How to Make a Freeform Friendship Bracelet

 

Many people celebrate Valentine’s Day by giving tokens of affection to loved ones. Nothing says “I really love you, friend” like a friendship bracelet. While growing up, all my friends had hand knotted bracelets made from embroidery floss. This take on the friendship bracelet uses the same concept here to creatively declare how most of us would simply unravel without friends like them.

Equipment: Schacht Cricket Loom with a 12-dent reed, tapestry needle, beading needle

Finished Size: 3/4” wide, length–wrist measurement plus ½”.

Structure: plain weave, freeform tapestry with added beads, weft-faced.

Yarn and Materials: Lace weight for warp, various coordinating yarns for weft, beads, and thread.

Warp length: 1 yard

Total warp ends: 13

Width in reed: 1″

Ends per inch: 12

Picks per inch: Varies

Warping: Using the direct warping method, measure a 1 yard warp of lace weight yarn using the following pattern: sley 6 slots and then take the last thread back to the peg for a total of 13 threads.

Weaving: Put in a header to spread the warp. I use thinly cut plastic grocery bags strips. Weave 3 picks of the same lace weight yarn used for warp and beat.

Using the tapestry needle, hemstitch the end of the weaving going over one warp and the 3 weft picks. Weave a ¼” of plain weave with the lace weight yarn, beating firmly. Now it’s time to start the freeform weaving, as demonstrated in the video below.

This has a Bohemian flare, so tap into your creative juices and just weave!

 

Finishing: Stop freeform weaving once the bracelet has reached its desired length minus ¼”.  Weave ¼” of plain weave with the lace warp yarn and hemstitch as in the beginning. Cut the bracelet off the loom, steam press from the back using a press cloth and trim all the loose ends. Attach your desired clasp, or leave the ends and twist the fringe for a bracelet that ties onto your wrist. Give this to someone you love.

This bracelet was inspired by Liz Smith and her Magpie Bracelet on Creativebug.

Stephanie Flynn-Sokolov

Stephanie Flynn Sokolov trained in accessory design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She teaches classes in weaving and spinning around the U.S. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Converting a Knitting Pattern into a Weaving Pattern – Part 2

 

IMG_2288

The challenge that I set up for myself was to convert a knit kimono sweater pattern to a woven one. Since knit fabrics and woven fabrics do not share the same drape and elasticity, this proved challenging. In part 1, I covered some information about sett and sampling, the specifications for weaving the body of the garment, as well as basics of the sweater’s construction. In part 2 we move on to weaving the bands and finishing the garment.

The bands require 2 warps.

Equipment: 10”-wide Cricket rigid heddle loom, 10-dent reed, 2 stick shuttles

Yarn: 250 yards Classic Elite Classic Silk, 2 skeins and 433 yards Habu Stainless Silk, 2 cones

Sampling notes: I used a 10-dent reed for my sampling. For my first sample, I alternated Classic Silk and Habu Wool Crepe in the warp and tried various wefts. My favorite part of this sample was the section with Habu Stainless Silk weft(photo: Sample 1). For the next sample warp, I tried a combination of Classic Silk and Stainless Silk, trying out different sequences of each. The second sample gave me what I was looking for (photo: sample 2). However, in my excitement to see the result, I failed to measure my sample before washing it. Therefore, the exact amount of shrinkage wasn’t possible to determine. This was an unfortunate mistake, but I guessed that it was around 10%.

While trying on the sweater assembled thus far, I looked in the mirror to figure out how long I wanted the sleeves and how wide the collar band should be. I then held a tape measure to the bottom edge of the kimono to determine where I would like it to hit my hips. (Hint, always aim for above or below the widest part of your hips.)

From my calculations, I found that two warps would be needed, one for the sleeves and collar and the other for the bottom band. For the first warp, I simply measured the circumference of the sleeves (18” on mine), then measured for the collar band, being sure to include the length of the bottom band (60” on mine).  So the math on my first warp looks like this;

collar band 60″

shrinkage 6″

sleeve  #1 18″

shrinkage 1 3/4″

sleeve #2 18″

shrinkage 1 3/4″

loom waste 20″

between pieces 2″ x 2 = 4″

Total: 129.5″ rounded up to 130″

Threading: 6 threads Classic Silk, 6 threads Stainless Silk, (4 threads Classic Silk, 6 threads Stainless Silk, repeat this sequence 7 times) End with 6 threads Classic Silk.

Total number of warp ends (epi): 88

Warp #2

Loom 10″ Cricket Loom with a 10-dent reed

Because the second warp would be just the bottom band, it would be much simpler. I needed it to be 40″ long, so I added 10% shrinkage (4″) plus 20″ loom waste. Rarely do I include take-up (the distance the warp has to travel over and under the weft) into my calculations. This is mainly because I work with fairly fine yarns and the 20″ of loom waste provides enough leeway to cover the take-up.

Warp length: 64″

Threading: 6 threads Classic Silk, 6 threads Stainless Silk, (4 threads Classic Silk, 6 threads Stainless Silk, repeat this sequence 3 times). End with 6 threads Classic Silk.

Total warp ends: 48

Time to get warped. The warping and the weaving was very straight forward, it looked like clear sailing. Until….while finishing the sleeves and the collar band I wound the last of the stainless silk onto my stick shuttle. Yep. Thought all my calculations were spot on, until I realized I was calculating using all the yardage I started with and did not take into account what I used for my samples. YARN EMERGENCY!  As luck would have it, the Habu Stainless Silk in Brick Red was no longer available from their website. Ugh. Thank goodness for the Internet.  A shop in Ohio had the yarn I needed, but couldn’t offer express shipping. Double Ugh, I said, “”YARN EMERGENCY”. Shelley from Knitterly in Petaluma, CA put on her cape and saved my day. Understanding that there are yarn emergencies, she went straight to the post office for me and my yarn arrived just as I was finishing the first band. Crisis averted, I finished the bands and washed them. What a happy surprise when I measured the pieces and the shrinkage was exactly ten percent!

I attached the bands using my sewing machine, binding the exposed edges with a 1 1/2” nylon tricot. Starting with the sleeves, I sewed right side to right side together at the very edge of the hemstitching. Laying the right side of the fabric to the right side of the tricot, I ran a stitch in 1/4″ from the edge.

Then I folded the tricot with its wrong side to the fabric’s right side and sewed a stitch in the ditch on the right side of the fabric to catch the tricot on the back. I did this on all the bands, then I folded the bound edge down to the wrong side of the main fabric and used a hemstitch to sew the tricot binding to the main fabric. The bands were then attached by overlapping the bands on top of the main fabric and sewing two straight lines of stitching. (This keeps the bands flat to the main fabric and reduces the bulk.) Voila, a woven kimono sweater.

Hindsight is always 20/20, and in the middle of this project I felt discouraged, like I had failed to prove my point that weaving is faster than knitting. Then, realizing that if I had had a pattern that someone had edited, sampled and tested, this would have been a very fast and straightforward weaving project. The total time for warping and weaving off all of the pieces for this project was around 9 hours–much faster than if I had knit this piece. I also realize that I gained several nuggets of wisdom. In addition, the enjoyment that I will get from having made this kimono myself and the experience I gained from making it helps me in future projects. No one can take knowledge away from you…or my sweater from me!

Stephanie Flynn-Sokolov

Stephanie Flynn Sokolov trained in accessory design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She teaches classes in weaving and spinning around the U.S. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Converting a Knitting Pattern to a Weaving Pattern – Part 1

Equipment: Schacht Rigid Heddle Loom (Flip or Cricket) 15” or wider, 10-dent rigid heddle reed, darning needle.

Materials: 7 Skeins Classic Silk Color # 6979 (50% cotton, 30% silk, 20% nylon, 135 yards per 50g)

Trim: Habu Wool Crepe, color C3004 (100% Merino wool, 747 yard per 28g or 1oz)

Matching sewing thread for assembly.

Weaving is so fast. At least that is what I tell new weavers (and myself) when it comes to committing to a project. Why would I knit it when I could weave it in less than half the time? Now is the time for me to put the money where the loom is.

Recently, I unearthed a knitting pattern for a kimono purchased years ago with the intended yarn, Classic Silk, in a bag ready to go. Looking at the pattern it occurred to me why I had never cast on: too much knitting. But, after looking at the pattern and realizing that all the pieces were rectangles, it struck me that this was the perfect knitting project to convert to weaving. The first big question was whether I would have enough yarn. Since the pattern and the yarn had been purchased years ago, the likelihood of finding the same dye lot was bleak. In order to determine the amount of yarn I would need I first needed to sample. After doing a yarn wrapping (16 wpi), I determined that I would first try a 10-dent reed. The fabric that I was aiming for was something soft and supple, but firm with a little give. This was my reasoning for starting with the 10-dent reed instead of an 8-dent which would be the usual starting point with a 16 wpi yield (16 wraps per inch divided by 2 = 8). I thought that if I sampled different beats in plain weave, hopefully I would hit my mark on the first try.

