All posts by Amy Gunderson

Creative Director at Universal Yarn

Pink & Plaid

One of the super fun parts of my job is getting to see projects other people are making in our yarn. Recently, Linda Davis, owner of Tail Spinner in Richlands, NC sent us photos of a fantastic weaving project. Although not woven on a rigid heddle loom (as most of our projects  in this column will be), I had to show this beautiful throw to the world! Made in Deluxe DK Superwash this throw will be able to be machine washed.

Claire

Meet Claire, a high school student local to Linda. Claire doesn’t knit or crochet (yet!), but her favorite subject in school is environmental science. Here are some details on this lovely project, courtesy of Linda:

In our county, each senior is required to do a project their Senior year to learn about something which they had never done before.  Claire’s grandmother has a countermarch, 8-shaft loom that she wants to give to her, and Claire was very intrigued by the thought of weaving.  So, she decided that learning to weave would be a great project.  She found out that I taught weaving after some investigating, and she called me last September to see if I would mentor her for her Senior project.  I said I would be glad to, and we proceeded on with her journey.  Her first project was done on the rigid heddle loom.  She created a moebius scarf using chenille and ribbon as the warp on an 8-dent heddle and weaving loosely with a simple fingering wool.  Then, we moved on to doing the throw on the 32-inch, four-shaft table loom, using a 10-dent reed.  She used the Deluxe DK Superwash for both the warp and the weft.  The throw is basically a sampler using a point twill.  She had to choose the yarn and the colors and decide the repeats of color throughout the warp and then figure out the weft repetitions.  Another of Claire’s assignments was to select the patterns she wished to use and alternate them every nine inches.  She chose a Bird’s Eye repeat over 6 ends: 3/2/1/2/3/4; and then, she mixed up the patterns using 2/2 and 1/3 twills.  So, she essentially designed the whole piece, which ended up being 30 inches wide and over 60 inches long.
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Thanks Claire and Linda!

Weaving Wednesday – everyone loves rainbows!

I have this sort of love affair with linen. Anytime I’m asked what my favorite fiber is my response is always linen. If I could marry linen and have little linen babies, I might just do that. You get the picture.

We recently added 6 glorious new shades to Flax, our 100% linen yarn in the Fibra Natura line.  When I started out to do this Weaving Wednesday project, my first inclination was to do a sort of sophisticated plaid, using mostly the new Flax shades. I had a skein of every color of Flax laid out on the floor, grouping them together, ungrouping; just playing around. Before I knew it, I had a rainbow all lined up begging to be used! Unable to say no to the pretty arrangement, I immediately began direct-warping my 15″ Cricket.

I like my scarves wide. I decided to use up every last hole on my 8 dent reed and make the most of my 15″ weaving width. For anyone wanting to reproduce this scarf, here are the specs:

Colors used:  102 Poppy (A) , 03 Orange (B), 02 Tangerine (C), 01 Lemon (D), 101 Butter Cream (E), 104 Wild Lime (F), 12 Tarragon (G), 11 Adriatic (H), 103 Regatta (I) and 18 Pewter (X). Pewter is the only new color I ended up incorporating. I decided the rainbow needed to be tamed with a dose of neutral. I used only about 1/3 or so of each 50 g skein. If I had it to do over again, I would have warped 3 times as long so I could have gotten 3 scarves!

Because I wanted a very drapy scarf, I went with the 8 dent reed. I’m going to touch more on choosing reed size in future posts. But briefly, a good rule of thumb is to go with a reed size that is half of the WPI (wraps per inch) of your yarn if you want a fabric of “average” density. Because I wanted a more open scarf, I chose a reed that had fewer than half the WPI so there would be more space between strands. My threading went: 12A, 12B, 12C, 4X, 12D, 12E, 12F, 4X, 12G, 12H, 12I; then at each end I did 2 double strands of X. My warp length was about 100″; I also like my scarves plenty long.

Be sure to click on each image for a nice close-up!

