Free Guide to Spinning Wheel Maintenance

Whether you’ve just purchased your first spinning wheel or have a growing collection, routine maintenance is key to enjoying a lifetime of spinning. Cleaning and caring for your wheel regularly will protect your investment – and we truly believe that a spinning wheel is an investment! Besides allowing you to create beautiful yarns that you couldn’t possible buy off the shelves at your LYS, a spinning wheel is also an investment in YOU. Enjoyment, stress relief, and sense of accomplishment are just a few of the benefits that many spinners cite when asked why they do what they do. We hope some of those reasons apply to you, too!

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Our free guide to spinning wheel maintenance is a useful reference to keep handy for the next time you hear a squeak or clatter, or notice your wheel is lurching a bit while you treadle. Knowing what to look for, along with how to fix these issues yourself, will keep your spinning stress-free.

Click here to download your free guide today. Don’t forget, our friendly staff is always happy to answer questions, too – just give us a call at 1-800-441-9665. You can also email our resident fiber guru Nancy at weavernancy@woolery.com or click here to post your questions in our Ravelry group.

We’ll also be hosting a Spinzilla Team this year – spinner registration opens on September 1 at spinzilla.org! Stay up-to-date by joining the conversation here in our team thread on Ravelry.

All the Best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery Team

Ask Nancy: Spinning Solutions

Nancy & Barry Schacht in the Woolery Booth at Convergence 2016

Nancy with Barry Schacht in the Woolery Booth at Convergence 2016

Got weaving problems? Stumped by your spinning? Our resident expert Nancy Reid will answer all of your burning questions in this new regular feature! Previously only available on our newsletter, we are moving Nancy’s informative column over to the Woolery blog for easy reference. In this month’s edition, we are sharing a few questions about fiber prep; to ask your own question, email weavernancy@woolery.com or click here to post your questions in our Ravelry group

All the Best,

Wave, Perri, and the entire Woolery Team

Q:

AshfordKiwi2I am new to spinning and in the market to buy a wheel.  Trying to choose a wheel is challenging as I have been reading and learning what characteristics are important.  

My confusion is with ratios: looking at the Ashford Kiwi 2, it says it has 5.5 and 7.25, which, if I understand this correctly, makes it a slow wheel that is good for spinning coarser wool. I would like to spin a variety of wool, but also alpaca-especially since I was given 2 processed fleece. Will this ratio work for alpaca?  Will I need to adapt the wheel or get additional kits for the Kiwi 2? Are there other wheels I should look at with a broader ratio?

A:

You are correct that the Kiwi 2 is a slow wheel, but there are ways to speed it up; we recommend the Kiwi Hi-Speed Kit, found here. As a beginning spinner, you need to balance the ability to go slowly enough that you can actually learn on it with the scope to take you past the first month and on into the rest of your spinning life; the Kiwi speed kit will certainly help with that.

Slower speeds are not precisely for spinning coarser wools, but rather for fatter yarns. The fiber is immaterial – it’s the diameter of the yarn that is affected by ratio. Skinnier yarns take more twist to keep them together than fat yarns do; given a steady treadling pace and a consistent drafting rate, you’ll need more twist to make a thin, sound yarn, and so will need a faster rate in order to keep making yarn at the same rate.

ladybugAlpaca, because of its warmth, is usually spun finer than wool (otherwise, it’s unbearably hot); so it is spun at a faster speed in order to keep consistent body mechanics, i.e. drafting rate and treadling rate.

There are many wheels with a broader scope than the Kiwi which also have the ability to slow down enough to be able to learn on them; the Lendrum Original is one of those. The Ashford Traditional and Traveller are also nice wheels with a lot of scope, as is the Schacht Ladybug. The Kromski Interlude and Sonata are possibilities, too. In general, the thing to do is to sit and treadle all the wheels that you are thinking about; the one whose action you fall in love with is the one to buy, whether you can spin on it yet or not.

