Posts Tagged ‘weaving’

Fit Fiber Crafters: Good for Your Brain

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016
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As the new year begins, many like to focus on shaping up and getting healthier. Each Tuesday in January, our Fit Fiber Crafters series will give you tips on getting your personal yarn world a little healthier, from the health of your stash to the health of your body while crafting, keeping your finished project looking healthy, and exercising your brain when your craft.

Good for Your Brain Learn a New Technique

We’ve all seen the news stories touting what we’ve all known for a long time – knitting (and other fiber crafts) are good for your brain. Not only does it help cognitive function, these activities can help with depression. We like to think that any learning can’t be bad, so why not take some time this year to help your brain’s health and stretch your knowledge a little.

We challenge everyone to learn one new fiber-related skill this year. If you’re not sure where to start, you can take a look at our class offerings. Another option is checking out that pattern or weaving draft you’ve been eyeing but have always thought, “Oh, that’s too hard.” It’s not. You can do it. Use 2016 as your chance to learn how to do it.

Many of us often try new things and stop immediately because it’s too hard. Stretch yourself this year. Take the time to truly learn something new. Show your friends what you did. Maybe you’ll encourage them to try it too.

What are you going to challenge yourself 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.

Fit Fiber Crafters: Project Care

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016
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As the new year begins, many like to focus on shaping up and getting healthier. Each Tuesday in January, our Fit Fiber Crafters series will give you tips on getting your personal yarn world a little healthier, from the health of your stash to the health of your body while crafting, keeping your finished project looking healthy, and exercising your brain when your craft.

Project Care Choosing the Right Technique

How do you care for your handmade finished fiber projects? This is a question that gets asked often. Many times, the items we make are outerwear, so they don’t have to be laundered as often, but it’s important to know how you’re going to clean something before you create it.

One of the benefits of swatching or sampling is that you get to practice taking care of your finished project. Launder your swatch or sample they way you plan on taking care of it once it’s done. Taking a little extra time at the beginning of your project helps go a long way towards ensuring that you won’t have a sweater that grows into a dress, or a towel that shrinks so much it becomes a washcloth.

As far as laundering goes, you’ll want to check the care instructions that came with your yarn, then consider what the purpose of the project is. You probably want to be able to machine wash, and even dry, a baby blanket, or a kitchen towel, but a shawl or even an adult sweater would be fine to live its life being hand washed. Before even starting your project, you want to make sure it’s going to last. If your swatch comes out of it’s first trip in the washing machine looking a bit worse for the wear, your entire project will probably behave the same way.

On the other hand, if you throw that swatch or sample in the washing machine and it comes out looking just beautiful, you want to keep the finished project looking that way. Sometimes, especially on wool, our usual laundry detergent can be a little too harsh. A wool wash, like Eucalan is not only great for handwashing, it’s also perfect for using in your machine like regular detergent. It’s great for woolens, but also other delicate items you may have in your life.

Before you wash your project, take a quick look at it (whether your hand or machine washing) and make sure there aren’t any stitches that need fixing or ends that need weaving. You don’t want to wash your gorgeous sweater with a small hole that later becomes a giant, tangled mess, when it could have been prevented.

A little care in the health of your finished projects will go a long way in ensuring they’re in your life for years to come.

Check out this great video about washing your projects, too.

Fit Fiber Crafters: Sitting Pretty

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016
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As the new year begins, many like to focus on shaping up and getting healthier. Each Tuesday in January, our Fit Fiber Crafters series will give you tips on getting your personal yarn world a little healthier, from the health of your stash to the health of your body while crafting, keeping your finished project looking healthy, and exercising your brain when your craft.

Sitting Pretty Good Posture and Breaks Prevent Injury

We all dream about being able to sit down and knit, crochet, spin, or weave all day, but our bodies are not especially excited about that idea, especially if we’re not being careful to take care of them as we craft. It’s important to avoid injury when crafting so you don’t miss out on extended periods of time doing your favorite activity.

Some things to keep in mind when crafting:

Lighting and Seating
You want to make sure your area is well lit. Having to strain your eyes takes the fun out of your favorite activity and can lead to things like headaches. When you choose where you’re going to sit, it’s best to choose a comfortable spot that has plenty of support where you can sit up straight. I’m guilty if sitting on the couch turned sideways without much care for which way I’m sitting, and I know that leads to pain.