Warping the loom with 36″ warp length, 5” wide gave me enough length to sample 4 variations. First, I beat the weft densely at 17 picks per inch (ppi) using the same yarn as the warp. After just a little weaving, I knew it was too firm. Next, I tried 10 ppi, then 8 ppi and finally, I tried a favorite yarn, Habu wool crepe. This very fine, over-twisted yarn beat in at 25 ppi. After washing and drying the sample, the 8 ppi was my favorite, followed by the Habu wool crepe.

This is often how I arrive at my setts and beat samples. If you keep records of your samples, you may find one that didn’t make the cut for this project but would be a great start for a different project later on.

Instructions

A kimono garment shape is a great place to start if you are fearful of cutting into your handwoven fabric. When converting a knitting pattern to weaving, you first need to convert each pattern piece in your size to the correct finished dimensions as indicated on your pattern.

Now you need to think (yikes, sometimes it hurts). Plan your woven pieces to take into account take-up, draw-in, and shrinkage in both the warp and weft, easy if you made a sample. For example, if you know your sample shrank 11.5% in length, you will need to weave your piece 11.5% longer than the finished piece before washing. The same holds true for the width. Making all these little calculations allowed me to weave the back (in two pieces), the right front, left front and both sleeves on only two warps.

The first warp was 118″ long and 10″ wide (total 100 warp ends). I wove two pieces each at 22 1/4″ long and two pieces each 25 1/2″ long with only 20″ allowed for take-up and loom waste (so you’ll need to economize when you tie on your warp and weave as far as you can on the loom). The second warp was 66″ long and 13 1/4″ wide (total 132 warp ends) with 15″ for take up and loom waste. My finished pieces measured as follows: sleeves–9″ x 20″, fronts–9″ x 23″ and two back pieces–12″ x 23″.

Layout

When weaving multiple pieces on the same warp, the space in-between the pieces needs to be taken into account and prepared for finishing the raw ends.

Schacht 2016 Convert a Sweater Pattern End Finishing Photo 3

Hint: Reduce bulk by using a very fine yarn or thread at the beginning and end of each piece with hemstitching. This is very helpful when sewing together the shoulder seams and underneath the sleeves.

Once all your pieces are woven, wash and dry them the same way you did your sample.

Now, assemble your pieces as your pattern dictates. Like a traditional kimono, there is a trim that runs up the front to become the neckband and trim on the bottom of the sleeves. I’ll cover weaving the trim–red in the diagram–and finishing next month in part 2.

I sewed the back center seam first. I used a flat sewing stitch.

sewing

Next, I used a back stitch to sew the right and left fronts to the back at the shoulder seams starting at the outside edge leaving a neck opening.

Schacht 2016 Convert a Sweater Pattern Shoulder Back stitch

To attach the sleeves, find the midpoint and pin it to the shoulder seam and sew using the same flat stitch used for butting the back pieces together. Now you will have one continuous piece that looks like the Kimono Layout. Use the flat stitch again to sew the seam from the armpit to the bottom right and left. The last seam will be the backstitch from the armpit to the cuff of the sleeve. Now you will have a t-shirt looking cardigan. This technique for converting a pattern works best with square or rectangular pieces. Although you can convert any knitting pattern to weaving, remember that woven fabric doesn’t stretch the same as a knit, and you may need to change the ease or even go up a size in the pattern. Right now I am not sure if it is faster than knitting, only time and the next installment will tell.  Until then….

In Converting a Sweater Pattern Part 2, I will cover weaving and attaching the band along with embellishments.

Stephanie Flynn-Sokolov

Stephanie Flynn Sokolov trained in accessory design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She teaches classes in weaving and spinning around the U.S. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Zoom Loom Valance – Stephanie Flynn Sokolov

 

Valance InstalledEquipment

Schacht Zoom Loom and Weaving Needle

Sewing needle

Darning needle

Materials

-1 Skein Juniper Moon Zooey: 03 White Pepper (60% linen/40% cotton, 284yd/100g)

-Matching sewing thread

-1 Skein Bella Lino: 8516 Flax (58% linen/26% viscose/16% cotton, 164yd/50g)

Instructions

To weave this window treatment, you will need to weave 24 squares of Zooey on the Zoom Loom. Feel free to scale your project to fit your favorite window. If you haven’t woven with a non-stretchy fiber on the Zoom Loom, keep the following in mind.

  • When setting up the loom for weaving a plain weave square, you will loosely wind the yarn around the pins as you warp the loom, leaving the threads slack.
  • Winding the yarn too tightly around the pins while warping will create such tight tension and eliminate the space your needle needs to go over and under the warp threads with ease. This creates stress on your hands, especially while trying to weave the last couple rows.

After you have woven the squares, finish each square by weaving in the ends along the edges. Starch, press and trim the ends. Lay the squares on a flat surface in the pattern pictured (square layout).

Square Layout

Using a sewing needle and matching sewing thread, stitch the squares together making sure that all the corners overlap their neighbor in the same direction for a consistent look.

Square Layout Close up

Now, fold over the edge squares as pictured, and stitch. When the edges are complete, fold over the top squares and only stitch the bottom of the V, leaving the space along the fold open for your curtain rod or wire. Using sewing thread, add a backstitch across the newly formed triangle to stabilize the top and create a pocket just under where the rod/wire will be inserted.

Embellishment

For embellishment, when the squares are all sewn together, use Bella Fino to stitch crosses at each intersection of the squares, except at the bottom points. Then make tassels out of the Bella Fino and attach them using the tassel ends to form crosses. Knot them in the back to secure.

Cross and Tassel Close up

Starch and press for a crisp, finished look. Voila!  Mount your valance onto a curtain rod or wire over your favorite window.

Tassel

To make a tassel, wind 16 wraps of the Bella Fino around a piece of cardboard 5” long. Thread a tapestry needle with the same yarn and slide it between the cardboard and the 16 wraps at one end of the card. Loop the thread over and go under the 16 wraps one more time and tie the bundle tightly in a square knot. Cut the thread leaving about 2” as a tail to attach to the valance. Slide the loop of threads off the cardboard, holding them tightly just below the tie. Begin winding the same threaded needle very tightly around the bundle 9 times, winding over the end of the thread to secure it in the bundle. To secure the end, while holding your wrapped threads, insert the needle into the wrapped threads through the center of the bundle. Press the needle on a hard surface and use a pliers to pull it towards the head of the tassel. Pull the thread through with a tug. Trim and bury in the head of the tassel.

Stephanie Flynn-Sokolov

Stephanie Flynn Sokolov trained in accessory design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She teaches classes in weaving and spinning around the U.S. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Weaving Adaptations for the Math Impaired + Project

Orange Woven Top
Orange topper, a variations of the Green-Gray Topper featured in Simple Woven Garments

I love weaving. I love math. But somehow math feels like a barrier between my loom and me. When the book, Simple Woven Garments by Jane Patrick and Sara Goldenberg was released, I was immediately drawn to the Green-Grey Topper. Since the colors of the original weren’t in my palette, I decided to change it up.

Making changes to a project design can be stressful to some weavers because finding a formula for changing yarns, the math and substitutions, can make the task seem daunting. It’s really not so difficult and I want to show you how I substituted yarns on this project with very little pain OR math.

Simple-Woven-Garments_cover

The original project calls for Alpaca with a Twist Fino for the warp and Trendsetter Kid Seta for the weft. When making a yarn substitution my first step is to look at the yarn labels and compare what was used in the original project versus what I want to use.

While the book includes both yards/pound and meters/grams, I like to use meters per gram because I find the math easier to compute. In this case, a hank of the Fino is 800 m/100g. (You’ll find that almost all skeins, balls, hanks and other yarn put-ups are in 100g or 50g units.) This makes comparing yarns easier than using 875yds/3.52oz (yikes!).

My substitution warp yarn, Scrumptious Lace from Fyberspates is 1000m/100g. Both Fino and Scrumptious Lace are 100g skeins, though the Scrumptious Lace has more meters (1000 m vs 800 m), which means it is a finer yarn. Because the yarn is finer, this means that I’ll need a closer sett. Hmmm, the pattern calls for a sett of 12 ends per inch (epi). I could either use two heddles for a sett of 16, or I could weave this on my Baby Wolf and sett it in a 15-dent reed. I decide to go with the 15-dent reed and thread the warp 19 1/2” wide.

I decided that I wanted to alter the pattern so that the stripes run vertically (I do not have the thin figure, so vertical stripes will be more flattering on me than horizontal ones). In the original, the stripes are threaded into the warp and then the fabric is turned during construction so that the selvedges run along the top and bottom edges of the top. I’m going to weave the stripes horizontally across the fabric, instead of creating the stripes in the warp. (When the piece is constructed, the stripes will run vertically.) This actually makes the warping super easy because I am not skipping any spaces, I will add the spaces in as I weave.

Once I have the yarn, sett, and warp width figured out, I review the warping instructions. The pattern tells me that if I am using a floor loom I should add an additional 12” for loom waste to the length of my warp. Since I need to add 12” to 2 2/3 yards (the length of the original), that means I need a warp length of 3 yards or 36” x 3=108”. Yay, now I need to figure out how many threads I need to measure at 108”. Ok, 15 ends per inch times the warp width of 19 1/2” is: 15 x 19.5” = 292.5”. Since I can’t have half of a thread, I rounded up to 293 warp ends, each 108” long. Multiplying these two numbers together will tell me how much yarn I need for warp: 293 ends x 108” = 31,644” of warp yarn. Divide the inches by 36 gives the total yarns needed for warp yarn. So, 31,644” divided by 36” equals 879 yards. The Scrumptious Lace is 1000 m (1093 yards), so one skein will be plenty for my warp yarn.

