Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Take a Class with Jane!

Jane Patrick, our Creative Director, author, and teacher, will be found this summer at several conferences, as well as this fall at Mendocino Art Center. Summer conferences are not only fun, they’re a great way to intensify your learning.

June 15-21 Midwest Weaver’s Conference in Minneapolis. Jane will be teaching at the pre-conference workshops, June 15-17. Jane’s class, “I can do THAT? Techniques for the rigid heddle loom”, will explore the vast possibilities of the rigid heddle loom with a focus on designing stunning fabrics.

July 9-12 New England Weaver’s Seminar in Northampton, Massachusetts. NEWS is solely focused on weaving, from beginner to advanced techniques. Jane will be teaching a one-day workshop, Weave a Scarf in a Day which is essentially a beginner class that teaches all of the steps in weaving. Jane will also be teaching pick-up for the rigid heddle loom and finger-controlled techniques (which can be done on either a floor loom or a rigid heddle loom). Jane will also be giving the keynote address.

July 23-26 Intermountain Weaver’s Conference in Durango, Colorado. Jane will be found back in her home state in beautiful, historic Durango. The theme of this conference is “try something new”. With that in mind Jane is teaching beginning inkle weaving, weave a scarf in a day (beginning rigid heddle weaving), as well as pick-up for the rigid heddle loom and finger-controlled techniques.

November 14-15. Mendocino Art Center in Mendocino, California. Join Jane in the lovely Mendocino surroundings for two days of rigid heddle weaving. One day is devoted to pick-up on the rigid heddle loom and the other day will focus on finger-control techniques.

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, Woven Scarves (co-authored with Stephanie Flynn Sokolov), and Simple Woven Garments (co-authored with Sara Goldenberg). Jane is Creative Director for Schacht Spindle and is married to Schacht founder, Barry Schacht.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Fish are Jumpin' and the Cotton is High....

Though I know summer is just around the corner, it is still chilly here and has been wet (which is actually lovely for this time of year), but soon it will be nice and warm hot. In anticipation for summer, I have been drawn to working with cotton. It is such a different experience to work with cotton fiber instead of something like wool. Cotton's staple length (average length of the individual fibers) is much shorter compared to most animal fibers. The first time I spun cotton, I felt like I had to learn how to spin all over again!

Now that I have practiced spinning cotton and understand that cotton needs a lot of twist to hold it together as a yarn, I love it! Because there is so much to learn, we are going to feature cotton this week and into next week.

Cotton is available in many forms: organic, naturally colored, long staple pima, fluffy white acala,  easy-to-dye and Easy-to-Spin Sliver; the list goes on. So what are the basic spin-able forms of cotton on the market? I have found the main ones to be bolls, seed cotton, ginned cotton, puni, and sliver. You can find a selection of spinning cotton here

Bolls are great to learn how to spin cotton. It is the original form that comes right off of the plant with husk, seeds, and all. Bolls are also excellent for educational purposes and giving spinning demonstrations (check out our YouTube channel later this week for a video.)  How many people have actually seen a real cotton boll?

Photo courtesy of Cotton Clouds
Seed cotton is cotton that has been separated from the boll husk but the seeds are still embedded in the fibers. This seed cotton is long staple pima; note that the seeds in the picture are "naked" (no fuzzy fibers adhering to them). The advantages of spinning "off the seed" is that the fibers have not been mechanically compromised in a gin.

Photo courtesy of Cotton Clouds
Ginned cotton just has the seed taken out. The fibers are not arranged in any particular way and can easily be hand fluffed or carded to spin. You will notice that ginned pima cotton has a creamy color, longer staple fiber and is easier to spin. 

Acala cotton has a whiter color ideal for dyeing, a shorter stable but is fluffier and needs little or no hand carding.

Photo courtesy of Cotton Clouds
Punis are carded cotton, rolled (with a dowel) into a cylindrical shape similar to a wool rolag. While these are traditionally handmade in India, you can make your own! Punis are the best fiber preparation for spinning on a supported Tahkli spindle.

Photo Courtesy of Cotton Clouds
Sliver is cotton that has been mechanically formed into a long continuous formation. Combed sliver has all the fibers parallel while carded cotton does not.  Beginners should start with carded sliver. Combed sliver should be spun with the worsted method by experienced cotton spinners.  The resulting yarn is soft and silky. Sliver cottons are idea for clothing and towels. 

Photo courtesy of Cotton Clouds
Cotton sliver loves to be dyed into a rainbow of colors that is fun to spin as you see subtle color changes form as you spin.  This hand-dyed cotton sliver is from Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks. This is an ideal fiber preparation to spin for multicolored socks.

Photo Courtesy of Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks
We will explore more of these applications this week and into next week.

-Denise Renee Grace and Irene Laughing Cloud Schmoller

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.

Irene Schmoller, owner and blogger of Cotton Clouds, is one of the leading experts on cotton. Irene has been passionately involved in textile arts for over 40 years. When she's not  at home in Arizona, she's livin' her dream at the beach in Florida.

