Category Archives: Weaving

Adventures in rigid heddle weaving using the Schacht 15″ Cricket and Universal Yarn

Rocking Moto Jackets

You can read through the entire tale of the moto jackets on previous blog posts here, here, here, and here.  It took a few near all-nighters, but the moto jackets got finished by my goal of TNNA last weekend. Yay!

Here are myself and Yonca wearing them in the booth:

I love Yonca's choice of red zippers!
I love Yonca’s choice of red zippers!

For those who aren’t familiar with TNNA, it stands for “The National Needlearts Association” and is our industry trade show. The winter show took place in San Jose just this past weekend. It’s an opportunity for our LYS customers to swing by our booth and see all our new yarns, colors, and designs. We love meeting customers in person – thanks to everyone who attended!

After returning from our long weekend, Heather kindly snapped some detail shots of the jackets.

Each jacket has 5 zippers - that was 10 total zippers to shorten. Whew!
Each jacket has 5 zippers – that was 10 total zippers to shorten. Whew!
My pop of color is on the inside of my jacket in the form of teal lining. Mmmm.
My pop of color is on the inside of my jacket in the form of teal lining. Mmmm.
I really do love this pattern complete with details like these pleats. They're both stylish and functional, allowing for ease of movement in the back and shoulder area of the wearer.
I really do love this pattern that includes details like these pleats. They’re both stylish and functional, allowing for ease of movement in the back and shoulder area of the wearer.

 

The gray contrast fabric at the waistband, elbow patches, and a few other locations is a wool blend that was purchased.
The gray contrast fabric at the waistband, elbow patches, and a few other locations is a wool blend that was purchased.
It's amazing what a difference the details can make!
It’s amazing what a difference the details can make!

Yonca Jacket full blog

Next time, I’m going to be back at the rigid heddle loom with some of our Ready to Dye yarn and some experimentation!

Sewing Moto Jackets

Finally, after sampling for my fabric (and getting a cool scarf in the process),

herringbonescarf4_deluxedktweedhires

warping 280 inches of 432 ends,

warping_2

and weaving the actual fabric

weaving_8_blog

it was time to sew jackets!

The first step was to interface all of my handwoven fabric. I got enough lightweight fusible interfacing for all my yardage. The reason for doing this is so that when I cut into the fabric for my pattern pieces, it will prevent the edges from coming unwoven.

Two jackets-worth of pattern pieces and lining is a LOT of cutting!

Sewing_1

Every bit of fabric is precious since I wove it, so a certain strategy is involved when laying out those pattern pieces.

Sewing_2

With the interfacing on the back of my fabric, it made it easy to make pattern markings and actually be able to see them.

Sewing_3

I used a special foot on my sewing machine called a “walking foot” for some of the bulky seams. It helps to manage bulky layers of fabric so that they feed evenly through the machine.

Sewing_4

Sewing moto jackets requires a lot of coffee.

Sewing_5

Since this is a weaving column, I’m taking it easy on sharing every single detail of the sewing process. But zipper installation fascinates me, so here are some in-progess shots of the pocket zippers. Above, I’m sewing the lining onto the right side of the fabric.

Sewing_6

Then the pocket opening is slashed down the center.

Sewing_7

Next, the lining fabric gets pulled to the wrong side and pressed. It’s so clean and tidy looking!

Sewing_8

And finally the zipper is pinned underneath and sewn down. I love a good zipper installation. Which is good, since each jacket requires 5 zippers. Whew!

Sewing_9

Here we have something that is actually beginning to resemble clothing. Yay!

It's like magic that this can turn into a moto jacket, right?
It’s like magic that this can turn into a moto jacket, right?

 

If you’re planning on being at TNNA in San Jose this weekend, stop by the booth and check out the finished jackets. Otherwise, I’ll be back on the blog next week for final photos and wrap-up.

 

Weaving Fabric for Moto Jackets

And the adventure continues! You can read the first two posts in my moto jacket series here and here.

After warping my loom with my monstrously long and wide warp – 280″ long x 36″ wide using Deluxe DK Tweed Superwash, I was delighted to weave the fabric. I wove the same herringbone pattern that I used in my sampler scarf (seen here).

This piece of fabric I’m weaving will be for two jackets. My warp is color 414 Charcoal in Deluxe DK Tweed, and the photo below shows color 413 Smoke as the weft.

One bobbin of yarn lasted for about 3" on my 36" wide warp.
One bobbin of yarn lasted for about 3″ on my 36″ wide warp.

Back when I was winding my warp, I thought to tie some bright thread around some of the warp threads at the halfway point. I’m going to be changing my weft color halfway through since the jackets will be slightly different in color. This thread reminds me it’s time to switch colors!

This contrasting thread tied to the some of the warp threads lets me know I'm at the halfway point.
This contrasting thread tied to the some of the warp threads lets me know I’m at the halfway point.