RainbowScarf_1

I wove a few picks with scrap yarn and then started right in with my color progression without doing a header. I decided I wanted natural looking ends without the structure of a header. Because I like to do things the hard way, I decided to weave according to my warp, in the same order, thereby making checks. Because there’s so much going on with color in this project, I decided to stick with plain weave. I started out with 4 picks of X, then 12 I, 12H, 12G, 4X, and so on.

Because the warp threads are spaced on the airy side and my goal was to have checks of color that were as tall as they were wide, I was very conscious of my “beating” of the weft thread. Instead of firmly pushing the weft down, I was sure to have a gentle hand and simply push it into place. After a couple of color changes, I measured the work on the loom to make sure I was on track. I could see my touch was a little too gentle, so I started again, pushing a bit harder. Hand weaving isn’t an exact science; it takes the right touch, just like any other craft.

Which brings us to our next lesson: adding in new colors to a row.

RainbowScarf_3_weavinginends

Every time I started a new color, I began from the opposite side (right or left), so the ends wouldn’t be all grouped on one side of the scarf. I wove a few rows, and then wove in the ends. It’s easier to do this while the piece is still taut on the loom and also nice to not have a bazillion ends to deal with at the finish. I have a special tapestry needle that I use whenever I’m working with Flax. It has a large enough eye that the strand easily passes through, but with a sharp point. Plant fibers are slippery and require special care when dealing with.

When weaving in the ends on my scarf, I basically “wove” this strand in, following the strand just above it, but actually pierced the yarn as I wove. So, not only is this strand “woven” in, it is also further secured through the center of the strand above it. Once woven in, I clipped it but left a couple of inches. After washing, I then clipped all the strands close to the piece.

You may have noticed a fun looking thing back in photo #1, which is a special shuttle called a boat shuttle. The Cricket comes with stick shuttles which work just fine, but it only comes with 2. Since I was weaving with 10 different colors, that wasn’t going to work for me, as having to rewind a shuttle every other color sounded like a lot of work. Schacht also sells boat shuttles, and these are really handy for weaving with many colors. Inside the “boat”, fits a little plastic bobbin. You can purchase these bobbins by the dozen typically, and they’re pretty inexpensive. You can wind them by hand, but I love to use the bobbin winder on my sewing machine.

RainbowScarf_2

After doing 5 repeats of my striping/check sequence, 75″ of weaving, it was time to call it quits. I’d decided prior to starting the project that I was going to finish with twisted fringe. I separated my warp strands into groups of 4, and twisted it up. Although I don’t have any in-progress pics of doing that on this particular scarf, here’s a handy quick video of the technique:

After twisting all my fringe I threw my scarf (with the woven-in ends still hanging off the scarf, unclipped) into the washer on a gentle cycle and warm water. Even though the yarn label says not to machine dry, I’ve had good experiences washing and drying knitting projects in Flax, so I threw my scarf in without hesitation. It came out soft and with incredible drape. The finished size on the loom was 15″ x 75″; final size after blocking was 13.75″ x 72″. Because the weaving was so loose, there was fairly little draw-in, which is what I wanted! The only thing I wasn’t crazy about were my edges. To be fair, they didn’t look so great on the loom either, or before going into the washing machine.

Not to be discouraged, I decided it was time to break out the sewing machine once again. I had the perfect piece of fabric in my stash – a nice lightweight grey-blue rayon blend. I cut 2 strips (straight on the grain, no bias) that were 75″ long x 1.5″ wide. I folded in the sides, sandwiched my edges, folded under the edges, and sewed it onto the sides of my scarf, much like a single-fold quilt binding.

Flax Scarf 8 retone blog

I’m wearing this new scarf draped around my neck this very moment. Although it’s sweltering here in North Carolina right now, this is the perfect thing to give me a little warmth in our air-conditioned offices.

Flax Scarf 4 retone blog

Getting tired of plain weave? So am I! I love the look of a plain woven fabric, but I’m ready to move on. Join me next time for Garden thread and pick-up patterns!

Let the Weaving Wednesday Fun Begin!

Knitters and crocheters, I’m not going to lie: this new section of our blog is here purely to enable you to use more yarn. Well, and to make pretty things and entertain you, of course!

