Handspun dyed roving explorations on the Zoom Loom

Just about every time I finish sampling dyed roving or top and knit a swatch, I wonder what it would look like woven.

This week I finally gave in to my curiosity. I spun some divine Shetland from Into the Whirled, colorway: Element Number Five into a singles yarn and a 2-ply yarn. Then I knit a swatch and wove swatches on my Zoom Loom. It made my head explode a little with ideas and more questions. I think this bit of swatching has started a new fascination with weaving variegated fiber.

I started with the singles yarn first. The yarn, as a variegated singles, has long color runs, not broken by marling with another ply. I knew what would happen with knitting, but I had no idea what weaving would look like.

2-singles-yarn

I knit a swatch in stockinette and it made wonderful clear stripes, just as I expected. But when I wove the yarn on the Zoom Loom it was something else entirely. First, I was frustrated because the colors didn’t change much in a single square. Truthfully, I almost abandoned the experiment. But instead, I wove two more swatches. I just tossed the Zoom Loom in my bag and carried it around on waiting errands for a couple of days, and poof, the squares were done. The colors didn’t change much in a single square, but they change and flow between squares. When I put the squares in order, I said “uh oh” out loud because I knew that I was standing on the edge of a new rabbit hole.

3-knit-woven-singles

I can see in the woven swatches, looking top to bottom, how the yarn went from light blue (with a single hit of blue-purple), to light blue, purple, dark pink and even some dark orange in the middle, to light blue and purple in the third. I didn’t pay attention while I was winding on the loom or weaving how I was laying down the colors. Next time I would photograph every layer through the winding on and weaving process, so I could better follow what the color is doing. I really want to weave through a whole 4 ounces of singles and make something with my squares that show the progression. Then of course I would add a little bit of knitted fabric too, as a textural and chromatic counterpoint.

I managed to pull myself away from the weaving with singles rabbit hole to knit and weave with 2-ply yarn. I spun the fiber randomly with no planning, so it matches in some spots and marls in others.

With the 2-ply I was surprised to see that the knitting and weaving look similar-ish in their swatches. The weaving is more speckled due to how the cloth is made, but it is a great complement to the knitted cloth, I really like how they look together. My head is dreaming up a pattern or two for this combination.

4-2-ply-woven-and-knit

I find it interesting that the swatches woven on the Zoom Loom don’t stripe because of the combination of layers and longer color runs, even in the two ply, when the colors are much shorter. If I want to play with the striping of handspun, variegated yarn, I’ll have to turn to my Cricket loom. Uh oh.

Still curious about spinning and knitting dyed roving and top?  My new book Yarnitecture: The Knitter’s Guide to Spinning: Building Exactly the Yarn You Want has a lot of tip and ideas to explore.

Ask for Jillian’s new book, Yarnitecture: The Knitter’s Guide to Spinning: Building Exactly the Yarn You Want, published by Storey Publishing (2016), at your favorite fiber supplier. It’s a terrific resource that will bring a new dimension to your yarn spinning

Jillian Moreno is the editor of Knittyspin and is on the editorial board of PLY Magazine. She frequently contributes to Spin-Off and PLY magazines and teaches all over North America. Be warned, she is a morning person and frequently breaks into song before 9 am. You can keep up with her fibery exploits at www.jillianmoreno.com.

yarnitecture

Win a copy of Yarnitecture!

Head over to Instagram between December 15th and 30th, and post a picture of your Schacht wheel or drop spindle and tell us why you want the Yarnitecture Book. Tag your post with #schachtgiveaway to be entered to win a copy. Winner will be announce on Instagram on January 2nd.

Jillian Moreno

3 Handmade Gift Wrapping Ideas

The holidays are right around the corner, and when you’ve spent so much time and effort making your handmade gifts, it would be a shame not to have the same handmade touch for the packaging.

In this post, we share three ways to add hand-crafted wrapping to your special gift.

Sugar Pines Band, woven by Jane Patrick

cards-on-loom

Adapted from Belt No 12, Sugar Pines in Card Weaving or Tablet Weaving by Russell E. Groff. Look for a collection of designs by weaver Russell E. Groff in an upcoming book from Schiffer Publishing.

Equipment: 25 Schacht Cardweaving Cards, Schacht Belt Shuttle, Schacht Inkle Loom.

Yarns: 5/2 Pearl Cotton. 125 yd #152 Pistachio, 175 yd #91 Flaxon, 15 yd #12 Red, and 30 yd #99 Dark Sienna.

Warping: We wove this project on an inkle loom, winding 4 threads, one card at a time, following the pattern diagram. (We warped all of the pegs on our Schacht Inkle Loom.)

Threading: All of the cards are right-threaded. That is, all of the four threads can be seen on the right side. For this project, the printed side of the card is facing to the right.

threading-pattern

Sugar Pines Threading Graph PDF

Weaving: Wind a Schacht Belt Shuttle with 5/2 Pearl Cotton in #152 Pistachio. Make sure that the A-D (red) side is on top and then weave 4 quarter turns towards you, 4 quarter turns away from you. Repeat for the length of the belt.

sugar-pines

Zoom Loom Bow

This project is a quick and easy way to create a small bow for a package.

wrapped-log-scarf

Equipment: Schacht Zoom Loom

Yarn: Any sport weight yarn.

Weaving: First, weave a square on your Zoom Loom. Before taking the square off the loom, weave your ends into the square, leaving the long tail coming from approximately the top center of the square.

Remove the square from the loom, and with your 6″ weaving needle, weave the long tail through the center of the square as shown.

Gently pull this piece of yarn while gathering the square into a bow shape. Gently wrap the leftover yarn around the center of the bow and tie it into a knot. Then with another piece of yarn, attach the bow to your package.

Handspun “Twine”

dropspindle-ornament

Show off your spinning prowess by using your drop spindle to spin some home-made twine to tie up your packages!

wrapped-present

We hope you enjoy these ideas for your special gifts this holiday season!

 

Schacht Spindle

Schacht Spindle Company has been producing hand-crafted weaving and spinning equipment in Boulder, CO since 1969. We are committed to producing the tools for the crafts we love.

Understanding Your Wheel To Get The Yarn You Want

Have you ever wanted to spin a certain type of yarn, but didn’t know how to adjust your wheel to get there? Your treadling speed, whorl size, choice of tension system, and the amount of tension all contribute to spinning different fibers into a wide variety of yarns – the possibilities truly are endless.

There are three main types of tension systems: Scotch tension, Irish tension and double drive. We will be talking in depth about Scotch tension and double drive, but will also touch on Irish tension. In Scotch tension, the tension on the bobbin and the tension on the flyer are independent of one another: the brake band is on the bobbin and the drive band is on the flyer whorl. For double drive, the tension of the bobbin and the flyer are in direct relationship to each other. Using Irish tension, the tension of the bobbin and the tension of the flyer are independent of one another, with the brake band on the flyer whorl and the drive band on the bobbin. This system is ideal for larger yarns and production-style spinning because of the stronger intake of the yarn.

Scotch Tension

Scotch Tension on the Sidekick Spinning Wheel

Scotch Tension on the Sidekick.

When spinning in Scotch tension, there is a string that goes over the large flange of the bobbin which is attached to a spring that allows for looser or tighter tension (on the bobbin) controlled by a tension peg. This tension peg enables you to elongate or compress the spring. With the spring stretched, there is more tension on the bobbin which provides a stronger pull on the yarn to draw onto the bobbin. When the spring is compressed, the take-up will be less and more twist will build up in the yarn before the bobbin draws on the yarn. If your yarn is drifting apart, you want more twist (less tension). If it is getting kinked, you want less twist (more tension). In Scotch tension, the spring must elongate more and more (adding more tension) as the bobbin fills with more yarn. This only requires small increases in tension. I usually give the knob about a 16th inch turn after I fill a layer of yarn on the bobbin and continue doing this every layer until the bobbin is filled. This helps to keep a similar tension throughout the bobbin.

chart

This graph shows the general relationship between the weight of the bobbin as you spin and the amount of tension necessary while in Scotch tension.

 

Double Drive      

double-drive

Double Drive on the Schacht-Reeves

In double drive, your drive band goes around your drive wheel twice, with one loop over the flyer whorl and one loop over the small flange of the bobbin. You can find the tension sweet spot and it will stay consistent throughout the spinning of the whole bobbin. The adjustments are a little different than Scotch tension.

For the Matchless, start with the flyer parallel to the mother-of-all (the horizontal piece of wood under the bobbin) and tie a new drive band with the band in the groove of the whorl you would like to use and the groove in the small end of the bobbin. To attain more draw-in, turn the drive band tension knob (the mushroom shaped knob on top of the castle) clockwise. This will raise the back of the flyer and put more tension on the bobbin for a quicker take-up. For less draw-in, turn the drive band tension knob counter clockwise so it drops the back of the flyer down, putting less tension on the bobbin.

The Schacht-Reeves drive band tension adjuster screw comes out the end of the table. It screws the whole mother-of-all away from the wheel or towards the wheel to put more or less tension on the drive band. To be able to turn this adjuster screw, you must first loosen the wooden nut on the bottom of the table that holds the whole assembly in place. Turn the tension knob clockwise for more tension and counter clockwise for less, and tighten the nut on the bottom of the table when the tension is good.

The Ladybug tension adjuster for the drive band, is located to the side of the flyer assembly with a handle facing the front. Put the drive band in the groove of the tension wheel and with the handle, move the wheel out for more tension and in towards the wheel for less tension.

The Flatiron has a black knob that is attached at one end to the front face of the leg and the other end goes to the bottom of the mother-of-all. This bolt adjusts the angle of the mother-of-all (MOA). When the MOA is tilting away from the wheel, the tension is greater and when it is closer to the wheel, the tension is less.

A simple guide to making the yarn you want

Large yarn: Everything is larger. Since there are so many fibers in the width of a fat yarn in one linear inch, less twist is required to hold the fibers together. To achieve a larger yarn, use a larger whorl (slow or extra slow speed), make the spring larger (longer) by stretching it (for Scotch tension) or turn the tension knob clockwise (for double drive) creating a larger amount of tension, treadle slower (a larger amount of time between each treadle), and feed a larger amount of yarn in the orifice.

Small yarn: Everything is smaller. In a linear inch of really thin yarn, you might have just a few fibers as the width of the yarn. In order to hold those few fibers together, a lot of twist is needed. To achieve a smaller yarn, use a smaller whorl (high or super high speed), make the spring smaller (less stretched) or turn the tension knob counter clockwise for a smaller amount of tension, treadle faster (a smaller amount of time between each treadle), and feed smaller amounts of fiber into the orifice.

These are the two extremes on the spectrum of yarn, but hopefully, learning what to do to make extreme yarns will help with decisions about everything in between. I encourage you to explore your wheel to get the yarn you want.

Denise Renee Grace spins, weaves, sews, and felts. She is our customer service specialist at Schacht.

 

Denise Renee Grace

Denise Renee Grace first learned to weave as a student at Bethel College. She later moved to Boulder and worked in a re-purposed product company where Barry Schacht discovered her and hired her to work in our sales and service department. Denise’s first love is spinning and she is especially fond of working with natural fibers on all four of her Schacht Wheels. When it comes to weaving, tabby tickles her. In charge of customer care, Denise spends her days here helping people—something she does so well.

Blended Bubble Crepe Yarn – October House Collaboration

terrarium-fiber

You’re at the fiber show, and you see a braid of fiber that has to come home with you. You get it home and look at it and realize you don’t know what to do with this beautifully dyed variegated fiber. You turn to recent videos by Jillian Moreno, 12 Ways to Spin Handpainted Top, and 12 (Plus!) Ways to Spin Batts, for a great deal of help and a wealth of wonderful ideas. Pair those ideas with the Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs by Sarah Anderson and your yarn creation will be unstoppable.

For this fiber collaboration, we paired with October House, an indie dyer based out of Hot Springs, Arkansas. We were drawn to her stunning and elegant colorways in both her yarns and her fibers. The color shown here is called Terrarium, and was dyed on her Polwarth Combed Top in a generous 4.45 oz braid. This colorway has stunning greens and burgundies and a hint of purple. I wanted to showcase the colors of the braid, but I also wanted to play with blending.

To spin this yarn you will need:

A wheel (or spindle)

A braid of variegated fiber

Tip: Try to find something that has a few coordinating colors in it as opposed to a braid with lots of very different colors. This will aid in getting a less muddy blend in the end.

Carders: I used a pair of Schacht Medium (72 PSI) Carders.

Optional but highly recommended: A tensioned Lazy Kate.

split-fiber

First, split your braid in half lengthwise.

Set one half aside.

Split the remaining fiber again into two smaller halves.

With each of those small halves, start blending the fiber together using your carders. I did an initial 2-3 passes, then split those resulting mini batts up and carded them together with other batts to achieve a more homogenous mixture.

Set aside until it’s time to spin.

With the uncarded fiber, split it into fourths and spin them end to end in the S direction, making a thicker single. This technique keeps the colors more vivid as there is less color mixing than if you spin from the large bunch of fiber.

With one of the piles of carded fiber, spin thin singles in the S direction.

Ply these two singles together in the Z direction, adding a little extra twist.

With the remaining pile of carded fiber, spin thin singles in the Z direction.

Ply this single with your two-ply in the S direction. When you have the right amount of twist in your final yarn, you will see a nice criss-crossing of the thin singles with the thicker single trapped in between.

For more detailed instructions on how to spin a bubble crepe yarn, check out page 169 of the Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs. 

