Tag Archives: weaving

Ask Nancy: Special Edition Part 2 – Abrasion

Our favorite weaving teacher, Nancy, has been dropping some important knowledge on Facebook. We are sharing the info here too so that it will be more permanent and searchable.

Previous Posts in this Series:

Part 1 – Tension

Ask Nancy

Last time we talked about tension, but just in what you could expect in a given yarn, and not overall as it pertains to a warp on the loom.  So before we leave that topic… NO BANJOS.  

I love banjo music, let me say that first; but cranking up the tension on your warp to the point where you can play a tune on it is unnecessary, wasteful, hard on the equipment and the warp, and ultimately just tragic.  The amount of tension needed is just enough for error-free weaving, so that when you throw (or pass) the shuttle, there should be no slackers standing up from the bottom layer, nor drooping down from the top layer, to catch an unwary shuttle and cause you to weave a skip.  Just that; you don’t need extreme tension, and on a soft warp, you can’t have it, or things will snap.  You just need even tension.

And so on to abrasion.  The first thing is abrasion in the reed, so you have to size the reed to the yarn.  If you have for example a soft yarn at about 24 WPI (wraps per inch), a logical place to start in determining sett will be 12 EPI (ends per inch).  That makes sense, so let’s start the first trial balloon at 12, which logic will tell us is very convenient for our 12-dent reed.  First though, take a piece of that yarn and run it back & forth through a dent in that reed 30 or 40 times, to simulate the abrasion it will be enduring as you weave.  If it abrades significantly, that’s a poor reed choice.  It might be a great warp sett though, and just exactly what you want; so reach for the 6-dent reed instead, and sley the reed at 2 per dent.  Magic; you have cut the abrasion in half, and have a much better chance of a successful outcome.

The next abrasion hot spot is the selvedges, and many weavers come to grief there because of excessive draw-in.  There will always be some draw in, but if it’s not excessive, it will work.  The next time you are at the loom in front of your project, pull the beater back toward the fell of the cloth slowly, and observe what is happening to the outer couple of warp ends.  There is LOTS of abrasion there, and the selvedge threads are at a terrific angle and stretched, rather than nicely perpendicular as the rest of the warp is; that’s draw-in, and it happens because the distance from the right side of your warp to the left side is, in our hypothetical 10” scarf, 10 inches.  However, the distance that the weft has to travel is considerably more than 10” because of the over and under wave nature of the path.  To counter that, you have to leave sufficient weft in the shed to account for that increased distance.  This is why we “bubble” our weft, or leave a steep angle before beating.  Anything more than about 1/2” of draw-in on each side is excessive, and you need to change some habits, or you will always be plagued by broken selvedges.

And this brings us to the last of the abrasion plague spots, and that is the habit of not stopping to advance the warp frequently.  If you have woven 3 or 4 inches without advancing, bring the beater toward the fell slowly and observe those same selvedge threads; yikes, that is an awful angle, and a lot of stretch and abrasion going on out there.  The closer the fell approaches to the beater, the riskier it is on the poor selvedges; stop and advance your warp every couple of inches, and you will be a better weaver.

Next up, we will have part 3 of our little series, where we clean up miscellaneous odds and ends of putting to rest some of the fallacies wandering around out there that concern warp yarns, and what will, or won’t work; what breaks warp yarns and what preserves them.

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Ask Nancy: Special Edition Part 1 – Tension

We have a special series of Ask Nancy installments for you! Nancy has been sharing some valuable information on Facebook so we’re sharing it here as well where they will have more permanency and be more searchable to the internet at large.

Ask Nancy

I’m seeing a lot of misinformation out there lately about the suitability of certain yarns, particularly handspun yarns and singles, for use as warp yarns; and I wanted to take the opportunity to address some of these concerns for the benefit of the larger weaving community (mainly neophytes who use Facebook’s Hive Mind as their primary source).

