10 Tips on Weaving Transparencies on a Rigid Heddle Loom



Handwoven transparencies are related to tapestries in that you can weave intricate pictorial designs with both techniques. Transparencies are lighter weight, with inlaid patterning on a sheer plain weave background. Two wefts are required: a background weft which weaves selvedge to selvedge and a pattern weft that weaves the pattern or design. The background is open while the pattern areas dense. Transparencies are at their best when hung in a sunny window where they can catch the light much like stained glass.

This article focuses on weaving a transparency on a Flip or Cricket loom. I wanted to share these tips because someone recently told me that you can’t weave transparencies on a rigid heddle loom. In my experience it is quite possible on the Schacht Flip and Cricket Looms. Here are some of my discoveries I’ve made through the years.

Transparency in progress.

  1. Be sure to wind the warp very evenly on your warping board. This will help achieve even tension.
  2. Use poster board for the packing paper (regular poster board that you would find at a hobby store—about the weight of card stock); this will help achieve a firmer surface with an inelastic linen warp.
  3. Beam onto the back beam very tightly, stopping and pulling small sections across the warp with every few rotations of the beam.
  4. Both the Flip and Cricket looms are great for holding the shed open as you do the inlay.
  5. I use 16/2 linen set at 12 epi for the warp and 16/2 or 20/2 linen for the background weft. For inlay yarns, I use three strands of 20/2 Mora wool or 20/2 Epic wool wound together into small butterflies. This way, I can mix colors similar in value to get just the shade/hue I want.
  6. Double the outside selvedge threads.
  7. One of the problems when weaving with linen, which has little give, is that the slot threads are a bit slack when in an up-shed or down-shed. To correct this, I use what I call a tension stick. On the Flip Loom, I use the Schacht Wolf apron bars for this. They are about ¾” thick, and I like them to be about 2-3” wider than my warp width. I insert this in the shed and turn it on edge at the back (behind the heddle) of the loom, as shown in the photo below. While weaving, I turn the stick on its edge for a nice tight warp (this tightens the slot threads that are usually slack whenever the heddle is up or down). When you need to advance the woven fabric and release the ratchet dogs, simply turn the stick to its thinner side, laying it flat. Then remember to turn the stick back again when you are ready to weave. On the Cricket Loom, I use a Cricket stick shuttle for the tension stick and place it in a different location than I use on the Flip. I insert a Cricket stick shuttle into the shed behind the reed, then loosen the warp a whole lot in order to slide the stick shuttle around the back beam where it rests between the back beam and warp beam. As with the Flip, turn the stick on edge to tighten the slot threads.
  8. When weaving a transparency, I use a cartoon on the underside of the warp. I find I need to get up really close to be able to see down through the warp to my cartoon below. If I’m using a Flip Trap, I can’t get close enough when weaving transparency, so I tie some small plastic baskets on the two sides to hold my shuttle.
  9. You may find that after weaving a few inches, the selvedge threads tend to loosen (especially if there is draw-in). To give these threads a little extra tension at the back of the loom, I tie a piece of carpet warp or strong string around the doubled selvedge warps and hang a weight on them (see photo above).
  10. Weave with the warp as tight as possible while still being able to raise the heddle to the upper position. To tighten the warp adequately, place the heddle in the neutral position and be sure that the tension stick is in the flat position. After tightening the warp, check to see if you can still raise the heddle to the upper position. If you can’t, back the tension off one notch until you can raise the heddle. While weaving, the stick should be turned on edge which makes the slot threads tighter.

With these tips, you can weave beautiful linen transparencies with pleasure.

Over view of Butterfly transparency

Lynette Glass

About 12 years ago Lynette Glass started weaving after her husband constructed a small frame loom following instructions in a library book. She didn't finish the first project on it, finding the process too slow. Still wanting to weave, she found a used Schacht rigid heddle loom which she propped on the edge of her dining room table and wove a set of placemats. She was hooked on weaving and soon graduated to a Schacht floor loom. She then discovered Doramay Keasbey's book, Sheer Delight - Handwoven Transparencies, and from this found her passion for weaving transparencies. Lynette Glass teaches in her studio, The Weaver’s Cottage, in Amity, Arkansas.

Best Boats



When you graduate from a stick shuttle to a boat shuttle, you’ll exclaim that you’ll never go back. The spinning bobbin unwinds the yarn automatically as the shuttle passes back and forth. Your weaving speed increases and you’ll notice a marked improvement in consistency. Here are a few tips for choosing the right boat shuttle for the project at hand.

Usually weavers like a longer, heavier shuttle for wider warps and narrower and lighter-weight shuttles for narrow weavings. A longer shuttle has a longer bobbin and therefore holds more yarn. Another consideration to your shuttle size is the size of your hand. If you have small hands, you may find a larger shuttle not as comfortable to use. Schacht Boat Shuttles come in four lengths: 9”, 11”, 13” and 15”.

