Author Archives: thewooleryguy

Ask Nancy: Reid on Reeds

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 reeds sent to us by new weavers. 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

 

reedsQ: How do I find a reed to fit my specific brand of loom? 

A: Most looms are pretty generic in their demand for reeds; the top batten sley (the top of the beater/reed holder) usually rides in vertical slots, allowing for some height adjustment for the “tall” of the reed.

Most looms will take 4” to 5 1/2” of reed with no difficulty at all; you can measure your beater to confirm that. Standard reeds today are 4 3/4” or 5” tall, and as long as your beater will accommodate that, you are fine ordering a standard reed. If not, we can always do custom.

As far as width goes, at 42” of weaving width (the way reeds are ordered), the actual width will be 43”. 42” is not a stock size, so you can order a 45” reed, and we can cut it down for you, or you can do it yourself with a hacksaw. Modern reeds are securely epoxied down the length of the top & bottom rails, so they can be cut without falling apart.

Q: I am new to weaving and am wondering what size reed is recommended for using 8/2 cotton on a floor loom? My used loom came with several reeds, but the dents look rather large and the size not indicated on reed frame. Help!

A: Talk about lobbing easy shots!  This one is simplicity itself; to figure out what dent size reed you have, lay a ruler on it and count the spaces; 10 spaces per inch is 10 dent, 8 spaces is 8 dent, and so forth.  8/2 cotton (usually) takes a 10-dent reed, double-dented for a net EPI (ends per inch) of 20 for a plain weave structure.  In a twill, the usual sett for 8/2 is 24 EPI, so doubled in a 12-dent is normal.  Depending on which reeds you have (and your budget for buying more reeds), you might need the aid of a reed conversion chart to get the sett you need out of the reeds you have; there’s one in the back of nearly every weaving text (p. 210 in Chandler), or on our website, found here.

Please note also that there are just 2 answers to every weaving question, “it depends,” and “always make a sample;” the numbers given above are pretty average setts for something of the drape qualities and density for dishtowels of blouse material; you’ll want a firmer sett for upholstery and a looser sett for curtains (maybe).

On Making a Mood Board

Sometimes, starting a new project requires a little bit of planning. Mood boards are a fantastic way to organize your inspiration, and in the process you might think of a creative approach that you wouldn’t discover otherwise. Taking this extra step can also ensure that you have everything you need for a successful project from start to finish.

A corkboard can be used to make a real-life mood board. Visit the Woolery blog for more ways to plan your next weaving, spinning, or other craft project!

A cork board can be used to make a real-life mood board – the neutral background is great for helping your eye perceive color.

You may simply collect objects from around your craft room or household to create a real-life mood board, or perhaps you turn to Pinterest to find beautiful images, color combinations and projects to whet your creative appetite. While both of these options are great, there are still more ways you can make mood boards work for you!

By using a specific website or app, you can create digital mood boards quickly, leaving more time for actual crafting once your idea has come together. Another bonus is having easy access to your past mood boards, whereas a collection you create in real life is ephemeral (unless you have a LOT of storage space!).

Visit the Woolery blog for ideas on creating your own mood boards to plan your next spinning, weaving, knitting, or other creative project.

Here are five of our favorite websites and apps for creating digital mood boards:

  1. Pinterest. This popular free website is easy to use, and it allows you to create collections of images with a few clicks of a button. It’s quite easy to search by themes, and you can invite collaborators to your boards or create private boards which are visible only to you (and anyone else you’ve invited to the board). There are some drawbacks, however: for instance, the layout of the pins on your boards is not customizable – that is, you can’t move pins around  to see how different images look next to one another.Using pinterest to get inspired. Visit the Woolery blog for more ways to plan your next weaving, spinning, or other craft project!
  2. Moodboard Lite. This iPad app allows users to create customizable boards from a blank canvas, to which they can add photos, text, color swatches, and other special elements. There is a lot more creativity allowed here, and it also allows for easy sharing and export via email, social media channels, and iTunes. Moodboard Lite is a free version of Moodboard, both of which are available in the iTunes store.
  3. Evernote. Surprisingly, this popular notetaking app can also be used to create mood boards! This blog post describes how to make a mood board in greater detail; if you already use this app to organize your day-to-day life, it’s a great option to consider since you’ll probably have the least amount of learning curve.
  4. Canva. This user-friendly graphic design website is geared towards designing presentations and social media graphics, but it can also make eye-catching moodboards using its pre-made templates and editing tools. There are many free templates available for use, with other options requiring an upgrade to the paid version.
    Mood board created with Canva. Visit the Woolery blog for more ways to plan your next weaving, spinning, or other craft project!
  5. Niice. This website is similar to Pinterest, but without the social sharing element. The free version allows up to 3 free mood boards, and users will see banner ads, while paid options allow for more boards and other bells & whistles. Paid users also will not be shown ads. User boards are private, and any images uploaded/shared will not show up in a public search – so this is a great option for designers who are concerned about keeping their ideas under wraps.

For more mood board inspiration, click here to follow us on Pinterest. You can also subscribe to our newsletter to have inspiration and ideas sent your way each month – click here to sign up (you will also get a FREE Fair Isle Coloring sheet when you do)!

All the Best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery Team

The Woolery Team Gets Ply-ed Away

Last month’s first-ever Ply Away retreat in Kansas City was an exciting adventure for Team Woolery! Perri, Taevia, Jesse and Lacy loaded up a truck with all kind of spinning wheels, fibers and other tools and supplies with Kansas City, MO as their destination.

Team Woolery Goes to the Ply Away Retreat!

The retreat took place in a gorgeous hotel downtown that had a waterfall in it – how cool is that?

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We had several different types of spinning wheels set up for folks to try in our booth – and of course, lots of spinning fiber to play with, too!

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Our friends Otto and Joanne of Strauch Fiber Equipment were conveniently located next door, which ended up being quite fun – both Otto and Joanne are wonderful people we enjoy spending time with any day of the week! As an added bonus,  we were able to borrow their swift and ball winder, as Lacy did here with an impromptu live demonstration as she winds off some yarn!

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Both Lacy and Taevia took full advantage of the excellent classes offered at the event; when they weren’t learning from some of the best spinning teachers around, they could be found helping out in the booth and giving live demonstrations. In particular, Taevia gave live demonstrations as part of her 3-Day PLY Away Mobius Project. For Day 1, she demonstrated fiber blending using the Rosie Blending Board:

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For Day 2, it was all about spinning! Here is some of the progress:

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Taevia had some company  when Joanne Strauch stopped by to enjoy a few quiet minutes of spinning time together!

Taevia spins with Joanne Strauch at Ply Away.

When Day 3 rolled around, the yarn was spun and it was time to start weaving, with the resulting cowl looking quite marvelous!

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Perhaps most exciting of all, we got a first look at the protoype of a new spinning wheel which will be arriving later this year from the Schacht Spindle Company! The Flatiron was inspired by the iconic Flatirons rock formations which tilted up from a horizontal position millions of years ago. Below, Barry from Schacht and Taevia spin on the two Flatirons which were on display in the marketplace.

Coming soon to the Woolery: The Flatiron from Schacht!

As you can see above, the Flatiron is a Saxony-style wheel, but it is anything but traditional! Fully customizable, it can be built to your spinning preference, with the flyer on the left or on the right. You can choose from Scotch, double drive or Irish tension, and the Flatiron features a clever quick release lever to make changing out bobbins fast and trouble-free. Other features include self-aligning bearings in the maidens, a fully adjustable drive wheel, and an innovative threaded tension control. The wheel comes with everything you need to spin, even the tools to assemble it – just add fiber!

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The consensus at Ply Away? The Flatiron should be on your must-try list for fall…but you don’t have to wait til then to try it!We were lucky enough to bring home on of the prototype wheels, which is now on display in the shop. We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of more Flatirons in the shop and will keep you posted about their ETA!