First let me present you with my bona fides; I teach weaving and spinning here at the Woolery in Frankfort, Kentucky, and have for 10 years now. Before that, I taught privately for a number of years. I have attended many conferences and Convergences, and have studied at the feet of some of our brightest lights. I turn out a lot of successful weavers from my classes, and I do know, and do wear, what I am talking about.

So let’s start at the beginning, and address the two biggest causes of warp yarn failures, tension and abrasion; we’ll start with tension.

Take any yarn and subject it to a break-strength test: hold it between your hands and pull until it breaks. Very likely, if it is a commercially spun knitting yarn (let’s pick for example Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport Weight), it will break fairly easily. What’s the real break strength? Tie a small barbell to it, and see what it takes to break it; I’m guessing under 2 pounds (just a ballpark). Please note that I have never done this: I don’t need to and this is just an academic exercise. But the point is, it breaks. Easily. Now, imagine an 10” wide scarf, and a warp sett of 10 EPI, that’s 100 warp threads. And if my warp on my loom is tensioned to about 10 pounds (not unreasonable), then each of those 100 warp ends is only responsible for 1/10 of one pound, just under 2 ounces. Go ahead, tie 2 ounces of weight to that piece of potential warp yarn, and see if it breaks; I’ll wait for you. Hint for those who just want to read: it doesn’t break. Take 100 strands of that yarn and tie weights to it until it breaks; I guarantee that you can’t do it by hand, and it takes a LOT of weight. Is that yarn strong enough to be warp? Yes, it is. The point is, you cannot judge any yarn by breaking one strand between your hands.

For the record, that Brown Sheep yarn is what I use in my beginning 4-shaft weaving classes, and no student has ever broken a single warp end in class. In fact, when it comes time to teach them HOW to repair a broken warp end, I have to cut one with scissors to teach the lesson.

Next up, we will talk about abrasion.

Note: We had some comments on the blog from people trying to sell used equipment. While we encourage the buying/selling of used equipment, our blog is not the place for such transactions. Please use other available resources meant for this purpose such as Ravelry Warped Weavers Marketplace, eBay, or, Craiglist.

Guest Post: Weaving Patterned Bands With Susan J. Foulkes

We’re pleased to welcome Susan J. Foulkes to our blog for a special guest post! Susan is a weaver, instructor, and author.

Today, Susan shares some of the weaving inspiration behind her newest book, Weaving Patterned Bands: How to Create and Design With 5, 7, and 9 Pattern Threads

All the Best,

Wave, Perri and the entire Woolery crew

Susan Foulkes weaving

My name is Susan J Foulkes. As a weaver I enjoy using natural materials in my work, linen, cotton silk alpaca, cahsmere. My particular interest is in the woven folk bands of Europe. I have spent many hours with curators in museums examining their wonderful collections. I run workshops and online courses about band weaving.

I have self-published several books with blurb.com. My new book Weaving Patterned Bands: How to create and design with 5, 7, and 9 Pattern Threads has just been published by Schiffer. It has over 140 patterns with clear instructions for the beginner and enhanced design techniques for the more advanced.

When I started weaving I was curious to try as many techniques as I could.  I swiftly found that some of them, such as tapestry weaving and tablet weaving, did not engage my interest, but I found myself drawn to the deceptively simple woven band patterns from Sweden. My first attempts at patterned band weaving were not successful but I felt that I needed to persevere. Like a child I started with the simplest of patterns with only five pattern threads. I wove pattern after pattern. I tried many different combinations of yarn, some successful and some not; unbleached linen pattern threads with a white cotton background proved very difficult.

7 woven band samples

However, I was hooked. Moving on to wider and more complex patterns, the variations seemed endless. The widest band I have woven has 33 pattern threads. It is the Lielvārde belt from Latvia and is one of the more celebrated of all bands because it is officially part of the Latvian Cultural Canon (See my YouTube video https://youtu.be/t9Dekjt8uog). Below I am wearing a magnificent example which I bought in Latvia.

Leilvarde belt

But I was still not satisfied. I wanted to find out more about how and why bands were woven.  What were they used for? These questions launched a series of travels around Scandinavia and the Baltic States. Visiting museums and speaking to curators is so rewarding. I was entranced by the variety of textiles on display, but even more enthralled by the contents of storerooms. Taking photographs enabled me to analyse the patterns to try at home.