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Gingham Heirloom Bag Collaboration

Photo courtesy of Fancy Tiger Crafts
We love a challenge here at Schacht, so when we opened a package from Fancy Tiger Crafts full of their Heirloom Yarn, fabric and some webbing, we were excited! Denise and I have done a couple of collaborations before, but this one is perhaps our favorite.

Heirloom is the "house" yarn from Fancy Tiger Crafts; 100% Romney wool, grown, milled, and dyed in the U.S. Being a hardy, rustic wool, both Denise and I thought "bag." Since over-sized gingham is a fashion trend this year, we decided that would be an easy pattern to create on a rigid heddle loom. 

This bag has a clever construction, one long piece of fabric is sewn up the middle with no cutting required. The fabric lays on the bias when the bag is finished, adding just one more element of excitement. The finished piece is an over-sized bag that reminds us a bit of the 70's. Funky fringe (so in this year) and beautiful buttons make it an awesome fashion accessory.

Photo courtesy of Fancy Tiger Crafts
Supplies: 2 skeins each of Heirloom in the colors Fava Bean and Butternut, 1 yard of cotton fabric, 2 yards of cotton webbing, or other strap material. 15" Cricket Loom, 8-dent reed, and 5 buttons. Optional: fringe twister.

Fava Bean and Butternut
Photo courtesy of Fancy Tiger Crafts
Warping: warp length 3.5 yards. In an 8-dent reed, thread 12 ends of Fava Bean and 12 ends of Butternut, alternating stripes across the full weaving width of your loom. 120 total ends; 10 stripes making up the warp.

Weaving: Plain weave structure, alternating 12 picks of Fava Bean, and 12 picks of Butternut. Weave a balanced weave (same picks per inch as warps per inch), or to square the pattern. Hemstitch at the beginning, weave the whole length of your warp, and end with hemstitching.
Felt the fabric to create a dense yet soft fabric. We put the fabric in the washing machine on a full hot cycle with soap and threw it in the dryer for around 30 min. on high (you could hand-felt the fabric as well). We advise monitoring the fulling process. You do not want to over felt. You can always do more but never less.

Photo courtesy of Fancy Tiger Crafts
1: Fold the finished fabric in half. 
2: Hand sew up one side using a whip stitch. Try to line up your stripes in this process.
3: Open the folded piece up, flattening the corner at the bottom.
4: Take the top right edge of the fabric and bring it down so the right edge lines up with    the top of the triangular portion, whip stitch along this seam.
5: Turn over. Fold the flap down.
6: For the strap, poke two holes in each corner of the bag and pass the end of the webbing through the holes. Fold the raw end back onto the strap. Wrap the strap around the raw end and sew into place hiding the end in the strap.

7: Fringe twist the ends in groups of 4, to create 3 tassels in each stripe.
8: Using the cotton fabric, sew a liner a little smaller than the bag itself. Leave enough room at the top to fold down leaving the raw edge between the liner and the bag. Whip stitch along the top edge of the bag to set the liner in place.
9: For added decoration, take some buttons and sew them along the top of the bag following the middle seam of the fabric.

Photo courtesy of Fancy Tiger Crafts
This project is extremely versatile, and can be customized to suit your needs. Different widths and lengths of fabric will make differently shaped bags. The strap could be attached somewhere else with another technique and be made a different length. Make your own bag and share them with us on our social media!

-Benjamin Krudwig and Denise Renee Grace

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.

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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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Simple Woven Garments

It's here! The book we have all been waiting for, "Simple Woven Garments" by Jane Patrick and Sara Goldenberg is off the press!

From a classic capelet to an ode to Coco Chanel, this book is chock full of stunning new designs. Sara and Jane will take you from simple, elegant projects and give you the resources you need for more complicated garments. Jane and Sara have created over 20 designs for all occasions and seasons. 

This book uses mostly knitting yarns that you can find at your local yarn shop and some that are likely in your stash. A few of the projects utilize accent stripes which are a great way to use up some of those leftover bits of yarn. Overall this book is a fantastic resource not just for weaving techniques, but also for garment design, inspiration, and construction. 

My personal favorite is the hoodie. I love the modern style of this wardrobe staple, and can't wait to warp up my loom for my own! Keep an eye on our blog in the coming months for designs made by the office staff inspired by the book.

Grab your own copy of "Simple Woven Garments" from a Schacht Dealer near you!

-Benjamin Krudwig

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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Woven Companion Cube by Sam Strasser

In keeping with the theme of art this week, we have a small inspiration post for you this weekend.

Though this could be considered a toy, it also functions as a small piece of "soft sculpture." Sam Strasser, one of our CNC operators at the factory created a small cube inspired by the video game "Portal" by Valve Corporation.

To make this cube, weave 6 squares on the zoom loom with a grey wool yarn. Felt the squares and sew them into a cube shape. Before sewing the final square into the cube, take a small cube of wood and wrap it with batting to create a heavy, yet padded form for your woven cube to be sewn around. Use craft felt and embroidery thread to create the motifs and sew them onto each side of the cube. A little fabric glue may help to keep the felt cutouts in place.

Have you made any woven or spun art inspired by fictional references? Share them with us on social media!

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