All posts by Amy Gunderson

Creative Director at Universal Yarn

Infuse Yourself

I’m pretty excited. Last week, we got our first shipment of Infusion Handpaints new colors here at our warehouse in Harrisburg, NC:  Six brilliant shades to coordinate with existing colorways of Infusion.

Infusion HP 110 Ruby Mine hi-res Infusion HP 111 New Leaf hi-res Infusion HP 112 Hydro Power hi-res Infusion HP 113 Blue Riot hi-res Infusion HP 114 Purple Magic hi-res Infusion HP 115 Gray Matters hi-res

I was quoted as saying, “Oh man, all I want to do is knit with this stuff for the next month. Nothing else.” Fortunately I’ve had some time to work with the new colors, but let’s face it, I still need to eat, sleep and work.

There are a lot of things I love about this yarn, not just the delightful colorways. It is machine washable. It’s sportweight, making it great for socks, garments, and accessories. It’s an all-around joy!

As you can see, the new colorways are tonal, meaning all the shades in each color are very close to one another and belong to the same color family. Each of these tonal colorways was designed specifically to coordinate with the earlier multis. Because it can be tough to pair colors with one another without having the benefit of having all the skeins with one in person, I’ve put together this handy guide. Each of the groupings below illustrates a multi (color numbers 101-109) along with the new tonal colors (color numbers 110-115) that have an exact match with one or more shades.

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As you can see, each multi colorway has either 2 or 3 tonal colors that is a direct match. Here is an example of 103 But a Dream paired up with 110 Ruby Mine:

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As you can see, this yarn has decided to be a sweater. The sleeve cuff here is worked in 110 in a simple broken rib pattern. The sleeve uses both 103 & 110, alternating every 2 rows. You can see the luscious blending that occurs, since both colorways share some of the same red tones.

 

Here’s a second example, this time using the same multi (103 But a Dream), but paired with a contrasting tonal color, 115 Gray Matters.

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Here I’ve worked a shorter cuff in a slipped 1×1 rib, using just color 115. Again, I’ve striped 115 & 103, changing colors every 2 rows.  As you can see, the striping is more pronounced. It would be even more so using more highly contrasting shades.

I haven’t decided which version to proceed with yet – I love them both! It really is like watching a watercolor painting grace the canvas right before my eyes while knitting.

The tonal colors work great all on their own, as seen here in the Razor’s Edge Shawlette:

Infusion Dragon's RazorsEdge final long

Instead of using 2 tonals, I think this project would also look great worked using a multi in place of the gray, and sticking with a tonal color for the red.

And heck, the multis look great all on their own, too. Using a slipped stitch pattern, a classic method of “mixing” handpaint variegated yarn, this little vest would look adorable in any of the colorways.

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Enjoy, I know I am!

Honeymoon

I’ve seen it in myself many times before, and it’s been so much fun to see it in my coworker, Katie: the New Craft Addiction Honeymoon Period. After we had a little learning session here in the office with basic warping and weaving, Katie took home the 15″ Cricket to play with. It was quite evident from the three (yes, 3!) scarves Katie finished over the course of just one week, that Katie had been bitten by the weaving bug. Today, I want to talk about two of these scarves.

Both scarves were taken and adapted from Jane Patrick and Stephanie Flynn Sokolov’s book, “Woven Scarves”, and both used an 8 dent reed.

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The first was based on the “Chunky Check” pattern from the book. It’s a plain weave technique that’s all about strategic color change in both warp and weave. Katie used our Ready to Dye angora blend yarn for warp and weft. Half was undyed, and half was dyed using…get this…Crystal Light packets! I’ve heard of Kool-Aid dyeing before, but never Crystal Light. Makes sense it would work in the same way!

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Here’s an in-progress pic. Katie is obviously a natural – her selvedges look perfect.

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Off the loom. Katie opted for hemstitching at each end with tied fringe. This scarf took only about a third each of her two Ready to Dye hanks.

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And beauty shots here in the office. Katie gets tired of hearing me harp about the importance of blocking. But look what a difference it makes! With a few exceptions, I never consider a knit, crochet, or woven project to be complete until either wet or steam blocking have happened.

Scarf number two is based on the Posh Plum scarf from “Woven Scarves”. This project is another excellent illustration of how plain weave can often look anything but plain. Two yarns, in this case Llamalini and Whisper Lace, both from our Fibra Natura collection come together in an indescribable harmony. Colors are 204 Cloudy Morning in the Whisper Lace, and 101 Birchbark in the Llamalini.

