Category Archives: Weaving

Guest Post: A Weaver’s Guide to Swatching with Liz Gipson

Liz GipsonWe’re pleased to welcome Liz Gipson of Yarnworker.com to our blog for a special guest post! Liz is a weaver, instructor and author – you may recognize her from Weaving Made Easy and Slots and Holes, or perhaps you’ve spotted her name on the pages of Handwoven Magazine or over at Knitty.com. 

Today, Liz shares some of the weaving inspiration behind her newest book, A Weaver’s Guide to Swatching.

All the Best,

Wave, Perri and the entire Woolery crew

The thing about writing a book is you don’t have time to fail slowly, you need to fail fast. With less than a year to get together a couple dozen projects and write the accompanying manuscript for my forthcoming book, Handwoven Home, I needed a way to test yarns, colors, setts, and finishes faster than even my rigid heddle could provide.

For years, I hunted for a small frame loom in the setts that I, as a rigid-heddle weaver, use—primarily 8, 10, and12. Occasionally, an 8 would pop up and then disappear again depending on the trends. A single size 8 did me some good, but I couldn’t compare the same-sized swatch in one sett vs. another.

Then I met Angela Smith of Purl & Loop. She was making the cutest little frame looms and I asked her if she could make me a set in closer setts. We talked about the wider issues, threw ideas back and forth, and the Swatch Maker Looms were born!

Purl & Loop Swatch Maker

We put these little looms out in the world and instantly I started getting questions about how to weave a swatch. At first I thought it was about the technique, but then I realized the questions had to do with the whole system: “How do you weave a swatch to get information to make your big loom life better?”

A Weaver's Guide to Swatching by Liz GipsonSo while I was writing the big book, I wrote a little book about the methods I use to get to a final finished project. That little book, A Weaver’s Guide to Swatching, shows you how to use a small frame loom to road test your bigger ideas. I talk about selecting sett; a bit about yarn for weaving; the tools you will need; the mechanics of how to set up, weave, and finish a swatch with lots of tips and tricks; and how to track results for future projects. It’s a tried and true method used by designers of all stripes. Start small. Dream big. Fail often. Do it again.

As summer approaches, swatching is the perfect way to take your weaving with you. I get my best ideas while I’m traveling and I no longer feel I’ll “lose” that idea; I can grab my loom and swatch it out.

It’s a joy to be on this journey and share it with my fellow weavers. You can find me online at yarnworker.com or on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

Weave happy. Weave often. Just weave!

How to Maximize the Use of a Gradient Yarn

Gradient yarns are hard to pass up, and we’ve created a free step-by-step guide which demonstrates how you can use any two colors of fiber to blend your very own set of gradient batts, which can be used to spin a totally unique gradient yarn. Click here to get our guide!

Free guide to blending spinning fiber to spin a gradient yarn.

Once you’ve spun your yarn, it’s time to find the perfect project to show it off. Depending on your yardage, you could knit or crochet a simple accessory that shows off the long color transitions, such as a hat, cowl or scarf. The great thing about making a scarf is that you can just keep knitting or crocheting til you run out of yarn!

knitting

You could also try weaving with your beautiful gradient yarn – you will have to do just a little bit of math to ensure that you don’t run out of yarn. Here, we’ve blended a total of 8oz. of fiber to create a single-ply gradient. If you have a complementary color of thinner yarn that you can use to weave with, you can warp you loom with your handspun gradient yarn and then loosely weave with your complementary yarn to get a warp dominant project using the instructions to follow!

Handspun Gradient Yarn, get our free tutorial on the Woolery blog.

Here’s how to maximize use of any gradient yarn in your weaving project:

  1. Make sure that you have an accurate measurement of yardage in your skein. Example: Yardage: 260 yards.
  2. Calculate how wide you want your woven piece to be, and multiply that number by the number of EPI (ends per inch) you need. Example: Weaving width: 10” x Sett: 5 ends per inch = Total number of ends: 50.
  3. Divide the number you got for Step 2 by your total yardage in Step 1. This number is the how long your warp ends need to be to use every last inch of your yarn! Example: 260yards/50 ends = 5.2 yards warp length.

Find out how to plan your weaving project using a skein of gradient handspun yarn on the Woolery blog!

We can’t wait to see what you make with your handspun gradient yarns – be sure to share them with us on social media using #thewoolery in your post!

All the Best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery Team

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Maximize the use of any gradient yarn AND get our free guide on blending fiber to spin your own gradient yarn, too!

5 Free Zoom Loom Projects You Can Make in a Weekend

Need a quick weaving project for on-the-go? Searching for a fun & fast project to chase the winter blues away? We have a new blog section dedicated to sharing free project tutorials for the Schacht Zoom Loom, a shop favorite for its portability and ease of use!