The effect of the blended thin singles creates a lovely cohesion of color throughout the finished yarn, while the uncarded fiber creates pops of color. If you make any yarn based on a tutorial we’ve done, post it on social media and tag us! We love to see what you’ve created!

 

A little more about October House:

October House began with my knitting designs. In October 2013 we added hand dyed fiber, and we launched our Etsy shop. Shortly after, we began hand dyeing yarn and creating patterns for our yarns. 

Our fibers are some of my favorite fibers to spin, and tend to be fine wools and luxury blends. Each October House yarn fills a need or a desire I had for a particular yarn. My knitting patterns tend to be those things I am looking to make or wear. I prefer simple over complicated, spare over fussy, and practical over complex.

Our yarns and fibers are gently hand dyed in small batches using all the care and love we can supply. Each skein or braid of fiber passes through our hands several times before heading out into the world, so you can be sure you are getting the best quality product we can provide. We ply our trade in our little home studio in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas.

-Robin

Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin has a double degree in biology and photography (he also spins, weaves, knits and crochets)--so he's a great mix of data and creativity--all wonderful traits as a member of our sales team. You'll often hear his friendly voice on the phone and you've probably noticed his name pop up in many places: Ravelry, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube. Ben is our digital media manager—the main reason you've seen more activity from us in social media.

How to Spin a Textured Gradient Cable Yarn – Classy Squid Fiber Co. Collaboration

long skein

When I first approached Amanda from Classy Squid Fiber Company about doing a collaboration with her fiber, I had no idea that we would mesh so well! I immediately resonated with her bright colors, innovative blends, and artistic personality. Amanda’s style could be classified as eclectic and nerdy, but overall there is something in her shop that everyone would like. For many of our collaborations we have asked for the yarn/fiber company for something in their existing line, but for this collab and our Gherkin’s Bucket collab, we asked the dyer/artist to create something unique for us.

I was blown away by the colors and the inspiration behind these batts. These blends were inspired by the inside and the outside of a mussel shell. The lovely textured batt comes from the outer shell, while the long, smooth gradient comes from the inside of the shell. I could have taken each batt and spun each one and then made a two ply out of them, but I wanted to try something new and exotic. Cable Ply!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s what you’ll need:

Two contrasting batts of fiber, I used a gradient batt and a textured batt. The batts I used are now available in the Classy Squid Fiber Company shop.

Spinning wheel with 5 bobbins or a Drop Spindle. I used my Matchless Spinning Wheel in double drive and the smaller pulley of my medium whorl.

Lazy Kate

Here’s how to make this yarn:

  1. Split each batt in half. If you’re working with a gradient batt, be sure to split the gradient in half keeping both halves intact with the full gradient.
  2. Spin each half onto their own bobbins, spinning clockwise (Z spun).
  3. Take one bobbin from the textured batt and ply it counter-clockwise (S) with one bobbin of the gradient batt. Add twice as much twist to these plies as you would normally use.
  4. Repeat step 3 with the other two bobbins
  5. Ply these two-ply yarns together clockwise (Z). Make sure that your gradients are going the same direction before you ply. Ply this with the same amount of twist as the singles. This should create a balanced finished 4-ply yarn.

For a really great resource on cabled yarns and all other yarns for that matter, read The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs, a fantastic book by Sarah Anderson full of diagrams and colorful photography, which I find very helpful.

gradient

This type of yarn would be great for a hardwearing garment, like socks, mittens, or any other object that will get lots of love.

My yarn ended up being a bulky-weight and measured in at 52 yards, so I may weave a wall hanging that shows off the small quantity of yarn by itself. I may also put it in a decorative dish for display all skeined up.

-Benjamin Krudwig

 

A little bit about Classy Squid Fiber Company

BioPicClassy Squid Fiber Co. is an independant fiber company based in northern Massachusetts, specializing in spinning fibers of all kinds, art yarn kits, and handspun yarns. Amanda Anganes, Chief Maker and Head Fiberista, founded CSFC as an antidote to long hours spent on intangible computer tasks at her technology day-job. She thrives on creating exquisite blends and colorways for handspinners and fiber artists, enhancing but never hiding the intrinsic beauty of natural fibers, and bringing you more than just merino and silk. Batts, rolags, and more are inspired by nature, travels, the minute details of life, and pop culture. Find Classy Squid Fiber Co. online at www.classysquidfiberco.com.

 

Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin has a double degree in biology and photography (he also spins, weaves, knits and crochets)--so he's a great mix of data and creativity--all wonderful traits as a member of our sales team. You'll often hear his friendly voice on the phone and you've probably noticed his name pop up in many places: Ravelry, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube. Ben is our digital media manager—the main reason you've seen more activity from us in social media.

How to Spin and Weave Thick and Thin Yarn – Gherkin’s Bucket Collaboration

project picture

When Krysten from Gherkin’s Bucket showed me the new colorway she dyed up for this collaboration, I was floored! The stunning blues, greens, greys, and browns are a perfect way to celebrate the coming of spring. When I started planning this project, I knew I wanted to spin a thick and thin single, then ply it with one of Krysten’s lovely laceweight yarns. I would then pair this new art yarn with the laceweight in a woven project. (Note: Gherkin’s Bucket will have a limited number of kits available in her shop that come with the fiber and the lace yarn.)

 

yarn and fiber

What you’ll need:

For spinning:

4 ounces of fiber, I used Gherkin’s Bucket “Downward Peacock” in her Double Merino/Silk base.

~100 yards of laceweight yarn in a complementary color, I used Gherkin’s Bucket Merino Silk Lace in “Royale”.

Spinning Wheel or Spindle, I used the Schacht Sidekick.

Optional: Bulky Flyer Plyer Package – Using the bulky flyer for this project will help prevent your really thick sections from snagging on the metal hooks of the flyer.

 

For Weaving

15″ Cricket Loom

15″ Variable Dent Reed, 4 – 12 dent sections and 2 – 5 dent sections.

70 yards of bulky art yarn.

500-600 yards of lace-weight, I used Gherkin’s Bucket Merino Silk Lace in “Royale”.

Irish tention
Sidekick in Irish Tension

Spinning:

First, I wanted to set myself up for success with spinning a thick and thin yarn, and I knew there was more to it than pretending that I was a beginner. I decided to watch Maggie Casey’s video Big and Lofty Yarns, as that kind of spinning technique would be necessary for the “thick” portions of the yarn. She recommended a wheel that was bobbin-led, or in other terms, a wheel that can be put into Irish tension. What this means, is that you place the drive band on the bobbin, and the brake (tension) band on the whorl. This increases the take up of yarn onto your bobbin significantly, allowing you to get bulky, low-twist yarn onto your bobbin quickly. You want to avoid overspun “ropy” yarn when spinning bulky.

After my wheel was set up properly, I moved onto fiber prep. I decided to split my braid into fourths so I could better control the thick portions of the singles yarn. I didn’t want to feed too much fiber on at a time. By reducing the amount of fiber in my hands, I reduced my risk of feeding too much fiber.

Since I knew that the lace yarn was plied Z, I spun the singles in S, to ply with the lace in Z. I didn’t want to remove any twist from the lace.

art yarn

I noticed right away how strong the uptake was on my singles, and needed to be careful not to let go of my fiber for risk of it getting yanked out of my hands. Though I didn’t want to let go of the fiber, I also made sure not to have a death-grip either. I got into a rhythm pretty quickly with a draft of thick and a few drafts of thin. I wasn’t much more methodical than that, as I wanted a more organic look to the thick and thin yarn.

Once all of my singles were spun, I wound a couple hundred yards of the laceweight yarn onto a bobbin and started plying. My finished yarn ended up being slightly over-plied because I added extra twist into the laceweight as I plied.

I soaked the yarn to finish as normal, then thwacked it to set the twist. This ensured that I would be able to put the yarn in my warp without any issues associated with crimpy yarn.

 

 

Weaving:

One of the beauties of the Variable Dent Reed, is its ability to hold more than one thickness of yarn in the same warp, without affecting the ideal sett for one or more of the yarns you choose to use. This project utilizes the far ends of the spectrum by using the largest and the smallest yarn I could fit through the reed sections.

Using a 15″ Variable Dent Reed at the full width, layout your reed with the 2.5″ reed sections in the following order 12, 5, 12, 5, 12, 12

With your warping peg 2.5 yards away from the back apron bar, direct warp with the lace-weight yarn in the 12-dent sections and the bulky weight in the 5-dent sections.

Weave with the lace-weight yarn, keeping maintaining a 12 ppi (picks per inch). Every few inches insert two picks of the chunky handspun yarn to create a fun texture.

Finish with a braided fringe using as much of the “waste” yarn as possible.

Wash, and lay flat or hang to dry, then cut the tips of the braids to 1″

By using this set-up, I was able to use every precious yard of my art yarn and still get a decently sized scarf by supplementing the rest of the warp with the plentiful amounts of lace yarn. This scarf ends up being extremely lightweight, airy, and visually interesting; making it ideal for spring and summer wearing. Try this technique with your own art yarns and share it with us on our social media platforms!

 

Gherkin’s Bucket, created in 2008 by Krysten (a.k.a. “Gherkin”), specializes in high-quality hand-dyed yarn and fiber, handspun yarns, and patterns for knit and crochet. Currently Krysten is enjoying her freshly-built dye studio, which is enabling her to create even larger quantities to supply eager crafters everywhere! Find Gherkin’s Bucket online at www.GherkinsBucket.com and in local yarn stores in Arizona.

Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin has a double degree in biology and photography (he also spins, weaves, knits and crochets)--so he's a great mix of data and creativity--all wonderful traits as a member of our sales team. You'll often hear his friendly voice on the phone and you've probably noticed his name pop up in many places: Ravelry, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube. Ben is our digital media manager—the main reason you've seen more activity from us in social media.

Spinning Beaded Yarn – Into the Whirled Collaboration

skein

For our fiber collaboration this month, I had the pleasure of working with Into the Whirled (bio below). This month, I wanted to try my hand at spinning beaded yarn. There are a few ways to spin beads into yarn, but I think I might have chosen the most involved (but most secure) method.

The inspiration for my skein came from the name of the colorway; “Cripple Creek.” As many Coloradans know, Cripple Creek was a hotspot during the gold rush of 1890 founded by Bobby Womack. When I was a child, my grandfather and my uncle wrote a musical called “Bobby Womack and the City of Gold” so the link between Cripple Creek and gold has stuck with me ever since. I chose gold beads for this reason.

What you need

-Fiber: I used two four ounce braids of Into the Whirled 50/50 Bombyx Silk/Merino Blend. Alternatively you can use one braid split in half.
-One 24g tube of glass beads: 1mm hole or slightly larger
-Needle threader

beads and fiber

Recommended

Bulky Plyer Flyer Package – this helps prevent the beads or fiber from getting caught on hooks, and a larger orifice allows the beads to pass through with little contact.
-Slow speed whorl – This helps slow the spinning down to enable more care in the beaded portions of the spinning.

 

Fiber Prep

Step 1: Split the braid (or halves) into 1/4″ (or smaller) slivers.

Step 2: Using the needle threader, slip it through the hole of the bead.

Step 3: Pull out a 6-10″-long section of fiber and thread the tip of the fiber through the needle threader loop.

Step 4: Pull fiber through the hole of the bead.

(Click on the pictures below to enlarge.)

 

It helps to do all of the fiber prep at one time, so the spinning process isn’t interrupted.

If you are using just one 4-oz braid split in half, you may not have extra unbeaded fiber sections, and you may not use all of your beads. If you do have extra fiber, use it intermittently as you spin the beaded single.

Spinning the Beaded Single

Join some of your non-beaded fiber sections to your leader and start spinning as normal, I found that a short forward draw was best with my fiber prep, and with the beads.

When you have some yarn on your bobbin, grab a beaded section of fiber and join to the single.

As you get closer to the bead (fig 1), take a few fibers from just in front of the bead and fold them back to behind the bead (fig 2-3). Allow the twist to travel through/around the bead (fig 4.). Continue this process with all of your beaded fiber sections while interspersing any extra fiber sections here and there until you have spun all of your fiber.

figures of bead capturing

Spin the remaining half of the fiber without beads. Ply the two singles together. Though the beads are secure in the single, plying the yarn adds strength to the overall yarn and added security to the beaded portions. After plying, I was left with an 8 oz skein of yarn (not counting the weight of the beads) that measured 470 yards of approximately worsted weight yarn. This skein of yarn is destined to become a woven wrap, using the yarn in both the warp and the weft.

About Into the Whirled

Into the Whirled started in April of 2009 as a part time business, Etsy shop and all around “pie in the sky” idea. It is a labor of love for both James Shapiro and Christine Eschbach, the couple that run the small Indie Company. Into the Whirled is located in the heart of the Catskill Mountains where Cris and James meticulously create colorways in a variety of techniques. Yarns are available in both kettle dyed and hand painted varieties as well as a wide array of different bases and their fiber is offered in both combed top as well as drumcarded batts. Look for them at The New York Sheep & Wool Festival, The Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, and online at www.intothewhirled.com.

Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin has a double degree in biology and photography (he also spins, weaves, knits and crochets)--so he's a great mix of data and creativity--all wonderful traits as a member of our sales team. You'll often hear his friendly voice on the phone and you've probably noticed his name pop up in many places: Ravelry, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube. Ben is our digital media manager—the main reason you've seen more activity from us in social media.

Spin Texture with the Bulky Plyer Flyer

bulky-head-blog-730169Want to spin art yarn? Want to Navajo Ply? Want to spin really fat yarn? Want to ply a lot of yarn onto a bigger bobbin? Then, the Bulky Plyer Flyer is for you.