Bottom or no bottom? Some weavers like the glide of the shuttle with a closed bottom. I like an open bottomed shuttle because I like to place my finger under the bobbin to stop it rotating when I draw the shuttle out of the shed. This is a preference and the best way to know what you like is to try both kinds.

Regular or slim? What about shuttle height? If the shed on your loom is narrow, then you might want to use a low profile shuttle, such as a slim boat shuttle. Also, a very narrow shuttle is excellent to use if you are taking the shuttle in and out of the shed. Note: that a narrower shuttle will hold slightly less yarn. Slim and regular shuttles are available in 11” lengths only.


What’s a double bobbin boat? If you are doubling wefts, then using a double bobbin boat shuttle solves the main problem that occurs when weaving with two wefts wound together on a bobbin: the two yarns never unwind exactly at the same rate when wound together on a single bobbin. The consequence is little loops developing at the edges, ruining your otherwise perfectly even selvedges. Winding two separate bobbins eliminates this problem. I love our Schacht double bobbin boat shuttles with two separate bobbin shafts so that just one bobbin needs to be changed out when the yarn runs out. You know, they will never run out at the same time no matter how much you try!

100510_Schacht_ 104

End Delivery Shuttles: the cat’s meow

End-delivery shuttles always seem to be a mystery. But as far as efficient and dreamy weaving, once you start weaving with an end-delivery shuttle, you’ll think your boat shuttle is slow. An end delivery shuttle speeds weaving, so it is an advantage over a boat shuttle, which is weighed against the higher cost.

How an end delivery shuttle works: instead of a free-spinning bobbin like a boat shuttle uses, an end delivery shuttle has a pirn that remains stationary. The weft yarn unwinds off the pirn’s tip when the shuttle is in motion and stops unwinding when the shuttle stops. It is the motion of the shuttle that causes the yarn to unwind. If the shuttle stops, the yarn stops, as opposed to a boat shuttle where the bobbin keeps spinning even when the shuttle stops. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Because the yarn unwinds as the shuttle moves, perfect selvedges are possible with no fiddling whatsoever. Weaving is also more efficient because the hands stay close to the shed to send and receive the shuttle.

There are different ways to tension the thread in an end delivery shuttle. The Schacht end delivery shuttle has a set of tension pads through which the yarn passes. These pads are controlled by a screw that adjusts the amount of tension applied to the yarn. To create a perfect selvedge, adjust the pads until the selvedge neither pulls in nor forms weft loops. Once set, your weaving will proceed rapidly with perfect edges every time (no kidding!).

The Schacht end delivery shuttle was designed with handweavers in mind. It feels good in the hand, is light weight, adjustable to a variety of yarns and super easy to thread. Available in 12” and 15” lengths.

Which shuttle to choose? Boat or End Delivery? 9” mini or 11” slim, open bottom? As I always say to my students: It depends. On what you’re weaving, how much efficiency matters to you, your budget, and what feels good in your hand. Happy weaving!

Jane Patrick is Creative Director for Schacht Spindle Company. She has been weaving for over 40 years and is a former editor of Handwoven magazine, author of The Weaver’s Idea Book, teacher and lecturer.

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.

Time to Level Up – Holiday Product Gift Guide

The holidays are right around the corner, and it seems like time is speeding along. Have you left your wish list posted on the front of the fridge for your loved ones? If not, it’s not too early to start putting the bug in their ear about what tools you’re most longing for!

Here’s a list that will help you take the next step in weaving or spinning with products that educate or help you grow in your craft–or even learn a new one!

For weavers

Don’t under estimate the power of the pick-up stick. This, along with a great book like The Weaver’s Idea Book by Jane Patrick can accelerate your weaving potential.


Also for rigid heddle weaving:

More stick shuttles (you never can have too many!)

9″ mini boat shuttle (with a bag of 4″ bobbins). The 9″ mini is great for weaving on the Cricket Loom!

Mini-boat Shuttle
Mini-boat Shuttle

Extra reeds – Each of our rigid heddle looms comes with a reed, but did you know we have four available dents (5, 8, 10, and 12), as well as a special reed called the Variable Dent Reed? This special reed has mix and match sections that allow you to weave different densities in the same project. It’s great for sampling, too. Want to try double weave on your Flip Loom? All you need is two reeds of the same dent–everything else is already built into your loom.

We are seeing some rigid heddle weavers, especially if they enjoy pattern weaving, upgrading to a shaft loom. Our Wolf Pup line of looms is ideal for small spaces and workshops. We’re especially excited about our NEW Wolf Pup 8.10, an 8-harness loom with an 18″ inches weaving width and built-in wheels for better portability. We are currently taking pre-orders for looms which will ship in late December and January.


