Author Archives: thewooleryguy

Guest Post: Claudia Chase of Mirrix Looms

We love sharing the stories behind the unique products we’ve sourced from skilled artisans and innovative makers; today, Claudia Chase from Mirrix Looms shares the story of how Mirrix Looms came to be. As a family-owned company ourselves, we take pride in supporting other family-owned small businesses such as Mirrix Looms. We hope you enjoy getting to know them just a little bit better!

Mirrix Looms are bead and tapestry looms for everyone from the novice crafter to the professional artist. These looms are wonderful tools that can help create everything from woven wall-hangings to beaded bracelets to purses and any combination of fiber and beads you can think of. Mirrix Looms are primarily meant for tapestry weaving, bead weaving and bead and fiber combination. The concept behind weaving beads or tapestry is fairly simple, though techniques and possibilities abound – below are just a few of our free project patterns available on our website:

Crystal and Bead Cuff

Crystal and Bead Cuff


Scribble and Heart Mini-Tapestries

Scribble and Heart Mini-Tapestries

Woven Smartphone Case

Woven Smartphone Case

In 1995, I was a stay-at-home mom in Wisconsin who spent all of her free time weaving tapestries sold through galleries and commissions. I wasn’t exactly getting rich, but that wasn’t the point. I just loved weaving and it fit into my lifestyle.

Tapestry by Claudia Chase

Tapestry by Claudia Chase

By then, I owned two large vertical tapestry looms and a metal Hagen loom (which is no longer imported to the U.S.) None of these loom was small enough to be considered portable, and I found myself wishing some something small and light which I could carry in a bag on my shoulder and that would not scream: “This lady is hauling around some big piece of strange equipment and now we can all stare while she whips it out and weaves a few lines.” So I talked to a friend’s husband who was quite handy and we came up with the first prototype for the Mirrix Loom (which looks nothing like the current Mirrix, incidentall): it was made of metal tubes and had no shedding device, but it was little and portable, although not particularly attractive. I think I still have it somewhere. It was fine, but it wasn’t what I wanted.

Soon after, another friend’s husband came along and, after much discussion, he put together the loom which truly was the Mirrix prototype. Made from items he had in his garage, scraps of metal from the fire truck company where he was employed, the Mirrix prototype was made from copper (plumbing pipes), aluminum (fire truck trim), steel threaded rods (from the local hardware store). The black tray that holds the spring was also some kind of fire truck trim; a few bolts here and there, and we had THE FIRST MIRRIX LOOM!

Tapestry by Claudia Chase

Tapestry by Claudia Chase

But there was one problem:  it had neither shedding device or legs. We spent hours discussing those two pieces. While the first legs look just like the legs we use today, the first shedding device did not have those fancy hand-milled brass pins our current models have to hold the bars – instead, it had funky little wire things.

We also hadn’t yet designed the clips that hold on the shedding device; instead,  we had a complicated and not very functional system made from off-the-shelf hardware store parts. However, within six months, we had a loom that, to the untrained eye, looks just like the Mirrix of today.

Six months after Mirrix was just a gleam in my eye, we were in business! I still wasn’t sure that I wanted to be in business, as I am a naturally shy person who hates making cold calls, but somehow it has all worked out. We got an 800 number, credit card capability and even a web site – one of the first loom web sites in existence, in fact!

Tapestry by Claudia Chase

Tapestry by Claudia Chase

A lot of people ask me where the name Mirrix came from. The short answer? I made it up! It was a combination of a couple Latin/Greek words meaning “to wonder at, to mirror” – I stuck the “ix” on the end, and that was that!

I had known that when we started Mirrix, we would be leaving Wisconsin , but that the looms would still be manufactured there. Sure enough, in June of 1996, my family and I moved back to New Hampshire. Before leaving, I convinced three key people to do three different things:

  1. A very well-established yarn/equipment catalogue/retailer to began to our looms;
  2. Another well-established retailer of fiber stuff took our looms to Convergence;
  3. And a well-known and wonderful tapestry teacher endorsed our loom.

The movers came  and we packed the kids and all the various other family members into two cars and drove to New Hampshire in two days. When we arrived and plugged in our phone, I got our first 800 number call from a customer asking to order a 16″ loom (which, along with the 32 inch loom made up the entire Mirrix fleet). I asked how they had heard of us, and  they said that they saw the loom at Convergence! My next question was why they did not buy the loom at the show, and the answer took me by surprise: because all 16 looms that were there had sold out in three days!

