Author Archives: thewooleryguy

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

Advertisements

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!

SaveSave

SaveSave

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.

What’s New at The Woolery – June 2018

How has your Spring been going? We’re about to kick into Summer and we have been preparing by stocking up some fun new stuff!

Bluegrass Mills Silk Yarn

Bluegrass Mills Silk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are so excited to have this new, exclusive to The Woolery, 100% Extra Grade Mulberry Silk yarn! It’s available in both 20/2 and 60/2 in 8 vibrant colors. This is the perfect yarn to make your next weaving project extra special. Please note that this yarn is sold by the cone, not by weight, each cone is about 250g of yarn (+/-3%).

Snyder Glider Turkish Spindles

Snyder Glider Turkish Spindles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are each individually handcrafted by Scott Snyder and come in a few different exotic hardwood options like Zebrawood, Tiger Maple, Padauk, and Leopardwood. Each one is a unique work of art. There are 3 different sizes: Mini, Medium, and Large, so there should be one to fit every spinner’s different needs.

Deluxe Book Charkha

Deluxe Book Charkha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imported from India this is the authentic “Gandhi” Charkha Wheel. You might recall Ben Kingsley in the movie spinning on one of these. Hand-crafted in teak by an Indian firm for domestic users (yes, they are still used today), the most popular size is the book Charkha.

This deluxe model provides the familiar smooth “feel” of spinning on a traditional spinning wheel.

Lots of New Books!

newjune-2

We started carrying over 20 new books! They focus on all types of different fiber arts: dyeing, weaving, spinning, just about anything your heart could want. Peruse over our Books/Magazines  section of the website to see what we have. One of our more unique book offerings is Wool and Wine by John Martin. This book tells the stories of the people behind unique pairings of yarn and wine – how they got their start, where they are headed and what has happened along the way. Captured in 175 stunning photos and featuring 12 family run wineries and 12 independent dyers from across North America and Europe, the book brings together yarn, wine, food recipes, knitting patterns and projects from some of today’s most prominent knitting designers in a fun, engaging package with a little something for everyone.

KISS Triangle Looms

KISS Triangle Looms YouTube Video

Continuous Strand Weaving is one of our favorite weaving methods and these triangle looms are a great platform for it! Use these triangles looms to make all kinds of projects from scarves, blankets, purses, vests, and skirts. Loom disassembles for easy transport and storage. They come in 3′, 4′, and 5′ sizes (size measured by the length of the hypotenuse).

Banana Top

Banana Top

Unique fibers are something that we are always on the lookout for, so we can’t wait to share this Banana Fiber with you! It is a natural bast fiber.  Due to its lightweight and comfortable hand, banana fiber is popular in Japan for use in summer wear as well as traditional kimono and kamishimo garments.

Banana fiber blends easily with cotton and other natural fibers. It is similar in appearance to bamboo and ramie fiber. However, banana fiber is finer and easier to spin than either bamboo or ramie. Our favorite feature is: it is biodegradable and has no negative environmental effects, a true eco-friendly fiber.

We hope you are as excited by all of these fun new products as we are!

 

SaveSave

Perfect Travel Projects

Perfect travel Projects

We’re getting into the tail end of Spring here which means we’re about to enter full Summer mode. A lot of us and probably you will be taking Summer trips. It seemed like a great time to do a rundown of some of our favorite projects to take in planes, trains, and automobiles. Plus, a few of them aren’t bad for distracting bored kiddos who are home for the Summer.

Of course, knitting and crochet are great projects to come with you on-the-go but we’re going to feature a couple lesser known options in this post! Also most of these options are super quick to learn so if learning to knit or crochet seems like an impossible task to you, this might be more up your alley.

First up let’s look at some options for extremely portable weaving:

Schacht Easel Weaver

Schacht Easel Weaver

This new Easel Weaver from Schacht is a great travel tapestry loom option. It features a kickstand so you could easily set it up somewhere like an airplane tray table. Or you can just hold it in your hand to weave too. It comes in three sizes; 6″, 8″, or 10″ so you have a little wiggle room in terms of the size of project you can make. This little loom is made out of sturdy maple/apple plywood with strong warp teeth so it’s durable enough that you can stick it in your travel bag and not be concerned about it breaking or losing your warp. We also have a YouTube video up featuring this little loom if you want to get more details on it!

Purl & Loop Wee Weaver

Purl & Loop Wee Weaver

Really, we love all of Purl & Loop’s products and they would all make excellent travel projects. We decided to focus on this Wee Weaver because it comes with everything you need to weave teeny tiny tapestry projects on the go! You get the loom, two needles, a pickup stick, a comb, and a carrying pouch. So just add some scrap yarn and you’ll be all set to weave on the go. This one is also so tiny (4″x4.5″) that it can be carried around in a purse quite easily.

Schacht Zoom Loom

Schacht Zoom Loom

If you want to weave, but tapestry weaving is not your thing, then the Schacht Zoom Loom is a great choice for a travel loom! Like all Schacht products, it’s very sturdy so you can take it with you without worry. It’s a 4×4 pin loom so you can create coasters or collect several squares and then sew them together into a bigger project. We have a few different kits available for this loom so you can also have some ready made project ideas!

Weaving isn’t the only travel project option, there are lots of different things to try like braiding!

Lucet Braiding Tool

Lucet braiding tool

This nifty tool lets you make a square braid out of a single strand of yarn. As you can see above, we also think it’s fun to use up fabric scraps to make big chunky braids. This can be a neat way to make ties or belts for other projects.

Spinning can be a good on the go project too! If you have a wheel that doesn’t travel well, or can’t quite get the hang of using a drop spindle in the car then you’re not completely out of luck.