All the Best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery Team

Color and Fiber

benjaminkBenjamin Krudwig is a crochet and knitwear designer  from Colorado who also spends much of his time spinning and weaving. Benjamin is the founder and co-owner of Benjamin Krudwig Fiber Arts and Design, along with his wife who sews project bags for knitting and crochet. Benjamin spends his time during the week running the social media program at Schacht Spindle Company. Today, Benjamin shares his extensive knowledge of color, fiber and weaving with our blog readers! 

All the best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery Team

There are many elements of design to consider when it comes to creating a woven piece, but in honor of the theme this month, I’ll be talking about color. Color choice can make or break a project, and it is important to know a bit about what to do when it comes to choosing colors for a project.

Color in knitting and crochet is certainly interesting, but you are often limited to alternating colors in your project using stripes, color blocks, or other colorwork techniques. Due to the scale of the stitches (unless you are using very fine yarn with very small needles) there isn’t as much of opportunity for the colors to “blend” visually. Weaving is unique in that you have color “mixing” any time you have your warp and weft overlap, and with the scale generally being pretty small the visual effects can be pretty striking.

Before I go into color-choice, I think we should talk about the basic principles at work in weaving. In a balanced plain-weave (with yarns of the same thickness), one color in the warp and one in the weft, you will see approximately 50% of each color. From further away, these two colors appear to blend. This proportion changes as you use different weave structures, and amount of colors. Take a 2/1 twill for instance, this is a weft-dominant fabric on the right side, and you will see approximately 66% of the weft color and 33% of the warp color. On the wrong side it will be the opposite.

Let’s take a look at the way two colors transform as you take the same proportion of each color (50/50) and change how the color is dispersed. If you look at the following picture at 100%, this will give a sett of approximately 12 ends per inch, so you will get a more accurate sense of how these would look in a finished woven piece.

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As you can see, the colors appear to diffuse into each other as you mix them more, and a new color becomes apparent although you still have two discrete colors present. Colors that are a similar value or a similar hue will blend nicely together, colors that are very contrasting in value or hue will tend to not blend as smoothly. This can be used as a design element, if you want to draw the eyes to a certain place in the woven piece, or if you want the whole thing to be pretty homogenous, this will change how you approach your color choices.

I find that using a weaving program is very helpful. This allows me to study certain color combinations before biting the bullet and buying yarn for a big project. Though this isn’t always accurate, it gives some idea of what to expect when one (or more) colors interacts with others, and I can easily switch up my pattern, so I can see how the color changes based on the structure. Though there are a couple of weaving programs that are free or low cost, you can also do this exercise in excel or on a piece of graph paper. Once you are familiar with how the colors look on screen it may be useful to weave a sample color gamp. This is a woven sample where there a few colors in the warp, and a few colors in the weft, and you weave with each to see how the colors blend. You can create a gamp in any weave structure, and I would suggest using the weave structure that you’ll be using in your project.

To put it simply, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing colors for a woven piece. Do the colors look good together? Will they mix well with each other? How much contrast do I want in value or in hue? Do I LIKE these colors together? Listening to your gut is just as important as knowing a little bit of color theory.

Below are a few examples of some woven pieces that I have created that have varying degrees of contrast in both value and in hue.

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The Winter Nights Wrap is a monochromatic gradient, so there is very little contrast in hue, but if we look at it in a desaturated image, the contrast in value is very large. With tones very near to the ends of each end of the spectrum. Playing in a limited color palette can allow you to take risks in weave structure and make a great visual impact without worrying if the colors themselves work together. It can also be a fun challenge to take the same color of yarns and create a piece solely based on texture.

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The Outlandish Plaid Scarf was created with a color palette of yellow, green, and blue, which is called an “analogous” color scheme in color theory. This means that these colors reside next to each other on a color wheel (a tool that every fiber artist should either own or be familiar with.) Another reason they all work pretty well together is that they are also in an analogous series of values as well. All of the colors share a similar intensity, and blend well together where they mix.

