Author Archives: thewooleryguy

Mug Rugabilities – Pillow Cushion Tutorial

The beautifully-made portable weaving looms from Purl & Loop have arrived at the Woolery! We’re pleased to introduce the Swatch Maker 3 in 1 Portable with optional stand, which is great for using up leftover yarn in your stash to create a variety of projects. To celebrate, we asked Angela, founder of Purl & Loop, to share a special tutorial with our blog readers. 

All the Best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery Team

Our Stash Blaster® portable weaving looms (mug rug size) were inspired by the problem of what to do with all my yarn stash. In some cases, I had no way of identifying the yarn or knowing if there was enough yarn for a particular pattern. The little looms solved that because I could mix and match my yarns to make all the mug rugs I wanted. Since I found weaving to be very meditative, I accumulated those mug rugs quickly. I decided it was time to expand my mug rugabilities with a pillow cushion.

Free woven pillow tutorial from Purl & Loop on the Woolery Blog

I sorted through my stash of finished rugs and chose four very similar in size.  The type of fiber used was not a factor in the choices. The four rugs put together measured 10” x 12.5” and I chose a piece of natural linen measuring 11” x 13.5” for the backing. The four rugs were all positioned with the less pretty sides (aka more mistakes) all facing the same direction. In the photo below, the less pretty sides are all facing down into the linen. 

Free woven pillow tutorial from Purl & Loop on the Woolery Blog

I had already decided that this project was going to be done all by hand because I wanted a work in progress I could carry around in a big purse and I was not sure how machine sewing would interact with the yarn. Also, I have been partial to hand sewing my whole life. My grandmother owned a cleaning and tailoring business in Chicago and I hand sewed all of my Barbie clothes while hanging around her shop as a child. Using Appleton crewel wool, just because I liked the texture, I attached the pieces using a mattress stitch. Using mattress stitch is not a must, it was just what I thought, after watching a variety of videos demonstrating how to attached knitted pieces together, might be the least visible and most effective at the same time. Surprisingly, this was completed in about one hour. 

Free woven pillow tutorial from Purl & Loop on the Woolery Blog

Below is a photo of all four mug rugs stitched together.

Free woven pillow tutorial from Purl & Loop on the Woolery Blog

Next, I attached the mug rug piece to the linen.  In this case, the less pretty side faces up because once the pillow is turned right side out, the less pretty side will be inside. 

Free woven pillow tutorial from Purl & Loop on the Woolery Blog

Continuing with the crewel wool and using a straight stitch, I attached the rugs to the linen backing on three sides.

Free woven pillow tutorial from Purl & Loop on the Woolery Blog

This is a photo of what the backside (what will be the inside of the pillow cushion) looked like. 

Free woven pillow tutorial from Purl & Loop on the Woolery Blog

I gently turned the pillow casing inside out so the good sides were facing outward.  You will see there is a good amount of extra linen on this edge that is here on purpose.  This will be explained a little bit later.

Free woven pillow tutorial from Purl & Loop on the Woolery Blog

The pillow was stuffed with pillow stuffing from a craft supply store.

Free woven pillow tutorial from Purl & Loop on the Woolery Blog

I folded the extra bit of linen in toward the inside of the pillow and used pins to hold it all together.  I brought my needle from inside so my tail would not be visible and continued using a straight stitch to close this final side.  I worked from the mug rug side but only attached to the folded in linen facing the inside so my stitches were not visible. 

Free woven pillow tutorial from Purl & Loop on the Woolery Blog

This cushion was quick to finish with already completed mug rugs and we look forward to trying to make a larger one. 

Free woven pillow tutorial from Purl & Loop on the Woolery Blog

We hope this inspires you to think of all your mug rugabilities!

Angela and Audrey Pearl, one of our two studio dogs.

Angela and Audrey Pearl, one of our two studio dogs.