For weft, I used Berroco Andean Mist (25g/150m). I needed approximately 342 yards (312 m or 3 skeins), using only a small amount of the third skein.

With all of the calculations complete, it is time to weave. Changing the pattern to vertical stripes instead of horizontal means that the spaces will be in the weft. A half inch spacer placed in the weft will create spaces in a horizontal orientation. I wove this piece with random spacing at 11 ppi. Once the fabric was woven, I assembled the garment like described in the book, except instead of weaving the tabs, I substituted cotton lace edging. I butted and stitched the pieces together, folded over the ends and seamed to finish. I added the tabs to the woven fabric as shown.

This beautiful pattern begged to be woven, and has well thought out instructions. My one wish was that I had increased the length and width of the woven fabric. I am fairly full chested and the woven piece would have been more becoming if I had increased the length (width of the warp) so that the garment had more drape over the bust. I think my modified pattern looks just as lovely as the original in the book.

PROJECT DETAILS
Garment size: medium
Finished dimensions: 27” wide x 18” deep.
Equipment: 4-shaft Schacht Floor Loom with a 20” weaving width, I shuttle.
Warp yarn: Scrumptious Lace from Fyberspates at 1000m/100g, 1 skein of 502 Gold.
Weft yarn: Berroco Andean Mist, 25g/150m, 3 skeins of 6319 Chaiten (peach).
Notions: 48” of 1”-wide lace trim.
Weave structure: plain weave with spaced wefts at irregular intervals.
Warp length: 108”
Warp width: 19 1/2”
Total warp ends: 293
EPI: 15
PPI: 11

Weaving: Hemstitch at the beginning and end of each panel. Weave the first panel for 34”, weave a 1” spacer and then weave the second panel for 34”.

Fabric finishing: Roll up the fabric in a thin towel, tie the bundle with wool, and then place in a pillow case. Machine wash in hot water on regular cycle with mild soap. Check after 5 minutes and re-roll the bundle in the opposite direction. This will help the fabric full evenly. When the fabric seems sufficiently fulled, remove from the machine, rinse by hand, lay flat to dry, then lightly steam press.

Tabs: Cut 12 pieces of the 1”-wide ribbon, each 4” long. Zigzag stitch on either side of the cutting lines.

Weaving Adaptations illustrations
Assembly: Cut pieces apart making two pieces. Hem the ends on both panels by stitching a ¼” double rolled hem by hand or with the sewing machine.

Place the two hemmed panels one on top of the other, wrong sides together. Find the center along one of the long edges and mark. Measure out 6” on either side for a 12” neckhole.

Connect the panels by sewing the tabs as illustrated. Note: there are two tabs at each point, one on the front and one the back. Fold under the raw edges before stitching into place.

Stephanie Flynn-Sokolov

Stephanie Flynn Sokolov trained in accessory design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She teaches classes in weaving and spinning around the U.S. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Reformed Bananagram Scarf – Stephanie Flynn Sokolov

The Bananagram scarf featured on the cover of the book Woven Scarves by Jane Patrick and myself is a great beginner project. One of the things I love about this scarf is that it is easier to do than it looks. A fine merino wool yarn, woven at 12 ends per inch, is felted with tie-in objects which leave a lasting impression after the finishing process. For this “Reformed Bananagram” Scarf, I Changed the object used for the resist from a Bananagram to a Lego (not a far leap in my house). These building blocks now come in all different shapes and sizes which create a variety of lively shapes. The yarn is JoJoLand Harmony (the same one used in the book), great for its softness and flexibility. The orange color made it super fun to weave. To get started, pull out your 10″ Cricket loom, put in a 12- dent reed, direct warp the full width and you are ready to weave. Even though this scarf has a 24 picks pr inch and a 104″ warp length, it moves right along in plain weave.

Once the scarf is woven, round up your Legos and position them randomly along the scarf, securing them with small rubber bands.

Be sure to secure each block twice around with the rubber band (I learned this the hard way). Even though some of the blocks seemed big enough to warrant just once around, but don’t be fooled, the bricks will fall out when finishing. I also had a learning moment when I saw that some of the long skinny blocks poked through the fabric and slid out completely during the washing process. This scarf can take on many different shapes, depending on the objects you use for the felt resist, so get creative, look around, and start weaving.

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Stephanie Flynn-Sokolov

Stephanie Flynn Sokolov trained in accessory design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She teaches classes in weaving and spinning around the U.S. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Spinning From Handcards

What you need:

– Spinning fiber – roving or washed fleece

– A spinning wheel with empty bobbin

– Handcards

We have amazing brains that often tell us what we can and can’t do. Sometimes the key to overcoming the “can’t do” little voice in our heads is just taking a different approach. If you are a new spinner envious of your neighbors’
thin and consistent yarn, handcards might be the key.

Brains have to be flexible to learn any new activity. When spinning many parts of your brain are engaged. I know because classes of new spinners tend to be very quiet, unlike advanced spinning classes that can become unruly (you know who you are). Telling different parts of your body to do different tasks becomes the pat your head and rub your tummy of spinning, making most of us feel clumsy and uncomfortable. When you ask/use your handcards to do one of the tasks (holding the fiber) while spinning, there is a little more room to figure out how to treadle and draft at the same time.

Spinning fiber

Spinning fiber

Fiber on handcard

Here’s how. Take some fiber. You can use just about anything you can card, but it is best to start with a fiber that has a consistent staple length and some tooth (save the smoother fibers for another try later). I like to use my 72psi handcards, which means, the carding cloth has 72 sharp points per square inch. Load the carders and card the fiber until it looks like this on one card and take it to the spinning wheel.

Set your wheel up to have little take-up and gradually add more tension until the yarn is gently pulling onto the bobbin with no tension when you are giving it to the wheel.

Roving and handcards

Roving and handcards

Note: If you use an extra long leader you can use it to adjust your draw-on tension before you have to attach the yarn you are spinning.

Hold the feathery fibers hanging off your carder at a 90 degree angle to the leader. As the fiber begins to wind around the leader, move the carder so the fibers will flow straight off the carder and become yarn. Use your forward hand to gently pull little bits of fiber off the card all the way across and then work your way all the way back to where you started. Continue until the fibers are no longer hanging over the edge of you carder. You can continue to work your way back and forth across the carders, but since the longest fibers pull together off the carder first, when you start to use the fibers that are not dangling over the edge, you may run into some bumps and shorter fibers. See the video on the Schacht YouTube channel: http://youtu.be/9WRAtMcY3fc.

Taking the hand that usually holds your fiber out of the equation eliminates the inevitable death grip that plagues us all when the fear of uneven yarn sets in. This technique will allow you to decrease the diameter of your yarn and spin with greater consistency. Give it a try and see if you can change a “can’t do” into an “I just did.”

Optional Project

Take the first yarn you have spun and ply. Using the Zoom Loom make a square. Put the square in an oval embroidery hoop. Adjust the square so it is even in the hoop and use the finer smooth yarn you spun second to embroider a love message for Valentine’s Day.

Stephanie Flynn-Sokolov

Stephanie Flynn Sokolov trained in accessory design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She teaches classes in weaving and spinning around the U.S. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Arrow Slippers – A Zoom Loom Project

Our latest Zoom Loom project is a delightful pair of felted slippers, designed and woven by Stephanie Flynn Sokolov, one of the authors of our Yearning to Weave and Spin column. Made with Dream in Color’s Calm, weave 18 squares and do a bit of sewing and felting. Your toes will be toasty warm.

Download the instructions here.

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Stephanie Flynn-Sokolov

Stephanie Flynn Sokolov trained in accessory design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She teaches classes in weaving and spinning around the U.S. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Hemp Scrub

I love visiting my mother, not only because she is such a great mom, but because she showcases my art in her home. Sitting down at her craft table, the place mat I made reminded me of my first rag rug class. While washing my hands, thoughts of drawing classes emerged with the framed pencil drawing of my feet and I dried my hands on the first towel I wove on a shaft loom. Later I found she had put the hemp washcloth/scrub I had made for her in the shower. Since it was given as a gift, I never used it and didn’t know if it even worked as I intended. If you have tried some of my other projects, you already know that I like small projects that are complete-able. The hemp scrub, although a small project, is full of spinning.

Let’s get started. You will need, about an ounce of hemp top, 2 grams (75 yards) of 60/2 silk thread, a spinning wheel (I used the Schacht Sidekick), 2 bobbins, and lazy kate. Begin by spinning the ounce of hemp with a Z twist (the flyer rotating in the clockwise direction) at about 22 wpi (wraps per inch), with the twist angle between 20-25%.

Wow, spinning is full of technical jargon. Many years ago when I started spinning I just wanted everything in crayons, but as I learned a little more, I wanted more information on yarns spun for specific projects. Having all the information on the yarn and how it was spun allows you to spin that particular yarn. Also it serves as a gauge, as in knitting. Checking the yarn periodically helps to keep you on track.

