine drafts for you to use in creating such heirlooms. The standout is Scott Norris’s Foxhead Towels which he designed as part of the 40th Anniversary series, it is #05. A classic overshot on 4-shafts, the draft combines 40/2 and 20/2 linen and gives the weaver several options for varying the pattern. Another classic that is beautiful in its simplicity is Draft#46, Atwater – Bronson Lace Table Runner. The detail of the lace creates a lovely texture in the half-bleach 20/2 linen.

The Anniversary Sale runs through May 31st. What will you get to seed your summer weaving?

Keeping Track

Thursday, April 16th, 2015
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Greetings from the Weaving Room! I am re-energized by the signs of spring popping up outside and excited to get started on new projects, both on my loom and in the garden. I am finishing up a rather complex weaving project, one that taught me patience and helped me refine my process for keeping track of my place. It is easy to get lost when your threading or treadling sequence is long, so I thought I’d share some tips that have helped me.

Keeping track of your treadling in weaving drafts - Leslie Ann has some great tips on the WEBS Blog - read more at blog.yarn.com

Break it into manageable bits. I have read that our brains retain information in groups of 4 or 5, so I break the sequences into sections that are either 4-5 threads/treadles long, or contain a run such as 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8. I find that I can keep this chunk of information in my mind while working and then look back at my notes for the next chunk.

Write it out in a way that makes sense to you and display it so you can see it while weaving. Rather than working off a a typical charted draft, I rewrite my treadling on paper using thick markers (my eyes need all the help they can get!). I use the Knitter’s Pride Magma Chart Keeper to hold my notes and place it on the castle or on a table next to my loom. It has magnets to hold the paper on, and I can use the strip magnet to mark my place. It keeps my notes close at hand and easy to see and read.

Use visual cues to remind you where you are. The scarf I just finished was an advancing twill with many repeating sequences (see picture) and sometimes I’d have a momentary lapse in attention (okay, it’s true. Sometimes I just zoned out.) and couldn’t remember if I had repeated 3-4-1 two or three times. The sett was 56 epi which added to the challenge of finding my place, plus it just slowed me down to squint at those interlacements! What I did was to mark which side of the loom my shuttle would be on at the beginning of each chunk. You can see in the picture that I used Highlighter Tape (another indispensable tool in my kit) to mark the sequences where my shuttle would begin on the left. It really helped me to quickly identify which point I was at.

Stop only at the end of sequences and mark where you will resume. I try to work through a full pattern repeat before I step away from the loom. In the case of long repeats I will at least finish a complete chunk. And do not fall prey to the voice in your head that says you will remember/will be right back – always write down where to start again. In words that you will understand – cryptograms are best saved for code breakers.

A toolkit of techniques is great to help you stay on track whether your draft is simple or complex. What tips work for you?

Craft and Social Media

Friday, April 10th, 2015
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Finding WEBS on the web - social media links and online community on the WEBS Blog - read more at blog.yarn.com

I’ve realized lately that every time I check my social media sites, the first thing I do is see what WEBS is doing there. There is a rich treasure trove of websites that are devoted to putting people in touch with other people, and you can find someone, for instance, who is a left-handed crocheter who only does stuffed animals in the blink of an eye. Knitting is a pretty social craft, as is crochet; less so, unfortunately, are weaving and spinning. Weavers and spinners, I know you are lovely and sociable, but there aren’t many sightings of folks dragging an 8-harness loom to the local Starbucks for Craft Night. In that way, sometimes it’s easier for knitters and crocheters who don’t know each other to get to know each other. I thought I’d walk you through our social media sites so that you can check out what we post, and who talks to whom through our newsfeed. In this post, I’ll spotlight Ravelry and Facebook, and in some subsequent posts, I’ll walk you through some of our other social media platforms.

