Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Summer Project Collection

Summer is right around the corner, and many fiber artists worry about their wearable projects being too heavy or warm. Here are a few projects that should keep you weaving and cool over the summer months.


This lightweight cowl is a fun fashion accessory that won't warm you up. Made in cotton, it can absorb water and keep you cool on a hot summer day.

Click here to go to the pattern
This Summery Shawl makes a perfect accessory for those breezy summer nights at the park. Weave a few Zoom Loom squares in your favorite color palette to create your own shawl.

Click here to go to the pattern.

This simple shrug would be perfect for the summer months if made in an airy yarn. Bamboo or cotton would be ideal choices for this pattern. By covering the arms only, this project can help beat the hot sun.

Click here for the pattern

The eyelets in this shawl along with the breath-ability of the fabric would make this a great addition to your evening wear during the summer. Whether it's a stroll downtown or a night at the opera, this will be the ideal weight and warmth.

Click Here to go to the pattern

Monday, April 14, 2014

Many Ideas on One Warp

Many Ideas on One Warp - Chase Ford

Weaving tabby with only one color of yarn that is the same in both the warp and weft can look a little plain. However, use two or more colors in both the warp and weft and suddenly plain weave is anything but.

The sampler
Making a "color and weave" sampler is a great way to find out how different colors will interact with one another within a weave structure so you can make the best choices for whatever project you’re working on.  For this sampler, we used Brown Sheep’s Nature Spun yarns in worsted weight. In the warp we alternated two threads of 116 Blue Boy and two threads of 146 Pomegranate in a repeating pattern. The colors in the warp stay constant throughout the weaving process and the weft is where the opportunity for play and discovery happens. The number of weft picks and the color order creates the changes in pattern.

We tried several different variations using the same colors we used in the warp, and we used some other colors as well: 157 Boysenberry and 109 Spring Green. Using just one warp we made eight different samples on our Cricket loom.

Sample 1: 2 blue, 2 red - Houndstooth!

Sample 2: 1 blue, 1 red

Sample 3: 4 blue, 2 red

Sample 4: red weft

Sample 5: Purple weft

Sample 6: 3 green, 1 purple

Sample 7: 2 green, 2 purple

Sample 8: 1 green, 3 purple

The next time you warp your loom, give yourself room to try out a few ideas.

For more explorations in weaving and spinning find us on Facebook and Pinterest!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Zoom Loom in Creative Knitting Magazine

We've been passing the newly-released Summer issue of Creative Knitting Magazine around the office; we're admiring designer Constance Hall's Woven Scrubby pattern for the Zoom Loom (will we make it from hemp or linen? What will we scrub?). We also love Liz Gipson's crash course in weaving for knitters, which introduces approachable and portable looms like the pin loom and rigid heddle loom, and reminds us that there are many ways to love fiber.

Get your copy from the newsstand today!

To keep up with Schacht find us here:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spinning Barber Pole Yarn

Spinning Barber Pole Yarn - Benjamin Krudwig

Every third Thursday of the month we have an office spin-in during our office meeting. At our last meeting I started spinning some hand-dyed merino roving, a variegated light green and a variegated ocean blue. I spun about 500 yards of singles in both colorways. Initially, I thought I would ply each color with itself, but this would yield only about 250 yards of each color. By plying the colors together, I maximized my yardage.

A section of yarn showing the change in contrast throughout the skein

Barber pole plying takes two contrasting singles and plies them together. Normally I do not resonate with barber pole yarn, as it tends to be too busy and rarely looks good in a large amounts. Since this type of yarns tends to make me shy away I decided to test a 2-yard section as a barber pole ply before committing to a couple of hours of plying. I liked the 2-yard sample so much that I took the plunge to ply the whole amount. I ended with approximately 500 yards of worsted weight yarn.

