Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Mini Loom Takes a Trip - Jane Patrick

If you've been trawling Pinterest, then you know that it’s back to the 70’s. At least, if you were weaving in the 70’s like I was. Little tapestry wall hangings with lots of texture and fringe that are reminiscent of what we were weaving are everywhere. Even Oprah magazine featured a weaver making these little textured hangings. The difference between then and now is that this time around the colors are brighter, lighter, more fun. Oh, and even macrame is back; fat, thick yarns worked over thick sticks. Really, I never thought we’d go there again. But that just goes to show you that what was old is always new again.

This little wall hanging, just 6” x 11”, is perfect for trying out ideas, learning techniques, and escaping from wintry ice and snow (whether it’s a fantasy trip or a real one). Cheerful colors call out for warmer climes and sunshine and working with them made me feel light of spirit.

I used the Schacht Mini Loom for this project. At about 8” square, it is small enough to pop into your carry-on (or your project bag if this is a stay-cation). The Mini Loom comes with a little hand beater, 2 shuttles and a weaving needle—which you’ll need as you get closer to the top edge. I also used a knitting needle as a shed stick which I wove over, under, over, under, leaving it in place--which makes weaving across in one shed super easy and the alternate shed easy to pick (you'll see the knitting needle in the photo below).

For warp yarn, I took a trip to the hardware store and bought a ball of #24 cotton cable cord. I like this cord because it is a chunky size and sets well at 7 ½ epi on the Mini Loom. You could use most any sturdy, thick  string, though. I warped the loom the full width and after winding it on, tightened each warp thread by taking up the slack starting at one side of the loom and working to the other.

For yarns, I used some thrums and leftover bits from my stash. Since this doesn't take a lot of yarn, you’ll find that little hangings are the perfect use of these yarns.

White background: white worsted weight yarn, such as Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride.
Bottom fringe: Worsted weight yarn in three colors, two shades of each.
White loops: Two white sport weight yarns, one wool and one cotton.
Blue bumps: a bit of blue wool top
Pink tufts: The same two pink yarns used for the bottom fringe.

1 Weave 4 rows of background yarn, packing it in very tightly to cover the warp.
2. Make a row of ghiordes knots (directions below), leaving a 4” fringe. Using two yarns as one, make a green knot, then a blue knot, and then a pink knot. Repeat in this order all the way across the warp.
3. Weave 2 rows with background weft.
4. Make another row of ghiordes knots as you did in step 2.
5. Weave 4 rows of background.
6. Make a row of picked-up loops using two yarns as one (instructions below).
7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 five times, ending with another 4 rows of background.
8. Using wool top, make a row of loops, pulling them up to about ½” for a raised line.
9. Weave 6 rows of background.
10. Using two pink ends as one, make a row of ghiordes knots (instructions below). Start working over the 3rd and 4th warp threads, skip warps 5, 6, 7, 8 and make a knot over warp threads 9 and 10. Repeat in this fashion to the other side.
11. Weave 7 rows of background.
12. Make another row of ghiordes knots as before, but this time start the first knot over warps 6 and 7, skip 4 warp threads and then work the next knot. This will stagger the knots to make an alternating dot pattern.
13. Repeat steps 10-12 two more times and end with step 10.
14. Finish weaving with the background weft all the way to the top edge. As you get closer to the top, you’ll find that it is impossible to use the shuttle and you’ll need to change to the weaving needle.
15. When you can’t weave any further, remove the weaving from the loom. I found that there was a little space at either end of the weaving. I filled this by needle weaving two more rows of background to close up the space.
16. To finish, trim all pink ghiordes knot dots to ½”, trim bottom fringe so that it is even and about 4” long. Fold down the top of your hanging ½” to the back side and stitch down to make a hem.
17. Enjoy.

How to make a ghiordes knot using a continuous length of yarn
1. Insert the end of yarn between two warps (from top to bottom).
2. Bring the end out to the right of the two warps.
3. Travel over the top of the two warps to the left.
4. Bring the end up through the middle of the two warps.
5. Pull down the ends to tighten and trim off end.
6. Repeat.

How to make picked-up loops
1. Weave across with the loop yarn (if you are right handed it is easiest to weave from right to left).
2. Using a knitting knitting needle or your fingers and working from your dominant side, draw a loop up and place it over the needle (the size of the needle determines the size of the loop). Pull up loops between all of the warps or just some of them. This can be very flexible.
3. Carefully remove the knitting needle and press down on the loops with a beater.
4. Weave at least 2 rows of background and beat it in well to further secure the loops. Note: since the loops are not tied, they can be pulled out, so beating them well into place helps prevent them from pulling out.
-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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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Weaving to Woo Week 2014

Last year we had our first holiday themed week on our blog. We posted a new Valentines Day themed project every day during the week of Valentine's Day for our special Weaving to Woo Week!

