Author Archives: thewooleryguy

Project Spotlight: Karen’s Pampa Loom Vest

pampaloom-2We’re starting something a little new, a project spotlight series! Every few weeks we’ll check in on the progress of a project and hear how things are going. The project we’ll be following first is Karen’s Pampa Loom vest!

Karen is our Order Fulfillment Specialist here at The Woolery and she is quite the accomplished fiber artist. She attended Berea College for ceramics and is generally a very awesome crafty person!  Karen is currently working with the Pampa Loom VESTO Kit, which is a unique kit that allows you to weave a garment. You get a front piece, back piece and sleeve loom. These looms can be sized to 5 different sizes to get a good fit. Then you just crochet up all the different pieces and you have a completed jacket or vest!

pampaloom-3

Karen has half of her vest warped up and has started weaving away. After warping the loom Karen highly recommends that you watch the videos that come as part of the kit before warping. She threw caution to the wind and went right for it but after watching the videos she felt like they definitely would have helped her if she had warped after seeing them.

The yarn she is using is her own handspun from a blend of Romney and Welsh.  She even made the blended rolags herself using hand carders, that’s a lot of carding for over 900 yards of 2 ply yarn! We’re super excited to see how this project grows in the upcoming weeks!

 

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Spotlight on Student Fiber Trends 2018

Spotlight on Student Fiber Trends 2018

Spotlight on Student Fiber Trends is a biennial exhibition of student’s work in the fiber arts from across the Southeast. It’s put on by the Southeast Fiber Alliance.

As SEFAA Board President Suzi Gough explains, “Spotlight is a great way to foster our next generation of fiber artists – providing an exceptional platform for students to exhibit and expose their work plus relevant professional experience photographing, submitting, and shipping their work.  Exhibition entry is inexpensive and includes a one-year SEFAA membership, monetary awards are very generous, and the opportunity to network with the wider fiber arts community is invaluable.”

July 1965 by Amanda Britton

The show is still up for a couple days so if you’re in the area and have a chance, stop by to see the excellent student works! The Southeast Fiber Alliance also works to give special awards to art from the show and The Woolery sponsors the 2nd Prize. This year our winner was Amanda Britton for her entry, July 1956. She combined resin, photographs (digital and hand-printed), and handwoven/dyed remnants to create 25 circles that preserve the idea of “reserving shapes and moments that seem to recede too fast.” Amanda is an MFA student in Textile Design at the University of Georgia.

This year the show is hosted at the Fine Arts Center in Greenville, SC. The show is still up for a couple days so if you’re in the area and have a chance, stop by to see the excellent student works!

July 1956 by Amanda Britton

Guest Post: Weaving Patterned Bands With Susan J. Foulkes

We’re pleased to welcome Susan J. Foulkes to our blog for a special guest post! Susan is a weaver, instructor, and author.

Today, Susan shares some of the weaving inspiration behind her newest book, Weaving Patterned Bands: How to Create and Design With 5, 7, and 9 Pattern Threads

All the Best,

Wave, Perri and the entire Woolery crew

Susan Foulkes weaving

My name is Susan J Foulkes. As a weaver I enjoy using natural materials in my work, linen, cotton silk alpaca, cahsmere. My particular interest is in the woven folk bands of Europe. I have spent many hours with curators in museums examining their wonderful collections. I run workshops and online courses about band weaving.

I have self-published several books with blurb.com. My new book Weaving Patterned Bands: How to create and design with 5, 7, and 9 Pattern Threads has just been published by Schiffer. It has over 140 patterns with clear instructions for the beginner and enhanced design techniques for the more advanced.

When I started weaving I was curious to try as many techniques as I could.  I swiftly found that some of them, such as tapestry weaving and tablet weaving, did not engage my interest, but I found myself drawn to the deceptively simple woven band patterns from Sweden. My first attempts at patterned band weaving were not successful but I felt that I needed to persevere. Like a child I started with the simplest of patterns with only five pattern threads. I wove pattern after pattern. I tried many different combinations of yarn, some successful and some not; unbleached linen pattern threads with a white cotton background proved very difficult.

7 woven band samples

However, I was hooked. Moving on to wider and more complex patterns, the variations seemed endless. The widest band I have woven has 33 pattern threads. It is the Lielvārde belt from Latvia and is one of the more celebrated of all bands because it is officially part of the Latvian Cultural Canon (See my YouTube video https://youtu.be/t9Dekjt8uog). Below I am wearing a magnificent example which I bought in Latvia.

