Fast Finishes for Fixing Flaws

It’s down to the wire: Christmas is right around the corner, and you have finished or nearly finished your handmade gifts. The problem? You aren’t 100% satisfied with how it looks.

Here are 3 different finishing techniques that you can pull right out of your hat to turn those projects from flawed to fabulous! 

Finish #1: Crochet bind off for knitting project.

This finish is good to use when you don’t have enough time to do a full knitted bind off. By slipping a few stitches at a time onto a crochet hook, and then using your working yarn to yarnover, and bring through two loops, and continue across until you have fully bound off (check out this tutorial video to view this technique in action!). This bind off is just as stretchy, if not more, than a traditional knitted bind off.

Try the crochet bind off for a neat edge on your next knitting project. Find more finishing ideas on the Woolery blog!

Try the crochet bind off for a neat edge on your next knitting project. Find more finishing ideas on the Woolery blog!

Try the crochet bind off for a neat edge on your next knitting project. Find more finishing ideas on the Woolery blog!

Finish #2: Single crochet border on a woven project.

Sometimes your selvedge edges aren’t even, and they look lumpy, loose, or down-right funky. By using one of the yarns in your project, you can single crochet a border on any selvedge edge to hide the mistakes. This can be a great idea for plaid or other colorwork scarves that require the yarn to travel up the side of the work. If you don’t know how to crochet, follow these simple steps  to master single crochet.

Finish wonky edges of your weaving with single crochet - find more great tips on the Woolery blog!

Finish wonky edges of your weaving with single crochet - find more great tips on the Woolery blog!

Finish wonky edges of your weaving with single crochet - find more great tips on the Woolery blog!

Finish 3: Just add Fringe.

Most crocheters know that single crochet has a tendency to curl along the edges, and that can be annoying – but other crafts aren’t immune to this problem!

Got curls? Tame those curly edges on your handmade projects by adding fringe!

To help prevent that, add fringe. You can speed up the process of making fringe by taking a book (preferably hard cover) that has a larger front and back cover than its pages. Wind your yarn around the book, until you have 2 times the number of wraps than you have stitches to attach fringe to.

Making fringe is easy with this clever hack on the Woolery blog!

Cut the fringe using one of the gaps create by the space between the cover and the pages, then start attaching fringe to your piece. Insert your hook into the stitch, take two pieces of fringe yarn and pull a loop through the stitch, then yarnover with the fringe yarn and pull through the loop. Pull snug. As you attach the fringe to both edges, the fabric will want to curl less!

Attaching fringe to a project using a crochet hook. Find more finishing tips on the Woolery blog.

Fringe is fabulous! Find out how to add fringe to any project easily on the Woolery blog.

Now you’re ready to finish all of those holiday gift projects with ease, giving you more time for R&R once Christmas rolls around!

All the Best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery team

Share Your Crafts With Those In Need!

The holiday season is a wonderful time to use your fiber arts skills to help those in need. As temperatures drop in many parts of the country, warm winter woolens can be in high demand. Perhaps you have been accruing a pile of mittens, scarves, hats or even blankets that are looking for a good home, or you have finished all of your gift-making and are looking for a new project to start. Here are some tips for using your knitting, crocheting and weaving skills to help others this winter.

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Tip #1: Do your research.

Most charitable organizations have a list of requirements for donations – for handmade items, they may stipulate that all items must be machine washable or contain a certain fiber content, for example. Some charities will only accept certain items or have other regulations that they must uphold, so it’s best to check their website or contact them via email to find out what they are most in need of.

Tip #2: Think Local.

Contact local homeless shelters, animal shelters, churches, and other community-based organizations to see if they need help – not only will your donations directly impact your community, but you will save money on shipping (which means you can buy more supplies for making more items to donate!). Allfreeknitting.com has a list of resources here and you can also check out Crochet.org’s resource list here to help get you started.

Tips for donating handmade items to charity this holiday season - click to read more on the Woolery blog.

Tip #3: Think Outside the Box.

In some areas, good samaritans have been placing scarves, hats and even coats in public areas with notes stating that they are intended for those in need. While many of these donations are store bought, there are many yarn crafters who are sharing their gifts (and there is even an official movement of called Chase the Chill which has locally-based chapters throughout the globe). Even if you don’t have a local chapter, you could just as easily employ this approach on your own!

