Friday, March 27, 2015

Weaving a Twill Sampler - Part 2

I underestimated how exciting the process of weaving a sampler can be. Some of the tie-up and treadling combinations gave me unexpected results which gave me ideas to try out a few of the patterns on a larger scale.
  • Looking at the sampler below, starting at the left, is straight twill where your twill progresses in a single direction like a set of stairs. For this example, I threaded the shafts 1,2,3,4 (or the first thread on shaft 1, the second thread on shaft 2, the third thread on shaft 3 and the fourth thread on shaft 4, and so on).
  • Point twill happens when a twill weave starts in one direction, for at least three threads (according to Helene Bress), and then reverses itself. For example, here I threaded 1,2,3,4,3,2, repeat. 
  • A broken twill is exactly what you might expect. Instead of progressing in a sequential numerical order, backward and/or forward, a break is made in the threading so that at least one harness is skipped in the order. For this example I threaded: 3,4,1,2,4 3 2 1, repeat.
  • Extended point twill is created by combining straight twill and point twill. Here I've threaded: 1,2,3,4, 1,2,3,4, 3,2,1,2,3,4,3,2,3,4, repeat
  • Bird’s Eye is a point twill or broken twill threading that traditionally creates a diamond pattern with a dot at its center. Here, I've threaded it: 4,3,2,3,4,1,2,3,4,3,2,1, repeat.
Each threading is approximately two inches across, give or take, using 3/2 mercerized cotton sett at 15 ends per inch. I would recommend using a dark color for your warp and a light color for your weft, or vice versa, so that you are able to clearly see the pattern you are weaving. You might also vary the warp thread color to distinguish the five threadings even further from each other – say black and charcoal or dark blue so that you still get a good contrast with your choice of weft threads. I selected two weft colors to use alternately as I went from one treadling sequence to the next. And finally, you can see that I also used a length of orange yarn to indicate where I changed my tie-up. Oh, and I came up with so many treadling sequences to try, that I ran out of white 3/2 cotton before I finished weaving. Oops!! A gold 3/2 cotton took over where the white left off.
Swatch 3
The fourth tie-up is a little bit different from the others. I got to thinking about my Wolf Pup, which is a direct tie-up loom. This means that each shaft (or harness) is attached to a single treadle. Table looms are similar in concept but use hand levers. To weave patterns that require multiple shafts to be raised at once, you press down multiple treadles or levers at one time. I got to thinking about how tying up a single shaft to a single treadle and using the direct tie-up technique of pressing down multiple treadles within the sequence might enable someone with a four-shaft loom with only four or six treadles or four levers to weave more complicated patterns. You will see the tie-up in this draft suggests that you need eight treadles. If you have them, great, but if you have fewer, simply tie-up 1-2-3-4, and when the draft indicates that you need to lift more than one shaft, use both of your feet, or hands in the case of a table loom, to accomplish this.
Draft 4
[Download a ZIP file of the drafts in WIF format, with their accompanying images,]

These samples showcase five common twill threadings across a single warp.

All of the samples (and drafts) are woven on the same threadings as listed above – straight, point, broken, extended point, and bird’s eye. The threading reads left to right and the treadling reads bottom to top. This will match the woven fabric in the photos.

Swatch 1

Swatch 2

Both sides of your cloth can be interesting and so different from each other. If you’re excited about something you find on the underside of your cloth, use the inverse of the tie-up to weave it on top. If you weave the first inch or so of cloth in plain weave as I did, you’ll see that a plain weave structure creates a thinner fabric with less draw-in, making a wider cloth.

You may find a new favorite pattern. Mine is found in draft three, the third treadling sequence of the point twill threading. It reminds me of a happy little flowerbed. The best thing about weaving a sampler is this sort of random discovery. Why not warp up your loom and give it a try?

Happy Weaving!

-Melissa Ludden Hankens
You can find Melissa designing weaving projects for the Schacht newsletter and teaching at the Creative Warehouse in Needham, Massachusetts.

Instagram - melentine on Instagram

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Georgia On my Mind - Denise Renee Grace

Recently Rebecca Mezoff and I went sheep shearing. This is one of my favorite times of year. The coats of the sheep are big and fluffy around their pregnant bellies. They get sheared before lambing to make it easier on everyone. After the ewes are sheared, they tend to want to have their lambs in the warmth of the barn instead of in the cold field. Shearing always inspires me to dig into fleece. I love the smell and feel of it. I love everything about it!

One of the sheep that got sheared was named Georgia. I took a pound of her CVM fleece and got brave enough to try washing it in the washer. I put the wool in lingerie bags, filled the washer with HOT soapy water. (To make sure it was really hot, I added a kettle full of boiling water). I gently put the bags into the water making sure they were submersed in the water with a wooden spoon. I followed with another soapy wash, one rinse with vinegar, and one with just plain hot water, not agitating at all, only going through a soak and spin cycle. It worked!