Find great project inspiration for your Schacht Zoom Loom on the Woolery blog!Versatility might not be the first thing you think of, but you’ll be surprised at just how much you can do with your Zoom Loom squares. They can be made into scented sachets or a relaxing eye mask to create an aromatherapy experience in the comfort of your own home.

Add to your home decor with a set of embroidered coasters which are easy to customize in a design of your choosing, or make a woodland friend with our fox ornament tutorial.

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Our newest tutorial shows how to create a woven snowflake decoration, the perfect way to embrace hygge this January! Click here for our free project PDF. 

finished-snowflake

You can find all of our free Zoom Loom tutorials here, and we’ll be adding more as the year progresses.

Happy weaving!

All the Best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery team

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Visit the woolery blog for free project ideas for the Zoom Loom!

Free Guide: Getting Started with a Rigid Heddle Loom

A new year is full of possibilities! If one of your 2017 resolutions is to learn how to weave, or to pull your loom out of the closet and rediscover this craft, we’ve created a free guide to help you reach your goals with ease.

Visit the Woolery blog for a free guide to getting started with a Rigid Heddle loom.

Whether you’re new to rigid heddle weaving or just need a refresher on the basics, our free guide will jump start your weaving in 2017!

Click here to download our free PDF guide to Getting Started with a Rigid Heddle Loom.

If you are already on our mailing list, check your inbox – you should have already received a download link from us.

Photo Credit: Liz Gipson of Yarnworker.com.

Photo Credit: Liz Gipson of Yarnworker.com.

Our guide will help you choose the right loom & accessories to get started; it also covers essential weaving terms, the anatomy of a loom & more.

Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can visit our website for free weaving patterns and lots of other helpful info, too.

We look forward to helping you on your weaving journey!

All the Best,

Wave, Perri, and the entire Woolery Team

Ask Nancy: On Weaving & Baking

Ask NancyIt’s our final blog post of 2016 and we’re saving the best for last: on today’s post, Nancy sprinkles in a little baking knowledge while answering an interesting question from one of our customers.

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:

I’m looking to weave some soft tea towels from cotton yarn that will to wrap home baked loaves of bread – I would like the towels to be soft and also dense enough to keep the bread from getting too terribly stale. I’m not sure if this is possible, but I wondered if someone might be able to recommend a nice yarn that would work?? It might be a long shot, I’m not sure!

Nancy shares sage advice about weaving & baking on this week's post!

A:

One of the properties of cotton that makes it so wonderful for clothing is that it wicks moisture away from the (skin) surface, carrying it up to the outer surface of the cloth where it can evaporate and cool the body. That precise property of wicking moisture away will create staling very rapidly in a loaf of bread. While a cotton cloth is nice to keep steam from condensing on a fresh-baked hot loaf (unlike plastic, which traps the steam on the surface and causes sogginess), that same cotton cloth will facilitate the further transport of moisture quite well, and make a loaf stale up awfully quickly. For best keeping, allow a loaf to air-cool with good circulation until it reaches ambient temperature, then encase it in nice air-tight plastic. I used to bake professionally long ago…

To answer the non-food textile portion of your question, either 8/2 (found here) or 6/2 (found here) unmercerized cotton will produce the cloth you are looking for.  I set the 8/2 at 20 EPI in a plain weave and the 6/2 at 16 EPI in plain weave.

Including a handwoven tea towel with your home-baked bread is a lovely gift, and we’ve found a few free patterns for anyone interested in a last-minute weaving project this holiday season (hint: this would also be a great hostess gift for New Year’s!):

Free pattern from Louet for handwoven tea towels.

Cornucopia Tea Towels from Louet

Free Friendship Towel pattern from Schacht.

Friendship Towels from Schacht

Free Woven Dish Towel from LeClerc.

Dish Towel from LeClerc

Follow us here on Pinterest for more great weaving inspiration!

Ask Nancy: Weaving Q & A

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 orclick here to post your questions in our Ravelry group

All the Best,

Wave, Perri, and the entire Woolery Team

Q:

I ordered a cotton 8/4 yarn from you. I have warped it and have started weaving. However, a couple of the warp threads have sheared down to 1 strand and are about to break. I have really had a problem warping it tightly & thread breaking. Any solution? I ordered 3 cones of this tread. Am I going to have problems with all of them? Please help!

A:

In normal use, you shouldn’t be able to break 8/4; my strong suspicion is that you have far too much tension on your warp. The only other thing that will break warp threads is abrasion; either on the selvedges from having too much draw-in (not enough weft in the shed) or from having sized the reed to the yarn too snugly.

We are happy give you some more guidance on this on the phone (give us a call toll-free at 1-800-441-9665). The rule for tension in weaving is “just enough for error-free weaving;” if it’s more than that, you’ve cranked it up too tightly.

Q:

Is a rigid heddle available to accommodate bulky yarn? Does a 5-dent heddle have large enough holes for a thick yarn?

