Author Archives: thewooleryguy

Thank you for your support of The Woolery Weave-Off!

As I write this blog entry, it occurs to me that every day, everywhere, we are surrounded by bad news. Wars. Fiscal crises. Crippling poverty. Water accessibility. Hunger. It is a tumultuous time in the world, and it is safe to say that the inundation of upsetting daily news is exhausting to everyone. Compassion fatigue, some call it. When do we get a break from the bad?

For me, the break in the bad has been this contest.

Woolery Weave-Off Entries

Every day since February, we have received envelopes carefully sent to us containing hand woven dishtowels. Some are bright. Some are neutral. Some are from beginners, and some are from experienced weavers. They vary in size, in pattern, in colorway. Some have fringed edges, some are hemmed. Waffle-weaves, crepe-weaves, twills, and plain-weaves. They are all as different as the ways of the wind – there are not two that are similar. What they all have in common, though, is the obvious love with which they were woven. Beautiful notes accompany many of them expressing the delight to have a reason to warp a loom for a good cause. Some entries recount time spent in unsure housing circumstances themselves, and the frustration felt at having next to nothing, and definitely not much ‘nice’. One entry confessed that she wove it oversized so the owner, clearly in a tough time of life, might be able to use it for something other than just dish drying (that one caused me to burst into immediate tears).  A generous donation came from a sweet 12-year-old weaver, who acknowledged that she was unable to officially ‘enter’, but wanted to contribute alongside her mother’s submission. A school in Pennsylvania sent in a box of beautiful towels, despite many of the weavers being under 18 themselves. Some entrants added matching wash rags, some sent duplicates and multiples, just to bolster the donation amount.

The break in the bad.

As a woman and mother myself, I understand how stressful having young children can be, even on a good day, in comfortable circumstances. To add in the enormous stress of being housing insecure, feeling untethered to a stable life, must be overwhelming. As women and their children move out of The Simon House, into new apartments, they often do so with nothing. What they do have is usually donated, having once belonged to another family. Bare bones, and precious little luxury, but a new beginning. So lovely, well made, practical, and prettyare these dishtowels, that despite how utilitarian they may seem, the women who receive them will confidently possess at least one beautiful, brand new, high end thing that is hers. In the mundane tasks of putting away dishes, bathing the baby, wiping down the high chair at the end of a long day, there is guaranteed to be a bright spot when the owner gets a flash of a lovely, fun pattern, pleasing colors, and quality that gets the job done, only softening and becoming better with every wash. How many of us have a favorite dishtowel? I know I do. One small, reliable bright spot in the day.

A break in the bad.

The generosity, and more importantly, the empathyshown in these wonderful donations have been heartbreaking in their beauty, kindness and love, compassion, and obvious understanding of a less-than-ideal situation. One nice item, made just for them, that will last, wear well, and always be something enjoyable to use and look at. A break in the bad.

On behalf of the entire Woolery staff, the McFarlands, and our extended Woolery family, I thank you all from the genuine bottom of my tear-soaked, but now much larger heart. To be reminded of the love and generosity that exists in this chaotic world is a morale boost I desperately needed, and am so glad the ladies they will benefit get to experience, too.

Your true, warm colors all came shining through with this act of generosity. Thank you for this break in the bad.

~Katherine

Woolery Weave-Off Entries

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Grow Your Own Natural Dyes

Grow Your Own Natural Dyes

Here in Kentucky we’ve been having some winter weather stay a bit past its welcome, but it seems like Spring is finally starting to settle in. With all the nice sunny days ahead we thought it would be a great time to put a spotlight on some of our Dye Seeds! This line of seeds will produce a garden that is both beautiful and useful, all of them can be used to grow your own natural dye.

When starting your dye garden we suggest having a good variety of the primary colors (Red, Yellow, Blue) so you can mix them together to get a whole rainbow. Most people know about Indigo for blue so we’re going to skip thane and move on to some lesser known plants. Here are some of the different plants you can grow with our dye seeds!

Red – Amaranth

Amaranth

This was originally grown by the Hopi Nation to be used as a red food dye for their piki bread. The flower clusters, leaves, and stems are used to create the red dye. This plant does best in warm weather, so plant your seeds after you have no more chance of frost, or start your seeds indoors and transplant outside. These plants can get big, up to 8 feet tall!

Red – Bugloss/Alkanet

Bugloss/Alkanet

It’s good to have different options of the primary colors because different plants will yield different shades. The roots of the Bugloss/Alkanet plant will produce a maroon hue.  A bonus of this plant is that honeybees love it, so if you’re a beekeeper or you just want to help out bees this is a great option.

Yellow – Golden Marguerite

Marguerite

Sometimes referred to as Dyer’s Camomile, Golden Marguerite can be used to achieve a yellow dye. The flowers, leaves, and stems are used. Their daisy-like appearance makes them a pretty addition to your garden.

