Tag Archives: tutorials

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


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


Why ply?

Our Spinning Spring Training continues this month as we explore new techniques throughout the month of May! Many of our Ravelry group members are buzzing with ideas for yarn-spinning experiments: batts, rolags, corespun, boucle, and playing with ply are all techniques we’re hearing mention of, and we can’t wait to see the finished results later this month!

170px-Yarn_twist_S-Left_Z-RightBefore we talk about plying, we should cover the basics of twist: S twist and Z twist. S twist is produced by turning your wheel in a counterclockwise motion, while Z twist is produced by turning your wheel in a clockwise motion. In the image at right, you can see that the yarn leans to the left in an S twist (which is also the direction you spin your wheel to create it) and yarn with a Z twist learns to the right. Generally speaking, if your singles are spun with an S twist, they should be plied with a Z twist (and vice versa). This creates a stronger yarn overall.

One of our industrious Spring Training participants, Dlthom6, shared an experiment with ply using Louet’s Dorper top to spin samples of yarn with 6, 5, 4, 3, chain, and 2 ply which were then knit into a single swatch using the same needle size (US 10.5). You can really see the difference between each sample! 

As you can see, how you choose to ply your yarn can really help your finished handspun skein (and subsequent project) take shape. Even choosing not to ply your yarn can make a dramatic effect! A purposely slubbed yarn single can be lovely all on its own, as in this example:IMG_7032Plying is a great way to minimize thick and thin variations in your handspun, provided those variations are not too extreme – but don’t worry if your yarn has a lot of variation, especially at first. It’s these variations which can also make your handspun yarn unique, and that’s always a good thing!

You may decide to spin two singles in a two-ply yarn; the challenge is to use proper tension to create a balanced ply. A tensioned lazy kate can help this process immensely; on the other end of the spectrum, you may choose to play with tension to create purposefully unbalanced or coiled yarns! IMG_7030When you’re ready to step things up a notch, consider spinning a 3-ply yarn. The addition of this third ply provides excellent stitch definition, plus it creates a nice, round yarn which is also quite durable.
IMG_70343-ply yarn can be achieved by spinning from 3 separate bobbins as in the example above, or you can use the chain plying technique (sometimes called Navajo plying) which allows you to spin a 3-ply yarn using just one bobbin simply by pulling a loop of your single through the next. This example shows how this technique can be used to control color placement when spinning with multicolored fiber:IMG_7028Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to plying. We look forward to seeing more plying experiments in our May Spring Training thread on Ravelry!

Thanks for joining us!

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team


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.

From Sheep to Shawl


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:


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!


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

Felting 3 Ways: Fun, fast & festive projects!

The countdown continues! Last month, we shared six simple tips to make your handmade holiday gifting easier; click here to read if you missed that post. On today’s post, we’d like to explore 3 felting techniques which you can use to create beautiful gifts in a jiffy!

First, let’s cover the basics: what is the difference between needle felting, wet felting and nuno felting? It’s a question we get asked a lot in the shop, so we created a quick tutorial video to demonstrate each technique and set the record straight:

Feel like felting? Here are some quick and easy project ideas to try out!

Add embellishments to any woolen item with needle felting. This is a great way to personalize a project and be creative! Flowers, birds, initials and other motifs are easy to add with needle felting – simply lay your wool on the surface to create the desired pattern, then pierce with your felting needle until it has fused with the woolen surface. How cute is this this little tote?


Wet felted bird houses, two ways: They are are fun to make, just use some wool fiber with a waterproof form such as a balloon to shape your bird house. If you don’t have any fiber on hand, you can use some wool yarn to knit a bird house to wet felt using this free Ravelry pattern.


We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention  felted ornaments on this list! You can use a small amount of wool fiber to easily create round ornaments using wet felting techniques. For bonus points, you can embellish your ornaments with – you guessed it – needle felting! Needle felting is another technique which comes in handy when making decorations for your holiday tree, and we’ve got plenty of suggestions for you on our Needle Felting pin board.


For your discerning fiber friends, a nuno felted scarf or wrap is sure to be a well-loved gift.  Nuno felting is a fascinating process which fuses fibers and lightweight fabrics such as silk or nylon together using wet felting techniques. If you are new to nuno, we have found a step-by-step tutorial on this blog to help get you started!


May your holidays be crafty, festive, and most of all….stress free!

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team

Warping at Warp Speed

Any rigid heddle loom, table loom or floor loom requires warping, the purpose of which is to measure your warp threads and align them so that they do not get tangled and can be easily threaded on the loom. Newer weavers may still be intimidated with this process, but fear not! We are here to help you master the ins and outs of warping your loom – it’s as easy as 1-2-3!warpingFirst, let’s get to know your warping board a little bit better. It’s important to know the distance across the board and between pegs, as our resident weaving instructor Nancy Reid demonstrates in the video below; having this information will help you plan the best path for your warp. You’ll begin with a leader thread which is a different color from your warp – any smooth, sturdy yarn will do! The leader allows you to easily lay out your warp, and should you find you’re missing a warp end, leaving your leader on the board will ensure you can create more warp ends of the same length. You may notice that the above video mentions creating a “cross” when laying out the warp. This is a vital step which not only helps you avoid a tangled mess, it will help with tension issues, too! It’s important to note that you will be following the leader as you lay out your warp on the board, with the exception of when it’s time to create the cross. Since this can be a little tricky for beginners, we filmed a short video demonstrating how and where to create this cross: At last, it’s time to remove the warp! An important detail to keep in mind is that the cross will need to be secured before the warp is removed. In the video below, Nancy demonstrates an easy way to get your cross secured before removing the warp, along with her tried-and-true method for safely removing the warp by making a chain of loops similar to a crochet chain. This chain will keep your warp nice and tidy til it comes time to use it.  Keep in mind, you’ll want to make sure you have a block of time that will be free of interruptions, because you get started, it’s best to thread it completely through the reed before you take your next break. Before you know it, you’ll be warping at warp speed! All the best, Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team