We were obviously in business, and I was elated!

This is just the beginning of the Mirrix Loom story; we’ll share more with you at a later date. Thanks for joining us! 

All the best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery team

Artisan Spotlight: Dave Yocom of Dywood Creations

We love sharing the stories behind the unique products we’ve sourced from skilled artisans and makers; one of our most recent additions is handcrafted Yarn Bowls from woodworker Dave Yocom. Each bowl is on-of-a-kind and made from all natural woods. There are no dyes or stains used in making the bowls, allowing the wood grains to show off their natural beauty.  We recently took a few moments to chat with Dave to learn more about the story behind this distinctive item.

DaveintheShop1. How did you get started woodworking?

I actually started in Junior High School and learned to really love working on a lathe. I was not able to continue that love until 16 years ago and thats when the lathe work became a passion. Turning a plain looking piece of wood and seeing the patterns and wood grains show up is exhilarating.

2. What was the creation process like for the yarn bowls? Are you a knitter or crocheter yourself?

My wife, a spinner and knitter, got me started making Yarn Bowls. We were at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby, OR and she dragged me over to a friend’s booth picked up a yarn bowl and handed it to me and said “you can make these.” So I started making the yarn bowls making some enhancements and adding my own flair to the bowls.

YWC-BOWL-3.detail3. How long does it take you to make one bowl?

This is a question I get asked all the time, there is no easy answer. I can turn and finish a simple bowl in 30 minutes, however, I then have to cut the “J”, and and apply another finish. The more complex bowls take much longer to glue up and let dry before turning.

4. Where do you source materials? Do you have a preferred wood or material?

The easy answer to this question is “anywhere I can”. I have several friends that give me wood from their property, the rest I purchase from local suppliers.
I do not really have a preferred wood as I really enjoy seeing the different wood grains POP out at me.




We look forward to sharing more artisan spotlights with you in the future. Thanks for joining us!

All the best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery team

Make Your Fall Extra Fibery!

With Spinzilla just around the corner and cooler temperatures on their way, we’ve got spinning on the brain! Team Woolery is already full for this year’s Spinzilla event, which takes place October 5-11, 2015. We’re excited to welcome spinners near and far to our team, and will be sharing details about our team events and the grand prize drawing for a $100 Gift Certificate here in the Team Woolery thread on Ravelry. Each of our team spinners on will also receive a lovely spinning apron as a gift from the Woolery and Strauch Fiber Equipment!
The Woolery is proud to host a team for Spinzilla 2015!Even if you won’t be spinning with us, we have some Spinzilla specials you may wish to take advantage of, such as our specially priced Monster Mile Fiber Packs and our Rosie Spinning Wheel Maintenance Kits. We also recommend stocking up on extra bobbins for your wheel and ensuring you have the necessary tools to measure your yarns and wind them into tidy skeins for future use. We have niddy noddies, yarn meters, ball winders, swifts and more to make your craft room complete.

How to Wind Yarn on a Turkish Spindle
Today’s tutorial is the second installment in our Turkish spindle series – click here if you missed our tutorial for getting started with a Turkish spindle! Once you’ve started spinning, you will need to periodically stop to wind your yarn onto the arms of the spindle. There is a special method to create a center-pull ball of yarn as you spin!
How to Wind Yarn on a Turkish Spindle on the Woolery BlogBeginning as close to the shaft as possible, wrap your yarn under the first arm and then over the next two arms:
How to Wind Yarn on a Turkish Spindle on the Woolery BlogAnd that’s really it! You will continue in this manner, wrapping the yarn under one arm, then over the next two in a clockwise fashion. Each wrap will be shifted to the right as you go, and you will build from the center out til your spindle looks like this:
How to Wind Yarn On a Turkish Spindle on the Woolery Blog (image via creative commons, click for source info).Once you have filled the space between the arms with wrapped yarn, it’s time to start the next layer by once again wrapping the yarn close to the shaft and working from the center out.

When you’re done, you can easily remove your yarn by removing the shaft and then sliding out the smaller of the two arms first. Once both arms are removed, you will have an easy-to-use center-pull ball of handspun yarn!

All the best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery team

The Fiber Toys of Christmas will return to the Woolery in October! Stay tuned for amazing deals on your favorite fiber toys!The Fiber Toys of Christmas are returning for another year! Stay tuned for more details; we’ll be revealing the first fiber toy on Friday, October 16. We recommend signing up for our newsletter or following us on Facebook, Twitter or Ravelry to be notified of each weekly deal!