For spinners:

If you are a spindle spinner and want to upgrade to a wheel, the Ladybug is a great option for a beginners with plenty of room to grow as your skills progress.

For the traveling spinner we recommend the Sidekick! This folding wheel can stow it’s own bag and is so easy to take along. We also know spinners who love the Sidekick as their go-to wheel, whether they’re traveling or not.

We know that many spinners are hoping to find a Flatiron Spinning Wheel under their tree. Just out this fall, the Flatiron is getting rave reviews for it’s easy treadling, broad spinning capabilities, versatility–and unique design. This KD wheel can be assembled with the flyer on the left or the flyer on the right–another thing we adore about this new wheel. Because it packs flat for shipping, this wheel is easy to ship worldwide.


For the fiber enthusiast:

Hands down, the Ultra Umbrella Swift is one of the best swifts on the market. It costs more than most, but there’s a reason: it answers all the shortcomings of the other swifts on the market we wanted to improve upon to make a swift that’s head and shoulders above all the rest. Watch our video and fall in love with this beautiful accessory that will revolutionize your studio!

These products can be found at a Schacht retailer near you! Use our find a dealer page to find the nearest weaving or spinning store to you!

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.

Road Trip Weaving

Road trips are in! So, take to the highway with these favorite books for summer learning, weaving and felting.

The Schacht Zoom Loom can slip into backpack or carry-on for weaving on the go. Two terrific books: 100 Pin Loom Squares by Florencia Campos Correa. More than just squares, this inspirational title with the Zoom Loom on the cover (!) includes color and weave patterns, novelty yarns, and projects that are hip and inspirational. Pin Loom Weaving by Margaret Stump. If you want a lot of cute patterns for making animals, quilts, or even a Barn House Tote, Pin Loom Weaving will take you there. Warping and weaving instructions are included along with clear step-by-step project details.


Pack your inkle loom in the back seat of your Rambler, along with the Weaver’s Inkle Pattern Directory by Anne Dixon. You’ll never be without patterns with over 400 of them included between the covers. Also, pack some of our Schacht Card Weaving Cards (we love everything about them) and weave away with these on your inkle loom using the classic book, Card Weaving by Candice Crockett for instruction and inspiration.

We have a few copies left of Time to Weave by Jane Patrick which will give you lots of ideas to use objects you find along the way to create a woven memento of your time on the road. Lots of great ideas for kids, too.

Combine felting with weaving, or just create cute felted critters. All you need to do is to pack some colorful fiber, your felting needles and pad, and take along the fun Making Felted Friends by Sue Pearl. You’ll find that once you get started, it’s hard to stop.


Happy trails and we’d love to see your projects made along the road, no matter where your travels take you. Happy summer! Your Schacht team.

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.

The Flatiron Spinning Wheel

The flat-packed Schacht


The Flatiron Spinning Wheel rises from a flat-packed box much like Boulder’s iconic Flatirons tilted up from a once horizontal position. Sit down and feel the majesty of this rock-solid wheel. The elegant design of the formed maple, apple-ply body calls upon the same drama that makes the Flatirons so striking. This unique Saxony style wheel is anything but traditional, much like our Boulder, CO.

Just as the Colorado landmark is recognized all over the world, the Flatiron, with its ingenious, compact packaging can be shipped anywhere with ease! With nearly all the tools necessary for assembly in the box, you can set this wheel up in just a few hours.

The superb Flatiron spinning wheel is customizable; you can build it to your preference, with either the flyer on the left or the right. With self-aligning bearings in the maidens, and a fully adjustable drive wheel, the whole system is sure to spin true. The clever quick release lever makes changing out bobbins trouble free.

The Flatiron can be set up in all three tensioning systems combined with our thoughtfully designed fine threaded tension control. All of our current whorls can be used with the Flatiron, allowing you to spin the yarns of your dreams–from frog’s-hair fine to art yarn.


Double treadle

Spinning modes: Scotch, double drive, bobbin-lead

Spinning ratios: 4.6:1 to 26:1

Weight: 15 pounds

Drive wheel: 22 1/2”

Orifice height: 26”

Dimensions: 33” wide x 33” tall x 18” deep

Comes with 3 bobbins, medium and fast whorls, cotton and poly drive bands, threading hook.

Special features: Can be assembled with the flyer on the right or the flyer on the left. Packs flat for shipping.

The Saxony style Flatiron comes with everything you need to spin. Just add fiber.

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.

Eight Pieces of Equipment Everyone Needs for Spinzilla

We are but two short months away from Spinzilla, (Oct 5-11), To help you prepare, here is a list of must-have equipment for you and your team! Order early so you’re ready to go by Spin Day!