Because Whisper Lace is a laceweight yarn, working this project on an 8 dent reed made for an extremely light, airy scarf.

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Here it is on the loom, and just off the loom. Katie also went with hemstitch and fringe finishing on this scarf. After handwashing, it measures 80″. Can you believe she used less than a ball/hank of each yarn?

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As you can see, Heather really likes this scarf; lots of glamour shots! I must say, I covet this one myself.

Stay tuned for next time when Weaving Wednesdays breaks into fall projects!

 

 

It’s Contagious

Ever since I started the weaving blog and bringing in my finished projects, my coworker Katie has been coveting the Cricket. Katie works just one door down from me in the office and is the (very important) (and very patient!) customer service lead for our small Universal team. A couple of weeks ago I brought in the loom and got to teaching Katie how to weave.

Katie is very good at understanding the mechanics of things. She taught me how to use one of those little i-cord crank gadgets because I just couldn’t quite get it on my own! So, I knew learning how to warp and weave would be a snap for her.

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Here I am, explaining how important it is to put some kind of spacer between the warp as it’s rolled onto the back beam. It turns out, the brown paper my reeds came wrapped in make an awesome spacer!

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I felt a little like Tom Sawyer convincing Katie to whitewash a fence as I passed off the duty of threading the reed – not my most favorite part of warping!

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After we finished warping the 5-dent reed with Uptown Worsted, we started in doing plain-weave with the super-bulky Classic Shades Big Time. I planned on making a cover to fit a 12″ pillow form. We warped the loom 13″ wide to account for draw-in and seaming. Weaving with a yarn as bulky as the Big Time made this my quickest project yet. The two sides of the pillow cover were done in under an hour total of weaving time.

I decided to sew the cover using my machine, but this could just as easily be done by hand. First I zig-zagged the ends of each of the two cover pieces, and then cut them apart.

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I planned a button placket and hemmed that by hand using an invisible whipstitch.

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Then I pinned both pieces right-sides together and stitched around three sides.

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I decided to go a different direction with the buttons, but was still glad for the placket. After some buttons and button loops, the final pillowcase:

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And as a pillow:

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All in all, this project took around 2-3 hours to complete. Not bad, eh? Katie had such a blast, that I haven’t seen the loom for the last couple of weeks. She’s been weaving like a maniac and doing some super-fun projects. Next time, I can’t wait to share some of her finished scarves with you!

Ladies Who Lunch

Do you think I just came up with that out of the clear blue sky? Ladies Who Lunch? Nope, not me; but I love it! This is the title of the scarf project for this week’s weaving Wednesday, taken from Jane Patrick and Stephanie Flynn Sokolov’s book, Woven Scarves, 26 Inspired Designs for the Rigid Heddle Loom.

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If you haven’t seen this book, I’m here to tell you it is inspiring, creative, and full of beautiful scarves all woven on rigid heddle looms. As I was deciding on a project for the blog and happened upon the Ladies Who Lunch scarf, I knew we had two yarns that would be just perfect: Felicity, a shiny ladder yarn with a unique a luscious wool slub; and Whisper Lace, the sweetest wool/silk laceweight yarn in our Fibra Natura line.

I don’t want to give away too many details since this is a pattern in a book. But here are some in progress photos.

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In order to direct-warp to the loom I altered the warping plan slightly. Suzy, my yellow lab, may or may not approve of this plan. It’s hard to tell with her sometimes. I typically clamp my Cricket to a bench while I’m weaving. Here, this bench is in front of the door to my weaving/sewing/yarn room, blocking Suzy from entering. For this, she absolutely does not approve.

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While warping the Whisper Lace (dark gray yarn), I left empty slots where I would later attach the Felicity (ladder yarn).

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Yes, Suzy, it’s almost time to un-dog-block the door.

I’m pretty sure I said some unfair things about plain weave a couple/few blog posts ago. We had started out with a couple of simple projects and I was all raring to learn new tricks. But you know, plain weave doesn’t have to be “plain”. With some simple color changes and interesting yarn choices, it can be anything but “plain”! I am so sorry plain weave, I never meant to hurt your feelings.

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As you can see, this is really just plain weave plaid. But with the textural difference between the  two yarns, this piece of weaving is really fun!

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We’ve been working with machine washable cottons over the last few projects which has been nice! But this scarf is on the delicate side and required a gentle handwashing. After tying some simple fringe and said washing, ta-da:

Whisper Lace Felicity scarf on blog

Incidentally, Heather Hill who does most of the blogging around here also does most of our in-house photography. She’s responsible for making things look super-awesome. Thanks Heather!