Finding WEBS on the web - social media links and online community on the WEBS Blog - read more at blog.yarn.com

No mention of fiber social media is complete without Ravelry. This is the first place I look each day. I check our “All Things WEBS” group to see how the knitters and crocheters doing our Mystery Knit-A-Long and Mystery Crochet-A-Long are doing, what new yarns or needles have been added to our Anniversary Sale, or any information about store events that I might have missed. You can also search for Valley Yarns patterns, or see if anyone is knitting the same design you are, and if they made any modifications to the pattern. You can see how many folks are using Valley Yarns for different projects. And, best of all (to me), you can search for a group that might be tailored to your own particular interest. Once again, left-handed crocheters, I just searched and found not one, but TWO groups devoted to left-handed crocheters, both with large memberships. It’s a wonderful time-suck, and in my position as Education Manager, I’ve tracked down guest teachers, connected with students who’ve requested interesting class ideas, found some great designs to have our instructors use as teaching ideas, and lots more.

Finding WEBS on the web - social media links and online community on the WEBS Blog - read more at blog.yarn.com

Facebook is a great place to find information but it’s also a fun place to find interesting blog posts from other designers and yarn companies, see some deals before they make it onto the website, and hear from our customers around the world. Dena, who manages our social media presence on all sites, manages to find the most beautiful images our in-house photo and video team has produced to complement each post. I love to read the comments folks post about what we share on Facebook; I’ve learned about locally-sourced, allergy-free yarn as well as some variations on Tunisian Simple Crochet stitch from various customers who chime in with their knowledge from time to time.

What groups do you like on Ravelry? Do you follow any designers or yarn companies on Facebook? Let us know!

2015: A Weaving Odyssey

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015
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We get many visitors each day in the weaving room. Some are weavers looking for tools and help, some are future weavers beginning the exploration of what it entails, and some are looking to while away the time waiting for their relative or friend to finish the seemingly endless yarn shopping. So, we spend time answering questions, giving tours and demonstrating. This is one of the best parts of my job, because I love to talk weaving whether it is exchanging ideas with a fellow weaver or enticing someone to step down this rabbit hole and embrace weaving themselves. And I understand the curiosity, because looms can be complex machines with lots of parts, and it’s fascinating to see the transformation of a bunch of threads into a beautiful piece of woven cloth.

Toika computer assist looms are available at yarn.com

Of course, nothing is more astonishing than when they spy the Toika Eeva and I tell them it is a computer-assist loom. What?! How does that work?! Isn’t that cheating?! Even experienced weavers can have their minds boggled, so I’ll try to explain how these looms work. Let’s start by clarifying that these are computer-assist looms, not computerized looms. What that means is that the computer assists by lifting the shafts – and that’s all! The weaver still does everything else – warps the loom, throws the shuttle, beats the cloth, advances the warp.

On a manual loom the weaver steps on the treadles to raise (or lower) the shafts and open a shed. The Toika has a single pedal that is connected to a box that sits on top of the loom and is attached to all the shafts. A computer with weaving software is connected to the box and when the pedal is pushed the box lifts the appropriate shafts for the draft. Each step on the pedal advances the shafts to the next pick.

The advantages of this are many. For starters it allows weavers to be free of the physical challenges of lifting shafts with their legs. Many people have issues with hips or knees that make it difficult to treadle a manual loom and a computer-assist loom makes it possible for them to continue weaving. Plus, you don’t have to crawl under the loom to tie up the shafts!

Computer assist looms make the treading as simple as can be! Read more at blog.yarn.com

Then there is the matter of keeping track of larger numbers of shafts. For those who like to weave complex patterns that require 8+ shafts, threading the loom can be daunting as you try to keep track of which shaft is which. One of my favorite things about this loom is that you can have it treadle the threading. What that means is that it will lift the shafts one at a time in the order they are meant to be threaded, all you have to do is grab the heddle and thread it and move on to the next thread. This saves me hours of threading time, trying to make sure I’m on the correct shaft, and threading errors are nearly nonexistent.

And then there’s the other mental task that frequently trips me up – tracking my treadling. I’ve become skilled with long treadling sequences, but it’s liberating to not have to worry about it with this loom. I can shift my focus to my beat and the process and throwing the shuttle. It’s not like I weave on autopilot – I do watch the cloth to see the pattern develop – but I can relax more and enjoy the rhythm.