Support Spindles

Woodland Woodworking Spindle

We have several different support spindle options, which will be a little easier on the spinner for car ride spinning than a drop spindle. If you’re not familiar with a supported spindle, it’s very similar to a drop spindle except instead of you letting the spindle hang free, it rests in a little bowl or stand. We think a lap bowl works best for the car because you can easily hold it in your lap and keep it secure without it moving around from the car. The spindle shown above is a bead spindle from Woodland Woodworking.

There is no reason why kids wouldn’t love some of the options we have above but we also have some projects that are specifically suited to younger travelers.

Loome Tool and Knitting Nancy

Kids travel projects

We like the Loome because it is an all in one tool for pom poms, tassels, friendship bracelets, cords, and small weavings. If a kid gets bored making pom poms they could switch over to making some bracelets for the pom poms to go on. Knitting Nancy is another good option for kids because she is colorful and fun. It’s basically a tool to create a knitted icord that could be used for belts, bracelets, or doll scarves. Knitting Nancy also uses a very simple repetitive motion so it’s an easy project even for kids with low attention spans. Both of these are small enough to tuck into mom’s purse for emergency entertainment situations.

It’s also important to have a place to put all of these tiny tools and projects when you’re traveling so don’t forget a great bag!

Guatemalan Shoulder Bag

Travel projects in a bag

These bags come in three sizes; small, medium, and large so there should be an option for any size project you have. They two zippered compartments in the front that are great for keeping notions. They’re great to stay organized on the go but they are padded so they will also offer your tools some protection. Also, they feature a panel of unique woven fabric so they are pretty and functional.

Are there any travel projects you love to bring with you that we missed? Let us know in the comments. Also we’d love to see your summer projects! Share them on social media with #wooleryshop

 

Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival 2018

Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival 2018

One of our favorite festivals of the year is approaching fast! The Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival will be May 19th and 20th at the Masterson Station Park in Lexington, KY. The festival has classes, competitions, and of course shopping! The Woolery will have a large booth set up with wheels, fiber processing equipment and other fiber goodies for you to try out. We will also have a special guest with us!

Deb Essen of DJE Handwovens

Deb Essen of DJE Handwovens will be teaching classes at the Festival on Saturday and then hanging out in The Woolery booth all day on Sunday. She lives, weaves, and runs her business in Bitterroot Valley, nestled in the Rocky Mountains of Western Montana. Deb completed HGA’s Certificate of Excellence, Level 1 (2004) and is and inducted member of the Montana Circle of American Masters in Folk and Traditional Arts (2011). Her passion is teaching the wonders of weaving.

Sidney the Sheep from DJE Handwovens

Deb creates some of our favorite kits for handweavers (like the Zoom Loom Swatch Critters!). Come meet her and learn from a master of weaving!

If you swing by our booth you’ll also find some fantastic show only specials and we’ll have these adorable “Proud Member of The Woolery Fiber Flock” stickers on hand so you  can show your Woolery pride! They’re nice vinyl stickers so they are really durable and great for sticking on water bottles, laptops, or wherever you need some Woolery swag.

Fiber Flock Sticker

If you don’t already follow us on Instagram, now would be a good time to get on that. We may or may not be giving away some prizes at the show, but you have to follow us to find out about them!

Also a quick reminder that because we will all be having fun at the Festival, our shop will be closed on Saturday May 19th!

Woolery Weave-Off Winners

What an adventure! We are pleased to present the winners of the first Woolery Weave-Off! Inundated with over 75 amazingly beautiful, diverse towels, we struggled to keep judging deadlines, and are still working on washing and folding all the entries for delivery! Next week, we will be delivering them to The Simon House, where they’ll go into ‘starter baskets’ that provide basic household supplies to the ladies moving out into their own housing! Without further ado…


Beginners

Third Place – Susan Hadden – Califon, NJ

Third Place - Beginner Category Woolery Weave-Off

Second Place – Susan Harrison – Plano, TX

Second Place - Beginner Category Woolery Weave-Off

First Place – Patti Grammatis – Easley, SC

First Place - Woolery Weave-Off Beginner Category


Rigid Heddle

Third Place – Mary Pat Nowakowski – Freeville, NY

Third Place - Rigid Heddle Woolery Weave-Off

Second Place – Mary Dean – Hackettstown, NJ

Second Place - Rigid Heddle Woolery Weave-Off

First Place – Ellyn Zinsmeister – Allen, TX

First Place - Rigid Heddle Woolery Weave-Off


Color

Third Place – Cathy Kinzie – Owings, MD

Third Place - Color Woolery Weave Off

Second Place – Susan Kroll – Sequim, WA

Second Place - Color Woolery Weave-Off

First Place – Pat Bullen – Centerburg, OH

First Place - Color Woolery Weave-Off


Pattern

Third Place – Sue Briney – Powell, OH

Third Place - Pattern Woolery Weave-Off

Second Place – Lynette Greenwald – Buckingham, PA

Second Place - Pattern Woolery Weave-Off

First Place – Katie Polemis – Indianapolis, IN

First Place - Pattern Woolery Weave-Off


Congratulations everyone, all of your towels are fantastic! We hope you all enjoy your prizes. As a reminder here are the prizes that the winners will receive:

Woolery Weave-Off Prizes

We cannot thank all of you enough – the response has been overwhelming, and the love shown and felt is profound. We look forward to sponsoring this contest again, and working other contests into our rotation! It feels good to give back, and we are delighted that you’re all on board to help out.

“We all do better when we all do better.” ~ Paul Wellstone