Tag Archives: fiber toys

Measuring & Keeping Track of Spinzilla Skeins

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How much yarn will you spin during Spinzilla?

Spinzilla is here! The spinning frenzy has begun as each team vies for the Golden Niddy Noddy. We’d like to take a few moments to share some of our best methods for measuring handspun yarn during this week’s event; there is sure to be an option listed below which works best for you!

Some common ways of measuring yarn include:

Also, don’t forget that that this year, plying will count towards your total yardage. The formula for calculating your plied yardage is:

plied yardage + [plied yardage x # of plies] = yardage for which you can claim credit

Note: chain plied and navajo plied yarns count as 3-ply. 

IMG_7887Label those skeins!

We’d like to make it easy for our fellow spinners to keep track of their finished Spinzilla skeins by providing some handy free printable labels for your finished handspun yarns! Not only can you view the yardage and number of plies at a glance, which will make it easy to calculate your grand total at the end of Spinzilla, but you can also make note of the tools, settings and fibers you used for future reference!

SpinzillaLabelsClick here to download your printable PDF labels!

Join us for the 2014 edition of the Fiber Toys of Christmas

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Have you heard about our annual holiday promotion, the 12 Fiber Toys of Christmas? Each Friday, we will feature a favorite fiber toy with a special deal and a chance to win that particular toy (tool). Weekly specials and giveaways will be posted on our Facebook pageTwitter feed, and it will also be included in our newsletter.

These are weekly specials which expire every Friday (when the new one starts), so be sure to check the links above so you don’t miss out!

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team

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Fibery Goodness

Since our last blog post, the results for Spinzilla have come in and the golden niddy noddy has been awarded to Team Fancy Tiger, who spun an impressive 94,939.73 yards. We’re quite proud of our own Team Woolery, who placed in the top five, spinning a total of 74,593 yards!

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Bravo Team Woolery!

We’ve just returned from the SouthEastern Animal Fiber Fair in Fletcher, NC brimming with even more fibery inspiration! One of the great things about fiber festivals such as SAFF is getting to interact directly with fiber producers. We often return to the shop with beautiful fleece as you can see in our tutorial video on washing fleece!

Though each fiber festival is a unique experience, you can expect a few things no matter which festival you’re attending:

IMG_52241. Animals: You’ll definitely get your fill of sheep, and you might also get to see alpacas, llamas, goats, or angora rabbits, too!

2. Education: Each fiber festival provides ample opportunity to learn more about the wide world of fiber. Many festivals have shearing demonstrations and sheep dog trials, workshops, or you can sit in on the showing of animals as each breed is judged for specific characteristics as established by that particular breed’s association.

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3. Sensory Overload: In addition to everything we just listed, there is also a vendor marketplace! Seasoned attendees of fiber festivals usually study the vendor list beforehand and make a list of booths they want to be sure to stop by; it’s also a good idea to make a list of items you’ll need for projects you’re planning. For instance, if your goal is to knit a sheep to shawl project, you’ll want to be sure to come home with fiber prep tools, wool wash, and your fleece!

Though fiber festival season is winding down for 2013, there are still plenty of ways you can experience breed-specific fleece and fibers this fall. We’re big fans of Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarious’ Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook (excerpted here on a previous blog post), and you can also check out this comprehensive guide to fiber festivals from the Knitter’s Review archives. Then, be sure to mark your calendars for the 2014 Fiber Festival Season!

12-fiber-toys-advertorialcHave you heard about our annual holiday promotion, the 12 Fiber Toys for Fiber Lovers? Each Friday during the celebration, we will feature a favorite fiber toy with a special deal and a chance to win that particular toy (tool).

Now through December, 27th we will post on the weekly special and giveaway on our Facebook pageTweet it, and include it in our newsletter.

These are weekly specials which expire every Friday (when the new one starts), so be sure to check the links above so you don’t miss out!

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team

Take it With You: Spin + Weave On-the-go for WWKIP Week (& Beyond)!