And we have some great news for those who may be thinking about getting a computer-assist loom – we will have one set up at the New England Weaver’s Seminar July 9 – 12, 2015 and we will be pre-selling the floor model at a 15% discount. It’s a great opportunity to save a significant amount and expand your weaving horizons.  We are offering the deal on a first come, first served basis, with a deadline of April 15. You can choose either an Eeva or a Liisa, from 40″ – 59″ and 16 – 32 shafts. The loom will come with all the usual accessories (software, bench, reed, heddles, etc) plus you can add any extras like second back beam, sectional beam, etc. for the same 15% discount. We set up the loom with a warp and display it for 4 days and then help the lucky buyer take it down and load it up at the end of the conference. For any questions or to place an order contact us at labestor@yarn.com or barbara.elkins@yarn.com. I’m excited to see who takes home this treasure.

The Warp and Weft of Generations

Monday, February 16th, 2015
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Store Sales Associate Marthe Young’s daughter Lilah is getting married in May, and Marthe’s wedding weaving preparations are not only heroic, but poignant as well. She is weaving together three generations of handmade cloth to give her daughter a beautiful wedding gift of her talent and her love.

Marthe is know to our customers as a knowledgeable instructor for many of our rigid heddle loom classes as well as a knitter, crocheter, and expert seamstress. Her weaving education began right here at WEBS, more than 30 years ago. In 1979, the then-single Marthe took a weaving class with Barbara Elkins when WEBS was in its infancy. She loved it and bought herself a Harrisville design loom that she put together from a kit. On that loom, she wove her own wedding ensemble with yarns and fiber obtained from WEBS, using the same warp for her cocoon jacket, dress, and belt.

WEBS retail associate Marthe and her mother on their wedding days with the fabric Marthe wove for her own dress - read more at blog.yarn.com

A 25″ Schacht Rigid Heddle Flip Loom is what Marthe used to weave her daughter’s wedding shawl. You can see the photo of this airy, delicate shawl, but what you can’t see from a picture is the intricate patterning of the tone-on-tone fibers, the tiny sequins, and the gossamer weight of this heirloom. When Barbara found out about Lilah’s engagement, she gave Marthe a cone of pearls on thread (which Marthe calls “Barbara’s Pearls of Wisdom”). Marthe plied those with her own home-spun BFL — because of course, Marthe is a spinner, as well! She used a combination of rayon chenille, silk, merino, and , because the wedding will take place on an alpaca farm, some baby alpaca as well. At the edge of the shawl woven next to the pearls is the yarn used in Marthe’s own wedding dress. Once woven, it became apparent that the shawl wasn’t quite long enough — Lilah is a tall drink of water! — so Marthe knew she’d need a border, and when looking for something to use for that border, she came across some scraps from her mother’s hand-sewn wedding dress from 1948. Obviously it was perfect, and that became the end-borders of this lovely shawl.

The wedding shawl Marthe has woven for her daughter Lilah using miltiple fibers including yarn from her own wedding dress and satin from her mother's - read more at blog.yarn.com

Marthe’s current loom, a collector’s-item cherry Norwood, is what she’s using to weave shawls for each of the bridesmaids. You can see the template she’s using, with the charcoal-colored warp of Colrain Lace, Plymouth Gold Rush, Cascade 220, a mystery rayon closeout yarn, and Valley Yarns 5/2 Bamboo. The weft is 5/2 bamboo as well, and the deep color will set off the accents of mint green that the groomsmen will be wearing in their bow ties and sneakers (!), as well as the bridesmaids’ dresses.

Shawls woven for Marthe's daughter's wedding party - read more at blog.yarn.com

On her wedding day, Lilah will be wearing elements of both her mother’s and her grandmother’s history. Those legacies are woven together in each generation like the warp and weft on a loom. Like living history, all of these garments tell a story about their owner, and they give us a springboard to the future.

Pattern Dictionaries – Springboard to Creativity

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015
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Greetings from the Weaving Room!

As the daughter of a reference librarian, I grew up loving books and using them to learn about the world. It was only natural, then, when I moved into the fiber world to continue to rely on books for knowledge and inspiration. One of my favorite things to do is sit down with a pile of pattern dictionaries and page through them looking for ideas, leaving a path of colorful page markers in my wake.