1. Wheel or Spindle

The Sidekick will travel

wherever you may go!

Though this may be obvious, there is a different wheel/spindle for the type of spinning you want to do. Check out this blog by Denise on how she chooses a spinning wheel depending on what she wants to spin.

2. Oil Bottle

“Where is my oil bottle?”, “Do you have an oil bottle I can borrow?”, “I think I need to oil my flyer…”

These are all common questions and phrases that we hear when we spin–especially during Spinzilla. Visit your local Schacht dealer and pick up a bottle or two and keep them on hand. While you are at it, check out this video on the proper oiling techniques for your Schacht wheels.

3. Lazy Kate

Whether you get the on-board lazy kate for your Ladybug, or the Tensioned Lazy Kate, it is imperative that you have proper yarn management. A lazy kate is perfect for plying, or just holding yarn as you let your singles rest.

4. (Fiber Storage) Spinning Wheel Bobbins/Cardboard Spools/Plastic Bobbins

We only have so many spinning wheel bobbins available to us, and when we are spinning the large quantities of yarn that we do for Spinzilla, those bobbins fill up fast! To get around this, order more bobbins for your wheel, or use this tip to maximize the use of your bobbins. Transfer your yarn onto cardboard spools or 6″ plastic bobbins to free up those spinning wheel bobbins for more spinning!

This Ladybug is fully equipped with

the Bulky Plyer Flyer.

5. Bulky Flyer Package

Whether you’re spinning Bulky, plying massive amounts of yarn, or need a large bobbin for storage, a Bulky Package for your wheel is a must have! The sliding hook and large capacity bobbin is also helpful when spinning art yarns! Note: In helping you prepare for Spinzilla, we are offering in the month of August, the Ladybug, DT Matchless, and Sidekick with a Bulky set up.

6. Bobbin Winder

Whether you are a weaver or a spinner, bobbin winders are such a great help in the studio space. Transferring yarn from one bobbin or spool to another is much easier with a bobbin winder. The single ended winder is great for plastic bobbins, but the double ended winders are great for spinning wheel bobbins and cardboard spools. Upgrade to an electric bobbin winder to save your energy–and time–during Spinzilla.

7. Ultra Umbrella Swift

This is THE TOOL for Spinzilla! With an optional rotation counter, this swift will make counting yardage a snap! We used our Ultra for our team last year, and it sped up our measuring process significantly! Check out our video on all of the other cool features that the Ultra Umbrella Swift has to offer!

8. Hand Carders/Flick Carder


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.

Meet The Ultra Umbrella Swift

If you asked me what my favorite piece of Schacht equipment is, I’d have a tough time deciding. However, if I had to choose what my most used, most versatile and most helpful piece of equipment in my studio is, it would be my Ultra Umbrella Swift!

As a hand-spinner, I am able to easily wind from my freshly plied bobbin into a skein. Wash the skein, then when it’s dry, pop it back onto my swift, wind it into a ball and work with it! The advantage to the Ultra Umbrella Swift with a rotation counter is that I can quickly and easily measure my yardage.

As a weaver and a knitter, some of my favorite yarns come from the shop as a skein. I don’t want to spend my precious time hand winding a ball trying not to get my skein into a tangle. After a skein or two, my wife’s arms get tired from holding them up while I wind. Some skeins that I order are huge, and many other commercial umbrella swifts don’t have a large enough capacity to hold the larger skeins.

My space is precious in my studio, and the Ultra doesn’t take up much more space than a traditional swift. The convenience and flexibility to easily position the Ultra in a horizontal to vertical position, increases it’s options. The adjustable clamp which adjusts to many different kinds of table tops, opens up the possibilities of where I can set up my swift.

There are so many more reasons to love my swift, many of which can be found in the following video!

-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.

Weaving a Twill Sampler – Part 2

I underestimated how exciting the process of weaving a sampler can be. Some of the tie-up and treadling combinations gave me unexpected results which gave me ideas to try out a few of the patterns on a larger scale.

  • Looking at the sampler below, starting at the left, is straight twill where your twill progresses in a single direction like a set of stairs. For this example, I threaded the shafts 1,2,3,4 (or the first thread on shaft 1, the second thread on shaft 2, the third thread on shaft 3 and the fourth thread on shaft 4, and so on).
  • Point twill happens when a twill weave starts in one direction, for at least three threads (according to Helene Bress), and then reverses itself. For example, here I threaded 1,2,3,4,3,2, repeat.
  • A broken twill is exactly what you might expect. Instead of progressing in a sequential numerical order, backward and/or forward, a break is made in the threading so that at least one harness is skipped in the order. For this example I threaded: 3,4,1,2,4 3 2 1, repeat.
  • Extended point twill is created by combining straight twill and point twill. Here I’ve threaded: 1,2,3,4, 1,2,3,4, 3,2,1,2,3,4,3,2,3,4, repeat
  • Bird’s Eye is a point twill or broken twill threading that traditionally creates a diamond pattern with a dot at its center. Here, I’ve threaded it: 4,3,2,3,4,1,2,3,4,3,2,1, repeat.

