Tag Archives: knitting

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

 

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Who’s Worthy of a Handmade Gift?

It’s that time of year when friends, family, and sometimes even acquaintances might start hinting that they would like (or perhaps even expect) a handmade gift under the tree. Sure, they see you spinning, weaving, hooking or knitting, and they might have some idea of all the time and effort such a request entails – but are they truly worthy of a handmade gift? We’ve created a handy flow chart to take the guesswork out of this process for you so that you can enjoy your fall and winter crafting stress-free:

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Click image to view full size!

Be sure to pin and share with your crafty friends, or click here to download a printable PDF version to keep handy!

Project Inspiration: Holiday Gifts

On today’s post, we’d like to share some great gift ideas to knit, crochet, or weave this holiday season. Handmade gifts are a heartfelt way to show someone you care, and there are plenty of quick and easy projects you can make with yarn from your stash. Below are a few of our favorite stashbuster project ideas, all of which are available as free patterns – enjoy!

DestashScarf

This pretty scarf can be woven on a Rigid Heddle loom using lots of different yarns to add visual interest and texture! Click here for free pattern at Woolery.com.

Finished!

From our blog archives, you may remember Benjamin Krudwig’s excellent tutorial on weaving a Stashbuster Lunchbag.

zoomloom

Schacht has many free patterns to make holiday ornaments and other fun projects using squares from their portable & user friendly Zoom Loom. Click here to access these free patterns (and more!) on the Woolery website.

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Kelly McClure’s Sockhead Hat is a great unisex knitting pattern to take care of everyone on your list. This basic hat looks great knit up in solid, semi-solid, and variegated yarns, so if you happen to have quite a bit of sock yarn in your stash, this is a great way to put those skeins to use!

colormatic

Michelle Hunter’s Colormatic Cowl is shown here using 4 colors of worsted weight yarn, but it would be quite easy to get creative with leftover bits to knit a more colorful version!

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Normally we wouldn’t recommend starting an afghan gift project so late in the game, but the Stashbuster Granny Stripe Afghan by The Stitchin’ Mommy can be whipped up in a jiffy using your leftover worsted weight yarn!

Professional Photograph

Hook up a hat in a hurry with Liz McQueen’s adorable Brain Waves Beanie. This crocheted hat is available in sizes ranging from child to adult and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

For more great project ideas, check out our Quick Gift Ideas board on Pinterest.

Happy Holidays!

All the Best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery team

Sheepy Resolutions for the New Year

IMG_5224The start of a new year is always an exciting time! It’s also a great opportunity to evaluate the year before and set new goals for the time ahead. Since 2015 is the Year of the Sheep (according to the Chinese zodiac calendar), we’d like to share some of our own sheepy resolutions for knitting, spinning, weaving, and rug hooking. We hope they inspire you to expand your crafting horizons in 2015!

  • Knitting: Now more than ever, knitters are able to find a variety of breed-specific yarns to explore the wonderful world of sheep. Even if you aren’t a spinner, the range of options has increased exponentially in recent years to move beyond generic “wool” which used to a common sight on a yarn label. Challenge yourself to seek out yarns with new fiber content in 2015: Masham, Blue-Faced Leicester, Targhee, Tunis, Corriedale, and more! To get you started, there are some fantastic resources for sourcing breed-specific yarns on Beth Brown-Reinsel’s informative website here.
  • bookoffleeceSpinning: The world of breed-specific fleece and fiber is well-covered territory here on the Woolery blog, and we know that many of our customers have been using such excellent books as The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook  and The Spinner’s Book of Fleece as their guide. Now is a great time to take stock of your past spinning projects and make a list of goals you’d like to accomplish in 2015. Perhaps you’d like to explore spinning with more unusual sheep breeds such karakul or dorper; click here and here for more sheepy suggestions from our blog archive. Another goal might be to try your hand at combining a variety of fibers to create unique batts or art yarns; click here for more art yarn inspiration from the Woolery blog archives. If you have a lot of natural colored fiber, playing around with DIY dye techniques might be in your future: click here for a tutorial from our blog archive featuring traditional dyeing techniques; click here for a guest post from our blog archive featuring natural dyeing techniques; and click here  for more specific instructions regarding the dyeing of fleece and prepared spinning fiber using kool-aid dyes from the Knitty archives.
  • Image ©Hello Hydrangea blog