You can add the Bulky Plyer Flyer to any Schacht Matchless, Ladybug, or Sidekick Spinning Wheel. The same flyer and bobbin fit on all three wheels, only the front maiden varies. If you have more than one Schacht Spinning Wheel, you can purchase one Plyer Flyer Package for a specific wheel and then add a Bulky Front Maiden for each of your other wheels.

The Schacht Bulky Plyer Flyer features include a generously-sized 7/8” orifice, large capacity bobbin (about 8 ounces), sliding flyer hooks with incremental stops, and large round guide hooks. The Bulky Plyer Flyer comes with its own special front maiden, bulky flyer, and bulky bobbin. A cherry wood version for cherry Matchless Spinning Wheels is also available.

Note that the regular, travel, and high speed bobbins fit on the bulky flyer shaft, so you don’t need to change flyers to use your existing bobbins.  The bulky bobbins fit on the Schacht Tensioned Kate, as well as on the Ladybug Lazy Kate. The whorl ratios do not change when using the bulky flyer. When Navajo plying and spinning art yarns, we recommend the slow whorl.

Ask for the Schacht Bulky Plyer Flyer at your favorite Schacht dealer.

 

Jane Patrick

Jane Patrick is Creative Director of Schacht Spindle Company. She is an author, lecturer, and teacher. You can find her class: Creative Weaving Techniques on the Rigid Heddle Loom, on Craftsy.

From Fiber to Finished Object – Lesson Time

Beth Smith and Jillian Moreno

Beth Smith and Jillian Moreno live about 30 minutes from each other and spend a lot of spinning time together, trading ideas and cheering each other on. Recently, the two have found weaving sneaking into their thoughts more and more. “Wouldn’t it be fun,” they said, “to do a project where we spin our yarn and weave it and see what happens?” “Yes!” they said, “that sounds like an awesome plan.” We thought so, too. Through the end of the year, they will post on the Schacht Spindle blog, telling you about their journey weaving with handspun on a rigid heddle loom.

Beth:

Finally! The skirt, she is finished.

Since we last talked, I sent my sewn-together skirt from Michigan to Maine to the expert dyeing fingers of Amy King, owner of Spunky Eclectic. We chatted about color and what I would like and, to everyone’s surprise, I chose neither pink nor orange. Instead, it was chocolate brown. I do love chocolate.

I actually sent the skirt just when the six main pieces were assembled, before lining or hemming I was interested in how the fabric would hold up with raw edges and another dip and wring before completing the project. If I saw any changes in the fabric after dyeing, I would know that my finishing would have been incomplete and the fulling should have been longer. I was thrilled, though, that the fabric held together with a minimum of fraying. It also held its shape extremely well, no sagging or stretching. Everything was fine!

So here she is:

 

Dyed and Finished Skirt

This was a great project that was filled with a lot of discoveries, and some things that were harder than I thought they would be.

Here’s what I learned:

  1. Making skirts takes a ton of yarn – but it hasn’t stopped me from making more.
  2. Finished handwoven fabric, specifically wool, stands up to some tough processes, like dyeing.
  3. Weaving fine yarns on a rigid heddle loom takes some time.
  4. Rigid heddle fabric is just as beautiful, durable, and drapey as fabric woven on a floor loom.

What I would do differently next time:

  1. I would wind my warp chains with fewer ends in each. (Remember I couldn’t do direct warping because my warp was 6 yards long.)
  2. I would realize that rigid heddle weaving is a bit slower than on a floor loom and be less frustrated with the time it took. (I think in the end it was about twice as long on the rigid heddle if we compare the same yardage.)

Overall, I have been encouraged to continue weaving cloth with fine yarns for clothing, and I have a bunch of new ideas. If you want to follow along with my progress on these new ideas you can check me out on my personal website at bethsmithspinning.com/blog

Jillian:

Today it’s time for the big reveal!

When last we checked in, I had cut and edge-stitched my fabric and did some preliminary hand stitching to hold it all together.

Since then I’ve embroidered more and thought about what my next project will be!

I embroidered some swoopy bits on the edges in chain stitch. I like how the work with the stitching that holds the piece together.

Chain Stitch Swoops

I listened the Woolful podcast interview with Tif Fussell (Dottie Angel) and was inspired to add one of her signature embroidered wooly tattoos to my piece.

wooly tattoo

I still may add more stitching to it. I consider everything I stitch on to be a work in progress pretty much forever. It’s really easy to stitch on hand woven cloth.

But I like how the stitching looks right now, too.

all the stitching

I’ve worn my wrap a lot – it’s cozy and handsfree, adjusting-wise, once I get it on.

Here’s how it looks with the twist in the front and in the back, I like it equally both ways.

 

What I learned from this project:

  • I can cut handwoven fabric and not die; it is as easy as everyone says.
  • Handspun yarn is amazing handwoven; my BFL woven is soft, light, and fluid.
  • I really like rigid heddle weaving and want to do more; it’s so straight-forward and the math is pretty easy.

What I’ll do differently next time:

  • Sample. I threw caution to the wind this time, but next time I’m going to sample. I’ll make sure that I have enough fiber to do at least 2 or 3 samples before diving into the project.
  • Neater edges. The edges really bug me. I’ll probably hem the fabric or use rows of zig zag stitch close together
  • More embroidery, though I’ll probably add more to this one still.

What I’m curious about now:

  • How to sample efficiently, so I get the info I need and don’t spend all of my weaving time or hand dyed fiber on the sampling.
  • Using different- sized and textured yarns in weaving.
  • Color in weaving, particularly using variegated hand-dyed fiber. My stash is overrun with it.
  • Making more of these type of wraps, but maybe something that resembles a jacket too.

I want to say a huge thank you to Schacht for letting Beth and I play on their blog. To Benjamin for being so enthusiastic and dream to work with. To Jane for saying yes to the idea and always being such a champion of creative hand weaving.

And to Beth for never letting me sit with the covers over my head for too long when I was chicken to do something.

Beth Smith

Jillian Moreno

Tips for Spinning Fine Yarns for Handwoven Lace – Maggie Casey

  1. Clean and oil your wheel. This is a good rule for any project, but especially when you want to spin a fine yarn. Take the bobbin off your flyer and use a paper towel to remove any old oil or grit from the flyer shaft. Then lightly oil the shaft so your bobbin spins freely. Oil the other parts of the wheel according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Fine yarns require more twist than thicker yarns so a whorl/pulley with a higher drive wheel ratio will add more twist in your yarn per treadle. Use the fastest whorl you are comfortable using.
  3. Adjust your wheel to have a very light draw in. First loosen the tension so no yarn is pulled into the wheel. On double drive, loosen the drive band, so no draw in occurs and then tighten the band by small adjustments until yarn is wound onto the bobbin with a gentle pull. If you are using Scotch tension, relax the spring on the brake band and then tighten with small turns until it is the right tension. My rule “loose till tight until its right”.
  4. If you are having trouble spinning a fine yarn on an empty bobbin, try a half filled one instead or use pipe insulation wrapped around the bobbin core. If you are spinning on an empty bobbin, start winding the yarn on the hook farthest away from the orifice for a gentler pull on.
  5. If your yarn is still being pulled onto the wheel too fast or is thicker than you want and you are on your smallest whorl, try lacing the flyer. Instead of having your yarn move down one side of the flyer, take the yarn over to the other arm of the flyer so it crosses the bobbin and then goes through the orifice.Laced flyer
  6. You can use any fiber preparation and drafting technique to make yarn for handwoven lace, but combed fibers and a worsted draw will show off the lace structure best. A balanced two ply yarn will show off the lace structure and hold up well as a warp yarn.
  7. Start spinning and make a sample card.

Spin some yarn and when you like the way it looks and feels, check to see if it has enough twist. Pull out a length of freshly spun yarn from the orifice and hold it between your hands. Tug at it to see that the twist is holding the fibers together without any slippage. Then let that section of yarn twist back on itself to see how it looks as a plied yarn. If it pleases you, keep it as a sample of your plied yarn. As you spin, stop occasionally and pull out a section of yarn, let it twist back on itself and compare it with your sample.

To measure the size of your yarn, wrap it around a ruler for an inch, making sure the strands are right next to each other, not on top of each other or showing any space between the wraps. The number of wraps is your wpi.  Take some of this yarn and wrap it around a card 3 or 4 times.  As you spin, stop and compare your yarn with your sample.  Attach your plied yarn to your card, add info about the fiber and drive wheel ratio and keep it with your fiber.

  1. ALWAYS WEAVE A SAMPLE!!!

Make sure you have enough fiber to weave a sample or samples before you start your project. Spin some yarn, ply it, set the twist or not and then weave a sample in the lace pattern you have chosen.  Wash your sample and see if you love it. Does it meet your expectations?  Is the yarn the right size after weaving and washing, does it need more or less twist? Have you chosen the best fiber for your project?  If you love your sample, spin some more yarn and warp your loom. If not, try another sample. It may take extra time, but you will learn a lot and your final project will make you proud!

Maggie Casey

Maggie Casey is the author of Start Spinning and has appeared in several spinning videos. She teaches spinning at conferences and events, as well as at Shuttles, Spindles, and Skeins, the shop she owns with Judy Steinkoenig in Boulder, Colorado.

Dispatches from the Loom

Beth Smith and Jillian Moreno

Beth Smith and Jillian Moreno live about 30 minutes from each other and spend a lot of spinning time together, trading ideas and cheering each other on. Recently, the two have found weaving sneaking into their thoughts more and more. “Wouldn’t it be fun,” they said, “to do a project where we spin our yarn and weave it and see what happens?” “Yes!” they said, “that sounds like an awesome plan.” We thought so, too. Through the end of the year, they will post on the Schacht Spindle blog, telling you about their journey weaving with handspun on a rigid heddle loom.

Beth:

I’m deep in the weaving of the yardage. Deep. I’m only about 1/3 of the way through, but the fabric is beautiful. Beautiful enough that I am encouraged to continue on. I am in no way saying that everybody will want to weave 6 yards of white fabric. If that sounds like too much for you, please add color. But I have a long and delightful relationship with white.

Fabric on the front beam

I’ve learned a lot, too. 

First, I’ve learned that with a sticky yarn, tighter tension is better. This yarn is sticky because it is woolen spun, so there are lots of little bits that stick out. That means when the sheds are changing, the warp yarns get stuck on each other. Tight tension allows the threads to move past each other more easily.

You might be saying, “But Beth, you talked in the last post about how the threads have lower twist in the singles and the ply! How can you tighten the tension so much?” Well, let me tell you. You can. Think about a piece of paper. You can rip one piece very easily. If, however, you take a stack of 200 pages you can’t rip it. Works the same way with yarn. The tension is distributed over the whole warp width and so even though I can easily break one thread with my hands, I can tighten the tension with no breakage.

Second, I learned the benefit of advancing the warp more often. The main reason for this is that on the rigid heddle loom, one set of threads stays stationary and one is moved up and down. The ones moving up and down are being stretched. As you weave more and more and don’t advance, those threads are getting stretched even more because a shorter length of yarn has to go into the up and down shed. To avoid stretching them excessively I advance every 2 inches or so.

Third, the Schacht Flip is superior to other rigid heddles with the double heddle option. Because the second heddle spot is built in, everything is in the proper position when you change sheds. Because the rear heddle sits a bit higher than the front heddle, everything is in line. With another brand that I used, the open shed isn’t as clean in front of the reed as it is with the Schacht. Any messiness is behind, as you can see from the photo.

Open shed on Flip loom

Of course with this much yardage to weave I need to spend a lot of time doing it. And there can be issues with that since it is less portable than say, knitting a sock. Regardless, I’ve been making it work. In October I had a 2-week trip and it just went along with me. This would not be possible with my floor loom, so a rigid heddle loom, especially one that folds like the Flip is a great for traveling.

Loom in the car

When I’m home, I just make sure I do some weaving every day. It takes me about an hour to weave 6 inches, so I need to keep at it.

One more tip: Make sure to give your yarn a bit of an angle with each throw of the shuttle. The weft yarn will be longer than the warp width when you go to beat it in, but because of the up-and-down movement around each warp thread, you need that extra length.

Diagonal weft

And just so you know…I’m doing an even weave for this fabric. I have 20 ends per inch and so I am matching that with 20 picks per inch. What I’ve decided is that I would want to try this fabric again with the warp sett even closer and see what would happen if I weave a warp faced fabric. I have a tendency to start asking questions during a project that lead to even more experiments. I’ll keep you updated with the results.

 

Jillian:

Finally it’s time to weave! Well, after I get the loom warped.

I’m really glad I did a test weave before I tackled this main project. I learned quite a bit, just getting something on and off the loom without being worried about the outcome.

I wound all of my yarn into cakes before warping, I knew I didn’t want to warp from yarn on a swift. It was too tangly when I tried that with my scarf.

While I wound my yarn I remeasured the wpi on all three yarns and got 9 pretty consistently, a little big for a 8 epi sett.  As I wound, I pondered my wrap-to-be, I really wanted it drapey and I read on a few weaving blogs that for plain weave, your sett should be ½ (ish) of wpi, so I decided to change my sett from 8 epi to 5 epi.

I know, I live on the wild side.

Even Beat

 

I redid my warp and weft math. I knew I had enough, that my yarn totals would be less going with a smaller sett, but I wanted to see it in black and white. My new totals are 163 yards for warp (down from 261) and 140 yards for weft (down from 224). I kept everything else the same: finished size of 12”x 60”, 12” for loom waste, 10% for take up and 10% for draw in; I just changed the sett from 8 to 5.

