Category Archives: Weaving Technique

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

 

 

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Weaving Selvedge Rug Project

Weaving Selvedge

Weaving Selvedge Rug ProjectWe love weaving selvedge! What’s weaving selvedge you ask? It’s the leftover bits they cut off of the ends of commercially woven fabric. They were just getting thrown away, but then some geniuses said, “I wonder what would happen if we wove with these?” Turns out, that was a great idea! The selvedge can add lots of fun texture to a scrappy tapestry project, but our favorite thing to do with it is make a nice fluffy rug!

Our very own Dani made her own selvedge rug project on a Gilmakra Standard Countermarche Floor Loom. We thought we’d share how Dani made her rug so you can make your own rug!

Warping the Gilmakra Standard Countermarche Loom

Dani warped her loom 30″ wide at 6 ends per inch with 6 feet of warp in Maysville 8/4 Cotton Rug Warp Yarn. She used the Ivory color. Her weft was made entirely of weaving selvedge and she used about 1 bag (5lbs). The selvedge Dani used was particularly fluffy so you might need 2 bags to weave a similar sized rug depending on your selvedge. The 24″ Hockett Stick Shuttle was the easiest shuttle to pass the weft through the warp.

Weaving Selvedge Project

After you’re all warped up, just plain weave away. Once you get going with this project it really flies by because each pass of weft gives you about 1/2″ to 3/4″ of rug! You can see just how quickly this project goes by in the YouTube video below:

The rug ended up being 30″ by 40″ and is so thick and textural! Dani finished the ends of her rug with a Damascus edge. She demonstrated it last week on Facebook Live if you want to learn how to do it yourself.

We’d love to see your weaving selvedge projects! Send us pictures on Facebook or Instagram!

Selvedge Rug Project

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.

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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.

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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.

step-9

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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.

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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.

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

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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

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.

 

Guest Post: 5 Easy & Decorative Techniques for Seaming Zoom Loom Squares

You’ve woven dozens of squares, and the seemingly daunting task of seaming has confronted you. Fear not! Here are five great tips and tricks for seaming Zoom Loom squares together, all with their own unique applications.

If you know which method that you want to use in seaming your squares together at the beginning of your project, this will make your life easier in the long run. Another pre-seaming tip is to not wash or full your squares before sewing your squares together. If you are creating larger pieces of fabric with your zoom loom squares, it helps to sew squares into long strips, then sew those together in one run.

Whip it Good

whip finished

First we start with what may be thought of as the easiest technique, sewing them together with a needle and a thread using the whip stitch. Leave a long tail after you have finished weaving the square, then take a tapestry needle and thread your long tail through the needle. Lay your squares flat on the table in front of you, then sew from the right side to the left side along the same. Start by sewing into the first loop of the adjoining square. Go back and forth between the squares making sure the squares stay aligned. This keeps the fabric pretty flat as the whole, and makes fewer puckers.

whip flat

If you find that first technique a little difficult, you can hold the squares with their “right” sides together and whip stitch along the edge to secure them. This method doesn’t alway lay flat, but it will still give you a practically invisible seam.

whip together

 

Hook, Line, and Seamer

The next few techniques involve nothing more than a crochet hook (a US size E hook should do) and some extra yarn.slip stitch beginning

The first method utilizes a simple slip stitch. Start by holding your squares right sides together, then insert your hook through both layers and pull a loop of your extra yarn through the layers, then insert hook a little bit to the side of where you made your first insertion, and pull another loop through the layers, and the loop on your hook.slip stitch secondary

This method creates a strong join, bulkier than the whip stitch, but good for dense blankets and outer garments.

slip stitch finishedslip stitch finished backslip stitch finished top

This next method also uses a crochet hook, and adds some length and width to your square. Start in one corner of the square, and single crochet around the square, putting 3 single crochets in each of the corners.

single crochet step 1single crochet step 2single crochet step 3

Then after your squares have the single crochet border, sew them together using the whip stitch method. Having extra fabric to sew into creates a stronger join, and if you use a contrasting color, this can add another level of design to your project.

single crochet seamed

Another common technique is more decorative than structural, but the added lace makes an airy fabric, perfect for shawls (like the citrus squared shawl), scarves and other light-weight garments. Start in one corner of a square, and slip stitch into the fabric, then chain 3 stitches and slip stitch into the bottom corner of the adjacent square. 

chain 3 beginningchain 3 step 2chain 3 step 3

Chain 3 and slip stitch back into the original square, moving up the side of the square as you go along. Repeat this process going back forth between the squares until the whole side is seamed.

chain 3 step 4chain 3 finished

These techniques are just a few that you can add to your toolbox, and can be used in seaming larger pieces of handwoven fabric. Each technique is good for different purposes, and different types of yarn. Experiment with different seaming techniques in your projects, and see what you like best!

finished techniques

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 of Benjamin 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.