Not too long into the second half of my warp, I realized I had a couple of problems. I managed to mis-thread two heddles, which resulted in a glitch in the patterning. See below for one example.

Uh oh!
Uh oh!

I could have fixed the problem right there – I could have broken the warp thread, threaded an afterthought heddle and tied on a new strand, but I opted to leave the mistakes in place and fix them after the fact.

If I had noticed sooner, I would have fixed them right away. But because I had made it this far and knew I’d be doing some repair work anyway, I figured I might as well do the whole length at the same time.

 

Cutting doesn't have to be scary!
Cutting doesn’t have to be scary!

After cutting my fabric from the loom, I simply knotted the warp ends together – no hemstitching. I then zig-zagged the edges with my sewing machine, and also sewed lines at the halfway point. I figured it would be a lot easier dealing with two 3 yard pieces of fabric rather than a 6 yard piece. I then cut the fabric apart at that halfway point.

Fixing my warp mistakes.
Fixing my warp mistakes.

After my two halves were cut apart, I threaded a tapestry needle and wove the correct placement for my mistaken threading. It was a little tedious, but very doable and wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it might be.

And here are my yardages basking in the sunlight prior to washing. I threw both of the pieces of fabric into my machine and washed and dried them on gentle cycles. Because I wove a fairly dense fabric, the fabric changed very little after finishing. But I already knew that would be the case since I was a good little weaver and did a sampling first.

Zippers, lining, fabric: go!
Zippers, lining, fabric: go!

My jacket will be made from the stack on the left – gray on gray fabric, teal lining, and gray zippers. Yonca chose cream to go with her gray for the fabric, matching gray lining, and bold lipstick red zippers.

My goal is to be finished with these jackets by next weekend’s TNNA. So if you’re planning on attending, stop by our booth and check them out. Otherwise, I’ll be back in a couple of weeks here on the blog with all the sewing details.

 

Warping for Herringbone Moto Jackets

After my successful sampling with my herringbone scarf a couple of weeks ago, I got set to wind a much larger warp – enough to make fabric for two moto jackets. I neglected to get photos of the warping process. I used the warping board I’ve shared photos of on this blog before. And this warp was so long, I almost didn’t have enough warping pegs!

Here are the specs for this giant piece of fabric I’m about to weave:

  • Yarn: Deluxe DK Superwash
    • Warp color: 414 Charcoal, 13 balls
  • Reed: 12 dent
  • Weaving width: 36″, 432 ends
  • Length of warp: 280″

My pattern calls for 2 1/4 yds of 55″ wide fabric. Because my loom has a maximum width of 36″, I had to do a few calculations in order to get the total square yardage I need. What I came up with was a really long warp!

280" of tweedy goodness.
280″ of tweedy goodness.

432 ends means 432 heddles to thread. And then, 432 ends to feed through the reed. Whew!

warping_2

When I’m threading the reed, I like to do it 4 ends at a time. I take my left hand and grasp the next 3 ends as shown below, holding my hand behind the reed.

It's important to make sure the ends coming from the heddles go into the reed in the correct order.
It’s important to make sure the ends coming from the heddles go into the reed in the correct order.

Then I feed the next end from my left hand and grab it with my threading hook. It’s a good way for me to stay organized during this process.

Opposable thumbs are really awesome.
Opposable thumbs are really awesome.

Tying onto the front apron rod means I’m almost ready to weave!

Gotta be evenly tense here.
Gotta be evenly tense here.

I’m just getting started here. Once I’ve woven this giant piece of fabric, it’s onto jacket making. And this project is going to go quickly since my deadline is next month’s TNNA show. Stay tuned!

 

 

Weaving Wednesdays – Herringbone Sampler

I’m pretty excited about this current weaving project. For years now, I’ve wanted to weave my own fabric for a custom-sewn jacket. And finally, I’m going to make it happen. In fact, I’m making two of them! Yonca, our sales director (and my boss) caught wind of my plan and requested a jacket for her own. You be able to find us at next January’s TNNA in our matching jackets.

Years ago, I sewed a moto jacket from this Burda pattern.

6032_tech_large

Here I am wearing my version, circa 2009 or so.

moto1

I’ve been wanting to weave with our Deluxe DK Tweed Superwash ever since we introduced it earlier this year, and I decided this would be the perfect project for it. I toyed around with a few ideas for the type of weaving draft I’d use, but in the end I decided on a herringbone tweed. I love the idea of classic herringbone and tweed modernized in the ultra-cool moto jacket.

Before beginning, I knew I need to make a sample of my woven fabric. I mean, if I’m going to be weaving yards upon yards of fabric for two jackets, I need to know I’m going to like it, right? I was also having trouble deciding on colors, and saw this as a perfect example to introduce a little plaid into my tweed and herringbone.