Each threading is approximately two inches across, give or take, using 3/2 mercerized cotton sett at 15 ends per inch. I would recommend using a dark color for your warp and a light color for your weft, or vice versa, so that you are able to clearly see the pattern you are weaving. You might also vary the warp thread color to distinguish the five threadings even further from each other – say black and charcoal or dark blue so that you still get a good contrast with your choice of weft threads. I selected two weft colors to use alternately as I went from one treadling sequence to the next. And finally, you can see that I also used a length of orange yarn to indicate where I changed my tie-up. Oh, and I came up with so many treadling sequences to try, that I ran out of white 3/2 cotton before I finished weaving. Oops!! A gold 3/2 cotton took over where the white left off.

Swatch 3
The fourth tie-up is a little bit different from the others. I got to thinking about my Wolf Pup, which is a direct tie-up loom. This means that each shaft (or harness) is attached to a single treadle. Table looms are similar in concept but use hand levers. To weave patterns that require multiple shafts to be raised at once, you press down multiple treadles or levers at one time. I got to thinking about how tying up a single shaft to a single treadle and using the direct tie-up technique of pressing down multiple treadles within the sequence might enable someone with a four-shaft loom with only four or six treadles or four levers to weave more complicated patterns. You will see the tie-up in this draft suggests that you need eight treadles. If you have them, great, but if you have fewer, simply tie-up 1-2-3-4, and when the draft indicates that you need to lift more than one shaft, use both of your feet, or hands in the case of a table loom, to accomplish this.

Draft 4
[Download a ZIP file of the drafts in WIF format, with their accompanying images,]
These samples showcase five common twill threadings across a single warp.

All of the samples (and drafts) are woven on the same threadings as listed above – straight, point, broken, extended point, and bird’s eye. The threading reads left to right and the treadling reads bottom to top. This will match the woven fabric in the photos.

Swatch 1

Swatch 2

Both sides of your cloth can be interesting and so different from each other. If you’re excited about something you find on the underside of your cloth, use the inverse of the tie-up to weave it on top. If you weave the first inch or so of cloth in plain weave as I did, you’ll see that a plain weave structure creates a thinner fabric with less draw-in, making a wider cloth.

You may find a new favorite pattern. Mine is found in draft three, the third treadling sequence of the point twill threading. It reminds me of a happy little flowerbed. The best thing about weaving a sampler is this sort of random discovery. Why not warp up your loom and give it a try?
Happy Weaving!

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Melissa Ludden Hankens

You can find Melissa designing weaving projects for the Schacht newsletter and teaching at the Creative Warehouse in Needham, Massachusetts. Website - melentine.com Twitter - Melentine (@Melentine) Instagram - melentine on Instagram

How to Tie and Replace Spinning Wheel Drive Bands

As many of our readers and fans know, we have been working on making tutorial videos. Our latest trio of videos focus on tying and replacing drive bands on the Schacht Reeves, Matchless, and Ladybug Spinning Wheels. We hope you find these videos educational and helpful. If you have any suggestions on videos that you would find helpful, please let us know!

Catch all of our video updates by subscribing to our YouTube channel.

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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.

How To: Use the Sidekick Bag

The new Sidekick bag was designed to fit your wheel perfectly and snugly inside. There is only one correct way to insert your Sidekick into the bag. Here is a guide on how to properly place your Sidekick into the bag.

After folding up your Sidekick, lay your wheel on the floor with the treadle holding the flyer facing down (the “blank” treadle faces up as shown above). Orient the wheel so the bottom is towards you and the top is away from you. The bag should be laid out to the left of the wheel, like a book with the strap on the right hand side pointing towards the wheel and the flap opening to the left.

Open your bag like a book (the strap will be on the right).

Insert your Sidekick in the bag as shown above, the bottom of the wheel is still towards you, with the blank treadle facing up (the top is away from you).

As you zip up the bag, pull up the “walls” of the sides as you go around. The fit is snug. Your Sidekick is all packed up and ready to go wherever you go!

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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.

Default Yarn – Judy Pagels

Most of my spinning for the past couple of years has been done right here at Schacht. Lucky for me one of my responsibilities was test-spinning on the wheels. When I have the opportunity to spin at my own lovely cherry Matchless, my default yarn tends to be similar to what I spin at work. It’s always short draw since that is ideal when viewing a wheel’s performance. More often than not I fall into the same type of spinner as when testing.