A:

If you get any of the Ashford looms, there are 2.5-dent heddles available for them that will handle very bulky yarns. With regards to your question about the 5-dent heddle, that depends upon your definition of “thick”: by standard knitting yarn definitions, “bulky” yarns will fit in a 5-dent heddle, and the yarns that one would need a 2.5-dent heddle for are usually classed as “ultra-bulky.” Hope this helps; knitting yarn definitions are notoriously imprecise. That is the very best that we can do!

Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom

Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom

Q:  

I am looking for a reed that will fit an Ullman loom that is 48-50 inches long.
On this loom, it appears that the reed height is adjustable. So, what would you recommend – carbon or stainless steel? I’d like to start with an all around reed size (maybe a 10 dent is a good start?) and 48″ long. My only weaving experience is on a rigid heddle loom. This loom was found in the crawl space of a recently purchased property in Maine. It appears that everything else is here, just missing the reed. I couldn’t let my friend throw it away, so I’m willing to get her back into shape and weaving!

A:

Reeds are sold by height as well as by length; that length is certainly no problem. Our standard reeds are either 4.75” or 5” tall, depending upon which supplier we choose. Most of the big CM looms will have a good fit with a variety of reed heights, because the top of the reed holder floats and is not fastened. Glimåkra reeds are routinely very short (4” overall height), and Cranbrook reeds are quite tall at 5.5”; we can order any of those as well if you prefer. I don’t think we’ll have any difficulty with fitting the Ullman; it sounds like the 4.75″ height would be best.

How to Warp A Cricket Loom

Warping the Schacht Cricket Loom utilizes a technique called “direct warping,” this means that you are measuring your warp directly on your loom. On today’s blog, we’ll show you step-by-step how to get your loom warped for your next project! 

What you need:

Cricket Loom

Rigid Heddle Reed for the Cricket Loom

Heddle Hook

Warp yarn

Warping Peg

Loom Clamps

Scissors

Warp separator (pick-up sticks, cardstock paper, flexible corrugated cardboard, paint sticks)

Optional: 2 small rubber bands.

supplies

Before you start: Determine how wide your warp will be, and then center that on your reed by marking in pencil or tying string at the two outside points.

Step 1: Attach your loom to a stand or a table using the clamps that come with the loom. Attach the warping peg a set distance away from your loom depending on how long you want your warp to be.

step-1

Step 2: With the reed in neutral position, make sure your back apron rod is coming up and around the back beam. Take 2 rubber bands and secure the edges of your reeds to the edges of the apron rod.

Step 3: Tie a knot around the apron rod with your warp yarn.

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Step 4: With your heddle hook, take a loop of warp yarn through a slot in the reed.

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Step 5: Take the loop and place it around the warping peg.

Note: It is best to keep consistent tension on the warp yarn as you’re warping to avoid tension issues during the weaving process, but take care not to put on too much tension! Here in the shop, we say “no banjos!” – an excess of tension can cause you to accidentally pull your peg off of the clamp, end up with too short of a warp, break your yarn, or other issues.

step-5

Step 6: Continue steps 4-5 all the way across the width of your warp.

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Step 7: Cut the warp yarn and tie the end to the apron bar.

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Step 8: Remove the loop of yarn at the warping peg and cut the loops of yarn. Be careful not to move the yarn too much as that can cause tension issues as well.

step-8

Step 9: Remove the rubber bands from the apron bar and set aside for future use. Slowly start winding the warp onto the back beam, while placing the warp separator on the back beam as well. Keep one hand on the bundle of warp to keep even tension as you wind on. Stop when you have about 10” of yarn in front of the reed.

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step-9-1

Step 10: Sleying the reed. Take a pair of threads in one of the slots, pull out a thread and pull it through the adjacent hole. Note: it doesn’t matter if you put it in the left hole or right hole, as long as you keep it consistent across the reed.

step-10

Step 11: Take the two rubber bands and attach the edges of the front apron rod to the edges of the reed. Start taking 1” bundles of warp threads and tie them onto the front apron bar using a square knot.

step-11

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Some of our staff use a slightly different way to tie the warp onto the front apron bar. This helps even the tension along all of the warp threads by using a continuous piece of non-elastic yarn, and can be done in these four easy steps: 

Step 1. Using an overhand knot, tie 1″ width sections of warp threads together.

step-1

Step 2. With a non-elastic yarn, like cotton twine, tie one end to the apron rod and start lacing the yarn through the center of each 1″ bundle of warp threads.

step-2a step-2b

Step 3. Repeat step 2 until you pass through the last warp thread bundle, tie a knot using the threading yarn.

step-3

Once you have tied on the warp using whichever method you prefer, you can proceed to these final two steps:

Step 12: Adjust the warp knots until all of them are under the same tension.
Step 13: Wind your weft yarn onto a stick shuttle and start weaving!

We’d love to see what projects you are making with your Cricket Looms – be sure to share them with us using #thewoolery in your post so that we can include it in our Community Scrapbook page!

All the best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery Team