The hemp top tends to become compacted in shipping so begin by pulling 12 inches off the ounce of top. [See the video of Stephanie spinning the hemp boucle yarn at http://youtu.be/3j9rkaZ4Bas]. Hold the hemp between your hands about 3 inches apart and give it a firm tug, then move down a couple inches and repeat.

Stephanie's handspun, handknit hemp scrub

Stephanie’s handspun, handknit hemp scrub

The fibers will gently spread apart allowing more air to enter the top making it easier to draft. Spin the hemp with the flyer moving in the clockwise direction with a low twist angle using a forward draw worsted style, not allowing any air into the drafting triangle and compacting the yarn until the entire ounce is spun on one bobbin. The fun continues in the next step.

We will be plying the hemp using a silk core. If you do not have a cone of 60/2 silk lying around you can use silk sewing thread. Put your bobbin of spun hemp on your lazy kate. Place your cone of silk on the floor on the opposite side of your chair from the lazy kate. If you have a Bulky flyer, now is the time to put it on. A flyer without hooks is especially useful for the corkscrews that are to follow. Tie the silk and the hemp to the leader. Begin spinning with your flyer in the counterclockwise direction for an S ply. Unlike traditional plies, the goal for this ply is to have the hemp loosely wrap around the silk core. To achieve this goal, hold the silk straight with tension from the orifice towards your body. The silk remains straight while the hemp loops around. You determine the size of the loops in

your yarn during this step by how you set up your wheel and how your hold your yarn. I used the same wheel ratios and take-up as I did to spin the hemp, and found I needed to increase the take-up frequently because of how fast the bobbin fills with this crazy loopy-ness. Controlling the size of the loops is an effect of the angle you hold the hemp in relation to the silk core. Holding the hemp very close to the silk core and let the hemp lazily wind around the silk, then push it up and let it wind on, the loops are rather large. If you prefer smaller loops, adjust the angle of the hemp further away from the core. The closer you get to a 45-degree angle the more your yarn will look coiled instead of looped. This process may look very messy and the loops will move and shift as the yarn winds on the bobbin, but don’t fret; the next step stabilizes the yarn and neatens it up a great deal.

Detail of the hemp scrub

Detail of the hemp scrub

Time to secure those loops and finish your yarn with the binder. I changed to a lower ratio with a bigger whorl/pulley because this step is an exercise in slow treadling, stopping and starting. With an empty bobbin on the wheel and the silk/hemp bobbin on the kate, tie the silk/hemp yarn that was just spun and the silk from the cone to the bobbins leader. Start treadling and adjust the loops to be evenly dispersed over the silk core. To ply the binder on, hold the silk/hemp yarn taut in your left hand and lay the binder directly onto the silk core (from the first yarn) with no angle, right on top and let them twist and feed on to the bobbin. If you hold the binder thread at an angle to the side while applying the binder you tend to squish the loops. Stop treadling, adjust the positioning of your loops and then bind them with the silk. Continue in this manner until you have adjusted and secured all your loops and tie all three threads together. The yarn is finished.

I did not wash the yarn prior to knitting the following pattern, but I did weigh it. Why? Because the scrub that ended up in my mother’s shower was 7/8 complete when I ran out of yarn. So, if you weigh what you’ve spun and weigh the ball you are knitting from as you go, you will not be so unlucky. And, if you follow the pattern below and start to decrease when you have a little more than half of what you have spun remaining, you will complete the project without having to try to spin a duplicate yarn like the one just spun. You might say, “I can just frog it back, and re-knit”, but no, you can’t! Well, you can, but with this yarn it will take you longer to rip out your knitting than it did to spin it in the first place. How do I know this? Let’s just say, don’t knit too late at night without your glasses, while trying to watch an action movie.

Basic Washcloth Pattern

Using 1.25 ounces of Handspun Hemp boucle (Approximately 31 yards)

CO 4 sts (leaving 1 yard tail of yarn for a loop to hang the cloth if you like)

Row 1: k to end of row

Row 2: k2, yo, k2

Row 3: k2, yo, k to end of row

Continue to repeat row 3 until you have a total of 28 sts on the needle.

Next row: k1, k2tog, yo, k2tog, k to end of row

Repeat this last row until 5 stitches are left

Next row: k2, k2tog, k1

Bind off the 4 sts and weave in ends

(Optional Loop)

Using a crochet hook begin a chain stitch through the corner of scrub where you began with the 1 yard of tail at your CO edge. Chain stitch 12 stitches and fasten off where you began.

At this point, the cloth is finished, but I would suggest steam blocking it into a clean square if you are planning on giving it as a gift, otherwise start running the tub.

I gave my mother this scrub as a gift, but she gave me the lifelong gift of loving all things handmade. This is a motherly gift that I can pass on to my children through my craft and the crafts of others. Hopefully my daughter is filled with the same pride as I am every day when she sees that out of all my potholders, the one she made is the one I like best.

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Stephanie Flynn-Sokolov

Stephanie Flynn Sokolov trained in accessory design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She teaches classes in weaving and spinning around the U.S. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Red Valentine Heart

Sometimes I feel like life pulls me in many different directions and staying focused is a challenge. How good it feels when all the stars line up and I actually accomplish just what I wanted. This project has that feel. It is very loose, open and full of love. Just in time for Valentine’s Day.

fiber in potstir the fiberdry dyed fiberfluffing fiber

I started with 4 ounces of washed fleece, but you can use roving if that’s what you have. Submerge the 4 ounces of fiber in a large kettle and sprinkle a package or two of Kool-Aid (in this case Lemonade and Strawberry) over the fiber. The more Kool-Aid you use the more intense the color will be. Kool-Aid contains so much acid that it works as the dye and mordant (stuff that makes the color bond to the fiber). Bring the water up in temperature until you see steam rising off the top. Do not let the water boil; the bubbles agitating the fiber will felt it. Maintain the temperature for about 20-30 minutes or until the water is clear. Remove from heat and let the water cool to room temperature. Pour off the water and rinse with room temperature water.

Gently squeeze the fiber to remove excess water. Lay it flat on a dark towel and roll it up, give it a hard press, and unroll. Drape the fiber over a drying rack until completely dry. You have just successfully dyed your own fiber. Pick the fibers apart to fluff and separate them.

red heart

Stephanie’s handspun, handwoven heart

Next you will need what you already have, thrums. If you haven’t been saving them for this “rainy day” then you can use some of your small left over balls. A self-healing cutting mat and a rotary cutter make this step go quickly.

diced thrumsthrums and carders

Lay out a pile of your thrums and roll the cutter back and forth until you have a handful of tiny little pieces of yarn.

Get out your hand carders. For this project I used the Schacht Mini Carders. These are always at the ready in my spinning basket. The Mini Carders have a 72 psi (points per square inch) carding cloth. This is an all-purpose little carder, able to handle a variety of different fibers and additives and is ready to card a little sample at a moment’s notice. Charge the card with a light layer of fiber. This means you hold a wad of the dyed, fluffed fiber in your hand and rub them down the carder from handle to tip, letting some of the fiber get caught on the points using much the same motion as you would to grate a potato for hash browns. Sprinkle your diced thrums over the charged card and now we’re cooking. Sandwich the thrums onto the carder by charging another layer of fiber over the thrums. Use the empty card to gently brush the points together in a rolling motion to move and mix the fiber from one card to another. You can repeat the last step once more or until you feel the thrums are mixed evenly throughout the fiber. Remove the fiber from the card and set aside in a pile. Card the rest of your fiber and thrums. (Click here for a video.)

Spinning this concoction of love is exactly what it should be: Fun. First you should set up your wheel. Make sure that the screws are tight, the moving parts well lubricated, and your favorite beverage is at hand. For this project I used the Schacht Ladybug and not just because it has a red wheel and matches the project. The slow whorl combined with the 16” drive wheel gives you a 5:1 and 6:1 ratio. If you have it, use your Bulky Flyer. Why do I care? The yarn you are spinning is fat and irregular. The slow ratio allows you time to futz around with the thrums without the twist trying to race up into your fiber. The Bulky Flyer is also a nice addition to the perfect spinning trifecta because it doesn’t have hooks allowing your fat and irregular yarn to wind on, easy-peasy.

Let’s get spinning. Attach your spinning fiber to the leader by holding the opened up fiber at a 45 to 90 degree angle to your leader. Start spinning and as the twist builds up it will act like glue for the loose fibers in the vicinity. When the loose fibers begin to twist around the leader pull the fibers toward you while releasing the leader and voilà, a simple join.

The spinning goes quickly since it is big and bulky. Open the fibers between your hands so it creates a web. Pull the fiber toward you and use your forward hand to smooth the twist over the fibers down the yarn. Then let the yarn wind on. All the diced thrums get caught in the web and become entrapped by the twist. Open the fibers and draft them back and smooth the yarn again.