Whisper Lace Felicity scarf with balls blog

 

The scarf pictured took just one ball of Felicity 02 Autumn’s End and one ball of  Whisper Lace 111 Charcoal. The price is right, and the weaving is fast.

See you next time with some more speedy weaving, color-shading style!

 

Feeling Loopy

Here in North Carolina, the high daily temperature has been pretty steady around 95 for weeks now. Just the thought of wool makes me sweat. Last time on our weaving feature, I showed how successful even a novice like me can be weaving little hand towels with our Garden 10 cotton yarn. Today, I’m continuing the cotton trend with a different yarn, Cotton Supreme. Cotton Supreme is  a worsted weight, super-soft cotton, awesome for knitting, crochet, and weaving alike.

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I’ve been itching to try out some other techniques from the Weaver’s Idea Book, and decided on “loops”. Jane has a great little tutorial on making loops, or pile in your weaving.  But first I had to decide how these loops might be functional in a piece of weaving. I decided that in Cotton Supreme, an all-over loops pattern would feel really great on the face as a washcloth, or could also work well as a dusting cloth.

To start, I made a few calcuations. The suggested sett for a worsted weight yarn is 8 epi. I decided to warp on a 10 dent reed instead, ensuring an extra sturdy piece of fabric. If I’m going to be using this for face scrubbing or dusting, I want to be sure it’s plenty solid.

I decided to aim for a finished size of 9″ square, not including fringe, so I warped 91/2″ wide, assuming a 1/2″ shrinkage. At 10 epi x 95 ends, that’s a requirement of just 53 yards of Cotton Supreme. It occurred to me that I could make at least 2 washcloths at this size from just 2 skeins!

I also planned to have fringe not only at either end, but also at the sides. For this, I needed a couple of floating warps, something for the weft yarn to pass around creating extra length for the side fringe. I could have gone about this a couple of different ways. Because I did not plan on tying my fringe, I wanted to keep the side loops intact throughout the woven piece. For each floating warp, I tied a piece of strong cotton (leftover Garden 10 from our last project!) around the back beam, and then passed it through the outermost slot on each side of the heddle. When I tied the warp onto the front beam, I also tied on the floating warps.

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After a few picks with scrap yarn, I was all set to weave loops. Every time I made a pass with my shuttle, I was sure to go around those floating warp threads to catch extra yarn for my side fringe.

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As you can see for the first washcloth, I used color 611 Turquoise for the warp, and then coordinating 617 Seafoam for warp. For the second, I reversed the colors. Because of the loops, more yarn is required for weft than warp, but 2 skeins of yarn was plenty for these 2 washcloths. My pattern was 2 picks of plain weave, 1 row of loops. Although a little tedious, the loops came easier every time I worked a row of them. For the second washcloth, I decided to do 3 picks of plain weave between rows of loops so I could be doing the loops coming from the right hand side of the work every time, rather than having to get up every few rows to work a down-heddle row of loops.

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At the beginning, end and sides of the piece, I added hemstitching to keep the fringe in place.

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This project went so quickly! After completing each piece, I simply cut it from the loom. The hemstitching held things in place until I made it over to my sewing machine. For extra insurance that all those edges stayed in place, I did a simple zig-zag stitch around the perimeter.

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A rotary cutter and cutting mat made for easy and even trimming of fringe:

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I really like the texture on the backside of the weaving too!

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After sewing and trimming fringe, the washcloths took a trip through the washing machine and dryer. As with most weaving projects, these really came to life after washing! They didn’t shrink in width, but shrank in height by about 1/2″. The loops kind of settled into place and the pieces softened up even more.

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At this sett, 10 epi, a bigger version of these would make an excellent bathroom rug. Or made to the right size, this same fabric could work really well as a cover for one of those hardwood floor brooms.

Cotton Supreme Washcloths_blog

What else could loops work well for? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Join me next time for a lightweight summer scarf project!

 

Summertime Towels

A couple of weeks ago, I was so proud of myself for making a sampler and feeling like I had a plan for my Garden 10 towels. I was able to try out some different pick-up patterns and see how the resulting fabric looked on both sides, determining whether or not I thought it would make a good pattern for towels. This experiment led me to choose the pattern for my first towel. But…I’m getting ahead of myself here.

First, did you know Garden 10 comes in cones? I set out to warp up the Cricket using a cone of Garden 10 in white. It was so easy to warp from the cone because it sits upright all on its own without rolling away like a ball of yarn. Plus, the yardage is super awesome, at over 3000 yards.