Red/Yellow – Safflower

Safflower

Fun fact, safflower was used to dye the red cotton tapes of legal documents and is the origin of the phrase “red tape”. You start growing these plants in the Spring but they won’t flower until the Fall. Different shades of the flowers can produce a red to yellow dye.

Black – Meadowsweet

Meadowsweet

These get their name from their sweet smell, but their biggest claim to fame is in the pharmaceutical industry. They contain salicylic acid which is the key ingredient that was synthesized to create aspirin. The roots of this plant can produce a black dye.

Gardening

If you’re new to natural dyeing or just dyeing in general, we have some book suggestions for you to get started on your colorful journey! Harvesting Color by Rebecca Burgess features some great information on harvesting natural dye plants from nature and also how to extract the color from these plants. If you’d rather watch a DVD we suggest Natural Dyeing by Dagmar Klos, which is a 60 minute workshop to give you a great foundation of knowledge.

Remember that you will need to use a mordant to get color to stick to your wool. Before you start dyeing make sure you take all of the necessary safety precautions!

Send us pictures of your garden, we can’t wait to see what you create!

NOTE: Certain U.S. states do not permit the growing of some of these seeds, viewing them as “invasive.” Please adhere to the regulations in your area.

Weaving Selvedge Rug Project

Weaving Selvedge

Weaving Selvedge Rug ProjectWe love weaving selvedge! What’s weaving selvedge you ask? It’s the leftover bits they cut off of the ends of commercially woven fabric. They were just getting thrown away, but then some geniuses said, “I wonder what would happen if we wove with these?” Turns out, that was a great idea! The selvedge can add lots of fun texture to a scrappy tapestry project, but our favorite thing to do with it is make a nice fluffy rug!

Our very own Dani made her own selvedge rug project on a Gilmakra Standard Countermarche Floor Loom. We thought we’d share how Dani made her rug so you can make your own rug!

Warping the Gilmakra Standard Countermarche Loom

Dani warped her loom 30″ wide at 6 ends per inch with 6 feet of warp in Maysville 8/4 Cotton Rug Warp Yarn. She used the Ivory color. Her weft was made entirely of weaving selvedge and she used about 1 bag (5lbs). The selvedge Dani used was particularly fluffy so you might need 2 bags to weave a similar sized rug depending on your selvedge. The 24″ Hockett Stick Shuttle was the easiest shuttle to pass the weft through the warp.

Weaving Selvedge Project

After you’re all warped up, just plain weave away. Once you get going with this project it really flies by because each pass of weft gives you about 1/2″ to 3/4″ of rug! You can see just how quickly this project goes by in the YouTube video below:

The rug ended up being 30″ by 40″ and is so thick and textural! Dani finished the ends of her rug with a Damascus edge. She demonstrated it last week on Facebook Live if you want to learn how to do it yourself.

We’d love to see your weaving selvedge projects! Send us pictures on Facebook or Instagram!

Selvedge Rug Project

What’s New At The Woolery – March 2018

It’s been an exciting month so far at The Woolery, we have all kinds of awesome new stuff to share with you. Let’s get right to the goods!

Calico Farm Stone Drop Spindle 

Calico Farm Stone Drop Spindle

You know we love a gorgeous handmade spindle, and these are no exception. These beautiful drop spindles are handmade by Anna Anderson. She uses the proceeds from the spindles to fund her organization, Wooly Rescue, which helps fiber animals and horses suffering from neglect. These spindles weigh 1oz to 1.25oz and each are tested for smooth and balanced spinning. We have five different stone options for you to choose from.

The Supplementary Beater

The Supplementary Beater

This is a great way to mix up your weaving and add some uniqueness to your next project. The Supplementary Beater comes in two sizes, Large and Small. These are expertly crafted out of hard maple in Rhode Island and are lightly oiled for a smooth finish.

Rosie’s Bobbin Speed Winder Insert

Dani shows you exactly how to use this awesome tool in the video above, it’s a super economical way to have a bobbin winder at home! Use with your cordless screwdriver / drill (not included). Place your boat shuttle bobbin on the end and go. Makes bobbin winding fast, easy and efficient. Made specifically to fit Schacht and Leclerc bobbins; it will not fit Ashford boat shuttle bobbins.

The Woolery Dining Room Set Weaving Kit

The Woolery Dining Room Weaving Set

Designed by Nancy Reid, Woolery’s own weaving teacher, this kit has everything needed to weave 4 placemats, a table runner and 4 napkins using Cestari’s Monticello Collection, a blend of 75% Virginia cotton and 25% linen.  The placemats and table runner are in plain weave and the napkins are huckle lace. We have 4 different color schemes for the kits, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.