Usually, I use a drum carder, but I wanted to try the method of holding a 72 psi carder on my lap, taking a lock of hair, "flicking" it, and then spinning one right after the other. It was an interesting experience. I thought this would be a shorter process than drum carding. Now writing that, I realize that it might have been an unrealistic expectation, but I had the crazy idea that it would be quicker. It was not. Also, it didn't homogenize the color, so it had patches of darker spots. I did like that look for this project. In the end I had spun about 3ounces of fiber into 195 yards of a two ply DK weight yarn, using my Schacht Matchless to spin, and my Ladybug to ply.

I like the circular nature of crochet hats, but love the ease and flexibility of a knitted rim. So I thought, why not do both? I used the appropriate size crochet hook for the yarn (I love my Addi Swing hooks), then I switched to knitting needles picking up stitches around the edge of the crocheted portion. I gradually went down a few sizes to make the brim fit tighter.

The warmth of the fleece paired with the open-knit fabric makes this the perfect spring or fall hat! Thanks Georgia!

-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.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

How to Tie and Replace Spinning Wheel Drive Bands

As many of our readers and fans know, we have been working on making tutorial videos. Our latest trio of videos focus on tying and replacing drive bands on the Schacht Reeves, Matchless, and Ladybug Spinning Wheels. We hope you find these videos educational and helpful. If you have any suggestions on videos that you would find helpful, please let us know!

Catch all of our video updates by subscribing to our YouTube channel.

-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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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Drop a Note!

Every Year, Jane and Barry design a new card for use around the holidays with a re-designed logo. As we have been doing our Spring cleaning here in the office, we stumbled upon a few of them from years past. We hope you enjoy the artistry behind these cards as much as we do!

Top to Bottom: 2000, 1996
Artists unknown
Top to Bottom: 1999, 1998
Artist: Tatjana Krizmanic

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Weaving A Twill Sampler – Part 1 - Melissa Ludden Hankens

A sampler is all about experimenting, in this case with twill weaves. After you are comfortable with plain weave, twill is a natural place to progress. With plain weave and twill under your belt, your weaving options are without end.

Melissa's twill Sampler
What is twill? Close your eyes and visualize a piece of plain weave fabric. Your weft thread is going over and under each warp thread across the width. Now, to weave twill, imagine that your weft thread is going over and under two warp threads at a time. The pairs of warp threads have nothing keeping them apart, so of course they’re going to snuggle up close. For a twill, your pattern will step over to create a diagonal line. In the draft below, is one example of a simple twill. Starting with the top row with blue horizontal lines, you can see that the first row weaves under 2 warps and then over 2 warps, repeat. Then, for the second row, the weft travels over first over 1 warp then repeats under 2 over 2 rest of the way across the warp. You can see that the next row steps over again. A twill fabric will be denser and more flexible than a plain weave fabric. A twill also needs to be more closely set than a plain weave fabric. You'll see by exploring the resources below that the possibilities of twill are vast.
Plain weave

Let’s talk about looms. At least three shafts (often also referred to as harnesses), are required to weave twill. A shaft loom, such as any of Schacht’s Table, Wolf, or Standard Floor looms, is the perfect tool. When choosing a loom, consider your space as well as what kind of items you think you might like to spend most of your time weaving. The Wolf looms come in a range of widths and handily fold up -- a great space saver for someone like me who lives in a smaller house.

There are several great references to consider reading before you get started.

Learning to Weave 
by Deborah Chandler, Interweave Press, Loveland, CO, 1995
This is a great introduction to twill that explains the process in simple terms.
Lesson 7 Basic Twills, p. 129 - 136

A Handweaver’s Pattern Book 
by Marguerite Porter Davison, John Spencer, Inc., Chester, PA, 1944
While there isn’t much instruction here, there are many, many patterns to keep you occupied at your loom. Ms. Davison’s drafts are written for a sinking shed loom, but Schacht shaft looms are all rising shed looms - your warp threads are pulled up when you treadle. To compensate, tie-up the white spaces instead of the x-marked spaces. If you forget to do this, your pattern will be woven on the underside of the fabric. Simply flip your fabric over once it’s off the loom and you’re in business.
Chapter I Twill Treadlings, p. 1 – 10
Chapter II Bird’s Eye & Rose Path, p. 11 – 22
Chapter III Modified Twills, p. 23 – 32
Chapter IV Twill Combinations, p. 33 - 46

The Weaving Book: Patterns & Ideas 
by Helene Bress, Flower Valley Press, Gaithersburg, MD, 2009
For those who prefer a more theoretical approach to weaving, this is a great text.
Chapter 2 Twill, p. 39 - 198

You might also enjoy reading this online monograph, Twill Weaves and Derivatives at A search for “twill” on will give you an extensive list of reading material.

In the next part of this series, I'll explore several different twill weaves.
-Melissa Ludden Hankens

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