I decided to plan conservatively for my towels and shoot for 3. After some quick calculations, I warped my loom  the same as the sampler (20 epi using a 10 dent reed/2 epi), but warped it 14″ wide. I began and ended in a slot (an odd number of ends) so my pick-up patterns would be balanced. I decided that the measurement I wanted for the towels (before washing) was 14″ wide x 24″ long, not including hems. The length of my warp was 100″, which included 1 1/2″ at the end of each towel for hems, and an inch between towels.

For the first towel, I picked a simple 3/1 weft float pattern from my sampler. To add a little visual interest, I decided to repeat the 6 row pattern 4 times, and then add a few rows of plain weave in between, and also at the sides. You can see where I did a 1 up, 1 down pattern on most of the pick-up stick, and then did an inch of plain weave pick-up at the edges.

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After I did my first repeat (6 rows x 4 + plain weave), I measured this repeat and recorded all of this in my Weaving Journal (!).

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After measuring the repeat, I knew I’d need 10 total repeats to achieve my desired length. To keep track, I stuck a straight pin between repeats and made a hatch mark in my journal.

One nice thing about weaving with Garden 10 doubled, is the ability to stagger the woven in ends.

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After finishing up border and hem on towel 1, I added 4 rows of plain weave with some scrap yarn and then went right into towel 2. Once I’m done with all 3 towels, I’ll take the whole lot straight over to my sewing machine and secure the ends.

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And this is where my attention span wavered from my sampler. Waffle weave is something I’ve had in my head couldn’t really be achieved on a rigid heddle without a lot of trouble. After a quick internet search, I landed upon this great post over at Cotton Cloud’s blog. It’s just a 6 row repeat, so easy to memorize. I seem to have failed to take a photo of this towel in progress on the loom, but here’s a pick-up stick shot!

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I didn’t end up being overly impressed with the waffle weave-ness of this pattern, but I still like it for an alternative texture.

Onto towel 3. Once again, my wandering brain decided it was time for a new weaving trick. I flipped to chapter 2, Finger Controlled Weaves in The Weaver’s Idea Book. Danish Medallions caught my eye, so I decided to go for it! First I had to decide how wide I wanted my medallions to be. I decided I wanted to go for a fairly squared shape, so after weaving my plain weave in between the “outline” yarn, I did a little measuring. I could see that by skipping 4 warp threads, I would achieve my desired shape. First I located the very center of my warp, and counted out from there, placing straight pins where I wanted my first row of medallions to be.

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All the straight pins were probably overkill – I could have just counted. But I like visual reminders for when my brain goes haywire!

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Jane Patrick has a great photoguide for working Danish Medallions. I got the hang of it right away! Like any new technique, it felt tedious in the beginning. But after the first few I found my rhythm and didn’t want to stop. I did 3 repeats of the medallions, making the middle row offset.

Next, I decided it was time for yet another new to me technique, stripes. I’m a sucker for yellow and white stripes – they’re so cheerful! Changing colors every 2 rows was super easy. Every other row, all I had to do was “link” the 2 colors so there wouldn’t be floats at the sides.

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For me, it was just like twisting yarns in intarsia knitting. Again, I used straight pins to keep track of the length of my towel. Every 12 stripes, I made a hatch mark in my journal and moved the pin up.

At the other end of my third and final towel, I did another 3 repeats of medallions, added in my 1 1/2″ hem, and 4 rows with waste yarn.

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Then the fun part – unrolling all the towels!

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Now to the finishing. My first step was to secure the ends of each towel. I did this with matching thread and the zigzag stitch on my sewing machine.

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I made sure the needle went between the yellow waste yarn so it could easily be cut away.

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Here they are all cut apart, before hemming.

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I folded in the edge of each hem by a little less than a third and pressed with my steam iron,

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And then up one more time,

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And then lots of pins!

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I chose to use a narrow zigzag in order to catch the edge of the hem, rather than a straight stitch. If I was really going for fancy, I would have hand stitched each hem.

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I then washed and dried the towels, warm water, nothing special.

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Dihtowels stacked 120dpi A

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It’s my mom’s birthday this week. These little towels will make a great gift and will work perfectly as hand towels in her newly painted half-bath. There’s nothing like a handmade gift for someone you love, right?

Catch up with me next time on Weaving Wednesday. There will be weaving (duh!), more cotton, and a fun new trick!

 

Picking up the Pace

Our last couple of projects have been completely reliant on colorful yarn and plain weave.  Sometimes there is nothing more beautiful than simplicity. But I get bored and like to learn new tricks. Luckily, the 15″ Cricket is lots of fun and is capable of much more than plain weave. The first thing I did when considering where to begin in this adventure was to purchase a copy of Jane Patrick’s The Weaver’s Idea Book.