Q: 

I have been spinning for about a year, and I am trying to teach myself supported long draw. The problem is that when I try to get started, the yarn feed onto the bobbin will separate from my leader or it will grab a large amount of fiber, creating large thick spots. What am I doing wrong?

A:

There are a couple of issues here; we’ll address them one at a time. For starters, with your leader, there are two ways to get past that:

  1. Tie a loop into the end of your leader, and if you put the end of your spinning fiber through a loop, it will usually be easier to get started.  
  2. Go ahead and spin worsted for a few inches rather than starting right in with a long draw, or just hold and accumulate a lot more twist before releasing the pinch to allow twist in to the drafted fiber.  

SpinnersToolboxRemember that a supported long draw lets in twist gradually from the hand in front repeatedly releasing the pinch to allow more twist in, and then pinching again so that you still have the ability to draft out your slubs (before too much twist gets added in); it’s a delicate back-and-forth. You may also have a little better control if you don’t run your arm out too far at the beginning, but go out gradually in steps as the twist is added.

Lastly, the key to a uniform yarn is as perfect a prep as possible; you can’t get nice slub-free yarn from a funky prep, and there’s no substitute for a consistent rolag.

In writing this, I realize that long-draw is a tough thing to verbalize; one of those cases where a picture (especially a video!) is worth a great many words. If you get a chance, Judith Mackenzie’s A Spinner’s Toolbox DVD is a good reference.

Craft Room Inspiration: Getting Organized

IMG_1631Chances are, you have probably amassed a lot of supplies if you’ve been spinning, weaving, knitting, hooking, or doing anything crafty for a few years. How do you keep it all organized? Do you have a dedicated craft corner, or perhaps even an entire room to house your supplies? Just how unwieldy is that fiber or yarn stash?

Keeping your fiber supplies organized and easily accessible can serve a number of purposes. It can keep them safe from children, pets, or unwanted pests who could cause damage (if stored properly). It can save you time later on, when you don’t have to spend hours searching for that special skein or specific tool that you need to start a new project. Plus, a well-organized craft room or nook just looks lovely!

We’ve collected some of our favorite ideas over on Pinterest to keep your craft supplies, work areas, and WIPs tidy and organized – not to mention, safe from harm! Below are a few of our favorites – click here to see more on Pinterest.

Yarn & Fiber Storage, keeping everything safe in plastic bins - via Must Stash Podcast.

Yarn & Fiber Storage, keeping everything safe in plastic bins – via Must Stash Podcast.

Drop Spindle Storage Idea (Via Ravelry)

Drop Spindle Storage Idea (Via Ravelry)

Mason Jar Storage for Knitting Needles - via Sew Liberated blog.

Mason Jar Storage for Knitting Needles – via Sew Liberated blog.

All About Moths - Via KnitDarling.com

All About Moths – Via KnitDarling.com

All the Best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery team

The Woolery is on the Move!

If you follow us on any of our social media channels, you have probably noticed that we’ve been packing up our inventory in preparation for this month’s move to a bigger, better location.

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Don’t worry – we’ll still be conveniently located in Frankfort, Kentucky (859 East Main Street, just 5 minutes off I-64 at exit 58, to be exact). Our new space just happens to have PLENTY of off street parking right outside our front door, plus more space for inventory, an expanded showroom and display area, and a dedicated classroom space – stay tuned for our expanded list of class offerings!

Of course, a few things haven’t changed: it’s the same great Woolery Team, same great Woolery Selection, and same great Woolery Service. The way we see it, it’s win-win!

Moving so much inventory is quite the undertaking, as you can see in this video:

We spent this past weekend moving the bulk of our stock while our brick-and-mortar store was temporarily closed. Yesterday, we reopened in for business!

Here is a quick tour of the new space:

However, a new location isn’t the only change happening – we’ve unveiled a new & improved website this month, too! You may have noticed our new, modern look when visiting us online at woolery.com. Additionally, our website is now easier to view on a mobile device or tablet!

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We’re continuing to make improvements to both our new retail space and website. For instance, many of our floor looms will take time to set up in the new loom room, so we do recommend giving us a call ahead of time at 800-441-9665 (or 502-352-9800 locally) to ask if a particular model is available to try out.

