Thursday, August 28, 2014

Back To School - Crabapple Scarves

The promise of fresh supplies at the beginning of a school year was always one of the best moments. Any occasion to get a new box of crayons was worth celebration. The only bad thing about school crayons was the meager 8 count box. The larger boxes were reserved for home use. Lucky for me my parents were always indulgent with all of my artistic and creative endeavors so I had my fair share of 64 count boxes over the years.

Now more often than not, my explorations in color are related to fiber. As a knitter I am not very adventurous with color; I will never do intarsia or fair isle patterns, for example. Weaving however, lets me play with color in a completely different way. It was about this time a few years ago when I got my 1st Cricket loom. Maybe it was the desire to experience something similar to those kids getting on their buses to go learn new things, or the inspiration I found in the crab apples that were dropping all over my mother’s front lawn, or both, but I needed to explore a new project. 

I have helped gather a fair amount of these crab apples over the years and this year is a bumper crop! Once again I am entranced by the amazing colors of these little gems. So, I think now is the appropriate time to share my back-to-school time project(s) inspired by the apples. Reds in nature are some of the most beautiful and challenging to duplicate in other mediums. I am especially drawn to the rubine reds that have a little more blue in them, which is the primary beauty and appeal these crabs have for me. In the crayon box the color would be magenta, fuchsia, mulberry, or red violet.

My first Cricket project was going to be a crab apple-inspired, stash busting scarf. I dug out every value of red yarn I had at my disposal and started playing around with snips of each yarn until I got the combo I liked. I warped the loom using a 4 ½ yard warping board since so many different yarns were being used. My stash busting ended with the warp when I decided I needed to buy a decadent solid color yarn for the weft at my LYS. I think it was a cashmere blend and above is the first scarf I wove on my new Cricket.

Before I had it off the loom I was immediately planning a variation on a theme which actually resulted in 3 more stash filled warps and 5 more yummy wefts. Here is one of my piles of pre-warped yarn. I would try out different combos until I was happy. As I progressed I added more variety in colors and yarn weights to the warps, using an 8 dent reed for all of the scarves. I used a different color weft yarn for each scarf and was surprised in subtle differences in the scarves with reddish weft yarns. It was a great beginning to play with color on the Cricket, and a perfect individual back-to-school endeavor.

I do still love a pristine box of crayons and the promise it holds. Several years back my dad got me a collectors tin with a 64 count box of crayons and an 8 count box of the newly retired colors which will remain untouched. Now the promises lie in the colors of nature, my stash, and all of the new yarn yet to explore.

-Judy Pagels

Judy Pagels comes to Schacht from a varied background in printing, graphic design, and flower arranging. Hired initially as our shipping manager, Judy shortly afterwards was promoted to sales and service manager where she is in charge of new accounts, as well as sales and service. Judy is first a knitter, but also weaves and spins—always with a keen eye to great design.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back to School - Mini Loom Lunch Bag

For this bag in jewel tones, I used the Schacht Mini Loom, a simple frame loom that’s easy to take along. I wove 8 rectangles and then heavily fulled them in the washing machine. For a design detail, I used the seams on the outside. I inserted grommets for the handles and then made Incredible Rope Machine handles for carrying.

Equipment: Schacht Mini Loom with 1 shuttle and 1 hand beater, tapestry needle, sewing machine for stitching the pieces together, Incredible Rope Machine for making the rope handles.

Notions: 4 grommets with setting tool.

Yarn: I used Lamb’s Pride Bulky from Brown Sheep Company (85% /15% mohair singles). I used colors I had left over from previous projects. You’ll need a total of 8 rectangles. Here’s what I used (feel free to mix and match):  1--M08 Wild Oak, 2—M124 Persian Peacock, 2—M162 Mulberry, 1—M210 Forest Shadows, 2—M29 Jack Plum. You’ll need about 25 yards for each rectangle.
Note on substitutions: You’ll want to use a wool yarn that will readily felt. If you have a question about the content of the yarn in your stash, I suggest you weave up a sample and try felting it before weaving all of your squares.

Finished size: 10” wide by 8 ½” deep. Handles measure 15” long, fringe to fringe.