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I knew I wanted to try some pick-up patterns, and I knew I wanted to make dishtowels with Garden 10, our high quality mercerized Egyptian Giza cotton. The finger controlled lace weaves in Chapter 2 really grabbed my attention, but I knew I needed a more firm fabric since my goal was towels. Chapter 3: Pick-up on the Rigid Heddle Loom was my destination. Over 50 pages of jam-packed information in this chapter, including helpful sidebar tips made me feel like  had a friend by my side the whole time I was weaving. So, Step One: Warp the loom. Instead of flying by the seat of my pants like I did for the last 2 scarves, I decided to consult the handy Master Yarn Chart over at Interweave when deciding what sett to use for my towels. I found what I was looking for on page 1. As I said, I’m using Garden 10 which is a 10-weight crochet thread. The chart told me that for this weight of yarn, the sett ranges were from 16-24 epi. I decided to go with 20 epi by threading a 10-dent reed with 2 ends per dent.

Warping double

I discovered that by threading through each slot and hole, I saved myself the extra step of having to sley the reed – yay! Step Two: Grab paper and pen and start recording. I’m pretty good at reading my knitting and crochet work, so I don’t always take notes as I’m going. Sometimes I’ll go back after my work and write patterns. But I’m a beginning weaver. And even if I was a pro, there’s no way I or anyone else could remember all the details of a piece of cloth. This is something I should have started from the very beginning:  a weaving journal.

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Helpful things to include are yarn specs, sett, number of ends, and weaving width. For this sampler, I also took notes on each pattern I did, colors, and number of reps. When I go to make my dishtowels, if there’s a particular piece of the sampler I want to use as an all-over design, I’ll know just how to recreate it. Step Three: Start weaving! I know I’m going to want to have hemmed edges for my towels, so the header was essential to my sampler. For the beginning header, I wove using a single strand of Garden 10 so my hem wouldn’t be too bulky. After about a 2″ header, I started in by sampling many of the patterns in Chapter 3. Each pattern required the use of a single pick-up stick, included with the Cricket. Using a pick-up stick is super easy! heddle down

First, place the heddle in the down position. This raises the warp threads in the slots to the top, and the warp threads in the holes are lowered. You will be working with those slot warps that are on top. placing pick up stick_1

Then, working behind the heddle toward the back of the loom, pick up threads according to the pattern. For the first several patterns in my sampler, I did a simple 1 up, 1 down repeat. What this means, is that with the pick-up stick, you “pick up” or place the next thread on the stick, then place the stick over the next thread, and so on. placing pick up stick_2

Here’s another angle.

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And, here we are with the pick-up stick all ready to go. I must say, as a person who is often a poor planner, I’m pretty pleased with my sampler! By going through each of the exercises laid out by Jane, everything started making more sense – the mechanics of how the warp and weft work together and all the possibilities there are! Just like the warp, in order to have a balanced weave, I used doubled-up Garden 10 for the weft also. The aqua and white in the sampler are Garden 10, and the yellow supplemental weft in some of the patterns is Cotton Supreme. The worsted weight soft cotton adds a really nice pop. I may do some of this just on the ends of my towels! After finishing up my sampler, I sewed my hems and threw the whole piece into the washer and dryer.

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On the left side of the above picture is the right side of the weaving, the right side of the graphic is the wrong side of the weaving. Again, because I’m making towels, I wanted to be sure that both sides looked good. Although I really love the look of the right side of the top few patterns, I feel like the floats on the back are going to be problematic for towels. About the first two-thirds of the patterns of this sampler (bottom to top) are weft floats, meaning the weft yarn “floats” over the surface. The top third of the patterns are warp floats, meaning it’s the warp yarn that does the floating.  I found it quite intriguing that “warp floats in pairs” looked very similar on the right side as “3/1 and 5/1 floats” looked on the wrong side! Fun! And speaking of weaving with Garden thread, here are a couple of projects by Linda Davis of the Tail Spinner. Sept2013 002 (640x428)

First we have an awesome plaid using Garden 10. Linda is also doing 20 epi (same as my sampler), but she’s using two 10-dent heddles in order to keep her ends single.

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This next project uses Garden 5, a little heavier weight of our Garden thread. This was woven using a 10 dent heddle with plain-weave in the ends and a pick-up pattern in between. Nice work, Linda!

See ya next time with my finished Garden 10 towels!