    Image ©Hello Hydrangea blog

    Weaving: Many of our customers delight in weaving projects made with their handspun yarns, many of which are spun with breed-specific fleece or roving. What’s a non-weaving spinner to do? We spied this clever tutorial demonstrating how to incorporate roving and uncarded fleece into a tapestry piece to achieve a stunning effect.

  • Rug Hooking: Though rug hooking is traditionally done with strips of wool fabric or yarn, we have seen some very interesting tutorials and projects featuring spinning fibers recently. Click here for a photo tutorial on the Spruce Ridge Studios blog demonstrating how to use both fleece and roving to add texture to a hooked rug project. Our friends over at Strauch have shared a photo tutorial here on Flickr showing a locker-hooked rug project from start to finish which uses carded fleece. We also have more rug hooking inspiration on this post from our blog archive!
Image © Strauch

Image © Strauch

We look forward to making 2015 the sheepiest, most fibery year yet. Thanks for joining us!

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team

From Sheep to Shawl

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Shearing a sheep

In our last blog post, we shared some ideas for crafty resolutions in 2014. On today’s post, we have one more to add to your to-do list for 2014: make a project from start to finish as only a die-hard fiber fanatic can….from sheep to shawl! ‘Sheep to Shawl’ is an expression that means you learn everything you need to know to make a shawl from start to finish, from raw fleece to a finished fabric. Of course, you don’t have to make a shawl from your finished handspun. You could just as easily go sheep to shoe or sheep to chapeau!

If you’d like to give this a try in the new year, we’ve created this easy guide to making your sheep to shawl dreams come true in 5 easy steps:

1. Select Your Fleece
We’ve blogged about various breeds of sheep, and there are plenty of fantastic books dedicated to the subject as well. Perhaps you have a favorite breed of sheep to spin with, or would like to experiment with a new-to-you breed for this project.

Most likely, you will need to wash your fleece before you begin preparing it to spin. If you are new to this process, here is a quick tutorial video to walk you through each step: 

2. Prepare Your Fleece
Now it’s time to card or comb your fleece to open up the locks and prepare for easy spinning. The process you select will depend on what type of yarn you’d like to make and what type of fleece you are working with:

carders

Carding processes raw or washed fibers to present them in a spiral fashion. This traps more air and makes a springier Woolen yarn which is more insulating, though it is not as long-wearing as a Worsted yarn. The most common fibers to be carded are cotton or wool, but a variety of fibers can be carded: alpaca, llama, soy fiber, and even dog hair!

combhackles

Combing produces a parallel presentation of fibers for Worsted or Semi-Worsted yarns. These yarns are longer wearing, smoother, and less insulating than woolen yarns. You can use a pair of hand combs or a single hackle; in particular, hackles are used for dehairing fleece and blending dyed prepared fibers.

You can also watch this short tutorial video to learn more about the differences between combing and carding!

3. Get Spinning
Now it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for: time to spin your yarn! As we mentioned above, your method of processing the fleece will play a role in the finished yarn’s outcome, but how you spin it will also play a part. While there is a lot more technical information on this subject which is covered in books, DVDs, and classes, we would like to touch on one subject: long draw vs. short draw methods of spinning. In general, the short draw method gives most spinners more control, whereas the long draw allows spinners to spin more consistently because they have a better view of the process as they work. We encourage you to experiment to see which method you prefer!longdrawspinning

4. To Dye or Not to Dye
You may wish to dye your handspun yarn before knitting or weaving with it (click here for more information on DIY yarn dyeing on this blog), or you may decide that the natural color of the fleece is perfect the way it is!