Guest Post: Pin Loom Weaving with Meg Stump

IMG_7553When we think of easy-to-handle, portable fiber arts, weaving does not immediately spring to mind. However,  a pin loom (and all the tools needed to weave on it) can be carried in a small bag!

Not only that, but weaving on a pin loom offers an immediate payoff. Unlike a standard loom, there is barely any setup, and with a little practice a square can be woven in ten to fifteen minutes. It is thrilling and fulfilling all at once. Weaving the squares can offer an incredibly effective way to unwind, relax, and focus. The repetitive movements ( as with other forms of weaving) can deliver a state of calm, relaxed alertness.  This is the state of awareness that allows your body and mind to regroup and restore. This is where focus and creativity live. And who isn’t interested in a bit more of that?

A Brief History

Pin looms have changed a lot over the years, but they still remain true to their basic function: weaving.

"The Weave-It Book." Medford, Massachusetts: Donar Products, Corp., 1936.

“The Weave-It Book.” Medford, Massachusetts: Donar Products, Corp., 1936.

The first books of pin loom patterns came out in 1936. This was at a time when a lot of women’s clothes were still being made at home. The primary focus in the early books was on clothing for adults and children with home decor items coming in second.

You can see a wonderful sample of these early books and patterns at www.eloomaation.com as well as access an incredible reserve of pin loom information.  You can purchase a Pin Loom at the Woolery here.

Looking at the early books, its hard to remember that folks were just as interested in color and style as today’s weaver, they just didn’t have access to affordable color printing – so you have to use your imagination.

Pin looms and pin loom pattern books seem to have been an active part of the handcrafting scene through the 40’s and 50’s. Life Magazine had illustrations of World War II soldiers using pin loom weaving as part of their rehabilitation. At least a few of the Minnesota county fairs had specific categories for pin loomed items. But then the 60’s came along, and the pin loom’s popularity fell away and the Scoville factory that manufactured the pin looms burned down. There did not seem to be any reason to rebuild it.

That might have been the end of the story for pin looms except that even as interest in old fashioned home arts faded, a new passion for self sufficiency was taking off. This included raising fleece animals and spinning.  As the move toward natural, hand crafted items took off, the pin loom was discovered to be a perfect sample loom.

merino-sample

The perfect sample loom.

A third pin loom transformation occurred very recently with Schacht Spindle’s decision to work with John Mullarkey to design and construct the Zoom Loom, a pin loom which incorporates all the original functionality of the pin loom with an updated, easy to use style.  The Zoom Loom has been largely responsible for reintroducing the pin loom to an avid fiber audience, and  has helped me to share my pin loom patterns with both experienced and novice pin loom weavers.

Technique: Joining Squares

One of the challenges for many new pin loom weavers is that while it is easy to weave the square, it is not always clear how the squares can be joined  together to create a larger project. There are a number of ways that all work very well, depending upon the purpose of the item, and you can find a number of basic joining techniques here.

laptop2

For example, this tablet case was joined using a mattress stitch. It offers a swift, smooth way to join squares, but  the caveat is that it works best on seams that are not going to get a great deal of stress.

Sheep and cow

On the other hand, these sheep and cow toys were joined by using a single crochet stitch to join the seams, which were then turned to the inside.  I will use a single crochet join anywhere where its okay to have a very noticeable or protruding seam, for example if the seam is to be a part of a purse embellishment, or when the crochet join is going to be turned to the inside and will not show at all, like with stuffed animals.

Pin looms have a rich history and an exciting future as artists and craftspersons begin to express themselves in this new medium, finding her or her own pin loom “voice.”

megstumpMargaret Stump is the author of the newly published, Pin Loom Weaving; 40 Projects for Tiny Hand Looms. She lives with her husband, Jerry, in Mankato, MN, and spends far too much time thinking about what she is making and what she might make on her pin looms.