Interest in patterned band weaving seems to have waxed and waned in popularity and when I became interested there were very few books available. I wanted to share my passion and interest so I started teaching online workshops with the Braid Society. This led to making YouTube videos to accompany the written materials that I prepared. Now my husband was not only a valued weaver’s assistant but also had to develop video making skills!

Weaving Patterned Bands

In my new book I thought that I would go back to the beginning and bring this craft within the reach of a younger audience who had never tried weaving before; to show how this is a creative craft through which individuality can shine. The curators with whom I had spent many hours poring over examples of weaving were generous with their time and also allowed me to publish some of the photographs I took. Not everyone is in a position to travel to museums and nowadays many of the larger museums have their collections on line. Museums are part of the heritage of a country and are vitally important for keeping records of crafts. Craft societies around the world keep alive older traditions and can refer to museum collections for inspiration.

I want to share my love of patterned band weaving. Enjoy your own journey of discovery through this beautiful traditional craft.


Thank you so much to Susan for her awesome guest blog post! Susan also has a special gift for you! She sent us some very special hand woven bookmarks that she wove herself and that come with a pattern card for how to make them. To enter to win one of these bookmarks visit our Instagram post and follow the instructions to enter the giveaway.


For more of Susan’s awesome work check out her social media:

Durham Weaver Blog

YouTube

Pinterest

 

 

Woolery Weave-Off Winners

What an adventure! We are pleased to present the winners of the first Woolery Weave-Off! Inundated with over 75 amazingly beautiful, diverse towels, we struggled to keep judging deadlines, and are still working on washing and folding all the entries for delivery! Next week, we will be delivering them to The Simon House, where they’ll go into ‘starter baskets’ that provide basic household supplies to the ladies moving out into their own housing! Without further ado…


Beginners

Third Place – Susan Hadden – Califon, NJ

Third Place - Beginner Category Woolery Weave-Off

Second Place – Susan Harrison – Plano, TX

Second Place - Beginner Category Woolery Weave-Off

First Place – Patti Grammatis – Easley, SC

First Place - Woolery Weave-Off Beginner Category


Rigid Heddle

Third Place – Mary Pat Nowakowski – Freeville, NY

Third Place - Rigid Heddle Woolery Weave-Off

Second Place – Mary Dean – Hackettstown, NJ

Second Place - Rigid Heddle Woolery Weave-Off

First Place – Ellyn Zinsmeister – Allen, TX

First Place - Rigid Heddle Woolery Weave-Off


Color

Third Place – Cathy Kinzie – Owings, MD

Third Place - Color Woolery Weave Off

Second Place – Susan Kroll – Sequim, WA

Second Place - Color Woolery Weave-Off

First Place – Pat Bullen – Centerburg, OH

First Place - Color Woolery Weave-Off


Pattern

Third Place – Sue Briney – Powell, OH

Third Place - Pattern Woolery Weave-Off

Second Place – Lynette Greenwald – Buckingham, PA

Second Place - Pattern Woolery Weave-Off

First Place – Katie Polemis – Indianapolis, IN

First Place - Pattern Woolery Weave-Off


Congratulations everyone, all of your towels are fantastic! We hope you all enjoy your prizes. As a reminder here are the prizes that the winners will receive:

Woolery Weave-Off Prizes

We cannot thank all of you enough – the response has been overwhelming, and the love shown and felt is profound. We look forward to sponsoring this contest again, and working other contests into our rotation! It feels good to give back, and we are delighted that you’re all on board to help out.

“We all do better when we all do better.” ~ Paul Wellstone

Thank you for your support of The Woolery Weave-Off!

As I write this blog entry, it occurs to me that every day, everywhere, we are surrounded by bad news. Wars. Fiscal crises. Crippling poverty. Water accessibility. Hunger. It is a tumultuous time in the world, and it is safe to say that the inundation of upsetting daily news is exhausting to everyone. Compassion fatigue, some call it. When do we get a break from the bad?

