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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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Handspun Wall Hanging - Benjamin Krudwig

Last August my wife and I went to New Mexico for our honeymoon, staying in both Taos and Santa Fe. While in Taos, we stayed in a quiet vacation home on an alpaca farm. After a few days of rest and relaxation, we traveled to Santa Fe for more arts and entertainment. So much of culture in the "Land of Enchantment" centered around fiber; fiber farms were down every country road, weaving studios were just around the corner, and rugs woven by locals could be seen hanging on walls and in window displays. The museums were filled with antique textiles, reminding me that all of this work was (and still is) done using simple tools. All of this texture in the animals, landscape, and culture made me buzz with creative excitement!

On one of our day trips to Ojo Caliente, we found ourselves surrounded by many simply stunning handwoven wall hangings; modern in color scheme with a minimalist vibe. Each piece had a gorgeous ombre weft, punctuated by thin horizontal lines of black. It took everything in my self control not to take one home. These particular works were extremely inspiring, filling my head with ideas for my own wall hanging.

Returning to Boulder, I couldn't wait to get weaving again. As soon as I could, I pulled out my 15" Cricket Loom and started playing around. I had recently Navajo plied some self-striping yarn that alternated between dark brown and bright yellow. (Look for a spinning tutorial in the future.) I decided to use this in the warp. For the weft, I used a blended handspun with the same two colored fibers carded together. This project allowed me to use some yarn that wasn't suitable for wearing next to the skin, but still had great color and depth.

I warped the full width of the loom in a 10-dent reed. My warp length was about 5 feet.

Since the striping was spun into the yarn, it showed up in the warp automatically during the direct warping process. After hemstitching the end, I started weaving with dark brown handspun, wove for about a foot, and then switched to my blended yarn which I wove with for about a few more inches.

To create an open stripe in the middle of the weaving, I braided three bundles of  four warp threads for about an inch. This created braids on both ends of the length. I carried my shuttle up the edge of the braid and passed it through the center of the braid to lock in the motif (shown by the stick below). I repeated this technique across the width of the warp until I reached the other side. After the final braid, I pulled my weft yarn through to keep it all together, carried it up the side, and continued weaving.

The braiding technique shown on a sample warp.
I continued weaving with my blended yarn until I ran out, and then switched back to my dark brown. I ended the weaving with hemstitching and then braided the fringe on each end. I lightly felted the wall hanging. Because the two colors were different kinds of wool, they shrank at different rates. For the top edge, I folded the braids in half and tacked them down on the back so that I could pass a dowel through for hanging..

This is a pretty free-form piece. I had a basic plan, but not a solid picture of what it would turn out to be. I don't mind the irregularities, and in fact they add an organic touch that I rather like. This wall hanging will always remind me of our trip to New Mexico, transporting me every time I look at it.
-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, February 17, 2015

From Crickets to Wolfs

The Cricket loom is a versatile and fun way to get weaving. If you've been weaving on the Zoom Loom, the Cricket Loom is the perfect next step in weaving. Here are a couple recent posts about the Cricket, and the people who use it!

First off, Liz Gipson of Yarnworker has started producing some wonderful how-to videos (her Instagram is also quite fun) using the Cricket Loom and our other rigid heddle loom, the Flip. This video is a fun and informative way to learn how to warp your Cricket loom!

Also on the 10" Cricket, this stunning scarf was made by Lynette Glass while she was teaching a group of students leno lace technique. The yarn is Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece and was set at 8 epi.

Speaking of lace; your weaving and pattern options grow substantially with the use of a floor loom. Ruth used her cherry Baby Wolf for her huck lace project. This loom is equipped with the versatility to create stunning cloth!

Our Pinterest boards are ripe with ideas, and are just waiting to be viewed. Check out our Cricket Loom board for project ideas for the 10 or 15 inch Cricket Loom, and don't overlook the Wolf loom board for a taste of what can be done with a harness floor loom.

If you want to keep an eye on what others are doing, or if you want to show us what you are making with our products, tag your posts with #schachtspindle.