Guest Post: Stash-Buster Lunch Bag by Benjamin Krudwig

We are in the midst of the back-to-school season, and I wanted to share a weaving project that will help clear your stash while preparing for school. All you need is a weaving loom that will weave at least 12” wide (I used the 15” Cricket Loom), various yarns in similar shades and fiber types, and a way to make i-cord or rope (I used the Incredible Rope Machine from Schacht Spindle Company.)

To start, make a “magic yarn cake” which consists of taking many different yarns and then wind them into a center pull ball, using whatever yarn comes out of the ball as you work with it. This yarn will be used as your warp yarn. After making the magic cake, choose a complementary yarn for the weft. I chose a solid color for this yarn because I wanted the warp to be the main focus.

Chose yarn

You need to figure out what reed will best suit your yarn choices. I used mainly worsted weight cotton yarn, so I pulled out my 8 dent reed and started warping.

Warp your loom at 12 inches wide, at about 5 feet long. I noticed while warping with the magic cake, knots where I joined the different yarns together. I snipped these at either the warp bar or the warp peg, and rejoined the yarns. This will help prevent knots coming through the reed as you weave.

On the loom

Weave for approximately 1 yard (3 feet) and then cut the warp off and knot the ends in groups of 6 threads.

Fabric and fringe
To sew the fabric into a bag, fold it in half, then fold the edges back on themselves approximately 3 inches down. Sew the edges together starting an inch from the top and then whip-stitch down to the bottom.

Bag folded over
I cut the fringe at about 1” long after sewing the edges together.

I made a rope about 1 yard long using the Incredible Rope Machine, and then inserted it into the gaps left on the sides I made by stitching them up. I tied the ends together into a knot to finish the handles and drawstring.


I now have a great reusable bag that I can use to take my lunches to work!

Try your hand at this project and use up your stash!

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 ofBenjamin 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.

Rug Hooking: Necessity, Art Form, or Both?

Ask a fiber artist why they do what they do, and you’re sure to get a lot of different answers. It can be a stress reliever, a fun challenge, a form of self-expression, or a way to create useful objects for everyday use, among many other reasons.

The discipline of rug hooking has historical roots in necessity; for example, in the United States in the 1800s, rugs were made out of scrap materials as a way to reuse old clothing and blankets. The resulting rugs were then used on the floors in the summer and on beds in the winter for added warmth (source:

Early American Hooked Rug

Early American Hooked Rug

Interestingly enough, there is evidence that the Vikings may have used rug hooking techniques which they then introduced to the British Isles (for more on this topic, click here). However, the origins of modern rug hooking are generally traced back to New England and Northeastern Canada. Wikipedia notes, “In its earliest years, rug hooking was a craft of poverty. The vogue for floor coverings in the United States came about after 1830 when factories produced machine-made carpets for the rich. Poor women began looking through their scrap bags for materials to employ in creating their own home-made floor coverings. Women employed whatever materials they had available.” This isn’t to say that the results weren’t eye-catching or artistic, of course, but it wasn’t til the 21st century that decorative rug hooking really caught on in the United States.

Many credit Pearl McGown with reviving the craft in the early 1900s; McGown popularized strict guidelines for rug hooking and formalized its study. The 1950’s especially seemed to see a sharp increase in interest for rug hooking, as evinced by the many photos dating back to that era such, such as this image from a rug hooking bee which ran in Life Magazine circa 1951:


Today, the McGown Guild is still dedicated to the preservation and promotion of this (nearly) lost art.  And while modern technology and mass production has seemingly removed the “necessity” of  many traditional handcrafts, there is still great interest in those who are interested in exploring the process or creating something unique that can’t be found on the shelves of store! Not having to worry about the end result of the finished project allows fiber artists to explore materials, designs and techniques, and in the world of rug hooking, this has produced some astonishing results (click each image below to visit source site):


Broken Heart Mixed Media


If you’re interested to give rug hooking a try, we invite you to check out these informative posts from our blog archive:

All the best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery team

Guest Post: Breed Specific Yarns with Beth Brown-Reinsel

There are so many sheep, and so many types of sheep, in this world. “The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (the FAO) estimated in 2006 that there are over 1300 breeds of sheep in the world, and this number does not reflect the extinct breeds.”1 It is ecologically important to have diversity in all things, including sheep breeds. These genetic adaptations have come about through changes in the environment as well as a fair amount of human fiddling around to achieve better meat production or to enhance various properties of the wool.