Weaving pattern directories - available at yarn.com

Weaving pattern dictionaries are books that present a plethora of pattern ideas that you can then use to create a project. They will show the threading, tie up and treadling for one repeat of the pattern and usually include photos of the resulting cloth. Oftentimes you will see multiple variations in treadling or tie up to produce different patterns from the same threading. My favorite books for weaving include the vintage and ever-popular A Handweaver’s Pattern Book  by Marguerite Davison and The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory by Anne Dixon which are both for 4-shaft looms. A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patternsedited by Carol Strickler is great for the 8-shaft looms and for rigid heddle weavers there is Jane Patrick’s wonderful Weaver’s Idea Book.

Four Shaft Twill Towels, Valley Yarns Draft #33 - available at yarn.com

One of the things I love about these books is seeing the variety of patterns that can be achieved with one threading, just by changing the tie up or treadling. I feel like I’m getting more bang for my warp, so to speak, and can put on a long warp and weave lots of things without getting bored with the pattern. When I designed the Four Shaft Twill Towels (Draft #33), I put on a long warp in natural and then varied things by changing the weft colors and also by changing the tie up. It felt like each towel was new, which kept it fun, and it allowed me to make sets of towels (and you know how much I love sets that are matchy but still uniquely individual!)

Exploring huck patterns with Valley Yarns 5/2 Bamboo - available at yarn.com

Learning this process of translating a weaving pattern into a project draft has been very liberating for me. I often fall in love with the feel of a specific yarn and then get stuck trying to find a draft that fits. Last summer as we prepared for Convergence, I knew I needed to dress a 4-shaft loom for the floor model. I wanted to use our Valley Yarns 5/2 Bamboo which is soft and drapey and perfect for scarves and shawls. I looked through my pattern dictionaries, fell in love with a huck pattern and the result is the Lemongrass Scarf (draft will be available for sale in April).

So cozy up with a good book and start translating inspiration into handwovens! I’d love to see what you create.

‘Tis a Gift to be Simple

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015
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Some see the rigid heddle loom as a gateway loom – a great way to check out weaving that eventually leads to more and more complex structures and looms and a lifelong addiction passion for fiber. Others love these looms for their speedy set up, accessible and easy weaving style and economy of space, warp yarns and investment. I came to rigid heddle weaving after learning to weave on a multi-shaft floor loom, so I consider myself to be pretty loom-neutral and simply dodge the question when asked which one I like better.

Weaving with knitting yarns on your rigid heddle loom can have fantastic results!

I will tell you, however, that one of the things I love about my RH is working with knitting yarns. Because, frankly, knitting yarns get a lot more exciting and different every day. The beautiful hand dyes! The wild and wacky textures and fiber combinations! A lot of times the yarn doesn’t need anything more than plain weave to showcase its beauty. (By the way, I hate the term ‘plain weave’ because plain implies mundane and boring, which it is not!)

The Variable Dent Reed for the Schacht Flip Loom - available at yarn.com

One of the new ‘toys’ that has come our way is the Variable Dent Reed (VDR) made by Schacht for their Flip Rigid Heddle looms. Ever wanted to mix it up with different weights of yarns in one piece? Then this is your tool! It comes with an assortment of the plastic sections of the heddle in various dents, which you then fit into the heddle in any order you wish. One of our weaving instructors, Paula Veleta, designed and wove this beautiful scarf that combines hand dyed sock yarn with bulky novelty yarns. The result is a stunning and fashionable scarf that is lots of fun. We will have this draft available for sale in February, or you can create your own version. If I were more inclined to math, I would tell you how many different combinations you can make with the VDR, but you’ll have to settle for my approximation – an awful lot!

Plainweave with a variable dent reed - read more at blog.yarn.com

And if you want to take your rigid heddle weaving down other adventurous paths, Paula is teaching a new class – Advanced Beginner Techniques for Rigid Heddle Looms – that will take you through a multitude of techniques to create unique and beautiful pieces. Each month will focus on a topic such as color and weave, finger manipulations to create lace and texture, using pick-up sticks and more. It will open your eyes and give you the skills to take your weaving to a new level.

What will you weave next?