Tag Archives: how-to

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

Meet Wave & Perri + Getting Started on a Turkish Spindle

Since making our announcement on last month’s blog post, we’ve received some requests from our customers who would like to get to know the Woolery’s new owners just a little bit better. Wave and Perri are very excited about owning The Woolery and look forward to continuing the mission of providing a wide variety of quality supplies and equipment at a fair price to the fiber arts community.

perri22Perri will use her retail background to ensure that The Woolery continues to offer the best personalized customer service possible. In addition to rug hooking and cross stitching, Perri enjoys restoring antiques and assigning Wave “Pinterest Worthy” projects for their home.

wave22Wave’s marketing background will help ensure that The Woolery continues to lead the way in offering interesting and unique new products. Wave will also focus his efforts on the e-commerce experience offered by The Woolery. Wave’s outside interests include woodworking and photography.

Married for more than 30 years, Perri and Wave have two grown sons and make their home in Lexington, KY. They look forward to joining you on your fiber journey!

Being able to take your handspinning project with you wherever you go can be especially handy during the summer months. Vacations, picnics, and other outings don’t have to mean that you leave your spinning at home! A Turkish drop spindle travels well and is quite easy to use – and when you’re finished spinning or plying,  the spindle slips apart, leaving your yarn in a neat ball that’s ready to use!

One of our own spinning gurus, Taevia, has a unique way of starting a spinning project on a Turkish spindle which doesn’t require a leader. She has shared her step-by-step process with us this week so that you can give it a try, too!

turk1

Step One: Begin with a small amount of spinning fiber. Gently wrap one end around top of shaft and secure with one hand.

turk2

Step Two: Using your other hand, begin to draft out more fiber, wrapping it around the shaft a few times.

turk3

Step Three: Draft the fiber some more and introduce enough twist to produce a single ply in your desired weight.

turk4

Step Four:  Wrap your yarn a few more times around the shaft, then loop it over your index finger as pictured above to make a half hitch.

turk5

Step Five: Place the loop over the shaft of the spindle and pull the working end of the fiber up – this will secure your yarn, allowing you to continue spinning!

turk6
Step Six: Now you’re ready to spin!

As you amass more yardage, you will need to wrap your yarn around the arms of the spindle. The standard way to do this is to wrap your single over two arms, then under one arm as you tension the working yarn and slowly rotate the spindle as you wrap. This will create a ball of yarn that is wrapped around the arms of your spindle, allowing you to fit a considerable amount of yarn on your spindle, depending on the weight of yarn you are spinning. When you have finished spinning or plying, simply remove the shaft so that you slide each arm out of the yarn ball you just created!

 

 

Guest Post: Wet Felting a Cloche with Sayra Adams

Wet felting tutorial by Sayra Adams on the Woolery blog.

Create a felted cute cloche, that’s fun and cute to wear.

Before I learned to spin yarn, I made ladies’ hats; this led to felting embellishments, hats and other explorations with wool. Felting isn’t hard to do – it’s time consuming, yet very rewarding. These days, everything is NOW, and it’s easy to feel like you’re on overload. Moving back to hands-on crafts is relaxing, fun and cheaper than therapy!

Hats are very flattering, plus they are fun to wear. Popular show such as Downton Abbey always make me want to wear hats, and this vintage-inspired cloche style is reminiscent of what you might see one of the characters wearing. I love wearing hats, and I admit I probably should wear them more.

For those of you new to felting, water, soap and friction (rubbing, etc.) is what makes the felting process happen. Felting is a really fun activity which anyone can enjoy (even little ones!). This project doesn’t require a great deal of supplies: depending on the materials you choose, you can make the hat for around $20-$40. You could use wool roving, a plastic or cardboard resist, and soap because you will be flat felting two sandwiched sections around a resist. Then, after the wool felts enough to pick up and handle-you remove the resist. If you are feeling a little intimidated, fear not – this post will take you through the process step-by-step, and it will make sense as you view the photos below.

I used a basic brown merino, since merino wool felts fastest and it is my preferred fiber to felt with! After I made the hat, I decided it was a little tame, so I dyed it black (because, you know black goes with everything). I recommend picking a color that flatters you, although black is great on everyone.