Continue spinning in this manner until you have spun a full bobbin using about 2 ounces of the fiber, spinning at 7 ½ wpi (wraps per inch). (Click here for a video.)

mini loom warped with yarnheart in processred valentine heart

There is no need to finish the yarn for weaving this project. I used the Schacht Mini Loom and warped it directly from the bobbin. It required just over 9 yards per warp of 39 ends. Using the weaving needle thread a 36 inch length onto the needle and weave the full weaving width and length for this loom. You will need about 8 yard for the weft for a total of less than 40 yards for this entire project.

You will need to weave two little rectangles approximately 7” x 6 ½”. Remove them from the loom and hold them together. Using sewing thread and backstitching, sew them together in a heart shape. When sewing the pieces together start the bottom point of the heart in the middle of the selvedge. This will allow for a big fat heart when stuffed. Before you complete sewing the heart together, stuff with some of the remaining dyed fiber until you reach the desired density. Finish sewing closed and trim ¼ inch from the stitching. Add a ribbon to hang or just box and give your heart away.

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Stephanie Flynn-Sokolov

Stephanie Flynn Sokolov trained in accessory design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She teaches classes in weaving and spinning around the U.S. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Handspun Handwoven Pinwheels

My childhood was fairly basic and without excess, but almost every spring was marked with a pinwheel — a flimsy plastic, sometimes sparkly pinwheel that was destroyed with the first big gale that came along. Like losing a balloon off my wrist, I knew the inevitable destruction of my happy little pinwheel was just a cloud away, and yet I still love them to this day and hope you will love yours, too.

One thing that I really love about teaching children is their willingness to try without fear of failure. I am not sure when we develop this fear that makes things harder to learn, but I urge you to throw caution to the wind and have some fun. Whether you spin on a wheel or a drop spindle, weave on a floor loom or cardboard, this is a project that doesn’t require you to be an expert at spinning, weaving, or sewing, where joy can be found regardless of age or ability.

Having children has ensured a reintroduction to many joys forgotten since my own childhood. One such forgotten gem is my enjoyment of glow-in-the-dark. That being said, glow-in-the-dark has come a long way. Imagine my surprise when the stitching around the rocket on a pair of my son’s pajamas illuminated when the lights went out. Glow-in-the-dark thread, oh yeah, and they sell it at JoAnn Fabrics and other sewing stores, and at Amazon. The pinwheel can be left plain or embellished by plying your yarn with glow-in-the-dark thread. For this project I have made two different versions to show that you can make do with whatever tools you might have to create this fun little pinwheel.

pinwheels

Stephanie’s pinwheels in her indoor garden

Tools:

— Drop spindle or spinning wheel

— Loom and shuttle

— Lazy kate (if you want to add glow thread)

Materials:

— Spinning fiber that will felt – I used Merino/Angora in Mustard from Spunky Eclectic and Teeswater in Twilight from WhirligigYarns.com

— Coats and Clark Glow-in-the-dark thread (optional)

— Rayon/Mylar yarn or metallic embroidery thread (optional)

— Fabric Fray Block or Elmer’s School Glue (or other glue that dries clear)

— Sewing thread and needle

— Decorative buttons

— Pencils

If you prefer not to spin, you can make a pinwheel with about 25 yards of lace- to light- sport-weight yarn. To use the glow-in-the-dark thread, carry it along with your base yarn when warping and weaving.

Spin a single yarn and check periodically to see that the yarn has enough twist to ply back on itself. The spun singles for both pinwheels were approximately 18 wraps per inch (WPI). To find the wraps per inch, wind the yarn around a ruler using moderate tension and count the number of threads in one inch. This technique for measuring is common between spinners and weavers. As a spinner, this measurement will keep you on track to spin a more consistent yarn from beginning to end of your project. As a weaver, this measurement will help you to determine sett.

For this project, the weave structure is balanced plain weave. This makes the planning for the project extra easy. Because the pinwheel starts with a square, half the yarn will be used for warp, and the other half for weft. Spin a small quantity of yarn, about ½ ounce, and then divide it in half using a scale or by measuring yardage. If you have spun the singles then want to divide it in half there are many ways to do it, but the easiest is to use a scale and divide the yarn by weight.

For the yellow pinwheel, I plied the yarn with the glow-in-the-dark thread on my spinning wheel, then divided it by weight. Glow-in-the-dark thread usually comes in 100 yard spools, so if you are planning a larger pinwheel, you might need two spools.

materials for milk carton kate

Materials for milk carton kate

milk carton cut

Cut milk carton

The yarn for the Teeswater square was spun on a drop spindle then wound into a center- pull ball with a ball winder. Since glitz is always on my spinning menu, the Teeswater was plied with a sparkly rayon and Mylar yarn. An empty milk carton was repurposed into a lazy kate with the help of a chop stick. Using this lazy kate loaded with the rayon/Mylar, I had both hands free and an empty drop spindle to ply the warp (see video).

milk carton kate finished

Finished milk carton kate

Both the glow-in-the-dark thread and the rayon/Mylar yarn were so thin that they had little effect on the diameter of my yarn, resulting in similar WPI to the singles.

Sett for a balanced weave can be determined by taking the WPI and dividing by two. It took me longer than most to figure out why this works. For the weft to go over and under the warp it takes space between each warp roughly equivalent to the diameter of the weft. Thus, you have to leave half the number of WPI vacant in the warp to leave room for the weft. Determine your WPI and warp your loom accordingly. I used a small frame loom that has very little waste. Handspun yarn is precious and minimizing waste is important.

warped mini loomwoven fabric on mini loom

My Schacht Mini Loom has a fixed sett of ten ends per inch, although if I wanted to skip a slot to achieve a more open sett, I always have that option. If all you have is a piece of cardboard, you can fashion it with slits at the sett you desire and it will work just fine for this project. The warp width was 5 ½” across the loom for a total of 55 ends. The weave was balanced at 10 picks per inch for 5 inches. Hemstitching at the beginning and end of the Teeswater pinwheel helped the fabric felt evenly when washed and gave a straighter edge after the first wash better than the yellow merino/angora, which was not hemstitched.

Once the square is woven and removed from the loom, submerse it in hot water with dish soap and rub vigorously. When the sample starts to full and shrink rinse it in cold water and plunge back into the hot water, add more soap and continue to rub back and forth on itself.

Square after felting

Square after felting

Fold up first corner and tack with needle and thread

Fold up first corner and tack with needle and thread

Rinse again in cold water, wring out the square and roll it in a towel to remove excess water. With sharp scissors cut off the hemstitching. Repeat the washing process again to mesh the cut edge together into a solid piece of fabric.

After rolling the square again to remove the excess water, use a ruler to create a diagonal from corner to corner and apply a healthy amount of fray block along the diagonal.

Rotate the square counter-clockwise, fold up the corner and tack

Rotate the square counter- clockwise, fold up the corner and tack

Move the ruler to the opposite corners and apply fray block along the ruler again to create an invisible X across the fabric and hang to dry. Once dry, cut the fabric from each corner to ¼” from the center. Fold the right corner of the bottom triangle toward the center and stitch it down. Turn the square clockwise and repeat folding the right corner toward the center and stitch down.

Rotate, fold, and tack the remaining corners

Attach button at center

Attach button at center

Watch as the pinwheel emerges.

Continue around the square until all corners are tacked to the center. Add a button to the center and use the thread and needle to attach a pencil to the back. Push into the edge of your favorite plant and think spring all year long.

Attach pinwheel to pencil

Attach pinwheel to pencil

It glows!

It glows!

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Stephanie Flynn-Sokolov

Stephanie Flynn Sokolov trained in accessory design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She teaches classes in weaving and spinning around the U.S. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Summer Cotton Spinning

Inspiration surfaces in so many ways. Sharing a room with over 280 people with a passion for fiber and weaving is bound to spark some new ideas. This May Colorado Weaver Day took place in Golden and featured a variety of speakers and topics. I brought my Schacht Sidekick spinning wheel hoping to get a chance to spend some time spinning. Searching the auditorium I found the perfect spot off to the side in the front row. My wheel and I settled in.

After the first speaker and 4 ounces of Baby Teaswater, I knew it was going to be a productive day. Between speakers, a couple people that were not yet spinners stopped by to talk animals, fibers and wheels. After the second speaker and 3 ounces of hand dyed Corriedale, I was approached by a couple of ladies visiting from the West Coast. During the conversation on what I have been spinning and how I approach it, both women, new spinners, mentioned that the first fiber they spun was cotton. This surprised me – maybe because animal fiber is highly accessible and cotton has always been a smaller piece of my spinning pie. Within the last year I started to spin cotton straight off the seed and loved it. With no prep, it is most appealing for a lazy spinner such as myself. I laugh as I write this because I spend a lot of time of prepping fiber and am not really lazy, but when nature has created this beautiful fiber that is ready to spin when picked, I jump at the chance to skip the prep.

The next spark of inspiration came at lunch when I sat next to Irene Schmoller from Cotton Clouds. We started talking and I told her that I really wanted to write the next article on cotton. Interesting conversation ensued about cotton misconceptions, spinning techniques, and the new innovations being made in cotton, including a variety ready for dye. Since I love to work with color and don’t care for dying cotton, this was quite interesting, even right up my alley, until wait,

“Irene, did you just say that you have cotton dyed by Nancy Finn from Chasing Rainbows?” Oh, my.

finished band

Stephanie’s iPod Nano bracelet

Not only is that exactly what she said, but it is Supima cotton, with a long staple length, and it is carded not combed. Great if you are not familiar with cotton. Sign me up and put it in the basket. A couple days later, look what arrived in my mailbox. An ounce of cotton in “Rainbow”.