After plying, Judy gives her yarn a SOAK – she loves this yarn wash

One difference between work and play is the fiber. At Schacht, we typically test the wheels using Bluefaced Leicester. At my own wheel, which I confess currently doesn’t get very much mileage, (don’t be fooled – this will change for Spinzilla!) I enjoy spinning with luxury fibers. From our monthly lunchtime spinning sessions at work my bobbin was filling with one of the most luscious yarns. Earlier in the year I bought some of Lucky Cat Craft’s 70% Ultrafine Polwarth and 30% Muga Silk. This yarn has received many ooohs and aaahs and is a lovely shade of brown, one of my very favorite colors. Brown has countless virtues – it can be natural, elegant, comfortable, enduring, humble, bold, dependable…  Not to mention the color of one of the most endearing animals, the donkey.

Judy can’t help but take photos of every donkey she sees!

In addition to this yarn’s perfect color it has a luster that cannot be captured on film. Trust me – it is yummy!  I do not yet have an intended end use for this yarn but it may be combined with my next default yarn, Lucky Cat Craft’s 33% Yak, 33% Camel and 33% Muga Silk – a heavenly shade of brown.

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Judy Pagels

Judy Pagels comes to Schacht from a varied background in printing, graphic design, and flower arranging. Hired initially as our shipping manager, Judy shortly afterwards was promoted to sales and service manager where she is in charge of new accounts, as well as sales and service. Judy is first a knitter, but also weaves and spins—always with a keen eye to great design.

You Can’t Take it With You… Or Maybe You Can!

Now is the time of year when schools are letting out and families are starting to plan their vacations. When many people think of weaving and spinning, portability doesn’t necessarily come to mind right away.

This handy guide will give you ideas of products and projects that will easily fit in a carry-on, suitcase, or a kid’s “busy bag.”

2″ Hi-Lo Drop Spindle

Spinning: Depending on the length and nature of the trip, there are a couple of options. For kids and new spinners, a Schacht Hi-Lo drop spindle is perfect for travel. At 2″, 3″, and 4″ sizes, this will fit in a space smaller than a shoe-box, along with a bunch of fiber. Watch the DVD “Getting Started on a Drop Spindle” for a wonderful how-to.

Folded Sidekick

For more advanced spinners who can’t live without a wheel, the Schacht Sidekick is a dreamy companion. This folding travel wheel can be easily stowed in the car or motor home and quickly assembled for on-the-go spinning. This YouTube playlist gives you a few resources to add to your spinning technique toolbox.

Curved Hand Carders

It’s not all about spinning the fiber, it is also about prepping the fiber. While you are spending a large amount of time in the car on a road trip, bring a pair of hand carders to get your fleece in prime spinning shape.

Weaving: With the innovation of the Schacht team, weaving is more portable than ever. Starting with the smallest, here are some looms and projects to go with them!

Zoom Loom

The Zoom Loom is perfect for traveling, it easily fits in a project bag and since each square requires only 8 yards of yarn, you don’t have to carry dozens of skeins with you. This board of projects has a range of small projects up to very large projects. Share your Zoom Loom travel adventures with us!


Mini Loom

The Mini loom is a great introduction into weaving, and it comes complete with everything you need to get started.

Inkle Loom

The Inkle loom takes up a little more space, but is still portable enough for extended road trips. The mechanics are simple and can be easily done anywhere. The next few weeks on this blog we’ll feature a new inkle pattern each week. In the meantime our Pinterest board has a couple fun projects.


15″ Cricket Loom

The Cricket and Flip Looms allow for more choices and larger swathes of fabric. These delightful looms are found in sizes 10″ and 15″ for the Cricket, and 15″, 20″, and 25″ for the Flip. Take these looms along in a special Flip or Cricket bag. With over 40 projects, this Pinterest board is sure to have something fun for you!

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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.

New Tutorial Video on Our YouTube Channel

You asked, we listened. We now have a tutorial on our YouTube channel on how to install your apron cords on the Schacht Cricket Loom.
We are working on more videos like the one above, so Subscribe to the channel to receive updates on new content!

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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.

I Spun the Yarn, Now What?

You have just spun hundreds if not thousands of yards of singles, and are probably plying up a storm.
Some folks spun one type of fiber, but others spun many different types leaving them with many different yarns. What can you do with all of this newly spun yarn?

Bobbins filled with thousands of yards of yarn

Betty spun one type of fiber during Spinzilla

Large quantities of yarn may be used in large projects (Betty will be weaving a hounds-tooth shawl) but what do you do with the small skeins you have? The bobbins that were from remnant fiber stashes certainly didn’t make a ton of yarn, and won’t make for very large projects, but they should not be cast aside.

Handspun yarn is a precious commodity and should be showcased in projects that you can show off and enjoy for years to come.