I first started weaving about 5 years ago after already knowing how to knit and crochet. After some struggles character building with a homemade frame loom, I scored a 4 harness floor loom on Craig’s List. I happily used it for a year or two, weaving up rugs and towels and other assorted goodies. Weaving can be very freeing and meditative, and it’s a great way to use up leftover odds and ends from other projects. But I moved 2 years ago and had to pack up the loom. It sat neglected and unassembled for this entire time until I moved again a couple of months ago. My significant other was kind enough to put her back together again and I am once again able to bask in the glory of all her harnesses, treadles, and heddles.

But there is still the problem of time. Warping a large loom takes a fair amount of it. Between work and all my knitting and crochet projects, I have little time for other kinds of craftery. Which is sad! But, this story has a happy ending. After TNNA in Indianapolis earlier this month, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a Schacht 15″ Cricket rigid heddle loom.   I had been lusting after a small tabletop loom for some time, and am so happy I finally acquired the Cricket!

Not 24 hours after returning from my trip, I got to work warping my new loom. Because it’s been so long since I’ve woven anything, I wanted to start simple. I decided to use a single yarn for both warp and weft, and to do just a plain weave scarf.

SequinsWarp_1SequinsWarp_2

(Pardon the cell phone quality pictures here)

For my yarn, I chose the very colorful, very sequiny Classic Shades Sequins Lite color #408 Jubilant – so sparkly! The awesome thing about the Cricket is the ability to direct-warp, which is super duper speedy. It took me about 15 minutes to attach my warp.  As I mentioned, I’m using the 15″ Cricket. I decided I wanted a scarf about 10″ wide. I figured the fabric would draw in somewhat, maybe 10% or so. I used an 8 dent reed (which means there are 8 ends per inch), and attached 88 ends (11 inches). I knew I wanted a long scarf, so I measured the warp at about 90″, which as you can see, is the length from the back of the loom to the doorknob!

I began weaving and soon realized my error: sequined yarn does not make the best warp yarn. Oops. Because the warp yarn must pass through the reed constantly, yarn with stuff on it doesn’t work so well. The sequins kept getting caught up, and I was getting frustrated. Rather than  power through it (weaving is supposed to be relaxing!), I cut off my warp and started again. A 5 dent reed would probably have worked fine, but I just had the 8 dent at the time I was doing this scarf.

After taking a quick survey of my stash, I decided upon 2 different colors of Saki Bamboo Solids , colors 204 Violet and 209 Denim Blue. Just for kicks, I did one side in Violet and the other in Denim Blue. A sock weight yarn such as this will typically fare better in a tighter sett (more ends per inch), but I decided to stick with the 8 dent anyway since it was what I had. Because it really does take 15 minutes or less to warp this loom, I was back to weaving in almost no time!

SakiWarpedLoom_retouch ArcedWeft_retouch

It took me several inches to really find my weaving “rhythm”. As with most beginning weavers, my edges were less than perfect. I remembered a trick I had learned with my floor loom as to how to deal with the weft yarn. As shown above, I aim the yarn in a 45 degree (approximate) angle, and then beat the weft down. With a little practice at being as consistent as I could, those edges improved immensely! I’ll be sharing other tips as I learn them over the coming months, so stay tuned for more edging advice!

I wove my colorful scarf over the course of just a couple of days. It took me around 3 1/2 hours to weave, and took 1 ball each of the Saki Bamboo Solids and just 1 ball of the Classic Shades Sequins Lite. I decided to stick with simple fringe for the ends.

TyingFringe

The scarf did draw in about 10% as I’d estimated (yay!), and I ended up with a 10″ wide x 76″ long, not including fringe. That’s another awesome benefit to the Cricket – there’s hardly any loom waste.

And here are a few glamour shots:

CS Sequins Lite Scarf 1_blog CS Sequins Lite Scarf 2_blog CS Sequins Lite Scarf 3_blog

When weaving my header, I forgot how many rows I wove when I got to the end. I guessed, and I guessed wrong, so one header is taller than the other. Oops! The edges aren’t perfect, but they’re charming, right? All in all, I’d call this a win!

Stay tuned for next time, I’ve got something yummy brewing for new colors of Flax!