For Mother’s Day my little ones gave me a new iPod Nano. I already had the weaving project in mind. As you may already know from previous articles, I listen to audio books while I work. This slick little device can clip onto a watchband and double as a watch. I often have to answer the question, “What does a fiber artist do all day?” Spinning and weaving projects that I use everyday helps answer this question with a visual explanation and is helpful since it is beyond the general population’s understanding of how and where cloth is made. It reminds me of trying to explain ‘where babies come from’; you must use simple words and only answer the question that is asked or you may go too far and receive a glazed-over or even scared look. Luckily spinning cotton is fairly straightforward and will lend itself well to this bracelet project that is both beautiful and functional.

rainbow cotton

Rainbow-colored cotton

I ordered the Rainbow color since it looked like it had a bit of all the colors I might want, and with all the primaries I could card if I wanted to achieve even more color variations. For this project, since I was spinning to weave a bracelet for my Nano, I thought I would let my six-year-old son decide on the colors. He told me it needed to be bright yellow for the summer. As you will see I spun and wove this one first and followed it up with a purpley midnight blue with some sparkle that was a little more my style.

The Spinning

Cotton unlike some animal fibers doesn’t compact or felt when dyed. This is very helpful when buying your cotton from an online store. It arrives ready to spin, no fluffing or pre-drafting necessary. You want to keep the fibers compact so they stay together when drafting. I did pull the cotton apart at the color changes to keep the colors where I wanted.

To start spinning you can use a very simple join. Fluff out the ends of the cotton you are starting with and hold them at a 90-degree angle to your leader. Start the wheel spinning in a clockwise direction for a Z twist. Barely touch the cotton fibers to the leader and when the cotton fibers start to join with the leader, gently move your hand holding the cotton down towards your body. You can use your hand closest to the wheel to gently add and subtract twist for a smooth join. Hhold your hands slightly farther apart than the staple length, which is about two inches. Cotton doesn’t have scales or crimp like animal fibers and requires more twist to hold its structure. To achieve this you will want to put the smallest pulley (whorl) on your wheel. This will give you more twist each time you treadle. Your forward hand is very important in this kind of short forward draw drafting technique. You will notice in the video how my forward hand deftly rolls and unrolls the fiber as the twist is being introduced into the fiber. This will ensure a better control over the number of fibers being drafted at one time and lead to a more consistent yarn. If you are starting to glaze over at this point, never fear. Remember you are doing this because it is fun!

I should point out the great thing about this project. I used a commercial yarn for the warp. The bracelet is a weft-faced weave packed tightly and the yarn doesn’t need to look commercially spun. What fun would it be to try to produce something that looks like it was machine made?

click here to see the video

After you have warmed up to the cotton and are feeling friendly, you can stop to check your twist and wpi (wraps per inch). I spun at approximately 9 twists per inch and 44 wpi. You can stop spinning and let the yarn twist back on itself, count the number of bumps on the top or bottom of the yarn in one inch for your twists per inch. Check out the new device I received as a gift to measure twist angle and wraps per inch, plus bottle opener, essential for every spinner.

spinning gadget

Spinner’s Party Tool

After this pit stop you can adjust your wheel if necessary. Too much twist? Try increasing the draw-in tension or treadle slower. Increasing your tension will most likely also increase your yarn’s diameter. Too little twist? If you are on your smallest pulley you may need to decrease your draw-in tension, or treadle faster. Decreasing your draw-in tension will likely decrease the diameter of your yarn. This is the fun balance. If you are a spinner that says, phooey, just do what you do and spin the yarn so it will hold together while weaving. I spun ¼ ounce for each bracelet and had some left over. I did not measure the number of yards because I left the yarn on the bobbin and on the wheel to give me some tension while winding the shuttle. I found that using my inkle loom shuttle with a beveled edge on one side helped me to pack the weft very tightly. The 12 dent reed on my Cricket loom didn’t pack it as tightly as I desired. The very tight weft gives this bracelet a lot of structure to accommodate my Nano.

My first bracelet was a success, but I felt I could improve. Initially I just grabbed what I had handy and close in color to my weft, it happened to be SWTC Infinity Soysilk 16/2. This was a bit too fine, so I doubled it. This worked, but I didn’t care for tying extra ends to the clasp. I also wove this bracelet only 1/4″ bigger than my wrist and when I attach the Nano it is a little tight. So when I spun for the second bracelet I decided to spin purple and blue like the summer night sky with some Mylar

night sky bracelet with mylar

Night sky bracelet with mylar

for stars. To add the Mylar I simply held it together with the cotton at random intervals and let it wrap around and almost tangle in the cotton. Once this bracelet was woven and finished I trimmed the Mylar so it wouldn’t be itchy on my skin.

band after weaving

Woven band

The Project

Makes 2 bracelets

½ oz dyed Supima cotton (CottonClouds.com)

18 yards 10/2 Mercerized cotton

2 multistrand tube clasps

Cricket or rigid heddle loom with 12 Dent Reed

Stick shuttle

Table fork or tapestry beater

A bit of sparkly Mylar

Warp: 10/2 mercerized cotton

Weft: your own handspun Supima cotton

Sett: 12 epi

Ends: 18

PPI: Packed to cover warp

Warp your loom at 12 epi with 1 yard warp and 18 ends centered in the reed. This will allow you to make two bracelets and have 20″ loom waste.

band after weaving

Divide the warp ends and insert into the rings on the clasp.

tie onto the clasp and trim ends

Tie onto the clasp and trim.

Start weaving and hem stitch. Continue weaving in plain weave, packing the weft tightly over the warp so none is exposed. Weave until the bracelet measures ½” larger than your actual wrist measurement and hemstitch. Take off the loom and tie onto clasp. Trim ends and wear. Warning: This project is fast and addictive.

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Stephanie Flynn-Sokolov

Stephanie Flynn Sokolov trained in accessory design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She teaches classes in weaving and spinning around the U.S. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

What’s for Dinner?

Every evening I think, “What’s for dinner?” Most of the time it is a meal fashioned from whatever I have at the moment. I love to approach spinning and weaving in the same way. What can I make from what I have lying around? I am going to show you how to spin a funky weft yarn from materials you already have.

I listen to audio books while I work and cook. The books reside on my phone and go everywhere with me. My wardrobe doesn’t consist of shirts or pants with pockets, so I love to have lightweight handmade bags for toting around my “books”. Keeping my phone with me helps me twofold: I always have my books with me and I can receive calls through my “Batline” which rings through the audio of my books.

The project for this month is an easy one-of-a-kind book bag for your phone, e-reader, or iPad. Focus falls on creating an artistic weft for a custom, art-yarn look, with little investment for the inspired spinner and weaver in all of us. Using some of your old clothes, a bit of your stash and a drop spindle, this project is quick, portable, and affordable.

Creating the Yarn

I save my most-loved clothes not fit for donation in a big basket. This is a great place to find the parts and pieces that become the basis for this yarn. Spinning this yarn from well-loved clothing ensures it will be something you like, as well as evoke a memory of the original garment. For this little project I used an old cotton dress shirt.

cotton dress shirt

Old cotton dress shirt

ball of yarn

Weft from old dress shirt

I started by tearing the fabric into strips about 3/8th inches wide and tying the strips together using an overhand knot. I left the ends of the knot about an inch long as a design feature. Wind the newly created “yarn” into a ball.

little iphone bag

Stephanie’s little iPhone bag

Now it is time to raid your stash. Whether we talk openly about it or not, most of us have a pretty decent stash collection. (If you don’t, there are many yarn stores happy to help.) Look for two yarns, one that will full nicely and one that we will ply with the fabric strips. For this project, I picked a skein of Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky in Deep Charcoal, and a 5/2 mercerized cotton #19 Medium Grey.

Tie the cotton and the fabric strips together at one end and use an overhand knot to attach it to the leader yarn on your spindle. Spin the spindle in a clockwise direction to twist the yarn and fabric strips together. Make sure that you keep a high twist, 36 degrees. How do you do that, you ask? Yeah, there’s actually an App for that, iSpin Toolkit. I am not a huge App purchaser, but this is fun, very useful, and worth the $4.99. (Editor’s note: There is a similar app for Android users called SpinTech for $1.99). Spin as much of this yarn as you like, it will be used as a design element.