That my wrap will use less yarn made me happier from a color standpoint. I have three yarns, one primarily red, one primarily orange and one dark purple. Using less yardage overall means I won’t have to dip so heavily into the dark purple yarn that will dampen the rest of the colors.

Three skeins of yarn

I used the direct method of warping, the same as my practice weaving. I did remember to turn my loom the right way this time! I like warping this way; it’s quick and easy. It does take up space, but I took the dining room table hostage for an evening.  Threading 5 epi is fantastically quick and I ended up making my wrap a little wider than I originally planned; I threaded 14” instead of 12”. This is exactly why I need to think in terms of “ish” — I like to change my plans on the go.

warp set up

When I started weaving I remembered what I learned about placement of weft yarn and selvedges. For me, my selvedges stay more even if I place my yarn in an arc rather than a diagonal. I’m not sure why, but the difference in my practice piece was dramatic so I made sure to do it this way.

placing weft

I am really happy that I can cart my Cricket around from room to room; I worked at the dining room table, on my lap and using the stand. I have extra love for weaving on the stand because the height of the loom is close to the height of the orifice on my Matchless, so my favorite spinning chair is perfect to use for weaving too.

Stand height

Ready for my hot tip and my lemonade-from-lemons moment? I realized that weaving 5 weft threads to the inch was trickier than I thought because of the need for more precise spacing and the need to pay attention. However, I cut my index finger to the bone this week in the kitchen (don’t ask, it was monumentally stupid) – an injury that required 7 stitches and a fat band aid. To help myself maintain my weft spacing, I marked 5 evenly spaced lines over an inch on my band aid and used it to check my warp threads. Perfectly lazy/genius, my favorite type of trick!

making lemons into lemonade

Part Four

Part Six

Beth Smith

Jillian Moreno

Spinning to Weave

Beth Smith and Jillian Moreno live about 30 minutes from each other and spend a lot of spinning time together, trading ideas and cheering each other on. Recently, the two have found weaving sneaking into their thoughts more and more. “Wouldn’t it be fun,” they said, “to do a project where we spin our yarn and weave it and see what happens?” “Yes!” they said, “that sounds like an awesome plan.” We thought so, too. Through the end of the year, they will post on the Schacht Spindle blog, telling you about their journey weaving with handspun on a rigid heddle loom.

Beth Smith and Jillian Moreno

Beth

Now that you’ve seen the sampling I did, how about some detail about the yarn? It’s important to sample your yarns and even make samples of different yarn that you make in order to be sure that it’s going to work. By work, I mean is it making the fabric you want? Does it drape well if drape is what you want? Does it stand up to abrasion if hard wearing is what you want? Is it soft enough if soft is what you want? Sampling is the key. Taking your newly woven fabric all the way to a finished fabric is important because that sample, right as it comes off the loom is not the finished fabric.

Columbia Yarn

 

But I’m getting off the real topic of this post…

For this project I was really interested in whether the yarn would have to be spun in any special way for weaving. So many times I’ve read that it’s important to add extra twist when spinning yarn for warp. But then Sara Lamb came right out and told me that that’s a bunch of hooey. So, who was right: the whole entire internet? Or Sara Lamb, who actually spins for weaving all the time?

So, I decided to spin a low twist woolen yarn. I know! Low twist AND woolen. Let’s look at the yarn.

The plied yarn ended up to be about 18 wraps per inch with about 5 twists per inch. That is very low twist for this particular wool though the yarn is balanced.

Sample yarn from Beth

Check out how the yarn blooms. The photo below is of my sample card that I made at the very beginning of my spinning. It allows me to compare the singles I’m making with the singles on the card to make sure I’m staying pretty consistent over the entire project. I also add plied yarns to the card so that when it is time to ply, I have a sample of fresh yarn plied back on itself. That way I can use the ply twist as a reference.

Sample card for Columbia yarn

The great thing about all of this experimenting was that I found out that Sara Lamb is right. But she already knew that. Once I put this low twist woolen spun (supported long draw) yarn on the loom, it all worked out.

Jillian

When I spin yarn for a particular project I always walk myself through the “Big 5” – the 5 things that affect my finished yarn: fiber, preparation, draft, ply, and finish. Each one of these elements of building a yarn influences how a yarn looks and behaves when it’s finished and used.

Most of my spinning-for-a-project experience comes from knitting, but a lot of that thinking translates well to weaving too. The project I am making is a mobius wrap. I want it to be warm, have some drape, and be woven from a worsted-size yarn.

Here’s how my brain worked through the Big 5 for this:

Woolgatherings fiber

Fiber – I chose wool for warmth and, in particular, BFL for its durability and drape. Plus, it’s an easy quick spin for me.

Preparation – I’m using top because that’s what was available in the colors I liked. I also like how colors look more saturated on top.

Draft – Woolen draft for this project to add air to the top and the BFL, and at a wpi that will finish to a worsted weight 2-ply.

Ply – 2-plied to balance, and maybe a little under. 2-ply is better than a single for durability and to mix up the colors. A little underplied for lightness and drape.  In the photo below, my ply-back sample is on the right and my plied sample is on the left.

Ply back and ply sample

Finish – I whacked my yarns to bring up loft and fuzz and to make them as plump as they wanted to be. The yarn on the top is unfinished and the bottom yarn is soaked in hot water and whacked enough to scare the neighbors.

Before and After finishing the 2-ply yarn

Here are my yarn stats:

Red yarn: 159 yards

Orange yarn: 179 yards

Green yarn: 178 yards

Finished WPI 8-10

485 yards total needed (261 yards warp, 224 yards weft)

I have 516 yards, so I’m good!

Finished yarns

I also want my project to be colorful. That’s a branch of thinking I keep separate from the Big 5, because it’s so big  and varied on its own! For this project I’m using three different variegated tops, all dyed by the same dyer, Woolgatherings. They are variegated but not dyed in any particular repeating pattern, and the three have some color commonality. I do not have a plan for how I’ll use the colors; I’ll figure it out as I warp. Maybe that is a mistake, but I’m pleading blissful ignorance on this first project.

So now on to warping and weaving. All of my calculations are based on a sett of 8 epi, but now I’m considering using 5. I want drape, and I know that the fibers of the BFL will hold nicely even at a sett of 5. Or I could use a sett of 8 and beat it lighter. What will I do? That’s for the next blog post!

Update: I have finished weaving my remembering-to-weave scarf. I can’t bring myself to throw it in the washer yet, but I will. I was so happy with how it all got easier once I quit thinking so hard about it, and quit trying to make rigid heddle weaving like floor loom weaving. Here a quick prefinishing photo:

Woven Scarf sample

Part Three

Part Five

Beth Smith

Jillian Moreno

The Weaver and the Groundhog

Beth Smith and Jillian Moreno live about 30 minutes from each other and spend a lot of spinning time together, trading ideas and cheering each other on. Recently, the two have found weaving sneaking into their thoughts more and more. “Wouldn’t it be fun,” they said, “to do a project where we spin our yarn and weave it and see what happens?” “Yes!” they said, “that sounds like an awesome plan.” We thought so, too. Through the end of the year, they will post on the Schacht Spindle blog, telling you about their journey weaving with handspun on a rigid heddle loom.

Beth Smith and Jillian Moreno

Beth

This week is all about sampling on the loom. I know. It sounds hard, and frankly it’s what kept me from weaving anything more serious than a scarf for years. But, I have had knitting projects that were a disaster because I didn’t knit a swatch. And I tell my students how important it is to sample for the yarn they are spinning–all the way through a finished fabric–to make sure the yarn is going to work for its intended purpose. Heck, I wrote a whole book about sampling! It’s called The Spinner’s Book of Fleece. So, I decided that I would stop being a baby and learn how to sample on a loom.

It is true that when you are sampling for weaving it will take a bit more yarn than a knitted or crocheted swatch. And yes, if you are spinning for weaving, the yarn feels that much more precious. However, I’d rather spin a few extra hundred yards and know that my fabric will work, than spin a thousand yards or more that never see the light of day because the fabric failured.

So, I started with what I know. I know that generally, if you want a balanced plain weave, you take the wraps per inch (wpi) and divide by two to get the ends per inch (epi). My yarn had about 18 wpi, so according to this formula, I would sett it at 9 epi. The thing is, I want to make a skirt, and I had made a few samples a couple of years ago when I started to think about this project. I made three samples at that time. One sample was sett at 10 epi, one at 12 epi and one at 15 epi. None of the samples were right. None of them were woven tightly enough to make a skirt that was going to be stretched and twisted and sat on.

First skirt samples

Since I knew all of that, I decided to sett this sample at 20 epi and see how things worked out. I was worried that the fabric might be too stiff, but I went ahead. I could always make more yarn and try again. So I put a yard of warp on the loom and I made a sample the full 15″ on my Flip Loom. I wanted to be able to see how the fabric would drape, so a large sample was important. (Remember that all of the rules about sett are just guidelines.) It’s sort of like the gauge that is listed on a yarn ball. You can do whatever is best for your project.

Twenty epi on a rigid heddle loom requires two 10-dent heddles and some fancy warping that you can find in The Weaver’s Idea Book by Jane Patrick. It took me a little bit to figure it out but once I had threaded the first inch I was on a roll.

Since I was weaving a plain weave fabric, both heddles were moved to the same position each time I needed to change the shed. (There are some weave structures, like twill, where you move the heddles independently of each other.)

columbia rigid heddle weaving

After I wove the fabric with about the same number of picks per inch as I had ends per inch, I removed the fabric from the loom and zigzagged along the cut edges so the fabric wouldn’t ravel. I finished the fabric according to the finishing instructions in Spin to Weave by Sara Lamb. First, I threw the sample in very hot water in the washing machine and let it soak for 20 minutes. Then, I turned the machine on and let it agitate for 5 minutes. I began checking the sample every minute until the fabric seemed to be sufficiently fulled. I wasn’t going for felted fabric, but I did want the yarns to settle in together. After a full ten minutes of agitation, I was happy with the fabric. I spun the water out in the machine and then threw it in the dryer. I know! It’s wool! But I did it anyway because Sara said so. I left it in there for about 10 minutes. At this point it wasn’t completely dry but it was fluffed up. I then pressed fabric with a press cloth. I know! I put a hot iron on wool. I didn’t move the iron back and forth, rather I would put it down in a spot then lifted it up, and the put it at the next spot. This took away any wrinkles and dried the fabric more. I laid it flat until it was completely dry.

Columbia rigid heddle fabric

At this point I made my decision that I was happy with the fabric and I would stick with 20 epi for the actual skirt weaving.

Since I was happy, it was time to finish spinning the rest of the yarn I would need. We’ll talk about that next time.

Jillian

This week for me was all about remembering how to weave. I’ve spun my warp yarns for my mobius and thought about just jumping in and warping the loom with those, but I had a tickly feeling that my weaving skills were more than a bit rusty.

In the end, I decided to do a dry run with commercial yarn and boy am I glad I did.

I grabbed two skeins of DK superwash merino from Fiberstory that I’ve been hoarding. The darker (Milo) would be used for the warp and the reddish (October), I would use for weft. I’ll do a scarf, I thought, it’ll be quick, I thought. Snort.

Fiberstory yarn

First came the warping of the Cricket. I was too lazy to wind my yarn into a cake so I warped off of a skein winder. It was a lovely fall day and I worked on my back deck. It was breezy, lovely to stand around in, but not so great when the breeze constantly wraps your yarn around the swift, stopping it dead. There was grumbling and words not fit for this blog.

Warping off a swift

I finished warping the loom and wound my yarn around the, back beam, wait, no, I wound it onto the front beam! I warped my loom backwards! Holy cats, I looked at all of the pictures, I even had extra tea, my brain should have been working better! More words were muttered, but I wound my warp through to the back beam and re-tied the loom the right way.

Warped Backwards

If I had been using my handspun for this I would have been sweating buckets. This is my first ever handspun-for-warp project, so I’m feeling a little precious about my warp-to-be yarn.

Handspun warp

I finished threading the loom with no problems and then started weaving. I decided to use the leftover Milo color for thin stripes in the weft between the thicker stripes of October, just to see how the colors played out with a matching and a contrasting variegated yarn. I wove some in the afternoon and some at night while I watched TV. (Quantico, if you must know. Don’t judge.) It went well, at least until I looked at it in the morning.

My loom looked like the groundhog that lives under my deck snuck in and did my weaving. My edges were ragged, both too loose and too tight. I had threads I didn’t catch, so there are floats on top. The saddest part was I was looking right at my weaving while I worked because I was focused on the spacing of the weft threads.

Weaving woes

I went to my books and read about selvedges. When I wove before I always angled my warp threads in a big diagonal, but now I tried putting them in as more of an arc.

I watched both my weft spacing and my selvedges, looking at the bigger weaving picture. I also had that sad talk with myself, “Woman, you are 52 years old, you cannot weave a dark warp with dark weft in a dark room. You need extra light”. Sad, but true.

6 better selvedge

It all smoothed out with light and patience and few tricks from the weaving books. I’m running away this weekend for cabin and movie time with a bunch of other crafty women. I’ll be finishing this scarf up and putting on my precious handspun warp. We’ll see what mischief happens this time. Maybe the groundhog is a better weaver?