Margaret, also known as Meg, can be found at www.PinLoomWeaving.com where she is attempting to compile everything she knows about pin looms as well as everything that she can request from others to share. For example, Meg is very interested in posting examples of other people’s finished and unfinished pin loom projects, along with any comments on their own weaving/creative process. These will go up in a Gallery Page as soon as there are a number of examples. She can be reached at pinloomweaving@gmail.com and would be happy to chat about pin loom weaving.

 

Guest Post: Wet Finishing with Laura Fry

We’re pleased to welcome accomplished weaver Laura Fry as our first guest blogger on The Woolery Blog! In this regular series, we’ll be introducing you to some of the best and brightest fiber artists as they share their knowledge and skills with us. We hope you’ll enjoy this new feature, and welcome your suggestions for future posts!

All the Best,

Chris, Nancy and the rest of the Woolery Team

It Isn’t Finished……until it’s wet finished.

New weavers are often quite surprised to discover that once the threads are interlaced into a woven web that they don’t actually have ‘real’ cloth.  Yet.  There are a few more things that need to happen.atq7

After cutting the web from the loom, take the time to inspect and repair anything necessary, like broken ends, skips and floats.  I prefer to clip the weft tails flush with the surface of the cloth, although some people like to leave a little bit to trim later.   If so, keep them short – no more than about an inch.  Longer than that and they can tangle in the final step in the process of turning threads into cloth – that of wet finishing.  If applying a hard press, the long tail can leave an impression in the cloth, so clip them flush before compressing.

What is wet finishing?  It isn’t ‘just’ washing it, although it may look a whole lot like that.

Wet finishing refers to the very first time the woven web meets water after being woven.  I like to distinguish between wet finishing and on-going laundering because the wet finishing process may be much harsher than ordinary cleaning of the textile once it has been put into use.aurora2

This is especially true of woolen yarns.  Woolen yarns have been spun with the intention of some degree of fulling happening during wet finishing.  This means agitation!   New weavers get very concerned about ruining their hard won efforts because we have all had the experience of washing a favourite sweater and taking it out of the washer or dryer the size of a doll sweater.

Agitation is the engine that drives the process of fulling.  During fulling the fibres migrate and compact which means you wind up with a much more stable, warmer textile.  Once the cloth has been brought to its finished state, however, all the rules you learned about not agitating something made from wool come into play.  Additional agitation will apply additional fulling, eventually ruining the cloth for its intended purpose if done to excess.

If you have never done any fulling, the best thing is to do it by hand.  Draw enough warm water to cover the cloth and add a little soap or detergent.  (Which one you use will depend on the quality of your water; for hard water use a detergent without whiteners, brighteners or perfumes, for soft water you can use either soap or detergent.)

The soap/detergent will do two things:  act as a surfactant, breaking down the surface tension of the water so that the fibre can more easily absorb it, and scour the oil/dirt from the yarn to clean it.

You don’t need a lot of soap/detergent – the maximum amount of suds I want to see on the surface of the water is one inch.  Usually I use less soap/detergent and add more if required as the scouring process happens.

Once the cloth is clean the agitation begins.  Run a fingernail over the cloth from beneath.  Watch to see how unstable the threads are.  As the agitation begins the fulling process, monitor the stability of the cloth by running your fingernail across the threads.  Once the web is stable enough for its intended purpose, rinse and dry with the cloth laid flat.  Larger pieces can be Z folded, turning from time to time to make sure it dries thoroughly.

For cotton, I use the washing machine and the hottest water available on a gentle wash and rinse cycle.  After wet finishing, which generally includes a hard press or cold mangle (compression – one with heat, one without), care instructions read “Machine wash warm water, machine dry until damp, iron on medium heat”.

Rayon yarns wet finished in the washing machine are done on warm water wash, warm water rinse, gentle wash and rinse cycle.  Some people prefer to wet finish their rayons by hand.   My care tags generally read “Wash by hand, hang to dry, press on cool if desired.”magic12

Wet finishing will change the woven web.  Sometimes the change is subtle, sometimes it is dramatic.  But once wet finished the cloth will be more stable, will therefore snag less and wear longer.

Welcome to the wonderful world of weaving!

Laura fry is the author of Magic in the Water; wet finishing handwovens as well as other self published titles and teaches weaving in North America. A frequent contributor to magazines, she also has a popular blog.