Leilvarde belt

But I was still not satisfied. I wanted to find out more about how and why bands were woven.  What were they used for? These questions launched a series of travels around Scandinavia and the Baltic States. Visiting museums and speaking to curators is so rewarding. I was entranced by the variety of textiles on display, but even more enthralled by the contents of storerooms. Taking photographs enabled me to analyse the patterns to try at home.

Interest in patterned band weaving seems to have waxed and waned in popularity and when I became interested there were very few books available. I wanted to share my passion and interest so I started teaching online workshops with the Braid Society. This led to making YouTube videos to accompany the written materials that I prepared. Now my husband was not only a valued weaver’s assistant but also had to develop video making skills!

Weaving Patterned Bands

In my new book I thought that I would go back to the beginning and bring this craft within the reach of a younger audience who had never tried weaving before; to show how this is a creative craft through which individuality can shine. The curators with whom I had spent many hours poring over examples of weaving were generous with their time and also allowed me to publish some of the photographs I took. Not everyone is in a position to travel to museums and nowadays many of the larger museums have their collections on line. Museums are part of the heritage of a country and are vitally important for keeping records of crafts. Craft societies around the world keep alive older traditions and can refer to museum collections for inspiration.

I want to share my love of patterned band weaving. Enjoy your own journey of discovery through this beautiful traditional craft.


Thank you so much to Susan for her awesome guest blog post! Susan also has a special gift for you! She sent us some very special hand woven bookmarks that she wove herself and that come with a pattern card for how to make them. To enter to win one of these bookmarks visit our Instagram post and follow the instructions to enter the giveaway.


For more of Susan’s awesome work check out her social media:

Durham Weaver Blog

YouTube

Pinterest

 

 

The Woolery Gives Back

thewoolerygivesback

The Woolery loves to give back to the fiber arts in as many ways as we can. We do this by contributing to charities, selling ethically sourced products, funding guild grants, and we’re always on the look out for new ways to help out.

We have written in the past about how we support Conservation Breed Sheep by selling rare sheep breeds’ fiber. This helps the farmers that raise Conservation Breed Sheep and the sheep themselves by creating a demand for their wool.

handspunhope

True Vineyard Ministries is a charity that we are proud to support. True Vineyard believes that solutions to poverty should be entrepreneurial, innovative and holistic. Through an initiative called Handspun Hope, True Vineyard employs 44 Rwandan widows. The widows are learning the skill of yarn making in order to earn an income and to provide for the basic needs of their families. The women receive an above average fair wage, healthcare, a stipend to send their children to public school, and are receiving counseling services to overcome traumas experienced during the genocide. We have helped to make the Handspun Hope Initiative possible through the gift of spinning wheels.

Stash Baskets

Carrying African Fair Trade Baskets is a great way to give back because we love the look of the baskets, but they also provide jobs for African weavers which allows them to support their families.

carmelcraft

We also offer a Fiber Arts Outreach Grant that aims to encourage the expansion of the fiber arts. Carmel Crafts Guild received our 2016 Grant and used it to add a new teaching program, “Beginning Weaving Using Rigid Heddle Looms” which they have been creating new weavers through! The guild received; 6 Schacht 20″ Flip Rigid Heddle Looms, 6 LeClerc stick shuttles, 6 copies of Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom by S. Mitchell, the shipping costs, and money for advertising the class through the grant.

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If your guild is looking to fund a new project check out our Woolery Fiber Arts Outreach Grant Application for more details. Also, if you’re involved with a Fiber Arts related charity we’d love to hear about it!

 

Artist Spotlight on Deb Essen of DJE Handwovens!

Working with independent artist is one of our favorite parts of our business. Deb Essen of DJE Handwovens holds a special place in our hearts. Deb makes absolutely fantastic weaving kits for looms of all types from rigid heddle to 8 shafts. She even designs the completely adorable Swatch Critter Kits for the Schacht Zoom Loom.

Deb Essen of die handwovens in her studio

What was your journey to becoming a weaver?

When I was about 9 years old and attended a St Lucia Day celebration at our church. There was a lady who was demonstrating spinning and weaving and I was absolutely fascinated. Fast forward to 1993 and we decided to move to Montana from Minneapolis. I still hadn’t learned to spin or weave and I was more than a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to find teachers in Montana. So I jumped in with both feet and took two spinning classes, a rigid heddle class and a floor loom class at the Minnesota Weavers Guild within one year. Little did I know at the time, turned out that where I live in Montana you can’t swing a purse without hitting a fiber artist! (I knew the place felt right!)

Deb Essen Rainbow Kit
Where do you draw inspiration from for new kits and projects?

I take a lot of color inspiration from photographs of nature/landscapes—magazine photos, photos shared on Facebook (very helpful). I like to offer a variety of weave structures so I’ll create a series of samples in yarns that work with the design idea and play with combinations to see what sings to me. Sometimes, inspiration comes from conversations with yarns of “what do you want to be?”
How do you plan out your kits? Do you start with a sketch or start from the yarn?