If you don’t know how to ply, guide your browser to this video where Stephanie teaches you how to ply on your spinning wheel.

Our Cricket looms and our Zoom Loom would be great tools to use with your new yarn.

For a list of our Zoom Loom projects: click here
Here are a few to highlight:

The Zippy Bow tie will add punch to your wardrobe, and will certainly start a few conversations.

Many bobbins filled with colorful yarn

Different singles spun by Paul E. during Spinzilla

The Infinity Scarf is a beautiful accessory to add to your fall/winter outfits; but be careful, everyone you know will want one.

The Dibby Dabs Scarf from our Fall 2011 newsletter would be an elegant way to use some of the yarns that you have in smaller quantities.

If you spun wool, and would rather have something for your home to add some zest to the decor, try the Fun and Funky Felted Pillow from the Spring 2011 issue of our Newsletter.

Try these projects or make up your own and send photos to schacht@schachtspindle.com with the project name in the header. We would love to see your creations.

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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.

Keep Your Wheel Tuned Up for Spinzilla

We’re off and spinning!


How’s your spinning coming along? Is your wheel performing as it should?  The answer could be NO, even if you are a fanatical spinner. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE… We want all of you Schacht aficionados to be spinning with optimum spinning capability.

Let’s begin with the basics for any spinning wheel, and work our way into specific details for each of the Schacht wheels. First, find a comfortable place to work. I would recommend the dining room table (protect the top); it’s a good height for most of us.

Here are the tools that are essential to any toolbox for these spinning wheels:

Ladybug: 1/2” wrench, 7/16” wrench, Philips screw driver, 3/32” and 1/8” Allen wrenches


Matchless: 5mm and 4mm hex wrenches, Phillips screw driver, extra drive cord

Schacht-Reeves: 3/32” and 1/8″ Allen wrenches, Phillips screw driver, Ivory soap, paste wax, extra drive cord

Sidekick: 3/32” Allen wrench, Phillips screw driver

Optional but important: Schacht oil bottle, white grease, external ring clip pliers, Obenauf’s Heavy Duty LP

Tighten things up
Make no mistake, spinning wheels are machines. You wouldn’t drive your car or ride your bike across the country with loose bolts or screws.Begin at the bottom front by tightening all the fasteners, work your way around the wheel systematically.

If the front feet of the spinning wheel are adjustable, level the wheel at this point, though you may need to level them again when the wheel is on the floor. Tightening and leveling your wheel periodically is a good habit to get into especially if you take the wheel to spinning functions. Every floor is different so leveling the feet is essential to optimal functioning of the wheel.


Tie a new drive cord: I cannot stress this point enough: if you are using a drive cord of cotton, linen, etc., you must change it regularly, like NOW. A good drive cord is essential to the functioning of your Matchless or Schacht-Reeves wheel. Absolutely nothing will improve performance like a new drive cord tied or sewn correctly. Clean the excess grease and fiber off the flyer shaft while you are working with this portion of the setup. Test the rotation of the bobbin by spinning it on the flyer by hand before assembling it to the wheel. If it doesn’t spin freely it will not draw on once assembled.

Before you tie a new drive cord, I want to discuss the proper alignment of the front maiden, flyer, bobbin, and whorls. Start with the flyer arms parallel to the top surface of the mother-of-all. The Matchless flyer is tensioned by moving the rear bearing, so setting the flyer arms parallel allows the maximum amount of adjustability. The front bearing should rest about 1/32” off the shoulder of the flyer. An excellent way to test free rotation of the flyer is with the drive cord dropped off the flyer—the setup is correct if the flyer rotates freely when spun by hand.

Schacht-Reeves 30″ Cherry

To tie on the drive cord, think of the drive wheel as a clock face. Beginning at 2 o’clock, wrap the drive cord clockwise twice for double drive, returning to tie it at 2 o’clock, right over left, left over right. You may find that you like a slightly heavier single cord for scotch tension or you can use your double drive cord for scotch tension by simply using both loops over the whorl.

If your wheel has a poly band and you spin consistently with one size whorl, your drive cord probably functions fairly well. Nevertheless, when you are finished spinning, drop the drive cord off the flyer to allow the poly band to rest. If you are switching from one size whorl to another frequently, let the poly band relax for about a half hour to allow it to regain its shape before spinning with a smaller whorl. Using the tensioner will help achieve the right amount of tension if you don’t have time to wait.

Schacht-Reeves 24″ Ash

Check and adjust the maidens
In the case of the Sidekick, be sure that both maidens are square and fully upright. It is also important to note that the bearing in your front maiden should not rotate; the flyer rotates in the bearing.

On the Matchless, Ladybug and Sidekick, the flyer should be able to move back to front just a little bit—1/8″ or so. If you don’t have this little bit of play in the flyer, adjust the front maiden.