Weaving notes: Warp the full width of the loom and take up any slack so that the warp is evenly taut. Weave with the same yarn pressing in the weft for a balanced weave. You want to fill the full length of the warp on the loom for a rectangle that will be finished on all edges. At the top, when the space is too narrow for the shuttle, use a tapestry needle to weave the remaining rows.

Finishing: After you've woven all of the swatches, place them in a pillow case and wash in hot water and detergent in the washing machine. Check progress often. When rectangles measure 4 ¾” x 6”, they should be sufficiently fulled. (This will vary with other yarns. What you want is a very dense and solid fabric. This is critical for installing the grommets.)

Assembly: Mix and match the colors for two sets of 4 rectangles. Sew together with ¼” seam allowances. Place the two sides together, seams to the inside. Stitch around three sides of the bag using a ½” seam allowance. Turn the bag right side out and poke out the corners with a knitting needle. Install a grommet 1 ¼” from the top edge, centered side to side. Repeat for the other three rectangles. Make a rope using one of the colors (I used Persian Peacock). Tie a knot in the end to secure the handle and trim the ends for a 1” fringe.

-Jane Patrick

Jane Patrick has been weaving for over 40 years. She is a past editor of Handwoven magazine and is the author of Time to Weave, The Weaver’s Idea Book, and Woven Scarves (co-authored with Stephanie Flynn Sokolov). Jane is Creative Director for Schacht Spindle and is married to Schacht founder, Barry Schacht.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Back to School - Handwoven Sketchbook Cover

Another school supply I remember vividly from my days at school was the textbook cover.

There were brightly colored spandex covers, all the way down to my favorite, folded brown paper bags that could be drawn on and customized. As I went on in my art degree in college, I no longer used as many textbooks and grew into using sketchbooks. These had boring black covers which I tried desperately to make more interesting. This usually involved paint, or colored pencils that quickly got rubbed off as they went in an out of backpack.

I still use sketchbooks today, mostly for my fiber designs now rather than art history notes. I got to thinking that I could use fabric to cover my sketchbooks, so I did just that.

I took one of my "failed" weaving projects and found a sketchbook that fit the fabric. I could have measured a sketchbook and then weave some fabric for it, but this project worked differently.

I opened my notebook up, clipped the two covers together, then marked three sides every 1/2" about 1/2" in to the material. I then punched holes (using a hammer and a nail) at each of these marks.

I then opened my notebook up and centered it on top of the fabric, wrapped the fabric over the edges clipping the fabric with binder clips to keep it secured in place. I passed a needle threaded with my matching yarn through both layers of fabric and the cover.

The rings in the sketchbook caused some pulling in the fabric, so I gently pulled at the weft threads to force the rings through the spaces in the warp.

I then braided some cord, pulled through some of the fabric to create a tie to secure my sketchbook closed.

Overall I am extremely pleased with the finished product! I plan on weaving a few more pieces of fabric to cover my other sketchbooks. This particular sketchbook reminds me of a leather bound book from days past which adds to the mystery of what is inside.

-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 social 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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Friday, August 22, 2014

Back to School - Benji's Back Pack

When thinking about back to school projects for this blog series, I thought back to my days in elementary school (see picture below) and what was most important to me then. Being a rambunctious and active kid, my back pack was the item that got some of the most abuse, so every July, my mother would take me to pick out a new back pack. Besides the art supplies, that was my favorite item to pick out.

After I spun my yarn for one of our tutorial posts, I immediately wanted to make something big and functional with the finished yarn. As I pondered the pattern, I figured that a bag of some sort would be perfect! I have seen a lot of purses, clutches, small bags, etc. but haven't seen many large bags or back packs. I love when two ideas come together in this manner. I also knew that I wanted a sturdy bag, so I decided on fulling the bag heavily, nearly felting it.

After weaving 20 squares with my Zoom Loom, I realized that I wanted to weave the rest of the fabric for the bag on my 15" Cricket Loom to maximize the use of my yardage.

Yarn: I used about  400 yds worth of handspun Merino yarn that approximates out to a worsted weight yarn.
Using a sheep's wool yarn for this project will make it felt more. Take this into consideration when making the final piece. You may need to adjust measurements to create the right size bag for your purposes

Weaving: Weave 20 squares with the Zoom Loom. Seam them together using a whip stitch in the following configurations:

Make two of these, they will be side panels.

