Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Apple & Honey Challah Cover


I was so inspired by Judy’s Crabapple Scarves that I finally took the leap into color. (I see Stephanie has been spinning with color, too – there must be something in the air!). I had been wanting to experiment with natural dyes for some time, and Judy’s scarves made me realize that color can be both straightforward and powerful. With Rosh Hashanah coming up, I decided to make a challah cover – it could be small, simple, and square and let me focus on the dyeing. It is traditional to eat apples and honey at Rosh Hashanah, as a wish for a sweet new year, so from the beginning I had a direction but not a vision.

First I had to learn about dyeing. I got the Earthues Natural Dye Starter Kit (I love kits!) and spent a weekend sampling the dyes. I made 64 sample bundles, using 4 fibers, 2 mordants, and 8 colors. Since I was dyeing such a tiny amount of fiber (all of the bundles together were less than one ounce), I used a canning pot and mason jars for my dyebaths. This was the first of many shortcuts I took that would likely alter the integrity of a dye practice over time, but my goal this time around was just to get started. I was absolutely thrilled with the richness and variety of tone, and the color cards I made are a treasure in themselves.

Rather than use color in a pattern, I wanted to create my color variation through the dyeing. I puzzled over how I would dye a warp and a weft to fade between several colors. These acrobatics helped me understand the geometry of weaving a bit better – to get the same effect in weft and warp, the dye procedure would have to be different. I also learned about many of the winding tools, eventually using a swift, niddy noddy, and warping board to prepare yarn for dyeing in the effect that I wanted.

For this project, I chose Ashland Bay Windsor (worsted weight, 60% merino/40% silk, ecru). I dyed a sample warp by making a skein, which I then stretched out and tied in plastic wrap, leaving free only the section to be dyed in the first color. I used 3 different dye baths, rewrapping between each bath. The baths went from dark to light, which I think resulted in some bleeding and contamination of color. One of the colors was not concentrated enough and the yarn came out lighter than I had hoped. I also realized that dyeing a basic skein would not result in a gradated warp. The result of my sample was a perfectly serviceable skein that I will use for another project.


For the final product, I made a 2-yard warp on a warping board and dyed 2/3 of it in my honey color (a blend of osage orange and madder), and the remaining third in apple red, a blend of cutch, osage orange, madder, and cochineal. My weft was dyed a single color – a more madder-heavy blend of honey, which resulted in a nice autumn brown color. All yarns were mordanted in alum with cream of tartar.
I warped a 15” Cricket Loom about 13.5” inches wide in an 8-dent reed, and wove a square. I introduced a subtle honeycomb pattern, following the instructions in the Weaver’s Idea Book, with pick-up stick A repeating *4 up, 2 down* and pick-up stick B repeating *2 up, 4 down*. For each repeat of the pattern warpwise, I decreased a repeat weftwise, to create a triangle. I wove a 6-thread plain-weave border on all sides, hemstitched the ends, and left a short fringe.

Although the end product was relatively quick and simple, there was so much opportunity to learn and adjust. Dyeing to a vision would require deep knowledge of both weaving and dyeing, and I found myself simplifying at every step; no matter, because the colors were so rich that they would speak for themselves. Still a relatively inexperienced rigid heddle weaver, I realized about halfway through that I was really beating hard – upwards of 15 picks per inch for this 8-dent project. In future projects I’ll be more mindful of this; in this project it would have yielded the pattern that I had planned, and also made visible more of the warp that I had worked so hard on. Overall, though, I'm pleased with this work, if for no other reason that I actually finished it! By going step-by-step and fine-tuning along the way, I allowed a space for my wild fabric fantasies to meet the reality of my skill and patience. The end result is simple but elegant, something I can hold in my hands and in my heart, something deserving of a place on my holiday table. L'shanah tova!

-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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Friday, September 19, 2014

Spinzilla Training Camp - 3 Weeks Out



We are 17 days out from Spinzilla, and we are gearing up to spin!

Every Thursday our team meets at lunch to brush up and hone our spinning techniques. Some people are practicing long draw, others are trying different whorl and treadle-speed combinations. With a full team and high spirits, we hope to pull out some large numbers!



Each week, more of our team shows up for our spin in. Not only is this creating a a stronger team for Spinzilla, it is creating a stronger team at our factory.

How are you preparing for Spinzilla? Are you part of a team, or have you gone rogue? Let us know in the comments below and on our various social media outlets!

-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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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sequined Shawl - Universal Yarns




As I was sampling for an upcoming project, I took a detour with a long color change yarn… yummy.

