Friday, July 31, 2015

Personal Stories Contest

Everyone has a story and we want to hear yours! Tell us what inspires you to spin or weave, what got you started and what keeps you going. We also want to know how Schacht has played a part in your craft. What Schacht tool, be it spinning wheel, floor loom, cricket or drop spindle helps you to do what you love?

We are looking for diverse stories from all over the world that we can share with the spinning and weaving communities at large through our print advertising, on-line ads, newsletters, and blog posts. Share your story - and get a little fame in the process.

Who can enter: Anyone!

Requirements + How to Enter:
Write a 350-500 word story about yourself and the role weaving and/or spinning has played in your life. Send in 1 recent photo of yourself with a Schacht product and 2 high quality photos of your recent or best work. Fill out the entry form, and email it to us. Questions to think about when answering can be found on the entry form. Send your completed entry to:

Deadline: October 1st, 2015 by 11:59 pm

Our Fabulous Prizes:
Grand Prize (2-4 winners) - Expense paid trip* to Boulder, Colorado and a visit to the Schacht factory. Your story in our upcoming ad campaign. $500 Schacht cash.**
Second Prize (12 winners) - Your story on our blog.
Third Prize (up to 30 winners) - an excerpt of your story on our blog.

All prize winners will receive exclusive Schacht merchandise.

Judging: Our team at Schacht will review the entries and select the winners based on the photos, work, and how engaging a story it is.

Here's our ad from our last contest which appeared in the 1989 April/May issue of Handwoven featuring Louise Bradley.

*Package includes: Airfare from a major airport from within the 48 contiguous United States, lodging (3 days, 2 nights), food, and transportation while in Boulder, photo shoot and interview, and great times with the Schacht folk. The trip will take place somewhere between Nov 5th and Nov 12th 2015.
**Schacht Cash can be used at Schacht Spindle Company towards the retail price of a product.

Schacht employees and family members of employees are not eligible to participate in this contest.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Meet The Ultra Umbrella Swift

If you asked me what my favorite piece of Schacht equipment is, I'd have a tough time deciding. However, if I had to choose what my most used, most versatile and most helpful piece of equipment in my studio is, it would be my Ultra Umbrella Swift!

As a hand-spinner, I am able to easily wind from my freshly plied bobbin into a skein. Wash the skein, then when it's dry, pop it back onto my swift, wind it into a ball and work with it! The advantage to the Ultra Umbrella Swift with a rotation counter is that I can quickly and easily measure my yardage.

As a weaver and a knitter, some of my favorite yarns come from the shop as a skein. I don't want to spend my precious time hand winding a ball trying not to get my skein into a tangle. After a skein or two, my wife's arms get tired from holding them up while I wind. Some skeins that I order are huge, and many other commercial umbrella swifts don't have a large enough capacity to hold the larger skeins.

My space is precious in my studio, and the Ultra doesn't take up much more space than a traditional swift. The convenience and flexibility to easily position the Ultra in a horizontal to vertical position, increases it's options. The adjustable clamp which adjusts to many different kinds of table tops, opens up the possibilities of where I can set up my swift.

There are so many more reasons to love my swift, many of which can be found in the following video!

-Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin has a double degree in biology and photography (he also spins, weaves, knits and crochets)--so he's a great mix of data and creativity--all wonderful traits as a member of our sales team. You'll often hear his friendly voice on the phone and you've probably noticed his name pop up in many places: Ravelry, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube. Ben is our digital media manager--the main reason you've seen more activity on our Blog, Facebook, Ravelry, and Pinterest. To see what's happening, click on the links below.

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Interview With Beth Smith - Author of The Spinner's Book of Fleece

Recently I had the pleasure to sit down with Beth Smith, the author of The Spinner's Book of Fleece, and ask her a bunch of questions. Beth Smith is an accomplished spinner who has written many articles and now a fantastic resource book for every spinner. Her book takes the reader on a tour through different breeds and types of wool, and shows her recommendations on how to process each kind. It's full of examples and beautiful photography.

Find the interview here.

