Thursday, August 21, 2014

Back to School - Pencil Case

When I have warp left over from another project, I try something new, or re-do an old favorite, just to use up all of the yarn. The woven fabric for this bag came from the end of a warp, and the weave pattern quickly became one of my favorites.

The yarns: The warp is Anzula Dreamy in the colorway "Kale."  In the weft I used the same Dreamy yarn alternating every other pick with handspun for the other picks. The handspun is also Anzula, an Organic Merino in the colorway "Forest." Approximately a 2 ply sport weight similar to the weight of the Dreamy yarn. This pattern creates a background of the “Kale” yarn with little squares of the handspun. This showcases the texture and the color of the handspun beautifully!

The Project: I have given in to the fact that I LOVE making bags. So when we were brainstorming about ‘back to school’ projects, I knew a pencil bag would be the perfect project for me! I have found when I am using handwoven fabric, construction of the bag is relative, and I tend to make it up as I go along.

As for the size of this project, it is entirely up to your plans, and what kind of fabric you have lying around. The size of my pencil case ended up being 6" by 10.5". Make sure you buy a zipper that is similar to the size of what you want your finished project to be.

I started by putting tabs on my zipper in a coordinating fun fabric, tucking in the raw edges. I cut out a piece of the fun fabric the size of my woven fabric. The woven fabric was serged, but zig zag stitch would work too. With right sides together, sew the top of the woven and fun fabric together sandwiching the zipper in between.

On one end, I stopped short of the tab so I could leave that sticking out for a pull tab. Repeating it on the other side, I started with the same end because the woven fabric stretches when sewing.  This way, the excess woven fabric ends up on the same side. (see right side in picture below)

Optional: Add a small pocket into the interior of the bag before sewing to the woven fabric.

Top stitching the zipper seemed like the best option so it wouldn't catch on the fabric. Sewing up the sides, I started from the end that was not folded and just eased in the woven fabric as I went along, to be even when reaching the fold. A handle was inserted on the opposite side of the pull tab and it was done! 

-Denise Renee Grace
Denise is one of the friendly voices you will hear at the end of the phone when you call Schacht. Her stockpile of knowledge about our spinning wheels, looms and accessories is astounding. She is eager to discuss the ins and outs of spinning and weaving with dealers and consumers alike. When she isn't at work you can find Denise with a pair of knitting needles in her hands, or hard at work with some other fiber venture.

If you make your own bag, share the pictures with us! Find us at the following places!

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Jillian Moreno

Jane Patrick, Creative Director at Schacht Spindle, left, and Jillian Moreno, Spinner, Knitter, Editor of KnittySpin

Barry (Schacht) and I took the opportunity to dine with Jillian Moreno when she was in town filming her plying class for Craftsy. Between teaching trips, Jillian is busy working on her next book on spinning to knit for Storey, due out in 2016. You know Jillian particularly through Knitty and KnittySpin--both great sources for inspiration.

It's always great to get together with fiber folk, especially when they are as passionate as Jillian. Check out her classes on her website for your next guild or shop class.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Spinning Lessons - Presence

As a knitter, I always planned my projects with the finished product in mind, choosing my pattern and recipient, and then the yarn, with great intention. As a spinner, on the other hand, I’ve been acquiring fibers with no knowledge of their destiny, or even how to spin them. I bought my first roving about 5 years before I learned to spin.

The happy beneficiary of Jane’s stashbust last year, I found myself in possession of a bag of white silk caps, which stayed in my closet for the winter while I spun Shetland, Corriedale, and Merino silk. In May, I attended Weave a Real Peace’s annual meeting, where one of the activities was a dye potluck. I took my caps with me and in they went to the indigo baths. They came out gorgeous and I spent another two months gazing upon them.

Before spinning on my Ladybug, I wanted to try the fiber on a drop spindle to give me a bit more control. Denise helped me to separate out and pre-draft the caps, and Ben loaned me his 2.2 ounce hi-lo spindle. As you might imagine, crafting is a communal art around here. During my lunch hour one day, I sat under a tree and set out to spin; I learned fairly quickly that this spindle was too heavy for this project. I picked it up out of the grass and picked out a new 1.1 ounce spindle. And I was in love! My spinning felt controlled and weightless, my fiber was consistent, and I was in heaven. I also realized it would take me years to spin the 3 ounces of fiber I have at the rate I was spinning it.