WWKIPWorldwide Knit in Public week kicked off this past Saturday; it’s the world’s largest event run by knitters and is a great way to meet your fellow fiber enthusiasts within your own community! We don’t see any reason why knitters get to have all the fun, however – why not spin or weave in public this week, too?

pegloomThere are a variety of small looms that are not only user-friendly for beginners, but they are perfectly portable for weavers on-the-go. You may remember the old-fashioned potholder looms from your childhood; they are great for whipping up colorful projects quickly. There are several other types of peg-style looms which can be used to create woven items using a tapestry needle and some yarn.

Rigid heddle weavers may want to turn the time-consuming process of warping their loom into a real conversation starter at their local WWKIP event. Jim Hokett’s handmade Mini Warping Reel is a shop favorite that’s handy, not to mention high on the “cute” factor. Be prepared for lots of weaving questions when you take this on your next public weaving adventure! warpingreel

Have you ever thought about spinning in public? Many wheels are designed with the traveling spinner in mind and feature built-in handles and foldable parts for ease of transportation (and, of course, you can always purchase a padded bag that’s made for your model).

spindlesHowever, if you’d prefer not to take your wheel when you’re out and about, consider packing a drop spindle for your next fibery outing! If you are normally a wheel spinner, this can be a great time rediscover the joy of spinning with a drop spindle!

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team

Help for Beginning Weavers: Avoiding Common Pitfalls

As a beginning weaver there are some pitfalls to be avoided. While getting in over one’s head comes right to mind, the reality is that you can make great choices and have success without these dismaying situations.

Yarn choice can have a major impact on the warp tension. While stretchy yarns used for knitting projects are soft and lovely, they are challenging to make into a warp. It is very easy to pull some strands at a different rate than others, often resulting in one side or a part of the warp being tighter that the other. Sometimes, this doesn’t become apparent until well into the weaving. Be extra careful to wind the yarn with an even tension across the whole width of the loom (see the last note below about your physical approach to warping for more on this issue).

Tactile yarns woven into a mobius cowl.

As a beginning weaver, you may be tempted by all the glorious, tactile, fuzzy, curly, and 3-dimensional yarns that are available. Test the stickiness of the fibers. Try unwinding it off the ball or cone. If it sticks together, use caution as to where you will use it. While a fuzzy yarn may be SO tempting, it has a tendency to glom onto itself, like a tangle in one’s hair, making a fusion between warp threads. The same is true for the dimensional fibers. Use these yarns for the weft – show them off by making a loose sett – creating a weft-faced fabric.

Another tempting but challenging choice is man-made fiber with metallic threads. Here the yarn can be so slippery that you can’t hang onto it, or it curls to the point of total scramble. While winding them onto a shuttle, keep the ball or cone inside an open length of panty hose or netting. Again, these yarns can be used for the weft by carefully winding them onto stick shuttles and highlighting their beauty as a weft.

Cotton Chenille Yarn

A yarn with a life of its own is chenille. It will actually spit out “worms” i.e. loopy kinks on the surface of your woven fabric! Wait ‘til you have more experience under your belt before trying one of these. We don’t want to scare you (though Halloween is just around the corner!) but it’s important to consider what kind of yarn you will use for your first warp and weft.

Mixing yarns in a warp is another pitfall. Using more than one type of yarn in the same warp, or mixing a smooth yarn with a lumpy one is problematic. Because yarns with different weights are taken up by the weaving at different rates, unevenness develops in the warp strands. This makes for bunches of loose warp threads. Looms with double back beams are designed to manage this issue. One kind of yarn is wound on one of the beams and the other yarn is wound on the other beam. With a smooth warp, alternate these fancy yarns with plain ones in the weft.

Mercerized Perle Cotton Yarn.

So what’s the best yarn to begin warping? Perle cottons and rug warp are very even and smooth. They are easy to manage and slip through heddles and reeds. With a myriad of colors and weights, it could take years to explore all the possible combinations. After working with these “training” wheel yarns for your warp, you will easily manage some of the more exciting yarn choices above.