Generally speaking, an idea will pop into my head (usually when I’m winding warps for kit orders) and I’ll do a quick draft on my computer to play with the idea and design. Then I have a “discussion” with the yarns that I feel will play well in the design. Sampling ensues to find successful combinations of color and design.
Do you have a kit that you are particularly proud of? (If so, why?)

Wow, that almost feels like picking your favorite child! I don’t think of it as being proud of a particular design, as much as continuously delighted that the idea in my head now has a physical form. That tickles me to no end.
But, thinking more about this, I’d have to say I’m particularly proud of the Swatch Critter kits. These kits are my answer to what to do with the little squares woven on the Zoom Loom. In 2013, Schacht introduced their reconfiguration of the pin loom and asked if I’d design kits for the Zoom Loom. Of course, I said “Yes!” but what to create? One day I was weaving a dark green square and thought, “I wonder if I can make a turtle?” A little experimenting (the first attempt looked more like an armadillo) and VOILA!—I made a turtle and the Swatch Critters line was born.

Swatch Critter Kit Panda
Is there an element of owning your own business that you particularly enjoy?

The idea of designing weaving kits rattled around in my brain for years—literally. When I finally took the plunge in 2010, my first show was Convergence in Albuquerque, NM. I found out that I LOVE interacting with other weavers, bringing new weavers into “the fold” and delight in seeing the finished pieces made from my kits. It makes my heart sing and there aren’t many jobs out there that make me say that!
What is your most valued tool? (What could you absolutely not live without in your studio?)

I had to think on this for a while—but the tool I would be lost without is my computer weaving program (I use Fiberworks PCW.) I get cranky coloring in little squares by hand on graph paper and the program really lets me have fun playing with designs and colors.

Deb Essen's work space
What is your most precious handmade possession?

I’d have to say my collection of handwoven pieces made by fiber artists both in the U.S. and in other countries. When we travel, I purchase handwoven textiles (as often as possible directly from the weaver) that are examples of the local weaving traditions. The pieces I’ve collected bring back a lovely rush of memories each time I look at them displayed in my house.

Any tips for new weavers just starting out?

Don’t get frustrated by mistakes-those are learning opportunities (and I’ve had my share of those).
Don’t ever be afraid to try something new.
Sample, sample, sample. Keep your collection of samples for future reference.
Keep good records including what yarns you use in a project, a picture of the finished project and all warp/weft calculations. I keep mine in a 3-ring binder with dividers by textile type (scarves, runners, etc.)
Put on shorter, one project warps (samples are great for that) to become comfortable warping your loom.
Keep on practicing! Your first projects won’t be perfect, but YOU made it and that’s a fabulous feeling!
What new and exciting things do you have on the horizon?

I’m teaching weaving more often all over the country at guilds, conferences, festivals, which is a passion of mine. I’ve also been asked by several yarn companies to do designs with their yarns, which is such an honor. For 2019, I’m working on kits that use the new Bluegrass Mills (The Woolery’s new house yarn label) silk and hemp yarns plus kits for Lunatic Fringe Yarns in their new colors based on Tints and Shades of their Tubular Spectrum Yarns. I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with the different yarns and companies as a team effort.

DJE Handwovens kit
And since we’re The Woolery, what is your favorite fiber to work with?

Oh, that’s a hard one! How can I pick just one? If I really think about it, I have to say Wool. Wool is such a versatile fiber. I can use a fine, worsted spun Merino wool yarn and make a lacey, “float on the breeze” scarf or shawl. A heavier wool yarn can make a table runner or a rug that will last for years. And then there are all the different sizes of yarn and the different sheep breeds yield different fleece/fiber, and wool blends with other fibers so well! Yep, if I could only play with one fiber (gulp) wool would be it.
Where can we find you on social media, your website, etc?
My website is www.djehandwovens.com and on Facebook www.facebook.com/djehandwovens (come join me!)

Deb Essen is the author of “Easy Weaving with Supplemental Warps” (Interweave Press 2016). Deb completed HGA’s Certificate of Excellence, Level 1 (2004) and is an inducted member of the Montana Circle of American Masters in Folk and Traditional Arts (2011). Her passion is teaching the wonders of weaving.  

Deb Essen working at her loom

What’s New At The Woolery – August 2018

While Fall/Winter might be our favorite seasons (because of all the warm woolies!), we also love the Summer because it’s the perfect time to stock up on some new products. We have all types of exciting things to show you this month.