The Schacht-Reeves maidens are essential to the free rotation of the flyer. Perhaps the hardest part of using this wheel is finding the sweet spot where the flyer rotates freely.

Oil, oil, oil
Your last step is to regularly re-apply lubrication in the critical places listed in your maintenance book. If you don’t have it handy, you can find it on our website. These simple adjustments should help you reach your maximum spinning potential.

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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.

Making Lace: Brook’s Bouquet


I’ve always loved Brook’s bouquet for its little window pane effect. There’s a certain charm in the contrast between the gathered bundles and the straight incidentals in between where a single warp and weft cross.

Though Brook’s bouquet is a finger-controlled weave, it proceeds rather quickly. It’s great for curtains, a placemat border, or overall texture on a scarf.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Open your shed. (It’s easiest to work from your dominant side over.)

2. Insert your shuttle into the shed, encircle a group of raised threads and then place the shuttle back into the shed.

3. Move onto the next group and repeat.

For more about Brook’s Bouquet, see my book, A Weaver’s Idea Book, pages 59-63.

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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.

Schacht Sidekick–TNNA debut

The Sidekick open and ready for spinning.

We’re just back from TNNA (The National Needlework Association) and had a blast showing off the Sidekick. She got a big workout and it was fun to show her off. We are thrilled with the response. We still have a few tweaks before we’re in full-blown production.

I thought I’d share some of the specifications about the wheel, as we’ve getting some questions:

  • Folds to 21 1/2″ x 15″ x 8 1/4″.
  • Integrated storage of bobbins, flyer, and whorls for transport.
  • Lightweight at 13 pounds.
  • 13 3/4″ drive wheel allows for ratios from 4.25 to 15.25.
  • Long, comfortable treadles.
  • Uses the same bobbins, whorls, and flyer as the Schacht Matchless and Ladybug wheels.
  • The Sidekick can be purchased without the bobbin-flyer assembly.
  • 25″ orifice height for comfortable spinning.
  • Employs Scotch tension with precise control knob.
  • The drive wheel spins on ball bearings. The flyer turns on self-aligning bearings.
  • Drive band tension adjuster allows for all whorls to be used with one drive band.

The Sidekick comes with 3 bobbins, 2 whorls, threading hook, and adjustable carrying strap.

Also available: The Sidekick Bulky Plyer Flyer Package can be added at any time.

The Price: We are still receiving pricing for some of our components, so it’ll be a few weeks yet before we’ll have the price finalized.

Ship Date: We will start production in early 2011, with our first ship date around the first of May.

Note: We’ve had some questions about the Sidekick’s weight compared to the Ladybug’s. We re-weighed the Ladybug, and she has gained a little over the years–mainly due to the drive wheel change. For comparison, the Ladybug official weight is 13 ½ pounds.

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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.

A Flat Iron and a Shuttle

Having the right tool is a wonderful thing. I broke down a couple of weeks ago and bought a flat iron for my hair that my stylist has been urging me to spring for a—ahem—a couple of years. “You just can’t get ‘the look’ without it,” she’d say. After looking more and more like a helmet head, I decided it was time for a purchase. And you know, she was right. The flat iron just tames the hair down, and does it quickly and painlessly. It’s just the right tool and it DOES make a difference.

Anyway, this got me thinking about tools the other day when I was weaving a fine fabric, about 20 e.p.i., with my boat shuttle. My selvedges really didn’t look that great and I was having to pay more attention to them than I wanted to. I thought if I switched to my end delivery shuttle, I’d have better results. Wow-O-wow, what a difference.

Then I started thinking about all the other tools in my studio that make things easier, and perhaps better, if not more efficient. Here are a few:

1. My Schacht (of course) double ended electric bobbin winder (good for spools, too—which I use a lot if I’m doubling yarns or winding yarn from a skein). Remember, time is money, and winding bobbins the electric way is the only way as far as I’m concerned.

2. My Matchless Lazy Kate—which I rarely use for spinning bobbins. This is THE BEST for holding yarns on spools to wind bobbins on my electric bobbin winder.

3. Light Duty Swift—takes no space, can be used upright or sideways. Easy to store.

4. Tables: a tall sewing table that I can fold up all of the way, part of the way, or all of the way, depending on what I’m doing. I like the high surface for winding or cutting with my rotary cutter…lots of storage underneath, too. I’ve got two card tables, also. One is a work table that I use for rigid heddle weaving and the other I’ve got my photo studio set up on. I keep plastic storage bins with ongoing projects stored underneath.

5. My studio. I’m ever so blessed to have my very own work space. If you can wrangle some space and call it your own—one that you don’t have to clean up before you can eat dinner—is the best. I’m sure you’ll find you’re much more productive.

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.