First, I selected five colors from the Deluxe DK palette that I’d been considering:

dw-tweed-906-aegean-web dw-tweed-910-porcelain-web dw-tweed-912-ebony-web dw-tweed-913-smoke-web dw-tweed-914-charcoal-web

Next, I set out to warp my loom with a section in each color. I read that it’s a good idea to use a denser sett (ends per inch) when weaving twill, so that’s what I did. For a DK weight yarn such as Deluxe DK Tweed Superwash, I would normally weave with a 10 dent reed. But for this project, I opted for a 12 dent.

herringbone_1

herringbone_2

I’m using a four harness loom which makes weaving twill a breeze. But with if you have a rigid heddle loom, with the use of pick-up sticks this is totally achievable.

herringbone_4

As you can see, my warp has 5 different colors. I also wove with the same 5 colors to see how they all interacted with one another. I found it interesting that the same 2 colors played differently depending in which was warp and which was weft. The color that is the warp (in this particular twill) shows as being more dominant that the weft.

It’s nice to do a “practice” piece of weaving that I’ll actually use and wear!

herringbonescarf1_deluxedktweedhires

herringbonescarf4_deluxedktweedhires

The colors that I ultimately selected for my jacket are the two that I would have picked anyway, but I’m so glad I did this exercise. It also gave Yonca a chance to see the different colors so she could make her choice as well.

Stay tuned for more herringbone twill and moto jackets!

 

Weaving Wednesday – Sparkle Windows

Last time on Weaving Wednesday, I talked about warping for my lace stole in Universe.  Once I got over relearning how to warp my floor loom, it was smooth sailing!

Here are the specs on this project:

  • Yarn: Universe, color 10-07 Woolen
  • Reed: 10 dent
  • Total ends: 241
  • Width on loom: 24″ (desired finished width is 20″)
  • Warp Length: 100″ (desired finished length is 60″)

(Update: There is now a written version of this pattern available here)

My warp is 40″ longer than my desired length. I know that there will be a good 10% take-up in finishing. Plus I left plenty of extra length at each end for fringe.

Since I knew I was going to be doing some different lace patterns, I actually kept good notes on just what I wove in my beginning header so I could repeat it on the other end – go me!

universestole_5

After tying on to the front rod, the weaving fun began. I started out as I usually do, with a few picks of waste yarn to even out my warp, followed by some hem stitching.

universestole_1

universestole_2

I knew I wanted to do some kind of a lace sampler for this project. I decided to do a “header” at the beginning of the project, a matching header at the other end, and an all-over pattern for the main body of the stole.

I began with a type of “finger controlled” lace at the beginning called Brooks. “Finger controlled” means that I am literally moving the warp threads with my fingers and passing the yarn between it, rather than using the shafts to raise and lower warp threads.

The first type of Brooks I did is worked on an open shed, meaning I pressed down on one of my treadles that holds half the warp threads. This caused half the warp to raise.

universestole_3

I found Brooks lace quite simple to do – easier than I had imagined. I passed the shuttle containing the warp yarn around a section of the raised warp threads (6), along the entire width of the piece.

universestole_4

I adjusted each of the wrapped sections so they were at about the same height and then worked 3 rows of plain weave. They look like little bows – so pretty.

After this first pass of Brooks, I decided to do another row, but offset from the first row.

universestole_6

And then another row offset again.

universestole_7

As pretty as this was, I was getting a little bored and was ready to move on. That’s half the beauty of a sampler!

And look, so it’s so sparkly!

universestole_8

Next, I tried Brooks lace, but worked on a close shed. That means when I wrapped my weft yarn around the warp, I went around all threads across the width of the piece. I did two repeats of this with 3 passes of plain weave in between. I was less impressed with the appearance of this on the loom, but decided to keep it in the piece in hopes that I’d like it better after finishing (and I did!)

universestole_9

Next, it was time to move on to my main lace pattern: Atwater Bronson. This type of lace produces little blocks. I warped my loom for the most basic of Atwater Bronson – a single repeating block of lace. There are many incarnations of this lace. And it is quite possible to reproduce this on a rigid heddle with use of a pick-up stick.

universestole_10

While the Brooks lace is considered a finger controlled lace pattern, Atwater Bronson is a type of “loom controlled” pattern. That’s because the loom is doing all the work of raising and lowering the warp threads. Well, at least my feet are doing the work of pushing the treadles to make this happen!

I really enjoyed the weaving part of this. I’m sure much of this was the ease of weaving on a floor loom, and the wonderful rhythm of the beater bar, treadles, and boat shuttle. But it was also easy to memorize and just overall very pleasant.

