Friday, August 28, 2015

For Spinzilla, Kate is Spinning...

What I love about Spinzilla is that it gets me spinning! Once I’ve got some momentum, spinning is a meditative, calming wonderland, but as a beginning spinner still, it can be hard to get those treadles moving. Last Spinzilla, however, I spun nearly a mile of fiber, and got a running start at the yarn for my tallis. Since then, I’ve tried some new styles and fibers with varying success, and my spinning oomph has dwindled. In October, though, I’ll hit the reset button, gather with other spinners for fun and support, and spin like mad for a week. I can’t wait.

This year I’m going in with another project in mind, which will require almost exactly a mile of singles. I also have a new Cherry Matchless, so this will be a great chance to get to know my wheel and to kindle my fiber fire again. Like Denise, I’ll be spinning with undyed fibers - my future project will be woven and then dyed with natural dyes. When first experimenting with natural dyes this winter, I was captivated by the depth of color they yielded, and would like to showcase this richness in a simple cloth.

From these intentions – and from my stash – I’ll let my yardage develop organically. I’ll start with BFL and from there all bets are off. Maybe I will want to keep spinning something comfortable (and there is plenty!), or maybe I’ll spin something that’s more challenging. I was shocked to find such a wide variety of undyed fiber in my stash: angora, yak, flax, silk. I would love to see how different fibers luxuriate differently in the same dyebath. This Spinzilla, the options are endless; my goal is to have a good time.

Spinzilla is a competition – and I’ve met my share of competitors! – but it also brings spinners together, gets us spinning for a full week, and promotes the craft. That full week can be used for maximum yardage, but with yardage also comes community, learning, excitement, support, and that quiet space that exists at the wheel. Additionally, registration fees support the Needle Arts Mentoring Program, which creates community partnerships around those same values and around the crafts we love.

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.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

For Spinzilla, Betty is Spinning...

One of our high-yardage spinners hails from our shipping department. An award winning and published spinner, BettyPaepke is known for her mixing and blending of fibers. As part of preparing her fiber, she loves starting with raw fleece.

Betty has been one of our top spinners two years in a row, and this year she isn't fooling around with how much she expects to spin: Three pounds of hand-processed fleece and a hint of dyed roving, Betty is determined to spin this pile.

Grey kerakul and two stunning shades of alpaca fiber will keep her busy for most of the week. She says that she has a lot more where this came from if she happens to run out.

The alpaca fiber actually comes from a local farm, Fuzzy Farm Alpacas, which will also be seen in a future project from Benjamin Krudwig.

Betty's stash reminds us to also support our local fiber producers all year round. If you are hankering to spin a large quantity of fiber for Spinzilla, this is a great way to do it!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

For Spinzilla, Denise is Spinning...

One of the industry's favorite hand dyers of yarn and fiber is Anzula, based in California. I love the consistency and colorways of their fiber braids which include Ocean, Forest, Garden, and Fire. Sabrina searches for yarn bases and fiber that are luxurious and high quality. Anzula also sells a variety of undyed natural fiber. Don’t get me wrong, I like working with hand-dyed braids, but there's something about natural fiber that just softens my heart! It's this subtle beauty and purity that I  prefer. When I spin for myself, I want to connect with the animal and it’s fiber as it was grown on the animal (with some processing in this case). I guess I am just a purist at heart. I realized this when I looked at all of the un-dyed shades of luxury fiber in my Anzula stash and decided that I am going to focus on the basics for Spinzilla. 

I have about four pounds of fiber including silk, merino/silk blend, BFL, merino with a bit of sparkle (ok that is not completely natural, but I couldn’t resist!), corriedale, yak, baby llama, baby camel/merino, pure brown baby camel, and baby alpaca. I can’t wait! I had to put it in a box on the top shelf where I wouldn't be tempted to spin it early.

If you would like to get Anzula fiber for Spinzilla, don’t hesitate to ask your local yarn/fiber shop to order some. Ask now to ensure delivery by Spinzilla. Planning ahead is key. What are your spinning plans for Spinzilla?

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 re-purposed 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 is especially fond of working 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.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

For Spinzilla, Benjamin is Spinning...

For the past few months, I have been a subscriber to the Spunky Eclectic Fiber-of-the-Month Club. A service that provides me with hand dyed fiber every month!

Each month a different fiber type/breed is chosen and then dyed by Spunky owner, Amy King, in a color way inspired by a photo. I just love getting a mystery fiber shipped every month!

Amy's inspiration photo for "Frostbite"
"Frostbite" fiber: Photo by Tracey Alice
This fiber-of-the-month club allows me to try breeds that I wouldn't normally buy or be able to purchase. Also, I like being challenged by the colorways I wouldn't normally gravitate towards. I've found, though, that once I try them I like them!

I have at least seven braids of fiber that I have been saving for Spinzilla, with two more to come between now and Spinzilla.

I don't have a fiber problem. It's only a problem when I run out!
There is still a little time between now and Spinzilla, so joining a fiber-of-the-month club could provide you with some great spinning fiber ahead of time! Spunky Eclectic also has fiber for sale that isn't part of the club, so you can get your fix in a short amount of time. With Spinzilla less than two months away, its time to stock up! As always, check out your local yarn store for spinning fibers and try to support indie dyers when you can!