The materials I used to felt my hat.

The materials I used to felt my hat.

Skills Needed: Patience, basic sewing, and approx. 3 hours of time

Supplies: 
*3.8 oz merino batts, or roving
*matchstick blind, bubble wrap, or textured shelf liner
*2 yards bridal tulle-aids in felt not sticking to the blind
*liquid dish soap
*sewing needle, thread, scissors, straight pins
*millinery grosgrain ribbon
*measuring tape
*resist (made of cardboard or thick plastic-see below)

Optional Supplies:
sewing machine (you may also sew in the headsize band by hand)
hat block (you can use a bowl in a pinch)
ridged wood block
soap saver-ridged bendy tool for shaping thick cord
iron (with steam function)

To make your resist: it is easy to make out of thick plastic or cardboard. The resist should be bell shaped and a bit flared at the bottom. Follow my sketch below to make your resist template:

Template to make a resist for wet felting, visit the Woolery Blog for a tutorial!

Once you have your resist made, you can get started!

Visit the Woolery Blog for a wet felting photo tutorial!
Fig A:
Lay out your tulle, matchstick blind, and two layers of wool. Batts are handy-for felting larger items. Mine peeled apart in layers. Roving take a little patience, place wool evenly.

As seen in Fig B, you must lay your wool in two directions: horizontal one way, and vertical in the other. This aids in felting. Lay the wool about 2” bigger than the resist.

Fig C: Add your resist, then repeat another layer of wool, same as the base (Fig D). You’re making a felt “sandwich” with the resist in the middle. Dribble a tiny amount of liquid soap over the wool. Go easy, since you don’t want a big soapy mess. About 4 small drops of liquid should be enough.

Visit the Woolery Blog for a wet felting photo tutorial!

Fig E: Gently fold the seam edges of the wool over the resist. Then sprinkle water on to moisten the wool (but try not to drench it). If there’s too much water, you can squeeze it out later.

Fig F: Place another layer of tulle on top of the felt, and roll up the matchstick blind. Roll like you’re making dough-for about 3 minutes. Check the hat, see if any of the seam edges have migrated. Continue to roll. Then turn the project, and roll in another direction. Whatever direction you roll, or rub, the hat will shrink in that direction. Keep rolling, and rubbing. Test for “felt” where it feels like the wool is stiffening up. Repeat…and when it gets felted enough, you can remove the resist! (Note: The active felting time can take up to 45 minutes)

Fig G: Oops! Invariably, a ridge might happen on the hat seam. Don’t sweat it. I laid my hat on the hat block, and stitched down the bumpy parts, then continued to roll, and rub. Then I turned my hat inside out to hide it (Fig H). See, there’s always a solution!

Visit the Woolery Blog for a wet felting photo tutorial!

Fig I: This is one way to rub the hat in order to further felt it. Presumably, now you have something remotely hat-shaped: if it’s looking like a bell,you’re heading in the right direction! Now is the time to try it on. If it’s still a bit too big, rub side to side so it shrinks. When it fits the way you want it to, wring the hat out and rinse the soap from it, then put it between two old towels to remove the excess water.

Dyeing a wet felted cloche hat on the Woolery Blog.

I decided to dye my hat black (Fig J). Ideally, you would pick the color of wool you want the hat to be at the start of your project, but sometimes you have a change of heart along the way! I dyed my hat in a glass bowl using acid dye; then I used my microwave on high for 10 minutes to set the dye.

Figs K-M: Use the bowl as a blocking device to shape your hat. You can use steam from an iron to help flatten out the crown tip. Using the thick cord placed about halfway down the hat block, I made a sweatband crease, which is where the optional sweatband will go. I highly recommend taking this extra step because sweatbands are an excellent buffer between you and the wool – this way your forehead won’t itch!

To add your sweatband, you can either sew it in with a sewing machine (a little tricky) or sew it in by hand, which might be easier, depending on your sewing skills and confidence. If it doesn’t work, pull the stitches out and start over!

Wet felted hat project - visit the Woolery blog for step by step instructions!