 

 

Part Two

Part Four

Beth Smith

Jillian Moreno

Sampling: the Long and Short of it

Beth Smith and Jillian Moreno live about 30 minutes from each other and spend a lot of spinning time together, trading ideas and cheering each other on. Recently, the two have found weaving sneaking into their thoughts more and more. “Wouldn’t it be fun,” they said, “to do a project where we spin our yarn and weave it and see what happens?” “Yes!” they said, “that sounds like an awesome plan.” We thought so, too. Through the end of the year, they will post on the Schacht Spindle blog, telling you about their journey weaving with handspun on a rigid heddle loom.

Beth

This week we’re talking about sampling our fiber to get the yarn we want for our project.

When this rigid heddle weaving project came along I decided to make it an extension of the floor loom project – I thought it might be fun to make two skirts out of the same yarn on two different looms and compare the resulting fabrics. I had already started spinning Columbia wool from Imperial Stock Ranch. Since the prepared fiber was roving I was spinning it with a supported long draw. Since I was going to spin a LOT of this yarn, I made a sample card (the usual thing I do when I spin many, many bobbins of a yarn).

On the sample card I write all of the details about making that yarn: spinning wheel used, whorl, drafting method, and any other information that will help me reproduce the yarn over a long period of time. In addition, I wrap some singles around the card so that I can compare from time to time while I’m spinning. I also add plybacks: a 2-ply sample and a 3-ply sample. Although I know I want a 2-ply yarn for this project, I like to add a 3-ply sample in case I ever want to match this 3-ply for a future project. The card becomes part of my record library when I’ve finished the project. The plyback samples give me a starting point when I begin the plying process. I can compare the angle of twist and increase or decrease it depending on what I want the yarn to do.

Sample Card

For this project I’m going to try to match my plyback. I don’t feel that I need to add more twist to the ply to strengthen the yarn for weaving. I’m confident that it’ll hold up for weaving (another goal of this project is to show that most handspun yarn is not as delicate as some people are convinced it is).

I had already spun and plied 3,000 yards of 2-ply yarn, yielding about 18 wraps per inch. Here are my calculations for the warp:

  • Pattern length: 30″ x 6 gores [ed: skirt panels] = 180″
  • Plus 30″ for sampling and loom waste = 210″ or 5.83 yards. I rounded up to 6 yards to be safe.
  • Ends per inch: 20 x 15″ warp width = 300 ends.
  • 300 ends x 6 yards = 1800 yards. (Wow!!)

I’m going to try for a balanced weave, so I’ll need approximately the same amount for weft. I’m going to round up a little to 2000 yards to cover any unforeseen needs. So, for both warp and weft I’ll need 3800 yards for this project, to which I’m going round up a little bit more for a total of 4000 yards. (You do not want to run out of yarn in the middle of weaving!) When determining and rounding up my yardage, I keep in mind that I usually experience about 10% shrinkage when spinning a fine wool.

Columbia Yarn

Columbia is a soft, bouncy wool, which I chose because I wanted a cohesive fabric that would easily come together in the finishing. I also was a little afraid of working with a slippery fiber since this is the first time I am cutting my handspun, handwoven fabric. (I want to be sure, for this first step into a new land, that I’ll be successful, at least in the cutting part.) The fiber has some neps in it and those neps combined with the spinning technique make for a somewhat inconsistent yarn. This inconsistency will also be interesting in the fabric. Will it disappear? Will it make some interesting texture to the fabric? I don’t know. There is a ton to learn from this project, for sure.

I am also reading up on how to warp a two heddles on a rigid heddle loom. I have Jane Patrick’s The Weaver’s Idea Book for expert direction, as well as Hands on Rigid Heddle Weaving by Betty Davenport, which has been around forever! In the meantime, I have more spinning ahead of me.

Weaving Resources

 Jillian

I’m still getting ready to weave; I did a bunch of research, picked fiber, and spun a sample yarn.

I love doing research, but I rarely read a book cover-to-cover when working on something new. I pick a topic and read about that one thing, then I hop around until I feel like I have enough bases covered to start and just go. I like my crafts very flexible and ish-y. I will never be a quilter.

I picked two books to help me through this project. One is the recently-revised Weaving Made Easy: 17 Projects Using a Rigid Heddle Loom By Liz Gipson. Did you know she writes a rigid heddle weaving column for Knitty now? The other is a brand new book by Syne Mitchell from Storey Publishing, Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom: Discover the Full Potential of the Rigid-Heddle Loom, for Beginners and Beyond.  (I was just at Storey doing the photo shoot for my spinning book and I was able to get an early copy.)

Weaving Books

Both books are great for beginners and walked me through the basics of figuring out how much yarn I’ll need for my project. I’ve learned from every fiber craft I’ve ever done that the real answer is, “More.” I do the math I’m supposed to do for yarn amounts then always add more. I figured out that a finished object of 12” wide x 60” long, with an extra 10% slapped on for take up and drawn in, plus 12” for loom waste, gets me a warp and weft of less than 300 yards each. (I said I like ish-y , I mean ish-y). My warp is 261 yards and weft is 224 yards.

After a bit of reading and thinking I decided on a balanced plain weave, with a worsted-ish 2-ply. I’m really intrigued by weaving with singles, but I’ll save that for project number two. I think I want an infinity scarf. I’m not feeling the fiddle and fringe of a regular scarf, plus I really like the stacked looked when an infinity scarf is doubled around my neck.

While I was perusing weaving books, I also looked at three by Jane Patrick: The Weaver’s Idea Book: Creative Cloth on a Rigid Heddle Loom, Woven Scarves: 26 Inspired Designs for the Rigid Heddle Loom with Stephanie Flynn Sokolov, and Simple Woven Garments: 20+ Projects to Weave & Wear with Sara Goldenberg. These are my aspirational books. Right now it’s about plain weave and just getting the mechanics right.

Jane Patrick's Books

I have the what and the how much, now it’s time for the fiber. I hopped down to my basement stash, the deep stash, and pretty much exploded it. Dumped the bins and bags looking for the fiber that caught my attention. I came up with three braids of BFL top from Woolgatherings.

Woolgatherings Fiber

Pretty aren’t they? These have been marinating in my stash for at least three years. I thought I’d use one for warp and one for weft, but I had to do a little color dance after I spun my sample yarn as the red sample yarn came out fab. My 2-ply is about 10 wpi, perfectly worsted weight, and 672 yards per pound. That would be 168 yards from a 4 oz braid – not enough fiber to use one color for the warp or weft.

Red Yarn

I may try to spin my yarn with a little more loft and maybe a little less ply twist to stretch the fiber for a little more yardage, but I doubt I’ll get all of my warp yardage out of 4 oz. I’ll spin all three colors, thread the loom with the red for warp as far as it goes, and then fill in with the other color that moves me that day. I’ll do the same with the weft, though maybe I’ll use all three colors in the weft. I’m excited to see how the colors play off of each other, really excited.

It might just be the start of a weaving and color rabbit hole and that’s fine with me.

 

Part One

Part Three

Beth Smith

Jillian Moreno

Handmade With Handspun

Here at Schacht Spindle Company, we are no strangers to using handspun yarn in our projects. For many of us in the office, we rarely buy yarn, because our handspun stash grows so quickly. Events like the Tour de Fleece and Spinzilla give us an opportunity to really boost our stash of handspun, but sometimes that leads to project paralysis. After spinning so much yardage, many of us sit there wondering what to make with our handspun. We have a few projects for you whether you knit, crochet, or weave that are sure to utilize your handspun in the best of ways.

Spun yarn from Team Schacht Spindle in 2014

Weaving

You can make a handwoven blanket using a Zoom Loom and various yarns that you have spun as long as they are approximately fingering weight yarn.

David Pipinich made “Patched Life” with some handspun.

For something a little more decadent, some wall art can be made with your precious samples of handspun yarns.

Denise created three pieces, each using a bit of her handspun.

Or if you have a mind to weave a long wall hanging, you can follow along with Benjamin.

For something a bit more practical, and just as meaningful, you could weave a shawl to wear and remember what you’ve spun.

Smaller quantities of yarn make for great scarves like Denise’s Sashiko Posh Plum Scarf, or Benjamin’s Log Cabin Scarf.

For some yarns it doesn’t always make sense to make a garment or scarf, so something else must be done. Both the Pencil Case by Denise and the Back Pack by Benjamin would be great uses for that yarn you just don’t know what to do with.

Knitting

Handspun yarn tends to have a lot of energy, so it can make great knitting yarn.

A small cowl is good for small amounts of yardage, or you can spin your own gradient and make an entire shawl!

Crochet

If your yarn isn’t as consistent as you’d like and knitting with the yarn isn’t in your future, this fun kerchief is a great handspun project.

Knit and Crochet

And if you can’t quite decide whether you want to knit or crochet with your yarn, why not do both? This simple hat idea is great for those of us who are indecisive.

For more handspun projects, go to the link below. What do you make with your handspun yarn? Let us know in the comments!

Follow Schacht Spindle Company’s board Made With Handspun on Pinterest.

Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin has a double degree in biology and photography (he also spins, weaves, knits and crochets)--so he's a great mix of data and creativity--all wonderful traits as a member of our sales team. You'll often hear his friendly voice on the phone and you've probably noticed his name pop up in many places: Ravelry, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube. Ben is our digital media manager—the main reason you've seen more activity from us in social media.

Smith and Moreno Take On Weaving

Beth Smith and Jillian Moreno live about 30 minutes from each other, and spend a lot of spinning time together, trading ideas and cheering each other on. Recently, the two have found weaving sneaking into their thoughts more and more. “Wouldn’t it be fun,” they said, “to do a project where we spin our yarn and weave it and see what happens?” “Yes!” they said, “that sounds like an awesome plan.” We thought so, too. Through the end of the year, they will post on the Schacht Spindle blog, telling you about their journey weaving with handspun on a rigid heddle loom.

Beth Smith and Jillian Moreno

Beginnings:

Ever since I learned to spin I’ve been a dabbler in weaving. That means I have taken a ton of classes and made a few things but I’ve never gotten to the point where I always have a warped loom in the house. In fact, I own 3 looms and they have all been completely empty and folded up for over a year.

Jillian was a weaver for years. That was before I knew her, but I have heard her tell about it. When we met, she had a Schacht Mighty Wolf (which now resides in Canada), but it was empty and folded up. Maybe I never got serious about weaving because I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with it. Maybe Jillian walked away for a while because of new and exciting things. Both of our brains, however, seem to be leading us into the weaving world more and more. Neither of us has woven with handspun, really, even though both of us are focused spinners.

What’s funny is that even though we both seem to be moving toward what seems like the same thing, when we talk about what we want to do, we are on opposite ends of the spectrum. So here we are ready to start and we’re going to tell you about our journey. Hopefully at the end we will each have something to show for the work. If not, we will be a lot smarter and we hope that we can pass what we learned along the way to you, too.

Beth:

For the last year or so I’ve been thinking a lot about weaving yardage for clothing. One time I did a few samples on my floor loom and they weren’t exactly right, so I didn’t get much further than that. But the idea for yardage keeps sticking there in my brain. The yarn that I love to spin the most is pretty fine, so it should work, right?

And, why can’t I weave that yardage on a rigid heddle loom? It would be silly not to try.

So, I’m finally going to dive right in and do it.

I’m going to spin the yarn mostly on my Schacht Reeves 30” Saxony. I use the extra small whorl in double drive. I like this wheel a lot because it loves to spin fine yarns and I can do it a bit more quickly because of the large drive wheel. Some of the yarn will undoubtedly be spun on the Matchless because if I’m out of the house, spinning with friends, it’s a lot easier to take along with me.

Beth's Equipment

My rigid heddle loom is a 15 in Schacht Flip Rigid Heddle Loom. I have 2 heddles each in the 8, 10 and 12 dent sizes. I expect to use 2 heddles to weave the fabric I want because even though I don’t want to do any fancy weaves, I can get two times the number of threads per inch if I weave with 2 heddles at the same time.

I also have a vertical warping mill which is a discontinued Schacht product. The horizontal mill is available, though, and it’s great. I just use the vertical one because it’s the one I have. There are easier ways to warp on the rigid heddle loom and you can depend on Jillian to tell you about that but because I am going to be weaving yardage, the warping mill will be a better choice so I don’t have to have lengths of warp snaking all over the house.

So, I’d better get down to spinning because I think I have a lot of yarn to spin.

Jillian:

I’m Jillian Moreno, a spinner and knitter and new to rigid heddle weaving. I used to weave on a floor loom about 20 years ago and have pretty much forgotten everything I knew about weaving. When I’m not at my spinning wheel, I’m lucky to work with Knitty.com, write for PLY and Spin Off, and teach spinning around the country.

I’m crazy about spinning yarn that I will use, building a yarn for a purpose. I mostly work with commercially prepped beautifully dyed fiber.  I really love color and playing with combining colors.

I want to weave with my handspun and to make things that are quick and are more about color and texture than complex weave structure. That’s one reason that I’m excited about rigid heddle weaving: less time threading = time weaving.

Jillian's Matchless

I’ll be using my trusty Matchless, which I bought in the 90’s and recently had tuned up at Schacht.  This wheel and I have been through it all together, from my hesitant first treadles to spinning samples for my upcoming spinning book. With the bottom half of my wheel from the 90’s and the top from a couple of months ago, she’s a beautiful mix of old and new Schacht. To weave I’ll be using a 15” Cricket on a floor stand. I have reeds that are 12, 10, 5 and a variable dent reed, so I have a lot of flexibility with what yarns I can use. I’m not interested in the same way I used to weave; this time around I want to weave with more creative looseness than I felt I had with my floor loom, when I just followed written patterns and drafts.

