Posts Tagged ‘weaving’
Here in Massachusetts, summer has really hit us. Today is forecast to be at least 90 degrees with high humidity and that’s just the kind of weather I really hate. It’s the kind of weather that makes me not even want to knit, especially the project I have on my needles right now, which is an alpaca cardigan for my mother. God bless you, mom, but I can’t look at it.
This weather makes me wonder if weaving is the way to go. A lot of the woven fabric I like the best is in cotton or linen, which are two fibers I really don’t like to knit. However, woven, they look complex, rich, and most of all, light and cool. Take for example, Scott Norris’ linen towels, which are works of art that will provide years of service in your kitchen or bathroom — if you can bear to use them for something so pedestrian as drying your hands or your dishes.
In a few weeks, Convergence comes to Providence, RI. This national conference is only held every other year, and usually not as close to “home” as Rhode Island is to us. There are going to be some amazing handwovens there, and it really inspires me to finally get serious about learning to weave.
What is your hot-weather solution to the fiber doldrums? Do you like to knit with plant fibers, or do you take a break? Let’s chat in the comments!
Valley Yarns Rayon Chenille can be really fun to work with, once you get the hang of it. This scarf remind me of a bowl filled with brightly colored candy. On the loom, it will appear somewhat flat, but the ribbon will pop out and the scarf will get luxuriously soft when washed properly.
A note about working with chenille: Chenille wants to move, stretch and worm, which can make it tricky to work with, but also forgiving. I like using front to back warping and just accepting the gnarls as part of the process, working them out using my sense of humor and as much patience as I can muster. If the warp snarls when beaming, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve done anything wrong. Over time, working it out will get easier. I strongly advise against using a comb to work through your warp. This scarf is easiest woven on six shafts. It can be adjusted to four shafts, although your shed may not be as lovely as usual.
This month we present our 5th Anniversary Draft, The Foxhead Dish Towels from Scott Norris woven on 4-shafts in Valley Yarns 20/2 and 40/2 linen. Scott loves weaving with our fine linens and has put together a gorgeous draft that shows off this fiber’s beauty and versatility.
About the draft Scott says, “Towels woven with fine linen are a pure pleasure. The combination of Valley Yarns 40/2 linen (warp and tabby weft) and 20/2 for the pattern weft is perfect for this delicate overshot pattern. Linen may have a reputation as hard to work with, but if you follow the instructions for these towels you will find that with a little care you will come to love the process and the product!”
He is a long time friend of WEBS and one of our most popular teachers. Scott will be here this summer teaching Beginning Weaving – One Week Intensive and in August, the once-monthly Weaving for the Advanced Beginner.
This month puts us one third of the way through our 40th Anniversary year, it is flying past! To celebrate the end of this fourth month we have the next Anniversary weaving Draft, the lovely Lattice Weave Scarf from Virginia West. With a combination Of Valley Yarns 8/2 Tencel and 5/2 Bamboo your possible color combinations are almost limitless!
About the draft Virginia says, “The draft for Lattice Weave depends on the relationship of two yarns: one for the cells and a larger contrasting size for the outlines. I had previously used a similar draft to produce medallions, with curvilinear outlines in a heavier silk. This time I designed a geometric lattice weave of paired “cobblestones” in a mosaic of scattered color cells. The secret is to use a neutral weft to allow the rainbow colors to emerge with no reduction in chroma. The versatility of the draft is that you can restrain color to two values, if you wish. Or you can use leftovers for the “cells” provided there is a contrast for the lattice. I have tried all these versions in a variety of yarns with success.”
About her history with WEBS she says, “In the late 70’s I received consistent repeat orders for my book WEAVERS WEARABLES ( and later for DESIGNER DIAGONALS) from a weaving shop in Amherst under the label Valley Fibers. I had a hunch this was a growing business. When I met Barbara and Art Elkins at Convergence my hunch was confirmed and I was bowled over by their yarn collection, now trading as WEBS. Barbara invited me to teach a workshop, the first of many, in Northampton, and these were mutually successful events for us. Still later, when I took over the revised edition of FINISHING TOUCHES from Interweave Press, the orders came as before, likewise with A CUT ABOVE.” If you’re a weaver be sure to check out our weaving contest, there’s still time to enter!
This week Kathy talks with Jane, Co-Owner of Schacht Spindle Company with her husband Barry since 1969. Jane has recently published a new book, Woven Scarves with co-author Stephanie Flynn Sokolov.
This is a follow up to her previous title, the Weaver’s Idea Book, and makes a perfect pairing for the new and intermediate weaver using a rigid heddle loom. These project start with plain weave and then explore stripes, plaid, different yarns to use, and so much more.