For me, the break in the bad has been this contest.

Woolery Weave-Off Entries

Every day since February, we have received envelopes carefully sent to us containing hand woven dishtowels. Some are bright. Some are neutral. Some are from beginners, and some are from experienced weavers. They vary in size, in pattern, in colorway. Some have fringed edges, some are hemmed. Waffle-weaves, crepe-weaves, twills, and plain-weaves. They are all as different as the ways of the wind – there are not two that are similar. What they all have in common, though, is the obvious love with which they were woven. Beautiful notes accompany many of them expressing the delight to have a reason to warp a loom for a good cause. Some entries recount time spent in unsure housing circumstances themselves, and the frustration felt at having next to nothing, and definitely not much ‘nice’. One entry confessed that she wove it oversized so the owner, clearly in a tough time of life, might be able to use it for something other than just dish drying (that one caused me to burst into immediate tears).  A generous donation came from a sweet 12-year-old weaver, who acknowledged that she was unable to officially ‘enter’, but wanted to contribute alongside her mother’s submission. A school in Pennsylvania sent in a box of beautiful towels, despite many of the weavers being under 18 themselves. Some entrants added matching wash rags, some sent duplicates and multiples, just to bolster the donation amount.

The break in the bad.

As a woman and mother myself, I understand how stressful having young children can be, even on a good day, in comfortable circumstances. To add in the enormous stress of being housing insecure, feeling untethered to a stable life, must be overwhelming. As women and their children move out of The Simon House, into new apartments, they often do so with nothing. What they do have is usually donated, having once belonged to another family. Bare bones, and precious little luxury, but a new beginning. So lovely, well made, practical, and prettyare these dishtowels, that despite how utilitarian they may seem, the women who receive them will confidently possess at least one beautiful, brand new, high end thing that is hers. In the mundane tasks of putting away dishes, bathing the baby, wiping down the high chair at the end of a long day, there is guaranteed to be a bright spot when the owner gets a flash of a lovely, fun pattern, pleasing colors, and quality that gets the job done, only softening and becoming better with every wash. How many of us have a favorite dishtowel? I know I do. One small, reliable bright spot in the day.

A break in the bad.

The generosity, and more importantly, the empathy shown in these wonderful donations have been heartbreaking in their beauty, kindness and love, compassion, and obvious understanding of a less-than-ideal situation. One nice item, made just for them, that will last, wear well, and always be something enjoyable to use and look at. A break in the bad.

On behalf of the entire Woolery staff, the McFarlands, and our extended Woolery family, I thank you all from the genuine bottom of my tear-soaked, but now much larger heart. To be reminded of the love and generosity that exists in this chaotic world is a morale boost I desperately needed, and am so glad the ladies they will benefit get to experience, too.

Your true, warm colors all came shining through with this act of generosity. Thank you for this break in the bad.

~Katherine

Woolery Weave-Off Entries

Ask Nancy: Weaving Patterns

Ask NancyWe have a very topical Ask Nancy post this month if you’re thinking of participating in our Woolery Weave-Off!

Question:

I have just ordered a bunch of the Bluegrass Mills 6/2 Cotton Yarn to make dish towels. Do you know of any patterns using 6/2 weight yarn? The only patterns I have found are for 8/2. I’m not experienced enough to know if I can use an 8/2 pattern with 6/2 yarn. Any help would be appreciated.

 

Answer: 
The 6/2 yarn works up in a plain weave structure very nicely at 15 or 16 ends per inch (EPI), and in a 2/2 twill at 18 EPI, and a 1/3 twill at 20 EPI.

Patterns in a book like Dixon’s Handweaver’s Pattern Directory or in the Davison book, A Handweaver’s Pattern Book, don’t give you a size of yarn; they just give you a draft, which is usable in any size yarn as long as you use the appropriate sett for that yarn and that structure.  So for instance in plain weave, if you want to start out with 18” in the reed, you would wind a warp that is 18” X 15 EPI, or 270 ends.  If using 16 EPI as your sett, your calculations would be 18” X 16 EPI, or a warp of 288 ends.