Fig N: Cut your grosgrain ribbon to fit; you can measure your head by wrapping the tape measure around and choosing an area where the hat would rest naturally. I usually take my measurements at about an inch above the eyebrows, and just over the ears. Add two inches to your overall head measurement to determine the length you should cut the grosgrain ribbon.

Using an iron, “curve” the grosgrain ribbon to make it easier to sew into the hat. It will flex, because millinery grosgrain has flexible edges. Fold the ribbon end over, and pin the 2inches under. Test to see if it fits your head, then divide into fourths, making with a pin (Fig O).

Fig P: Pin equally into the inside of the hat on the sweatband crease.

Fig Q: Slowly sew the sweatband using a sewing machine, or by hand. Sewing with a machine will give it a neater appearance. You may match the grosgrain ribbon with the thread to match the hat, on in this example, I used black thread for the bobbin to match the black felt.

Learn to wet felt a cloche hat on the Woolery Blog!I chose to cut my hat brim down some: I made it 1 inch in the back and slowly tapered to about 2 inches in the front. I used a piece of white chalk to mark the space where I needed to cut, then used a pair of very sharp scissors to cut it, saving a piece of felt to use for the hat band embellishment. To see how I make a rosette motif with art yarns, click here for instructions. Otherwise, enjoy your hat without ornament!

sayraSayra Adams (formerly known as Hatdiva) started making fanciful, romantic ladies’ hats in 1991. Her innate gift using color led to many fun hat designs. After years of dyeing silks and fashioning straw hats, she switched gears and began felting with wool…and an obsession for all things wool began! You can follow her fibery exploits at www.atomicbluefiber.com.

 

 

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.

Stay Spinning This Summer!

A well-maintained spinning wheel can provide years of service, and keeping your wheel in tip-top shape is easier than you think! It’s a good idea to perform routine maintenance a few times a year by giving your wheel a thorough cleaning, tightening screws and any other loose parts such as legs and wheel supports, and replacing any worn-out parts such as leather conrod joints, drive bands, or brake bands.wheelmainttools

Believe it or not, this maintenance can be easily done with just a few tools and other supplies you’re likely to already have on hand – click here for a list of items and easy-to-follow instructions from our blog archive!applyingoil

However, there is something you can do each time you spin to keep your wheel in good working order: applying oil! In our latest video in the Ask the Woolery series, we demonstrate all of the possible areas which could benefit from a drop of oil at the start of each spinning session. Of course, each wheel is different, so you will want to refer to your wheel’s manual for specific instructions on where to apply oil on your particular make and model. In the video below, you can get a closer look at how and where oil should be applied to keep squeaks and rattles at bay:

Thanks for joining us!

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team

 

The Road to Convergence

For many weavers, the road to Convergence means poring over your workshop choices months in advance, readying your shopping list, and planning to meet up with folks you may have previously only met in the virtual world. For instructors, however, the road to Convergence begins well over a year in advance!  If you have ever wondered how much preparation goes into teaching a workshop, here is a behind-the-scenes look from weaver Deborah Jarchow in this month’s guest blog post!
2014-05-22_16-33-20Convergence is a wonderful weaving conference that is held every two years.  Ever since I began weaving, it’s been a high point for me to attend, hang out with friends, and see what’s new and exciting in the weaving world.  As a weaving teacher, it is great to teach at Convergence.  I get a special thrill when I get my name badge that says “Leader” on it!  It makes it worth all the work it takes to get there.
When I’ve taken classes in the past, it hasn’t occurred to me how much preparation might be involved for the teacher.  When the Woolery approached me about writing this blog, we thought it might be interesting for you to see what’s involved in presenting a class at a conference.
I will be teaching 3 rigid heddle classes at Convergence 2014 in Providence, Rhode Island. My classes will be a two day workshop on Pick Up Pizzazz, or using pick up sticks to create patterns in the woven cloth, a second 2 day workshop on Double Heddles and Double weave to explore patterns, layers, tubes and pockets in the cloth, and a 3 hour seminar on Taste of Rigid Heddle to introduce the curious to the wonders of weaving on a rigid heddle loom.
2014-05-22_16-35-24
Preparing a teaching proposal can be a daunting task and takes lots of planning and organization!  Here are some of the steps involved:
  • Proposing an appealing class description with defined goals for the class
  • Making a complete supply list for students
  • Determining any audio/visual needs
  • Setting materials fees for anything I supply
  • Creating images for the project or technique being taught
  • Planning for looms to be supplied or if students can bring their own
  • Thinking about shipping supplies to the venue
Once the class proposal is accepted, it’s time to get to work! Here are some of the long-term tasks on my to-do list:
  • Write the handout for the technique or project
  • Then go back and make the project or do the technique strictly by following the handout
  • Clarify things, correct mistakes, and add anything I overlooked on the first pass
  • Take pictures of my project so I can insert some in the handout where images are helpful
  • Re-edit the handout and set it aside again
  • Coordinate with the loom manufacturers to supply looms for the class