Merino Rams

Merino Rams

I remember that yarn shopping in the 1970s was a straight-forward affair. My favorite yarn store had a dazzling wall of colorful skeins stacked almost to the ceiling. Good old Germantown. It was 100% wool. Period. There was no clue as to what breeds were included in that skein of yarn. Actually I think it is a marvel that yarns made of blended wools can be produced with consistent results, time and time again. It takes great skill to create a blended yarn from all the various fleeces that come into a spinning mill. Most yarns are made this way–an amalgam of fleeces, mysterious to us consumers, but carefully calculated by the manufacturer to create a specific type of yarn.

Most breed specific yarns have been available commercially for just a few decades, other than Merino and Shetland, which are arguably the most recognizable breed specific yarns.

I liken varietal wines to breed specific yarns. Rather than blending different varieties of grapes (or the gene pools of different breeds of sheep), adhering to one variety, or breed, allows the characteristics of that type of grape, or sheep, to stand out. The strengths of that breed can be applied to its best use. Being a handspinner, I found myself naturally drawn to yarns from a single source.

So knowing the breed characteristics can guide you as to the best use for that yarn. Choosing a Merino or Rambouillet yarn, which is of a very fine fiber, to make a textured garment such as a gansey would typically yield patterning so soft it would not show as well as a crisper medium staple yarn, such as Colombia or Corriedale. Because the crimp is so high in finer wools, the light is absorbed more readily yielding a soft, matte look. Other wool fibers with less crimp tend to reflect the light, showing off textures to great advantage. But a fine, crimpy wool is very soft and perfect for baby clothes, or garments worn next to one’s skin.

In the mid-1990s yarns began to appear on the market that were made from one breed alone. I had started my online yarn shop and began importing breed specific yarns from the UK. Some of these breeds were quite special. The Wensleydale sheep, categorized as “at risk” by The Rare Breeds Survival Trust of the U.K., has a sheen like mohair, but can feel soft and buttery. I found it made spectacular Arans, creating deep textures that showed well with the shiny quality of the yarns.

Learn more about Breed Specific Yarns on the Woolery Blog's guest post with Beth Brown Reinsel!

The Suffolk I imported was the most bouncy, jubilant yarn I had seen and made the best cables and bobbles! (As a spinner I scoffed at the idea of Suffolk yarn at first, but learned that the Brits’ idea of Suffolk is completely different than the scratchy US version, which is bred primarily for meat.)

Suffolk Yarn - learn more about breed specific yarns on the Woolery Blog with Beth Brown Reinsel!

Suffolk Yarn

Herdwick wool is coarse and has these lovely bits of kinky white hair (kemp) in among the grey wool. I wouldn’t want to wear it next to my skin, but for outerwear that yarn would last forever.

Herdwick Yarn - learn more about breed specific yarns with Beth Brown Reinsel on the Woolery Blog!

Herdwick Yarn

Icelandic wool is often sold in cakes as a single ply yarn with little twist, called plötulopi. The fleece is double-coated, made up of a soft, shorter undercoat and a more sturdy, longer fiber. The garments made from this yarn are light, yet very warm. From the photo below, the coarser hairs can be seen, creating a fuzzy halo.

Icelandic Yarn - learn more about breed specific yarns with Beth Brown Reinsel on the Woolery blog!

Icelandic Yarn

Shetland is historically used in color knitting for which it is well suited, in part because the genetics have been quite varied in the past, yielding a wealth of natural shades. It is a crimpier, finer yarn. While textures may not show as well with this yarn, it is perfect for stranded color work, such as Fair Isle garments.

Shetland yarn in a Fair Isle sweater - learn more about breed specific yarns with Beth Brown Reinsel on the Woolery Blog!

Shetland yarn in a Fair Isle sweater

The Norwegian Spælsau has been a domesticated sheep since the Iron Age, though to prevent extinction, the gene pool was enhanced in the 1960s and 19702 with Icelandic, Finn, and Faroe Island sheep. This lovely yarn holds up well over time, having a hair mixed in with the wool (an attribute of “primitive” breeds, where the hair has not been bred out of the breed). This yarn was used in the beloved Norwegian Setesdal Lusekofte, a garment that developed in the early 1800s. If you look closely at the photo below you can see the white hairs that give a fuzzy look to the garment.