Join me as I ask Beth questions in this interview where we cover more than her book, and delve into some harder questions like "What is your favorite ply?"

-Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin has a double degree in biology and photography (he also spins, weaves, knits and crochets)--so he's a great mix of data and creativity--all wonderful traits as a member of our sales team. You'll often hear his friendly voice on the phone and you've probably noticed his name pop up in many places: Ravelry, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube. Ben is our digital media manager--the main reason you've seen more activity on our Blog, Facebook, Ravelry, and Pinterest. To see what's happening, click on the links below.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Schacht e-Newes - June 2015

Yesterday we released the June issue of e-Newes! In this issue, Melissa talks about monks belt, a versatile block-weave structure and explores the possibility of this particular structure.

Other items in this issue:

  • Cherry Matchless are back for a limited run!
  • Spinzilla 2015 - are you ready?
  • The new teacher directory from SWG

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Cindy Lair's Candy Cover

Picture of embroidered cap and zoom loom square.

“I want you to write a travel blog piece for Schacht.” Ben said.

“What do you mean?” starting to back away from Ben’s desk.

Ben continued, “You know, weave or spin something that is inspired by travel.”

Clearly, blogging at Schacht included more than writing. My brain illuminated like a neon sign flashing on and off in the dark. “WORK, WORK, WORK”

Laughing hysterically I walked away, a little flattered and completely intimidated by the amount of work to accomplish such a project. Hmm… weave or spin something inspired by travel. My mind began to spin thoughts of Central Asia. The “STANS” were on my radar because I had been asked to go to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan recently. I fell into my obsession with Central Asia honestly. I was, as often is the case, looking for something to read that would transport me through travel to some other life. Perusing the shelves of a local bookstore I found just the ticket, Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron (Chatto and Windus) 2006. I spent time traveling through China to all the “STAN’S” (Kirghizstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) all the while remaining firmly at home in Boulder, Colorado.

An elaborately cross stitched skull cap possibly of Uzbek origin caused me to become enamored with looking at textiles from the region, which of course landed me with another book, Traditional Textiles of Central Asia by Janet Harvey (Thames and Hudson) 1997 bringing a world of beautiful textiles to my fingertips. My mind flashed upon the beautiful abr silk cloth used for clothing in rural Central Asia. I could do a weaving! Yeah…NO! Then I thought of the sumptuous embroidery, I can actually, mmm…sort of embroider. Well, okay I only know one stitch. I don’t really spin or weave, so I was a bit perplexed. Eventually, I came up with a plan. I needed to weave some part, since as Ben put it. “We are a spinning and weaving company!” I could weave a ground for embroidery!

embroidered rose on cap
Detail of embroidered cap

Zoom Loom! Four inches by four inches I didn’t want to overcommit!

I can make a “lali-posh”. A small square embroidered as a cover for sweets in the Uzbek, Tadjik, and Sart cultures. The “lali-posh” is a dowry gift from the bride to the groom. Well, that didn’t exactly work for me, but the concept was perfect for a small textile I could actually accomplish.

I would weave the ground in cotton. Since my project was only a 4” x 4” square I chose a single Tulip surrounded in black with a traditional free flowing plant based design. Black and red are often pervasive in Uzbek designs, with beautiful blues, yellows, and greens highlighting the designs. Tulips are a highly stylized symbol, pervasive in Central Asian textiles, representing fertility. The common geography and climate create similarities between Colorado and Central Asia, leaving me with an affinity for the tulip also.

This project was about to put my weaving skills to the test. Complicated weave structures completely baffle me, I had to take a remedial weaving class, so with plain weave I figured I would be able to manage. HAHAHAHA!

Woven cotton Zoom Loom square

First came the issue of warping the Zoom Loom, the cotton I was using was a 10/2 we use for spinning wheel drive cords. I tried using the normal “Three-layer Warp Thread Setup” which didn’t work out. The sett was all wrong based on my yarn. I had to fill the warp with too many weft threads, which became overly complicated and an inadequate ground for embroidery. Although the finished piece had a nice hand it was time to start over.