Last night I sat down at my Ladybug with my caps, a high-speed whorl, and a freshly-oiled flyer, and everything went haywire. The twist ran up the fiber into my roving and I kept forgetting which way to turn the knob for more or less tension, which didn’t really matter because I didn’t know if I needed more or less. I spent more time retrieving the yarn from the bobbin than spinning it, and since I can’t figure out how to do a successful join, I tied knots, cringing all the way. I can’t begin to comprehend the physics of what was happening on that wheel. I know there must be a sweet spot where the staple length, drafting, treadling, tension, and drive ratio all work together, but I was never very good at geometry. My options now are to ask for help, read a book or watch a video, or breathe and experiment. I suspect I will do some of each.
Panthera leoP1040181
Kate spinning silk on a spinning wheel for the first time (Wikimedia Commons)

I hope this fiber will become a beautiful yarn for embroidery. The richness of the color, the sheen of the silk, and the very fine singles fulfill a vision I’d already been having for a project. Sometimes I am intimidated by those crafty visions, and that’s probably one reason that I start many projects and finish few. Ultimately, I will have to get to know silk with my mind and with my muscles. My reward for that will be learning to embroider. But I am calling this yarn "Presence." Once, I did not know how to use a drop spindle, or a spinning wheel, at all. I didn't know what to do with a silk cap, or how to dye with indigo. I didn't learn those things by having a grand vision, but by showing up and trying. So, today, I’ll just spin on my spindle under the tree for the sheer joy of it. Maybe tomorrow I will sit down at the wheel...and breathe. 

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.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Zoom Loom Wedding Favors

By the time you read this post, I will be out of the office and getting ready for my wedding. I hope you enjoy this post while I enjoy my honeymoon.

When it came time to start thinking about making wedding favors for our wedding, my fiancee and I thought for quite some time before we came up with what we wanted to do. We wanted something handmade and personal; something that would mean a lot to us and to our guests.

Last year for the Spring TNNA trade show, Schacht made little flowers from Zoom Loom squares and a little pin button. 

We decided to personalize our flowers by using our initials and wedding date, and by adding a little magnet to the back to create a fridge magnet for our guests.
Photo Courtesy of Blue Sky Alpacas

We used Melange from Blue Sky Alpacas in three colors that coordinated with our wedding colors. We broke out our Zoom Looms and started weaving the hours away.

"Are we done yet?"

Over 100 squares later, and a lot of help from the Schacht office staff, we were ready to assemble them.

I started by making each square into a flower, then attached the pin to the center of the flower, and glued a magnet to the back of each flower using a low-heat hot glue gun.

Piles and piles of squares all over!

The greatest thing about this project is that it can be done in a relatively short amount of time, and you can customize the colors for your own wedding or event. (It also gets your loved ones weaving!)

-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, August 5, 2014

Default Yarn Challenge - Denise Renee Grace

Spinning is probably my favorite fiber art. That is a pretty big statement for me, as I love all of the fiber arts tremendously. Although spinning is free and flowing, it still gives me an avenue of utmost control. It is the best of both worlds! Exploring everything from crazy textured yarn to 6-ply lace weight is just pure joy for me, but honestly, the structure of my default yarn is a little boring. I use a modified short forward draw when I just want to zone out. When everything is spun and plied, I end up with a fine fingering weight. Although the structure of the yarn isn't that exciting, I use fibers that are exciting to offset (what I consider) the mundane nature of the yarn. I spin with color!

Anzula is one of my favorite dyers.  I use a lot of their dyed (and natural) roving. From the time I saw the braid of Tussah Silk and Merino blend in the Garden colorway, I knew I had to have it!  I split the braid in half and blissed out in my default spinning. I spun on my Sidekick, so I could spin during breaks at work and in front of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman at home. I plied it on my Ladybug with our Bulky Plyer Flyer, wound it, washed it, balled it, and stood back to admire the yarn cake.  With silk, even if the colors are vibrant in the braid, they mellow out quite a bit when spun.

Anzula roving (Garden, left) with "For Better or for Worsted" (Grace, right)
Using handspun in weaving can be daunting because it takes a lot of yarn and some is even wasted, so I often weave beautiful multi-colored handspun as weft with semi solid commercial yarn in the warp. I will pair the Garden roving with a springy “For Better or Worsted” yarn in the Grace colorway, also from Anzula. I am thinking chunky cowl, but I never really know until it is done.

Another thing that is a “default” for me in my spinning is the amount spun.  I spin A LOT.  So I thought I would share a lot of yarn.
Yarn conceived and spun by Denise
This is a three-ply fingering weight made of three different fibers; Organic Merino, Blue Faced Leicester, and Tussah Silk, all in the same “Earth” colorway, also from Anzula. For this yarn, I chose my Matchless, the luxury car of my fleet of wheels; the phrase "like buttah" really applies in this case. The silk in the three-ply gives it a little bit of shimmer and all the colors were so beautiful on the Niddy Noddy, I couldn't take the skein off. I plan to pair this with a Cashmere Silk Merino commercial blend called “Dreamy” (the yarn lives up to its name) in a Teal colorway, again from Anzula.  Oh so yummy! I would like to weave some sort of shirt, shell, or vest with this, but the creative process always surprises me.