We love seeing your work, so keep it coming!

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Friday, February 6, 2015

Ruched Centerpiece - Benjamin Krudwig

Every holiday in my childhood home was a spectacle. Seasonal decorations went up all over the house; no room was left untouched by the festive frock. To me, the table has always been the place where people come together, so it's no wonder that I am drawn to making home-goods that belong on the dinner table.

As I was pondering this project, I knew that I wanted to make a centerpiece that would provide a textured backdrop for the rest of the Valentine's Day decorations. 

To start, weave 9 Zoom Loom squares. They could all be the same color (as shown) or they could be an assortment of colors. For this project, I used Neota Designs yarn, 50% Wool, 50% Silk, in the "Colorado Red" color-way. The silk added a decadent touch to this project, perfect for the season of romance.

Arrange the squares in a 3 x 3 grid, and seam them together. It is probably best to sew the squares together as opposed to crochet them together to eliminate as much extra bulk as possible.

Starting on one of the corners, pull the center vertical thread causing a gather or ruche. Cut that thread in half and tie the ends together in a double knot to prevent it from coming undone.

Alternate the direction (vertical or horizontal) of the thread that you pull on each square.

Pulling a horizontal thread in square 2.
 Snip the tied ends close to the work to clean up the back of the piece. Gently wash the centerpiece, and lay flat to dry.

This project was fun and quick to make, and would be great in a larger scale. Ruching is an easy way to add a little bit of texture to piece of otherwise plain fabric. This project could easily be adapted to any time of the year, and if you choose a color scheme that matches your decor, it could be featured year-round. Make your own handwoven ruched fabric, send us photos on our Facebook and Twitter, and we may feature them!
-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, February 5, 2015

A Dozen Red - Judy Pagels

Besides a box of chocolates, what is the quintessential Valentine’s Day gift? Having been a floral designer for 11 years (and counting) the definitive answer is red roses! This is my offering of the same, created with Zoom Loom Squares. Make your own, one or a dozen!

Most roses have names so mine will be called Colorado Red. This is the colorway of the yarn I used from Neota Designs, a 50% wool, 50% silk blend. This rich, complex red competes with the loveliest of the fresh varieties.

Each rose uses two squares. I fulled half of the squares to make them smaller for the inside of the rose.

Fulled rose on the right.
Rose assembly: Fold the smaller, fulled square, in half and catch the edge about ¼” from the bottom with needle and yarn.

Start with the fulled square.
Roll the square and catch the end to keep it together.

Fold the larger square in half and wind it around the first rolled square, adjusting the placement to achieve the best looking bloom. 

With needle and yarn, about ¼" from the bottom, go sideways through all layers of the bloom. Then wrap the yarn around the base a couple of times to draw in the bottom a bit. Secure it and take a few stitches at the very base to make it smooth.

To attach a stem, I poked flocked floral wire threaded on a needle through the base of the rose.

Now, to create a hole for the stem, use a needle to create an opening at the base of the bloom. Insert the stem. I used a floral paper wrapped wire to give the stem some bulk and structure. Bend the flocked floral wire around the base of the rose and twist around the stem to secure.

A good floral designer always hides her mechanics so, to complete the rose, wrap the base of the bloom with some green fiber and needle felt it  into place.

Finally, ribbon wrap the stem, starting at the bottom and working your way up to the bloom. At the top twist the ribbon, go back down the stem a bit and secure with an overhand loop pulled tight. Trim the ribbon to a leaf shape and you’re finished. Add more leaves by tying a small section of ribbon around the stem, trim into a leaf shape. Repeat this process until you are happy with the looks of each rose.

-Judy Pagels

Judy Pagels comes to Schacht from a varied background in printing, graphic design, and flower arranging. Hired initially as our shipping manager, Judy shortly afterwards was promoted to sales and service manager where she is in charge of new accounts, as well as sales and service. Judy is first a knitter, but also weaves and spins—always with a keen eye to great design.

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