Additionally, we will be adding lots of exciting new products to our website in the months to come.

As always, our ultimate goal is to make your fiber arts experience enjoyable and successful. Thanks for joining us, and we hope to see you soon!

All the Best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery team

Keep those hands healthy with our free guide!

Your hands work hard, and you rely on them for a lot of things in your life, such as taking care of your family, friends, and even pets. Besides everyday activities and household chores, you also need your hands for the hobbies that bring you joy: spinning, weaving, knitting, crocheting, sewing, and felting.

Keep your hands in tip-top shape with the Woolery's Free Guide to Healthy Hands PDF!
In our Free Guide to Healthy Hands, we cover many ways you can take care of your most prized tool to avoid overuse and injury – and what to do if your craft sessions are not pain-free. You’ll find practical advice, links to resources, and other ways to keep your hands and wrists in top crafting condition, such as these suggestions to reduce the impact of repetitive movements which can lead to strains and pains:

Mix it up! Many crafters have more than one project going at any time, which is a great way to keep things fresh. Try to work your to­do list so that you have projects using different weights of yarn going simultaneously ­ you could alternate among a pair of socks, a worsted weight hat, and a chunky cowl, for example. This gives your hands a chance to adjust to using different size needles or hooks, so your hands don’t cramp up after using nothing but laceweight yarn for weeks at a time.

Vary your crafts! If you’ve been doing a lot of knitting, maybe it’s time to spin or felt for a while. If you’ve been weaving a large project, take a break with some knitting or crochet.

Take a break! Sitting in one position ­ or making the same motion over and over again ­isn’t healthy if you do it for too long. The last thing you need is to give yourself a repetitive stress injury during a marathon knitting or crocheting session! When you’re working on your craft, pause every 15 or 20 minutes and do something different to give your body a rest. Do a stretch or two, walk around, get a glass of water, or throw in a load of laundry ­- anything that gets you moving in a different way will help you stay comfortable when you return to your craft.

Be realistic! Allot yourself more time than you think you will need to complete your projects. Crafting on a deadline turns fun into work and creates situations where you are tempted to push past your body’s limits in order to get things done. That’s a recipe for injury.

We’ve already delivered the full Healthy Hands for Happy Crafting guide to our newsletter subscribers, so check your inbox or click here to sign up & receive a PDF download today!

All the best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery team

Ask Nancy: Balance & Heddles

Ask NancyGot weaving problems? Stumped by your spinning? Our resident expert Nancy Reid will answer all of your burning questions in this new regular feature! Previously only available on our newsletter, we are moving Nancy’s informative column over to the Woolery blog for easy reference. In this month’s edition, we are sharing a few questions about fiber prep; to ask your own question, email weavernancy@woolery.com or click here to post your questions in our Ravelry group

All the Best,

Wave, Perri, and the entire Woolery Team

Q:
I am trying to figure out my thread count for a woven towel project and I really don’t know what is meant by “plus the balance element.” What the heck is a balance element?

Image courtesy Liz Gipson, yarnworker.com

Image courtesy Liz Gipson, yarnworker.com.

A:
Let’s look at basic design. If my threading pattern goes 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1 (etc) and repeats (draw it out on graph paper), you’ll see that the next number in the pattern is 2; the pattern progression is pretty obvious. Draw out several repeats of it, and then draw in lines to isolate each “repeat”, and you will find that the repeat is 1 2 3 4 3 2, and that the next number, 1, really belongs to the next repeat. So if we are doing a stretch of this design, we’ll put in a bunch of repeats in the pattern, ending with a full number of repeats, and then throw in a 1 (balance element) to make the whole thing look coherent, ending where it began. Symmetry!

So: in the case of Finnish towels (Davison, p. 197), my repeat is 38 threads; block A of 20 threads, plus block B of 18 threads. I’ll do those 38 threads as many times as I can (given the width and thread count I want), and then end with 20 threads (an extra block A) to visually complete the pattern and balance it out.