Tip #4: Consider a Monetary Donation. 

Many organizations have limited space, and while the thought behind donating a handmade item is wonderful, it could have an adverse effect but straining other resources. Consider making a monetary donation instead; you could even sell your handmade goods and use the proceeds to fund your donation.

If you have any suggestions you don’t see here or favorite charity where you donate your handmade items, we’d love to hear about it – leave a comment on your post to share your thoughts with us!

All the Best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery team

 

Winner + Free Printable Gift Tags

Congratulation to Erin R., you are the lucky winner for our special blog giveaway this month! We will be in touch with you shortly to arrange for the delivery of your prize, a copy of Jillian Moreno’s Yarnitecture: The Knitter’s Guide to Spinning: Building Exactly the Yarn You Want.

In the spirit of the holiday season, we’ve created printable gift tags which you can use for all of your handmade gifts this year – click here for a free PDF download! These tags feature cute designs and allow to to customize fiber content and care instructions for the recipient.

Free Printable PDF Gift Tags for Handmade Gifts from The Woolery

Please note, you will need to sign up for our newsletter to receive our free PDF; if you are already a subscriber, check your inbox! We included a link to download the labels this month.

Once your handmade gifts are complete, it’s time to add the final finishing touch with some of these beautiful gift wrap ideas – click the image below to view more info:

Gift wrap inspiration & free printable gift tags for handmade items on the Woolery blog.

Gift wrap inspiration & free printable gift tags for handmade items on the Woolery blog.

Gift wrap inspiration & free printable gift tags for handmade items on the Woolery blog.

We have still more DIY gift wrap ideas here on Pinterest to inspire you this holiday season!

All the Best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery team

 

 

Spinning with Dyed Fiber + Giveaway

Check out Jillian Moreno's guest post & giveaway on the Woolery Blog! We’re pleased to welcome spinner, author, and instructor Jillian Moreno back to the Woolery blog (click here if you missed her excellent post about spinning tussah silk for embroidery).

Jillian is the author of Yarnitecture: The Knitter’s Guide to Spinning: Building Exactly the Yarn You Wantpublished by Storey Publishing in 2016. She is also the editor ofKnittyspin and is on the editorial board of Ply Magazine. She frequently contributes to Spin-Off and PLY Magazine and teaches all over North America. Be warned, she is a morning person and frequently breaks into song before 9am. Keep track of all of her crafty and other pursuits starting April at www.jillianmoreno.comShe lives buried in a monumental stash of fiber and books in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

I have a new spinning and knitting obsession. I’m entranced by working with dyed braids of fiber, dyed the same colorway, but spun in several ways for different effects. I can’t stop myself from playing.

Here’s a braid of Frabjous Fibers BFL top in the beautiful Cottage Garden colorway, normally I would just split it in two and spin it from end to end and ply it, letting it match or marl wherever it wants.

Spinning with dyed fiber, a guest post by Jillian Moreno on the Woolery Blog.

Today I wanted to do something else. I get really sick of the same old, same old yarns, even when I love the colors.

I made two 2-ply yarns in Cottage Garden that look dissimilar, but go together perfectly. My idea was to have one yarn match colors when plied and the second be as mixed up colorwise as it can.

Spinning with dyed fiber, a guest blog post on the Woolery blog by Jillian Moreno.

Left: single with clear colors, Right: single with mixed up colors

For my matching yarn, I split my fiber in two lengthwise, dividing it as evenly as I could. I spun two singles starting from the same end. I checked WPI every once in a while using Rosie’s Precise Spinning Control Card.  I don’t stress the spinning when I try to match color, because I have a couple of tricks I use to ply to match.

  • I rewind my bobbins, so I start plying with the same color I started spinning my singles. I find my spinning is much more consistent at the beginning of my spinning and the colors match up better when I ply.
  • I break it to make it. While I’m plying, if my yarn starts to marl instead of match, I break the single with the overlong color run, break out the rest of the color that is causing the marl, join it back together where the color would match the other ply (I use a spit splice to be sure it holds) and continue plying with matching colors.
Handspun yarn - two ways to spin with dyed fiber - click over to the Woolery blog to read more from Jillian Moreno.