The results were pleasantly surprising, as the variegation in the singles interacted with each other in wonderful ways. Since I am still a novice spinner and my roving was a bit "sticky" feeling as I was drafting, my singles were not terribly consistent. The variation in size of yarn as well as the saturation of color created subtle changes in color density between the blue and green throughout the yarn.
I learned that the blue and green, although they are contrasting in color are not contrasting in value. Value (roughly speaking) is the brightness or intensity of a color. In this example the blue and green are near the same level of brightness, although there are some areas of higher contrast in value throughout the yarn. 

Since I didn't have a project in mind when I spun the yarn, I now needed to swatch it to see what medium it would look best in.

Above, this swatch is hefty and bulky, as is characteristic of crochet. The effects of the barber pole yarn becomes muddled and disorganized due to the mechanics of the stitch, which aligns the yarn in a haphazard way.

The knitted swatch, above, begins to align the yarn in a more structured manner, since the "legs" of the stitches are nearly vertical. Here, the colors "pool" better than the crocheted swatch. The larger needle allowed the yarn to full more and create a lofty fabric full of drape.

Finally, I wove a swatch on the Zoom Loom (above). The strong horizontal and vertical structure of plain weave allows for the colors to seem less disorganized, yet the variation in color density can be seen throughout the fabric. When fulled, the yarn snugs together creating a soft and warm fabric that isn't dense but still has solid structure.

After laying all of the swatches out side by side, I decided that the woven swatch best suited this yarn and will maximize the amount of fabric I get from my precious hand-spun yarn.

I plan on making a woven satchel with Zoom Loom squares. Stay tuned to the blog for the pattern!


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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Savi's Blankie - A Zoom Loom Project

Here's a small, cuddly blankie from John Mullarkey, that any child will adore. The blankie itself is only 5 squares by 6 squares, with a full ruffle around the edge. Want a bigger blankie? Weave more squares! This blanket can be done in any color scheme; share yours with us on our social media!

The ruffled edge gives this blankie a delicate look.
Download the PDF and get started on your very own blankie project!
View other Zoom Loom projects.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Winter Doll Winner - Susan Inouye

We are taking a brief break from our Variable Dent Reed series to bring you a special post.

Last week we announced the winner of the Winter Zoom Loom Doll challenge; this week we have the inspiration behind the winning doll.

Susan's Doll - Winnie the Winter Doll

We asked Susan what her inspiration was for the doll, and she sent us the following:

I dreamed and constructed the Winter Zoom Loom Doll Challenge one freezing stormy weekend. The winter road conditions pretty much left me snowbound so I stayed in all weekend. I saw the Challenge on the Zoom Loom Ravelry Board. I had a Zoom Loom that I had purchased several months ago and had made a few practice squares dreaming that they would become a blanket some day.
The practice squares became the “clothes and accessories” for Winnie the Winter Doll. I made 8 more woven squares for the body similar to the Schacht Doll Pattern. I embellished her dress with some embroidery and constructed a totebag and filled it with a “weaving” project.
Susan Inouye (the doll maker) lives in rural Idaho. Her interests in the fiber arts range from knitting and more recently, simple weaving projects."

Thank you Susan for sharing your inspiration and imagination! Congratulations on your inspirational win! 

For more inspiring projects join our Facebook and Pinterest

Friday, March 21, 2014

Variable Dent Challenge - Summer Plaid Rag Table Runner

SUMMER PLAID RAG TABLE RUNNER - Designed and Woven by Gail Matthews

Jane and I were finishing up work on the Schacht Guide to the Rigid Heddle Loom insert for the May/June 2014 issue of Handwoven when I was asked about making something using the Variable Dent Reed. I liked the rag runner in the insert and thought making one with the Variable Dent Reed would be an interesting variation. The change in warp density and the weft fabric strips give texture to the runner. Adding another yard to the warp would allow enough fabric for a couple of fun outdoor chair pillows.