My intent was to sample Universal Yarn's Deluxe DK Superwash as a warp in an 8 dent reed (I happened to have Classic Pink). I had hoped to use another colorway in the same yarn for the weft, but the one I had chosen didn't look quite right. I went into my stash and found Classic Shades Sequin Lite in the colorway “Lucky Rose” (also from Universal Yarn), and I thought, why not?




It is a very captivating look, and I learned something interesting about working with the color changes. I found this out the hard way. When I got to the end of my first bobbin, the color was different from the start of my next bobbin. I took the last part of the yarn on the bobbin that was running out and some of the new bobbin and alternated them so they would blend, but it was obvious that strategy was not going to create a flow in color. I wondered how to introduce the grace of the color changes of the yarn into my weaving.


Then I realized that when winding a bobbin for the weft yarn, I was reversing the direction of the color run. If I transferred the yarn from that bobbin to another bobbin, I could right the direction of the color change. If I did that for all of my bobbins, the yarn would flow in my weaving the exact way it did in the skein. (I wound bobbins for my boat shuttle, but the same process would apply to stick shuttles).

I rewound every bobbin after that and it created the color change below. Seamless... you can't even tell where I switched bobbins.


This blew my mind a bit - something as simple as rewinding bobbins made such a profound difference! This didn't give me the information that I needed for my next project, but I learned a valuable lesson for long color changes.


-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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Friday, September 12, 2014

Spanish Moss Shawl - A Zoom Loom Project



For our latest Zoom Loom project, John Mullarkey is sharing his Spanish Moss Shawl. Originally woven for Handwoven’s "Not Just for Socks" contest where it won Best in Show, the Spanish Moss Shawl uses Dream in Color’s Smooshy sock yarn. 

Spanish Moss Shawl, Handwoven, May/June 2010


Download the PDF to get started on your own shawl.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bolster Squared - A Zoom Loom Project

Here's a comfy bolster to lean on while you're weaving on your Zoom Loom! This project is quick to weave, using only 20 squares with a bit of sewing and knitting to finish it off. Customize it to fit your decorating scheme! Don't forget to share your projects with us on our social media!

Make a bolster to match your decor

Download the PDF.
View our other Zoom Loom projects.

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Friday, September 5, 2014

The Monster is Coming!!

The second annual Spinzilla is right around the corner--one month from Saturday to be exact. Before we get into the fun and the fury of Spinzilla, its good to remember why we are participating in this event. Spinzilla, at its core, is a fundraising program for the Needle Arts Mentoring Program to "promote and encourage relationships between adults and youth, fostering curiosity, creativity and a feeling of achievement through the teaching of needle arts." Your registration fees are what fund this amazing program. We believe in this so much that we are one of the three Yak sponsors of the event.

Now a global event, Spinzilla is connecting over 50 teams representing 1400 spinners from around the world. We are keeping an eye on the team from Bolivia, filled with life-long spinners. We are sure they will be major contenders. Last year as a spinning community, we raised over $6,000 and spun 1,373,175.06 yds (780.2 miles) of yarn; we can't begin to measure the amount of fun we had.

You have a month to get ready, and it is never too early to prepare. Here is a brief checklist to keep in mind:

Is your wheel in working order? Tune up your wheel to make sure that it will spin with ease.

Do you have the right equipment? Spinning wheel oil, whorls (high-speed), threading hooks, niddy noddy, yardage counter, Ultra Umbrella Swift, etc. Check in with your Schacht Dealer for supplies.

Enough bobbins? During Spinzilla if you choose not to ply, you can transfer your yarn from your spinning wheel bobbins to cardboard spools or 6" weaving bobbins, an effective and wallet-friendly way to store your yarn.


Tip: Weigh all of your bobbins when they are empty and make a note of each one before Spinzilla. This makes the measuring process more accurate later if you are weighing your yarn.


Do you have enough fiber? You don't want to be caught short of fiber during the week. To help assess whether your fiber will be enough for the week, test how long it takes to spin an ounce of fiber close to the type you plan on spinning, and then realistically think about how many hours you might spin during the week. After a little bit of math, you'll know about how many ounces you can spin.

Are you physically ready? When spinning for long stretches, be sure to stretch and take breaks at regular intervals to prevent injuries to wrists and hands.

Are you mentally ready? Though highly meditative, spinning for hours in front of the wheel can be monotonous. Keep interested by listening to books on tape, watching movies or t.v. shows, or have some friends over and chat while spinning. Whatever you do, make it fun!

Is your family ready? If they don't already know, you might want to prepare your family by informing them that you might not be able to be interrupted...for a week. Tell them it's for a good cause (which it is!) if they are skeptical.