Q:
Is it possible to add a third heddle to an Ashford Rigid Heddle loom? I have the 32″ one. If not, is a heddle bar the same thing? I’d rather have a third heddle if possible.

A:
Well, anything is possible, but it’s not optimal; there just is not enough room in that loom, front to back, for another heddle block to be added without impacting the performance pretty dramatically. The conventional wisdom is that the Beka is probably the only loom out there with enough depth to do a third heddle, and that has compromises as well; there isn’t a neutral position on the Bekas.

A heddle bar isn’t quite the same thing; a RH will move the “hole” warp threads to heddle-up position or to heddle-down position; while a heddle bar is capable only of moving a set of warp threads to heddle-up position; there is no heddle-down capability. To do the same thing that a third rigid heddle can do would take a pair of heddle bars.
Good thought, though!

Sneak Peeks from TNNA

We have lots of exciting news coming down the pike, and our recent trip to the Summer TNNA (The National Needlearts Association) Trade Show is the perfect opportunity to give you a sneak peek into what’s to come!

TNNA in Washington DC

Perri and Taevia both journeyed to Washington, DC to walk the show floor, take classes, place orders, and spot industry trends.

Perri & Taevia at TNNA

There was quite an emphasis on products which were Made in the USA, and we were glad to stop by the Brown Sheep booth to say hello and view the newest colors of some of our favorite sustainably-produced superwash yarns.

BrownSheep

Of course, we were on the lookout for the latest weaving trends. We spotted many lovely samples throughout the show floor, and look! There are some exciting new Zoom Loom Critter Kits:

Zoom Loom Critter Kits

We also spent some time in the lovely Purl & Loop booth; in the photo below from their Instagram feed, you can see several products which will be coming soon the Woolery (hint, hint)!

purlandloop

Speaking of new products which will be arriving soon at the Woolery, we happened by the Wool Buddy booth, which had an impressive display created by needle felting. They have many, many fun kits to make various creatures and critters, and we’re excited to be adding them to our shop soon.

Wool Buddy TNNA booth

One of the great things about attending the show is to be able to visit with the people behind the brands we love so much. We were able to chat with Dave and Pam from Louet North America, and check out their lovely spinning fibers, wheels, yarns, and more!

Now pouring: Louet Spinning fiber

We also got a chance to stop by the Ashford booth, where there were plenty of live spinning and weaving demos. We couldn’t resist this beautiful arrangement of spinning fibers waiting to become rolags, and rolags which were ready to become yarn!

Ashford spinning wheel, fiber and hand carders

We also got a chance to see the Strauch ball winder and swift along with various models of hand cards and drum carders in action, all while visiting with Otto and Joanne Strauch. It was their first time exhibiting at the show, but you sure couldn’t tell – check out their professional booth setup!

Otto Strauch at TNNA

Another fun aspect of the show is to be able to see what’s new – and we happened to spot the new Schacht Flat Iron spinning wheel in the Spinning & Weaving Group booth. This item is not yet on our website, but we are now accepting preorders. You can find the details below; this wheel is already receiving rave reviews from all who try it!

New Schacht Flat Iron Spinning Wheel available for preorder.

To preorder your Schacht Flat Iron spinning wheel by phone, please call us at 800-441-9665. Cost is $795 and we offer free shipping within the continental USA; you’ll also receive a $25 Woolery Gift Card. Our anticipated ship date is mid-August of 2016.

Wheel details:

Double treadle
Spinning modes: Scotch, double drive, bobbin-lead
Spinning ratios: 4.6:1 to 26:1
Weight: 15 pounds
Drive wheel: 22 1/2”
Orifice height: 26”
Dimensions: 33” wide x 33” tall x 18” deep
Comes with 3 bobbins, medium and fast whorls, cotton and poly drive bands, threading hook.
Special features: Can be assembled with the flyer on the right or the flyer on the left. Packs flat for shipping.
The Saxony style Flatiron comes with everything you need to spin. Just add fiber!

All the Best,

Wave, Perri, and the entire Woolery Team