5. Weave, Knit, or Crochet
Now it’s time to find the perfect project for your handspun creation! Some of our favorite resources include KnittySpin, Weaving Today and Ravelry. We’d love to hear about your projects using handspun yarns over in our Ravelry group!

We look forward to hearing about your sheep to shawl adventures in 2014!

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team

Where the Sheep Are

sheepshearingSpring is here! In the fiber world, we know that means more than just warm temperatures; spring is the time that many sheep are shorn, giving us their beautiful fleece to spin, weave, knit, or crochet. It’s also a great time for fiber artists to branch out and try working with a new-to-them breed of sheep. If you’re wondering how to get started, here is a handy guide to begin your journey in to the wonderful world of sheep:

Fiber Festivals

Your local fiber festival is a great place to start! You might be surprised at how many sheep are raised in your region, and fiber festivals are an excellent way to support small farms and purchase fleece and fiber that you might not encounter anywhere else. You can often find breed-specific yarns in addition to raw fleece or prepared top, many of which can be purchased directly from the producer. We have several upcoming fiber festivals listed here on our website.

borderleicesterSheep Breeder Associations

If you’ve encountered a breed of sheep you’ve never heard of, chances are there is an association dedicated to that particular breed which can be found with a simple web search. For example, if you came across a Border Leicester fleece, the American Border Leicester Association would be a great place to see photos of the sheep, learn about the breed’s history and read up on the characteristics of the fleece. Some association websites have classified sections where members can post sheep or sheep products for sale; you can also check for upcoming events to find out when and where the sheep will be shown!

FleeceandFiberSourcebookBooks

There are many wonderful books dedicated to all things sheep, but one of our favorites is The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Deb Robson and Carol Ekarious.  This comprehensive photographic encyclopedia features more than 200 animals and the fibers they produce, covering almost every sheep breed in the world from the longwool breeds of the United Kingdom to the Tasmanian merino, the Navajo churro, the northern European Faroese, and dozens  more. bookofwoolAnother fantastic book is Clara Parkes’ Knitter’s Book of Wool, which focuses on how to best use the yarns created from specific breeds of wool and gives an excellent introduction to many breeds of sheep along the way.

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team

Spring Crafting, Spring Cleaning!

In our last blog post, we shared some of our favorite inspirational projects for revamping your home décor this season. If you’d rather embark on a little Spring Crafting instead of Spring Cleaning, here are some creative ways to accomplish both at the same time, guilt-free!

RUGS!
April showers may bring May flowers, but they also bring muddy feet to your doorstep.  Here is a simple tutorial showing how to recycle old t-shirts into a fashionable and functional (not to mention, machine washable!) crocheted rug. Of course, a woven rug is another option to try: by choosing thick, sturdy yarns in ‘spring-y’ colors, you can add your own personal touch to your front door. In fact, there are plenty of ways to dress up your doorstep using colorful, easy-care yarns, whether your weave, knit, crochet or rug hook. Below are just a few of our favorite ideas for spring!
rugs

KNIT & CROCHET BASKETS
Organize your life with easy-to-make knit or crochet baskets! Baskets are a great way to use up leftover yarn in your stash, but you can also be strategic in your color choice by using cones of yarn to create matching sets or color-coding your world by using an assortment of yarn colors. Smaller sizes are perfect for holding small trinkets or craft supplies, while larger sizes can house your yarn collection, toys, reusable tote bags, or any number of items that need to be contained!
baskets

ECO-FRIENDLY SPRING CLEANING
Save money and the planet by making your own reusable floor sweeper covers! Choose machine washable yarns in bright colors to create an array of color choices to make you smile. You can find lots of easy patterns to knit or crochet on Ravelry, many of which are free. Reusable towels and scrubbers can also be knit, crocheted, or woven, and are an excellent way to save money and the planet!
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Here’s one more spring cleaning tip to try: Eucalan wool wash does double duty; here is a video tutorial from Youtube which uses Eucalan to freshen up curtains and drapes for spring!

For more crafty inspiration, click here to view our Welcome Spring inspiration board on Pinterest!

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team