Warping the Loom

I threaded the Lamb’s Pride in a 5-dent reed on my Cricket Loom. The length and width of the warp will depend on the device you are designing for. Width in the warp for this project is 30% larger than the desired width for the finished weaving. You can measure the circumference of the device and add 1/4″ to 3/4″ for seam allowance and ease, depending on the size of the device and your preferences. The length of the warp will depend on your stash choice yarn’s shrinkage. I figured shrinkage at 10% and take-up at 5%. The dimensions for my iPhone were: 4-1/2″ in the reed and 13″ in length plus 15″ waste, so I used a total warp length of 28″.

weft yarns

fibers for weft

spin the weft yarns together

spin the two weft yarns together

click here to view the video

Weaving

Once your loom is all warped up, the fun begins. Start with a few picks of the yarn that will full, in this case Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky, and hemstitch. Remember that the beginning and end of your weaving will be the top of your bag once folded in half and stitched. Weave half the project with your fulling (Brown Sheep) yarn. Now, switch to a pick of your designer yarn followed by a pick of the fulling yarn (Brown Sheep). Pull out your little dangly bits of the tied ends so it’ll show on the surface of the fabric after it is washed. When you reach the end, finish as you began, ending with a couple picks of the fulling (Brown Sheep) yarn and hemstitch.

woven fabric ready for finishing

woven fabric ready for finishing

Finishing

Remove from the loom and hand wash with warm water and soap to control the fulling. When the fabric reaches the desired density, rinse and hang to dry. If you want a denser fabric, throw it in the dryer and watch it carefully until the desired result is achieved. Once dry, trim the fringes even with the hemstitching and press. If your fringe has not been sufficiently secured with fulling, knot your fringe to prevent raveling.

finished piece

finished piece

Fold the fabric in half and use the fabric strip to tie square knots every ¼ inch to close the edges of the folded fabric, and trim to desired length. I used the Incredible Rope Machine with one strand 5/2 cotton, one stripped fabric and two strands Lamb’s Pride Bulky to make the carrying strap.

Tonight you should order take out, put on your favorite audio book, and get warped. Tomorrow you can carry your devices with pride and style.

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Stephanie Flynn-Sokolov

Stephanie Flynn Sokolov trained in accessory design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She teaches classes in weaving and spinning around the U.S. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Creating Sparkly Yarn with Sequins

 My inspiration this month comes from my visit with friend and fellow “Yearning to…” author Melissa Ludden Hankins. I was fortunate enough this summer to take a trip to Massachusetts to see my old friend. We walked together with our children from Melissa’s charming 1700’s home to the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts. I had someone at the museum café take our picture in front of a sculpture. Later, it became clear why I was so drawn to it: it was one giant sequin! Oh, I do love sparkly things, which is the topic of my column this month.

I have been using my spinning wheel to create what I call decorative binders. These are yarns that you can use in many applications: by themselves, plied with another yarn, or even over a plied yarn. Use them to add a little pizzazz to a woven scarf, knitted sweater, or just to make a completely fanciful yarn.

Choose a very strong thread or yarn for the base on which the sequins will be threaded. I like to use threads that cannot be easily broken with your hands. And the reason I use this technique for attaching accoutrements is that once they are secured with the binding thread to the base thread the sparklies don’t move. This is very handy when you are knitting and don’t want the sequins or beads flipped to the back of your work.

Sequins come in all sizes shapes and colors, so there is lots to choose from. If you are not one of those “sparkly” people, you could also use this technique for beads, fake flowers, leftover bits of felt, or anything you can thread on a needle.

Equipment and Supplies

For this technique you will need:

– Spinning wheel

– Lazy kate

– Slow whorl

– A half-filled bobbin

– Two spools of sewing thread or fine yarn

– Sequins

Melissa and Stephanie

Melissa (left) and Stephanie in Salem, MA

You can find Mylar, sparkly, and variegated threads at your local sewing or craft store that will put bling in your creation. Choose a sequin that will travel easily through your orifice while the thread draws on. For this project I used the Schacht Sidekick with the standard flyer and orifice. (For larger sequins, you could use a Bulky Plyer Flyer.)

To set up your wheel, you’ll want to put a large pulley (whorl) on the flyer to slow the speed of your flyer so that very little twist is added. This technique requires a lot of stops and starts, so if you and your wheel are relatively new friends or just getting reacquainted, you’ll want to take some time to just treadle, stop, and start again. Whether you are using Scotch tension or double drive, the tension should be relatively high, strong enough to draw the yarn on quickly but not so strong that you feel like you have to hold the yarn back.

Begin by looking at the twist in your thread. Though it’s difficult to see without magnification, by holding the thread between your fingers and twisting it to the right (righty tighty, like a screw) you can observe if you are increasing or decreasing twist. This is important to know when you begin to create your yarn. If you have a thread that takes very little right twist to send it into a tangled over- plied mess, you might want to use a left twist when you are securing the sequins. Right twist can be used, but if the yarn already has a strong right twist you will run into a lot of kinks as the threads want to wind around each other while plying. This really isn’t a problem but will create more joins. This is where sampling, especially if you are planning a project, comes in handy.

Creating decorative yarns can be a little fussy, but after practicing this technique, you’ll find that it becomes easy. Give yourself time for your hands and brain to figure out how they should work together, and be gentle on yourself and your body. The process sounds complicated, but if you read through the next section and view the video, all will be clear.

First, thread a needle with your base thread. Then, slide a small handful of sequins onto this base thread. Place the base thread with the sequins and your binding thread on a lazy kate. (I like to keep the base thread with sequins closest to me, and the binding thread as far away as possible.) Sometimes you will need more tension on one thread than the other. If this occurs, I usually lace one thread between my toes on the foot closest to the lazy kate. This difficulty usually only arises when using sewing thread. If you are using a handspun yarn you can tension one bobbin on the lazy kate.

Now, tie both threads to the leader of your half-full bobbin. Ply these threads together for a couple inches. Now, hold the base thread in your non-dominant hand and slip some of the sequins up into the palm of your hand. Use your thumb and forefinger to move the sequin up to the end of your ply. Gently hold the sequin on your forefinger keeping the tension taut on the base thread. (The binding thread should be at about a 45-degree angle to your base thread on your forefinger slanting toward your dominant hand.) Using your dominant hand’s forefinger move the binding thread in a clockwise motion (if you are right hand dominant) keeping the binding thread underneath the sequin until you come back to the top. Let the twist enter the threads to hold the sequin in place. (This is where the video is worth a 1,000 words!)

Yarn with attached sequins

Yarn with attached sequins

Pull the binding thread under the sequin and up...

Pull the binding thread under the sequin and up…

s...then over the top and back to the side to secure.

…then over the top and back to the side to secure.

You’ll notice I left the treadling part out of securing the sequin. Remember earlier when I told you to practice starting and stopping with your wheel? If you build up twist in your initial ply, you can then stop and place the sequin and after wrapping it with the binding thread, move your hands down about an inch so that the twist will zip down the yarn. Give a couple more treadles to ply until the next spot you want a sequin, place the sequin and repeat. After a while you will not need to start and stop; you will naturally slow and speed up as needed. Make sure to change hooks on your flyer often so that you wind onto the bobbin evenly.

When you need to add more sequins to your binding thread, cut the base thread a couple inches away from your last sequin. Thread another handful onto the base thread. Open up the ply and place two inches of the base thread between the last two sequins secured. Hold the base threads together. Treadle, plying the base and binding threads together to secure them. Because some threads are very slippery, you might find that the only way to truly secure the base threads together is to tie them. If this is the case, tie the base threads together where you want the next sequin to be. The sequin and the binding thread will hide the knot. After the binder has secured the sequin, cut the excess base threads from the knot.

To finish a skein, tie a knot at the end of the yarn. You can use this decorative binder with another yarn, plying it in the opposite direction to which both yarns were last spun.

To set the skein I suggest you steam it and not wash it. (The color might wash off your sequins.) If the finished product requires washing, it is best to spot clean or dry clean.

This is just one way to create a sparkly yarn. I encourage you to trust yourself and create what

most inspires you. Inspiration is waiting all around you. And don’t be surprised if you start seeing sequins absolutely everywhere!

You can catch me teaching this technique in person at the Scotts Bluff Valley Fiber Festival in Scotts Bluff, Nebraska, September 16, 2011.

secured sequin

Secured sequin

ply the base & binding threads between sequins

Ply the base & binding threads between sequins

Ply a few inches of base and binding threads to end

Ply a few inches of base and binding threads to end

(click here to view the video)

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Stephanie Flynn-Sokolov

Stephanie Flynn Sokolov trained in accessory design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She teaches classes in weaving and spinning around the U.S. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Deconstruct and Reinvent

 It is time for spring cleaning: out with the old and in with the new. But wait, before you donate your used clothes, take a look at what might be deconstructed and reinvented. There’s great yarn in there!

In the last “Yearning to …” article, Melissa demonstrated how to deconstruct your t-shirts and reinvent them into a cushy rug. In this issue, I take a look at using an old sweater to create new yarn.

cashmere sweater

Let’s start with a really nice cashmere sweater that is out of style, both in garment styling and color. (If you are reluctant to part with your old clothes, you can always pick up a bargain at your local thrift store.)

Start by cutting off the bottom ribbing of the sweater.

cut off the band

Most store-bought sweaters are seamed up the sides and this is where I make the next cut. Just cut up a couple inches and deconstruct slowly.

cutt up the side of the sweater

deconstructed sweater and yarn

Sweater along with yarn from a deconstructed sweater

Next, I suggest you find your reading glasses, put on some calm music, and make yourself a cup of tea. You’ll need a little patience as you start the raveling process. Start at one side of the sweater and pull a strand across the bottom. You may need to do this a few times until you have a strand of yarn that ravels all the way across the bottom of the sweater (the edge should now look neat and even).