I want to make things that are simple to show off my handspun yarn, the texture and the colors. Since I’ve never spent time working with handspun or much color in weaving I’ll need to experiment and sample a lot. Good thing that sampling and experimenting are two of my favorite things!  I want to make things that are easy on and easy off the loom, but are wearable. I’m going to weave a quick scarf out of commercial yarn first, just to get the feeling of the loom and weaving into my hands.

Then I want to move on to my handspun and make something a bit bigger that I can wear without fussing with it, like a mobius shawl.

I’m really looking forward to this adventure and sharing it with you!

 

Part Two

Beth Smith

Jillian Moreno

Seven Suggestions for Savvy Spinzilla Spinners

Preparing for our third year of Spinzilla, we have learned some things that helped keep the stress down during the week of full-speed ahead spinning.

1. Prep Prior to the week – This can’t be stressed enough. For many of us, we work a job, have families and still need to spin a bunch of yardage. We don’t have time in the middle of the week to prep fiber. Every minute is valuable. Wash/scour/process any fleeces you have and get it into a preparation that is easy to spin. Pre-draft any roving that may be compacted or thicker than is necessary. This also means getting your equipment in order. Clear off any bobbins, make sure all of the parts and pieces of your wheel/spindle are in working order, and prepare drive band materials if you aren’t using poly-material.

2. Get lots of rest – We aren’t robots, when you are tired, go to bed. Don’t fall into the trap at 10-11pm saying “just one more ounce and then I will go to sleep.” A refreshed spinner is a productive spinner!

3. Take breaks and stretch – Again, we aren’t robots. Spinning is a very physical activity, and with any activity, stretch before, during and after spinning. Take frequent breaks and avoid stressing fingers, arms, wrists, shoulders, etc, by breaking up your spinning sessions. Posture awareness will help avoid soreness.

4. What can we say, use the best equipment possible – www.schachtspindle.com

5. Oil – When our wheels haven’t been used in awhile, and when they are being used quite a bit, we need to keep them well oiled. We have a video on proper oiling techniques up on our YouTube channel.

6. Refreshments – Keep your favorite snacks and beverages close at hand! Though it may not seem like it, spinning requires is actually physical work. You need to stay hydrated and those calories need to be replenished. If you are hosting a spin-in or two, make it a potluck and everyone can bring their favorite foods along!

7. Have fun! – Though this is a competition and a fundraiser, this event is much bigger than both of those things. It’s about community and coming together to do something we love. Whether you’re on a team, or if you’ve gone rogue, find an event near you to spin with others. And as many spinners know, spinning with others is one of life’s wonderful joys.

 

Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin has a double degree in biology and photography (he also spins, weaves, knits and crochets)--so he's a great mix of data and creativity--all wonderful traits as a member of our sales team. You'll often hear his friendly voice on the phone and you've probably noticed his name pop up in many places: Ravelry, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube. Ben is our digital media manager—the main reason you've seen more activity from us in social media.

For Spinzilla, Kate is Spinning…

What I love about Spinzilla is that it gets me spinning! Once I’ve got some momentum, spinning is a meditative, calming wonderland, but as a beginning spinner still, it can be hard to get those treadles moving. Last Spinzilla, however, I spun nearly a mile of fiber, and got a running start at the yarn for my tallis. Since then, I’ve tried some new styles and fibers with varying success, and my spinning oomph has dwindled. In October, though, I’ll hit the reset button, gather with other spinners for fun and support, and spin like mad for a week. I can’t wait.

This year I’m going in with another project in mind, which will require almost exactly a mile of singles. I also have a new Cherry Matchless, so this will be a great chance to get to know my wheel and to kindle my fiber fire again. Like Denise, I’ll be spinning with undyed fibers – my future project will be woven and then dyed with natural dyes. When first experimenting with natural dyes this winter, I was captivated by the depth of color they yielded, and would like to showcase this richness in a simple cloth.

From these intentions – and from my stash – I’ll let my yardage develop organically. I’ll start with BFL and from there all bets are off. Maybe I will want to keep spinning something comfortable (and there is plenty!), or maybe I’ll spin something that’s more challenging. I was shocked to find such a wide variety of undyed fiber in my stash: angora, yak, flax, silk. I would love to see how different fibers luxuriate differently in the same dyebath. This Spinzilla, the options are endless; my goal is to have a good time.

Spinzilla is a competition – and I’ve met my share of competitors! – but it also brings spinners together, gets us spinning for a full week, and promotes the craft. That full week can be used for maximum yardage, but with yardage also comes community, learning, excitement, support, and that quiet space that exists at the wheel. Additionally, registration fees support the Needle Arts Mentoring Program, which creates community partnerships around those same values and around the crafts we love.

Kate White

Kate White wears several hats here at Schacht. Some of the many roles she plays each day include computer operating system liaison, project manager, data maven, and interface between our sales and production departments.

Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin has a double degree in biology and photography (he also spins, weaves, knits and crochets)--so he's a great mix of data and creativity--all wonderful traits as a member of our sales team. You'll often hear his friendly voice on the phone and you've probably noticed his name pop up in many places: Ravelry, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube. Ben is our digital media manager—the main reason you've seen more activity from us in social media.

For Spinzilla, Betty is Spinning…

One of our high-yardage spinners hails from our shipping department. An award winning and published spinner, BettyPaepke is known for her mixing and blending of fibers. As part of preparing her fiber, she loves starting with raw fleece.

Betty has been one of our top spinners two years in a row, and this year she isn’t fooling around with how much she expects to spin: Three pounds of hand-processed fleece and a hint of dyed roving, Betty is determined to spin this pile.

Grey kerakul and two stunning shades of alpaca fiber will keep her busy for most of the week. She says that she has a lot more where this came from if she happens to run out.

The alpaca fiber actually comes from a local farm, Fuzzy Farm Alpacas, which will also be seen in a future project from Benjamin Krudwig.

Betty’s stash reminds us to also support our local fiber producers all year round. If you are hankering to spin a large quantity of fiber for Spinzilla, this is a great way to do it!

Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin has a double degree in biology and photography (he also spins, weaves, knits and crochets)--so he's a great mix of data and creativity--all wonderful traits as a member of our sales team. You'll often hear his friendly voice on the phone and you've probably noticed his name pop up in many places: Ravelry, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube. Ben is our digital media manager—the main reason you've seen more activity from us in social media.

For Spinzilla, Denise is Spinning…

One of the industry’s favorite hand dyers of yarn and fiber is Anzula, based in California. I love the consistency and colorways of their fiber braids which include Ocean, Forest, Garden, and Fire. Sabrina searches for yarn bases and fiber that are luxurious and high quality. Anzula also sells a variety of undyed natural fiber. Don’t get me wrong, I like working with hand-dyed braids, but there’s something about natural fiber that just softens my heart! It’s this subtle beauty and purity that I  prefer. When I spin for myself, I want to connect with the animal and it’s fiber as it was grown on the animal (with some processing in this case). I guess I am just a purist at heart. I realized this when I looked at all of the un-dyed shades of luxury fiber in my Anzula stash and decided that I am going to focus on the basics for Spinzilla.

anzula fibers

I have about four pounds of fiber including silk, merino/silk blend, BFL, merino with a bit of sparkle (ok that is not completely natural, but I couldn’t resist!), corriedale, yak, baby llama, baby camel/merino, pure brown baby camel, and baby alpaca. I can’t wait! I had to put it in a box on the top shelf where I wouldn’t be tempted to spin it early.

If you would like to get Anzula fiber for Spinzilla, don’t hesitate to ask your local yarn/fiber shop to order some. Ask now to ensure delivery by Spinzilla. Planning ahead is key. What are your spinning plans for Spinzilla?

Denise Renee Grace

Denise Renee Grace first learned to weave as a student at Bethel College. She later moved to Boulder and worked in a re-purposed product company where Barry Schacht discovered her and hired her to work in our sales and service department. Denise’s first love is spinning and she is especially fond of working with natural fibers on all four of her Schacht Wheels. When it comes to weaving, tabby tickles her. In charge of customer care, Denise spends her days here helping people—something she does so well.

Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin has a double degree in biology and photography (he also spins, weaves, knits and crochets)--so he's a great mix of data and creativity--all wonderful traits as a member of our sales team. You'll often hear his friendly voice on the phone and you've probably noticed his name pop up in many places: Ravelry, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube. Ben is our digital media manager—the main reason you've seen more activity from us in social media.

For Spinzilla, Benjamin is Spinning…

For the past few months, I have been a subscriber to the Spunky Eclectic Fiber-of-the-Month Club. A service that provides me with hand dyed fiber every month!

Each month a different fiber type/breed is chosen and then dyed by Spunky owner, Amy King, in a color way inspired by a photo. I just love getting a mystery fiber shipped every month!

Amy’s inspiration photo for “Frostbite”
“Frostbite” fiber: Photo by Tracey Alice

This fiber-of-the-month club allows me to try breeds that I wouldn’t normally buy or be able to purchase. Also, I like being challenged by the colorways I wouldn’t normally gravitate towards. I’ve found, though, that once I try them I like them!

I have at least seven braids of fiber that I have been saving for Spinzilla, with two more to come between now and Spinzilla.

I don’t have a fiber problem. It’s only a problem when I run out!

There is still a little time between now and Spinzilla, so joining a fiber-of-the-month club could provide you with some great spinning fiber ahead of time! Spunky Eclectic also has fiber for sale that isn’t part of the club, so you can get your fix in a short amount of time. With Spinzilla less than two months away, its time to stock up! As always, check out your local yarn store for spinning fibers and try to support indie dyers when you can!

Time to spin!

-Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin has a double degree in biology and photography (he also spins, weaves, knits and crochets)–so he’s a great mix of data and creativity–all wonderful traits as a member of our sales team. You’ll often hear his friendly voice on the phone and you’ve probably noticed his name pop up in many places: Ravelry, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube. Ben is our digital media manager–the main reason you’ve seen more activity on our Blog, Facebook, Ravelry, and Pinterest. To see what’s happening, click on the links below.

 

Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin has a double degree in biology and photography (he also spins, weaves, knits and crochets)--so he's a great mix of data and creativity--all wonderful traits as a member of our sales team. You'll often hear his friendly voice on the phone and you've probably noticed his name pop up in many places: Ravelry, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube. Ben is our digital media manager—the main reason you've seen more activity from us in social media.

Interview With Beth Smith – Author of The Spinner’s Book of Fleece

Recently I had the pleasure to sit down with Beth Smith, the author of The Spinner’s Book of Fleece, and ask her a bunch of questions. Beth Smith is an accomplished spinner who has written many articles and now a fantastic resource book for every spinner. Her book takes the reader on a tour through different breeds and types of wool, and shows her recommendations on how to process each kind. It’s full of examples and beautiful photography.

Find the interview here.

Join me as I ask Beth questions in this interview where we cover more than her book, and delve into some harder questions like “What is your favorite ply?”

-Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin has a double degree in biology and photography (he also spins, weaves, knits and crochets)–so he’s a great mix of data and creativity–all wonderful traits as a member of our sales team. You’ll often hear his friendly voice on the phone and you’ve probably noticed his name pop up in many places: Ravelry, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube. Ben is our digital media manager–the main reason you’ve seen more activity on our Blog, Facebook, Ravelry, and Pinterest. To see what’s happening, click on the links below.

Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin has a double degree in biology and photography (he also spins, weaves, knits and crochets)--so he's a great mix of data and creativity--all wonderful traits as a member of our sales team. You'll often hear his friendly voice on the phone and you've probably noticed his name pop up in many places: Ravelry, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube. Ben is our digital media manager—the main reason you've seen more activity from us in social media.

Three Ply Fractal Spinning

After my last post on spinning fractal yarn, I wasn’t quite happy with the idea. The premise of the technique is sound, but it isn’t truly a fractal in the mathematical or scientific sense of the word. A fractal is a pattern that is self-similar, and repeats itself in different scales.

Image from a thermodynamics article by Alexei Kurakin.

In the traditional fractal spun yarn, you take a braid of fiber, split it in half lengthwise, spin one half of it as is, then split the second half into 2, 3, or 4 sections and spin those end to end onto another bobbin. Then you ply those bobbins together for a 2-ply yarn. That technique produces a stunning variegated yarn, but doesn’t really create a true fractal sequence. This 3-ply technique takes the “self similarity across different scales” to heart and creates a truly fractal spun yarn.

Looking at the figure above, we are following just one path on a branch, where it gets smaller and smaller proportionally.

Materials:

Braid of fiber with bold/distinct sections of color.

For this project I used Polwarth fiber from Yarn Hollow. The bright colors in Lime Sky are perfect for this technique.

Technique:

Step 1: It’s important to orient your fiber so you spin from the same end in each section.

Step 2: Split the braid in half lengthwise and spin one half from end to end.

Step 3: Split the leftover braid in half and spin it in the same manner as before.

Step 4: Continue in this manner until you can no longer feasibly split the fiber in half.

For this 2 oz braid, I was able to split it a total of four times, giving me five individual lengths of fiber.

Weights of each braid from left to right: 1 oz, 1/2oz, 1/4oz, 1/8oz, 1/8oz

For this example, I Navajo plied to create a 3-ply yarn that keeps the color repeats in sequence. You could leave them as singles as well, but I wanted a slightly more robustly color patterned yarn.

My finished yarn measured to 134 yards of “sport weight” (16 wpi) yarn.

With a self striping braid such as this, you will get smaller and smaller stripes as you work with the yarn in your project.

 

One repeat of the color striping sequence.
Finished cowl, front and back, showing the stripes getting progressively shorter

To use the effect of this yarn to its full potential, knitting, weaving or crocheting something rectangular would be best.