It was then that the next book magically appeared between Denise and Ben’s desks. I leafed through it, and discovered the answer to conquer the sett issue on pp. 38-39: “Two-Layer Warp Thread Setup.” 100 Pin Loom Squares by Florencia Campos Correa (St. Martin’s Griffin) 2015 “The loom is threaded vertically in two layers of parallel threads before it is woven horizontally.” This way of warping the Zoom Loom creates an even structure to embroider upon.

The Zoom Loom as an embroidery hoop.
Use the Zoom Loom as an embroidery hoop
The Zoom Loom makes a very respectable embroidery hoop if flipped over, the weaving is framed quite nicely. Although embroidery is time consuming it served to soothe my soul during a particularly difficult time in my life. Perhaps the “lali-posh” soothes the bride to be while awaiting marriage. I drew out my design so I wouldn’t forget what it should look like. Choosing blue for what often might be black, purely based on my preference.

The chain stitch is heavily used in Central Asia, so it was time to learn. My grandmother had not gotten this far with my education in the domestic arts. Fortunately, we have YouTube. A couple minutes viewing the video and I had it down. Funny how the “domestic arts” are more appealing at fifty-six than at ten years of age. My dignity as a “tomboy” was no longer at stake. I could even learn to do a French knot through YouTube which I used in the border to highlight the running dog design.

The pins on the pin loom often catch the embroidery thread leaving loops. Manage this by placing tape over the pins so the embroidery thread is not constantly being caught. A friend mentioned this idea when I had finished most of the piece. Oh well!

When I had completely embroidered the framed space, I needed to remove it from the Zoom Loom. I wasn’t sure that the non-embroidered woven part would maintain its structural integrity because of the warp setup style I had used. My solution was to catch each stitch around the pins so that the selvedge would remain intact. This worked well. Allowing me to ease the piece off the loom. The stiffness of the embroidered area supported the non-embroidered edge until it could be finished. I bound the edge in a black running dog which frames the tulip. I used the French knot to finish off the interior dot as a simple embellishment.

Embroidered Zoom Loom Square

I am pleased with the finished piece. I just need to find a wonderful sweet to put under it, hmm, maybe a tiny slice of Double Chocolate Espresso Gluten Free Cake I had for my birthday would work. Sitting here daydreaming about traveling adventures in the “STANS” looking forward to my reward for hard “WORK” under the lali-posh.

-Cindy Lair

Cindy is the quality manager at Schacht Spindle Company, keeping our standards high. When Cindy isn't maintaining quality at Schacht, she is hard at work as the President of WARP. You can find Cindy in the DVD "Know Your Wheel" where she shares her extensive knowledge of spinning wheels.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Three Ply Fractal Spinning

After my last post on spinning fractal yarn, I wasn't quite happy with the idea. The premise of the technique is sound, but it isn't truly a fractal in the mathematical or scientific sense of the word. A fractal is a pattern that is self-similar, and repeats itself in different scales.

Image from a thermodynamics article by Alexei Kurakin.
In the traditional fractal spun yarn, you take a braid of fiber, split it in half lengthwise, spin one half of it as is, then split the second half into 2, 3, or 4 sections and spin those end to end onto another bobbin. Then you ply those bobbins together for a 2-ply yarn. That technique produces a stunning variegated yarn, but doesn't really create a true fractal sequence. This 3-ply technique takes the "self similarity across different scales" to heart and creates a truly fractal spun yarn.

Looking at the figure above, we are following just one path on a branch, where it gets smaller and smaller proportionally.

Braid of fiber with bold/distinct sections of color.

For this project I used Polwarth fiber from Yarn Hollow. The bright colors in Lime Sky are perfect for this technique.

Step 1: It's important to orient your fiber so you spin from the same end in each section.
Step 2: Split the braid in half lengthwise and spin one half from end to end.

Step 3: Split the leftover braid in half and spin it in the same manner as before.

Step 4: Continue in this manner until you can no longer feasibly split the fiber in half.

For this 2 oz braid, I was able to split it a total of four times, giving me five individual lengths of fiber.