If you are weaving any sort of 2/2 twill, you’ll need to consider the number of pattern ends in each motif, and adjust the number of total ends slightly to accommodate whole pattern repeats so you don’t cut a pattern off in the middle at the edge of your towel; that always looks odd!  But any pattern is just a draft, and any draft can be woven in any yarn, as long as you are willing to do the multiplication yourself.

As in anything woven, it’s always wise to make a sample first, and see how it looks and feels, and what your shrinkage rate will be.  Depending upon the weave structure you pick, your shrinkage might go from 10% on the low end (in a plain weave) to 30% on the high end (waffle weave shrinks like crazy).

I hope this helps!

Announcing our very first Woolery Weave-off!

Woolery Weave-Off

The Woolery is excited to announce our very first Woolery Weave-Off!

We’re having a Weave-Off to celebrate how well our Bluegrass Mills 6/2 Cotton Yarn has been received. Weave a dish towel with Bluegrass Mills to compete for prizes in four separate categories.  Here’s the thing though, you don’t get your towel back, because we’re donating them all to the local women’s shelter (Simon House, here in Frankfort Kentucky), because women in crisis need the special energy that handwoven textiles provide, too!

Grand Prize Winners in each category will get Spectrum Packs of our BGM 6/2 — that’s 20, one-pound cones of yarn in a whole array of colors!
Second and Third Place Winners in each category will get $50 Woolery gift cards

 

Woolery Weave-Off Prizes

 

Now through January 31st all Bluegrass Mills Yarn* is

25% Off!

You need to use our Bluegrass Mills 6/2 Cotton Yarn to weave your entry, so we’re offering 25% off the price of this yarn from January 3rd – January 31st! 

*Please note offer excludes already discounted clearance colors.

Here’s the fine print – we ask that you read completely before deciding to enter:

The four divisions will be:
1) Beginners; those who have been weaving less than one year. Please use the honor system when determining your beginner status!
2) Rigid heddle weavers (remember, 6/2 is great in plain weave at 15 or 16 EPI; you can do that on a rigid heddle loom!)
3) Color: here’s the chance to be outrageous; remember, you’ll never need to wear it.  Be bold and inventive, and knock our socks off!
4) Pattern: stretch yourself.  Do you have 4 extra shafts on your loom that have just been looking at you funny?  Use them, be brave and inventive; learn something and get out of your comfort zone!
 
Entries must be mailed to: 
The Woolery
c/o Katherine
859 East Main Street, Suite 1A
Frankfort, KY 40601

 

  • The minimum size for each towel is 15” x 24”, washed and hemmed.
  • One entry per person – entries must also contain the name, phone number, email address, and address of the entrant.
  • Contest entries MUST be postmarked by April 1st, 2018, to be considered. Entries postmarked after that time will not be entered in the contest, and will not be returned.
  • Entrants acknowledge they will not get their submissions back. In the event that we receive too many towels to donate to one place, sister residential shelters/organizations in nearby Lexington and Louisville will receive the ‘spillover’ .
  • Winner agrees to have her/his towel and name used in photos and on social media platforms.
  • You MUST use Bluegrass Mills cotton to weave your towel – All non-clearance colors will be 25% off through the end of January!
  • Odds of winning change with number of entries received.
  • Winners will be notified on or around April 15, 2018. Winner has 14 days to claim her/his prize.
  • Lists of winners and runners-up in each category will be available by request in writing after May 15th, 2018.
  • Contest is open to entrants aged 18 years and over.
  • Woolery employees and immediate family members are welcome to participate, but they are not eligible to win.
  • Woolery suppliers are welcome to participate, but they are not eligible to win.
  • Entrant assumes the cost of shipping the towel.
  • Winner of prize assumes responsibility for all and any taxes/tariffs/duty fees incurred.
  • No ghost weavers! Towels must be woven by the person entering the contest.

Please direct any questions about the Woolery Weave-Off to katherine@woolery.com