A Lusekofte made of Spælsau wool - learn more about breed specific yarns with Beth Brown Reinsel on the Woolery blog!

A Lusekofte made of Spælsau wool

The challenge for knitters then is to understand that even within a certain breed there will be wide variety. If you are buying a commercially prepared yarn, you can be assured that it has been made more homogeneous and will be relatively consistent. But there is something so special about working with a breed specific yarn for a project the yarn is so perfectly suited to. Educating yourself as to the strengths of different breeds is fun and enlightening. Knitting with breed specific yarns can become a lifelong passion.

I have listed on my website as many sources as I know of businesses that sell breed specific yarns. There are several books available now (listed below) that explore the wonderful variety of breeds and give suggestions for their respective uses.

Parkes, Clara. The Knitter’s Book of Wool. New York: Pottercraft, 2009.
Robson, Deborah and Ekarius, Carol. The Field Guide to Fleece. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing, 2013.
Robson, Deborah and Ekarius, Carol. The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing, 2011.

1FAO. 2007. State of the world’s animal genetic resources for food and agriculture. 512 pp.

bethBeth Brown-Reinsel has been passionately teaching historic knitting workshops nationally, as well as internationally, for over 25 years. Her book Knitting Ganseys has been deemed a classic. She has made three DVDs: Knitting Ganseys with Beth Brown-Reinsel, Color Stranded Knitting Techniques, and Sanquhar Gloves with Beth Brown-Reinsel. Her articles and designs have appeared in Threads, Cast On, Interweave Knits, Knitting Traditions, Piecework, Shuttle, Spindle, and Dye Pot, Vogue Knitting, Knitters magazines, as well as The Knitter, a magazine of the UK. She continues to design for her own pattern line Knitting Traditions. Beth’s website, blog, knitting patterns, and email newsletter can be found at Her Etsy store carries her knitting kits, DVDs and other goodies. She lives in Vermont and loves winter!

Meet Wave & Perri + Getting Started on a Turkish Spindle

Since making our announcement on last month’s blog post, we’ve received some requests from our customers who would like to get to know the Woolery’s new owners just a little bit better. Wave and Perri are very excited about owning The Woolery and look forward to continuing the mission of providing a wide variety of quality supplies and equipment at a fair price to the fiber arts community.

perri22Perri will use her retail background to ensure that The Woolery continues to offer the best personalized customer service possible. In addition to rug hooking and cross stitching, Perri enjoys restoring antiques and assigning Wave “Pinterest Worthy” projects for their home.

wave22Wave’s marketing background will help ensure that The Woolery continues to lead the way in offering interesting and unique new products. Wave will also focus his efforts on the e-commerce experience offered by The Woolery. Wave’s outside interests include woodworking and photography.

Married for more than 30 years, Perri and Wave have two grown sons and make their home in Lexington, KY. They look forward to joining you on your fiber journey!

Being able to take your handspinning project with you wherever you go can be especially handy during the summer months. Vacations, picnics, and other outings don’t have to mean that you leave your spinning at home! A Turkish drop spindle travels well and is quite easy to use – and when you’re finished spinning or plying,  the spindle slips apart, leaving your yarn in a neat ball that’s ready to use!

One of our own spinning gurus, Taevia, has a unique way of starting a spinning project on a Turkish spindle which doesn’t require a leader. She has shared her step-by-step process with us this week so that you can give it a try, too!


Step One: Begin with a small amount of spinning fiber. Gently wrap one end around top of shaft and secure with one hand.


Step Two: Using your other hand, begin to draft out more fiber, wrapping it around the shaft a few times.


Step Three: Draft the fiber some more and introduce enough twist to produce a single ply in your desired weight.


Step Four:  Wrap your yarn a few more times around the shaft, then loop it over your index finger as pictured above to make a half hitch.


Step Five: Place the loop over the shaft of the spindle and pull the working end of the fiber up – this will secure your yarn, allowing you to continue spinning!

Step Six: Now you’re ready to spin!

As you amass more yardage, you will need to wrap your yarn around the arms of the spindle. The standard way to do this is to wrap your single over two arms, then under one arm as you tension the working yarn and slowly rotate the spindle as you wrap. This will create a ball of yarn that is wrapped around the arms of your spindle, allowing you to fit a considerable amount of yarn on your spindle, depending on the weight of yarn you are spinning. When you have finished spinning or plying, simply remove the shaft so that you slide each arm out of the yarn ball you just created!