Denise's yarn (on Niddy Noddy) with Anuzla "Dreamy" (Teal, front)
To find Anzula roving and yarn, preferably check out your local yarn shop, or you can shop online.  If your yarn shop doesn't carry roving, they can order several different blends in colorways Earth, Fire, Ocean, Garden, and Forest. They try to visit almost all of their dealers once a year, so chances are, there could be a trunk show near you!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Simple Guide for your Rigid Heddle Reeds

Let's talk rigid heddle reeds! There are 5-, 8-, 10-, and 12- dent reeds available for the Cricket and Flip Looms, in addition to Variable Dent Reeds.

5 dent reed: Bulky!

Contrary to some people’s belief, bulky yarn is great as a warp yarn, especially with a fingering in the weft. It shows off the warp nicely, so thick and thin handspun or hand dyed chunky yarns shine. It is also great for beginners because it goes fast.

Denise's Thanksgiving Scarf

8 dent reed: Worsted

The Cricket looms come with 8 dent reeds because worsted weight is the most common yarn for beginner weavers.  To create a balanced weave, use a worsted weight in the weft as well and beat lightly.  Remember, when the tension is taken off the fabric, the spaces in between the yarn will fill in a bit, and when washed, the yarn will “bloom” and the spaces will fill in even more.  Make sure to give it enough space by just “kissing” the yarn in place with the beater instead of pounding it in place.  An 8 dent reed is perfect for a blanket, and even blankets can be made with the rigid heddle loom by sewing strips together. 

Yearning to Weave, Issue 11
10 dent reed: Sport

This reed allows us to start to get into the finer gauges of knitting yarn.  Sport weight can have a nice drape to it if “kissing” rule (above) is followed.  You should be able to see squares in between the threads while the fabric is still on the loom.  Sampling is important to see what kind of fabric each yarn combination of fiber and color can make.  Some yarns shrink at different rates and others won’t shrink.  Variegated yarn tends to pool for a beautiful faux ikat pattern.  Using a solid or semi-solid in the weft with a variegated in the warp gives fabulous results. 

Fibonacci Scarf

12 dent reed: Fingering

I know there are probably loads of sock yarn stashes out there just waiting to get used.  Those few skeins make great lightweight scarves for friends and family!  Pick-up patterns with the fine weight yarn are delicious.
Meditation Scarf

There are also spacing techniques which can add visual interest.

From the Schacht Winter 2014 newsletter

Variable dent reed:

There are so many things you can do with this, the sky really is the limit! Our sales team members challenged each other to come up with a new project for the Variable Dent Reeds, and the results were varied and fabulous. We have found that some of the projects, like the plaid scarf below, turn out to be really subtle when all is washed and done.  What would you do with a VDR? 

Yearning to Weave, Issue 38

We’d love to see what you do with your reeds!  Share below.

-Denise Renee Grace

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Default Yarn - Judy Pagels

Most of my spinning for the past couple of years has been done right here at Schacht. Lucky for me one of my responsibilities was test-spinning on the wheels. When I have the opportunity to spin at my own lovely cherry Matchless, my default yarn tends to be similar to what I spin at work. It’s always short draw since that is ideal when viewing a wheel's performance. More often than not I fall into the same type of spinner as when testing.

After plying, Judy gives her yarn a SOAK - she loves this yarn wash
One difference between work and play is the fiber. At Schacht, we typically test the wheels using Bluefaced Leicester. At my own wheel, which I confess currently doesn’t get very much mileage, (don’t be fooled - this will change for Spinzilla!) I enjoy spinning with luxury fibers. From our monthly lunchtime spinning sessions at work my bobbin was filling with one of the most luscious yarns. Earlier in the year I bought some of Lucky Cat Craft’s 70% Ultrafine Polwarth and 30% Muga Silk. This yarn has received many ooohs and aaahs and is a lovely shade of brown, one of my very favorite colors. Brown has countless virtues – it can be natural, elegant, comfortable, enduring, humble, bold, dependable…  Not to mention the color of one of the most endearing animals, the donkey.

Judy can't help but take photos of every donkey she sees!

In addition to this yarn’s perfect color it has a luster that cannot be captured on film. Trust me – it is yummy!  I do not yet have an intended end use for this yarn but it may be combined with my next default yarn, Lucky Cat Craft’s 33% Yak, 33% Camel and 33% Muga Silk – a heavenly shade of brown.