Reeds and Rushes Cowl

Download the PDF here

Cast on 37 stitches using your favorite method on US size 4 (3.5 mm)

Even rows: knit across

Row 1: (p, k3) X 9, p

Row 3: (p, k3) X 9, p

Row 5: (p, k3) X 9, p

Row 7: (p, k) X 18, p

Row 9: (k2, p, k) X 9, p

Row 11: (k2, p, k) X 9, p

Row 13: (k2, p, k) X 9, p

Row 15: (p, k) X 18, p

Repeat rows 1-16 until you reach your desired length.

Bind off using a slightly stretchy bind off, then sew the two ends together using a mattress stitch or whip stitch. Do this with a light hand to avoid bunching or puckering in your fabric. Soak and block to finish the piece.

-Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin has a double degree in biology and photography (he also spins, weaves, knits and crochets)–so he’s a great mix of data and creativity–all wonderful traits as a member of our sales team. You’ll often hear his friendly voice on the phone and you’ve probably noticed his name pop up in many places: Ravelry, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube. Ben is our digital media manager–the main reason you’ve seen more activity on our Blog, Facebook, Ravelry, and Pinterest. To see what’s happening, click on the links below.

 

Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin has a double degree in biology and photography (he also spins, weaves, knits and crochets)--so he's a great mix of data and creativity--all wonderful traits as a member of our sales team. You'll often hear his friendly voice on the phone and you've probably noticed his name pop up in many places: Ravelry, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube. Ben is our digital media manager—the main reason you've seen more activity from us in social media.

Fish are Jumpin’ and the Cotton is High….

Though I know summer is just around the corner, it is still chilly here and has been wet (which is actually lovely for this time of year), but soon it will be nice and warm hot. In anticipation for summer, I have been drawn to working with cotton. It is such a different experience to work with cotton fiber instead of something like wool. Cotton’s staple length (average length of the individual fibers) is much shorter compared to most animal fibers. The first time I spun cotton, I felt like I had to learn how to spin all over again!

Now that I have practiced spinning cotton and understand that cotton needs a lot of twist to hold it together as a yarn, I love it! Because there is so much to learn, we are going to feature cotton this week and into next week. Cotton is available in many forms: organic, naturally colored, long staple pima, fluffy white acala, easy-to-dye and Easy-to-Spin Sliver; the list goes on.

So what are the basic spin-able forms of cotton on the market? I have found the main ones to be bolls, seed cotton, ginned cotton, puni, and sliver. You can find a selection of spinning cotton here. Bolls are great to learn how to spin cotton. It is the original form that comes right off of the plant with husk, seeds, and all. Bolls are also excellent for educational purposes and giving spinning demonstrations (check out our YouTube channel later this week for a video.)  How many people have actually seen a real cotton boll?

Photo courtesy of Cotton Clouds

Seed cotton is cotton that has been separated from the boll huskbut the seeds are still embedded in the fibers. This seed cotton is long staple pima; note that the seeds in the picture are “naked” (no fuzzy fibers adhering to them). The advantages of spinning “off the seed” is that the fibers have not been mechanically compromised in a gin.

Photo courtesy of Cotton Clouds

Ginned cotton just has the seed taken out. The fibers are not arranged in any particular way and can easily be hand fluffed or carded to spin. You will notice that ginned pima cotton has a creamy color, longer staple fiber and is easier to spin. Acala cotton has a whiter color ideal for dyeing, a shorter stable but is fluffier and needs little or no hand carding.

Photo courtesy of Cotton Clouds

Punis are carded cotton, rolled (with a dowel) into a cylindrical shape similar to a wool rolag. While these are traditionally handmade in India, you can make your own! Punis are the best fiber preparation for spinning on a supported Tahkli spindle.

Photo Courtesy of Cotton Clouds

Sliver is cotton that has been mechanically formed into a long continuous formation. Combed sliver has all the fibers parallel while carded cotton does not.  Beginners should start with carded sliver. Combed sliver should be spun with the worsted method by experienced cotton spinners.  The resulting yarn is soft and silky. Sliver cottons are idea for clothing and towels.

Photo courtesy of Cotton Clouds

Cotton sliver loves to be dyed into a rainbow of colors that is fun to spin as you see subtle color changes form as you spin. This hand-dyed cotton sliver is from Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks. This is an ideal fiber preparation to spin for multicolored socks. We will explore more of these applications this week and into next week.

Photo Courtesy of Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks

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Denise Renee Grace

Denise Renee Grace first learned to weave as a student at Bethel College. She later moved to Boulder and worked in a re-purposed product company where Barry Schacht discovered her and hired her to work in our sales and service department. Denise’s first love is spinning and she is especially fond of working with natural fibers on all four of her Schacht Wheels. When it comes to weaving, tabby tickles her. In charge of customer care, Denise spends her days here helping people—something she does so well.

Irene Schmoller

Irene Schmoller, owner and blogger of Cotton Clouds, is one of the leading experts on cotton. Irene has been passionately involved in textile arts for over 40 years. When she’s not at home in Arizona, she’s livin’ her dream at the beach in Florida.

Spinning and Weaving Lessons: Crafting a Life

When we weave and spin, we create something new. From nature, we gather that which appears to be formless and apply the uniquely human work of our hearts, hands, and minds. We spin countless individual fibers together into a yarn that is strong. We then cross that yarn with another one, over and under, to make the cloth. The child of this marriage is strong, beautiful, and imperfect. There is wonder in these ancient crafts.

This hand-spun, hand-woven project is special to me because of where it came from and where it will take me. I must believe that dozens, if not hundreds, of hands touched my tallit (Jewish prayer shawl) before it became mine. Before I even started spinning the yarn, the sheep had to be fed, the lambs wormed, the fleece sheared. Take another step back and the barn had to be built, hay harvested.To take a step forward, the fleece had to be processed, transported, taken to market. To spin the roving, I used a spinning wheel, which, like the barn and the truck and the thresher, required a skilled builder with the right tools.

I used a commercial yarn for a warp, behind which there are people I will never meet but who, like me, make their living in this trade. Some handle the product, while others support the companies through accounting, machine maintenance, or answering phone calls. We are among the lucky few who feed ourselves and our families from the proceeds of handmade.

 

In my own circle, Cindy, Denise, Judy, and Lucas all gifted me with yarn, spun on wheels built by Luis, Mercedes, and Joe. Ben took one glance at the painting of wings I was puzzling over and scampered off to write a pattern for me. Sara, who years ago taught me to weave on a rigid heddle loom, helped me get oriented on her floor loom (built by Mike) and let me spend days in her studio with her cat. Alice helped me to tie the tzitzit (“fringe” – here, the white knots at the corners) that after months made my rectangle into a tallit.

The amazing thing is that every person that touched this project carries with them their own stories and communities. It’s difficult to comprehend that everyone’s life is as compelling to them as mine is to me – that spirit is inconceivable but permeates this work. We all likely learned spinning and weaving, agriculture, commerce, from someone else, who learned from someone before them, a priceless tradition of tinkerers, perfecters, and teachers. Then, we take up the mantle and day by day, engage in our craft – whatever it may be – untangling our own knots in the process of creation.

So now I have a tallit, an object with a rich story of its own, made from untold hearts, hands, and minds creating something out of formlessness. Considering the energy infused into this object helps me to consider the energy that has brought me to this life – the warmth of my loved ones; the richness and depth, heartbreaks and struggles of each of those people; the infinite network of relations and ancestors that have brought us all here; and a few sheep. When I wrap myself in this garment, I wrap myself in the fable of fiber, the heritage of the Jewish people, and my own mythology. If I’m lucky, I can catch the tail of this sense of timelessness and eternity. And it’s all possible because we spin countless individual fibers together into a yarn that is strong, and then we cross that yarn with another one, over and under, to make the cloth.

There is wonder in these ancient crafts.

 

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The tallit was woven on a Schacht Standard Floor Loom with finished dimensions of 74″ x 30″.
The weft was wool or merino-silk handspun on the Ladybug, Sidekick, Matchless, and Schacht-Reeves. It is, on average, worsted weight.
The warp is Jagger Spun Zephyr Wool-Silk 2/18, in colorways suede and aegean blue. The yarns were held together to warp and sleyed in a 10-dent reed.
The pattern is an extended undulating twill on 8 harnesses, drafted by Benjamin Krudwig.
The atarah (collar) and corners were machine-embroidered by Jan Gorelick and machine-sewn onto the tallit.

 

 

Kate White

Kate White wears several hats here at Schacht. Some of the many roles she plays each day include computer operating system liaison, project manager, data maven, and interface between our sales and production departments.

Joy to the Whorl – Beginning Spinner

Pam spinning at the Denver Art Museum during Spinzilla

The opportunity to work at Schacht Spindle Company presented itself to me this summer, and two weeks before starting, Jane Patrick called asking if I wanted to be on the company’s Spinzilla team.

I love trying new things but spinning is something I believed I would never do. My thinking was: I like weaving and knitting, and making a “final” product … There is so much wonderful yarn available out there, why spin? … People who love fiber to a deeper degree than I are spinners, but not me … It would take forever to spin enough yarn to make anything usable Bah. Humbug!

But what do you do when the Director of Sales, your soon-to-be boss, calls to ask if you want to be on a company team? You say yes, of course. It would be an opportunity to learn something new, be part of a fun company event, and get to know people. Why not? I was glad to participate but icy about my expectations of how much I would enjoy spinning and the success of the = final product.My first encounter with spinning took place a few weeks before Spinzilla during lunch break. The spinning wheel I used was a Schacht Matchless configured in double drive using a slow whorl and a regular bobbin. Huh? What? Being such a newbie, nothing was familiar. Among other things, what is a slow whorl and why would I want to use one? My rock-solid belief in spinning’s value to me was certain to be confirmed.  Denise, Schacht’s customer service specialist, gave me a quick overview on how to set up the wheel then quickly moved on to how to work with the fiber and spin. Her instruction lasted only about 10 minutes and then she handed me the fiber. “That’s it?” I thought, but gave it a try anyway. And after only a few minutes of instruction I was spinning! Not well, and not without difficulties, but spinning none-the-less. My first few yards were fat, lumpy and inconsistent but, with some guidance and a few adjustments, it did not take long to start getting the hang of it. My hand-spun was far from high quality but I was spinning usable yarn on the very first day! Hmmm. Learning to spin appeared to be easier than I had anticipated. My hard stance on spinning began to soften.  Fast forward to Spinzilla. . . As Spinzilla started, outside forces were throwing significant life stressors my way. How was I going to be able to participate in Spinzilla when I had so much to deal with? My not-so-brilliant plan was to grin and bear it. I began to spin, thinking it would be something I’d just have to endure. To my surprise, after spinning for just a few minutes I realized that I felt less stressed. In fact, I felt much less stressed. How unexpected. How fantastic! Focusing on the spinning rhythm, cadence and fiber flow was like a meditation. Clearly, there was more to spinning than I had anticipated. I was truly having fun. My icy view of spinning was melting away.

Pam’s handspun to be used in a weaving project.

By the end of Spinzilla my enthusiasm was growing and I had 4 bobbins, each half-full of singles yarn in front of me so I decided to learn how to ply. I practiced on my earliest singles and then went to work plying my favorite bobbins together. Again, I was struck by how quickly I was able to learn how to ply and how satisfying it was to see my singles become usable yarn. The rhythm and focus, though different than spinning singles, had its effect on me too.My hand-spun yarn had become something to be proud of, not merely an item to be discarded after the team event was done. I ended up making a small table runner with my yarn and, to be honest, I feel a lot of pride whenever I look at it. It symbolizes a point-of-view shift as well as a physical accomplishment.  I walk away from this experience with an expanded view of fiber art. I can see the worth of spinning that goes far beyond making my own yarn or having pride in making something from the fiber up. When I add it all up, what seems most significant is that spinning had an unforeseen effect on me. It brought me peace, pride and joy. I think I’ll try a few more new things soon!


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Pam Mondry

Pam Mondry is a computer engineer with a past work history at HP and Levi Strauss & Co. As a recent weaving enthusiast Pam came to us looking for a way to combine her new-found passion with her professional life. Pam lives in Evergreen, Colorado with her teenage son and husband.

Spinning lessons – Momentum

 

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, and I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” – Ira Glass

Have I mentioned my craft guilt? (Yes, yes I have.)

For a long time, I’ve struggled with my creative projects. There are two major problems I have: starting and finishing. Here is my old process:

As you can see, there are ample opportunities to be derailed.

Then, in September, something changed. First I made a challah cover for Rosh Hashanah. I dyed for that project, and had enough yarn leftover for a quick scarf for my friend’s October 1st birthday. Then, the first week of October, I was roped into Spinzilla, where the only goal was to just spin, spin, spin. A solid week of spinning helped me to practice, experiment, and gain some confidence as a spinner.
By the end of Spinzilla, I had spun nearly a mile of yarn, and had a skein of yarn I couldn’t stop gazing at. This was the first of three skeins I would spin for a project that carried me through late fall (you may have seen some of the sneak peeks on our Facebook). I look back now and realize I’ve been working on projects for nearly 4 months, and finishing them, and it feels so much better than the fear and fantasy of before. Ira Glass’s words really hit me – that perfectionism at this stage is less helpful than pure production. Now I am working on this model:

So, in three days this month, I spun 4 oz. of dyed Corriedale from my stash, just in time to give it as a gift. I don’t know if this is objectively fast, but I was amazed that I could do it. I practiced a worsted-style draft, practiced creating a thicker yarn, practiced creating a consistent yarn. The great thing about spinning, it turns out, is that it’s hard to screw it up. The yarn turned out beautifully, and it was dry in time to be gifted.