Weights of each braid from left to right: 1 oz, 1/2oz, 1/4oz, 1/8oz, 1/8oz
For this example, I Navajo plied to create a 3-ply yarn that keeps the color repeats in sequence. You could leave them as singles as well, but I wanted a slightly more robustly color patterned yarn.

My finished yarn measured to 134 yards of "sport weight" (16 wpi) yarn.

With a self striping braid such as this, you will get smaller and smaller stripes as you work with the yarn in your project.

One repeat of the color striping sequence.

Finished cowl, front and back, showing the stripes getting progressively shorter
To use the effect of this yarn to its full potential, knitting, weaving or crocheting something rectangular would be best.

Reeds and Rushes Cowl
Download the PDF here

Cast on 37 stitches using your favorite method on US size 4 (3.5 mm)
Even rows: knit across

Row 1: (p, k3) X 9, p
Row 3: (p, k3) X 9, p
Row 5: (p, k3) X 9, p
Row 7: (p, k) X 18, p
Row 9: (k2, p, k) X 9, p
Row 11: (k2, p, k) X 9, p
Row 13: (k2, p, k) X 9, p
Row 15: (p, k) X 18, p

Repeat rows 1-16 until you reach your desired length.

Bind off using a slightly stretchy bind off, then sew the two ends together using a mattress stitch or whip stitch. Do this with a light hand to avoid bunching or puckering in your fabric. Soak and block to finish the piece.

-Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin has a double degree in biology and photography (he also spins, weaves, knits and crochets)--so he's a great mix of data and creativity--all wonderful traits as a member of our sales team. You'll often hear his friendly voice on the phone and you've probably noticed his name pop up in many places: Ravelry, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube. Ben is our digital media manager--the main reason you've seen more activity on our Blog, Facebook, Ravelry, and Pinterest. To see what's happening, click on the links below.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Spinning and Weaving Group Offers Teachers Directory

Spinning and Weaving Group Offers Teachers Directory to Connect Students, Teachers, and Venues—Sign Up Today!

Columbus, OH (May 15, 2015) The lure of the spinning wheel and the call of the loom is palpable. These tools enchant potential learners, who often stumble when it comes to realizing their dreams of using them. Key to learning to spin or weave is the guidance of an enthusiastic and knowledgeable teacher.

The Spinning and Weaving Group's (SWG) New Teachers Directory connects students with teachers. In my forty year career as an editor, author, and loom and spinning wheel manufacturer I see teachers as our most valuable resource in growing the community, says Jane Patrick, author of The Weaver's Idea Book and creative director at Schacht Spindle Company.

Many specialty retail shops that cater to crafters want to offer products for spinners and weavers, but they don't have the expertise in-house to support the products. This directory is a resource for those shops and other venues looking for qualified, experienced teachers.

“As an organization, we place a high value on the teaching community, says Spinning and Weaving Group Chair, Cheryl Nachtrieb, owner of The Recycled Lamb, a yarn store in Golden, Colorado. “Cultivating the skills it takes to be a good teacher takes time and commitment. A knowledgeable student is a great customer, and guest teachers bring new energy to my shop.

Social media has been a great boon for spinning and weaving education. It enables more potential spinners and weavers to group mentor each other, and many experienced teachers often chime in to offer tips. Even so, this is no replacement for the hands-on guidance that an experienced teacher can offer. The key to successful learning—online or in person—is great educators.

The Teachers Directory is managed by the Spinning and Weaving Group, a product segment group of The National Needlearts Association (TNNA). TNNA is a trade association for independent needlearts businesses catering to stitchers, knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers, and related yarn craft. SWG strives to promote the joy of spinning and weaving and advocate for these crafts in the larger market.

All spinning and weaving teachers are invited to sign up. At least two references are required. Individual teachers are listed along with their shop or business affiliations. If your shop offers spinning and weaving classes, encourage your teachers to sign up for the list. Listings are free for a limited time. For more information, visit

-Liz Gipson
Spinning and Weaving Group Marketing Coordinator

​We'd love your help in spreading the word! Please share this in your guilds, groups and on your social media platforms!

Thank you for your help!

-The Schacht Team

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