Steve’s Yarn Picks :
- On-Line Supersocke 4-ply Neon Color
- Sublime Luxurious Tweed DK
- Misti Alpaca Closeouts
- 40th Anniversary Huntington hand dyed by Lorna’s Laces!
Anniversary Sale Yarns through April 30th:
- Cascade Eco Wool – retail prices go up on May 1st!
- Rowan Fine Art Aran
- Plymouth Yarns Boku
- Tahki Yarns Kismet
The Anniversary Sale continues but the April Sale yarns go back to their regular prices on May 1st and then a whole new selection of yarns are available.
Members of the Pioneer Valley Weavers guild recently completed a service project in which they handwove approximately 20 blankets for foster children and babies in the Western Massachusetts area. Five of the blankets were woven right here at WEBS America’s Yarn Store and donated, along with over 15 other handwoven, knit and crocheted blankets to local non-profit organization HelpOurKids.
WEBS founder Barbara Elkins began thinking about the project in October of last year and was pleased by the response from the guild and other customers at WEBS. “There will be some children that will have something of their own and that’s very special. When they are transferred to a new foster home, a (security) blanket can be very helpful,” Elkins said.
HelpOurKids director Noryn A. Resnick said that the focus of foster care is “too often limited to just being sure that they (foster children) have a place to sleep and enough food. The part that is missing is athletic equipment to enable them to join a team, music lessons, a prom dress a backpack etc.” Resnick decided to start HelpOurKids to help foster children fill in specific needs beyond the basics “that make every child feel like a ‘normal’ part of society.”
Guild weaver Pat Kapitzky of Florence, MA chose to participate in the project because she knows how special blankets can be for growing children. She said, “the idea is that the foster children, when they move around, they have a pretty blanket they can take with them. I remember my blankie and my two children’s blankies, and they were very important”. They offered “comfort and security,” she said.
Elkins volunteered use of an 8-shaft Schacht loom on display in the store and all of the necessary materials for the project. During the months of January and February weavers came into the store during normal shopping hours to work on their blankets. Elkins said, “I volunteered the loom and materials because it is in line with WEBS’ values of contributing where we can. We have a history of donating yarn to causes we support.” Guild members who could not weave on the loom at WEBS chose to weave individual blankets at home.
The loom was dressed with enough warp to weave up to five blankets. Elkins and store manager Leslie Ann Bestor set up a striped 3/2 cotton warp with accenting stripes of variegated cotton flake. All blankets needed to be machine washable and soft and have a finished size of 30 inches wide by about 36 inches long. Elkins kept the terms and conditions of the project pretty loose allowing weavers to showcase their creativity and skill.
News of the project spread throughout the various social groups at WEBS, inspiring knitters and crocheters who were not connected to the guild to also participate. Local customers in the weekly drop-in groups at WEBS donated another dozen knit and crocheted blankets.
Elkins said that the blanket project is one of several socially worthwhile projects the guild takes on every year. “I can’t say the effort was a surprise; it wasn’t. We have a history of concern for others and an interest in spreading the word about weaving. I was very pleased by the amount of participation. Weavers are a generous bunch of people,” she said.
According to Elkins, over WEBS’ 40 year history they have always tried to contribute where they could. In the years since Kathy and Steve took over those efforts have only grown exponentially. “It is important that we give back because we have received such overwhelming support from our customers,” she said.
Blankets were hand delivered to HelpOurKids Director Noryn A. Resnick at the once a month guild meeting held at WEBS. When she addressed the group, she thanked them for their donated time and effort. According to Resnick, foster children are often moved around without any belongings. “This will stay with them when they go to their emergency foster home and then when they go into their permanent foster home. It provides them stability and some consistency.”
Acknowledging the amount of care and skill woven into these blankets, Resnick said that these pieces will likely be heirlooms for the children as they grow older. “I said to Barbara, you’re not only warming their bodies, but you’re warming their minds because they’re afraid, they’re frightened and just to have something that’s their own and that they can depend on and cuddle, it’s just really wonderful. Someday when they’re in a stable environment, they’ll get to keep this and know that someone really did care about them and that they were not forgotten.”
For more information about HelpOurKids or to make a donation, please visit http://www.helpourkidsinc.org/.
Today we’re excited to reveal the third of our twelve Guest Weaver Drafts, the Ribbon Twill Towel. Carol was a WEBS employee when we were still located on Kellogg Ave in Amherst and has been a favorite weaving teacher for years.