Left: 2-ply with clear colors, Right: 2-ply with mixed up colors.

For my mixed up colors yarn, I split my fiber in two lengthwise, one piece for each ply, dividing it as evenly as I could. I spin to mix up colors as much as possible using these two tricks to get the yarn to marl in the single, then I ply it creating a double marled yarn. You can see the marling in the single on the bobbin above.

  • I split each length of fiber a second time and draft the two lengths together into a single.
  • Before I start drafting them together I flip one of the lengths so the color orientation starts at opposite ends. For example one length starts with green then goes to orange, then red, then pink and repeats, the second flipped length would start with pink, then red, then orange, then green and repeat.

I knit swatches of both yarns and they look great, different but the same, exactly how I wanted them to turn out. I love when that happens. One yarn is clear colored stripes and one is a mixed up tweed in the same colors.

Spinning with dyed fibers - get tips from expert Jillian Moreno on the Woolery blog.

What do you do with it? You might ask. Here’s what I’m thinking today.

I want to make a hat, using the clear, matching colors as the main color yarn, then using the mixed up colored yarn as a contrasting yarn to make a mixed up stripe within each solid colored stripe. Fun, isn’t it?

Lower left, matching colors; lower right, mixed up colors, top swatch mixed up colors as a striped within a solid green stripe.

Lower left, matching colors; lower right, mixed up colors, top swatch mixed up colors as a striped within a solid green stripe.

If you want more ideas to spin your dyed fibers or want some spinning suggestions on making exactly the yarn you want to knit, check out my new book Yarnitecture:The Knitter’s Guide to Spinning: Building Exactly the Yarn You Want. 

GIVEAWAY

Enter to win a copy of Jillian Moreno's new book, Yarnitecture, on the Woolery blog!Jillian and the folks at Storey Publishing have graciously donated a copy of Yarnitecture: The Knitter’s Guide to Spinning: Building Exactly the Yarn You Want to give away to one of our lucky readers! To be eligible in the prize drawing, please email contest@woolery.com with the subject line “Yarnitecture” and your first name, last initial & state/province in the body of your message. 

Please note, by entering this contest, you will be automatically signed up for our newsletter list which you can opt out of at any time; if you already receive our newsletter, we will simply confirm the address that we have on file so that you do not receive duplicate copies. 

We will randomly select one lucky winner to announce on our next blog post on Tuesday, November 22, 2016. Good luck! 

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.

step-4

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

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.

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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: New Spinner Suggestions

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 orclick here to post your questions in our Ravelry group

All the Best,

Wave, Perri, and the entire Woolery Team

 

ashford_joy_2_spinning_wheel_-_single_treadle_-_combo_wbag_3Q:

I am interested in getting a spinning wheel for my wife for Christmas. She wants to learn to spin so it needs to be one that would be easy to use.  Since we go to Florida for three months, I am leaning toward one that folds.  Price is also a consideration.  What wheels do you recommend?

A:

The learning curve in spinning wheels is about the same no matter what wheel one uses; the first couple of hours are just an awkward time, no matter the wheel, and there is a steep learning curve.  As long as the wheel is not too awfully fast, or at least able to be slowed down, they are all about the same experience as far as the ease of learning goes.

For folding wheels in a medium price range, look at the Kromski Sonata, the Ashford Joy, and the Lendrum Original.  Those are the best of the bunch in folding wheels! Let us know if there’s anything else you need!

Q:

I am a new spinner, which spindle would you recommend for angora?

A:

That’s either 2 separate questions or a question with 2 answers!

Angora, because it is so warm, is usually spun very finely, lest you need to move to the Arctic to wear it; and fine spinning needs a very light-weight spindle.

However, fine spinning is not going to be what a neophyte will be spinning, especially not with Angora, which is a slippery and difficult fiber, especially for a beginner.  So I would counsel you to start with at least half-a-pound of wool first, and get through that before you tackle angora; look for something in the 1 to 1 1/2 oz range for that. Hope this helps!