African Fair Trade Stash Basket

Stash Baskets

We’ve had Fair Trade baskets before, but these are special because they are HUGE. You can fit a massive amount of your fiber stash in this 18-20″ tall 16-20″ diameter basket. Plus, you can feel good about your basket because proceeds from the sale help to provide healthcare, school fees, and community buildings for the weavers and their children.

Galina Turkish Spindles

Galina Turkish Spindles

These handcrafted spindles come in 3 different sizes, Small, Medium, and Tiny! We also have 4 different wood options for you; Beechwood, Mahogany, Wenge, and Zebrawood. The quality of the craftsmanship of these is very impressive.

Galina Hand Painted Turkish Spindles

galina-3

How cute are those little sheep! We’re completely head over heels for these new handcrafted Turkish spindles featuring adorable hand painted designs. These are complete spindles with all three parts, the photo above just shows the separate cross arms so you can see the designs. Right now we have sheep, alpacas, and rose designs. We’re able to get different ones as well so if you have suggestions on what spindle designs you’d like to see let us know in the comments!

Handywoman Pattern Stick Shuttles

Handywoman Stick Shuttle

Pattern shuttles are used to create interesting patterns in your weaving projects. The Handywoman Pattern stick shuttles have a gentle curve on one side and a more severe curve pattern on the other. These are laser cut and then the edges are beveled by hand to aid in beating the pattern into place.  Each shuttle is handmade and hand sanded and waxed to a satin shine so no two will be exactly alike.

Pineapple Fiber Top

Pineapple Fiber Top

If you’re into trying new and unique fibers, this Pineapple Fiber Top is going be right up your alley. This biodegradable cellulose fiber is harvested from actual pineapple plants. It’s cool to the touch so it makes for an excellent summertime next to skin fabric. Also, we can’t stop thinking about spinning it together with our Banana Top and Milk Protein Top to make a tropical fruit smoothie yarn!

Bluegrass Mills Hemp Yarn

Bluegrass Mills Hemp Yarn

Our hemp yarn is derived from line fiber from the highest quality European fair trade hemp.  This hemp is processed in the traditional manner of water rettting, breaking, scutching and hackling which produces the high quality long fiber.  This is not “cottonized” hemp fiber produced by harsh chemical treatment.

In other news, we have a brand new floor model that we’re really excited about! It comes flat packed in these boxes:

Ashford Jack Loom Boxes

Any guesses to what it is? Keen eyes will spot that it’s from Ashford.

Ashford Jack Loom Packing

Hmmm what could it be? Is that a shuttle in the far right corner?

It’s the Ashford Jack Loom!

Ashford Jack Loom Woolery Floor Model

It’s back after 10 years of being out of of production! Ashford brought their Jack Loom back by popular demand and we couldn’t be more excited. We currently have the only floor model in North America! So if you’re interested in seeing this loom in person, plan a trip to visit us!

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PSA: Start Your Gift Crafting Now!

PSA: Start your gift crafting... NOW!

It’s time to start thinking about your holiday gift crafting plans! We know it’s July, the temperature has been pretty consistently in the 90’s here in Kentucky. Just about the last thing we want to think about is the holidays. Trust us though, if you start planning your handmade holiday gifts now, you’ll be a much more sane and happy person come December.

We aren’t saying you need to start knitting Christmas stockings immediately, but now would be an excellent time to sit down and plan what exactly you want to make this holiday season. To help you out we created a Christmas Gift Crafting Worksheet that you can download as a PDF to fill out and help you stay organized. Click here to get your worksheet!

Make a List (and check it twice!)

The planner has a spot for listing all of the gifts that you would make in a perfect world, and then all the gifts that you “must do,” because we know that we’d like to make all the things, but time doesn’t always allow for that.

There is also a spot to list all of the materials you need for each project. You can check off what is already in your stash and what you will need to buy in addition to stash.

Next we suggest listing all the projects you’re going to make and giving a good guesstimate of how long each one will take you. After you do this, go through and assign a goal date to finish each project by.

Then there is a little tracker where you can mark where you start each project and the date you finish by, to see how far of your time estimates were. Also to keep track and make sure you don’t fall behind!

We know you probably aren’t in the holiday mood yet, but give this worksheet a try if you’ve ever felt under the wire for gift crafting. Seeing all of your plans on paper might just motivate you to get a jump start, so on December 24th you can kick your feet up with a nice mug of hot cocoa instead of staying up all night trying to finish that last gift. The act of writing things down helps you remember things, so even if you don’t use and reference the worksheet throughout the rest of the year, it’s still a good exercise.

This has been your friendly PSA, you may go back to your regularly scheduled summer activities of swimming, beach visiting, and ice cream eating now.