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The Log Cabin Scarf uses a technique called “color and weave” which creates patterns depending on the order in which you place certain colored yarns in both the warp and the weft. This particular scarf relies entirely on the “complementary” color scheme between the teal and orange. These colors are found across the color wheel from each other, and when they are seen together, they play off of each other to create a stunning color contrast. The teal brings out the orange and vice versa. They are both “high-key” meaning bright and vivid, but when you look at the desaturated image, they are around the same value, so again, one doesn’t stand out much more than the other, they work together to create the balanced pattern.

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The Density Plaid Scarf used the same variegated yarn in both the warp and the weft, so I changed up the weave structure instead of adding another color. It’s important to know when to stop and take a look at your project to make sure it doesn’t get too busy. However, if busy is your style, then do what makes you happy!

At the end of the day, there are no hard and fast rules about color in weaving, and much of it relies on personal taste and desires. There are many resources out there on color theory, and the color-and-weave method of weaving. The possibilities are endless when it comes to how to use color in your weaving. I find that I work quite a bit in blues and greens because I like those colors, but every now and then I like to break out of my comfort zone and embrace something new. Many years ago, I wrote a guest post for the New York Institute of Art and Design on Color, and stepping out of comfort zones. Though there are books and classes on color and design, I feel like there is no replacement for getting out there and doing it. Go create something colorful, without fear, and learn a little something in the process.

Find Your Creativity: Fair Isle Coloring Sheet

Coloring isn’t just for kids! Adults are revisiting this favorite childhood activity as a way to reconnect with their creativity, and it’s also a great exercise for crafters that allows them to play with color without having to commit their time and materials to a project.

With that in mind, we’ve created a free printable Fair Isle Coloring sheet for spring – click here to download a PDF version!

Fair Isle Coloring Sheet - A Free Printable from the Woolery

Print out several copies to color in with different combinations to see which matchups work best; you may be surprised at what you discover if you are willing to experiment! Here are a few examples to inspire you:

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We’d love to see your completed coloring sheet (and bonus points to anyone who actually knits a swatch or project using the chart). Share your post with us on Instagram with #thewoolery in your description so that we can like and reshare!

Nancy to the Rescue: Greatest Hits

Ask NancyGot weaving problems? Stumped by your spinning? Our resident expert Nancy 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. To kick things off, we’d like to share some of her greatest hits from our past newsletters. 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: Over the past 6+ months I noticed that my projects on my Ashford 20″ Knitters Loom (cotton towels) are weaving crookedly. A seasoned weaver suggested that it might be the beating that’s doing it and not the loom. I have the loom stand, and I can’t say I noticed this issue when I first used it. I’ve tightened all of the screws too. Help!  

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A: My first guess for the issue described would be loom failure due to too much tension; I find that many weavers are asking more of these little looms than they were designed to take and putting far too much tension on them. I am always telling my students “no banjos” to remind them not to put more tension on them than needed – just enough tension for a clean shed and error-free weaving is the right amount!

The next most likely cause is as the other experienced weaver suggested, the beat. The force of the beat needs to be centered as much as it can be, and the placement of the hands is critical. Right-handedness (or left-handedness!) will also play a part, as one side or the other of the body will be stronger than the other. I see this less often in floor looms, because you are always operating the beater with alternate hands, as the other hand is holding the shuttle after catching it; the hand that threw is the hand that beats, and that switches with each weft pick.

Finally, if we can rule out bad habits, it may just be that the screw holes in the wood have elongated and the screws are not holding in consequence. The remedy for that is a wooden matchstick in the hole, to give the screw threads fresh wood to bite on; that will tighten up the loom, and fix the racking.

If none of the above fixes the issues, let me know (with photos!) and we will work on it some more. I do really suspect tension issues though, particularly since cotton wants to be woven at a higher tension than wool, and will in fact tolerate a much higher tension before breaking. That is a siren song that needs resisting because it destroys looms; just enough, and not too much.

babywolfQ: Hi, I am trying to figure out which reed to buy for my Baby Wolf loom. I want the 8 dent reed, but the info in the listing is confusing. It states to not order by weaving width, yet the drop-down box is labeled “weaving width.” I understand the weaving width is 26″. I also measured the reed that came with my loom which is approx. 26.5″. Do I choose the 26″ size for my loom? The part that confuses things is the language below saying not to order the reed by the weaving width. Thank you! 