This year we're planning going five new projects during the first week in February--allowing plenty of time to create a special something for your special someone! Check back every day from February 2nd to the 6th for great gift and decor ideas.

In the meantime, check out last year's Weaving to Woo Week projects.

The Lover's Knot by Jane Patrick

Three Pocket Valentine Holder from Benjamin Krudwig

Heart Pin on our Zoom Loom with Jane Patrick

 Inlay Hearts on an inkle band by Jane Patrick

 Friendship Towel pattern, woven by Jane Patrick

We'd love for you to share your own Valentine's themed project with us on our various social media sites!

-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, January 16, 2015

Spinning and Weaving Lessons: Crafting a Life

When we weave and spin, we create something new. From nature, we gather that which appears to be formless and apply the uniquely human work of our hearts, hands, and minds. We spin countless individual fibers together into a yarn that is strong. We then cross that yarn with another one, over and under, to make the cloth. The child of this marriage is strong, beautiful, and imperfect. There is wonder in these ancient crafts.

This hand-spun, hand-woven project is special to me because of where it came from and where it will take me. I must believe that dozens, if not hundreds, of hands touched my tallit (Jewish prayer shawl) before it became mine. Before I even started spinning the yarn, the sheep had to be fed, the lambs wormed, the fleece sheared. Take another step back and the barn had to be built, hay harvested.To take a step forward, the fleece had to be processed, transported, taken to market. To spin the roving, I used a spinning wheel, which, like the barn and the truck and the thresher, required a skilled builder with the right tools. 

I used a commercial yarn for a warp, behind which there are people I will never meet but who, like me, make their living in this trade. Some handle the product, while others support the companies through accounting, machine maintenance, or answering phone calls. We are among the lucky few who feed ourselves and our families from the proceeds of handmade.

In my own circle, Cindy, Denise, Judy, and Lucas all gifted me with yarn, spun on wheels built by Luis, Mercedes, and Joe. Ben took one glance at the painting of wings I was puzzling over and scampered off to write a pattern for me. Sara, who years ago taught me to weave on a rigid heddle loom, helped me get oriented on her floor loom (built by Mike) and let me spend days in her studio with her cat. Alice helped me to tie the tzitzit ("fringe" - here, the white knots at the corners) that after months made my rectangle into a tallit.

The amazing thing is that every person that touched this project carries with them their own stories and communities. It's difficult to comprehend that everyone's life is as compelling to them as mine is to me - that spirit is inconceivable but permeates this work. We all likely learned spinning and weaving, agriculture, commerce, from someone else, who learned from someone before them, a priceless tradition of tinkerers, perfecters, and teachers. Then, we take up the mantle and day by day, engage in our craft - whatever it may be - untangling our own knots in the process of creation.

So now I have a tallit, an object with a rich story of its own, made from untold hearts, hands, and minds creating something out of formlessness. Considering the energy infused into this object helps me to consider the energy that has brought me to this life - the warmth of my loved ones; the richness and depth, heartbreaks and struggles of each of those people; the infinite network of relations and ancestors that have brought us all here; and a few sheep. When I wrap myself in this garment, I wrap myself in the fable of fiber, the heritage of the Jewish people, and my own mythology. If I'm lucky, I can catch the tail of this sense of timelessness and eternity. And it's all possible because we spin countless individual fibers together into a yarn that is strong, and then we cross that yarn with another one, over and under, to make the cloth.
There is wonder in these ancient crafts.
-Kate White

Kate White wears several hats here at Schacht. Some of the many roles she plays each day include computer operating system liaison, project manager, data maven, and interface between our sales and production departments.

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The tallit was woven on a Schacht Standard Floor Loom with finished dimensions of 74" x 30".
The weft was wool or merino-silk handspun on the Ladybug, Sidekick, Matchless, and Schacht-Reeves. It is, on average, worsted weight.
The warp is Jagger Spun Zephyr Wool-Silk 2/18, in colorways suede and aegean blue. The yarns were held together to warp and sleyed in a 10-dent reed.
The pattern is an extended undulating twill on 8 harnesses, drafted by Benjamin Krudwig.
The atarah (collar) and corners were machine-embroidered by Jan Gorelick and machine-sewn onto the tallit.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Joy to the Whorl - Beginning Spinner

Pam spinning at the Denver Art Museum during Spinzilla
The opportunity to work at Schacht Spindle Company presented itself to me this summer, and two weeks before starting, Jane Patrick called asking if I wanted to be on the company’s Spinzilla team. 
I love trying new things but spinning is something I believed I would never do.

My thinking was:
I like weaving and knitting, and making a “final” product ... There is so much wonderful yarn available out there, why spin? ... People who love fiber to a deeper degree than I are spinners, but not me ... It would take forever to spin enough yarn to make anything usable 
Bah. Humbug!