Zoom Loom Swatch Critter Kit – Sidney the Sheep

Zoom Loom Swatch Critter Kit

We have loved the Zoom Loom Swatch Critter Kits from DJE Handwovens for a long time, they’re the perfect answer to the question, “What do I do with these little squares from the Zoom Loom?” We’re super excited to have some new critters for you to weave! The kits come with the yarn and all the instructions to make the cute little critters.

Jenkins Turkish Spindles

These aren’t actually a new product, but we did just get a brand new shipment of them in and they always sell out quick. Plus, we just dropped a YouTube video explaining all the different shapes and sizes of Jenkins spindles that we carry. Ed Jenkins’ life passion is working with wood, producing items with creativity, ingenuity and years of experience. Each spindle is made one at a time by Ed’s hands without computerized machinery. Each of Ed’s spindles is a one-of-a-kind work of art. Please note that the pictures shown are a representation of the colors and grains typical of the various wood types. Some spindles will also have hand-drawn designs or decorations on them. If you have questions about a particular spindle, please contact us or call the shop at 800-441-9665.

 

 

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Weaving Retreat in Historic Berea, Kentucky

Berea Weaving Retreat

Weaving classWe like to offer a weaving retreat in beautiful historic Berea, Kentucky twice a year. It’s a make & take experience taught by our veteran weaving instructor, Nancy Reid. She brings over 20 years of fine weaving instructing & experience to the table. You can learn to weave or perfect a new skill on a beautiful Schacht Wolf Pup loom.

The location of the retreat is Boone Tavern, which is owned by Berea College. Part of Berea College’s requirements is that students are required to work at least ten hours per week at any one of the 140+ college departments and work areas across campus. Boone Tavern is one of these establishments. Students earn money for books, room, and board at the College – but pay no tuition – thanks to the generosity of donors who support Berea College’s mission of providing a high-quality education for students primarily from Appalachia who have high academic potential and limited financial resources. Berea students make up about 50% of the staff at Boone Tavern.

Historic Boone Tavern

Weaving on the Schacht Wolf PupThe retreat is a two day class; on Day 1, students weave and complete a sampler, and on Day 2, students create a set of mug rugs or scarf. In addition to learning a ton you’ll have a lot of fun and make new fiber friends. Nancy is a fantastic teacher and even if 4-harness weaving intimates you, you’ll feel like a pro by the end of the retreat.

 

The class costs $475 and includes: cost of class, materials, breakfast, daily beverages/afternoon snacks, a copy of the class text Learning to Weave by Deborah Chandler, and use of a Schacht Wolf Pup loom (room and meals besides breakfast not included). The class size for this experience is extremely limited (we only accept 6 students for each session) so you will have lots of individual help from our instructor, Nancy.

Berea Weaving Retreat

Our next Weaving Retreat is going to be over Memorial Day Weekend on May 27th and 28th, 2018. We do still have space available but it fills up fast so give us a call at 502-352-9800 to book your spot as soon as possible. If you want you could also book for Labor Day Weekend on September 1st and 2nd, 2018. These two weekends will be the only times we will have this experience available for all of 2018, so call us to reserve your space now. We’re so excited to weave with you!

 

 

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We Love Conservation Breed Wool!

Conservation Breed Wool Heart

Part of the fun of working with wool is that there are so many unique varieties of sheep. Wool from different breeds work better for different projects and having a choice is fun! In order to make sure we have choices in our wool fibers for the future, we need to work on conserving rare sheep breeds. Choosing to work with Conservation Breed Wool helps support the farmers and organizations who are working hard to preserve these breeds.

At The Woolery, we make an effort to provide a variety of Conservation Breed Wool options for you. We want to raise awareness and keep these rare and native herds around, so we thought we’d share a spotlight on some of our favorite Conservation Breed Wool!

Cotswold sheep

Cotswold Top
The Cotswold originates from the Cotswold Hills in the west of England. These sheep have a long history. They are thought to be descended from the white sheep that Romans brought to England over 2,000 years ago. They began to face extinction shortly after World War I due to cross-breeding and low demand. Largely due to increasing interest from fiber artists, the Cotswold population has been growing in recent years. Cotswolds have a distinguishing forelock on the front of their faces, almost as if they have bangs. The Cotswold is known for its heavy, wavy, lustrous locks.The fiber diameter ranges from 33-42 microns. It’s a great fiber for projects that need some extra durability like outerwear, rugs, and bags. We carry this fiber in 250g bags of top!

Jacob Sheep

Jacob TopNext up we have an American conservation breed! The Jacob does exist in Britain as well, but they were bred for different optimizations, so the populations are very different. The Livestock Conservancy lists the American Jacob population as “Threatened”. They are named for the biblical figure Jacob, because he bred spotted sheep. Jacobs are small and horned, with most having 2 or 4 horns. Unlike most other medium wool breeds, the Jacob has been bred with fiber quality in mind, making their wool sought after by both spinners and weavers. Also, because of their spotty nature, there are more natural color options than other sheep breeds can provide. We sell this 33-35 micron fiber in 250g bags of top in white, grey, and black.