    Glimakra, Schacht and Ashford Looms

    Glimakra, Schacht and Ashford Looms

Closer to the class date, it’s time to:
  • Print the handouts
  • Gather samples
  • Review techniques
  • Ship everything to the venue
IMG_0423

Class Samples

When I finally get on the plane to travel to Convergence, I’ll be so happy that really, all the hard work is behind me. Teaching is the fun part, and seeing everyone learn a new technique or get excited about what they are weaving is the reward and the thrill that makes all the preparations worthwhile!

Proud Students

Proud Students

Deborah Jarchow 72dpiDeborah Jarchow is a nationally shown fiber artist and weaving teacher.  Her work with color, fiber and texture has led her to diverse projects from large scale wall hangings, to wearables, to liturgical commissions.  Deborah travels the country as a popular weaving teacher at conferences such as Vogue Knitting Live and Stitches.  She has maintained a studio at Studio Channel Islands Art Center in Camarillo, CA for over 10 years. You can learn more at  www.deborahjarchow.com.

Cotton Tales

bolls

Cotton Bolls

Cotton has been an important part of civilizations throughout the globe for thousands of years, with a history that is every bit as rich as it is mysterious. There is even an entire wikipedia page dedicated to the history of cotton in addition to the entry for cotton!

Today, we’ll be focusing on cotton fibers for spinning, starting with where it all begins: on a tree or shrub. Cotton is actually a tropical plant, so it thrives in a hot climate and needs lots of water. Harvesting cotton is a very tricky business: if done too early or too late, the cotton fibers will be of poor quality. Cotton growers test the cotton daily to determine the ideal time to harvest either by hand or with a special machine which removes the boll intact from the plant.

After the harvest, the cotton is ginned to remove seeds and remaining parts of the boll from the cellulose fiber. Most of you probably remember the name Eli Whitney from your grade school days: in 1793, he invented the cotton gin and revolutionized the way cotton was processed, giving way to the modern cotton industry we know today. Prior to the invention of the cotton gin, the cotton fibers were painstakingly separated from the seeds by hand!

sliver

Cotton Sliver

Once the cotton is successfully separated from the seeds, it is usually carded into a preparation known as sliver. This is a preparation which is thinner than roving, and many commercial cotton yarns are spun from sliver. Cotton is a popular choice for warm-weather projects, but many spinners are intimidated at the thought of spinning cotton fibers due to their short staple length.

punis

Cotton Punis

Luckily, there are a few preparations which can make working with cotton much easier! Spinning from cotton sliver is a great place to start, since the fibers are combed into alignment when processed in this fashion.

Another preparation to try is cotton punis, which are similar to rolags . You can make your own or purchase ready-to-spin punis; while they can be spun on any wheel or spindle, they work especially well with the Charkha, for which they were designed.

Charkha

Charkha

A charkha is a spinning wheel which is ideal for spinning short-stapled fibers such as cotton, and it was made famous by Gandhi, who used it as a symbol for the Indian independence movement against British rule. In addition to spinning cotton, a charkha would come in handy for spinning angora, silks, or very fine wool.

Finally, cotton can be spun from the seed! This produces a very fine thread  and – believe it or not – is quite simple, as you can see in this video:

In our next blog post, we’ll have a special guest who will share tips for using cotton to spin textured, non-traditional yarns.

Thanks for joining us!

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team