If you have any tips or tricks to be more efficient for Spinzilla, post them in the comments below, or share them with us on Facebook! We will be blogging more often that week, so subscribe and keep up with the news!

-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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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Let's Talk About Tension

A guide to fine-tuning your tension to make the yarn you want. 


Your treadle speed, your drive ratio, and your tension all contribute to being able to spin different fibers into different yarns – the possibilities truly are endless. Today we’ll talk a bit about using tension in support of spinning the yarn you envision. As Spinzilla nears ever closer, this is a great guide for getting your wheel ready for the marathon week.

There are three main types of tension systems: Scotch tension, Irish tension and double drive. We will be talking in depth about Scotch tension and double drive, but will touch on Irish tension.

In Scotch tension, the tension of the bobbin, and the tension of the flyer are independent of one another, with the brake band on the bobbin, and the drive band on the flyer whorl.

In double drive, the tension of the bobbin and the flyer are in direct relation to each other.

In Irish tension, the tension of the bobbin, and the tension of the flyer are independent of one another, with the brake band on the flyer whorl, and the drive band on the bobbin. This system is ideal for larger yarns and production-style spinning because of the stronger intake of the yarn.

Scotch Tension on the Sidekick.
Scotch tension works generally the same on most wheels. There is a string that goes over the large flange of the bobbin attached to a spring that allows for looser or tighter tension controlled by a tension peg. This tension peg enables you to elongate or compress the spring. With the spring stretched there is more tension on the bobbin which provides a stronger pull on the yarn to draw on the bobbin. When the spring is compressed, the take-up will be less and more twist will build up before the bobbin draws on the yarn. If your yarn is drifting apart, you want more twist. If it is getting kinked, you want less twist.
Elongate the spring more and more (adding more tension) as the bobbin fills with more yarn. This helps to keep a similar tension throughout the bobbin. This only requires small increases in tension. I usually give the knob a little turn each time I get to the last hook on my flyer.

This graph shows the general relationship between the weight of the bobbin as you spin,
and the amount of tension necessary while in Scotch Tension

For double drive, your drive band goes around your drive wheel twice, with one loop over the whorl/pulley, and one over the small flange of the bobbin. You can find the tension sweet spot and it will stay consistent during the spinning of the whole bobbin of fiber. The adjustments are a little different than Scotch tension. For the Matchless, start with the flyer parallel to the Mother-of-all (the horizontal piece of wood under the bobbin) and tie a new drive band with the band in the groove of the whorl you would like to use and the groove in the small end of the bobbin. To attain more draw in, turn the drive band tension knob (the mushroom shaped knob on top of the castle) clockwise.  This will raise the back of the flyer and put more tension on the bobbin for a quicker take-up. For less draw-in, turn the drive band tension knob counter clockwise so it drops the back of the flyer down, putting less tension on the bobbin.

The Schacht-Reeves drive band tension adjuster screw comes out the end of the table. It screws the whole Mother-of-all away from the wheel or towards the wheel to put more or less tension on the drive band. To be able to turn this adjuster screw, you must first loosen the wooden nut on the bottom of the table that holds the whole assembly in place. Turn the tension knob clockwise for more tension and counter clockwise for less.

The Ladybug tension adjuster for the drive band, is located to the side of the flyer assembly with a handle facing the front. Put the drive band in the groove of the tension wheel and with the handle, move the wheel out for more tension and in towards the wheel for less tension.

Double Drive on the Schacht-Reeves.

Large yarn: Everything is larger.

Since there are so many fibers in the width of a fat yarn in one linear inch, less twist is required to hold the fibers together. To achieve a larger yarn, use a larger whorl (slow or extra slow speed), make the spring larger (longer) by stretching it (for Scotch tension) or turn the tension knob clockwise (for double drive) creating a larger amount of tension, treadle slower (a larger amount of time between each treadle), and feed a larger amount of yarn in the orifice. 

Small yarn: Everything is smaller.

In a linear inch of really thin yarn, you might have just a few fibers as the width of the yarn. In order to hold those few fibers together, a lot of twist is needed. To achieve a smaller yarn, use a smaller whorl (high or super high speed), make the spring smaller (less stretched) or turn the tension knob counter clockwise for a smaller amount of tension, treadle faster (a smaller amount of time between each treadle), and feed smaller amounts of fiber into the orifice.

These are the two extremes on the spectrum of yarn, but hopefully, learning what to do to make extreme yarns will help with decisions about everything in between. What kind of yarn do you like to make? Do you have any other questions? Leave a comment or question below!

-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.