Take Breaks and Stretch.
As much as we love a long session of crafting, breaks are incredibly important. Every half hour or so, get up and take a walk around the house. Go get a glass of water, play with your pet, or go through a stack of mail. Do some stretches. Stretch your hands and wrists, and your shoulders and back. Do some shoulder rolls and get everything a little loosened before you sit back down to go back at it.

Be Mindful
When we’re working on something really complicated, a lot of us hunch up so our shoulders they’re touching our ears. Try to be mindful of where your body is as you craft. A simple readjustment in your body position can also give you a break from a difficult task you’re trying to get done, and it’s long enough to come back at it with new eyes. Maybe a lightbulb will go off!

Most importantly, listen to what your body is telling you. If you’re hand is going numb, or your back is starting to feel funny, it’s time for a break and reevaluation.

High Speed Projects

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015
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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 blog.yarn.com

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?

Handspun, now what? What to weave with your handspun yarn.

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015
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Leslie Ann decided to weave with one of the yarns she began during the 2014 Spinzilla. She used Frabjous Fibers BFL Sparkle, one braid of Moulin Rouge.
Spinzilla wrap up, what to weave with your handspun yarn. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com
“My first 2-ply! I had about 300 yds total after plying. For weaving I wanted the handspun to be the focus, so I chose to plain weave with a warp much smaller than the weft. I used a navy 8/2 wool and sett it at 12 epi on my Flip, and beat firmly to create a fabric that would stand up to wear. I chose to make a pillow because I love the colors and I wanted to see it daily. I’m planning more pillows because I love that I can add splashes of color to my home and I love to spin the multicolor braids of roving/top.”
Have you done any weaving with your handspun? Have you used any of the yarns you spun for Spinzilla 2015?

Something New!

Friday, September 4th, 2015
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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 yarn.com. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

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 yarn.com. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

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?

Back To School

Friday, August 28th, 2015
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Even though it’s still hot enough to be annoying, school is in session here at WEBS. Fall classes are available online even as we speak! Fall has always been my favorite season, because I’m way better at starting things than finishing them. Our Handmade Holiday workshops will guarantee that you’ll have a finished project in a day or two; quickly enough that you can make all kinds of gifts and decorations for the last part of fall without breaking a sweat.

Fall classes are open! If you're near to Northampton learn a new skill, master an old one or just have fun making gifts for the holidays. Register in-store now or online at yarn.com Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

For instance…Amigurumi Halloween Monsters. How cute are they? So cute. This three-hour class teaches the basics of amigurumi (small crocheted figures, monsters, food, etc) and you’ll end up with a Frankie, a Mrs. Frankie, and a baby Candy Corn. Amy Stephens, our resident photography coordinator, will be teaching her very popular Snow Families and Evergreens class, and you may remember those from last year’s Holiday Catalog cover. It won’t take long for you to be enraptured with these fun, simple projects to decorate your home, or give to a special friend.

Fall classes are open! If you're near to Northampton learn a new skill, master an old one or just have fun making gifts for the holidays. Register in-store now or online at yarn.com Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

We haven’t left out the traditional favorites, either. Challenge yourself with Carol Feller’s Barkentine pattern in Intermediate Sweater Skills. Finally delve into the world of woven cloth in Weekend Weaving. Learn intricate stitch patterns and how to conquer them once and for all in Stitches: Textures. Or whip up a seamless sweater custom-fit to you in Top Down Raglan Sweater from Measurements.

Fall classes are open! If you're near to Northampton learn a new skill, master an old one or just have fun making gifts for the holidays. Register in-store now or online at yarn.com Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Our guest instructors are pretty awesome this fall–returning for a second visit is Kate Atherley, author and technical editor at Knitty.com. She’ll be teaching a day of design and pattern-writing skills, as well as showcasing techniques from her new book, Custom Fit Socks. And for spinners, Shannon Herrick from Frabjous Fibers will be here in November to play with 3-D Fiber spinning.

Even if you aren’t near enough to WEBS to take a class, you can choose from tons of great pattern and technique books on our site, or go to our YouTube Channel to learn a new skill! What would you like to master this fall?

Warp Speed Ahead

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015
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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 blog.yarn.com

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
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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 blog.yarn.com

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 blog.yarn.com

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?