Next, ravel the yarn away from the sides of the sweater. In order to have a continuous thread, follow these steps:

1- Begin by pulling a thread from the side a couple of inches across the bottom. This will be your starting thread.

2- Go to the other side of the sweater, and working at the bottom edge pick at the side until the next two rows separate and tie them together in an overhand knot.

3- Ravel the next two rows and tie them in an overhand knot as well. Continue until you have five or six knots (10-12 rows) tied together in pairs.

4 – Move to the other side of the sweater and do the same, making sure that your first knot does not include the starting thread. This is when the music picks up.

Now, you will use your spinning wheel to do the raveling work. Tie the your starting thread to the leader of your spinning wheel. If the sweater is a two-ply, it is likely that it was last spun with a left, or S, twist. I have found that I like to spin it S or left twist, though I don’t think the result will be much different if you spin Z, with a right twist.

Set up your wheel to spin with as little twist as possible, using a big whorl or pulley and the most draw-in you can control. You do not want your knots to pull apart or break, but you also want to just wind the yarn onto your bobbin without changing the twist.

Start raveling the sweater, changing the hooks on the flyer often to wind an even bobbin. The bobbin should be winding tightly, and since the cashmere is a fine yarn, you will want to be careful not to create a valley on the bobbin for the yarn to disappear into. (I have lost a half bobbin of fine silk this way.) If you lose the end of your yarn because the peak of yarn on the bobbin collapses over the valley of yarn containing your end you will have to cut it off the bobbin to find the end. You can alleviate this by placing a piece of tissue paper over the bobbin periodically so if you have to cut back to find your end you only lose a few yards of yarn.

ravelling the sweater

Ravelling the sweater

Continue using this technique to wind the yarn on the bobbin, first from the back of the sweater, then the front, then the arms. I like this way because if you find that you have enough yarn for

your project out of the front and the back you can save the sleeves for later. Also, it is good to remember that the knots on the sleeves will be closer together than the knots on the front and the back.

After you have deconstructed your sweater to the end, you’ll need to decide where you’d like to take your new yarn. I used what I thought was an ugly thrift store sweater (purchased for $2.25). I didn’t care for the color, but the cashmere yarn seemed absolutely luscious.

After spinning, I wound the deconstructed yarn off of my bobbin onto my niddy noddy and carefully tied figure eights in four places throughout the skein. After removing the skein from my niddy noddy, I threw it into a dye pot on my stove to soak for a couple hours in some citric acid. I then added acid dye to the pot and simmered for 30 minutes. Voila! A beautiful, kettle-dyed cashmere yarn.

If you are a knitter you might want to ply the 2-ply reinvented cashmere with another stand to create a cabled yarn for knitting. If you are a weaver, you can wind the skein directly onto your weaving bobbins.

The possibilities are endless and so are the materials you can deconstruct and reinvent. Don’t be scared to cut up your old clothes, or discover treasures at your local thrift store. There are 1000’s of pounds of clothing waiting to be deconstructed and reinvented. You have the ability to create beautiful yarn and cloth from what less inventive people throw away!

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Stephanie Flynn-Sokolov

Stephanie Flynn Sokolov trained in accessory design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She teaches classes in weaving and spinning around the U.S. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Get Skinny over the Fold

With this installment of Yearning to Weave, we’re evolving our column to include spinning tips and hints. Much like Yearning to Weave, Yearning to Spin is designed to assist new spinners to develop their spinning technique. Stephanie Flynn Sokolov is an enthusiastic and creative spinner. We’re happy to have her contributing to our monthly Yearning to… columns. She’ll alternate months with Melissa, who’ll be returning next month from maternity leave.

If one of your personal goals is to get skinny, why not start with your yarn? One of the easiest ways to spin fine is to spin over the fold. With some faith, trust and twisting dust, you’ll amaze yourself with how skinny you can go!

Spinning over the fold is a technique for spinning a staple length of fiber in an indivdual bunch folded over your finger. Fibers three inches or longer tend to work best. This is a simple and friendly way to control fibers that may be a little unruly otherwise. From the fold you can use a long or a short draw to tame fly aways or slick fibers.

If you’re fairly new to spinning, your first yarn was probably fat and lumpy. Most likely over time your yarn has become finer, though you may not yet have consistent results for achieving the yarn you want. By gaining command of your tools and use of materials, you’ll soon be able to spin the yarn you want when you want it. The best way to achieve this is to learn how to adjust your spinning wheel so that it does a lot of the work for you—I’ll talk about this a little later.

Choosing a fiber

What fiber and why? Spinning over the fold is a great technique to use for long, slippery fibers with tendencies to misbehave, like silk, soysilk, flax, or hemp. Try spining over the fold on longer animal fibers where you have first opened the fibers by flicking the ends. This technique works best when the fibers slip easily past each other while drafting and would otherwise tend to float away or blow apart from the crucial area where the twist enters the yarn known as the drafting zone.

If you are lucky enough to have a super huge fiber stash, grab some silk top and raw alpaca. Silk top is available in most shops carrying spinning fiber. If your local shop doesn’t carry it, retailers online offer a plethora of beautifully hand-dyed selections. Many people today raise alpacas so it is fairly accessible to most spinners. If you don’t know someone who raises alpaca, ask around. I think you’ll be surprised.

The Importance of Twist

The skinnier the yarn, the more twist it needs to stay together. Every spinner has his or her own style, and as spinners we all have a default yarn—the yarn we spin without thinking. Generally, spinners have a natural treadling speed. Mine is slow, and knowing this helps me adjust my wheel to spin the yarn I am aiming for. My treadling is constant, slow. If I try to treadle faster to add more twist, I set myself up for disappointment. If you want more twist in a yarn, you need to increase the speed of your flyer and decrease the tension on your draw-in. To do this, decrease the diameter (smaller) of the whorl and decrease the tension of draw in. Using the smaller whorl will cause the flyer to spin faster adding more twist to the yarn. Decreasing the draw-in tension will give the twist more time to build up in the yarn before it draws on. If you spin in double drive loosen the drive band. If you use Scotch tension release the tension on the Scotch tension band.

If your default yarn is already fine, then you might not need to make adjustments to your wheel to spin over the fold. But, if you are looking to slim down, you will want to make adjustments to your wheel before you tackle spinning this new yarn.

I suggest starting with the silk since it has already been prepared for you. I find that the ends of the top are sometimes a little ratty. I pull out a staple length of this tangled part and discard it. Now you should have a nice wispy end.

ratty end of the top

Pull out the ratty end of the top and the wispy end

Pull out a staple length from this more-organized end and lay it on your thigh. Line up 3-5 staple lengths, so as you finish one group, you can easily pick up the next.

locks of fleece

Lay staple lengths on your leg ready for for spinning

Place the staple length of fiber over the index finger of the hand you usually hold you fiber with.

place lock over finger

Place the lock over the finger – step 1

place lock over finger step 2

Place the lock over the finger – step 2

Now, take the leader that is attached to your bobbin coming out your orifice. Place it next to your bundle of staple length fibers closest to the tip of your finger. Hold the leader with your thumb and as you start to treadle, the folded fibers will magically start to spin around your leader. Take your forward hand that you use to control the twist and gently pull the fibers away from your index finger toward the orifice. Smooth your forward hand over the yarn back toward your index finger and repeat this process giving your yarn to the wheel and letting it draw onto the bobbin. This will give you a semi-worsted yarn.

spinning over the fold

Spinning over the fold – click here for video

If you are not able to spin in a relaxed fashion, the yarn is being sucked into the orifice too quickly. Release some of your take-up tension to slow down the draw-in on the bobbin. The finer the yarn the more twist needed, but if your yarn is “pig tailing” before it draws in you will need to increase your draw-in tension. Make small adjustments to your Scotch tension adjustor, or drive band tension knob if in double drive.

If after you just your tension, your yarn is still “pig tailing”, then you should try moving your drive band to a slower (bigger) groove on your whorl. This will slow the flyer down and give you more time to familiarize yourself with a new technique and allow you to treadle at your default speed. Using these two adjustments will allow you to control the diameter of the yarn and slim it down.

When you have spun your first bundle of fibers stop treadling and pick up the next bunch of fibers, fold them over your index finger, and place the end of the yarn you have just spun from your first bundle next to the edge of folded fibers on your index finger and start to treadle, letting the folded fibers twist around the yarn from your first bundle.

I love using this technique for alpaca because the raw fleece locks tend to naturally separate into bundles. Since there is no lanolin sticking the fibers together, the fibers easily slip past each other when folded over your finger. Even though alpacas like to roll around in the dust, most of the fiber I have encountered here in Colorado tends to be very clean. I therefore spin it raw and wash the yarn when I’m finished spinning. If you find that the ends of the fibers are sunburned, comb the tips off with a metal cat/dog comb while arranging your bundles on your thigh.

Getting skinny with your yarn is easier than you think. Using simple adjustments, your spinning wheel is just the tool to take you there.

*** See a video of spinning from the fold and making a join – click here. ***

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Stephanie Flynn-Sokolov

Stephanie Flynn Sokolov trained in accessory design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She teaches classes in weaving and spinning around the U.S. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.