This will be the flap of the bag (Large Zoom Loom Panel)

On the Cricket, warp your loom with 46" inches of yarn 12" wide using an 8 dent reed. Weave about 38"-40". I lashed on the front of my warp so I had much less loom waste. Hemstitch both ends of the fabric, then fold over half an inch on the edge twice and hand sew it down. This will leave you with a piece of fabric just under 12" wide and 36" long.

Weave the strap material by measuring a warp 2 yards long and 2 inches wide in an 8 dent reed on the Cricket loom. Weave as much length as possible, as you want the strap to be a custom fit when you sew them on to the bag. Finish the ends of the strap the same way as the body of the bag fabric.

Constructing the Bag: start by hand sewing the large Zoom Loom panel to the end of the Cricket panel. This will create a piece of fabric around 52" long and about 12" wide (minus shrinkage).
Then line up the pieces as follows:

Flattened view of all pieces before stitching.

Seam the pieces together as they are positioned in the above diagram, then continue seaming the body of the bag (cricket woven panel) to the sides of the bag.
There will be an extra 4 inches of the body of the bag, seam those to the top edge of the side. This will leave an opening large enough to put items into the bag, but won't cause the items to fall out when the bag is handled.

Attach the ends of the strap to the bottom edge of the back pack, tack the straps to the top of the bag at a location that is comfortable for you. This should leave just enough strap fabric to create a small hand hold at the top of the bag.

Full, or lightly felt the bag to create a stronger more dense fabric. Add closures of your choice and fill with your books, or in my case yarn and fiber!

I sewed a button on the front to hide the back of a magnetic closure

Other optional choices would be to make pockets out of Zoom Loom squares and sew them on, to add storage to your bag.

-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 social 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.

20 years between these photos - no change right?
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Back to School - Pencil Case

When I have warp left over from another project, I try something new, or re-do an old favorite, just to use up all of the yarn. The woven fabric for this bag came from the end of a warp, and the weave pattern quickly became one of my favorites.

The yarns: The warp is Anzula Dreamy in the colorway "Kale."  In the weft I used the same Dreamy yarn alternating every other pick with handspun for the other picks. The handspun is also Anzula, an Organic Merino in the colorway "Forest." Approximately a 2 ply sport weight similar to the weight of the Dreamy yarn. This pattern creates a background of the “Kale” yarn with little squares of the handspun. This showcases the texture and the color of the handspun beautifully!

The Project: I have given in to the fact that I LOVE making bags. So when we were brainstorming about ‘back to school’ projects, I knew a pencil bag would be the perfect project for me! I have found when I am using handwoven fabric, construction of the bag is relative, and I tend to make it up as I go along.

As for the size of this project, it is entirely up to your plans, and what kind of fabric you have lying around. The size of my pencil case ended up being 6" by 10.5". Make sure you buy a zipper that is similar to the size of what you want your finished project to be.

I started by putting tabs on my zipper in a coordinating fun fabric, tucking in the raw edges. I cut out a piece of the fun fabric the size of my woven fabric. The woven fabric was serged, but zig zag stitch would work too. With right sides together, sew the top of the woven and fun fabric together sandwiching the zipper in between.

On one end, I stopped short of the tab so I could leave that sticking out for a pull tab. Repeating it on the other side, I started with the same end because the woven fabric stretches when sewing.  This way, the excess woven fabric ends up on the same side. (see right side in picture below)

Optional: Add a small pocket into the interior of the bag before sewing to the woven fabric.

Top stitching the zipper seemed like the best option so it wouldn't catch on the fabric. Sewing up the sides, I started from the end that was not folded and just eased in the woven fabric as I went along, to be even when reaching the fold. A handle was inserted on the opposite side of the pull tab and it was done! 

-Denise Renee Grace

Denise Renee Grace first learned to weave as a student at Bethel College. She later moved to Boulder and worked in a repurposed product company where Barry Schacht discovered her and hired her to work in our sales and service department. Denise’s first love is spinning and she loves to work with natural fibers on all four of her Schacht Wheels. When it comes to weaving, tabby tickles her. In charge of customer care, Denise spends her days here helping people—something she does so well.

If you make your own bag, share the pictures with us! Find us at the following places!

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