Lincoln Longwool Sheep

Lincoln_Top_-_8oz_4The Lincoln Longwool was very popular in the mid 1800’s because the value of wool was high and they have an impressive appearance. They were exported in large numbers all over the world and have been crossbred with many different varieties. The original Lincoln breed is now very rare globally due to breeders favoring mutton production sheep over wool production. Part of this breed’s uncertainty is that breeder communities disagree as to whether or not darker colored animals should be considered registered Lincolns. These sheep produce one of the heaviest fleeces and their fiber can be used to make heavier sturdy items. We carry white Lincoln top in 250g bags.

Navajo Churro Sheep

Navajo-Churro TopThe Navajo-Churro has a long and complicated history in North America. The Churro was the first domestic sheep to be brought over from Spain in 1540. They were a main source of meat for explorers and missionaries in the region that is now Mexico and the Southwestern United States. Later, they became incorporated into Native American flocks for their meat and wool. The Navajo-Churro developed out of the Native American desire for quality weaving wool and the natural selection of the Southwestern climate. During the 1860’s, the Navajo-Churro was nearly destroyed due to the United States government’s efforts to subjugate the Navajo people.  Over time, very few scattered flocks remained. Dr. Lyle McNeal founded the Navajo-Churro Sheep Association in 1977 and worked with traditional weavers and herders of the southwest to protect the animals. The yarn produced from the wool of the Churro is very durable and long lasting with a beautiful sheen. Churro yarn produces excellent tapestries & rugs. The slight fuzziness of the yarn gives lines a gentle blur. Good for those who want to spin their own sturdy yarn and perfect for authentic Navajo weaving. We carry this 10-35 micron wool in 8oz bags in a mix of colors; black, brown, tan, grey, and white.

 

Teeswater sheep

teeswater-topTeeswater sheep have a very fine long curly fleece. They are native to the Teesdale area of County Durham in England.  Their main use today is crossbreeding to create the Masham ewe. Their long-stapled fleece is perfect for hand spinning, hand felting, doll making and many other craft uses.  A wonderful weaving yarn, Teeswater is extremely durable without the scratch or stiffness.  Knitted or crocheted items will have excellent stitch definition and will drape very nicely. We have Teeswater top available in 250g bags.

These five breeds are just a small selection of the Conservation Breed Wool we have available; head here to see the rest! If you’re interested in learning more about Conservation Sheep Breeds, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and The Livestock Conservancy are both great sources of information! Sign up for our newsletter if you want to know when we add new Conservation Breed Wool.

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What’s New at The Woolery – January 2018

It’s a new year and that means it’s time for… new stuff! We’re always getting fun new items here, but there is something extra fun about getting new things while we’re just starting out in 2018.

Rosie’s Dyed Bamboo Top

Rosie's Dyed Bamboo Top

We’re really excited about our new Rosie’s Dyed Bamboo Top! Bamboo fiber is made from bamboo pulp obtained through a process of hydrolysis and bleaching bamboo stems. This pulp is then wet spun in the same way as other pulp based fibers. This fiber is dyed in seven different vibrant colors.

 

Akerworks Swatch Gauge

Akerworks Swatch Gauge

This is the only swatch gauge tool you’re going to need! It offers both inches and centimeters and allows you to check both row and stitch gauge. The gripping teeth keep the tool in place so it doesn’t slip around while you are measuring.

 

Studio Craft as Career: A Guide To Achieving Excellence in Art-Making

Studio Craft as Career

If you’re thinking about turning your fiber art into a career, this could be a great read for you. Paul J. Stankard offers advice on self-directed learning as well as featuring 50 different art masters with their own works and advice for making a career out of art.

 

Wrist Ruler

Wrist Ruler

How cute are these? This is a handmade leather bracelet that is also a functioning ruler featuring both inches and centimeters! You’ll never be kicking yourself forgetting your tape measure again. They are super useful and stylish.

 

Erica Loom Stainless Steel Reeds

Erica Loom Stainless Steel Reed

Stainless steel reeds might not sound that exciting but if you are an owner of the Louet Erica Table Loom then they definitely are. We had these specially made for The Woolery and they offer the ability to weave with 6, 8, 12, or 15 dents. Previously the Erica was only able to weave with 10 but this makes it much more versatile!

 

Cestari Ashlawn Collection Yarn

Cestari Ashlawn Collection Yarn

New yarn is the best yarn. This new 75% cotton 25% wool yarn from Cestari is a 3ply DK weight. It’s Virginia cotton and merino wool and it comes in 8 different beautifully muted colors.

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