Tag Archives: Weaving Technique

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

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Measuring Yarn: We’ll Show You How!

yarnbalanceNEWHave you ever come across a skein of yarn in your stash that is missing its label, a partially-used cone of yarn, or just wanted to know how much yarn you had left after finishing a project? One of our brand-new arrivals at the shop will help you solve your yarn mysteries!

Our new Yarn Balance was designed to replace the McMorran Yarn Balance, which is no longer in production. It’s just as easy to use as the original, and it’s an invaluable tool for calculating your yardage!

There are four easy steps to solving your yarn mysteries:

1. Place your Yarn Balance on a level surface that allows plenty of room for your yarn to hang as pictured. The edge of a sturdy table will do quite nicely! Set the pins of the small balancing arm into the small notches on the top of the box, then lay a length of yarn in the notch of the balance, allowing the yarn to hang:

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2. With a pair of scissors, trim the length of yarn, cutting a little at a time, until the balancing arm is level.

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3. When the arm is level, remove the length of yarn from the balance.

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4. Measure the length of your yarn with a ruler. Multiply the measurement x 100 – this measurement gives you the number are yards per pound of yarn (ypp).

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Note: If you are measuring bumpy, slubby or a handspun yarn, the measurement may not be accurate due to inconsistencies in the yarn, but it will give you an approximate estimate.
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!

Travel Wheels and You + We’ve Moved

The best way to find the wheel of your dreams is to try a lot of wheels. We don't have all of our boxes unpacked, but that doesn't stop us from inviting you in for a spin in our new classroom space.

At The Woolery, we get asked all the time, “which travel wheel is the best?” The answer is the same whether you are buying a wheel that folds, travels, or will stay in your living room. The wheel that suits your needs, is the wheel for you. The best way to find your wheel among the many, is to come on in and give them a spin. We encourage you to try as many wheels as you can—seek out wheels at guilds and other local spinning groups. Heck, try Ravelry to see if someone nearby has a brand want to try.

To get you started, we have updated our handy chart for you to compare folding double treadle spinning wheels side by side. Here are also a few things to think about when selecting a folding wheel.

Comfort Counts! Being comfortable at the wheel should be your primary consideration. It doesn’t matter how cute or how many options a wheel has if you can’t spin at it comfortably then it is not the wheel for you.

How Compact Does the Wheel Need to Be? Really ask yourself how you plan to use this wheel vs. how you think you are going to use it. (I’m going to go to the Bahamas and spin on the beach vs. I take my wheel to my local spin-in.) For some, being able to carry a wheel on a plane is the number one consideration when looking for a travel wheel. For others that have physical limitations, weight is primary consideration.  Generally speaking, to gain one thing you have to lose another, e.g. light vs stable.

Will the treadles fit my feet comfortably? This is where trying out a wheel will make a difference. It is sort of like trying on a pair of shoes. They may look cute, but are they comfy?  Make sure that the treadle configuration  allows you enough room to sit at your wheel comfortably. Torquing your feet too much can be bad for your body.

Spinning happens in your hands not at the orifice!

Does the Orifice Height Matter? Many authorities will tell you no. Your hands is where the action is happening not near the orifice. (Check out this video from Tim, one of the founders of The Woolery. This bit is about four minutes in.) That said some folks have personal preferences or ergonomic needs that make a perfectly valid reason to want your orifice at a certain height. Remember where we started. Comfort counts!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post or give us a call (800) 441-9665.  Better yet, if you are ever in the area, stop by and check out our new location. We have more space, more classrooms, and more fluff and stuff for you to buy!

Chris, Nancy and the entire Woolery team