I’m finding now that my daydreams are filled with plans as well as fantasies, and that my winter and spring are already taking on a rhythm based on those plans. More finished projects makes room for more ideas; less ruminating makes room for more learning. I see myself in each project, which is so exciting – to make things with my hands. I told a friend recently that I think there might be an artist in me. He said, “don’t you hate when you’re the last one to know?” All it took was a little momentum.

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Kate White

Kate White wears several hats here at Schacht. Some of the many roles she plays each day include computer operating system liaison, project manager, data maven, and interface between our sales and production departments.

How to Spin an Ombre Yarn

With Spinzilla a month behind us, I finally have found time to explain how I managed to blend two colors of bamboo fiber into a five-hue shift ombre yarn.

Ombre and gradient have been a particularly popular trend over the last couple of years. I decided that I wanted to hand blend my own long-color change ombre yarn. I chose a color scheme that was based slightly off of a sci-fi theme of black, teal blue and a hint of silver.

From left to right: Aegean Blue Bamboo, Silver Firestar, Black Bamboo

For this blend I used:
9 ounces of Ashland Bay Bamboo – Black
4 ounces of Ashland Bay Bamboo – Aegean Blue
Hints of Firestar – Silver

Because I didn’t want to have the same quantity of each color, I had to figure out how much of each one would be needed for each blend.

To do this I separated my black fiber into 1/2 ounce increments and started sorting them into five piles of 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 lumps. (In other words, the group of 5 had five 1/2 oz lumps or 2 1/2 oz in this pile.) This left me with 1 1/2 ounces left of black fiber which I split evenly over the 5 piles.

I separated the blue fiber into 15 piles of approximately 1/4 ounces each. I separated these into a similar configuration. I put these two colors together with the smallest lumps of blue with the largest piles of black (i.e. 5 lumps of blue with the 1 lump of black).

Each black circle represents 1/2 oz of fiber, each black bar is about 1/3 oz of fiber.
Each blue circle represents about 1/4 oz of fiber. Each column
represents one of the 5 blends. See recipes below.

Here are the recipes for each blend:
Blend 1 – 2.8 oz black + ~.25 oz blue + pinch of firestar
Blend 2 – 2.3 oz black + ~.5 oz blue + pinch of firestar
Blend 3 – 1.8 oz black + ~.75 oz blue + pinch of firestar
Blend 4 – 1.3 oz black + ~1 oz blue + pinch of firestar
Blend 5 – .8 oz black + ~1.25 oz blue + pinch of firestar

I blended each batch approximately four times until I achieved a fairly homogenous mixture.

Blend number 1

I spun each batch on my Schacht-Reeves Spinning Wheel, which is perfect for finer spinning. I had some difficulty at first because it was my first time spinning bamboo. After I had spun each blend into singles, I navajo plied each batch on my Sidekick Spinning Wheel. (I keep my Sidekick set up with my bulky at all times, because it is perfect for plying.)

All 5 blends balled up

This set of recipes did result in less of blend of 1 and more of blend 5, but for my purposes, it was perfect. This yarn is destined to become a knit shawl, going from a beautiful teal, to a dark blackish blue.

Detail of the color gradient after winding all 5 skeins into a ball on a jumbo winder.

This process would work for any set of colors, but it is important to remember color theory in blending. If you mix colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel, it can create a muddy mixture. Use our mini carders to test blend some fiber, just to see the possibilities!

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Benjamin Krudwig

Benjamin has a double degree in biology and photography (he also spins, weaves, knits and crochets)--so he's a great mix of data and creativity--all wonderful traits as a member of our sales team. You'll often hear his friendly voice on the phone and you've probably noticed his name pop up in many places: Ravelry, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube. Ben is our digital media manager—the main reason you've seen more activity from us in social media.

Denise’s Guide on Choosing a Schacht Wheel

This post is about how each wheel performs from Denise’s perspective. For a list of specifications and additional information, check out our website! With a personal account of each wheel, the comparison chart, and talking with your dealer, you should be able to choose a wheel with ease!

On the heels of Spinzilla, I still have spinning going around in my head!  I have all four Schacht Spinning Wheels and I use each of them. This was apparent during the week of Spinzilla: I have a Schacht wheel for almost any purpose.

I set my Matchless up first at 5 am on Monday morning. When I couldn’t sleep, I took it as a sign to dig in and start spinning. This wheel is so smooth I could virtually sleep while spinning. Set up on double drive with a new drive band, I can literally spin for miles. On my Matchless, I spin everything from wooly fleeces to delicate exotics, lace weight to chunky art yarn–and everything in between. They don’t call it the Matchless for nothing! This wheel can be set up in Irish tension, double drive, or Scotch tension. For further explanations of these tension styles, check out this post.

I like a castle style wheel because I can draft with either hand and the orifice is right in front of me. Switching hands really helped me spin a lot of yardage and not be fatigued. The Matchless wheel comes with a collapsible, tensioned lazy kate, 4 wood bobbins, 2 cotton drive bands, threading hook, carrying strap, medium and fast speed whorls. Four additional whorls are available, including extra slow (good for art yarn and beginners who treadle fast), slow (great for beginners and making thicker yarn), high speed (made for people who would like to make smaller yarn), super fast (this should be a standard Spinzilla whorl as it helps spin super fine yarn super quick). High speed bobbins can be purchased for use with the high and super high speed whorls when spinning in double drive (high speed bobbins are not required when spinning in Scotch tension). The Spinning Wheel Cart can be added to help with transportation. The Bulky Plyer Flyer package is a great add on for plying and/or art yarn.

My Sidekick usually lives at work. Sometimes during lunch I just want to zone out a bit on spinning, so I take my Sidekick outside for a spin. During Spinzilla, my Sidekick was my constant companion at work. To move it around the factory grounds, I just picked it up with the strap, treadles unfolded, and carted it around. This is a stable travel wheel due to the ingenuity of the design.

When we went to the Denver Art Museum for our mass spin-in on the last day of Spinzilla, I folded the treadles up and put it in our new Sidekick Bag for travel. The padded bag was especially helpful that day because it was a little rainy.  The Sidekick is set up as a Scotch tension wheel. It comes with medium and fast whorls, threading hook, carrying strap, 3 travel bobbins and a poly drive band. The new Sidekick Bag in olive green and burnt orange is now available. Additional options include: the Bulky Plyer Flyer package, Collapsible Lazy Kate, and the four extra whorls I mentioned above (extra slow, slow, high, and super high). I used the super high speed whorl on the Sidekick during Spinzilla with great results!

It was exciting that plying was allowed in the contest this year! So after spinning a bit, I plied on my Ladybug. I always leave this wheel set up with the Bulky Plyer Flyer package for plying and the occasional art yarn. I recently got the on-board Lazy Kate and it makes plying on the Ladybug a dream. This is a wheel that is easy to use for beginners (my first wheel), but it grows with you as your skills improve allowing for a wide variety of yarns to be made. This wheel is able to do all three tension modes: Irish, Scotch, and double drive, but it really shines in Scotch tension.

Coming with medium and fast whorls and threading hook, it also includes a poly band as well as a cotton band, and 3 travel bobbins. The wheel has 3 convenient built in handles, instead of a carrying strap. The Ladybug is a reasonably priced and a simple way to jump into spinning.

I must admit that spinning on the Schacht Reeves took some time to learn. I really bonded with it during Spinzilla and learned to appreciate the superb nature of the wheel. This wheel is FAST. If you want a wheel that makes worsted to lace weight yarn at an extremely fast rate, this is the wheel for you.

It comes with 3 bobbins, a lazy kate, and a medium and fast speed whorl. In addition there are 3 more whorls available. A slow speed whorl that is great to start out, and high and super high speed whorls that are fantastic for very fine yarn. The Schacht Reeves is available in several options: cherry or ash wood, single treadle or double treadle, flyer on the left or right, and a choice of a 24” or 30” drive wheels. The 30” drive wheel really gains momentum and adds to the speed of spinning. Flyer on the right is usually for people who are left handed and vice versa. However, which one you choose really comes down to preference.

I honestly can’t say which wheel is my favorite. In the matter of choosing a Schacht Spinning Wheel, I will have to quote the wise Maggie Casey……. “It depends.” It depends on the space you have available in your house, your budget, the yarn you like to make, if you would like to travel with your wheel, your aesthetic, the list goes on and on. We have a Schacht wheel for everyone!  To talk with someone about which wheel is right for you, visit your local dealer.

Denise Renee Grace

Denise Renee Grace first learned to weave as a student at Bethel College. She later moved to Boulder and worked in a re-purposed product company where Barry Schacht discovered her and hired her to work in our sales and service department. Denise’s first love is spinning and she is especially fond of working with natural fibers on all four of her Schacht Wheels. When it comes to weaving, tabby tickles her. In charge of customer care, Denise spends her days here helping people—something she does so well.

Let’s Talk About Tension

A guide to fine-tuning your tension to make the yarn you want.

Your treadle speed, your drive ratio, and your tension all contribute to being able to spin different fibers into different yarns – the possibilities truly are endless. Today we’ll talk a bit about using tension in support of spinning the yarn you envision. As Spinzilla nears ever closer, this is a great guide for getting your wheel ready for the marathon week.

There are three main types of tension systems: Scotch tension, Irish tension and double drive. We will be talking in depth about Scotch tension and double drive, but will touch on Irish tension.In Scotch tension, the tension of the bobbin, and the tension of the flyer are independent of one another, with the brake band on the bobbin, and the drive band on the flyer whorl. In double drive, the tension of the bobbin and the flyer are in direct relation to each other.

In Irish tension, the tension of the bobbin, and the tension of the flyer are independent of one another, with the brake band on the flyer whorl, and the drive band on the bobbin. This system is ideal for larger yarns and production-style spinning because of the stronger intake of the yarn.

Scotch Tension on the Sidekick.

Scotch tension works generally the same on most wheels. There is a string that goes over the large flange of the bobbin attached to a spring that allows for looser or tighter tension controlled by a tension peg. This tension peg enables you to elongate or compress the spring. With the spring stretched there is more tension on the bobbin which provides a stronger pull on the yarn to draw on the bobbin. When the spring is compressed, the take-up will be less and more twist will build up before the bobbin draws on the yarn. If your yarn is drifting apart, you want more twist. If it is getting kinked, you want less twist. Elongate the spring more and more (adding more tension) as the bobbin fills with more yarn. This helps to keep a similar tension throughout the bobbin. This only requires small increases in tension. I usually give the knob a little turn each time I get to the last hook on my flyer.

This graph shows the general relationship between the weight of the bobbin as you spin, and the amount of tension necessary while in Scotch Tension

For double drive, your drive band goes around your drive wheel twice, with one loop over the whorl/pulley, and one over the small flange of the bobbin. You can find the tension sweet spot and it will stay consistent during the spinning of the whole bobbin of fiber. The adjustments are a little different than Scotch tension. For the Matchless, start with the flyer parallel to the Mother-of-all (the horizontal piece of wood under the bobbin) and tie a new drive band with the band in the groove of the whorl you would like to use and the groove in the small end of the bobbin. To attain more draw in, turn the drive band tension knob (the mushroom shaped knob on top of the castle) clockwise.  This will raise the back of the flyer and put more tension on the bobbin for a quicker take-up. For less draw-in, turn the drive band tension knob counter clockwise so it drops the back of the flyer down, putting less tension on the bobbin.

The Schacht-Reeves drive band tension adjuster screw comes out the end of the table. It screws the whole Mother-of-all away from the wheel or towards the wheel to put more or less tension on the drive band. To be able to turn this adjuster screw, you must first loosen the wooden nut on the bottom of the table that holds the whole assembly in place. Turn the tension knob clockwise for more tension and counter clockwise for less.

The Ladybug tension adjuster for the drive band, is located to the side of the flyer assembly with a handle facing the front. Put the drive band in the groove of the tension wheel and with the handle, move the wheel out for more tension and in towards the wheel for less tension.

Double Drive on the Schacht-Reeves.

Large yarn: Everything is larger.Since there are so many fibers in the width of a fat yarn in one linear inch, less twist is required to hold the fibers together. To achieve a larger yarn, use a larger whorl (slow or extra slow speed), make the spring larger (longer) by stretching it (for Scotch tension) or turn the tension knob clockwise (for double drive) creating a larger amount of tension, treadle slower (a larger amount of time between each treadle), and feed a larger amount of yarn in the orifice.

Small yarn: Everything is smaller.In a linear inch of really thin yarn, you might have just a few fibers as the width of the yarn. In order to hold those few fibers together, a lot of twist is needed. To achieve a smaller yarn, use a smaller whorl (high or super high speed), make the spring smaller (less stretched) or turn the tension knob counter clockwise for a smaller amount of tension, treadle faster (a smaller amount of time between each treadle), and feed smaller amounts of fiber into the orifice.  These are the two extremes on the spectrum of yarn, but hopefully, learning what to do to make extreme yarns will help with decisions about everything in between. What kind of yarn do you like to make? Do you have any other questions? Leave a comment or question below!

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Denise Renee Grace

Denise Renee Grace first learned to weave as a student at Bethel College. She later moved to Boulder and worked in a re-purposed product company where Barry Schacht discovered her and hired her to work in our sales and service department. Denise’s first love is spinning and she is especially fond of working with natural fibers on all four of her Schacht Wheels. When it comes to weaving, tabby tickles her. In charge of customer care, Denise spends her days here helping people—something she does so well.