Angela Smith is the owner of Purl & Loop.  Purl & Loop specializes in needlecraft kits and supplies with a focus on needle felting and weaving.  Purl & Loop is the creator of the Stash Blaster® and Swatch Maker 3-in-1 (patent pending) weaving looms.  Purl & Loop sources all of their materials in Houston based businesses where possible or from other North American suppliers.  All human staff (Hector, Missy and Liana) are paid a living wage and canine staff receive deluxe housing and organic food and treats.  All products are designed and manufactured in the Houston, Texas studio.

Ask Nancy: Warp, Weft & Tension

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’ve been weaving a cotton hand towel (my second project) and noticed that when I change colors in the weft, my weft is (ahem!) “angled.” I have a 15″ Schacht Flip, and I’m wondering how much tension is too much? I don’t want to mess up my loom! To complicate matters, some of my warp threads are looser than others, even though I “yanked and cranked.” I’ve tied the worst offender to a five pound hand weight (a lot more fun than exercising with it), but unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be what is causing me trouble. I think the source is actually the ever so slightly off down shed threads in the warp. I have Syne Mitchell’s book Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom (which I highly recommend to my fellow newbie RH weavers), but would love to see a video to help me troubleshoot. Thanks!

inventive_weaving_on_a_little_loom_by_syne_mitchell_5

A:

Well, let’s take it from the top; there are a few things going on here.  First, the angle. This happens most often when a weaver ties on to the front apron rod from left-to-right (or right-to-left, it doesn’t matter) and doesn’t go back and even the tension up. Tying on just straight across like that will always leave the initial side slacker than the final side, and lead to problems.

A better way to do it is to tie one selvedge first, then the other selvedge; then go back and tie up the next-inner bundle on the first side, then the next inner bundle on the other side, and so on; still, you need to go back and even things up after they are all tied. With the flat of your hand, pat gently across the width of the warp to see if the tensions are all even, and make any adjustments needed.

As a final check, throw in 1 shot of weft and beat it gently into place; a warp bundle that has more tension than its buddies will deflect the weft toward you; a warp bundle with less tension will deflect the weft away, toward the heddle; you can make your adjustments visually that way. Remember also to tie your warp bundles in 1/2” increments at the selvedges, and 1” bundles the rest of the way across.  

schacht_flip_rigid_heddle_loom_-_available_in_15_to_30_2

The Schacht Flip Rigid Heddle Loom

Next, let’s address tension, since this seems to be an issue for you overall. The goal is absolutely even and equal tension all the way across, not high tension. Tension and abrasion are the biggest enemies of your warp, and so we work to minimize those, with careful sizing of the warp yarn to the heddle used, and just enough tension for error-free weaving.  

As an example of correct tension, when I need to tie in a repair warp end or fix a “slacker,” I use an old plastic film can with pennies in it for weight; with wool yarns, it can take sometimes 6¢ or 7¢ for a stout yarn; a cotton yarn might want 10¢ or 12¢, but never as much as even a 1 pound weight, much less 5 pounds; that much tension will destroy your loom in fairly short order, as well as being hard on the yarn.  

slots_and_holes_-_3_ways_to_warp_your_rigid_heddle_loom_3When you wind on your warp, you want to keep a steady, even tension on it, but I would never “yank.”  Also, the heddle absolutely must be in the neutral position, with all the yarns following the same distance of travel, both in winding on and in the final knot-tying and tying to the front apron rod. The fact that your slackers are in the bottom layer of the warp leads me to think that you tied on with your warp not all in the same plane; the heddle has to be in neutral.

For a video (because why re-invent the wheel, or loom, as it were?), look at Liz Gipson’s Slots and Holes DVD, which I think it will help a lot.

 

Who’s Worthy of a Handmade Gift?

It’s that time of year when friends, family, and sometimes even acquaintances might start hinting that they would like (or perhaps even expect) a handmade gift under the tree. Sure, they see you spinning, weaving, hooking or knitting, and they might have some idea of all the time and effort such a request entails – but are they truly worthy of a handmade gift? We’ve created a handy flow chart to take the guesswork out of this process for you so that you can enjoy your fall and winter crafting stress-free:

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Click image to view full size!

Be sure to pin and share with your crafty friends, or click here to download a printable PDF version to keep handy!

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