Carol offers the following advice for the newer weaver. “Pay close attention to the color arrangement of the warp and take your time winding the warp. After beaming the warp, count the total number of heddles needed on each shaft (you don’t want to have to add heddles in the middle of threading your warp). The threading draft shows you will be threading either a straight draw, a point twill or M & W. Watch the direction of the straight draw – it changes. Before you begin threading the heddles, it’s a good idea to study the threading draft and count off, from the cross, the number of warp ends you feel comfortable threading at one time. Then count the number of heddles needed on each shaft and begin threading the warp. If you find an extra warp end, it can be eliminated by just throwing it off the back beam. On the other hand, if you need to add a warp end, measure the designated color 2 ½ yards long, thread it through its proper heddle and weight it off the back beam. If, after threading the small group of warp ends you have heddles left over or not enough heddles, you have probably made an error in counting the number of warp ends, counting the number of heddles or made a threading error. You should correct these errors before continuing. After completing the threading, carefully sley the warp through the reed, tie the warp onto the cloth beam, check for threading errors, sleying errors and crossed warp ends. Then adjust your tension and you are ready to weave your towel. Enjoy!”
About her history with WEBS she says, “In 1984 we moved from California to Amherst. That spring my daughter and I flew east to find housing and look into schools. Driving around Amherst (and yes we did get lost and couldn’t find any street signs) we passed a big yellow house on Main Street with a WEBS sign out front. Having done a little research I knew there was a yarn store in Amherst and we had found it! Coming to an abrupt halt we found a parking spot and found our way into WEBS. It was an exciting moment talking to Barbara and I knew that I was going to be perfectly happy moving to Amherst. By the time we returned in the late summer WEBS had moved to the large grey house on Kellogg Ave. I renewed my acquaintance with Barbara and she asked me to teach a section of the Beginning Weaving Class. Thus my association with WEBS began. I also worked for a time at the store on Kellogg Ave. before it made the big move to Northampton. Through out all these years I have been teaching various weaving classes and enjoying every minute. My thanks to Barbara and WEBS for the opportunity.”
If you’re a weaver be sure to check out our weaving contest, there’s still time to enter!
Today we reveal the second of our twelve Guest Weaver Drafts.
Judie designed the lovely Lake Superior Sandstone Scarves in both 16 and 8-shafts and each has wonderful drape because of the 8/2 Tencel. With the sandstone cliffs of her childhood vacation spot in mind Judie pulled together the saturated colors of tencel and gently undulating curves for the 16-shaft draft and while the 8-shaft version lacks the waves, there are stunning ripples and bands of color.
Judie discovered WEBS in the ’80s and says, “I first met WEBS in 1986 when visiting my late in-laws, Hugh and Lucy Raup. They lived in a big house on the Common in Petersham, and a friend of theirs, whose daughter was a weaver, told me about this Wonderful Yarn Store over in Amherst. We took an afternoon and drove over to see the place – and it was love at first sight. For several years, my big treat on our semiannual visits to Massachusetts was a trip to WEBS.
If you’re a weaver be sure to check out our weaving contest!
This week Kathy talks with our Retail Store Manager, Leslie Ann Bestor, about more of the great products coming up during our 40th anniversary year. If you’re a weaver be sure to check out our weaving contest!
They also discuss our year of Guest Weaver Drafts. First up is the Escher Scarf designed by our founder, Barbara Elkins.
Steve’s Yarn Picks:
- Noro Tayio Sock
- Noro Taiyo Lace
- Valley Yarns Dana
- Manos del Uruguay Serena
- Schachenmayr Sun City
- Schachenmayr Boston Sun
- Schachenmayr Select Filaria
- SMC Catania Grande
- Shachenmayr Tahiti
Our 8th Annual Big Game Day Escape, IS TOMORROW! Feb. 2nd from 12-4
We’re STILL collecting Hats for Halos of Hope. Our thanks to everyone that has already sent in hats, keep ‘em coming! You can now make a donation in lieu of hats and help out as well! Each $5.00 contribution counts as 1 hat in our total. Donations can be made here.
Make as many knit and/or crochet hats as you can (check here for preferred fibers and free patterns) and get them to us by February 1, 2014. Make sure each hat and package is labeled with “Team RSK!” Please mail all packages to:
We are no longer accepting donations of hats – please send all hat donations to
Halos for Hope
20987 N. John Wayne Pkwy
Maricopa, AZ 85139
If you’re posting about your progress on Facebook or Twitter please use #PodcastThrowdown. And please join the Podcasters Throwdown Group on Ravelry and show your support in the Team RSK thread! If you’ve sent in hats let us know who you are.