Time to spin!

-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.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Upcycled Woven Pencil Box

Last year I made a woven notebook cover using fabric I had woven on my Cricket Loom. That project was fun, as it allowed me to breathe new life into an old sketchbook. I drew inspiration from the notebook cover and used the techniques from the Woven Sachet project by Jane Patrick to make a brand new-to-me pencil box.

I gathered a used chocolate box (no I didn't eat them all myself), yarn in a complementary colorway, a weaving needle from my Zoom Loom, and some Mod Podge for fabric.

The yarn is Mountain Colors Crazyfoot in the Poppy Trail colorway.
Using similar directions from Jane's project, I marked the edges of my box lid for where I would cut small slits for my yarn to wrap around. Using some sock yarn that was complementary to the box, I started warping the outer layer of my box lid. Since I was going to end up needle weaving the weft in place, I needed to wind off enough yarn to weave with. I measured this by wrapping the yarn around the box for as many times as I had notches on one side. I used a plain weave structure for the top of the box (I didn't think a twill structure would be very visible).

Marking the edge before cutting was helpful in checking the spacing of my yarn.

After weaving the top of the box, it was time to weave around the outside edge of the box lid. I measured enough yarn to go around the sides five times and wove plain weave on the sides as well. The was quite open which let the back cover show behind the weaving, lending a dimensional quality to the fabric.

Warp threads waiting to be woven.
I used Mod Podge meant specifically for fabric to seal the yarn and secure it to the lid. I want this box to last a long time, so having it sealed and secure is necessary. The Mod Podge lessened the intensity of the colors of the yarn, but I love finished product!

While letting the lid dry, I moved on to the bottom of the box which I left unwoven. I drilled a 1/4" hole about an inch out from each corner of the box.

I then made a rope using the Incredible Rope Machine. I made 3 passes with the yarn and made a rope that was approximately 1 yard long. I started with the bottom facing up, and threaded my rope in one hole from the outside and through the other one to the outside, making sure the rope was pretty close to centered end to end. I then poked each end through the remaining two holes and tied them together with a square knot.

Though I haven't been in school for quite some time now, I still have a set of colored pencils that this special box would work great for. In the meantime however, my Zoom Loom and yarn fits very well 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 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.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Eight Pieces of Equipment Everyone Needs for Spinzilla

We are but two short months away from Spinzilla, (Oct 5-11), To help you prepare, here is a list of must-have equipment for you and your team! Order early so you're ready to go by Spin Day!

1. Wheel or Spindle
The Sidekick will travel
 wherever you may go!

Though this may be obvious, there is a different wheel/spindle for the type of spinning you want to do. Check out this blog by Denise on how she chooses a spinning wheel depending on what she wants to spin.

2. Oil Bottle
"Where is my oil bottle?", "Do you have an oil bottle I can borrow?", "I think I need to oil my flyer..."
These are all common questions and phrases that we hear when we spin--especially during Spinzilla. Visit your local Schacht dealer and pick up a bottle or two and keep them on hand. While you are at it, check out this video on the proper oiling techniques for your Schacht wheels.

3. Lazy Kate
Whether you get the on-board lazy kate for your Ladybug, or the Tensioned Lazy Kate, it is imperative that you have proper yarn management. A lazy kate is perfect for plying, or just holding yarn as you let your singles rest.

4. (Fiber Storage) Spinning Wheel Bobbins/Cardboard Spools/Plastic Bobbins
We only have so many spinning wheel bobbins available to us, and when we are spinning the large quantities of yarn that we do for Spinzilla, those bobbins fill up fast! To get around this, order more bobbins for your wheel, or use this tip to maximize the use of your bobbins. Transfer your yarn onto cardboard spools or 6" plastic bobbins to free up those spinning wheel bobbins for more spinning!

This Ladybug is fully equipped with
the Bulky Plyer Flyer.
5. Bulky Flyer Package
Whether you're spinning Bulky, plying massive amounts of yarn, or need a large bobbin for storage, a Bulky Package for your wheel is a must have! The sliding hook and large capacity bobbin is also helpful when spinning art yarns! Note: In helping you prepare for Spinzilla, we are offering in the month of August, the Ladybug, DT Matchless, and Sidekick with a Bulky set up.

6. Bobbin Winder
Whether you are a weaver or a spinner, bobbin winders are such a great help in the studio space. Transferring yarn from one bobbin or spool to another is much easier with a bobbin winder. The single ended winder is great for plastic bobbins, but the double ended winders are great for spinning wheel bobbins and cardboard spools. Upgrade to an electric bobbin winder to save your energy--and time--during Spinzilla.

7. Ultra Umbrella Swift
This is THE TOOL for Spinzilla! With an optional rotation counter, this swift will make counting yardage a snap! We used our Ultra for our team last year, and it sped up our measuring process significantly! Check out our video on all of the other cool features that the Ultra Umbrella Swift has to offer!

8. Hand Carders/Flick Carder
For fiber prep before Spinzilla, hand carders will help blend your fibers into what you need, and if spinning from the lock, a flick carder is essential to make your spinning easier.

We hope you find these tips and tools helpful as you prepare for Spinzilla 2015!

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.