Here it is after a few repeats. Not too exciting!

universestole_11

After more repeats, I could definitely see the pattern forming. But again, not that visually stimulating. I had to keep reminding myself that the magic would really happen off the loom and after washing.

universestole_12

From an angle, you can kind of see the blocks in the pattern.

universestole_13

When the back bar with the end of my warp tied to it almost reached the back beam, I knew it was time to weave my other header. I reversed what I did for the beginning header and cut it off the loom.

Because my yarn, Universe is several elements – cotton, linen, and metallic – all wrapped with a sliver of nylon, I knew I didn’t want to leave loose fringe. If I had, that nylon would have come unwrapped and the elements would have splayed out. Which, now that I think of it, might have looked cool. But it wouldn’t have worn well. So I busted out my handy fringe twister and made twisted fringe. This allowed me to knot the ends, securing the yarn without fear of it unraveling.

After doing the fringe, I was excited to dunk my stole in a bath to see what happened. And what happened was a much more intense transformation than I anticipated. Both the Brooks lace and the Atwater Bronson lace opened up a lot. The Atwater Bronson looks like little windows that the Brooks iterates above and below. I couldn’t be happier with how this turned out!

On Molly:

universestole_16_hires

When it’s laid flat, I can really see those little “windows” formed by the Atwater Bronson.

universestole_14_hires

And somehow this turned out larger than I imagined it would. Finished measurements without fringe are 23″ x 66″. Which is fine with me – that’s a great size for a stole!

universestole_15_hires

Join me next time for my biggest weaving project yet – matching woven motorcycle jackets made from Deluxe DK Tweed Superwash!

 

 

 

Weaving Wednesday – Getting my Sparkle On

Ever since we added Universe to celebrate our 10th anniversary last year, I’ve wanted to weave with it. A mix of linen, cotton, metallic, wrapped together with nylon, I swear there’s a bit of magic in every strand. The combination of plant fibers and sparkle mesmerizes me.

universe-ball-cut-out-shiny-label-hi-res

It’s beautiful in knitted items, such as the Planetary Shawl:

planetaryshawl_back_universe_hires

Or the delightful Universe of Snowflakes:

universe-of-snowflakes-cover-hi-res

But I knew Universe would make beautiful weaving, too. I decided this was the project I would finally warp up my poor, neglected floor loom. My Fanny Leclerc has been sitting as a backdrop for my rigid heddle weaving these last few years, as though I’m mocking her abilities as a workhorse weaver. She’s a sturdy 4-shaft loom procured a number of years back at a reasonable price via my local Craigslist.

But first things first. It’s been years since I wove on Fanny, and I needed a refresher on warping. Luckily, I had my trusty copy at hand of “Learning to Weave” by Deborah Chandler.

universe_1

I bought this book when I first acquired ol’ Fanny, and it has proven to be an indispensable  resource. Deborah has so many little tips “woven” throughout this book, along with super helpful illustrations. Though the book covers warping a floor loom front-to-back or back-to-front, I’ve only ever done the back-to-front method.

universe_2

Rigid heddle looms are wonderful and can typically be direct-warped. This is not the case with a floor loom. So off to my warping board I went to begin the process.

This part of my warp shows the ultra-important figure 8 cross at the end. This will help me keep all my strands aligned when I take the bundle over to the loom.

universe_3

I like to look head-on at the cross periodically as I’m winding my yarn to make sure things are going accordingly. As you can see below, I made a mistake that had to be taken out:

universe_4

Get a load of that shimmer!

universe_5

It’s crucial to tie the cross end in 5 places to keep it intact during the warping process.

universe_6

That board with the nails in it that’s clamped to the back beam – that’s called a “raddle.” It’s just another tool that helps to separate the warp every inch-worth of warp threads.

universe_7

After attaching the warp to the back rod, it’s time to thread the heddles. With rigid heddle weaving, the heddles are all part of a rigid piece of plastic (usually). With my floor loom, all the heddles are individual little pieces of metal.

universe_8

So shimmery!

universe_9

The main lace pattern that I’m going to be weaving is a repeat of 6 (more on this later). So I have to thread the shafts in this order: 1, 3, 1, 3, 1, 2. After each group of 6, I tie the 6 ends together in a little bundle to help keep them separate, and also so they don’t accidentally slip out of the back side of the heddles.

universe_10

universe_11

Once my warp was attached to Fanny, it was time to get ready to weave! I love to use boat shuttles with my floor loom, especially when my weaving width is wider than 12″ or so. With a flick of the wrist, the shuttle glides effortlessly over the warp threads. Though I don’t mind a stick shuttle and can eventually get a nice rhythm going, a boat shuttle just feels easier.

My boat shuttle takes small bobbins that the weft yarn must be wound onto. I could do it by hand, but it goes super-fast if I use the bobbin winder on my sewing machine. So that’s what I do!

universe_12

universe_15

universe_14

Join me next time when I get down to business and start weaving!

(Update: there is a written version of this pattern on our website here.)