Supplies: 15" Cricket or Flip, 15" Variable Dent Reed, 2 stick shuttles, 1 boat shuttle. Self-healing cutting mat, ruler, rotary cutter. Sewing machine or hand sewing needle, sewing thread. Washable glue stick. Temple (optional).

Yarn: Maysville 8/4 cotton carpet warp, orange (78 yards for warp and about 80 yards for weft) and turquoise (208 yards for warp).

Reed Setup: 10D 5D 10D 5D 10D 5D 10D

Warp: 78" warp, direct warp turquoise in the 10-dent sections and orange in the 5-dent sections. To keep the warp balanced, I had one warp end outside the 10-dent section at the edge (it's just like threading in a slot). You'll need 78 yards of orange, and 208 yards of turquoise.

Weft: I washed the fabric before cutting, using cold water and the delicate dryer cycle to minimize shrinkage (I wanted the shrinkage to happen when the completed runner was washed).  Cut two coordinating cotton print fabrics into 3/4" strips using a mat, rotary cutter, and ruler. I had 1.5 yards of the blue print, and 1 yard of the orange print. I cut all of the orange print into strips, and after weaving had a few yards of strips left over. I cut about 1.25 yards of the blue print into strips, leaving some uncut to make binding for the ends of the runner. I spent an hour or so one evening sticking the ends of my cloth strips together with the glue stick. I used a washable glue stick because I didn't want any crunchy bits in my finished fabric.

Weaving: I used a slim boat shuttle for the carpet warp weft, and a stick shuttle for each of the fabric strips. I wove a header with the carpet warp, then started weaving, alternating cloth picks with carpet warp picks. After the first 6 or so picks, I put the temple in. You can weave this runner without one, but you may need to pay a bit more attention to how much draw-in you're getting.

As you weave, you will notice that the 10-dent sections pack in tighter than the 5 dent sections, which are just a bit puffier. I was careful to lay the cloth weft in the shed with the right side of the fabric facing up, so there is a definite right and wrong side to the runner. You don't need to do this if your fabrics don't have an obvious wrong side.

The stripe pattern was done by counting the picks of the cloth weft, as follows:

10 picks - orange (including an extra two picks for binding the ends)
8 picks - blue
8 picks - orange
22 picks - blue
16 picks - orange
32 picks - blue
16 picks - orange
22 picks - blue
8 picks - orange
8 picks - blue
10 picks - orange (again with two extra picks for binding)

End the weaving with several picks of carpet warp.

Finishing: For binding the ends, cut two strips from the blue fabric, 2.5" wide by about 18" long. Fold these in half the long way, then fold the cut edges into the center fold, finger-pressing them in place. If your fabric is thick, you may need to cut your binding wider to allow enough room to fold around the end of the runner and cover two picks of cloth weft on each side. Trim the carpet warp at the end to about 3/4" long - it will fold up inside the binding. Do the trimming one end at a time, right before putting the binding on, to avoid raveling at the ends.

I pinned one edge of the binding over the first two cloth weft picks, then wrapped it around to the back and pinned again over the first two weft picks. I then trimmed the long ends of the binding, and folded them to the inside of the binding on the back of the runner, to make a  neat corner. I sewed the binding with a zigzag stitch, centering the stitching on the edge of the binding so that half was on the binding and half on the runner. I hand-stitched closed the ends of the binding.

Before washing, the runner measured 50.5" long; after washing measured 45.25" long. I washed the runner with very hot water and laundry detergent in the sink. I let it soak for 15-20 minutes - the turquoise carpet warp left a lot of color in the water! I then rinsed, alternating hot and cold, until the water ran clear. I rolled the runner in a bath towel and pressing on it to get out most of the water. I then put the towel and runner in the dryer on the cotton cycle for about ten minutes. I removed the barely-damp runner and laid it out flat to finish drying. At this point, you could press the runner with a hot iron, but I liked the texture left by the different densities in the warp.

This was quick to weave, and good practice in not worrying too much about making perfect selvedges. Coordinating placemats might be fun, too.