Posts Tagged ‘weaving’

Back To School

Friday, August 28th, 2015
Share Button

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
Share Button

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
Share Button

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?

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

Saturday, July 11th, 2015
Share Button

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
Share Button

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
Share Button

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
Share Button

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
Share Button

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
Share Button

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
Share Button

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.