Finally, patience is the key to an even warp tension. While measuring your yarn, slow down and keep an even hand while winding. Begin with a calm sense; if you’re tense and thinking of something you need to do, you’ll find your tension changing. Take a break, make a note of the niggling little job or idea that popped into your head, and maybe even take a little walk to resolve your stress. If you are interrupted, try to create the same frame of mind upon your return. If you can, find a helper – a second set of hands to assist you with the juggling required. If you don’t have a helper, click here to read our blog post sharing our best  weaving book and DVD recommendations to get you back on track.

Join Us for the 12 Fiber Toys of Christmas
It’s Toy Season! It’s week 2 of our 12 Fiber Toys for Christmas. This Friday, we’ll be featuring a new favorite fiber toy with a special deal and a chance to win that particular toy (tool) – click here for more details!

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team!

Speaking Loom

There are four types of learners: Auditory learners lean toward lecture-style formats; Visual learners like seeing a demonstration; Read/Write learners learn best by studying the written word; and Kinesthetic learners are hands-on learners. If you are teaching yourself to weave, knowing what kind of learner you are can help immensely. Equally important is to offer yourself more than one way to learn, as we rarely fall cleanly into one camp or another. Most important of all, be patient! Learning to ride a bike didn’t happen in a day and neither will learning to weave.

There are a number of go-to resources we at The Woolery turn to when we get that all-too-familiar call asking, “I want to learn to weave, but there is not shop, guild, teacher, or any other weavers in my area.  What should I do?”

To learn floor loom weaving, our first recommendation is to pick up a copy of Learning To Weave by Deborah Chandler or Weaving for Beginners by Peggy Ostercamp.  No matter what kind of learner you are, you will need a good reference book.

Books are particularly good for read/write learners, but if you are a flipper who jumps about and isn’t prone to sit down with a book and study, you may want to check out one of Madelyn van der Hoogt’s DVDs, Warping Your Loom or Weaving Well. These help those who like lectures and like to see hands-on demonstration.

You might think that Kinesthetic learners would have the hardest time, but since they learn by doing, mistakes are engaging rather than discouraging. Those folks do really well with our learning to weave kits since they have everything they need to get going.

If you are a rigid heddle weaver, consider Weaving Made Easy by Liz Gipson or Hands-On Rigid Heddle Weaving by Betty Davenport. If warping is a stumbling block, Liz also has a DVD Slots and Holes: 3 Ways To Warp a Rigid Heddle Loom. Crafty also have a course on rigid heddle weaving that owners of the Kromski will particularly find attractive because it goes into detail about how to use the built-in warping board and other features of that particular loom. If you are looking to strech your wings, check out Jane Patrick’s book The Weaver’s Idea Book or her DVD Weaving on a Rigid Heddle Loom.

Get weaving off your “someday” list and make it happen today.  All you need is the right teaching tool and you are off to the races!

Join Us for the 12 Fiber Toys of Christmas
It’s Toy Season! Every Friday beginning October 19 through January 4, 2013, we’ll be featuring a favorite fiber toy with a special deal and a chance to win that particular toy (tool) – click here for more details!

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team!

The Joy of the Season

All this talk of toys makes us feel like kids again. We love Michele White’s comment, “When I was a child, the Sears catalog was our  ‘wish book’ but NOW The Woolery website and catalog is my dream!” We, too, can remember the days when you would pour through our favorite catalog circling all the things we wanted.  Michele’s comment makes us proud to be a part of customers dreams and making them come true!  (If you haven’t used it before we do have a Wish List function on our website.  It makes it easy to keep track of your day dreams–no pen required!)

There are 7 days left in our Joy of the Toy seasonal promotion.  Keep your eyes peeled on our Facebook, Twitter, and Ravelry groups for giveaways and discounts.  We love hearing about all your favorite fiber toys.

Christmas is a time for family, friends, faith, and a bit of fun.  We hope you will be able to take some time for yourself, your family, and your community this holiday season.  And, make plans to visit us real soon.  Check out our new You Tube video and add a visit to The Woolery on your wish list!

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team!