 A: For that loom, you’ll order a REED-26-8. You only order actual width when it’s a special-order reed; the rest of the time we go by weaving width.

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Q: I just bought an old Ashford Traditional at a yard sale, and it is missing a lot of parts to get it up and running again, including (from the research I have been able to do on your website) the flyer and bobbin. The flyer is the U-shaped object with the hooks, right? And the bobbin sits in the middle of it? The website wants a distinction between single-drive and double-drive parts; how do I tell? And there’s only one foot pedal, too. Does that mean single drive?

A: Congratulations on your find! Depending upon the condition and the number of missing parts, this can be a great opportunity for a very reasonably-priced wheel.

Let’s start with the drive wheel that you didn’t even know to ask about; looking at it end-on, give it a turn, and see if it spins freely and without a lot of wobble. If it wobbles, you’ll most likely want to give up now; it’s warped and not fixable, and new parts to get it up & running will start at $195 just for the wheel; add axles, connecting rods etc, and the price only goes up. If it simply does not turn well and freely, it usually is a matter of bearings; $5 will fix that.

Next, the treadle issue (that’s a foot pedal to a newbie); standard on an Ashford Traditional is single treadle (though there are upgrade kits to a double); that has nothing to do with single or double drive. To figure out what you have, look at the MAIDENS; those are the 2 upright posts that the flyer-and-bobbin array sits between. The FRONT MAIDEN is the one closest to the spinner as she sits at the wheel and spins; the REAR MAIDEN is on the back side, away from the spinner.

Again looking at the drive wheel end-on, does the groove in the drive wheel (that holds the string drive band) line up right behind the front maiden or just inside of the rear maiden? If it lines up next to the front maiden, your wheel is single-drive; if it lines up by the rear maiden, it is double-drive; you can buy your parts based on that. It’s really very easy!

Be sure to email weavernancy@woolery.com or click here to post your questions in our Ravelry group!

Customer Spotlight: Hopi Dye Experiment

One of our customers recently shared her dye experiments using Hopi red dye amaranth seeds purchased from our shop. Now is the perfect time of year to plant your seeds for a dyers’ garden (click here to read a related post from our blog archive penned by Dagmar Klos, an expert in natural dye techniques). We hope today’s post inspires you to try some natural dyeing this year! 

All the Best,

Wave, Perri and the entire Woolery Team

The plants were easy to grow – turns out, it was much more difficult to find information on using Amaranth as a fabric dye, so hopefully this experiment is of use to others. Many sites concluded that this particular dyestuff had been used to dye foods, not fabrics.* I had read somewhere that high heat makes yellow with Amaranth, so decided to go with a solar extraction for dye preparation (click here for DIY solar dyeing instructions).

First, I packed flower heads, leaves and stems into a gallon glass jar. Water was added to completely fill the jar and displace all air before screwing on the lid. The jar sat in my garden in the sun for about 10 days until the fluid was a bright magenta color. The dyebath was then strained and put into 4 quart jars with 1 oz mini-skeins of yarn that had been treated with different mordants. The 4 quart jars were placed in the sunny garden to steep for about 10 days. Below are the results, from left to right:

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No mordant gave a greenish tan; Alum gave the closest thing to red and was a pretty kind of pinkish-mauve color; Alum with a pinch of Tin gave a gold color; Tin resulted in a golden brown color. Far right: the amaranth plant.

Solar dyeing was much easier than heating everything on the stove!

– Anne Oldham, summer of 2015
*”Another Hopi dye plant, C2. Hopi Red Dye Amaranth, was used to color piki bread(a very thin corn bread) but we don’t think it was used to dye cloth.” (From THE WEAVER’S GARDEN, by Rita Buchanan. Interweave Press, 1987, reprinted in The Seedhead News, No. 26, 1989) found somewhere on the web.