But what do you do when the Director of Sales, your soon-to-be boss, calls to ask if you want to be on a company team? You say yes, of course. It would be an opportunity to learn something new, be part of a fun company event, and get to know people. Why not? I was glad to participate but icy about my expectations of how much I would enjoy spinning and the success of the final product.
My first encounter with spinning took place a few weeks before Spinzilla during lunch break. The spinning wheel I used was a Schacht Matchless configured in double drive using a slow whorl and a regular bobbin. Huh? What? Being such a newbie, nothing was familiar. Among other things, what is a slow whorl and why would I want to use one? My rock-solid belief in spinning’s value to me was certain to be confirmed.

Denise, Schacht's customer service specialist, gave me a quick overview on how to set up the wheel then quickly moved on to how to work with the fiber and spin. Her instruction lasted only about 10 minutes and then she handed me the fiber. “That’s it?” I thought, but gave it a try anyway. And after only a few minutes of instruction I was spinning! Not well, and not without difficulties, but spinning none-the-less. My first few yards were fat, lumpy and inconsistent but, with some guidance and a few adjustments, it did not take long to start getting the hang of it. My hand-spun was far from high quality but I was spinning usable yarn on the very first day! Hmmm. Learning to spin appeared to be easier than I had anticipated. My hard stance on spinning began to soften.

Fast forward to Spinzilla. . . 
As Spinzilla started, outside forces were throwing significant life stressors my way. How was I going to be able to participate in Spinzilla when I had so much to deal with? My not-so-brilliant plan was to grin and bear it. I began to spin, thinking it would be something I’d just have to endure. To my surprise, after spinning for just a few minutes I realized that I felt less stressed. In fact, I felt much less stressed. How unexpected. How fantastic! Focusing on the spinning rhythm, cadence and fiber flow was like a meditation. Clearly, there was more to spinning than I had anticipated. I was truly having fun. My icy view of spinning was melting away.

Pam's handspun to be used in a weaving project.
By the end of Spinzilla my enthusiasm was growing and I had 4 bobbins, each half-full of singles yarn in front of me so I decided to learn how to ply. I practiced on my earliest singles and then went to work plying my favorite bobbins together. Again, I was struck by how quickly I was able to learn how to ply and how satisfying it was to see my singles become usable yarn. The rhythm and focus, though different than spinning singles, had its effect on me too.

My hand-spun yarn had become something to be proud of, not merely an item to be discarded after the team event was done. I ended up making a small table runner with my yarn and, to be honest, I feel a lot of pride whenever I look at it. It symbolizes a point-of-view shift as well as a physical accomplishment.

I walk away from this experience with an expanded view of fiber art. I can see the worth of spinning that goes far beyond making my own yarn or having pride in making something from the fiber up. When I add it all up, what seems most significant is that spinning had an unforeseen effect on me. It brought me peace, pride and joy. I think I’ll try a few more new things soon!
-Pam Mondry

Pam Mondry is a computer engineer with a past work history at HP and Levi Strauss & Co. As a recent weaving enthusiast Pam came to us looking for a way to combine her new-found passion with her professional life. Pam lives in Evergreen, Colorado with her teenage son and husband.

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Friday, January 9, 2015

Ombre Yarn Update - Pulsar Shawl

It is almost always intimidating to me to work with handspun. Whether it's mine or spun by somebody else, I find myself paralyzed with anxiety. After the immediate fear of working with handspun yarn, the joy and pride I feel when I wear a completely hand-made item washes all of those fears away. This fear makes me very picky about what project I choose to use my handpsun with.
This scrutinizing mind was ruthless when thinking about ideas for my handspun ombre yarn. This yarn was special not only because it was handspun, but also because it was blended by hand.

It is particularly important to swatch when working with handspun yarns. When many hours of work have already been put into a project and many more hours ahead, no amount of wasted yarn is worth jumping in without looking first. This preparation helps alleviate that initial hesitation when picking up that hank of yarn. I knit, wove and crocheted swatches with this yarn just so I knew how the yarn interacted with each craft.

Crocheted Swatch - US Size G hook
Knit Swatch - US size 6 needles
Woven Swatch - 4" X 4" Zoom Loom
After looking at all of them, and feeling the drape, I chose to knit with my yarn. I mulled many ideas around in my head for some time until I settled on the idea of a shawl. I knew that I wanted to make a simple project, something that you could do with very little thought and had the ability to be set down and picked back up again. I also knew that I didn't want too much texture or pattern that distracted from the beauty of the handspun yarn, so a stockinette stitch dominated pattern was ideal.

After I determined the basic framework of what I desired, I teased out the design further by punctuating the stockinette sections with yarn-over feather motifs that run down the whole length of the shawl.

At this point, the Pulsar Shawl began to to take shape. The slight variations in the colors and the drape of the knitted shawl is simply decadent. I am very pleased with this pattern and will enjoy it for a very long time, knowing what all went into it.

I always try to showcase my handspun yarns, and with this versatile shawl I think I succeeded. I hope this inspires you to pull out your own yarn and make something with it! Share your projects with us on our various social media platforms!
-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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