Maker Faire 2015 —

October 17, 2016 by pmffadmin

Progress report, Nov. 2016. Did I take progress pictures? Ha! We were too busy talking to people and demonstrating spinning and weaving to remember to take pictures.

I do have pictures of both sides of the completed panel and a closeup shot of a panel section. I have more frogged yarn to use as weft for a second panel or another project.

maker-faire-2015-panel-side-one-copy

maker-faire-2015-panel-2nd-side

maker-faire-2015-panel-closeup-1

I managed to weave at least a yard during the two days, but naturally did not think to put a little yarn marker to show how much I had woven. To give you an idea of how long the panel is, my 6’4” son is holding the panel to show both sides. The warp was about 4 yards, and I didn’t have a lot of loom waste.

I really enjoyed weaving with my handspun! People who came by our booth were interested to see how the yarn being spun could be used in knitting and weaving. As we were next to a quilting group, I often explained how the fabric they used was woven similarly, but with much finer yarns on commercial equipment.

We had the panel in our exhibit at this year’s Maker Faire, which was great fun.  More on that later!

Basic Spinning with Handspindles, updated for fall 2015

September 10, 2015 by pmffadmin

turtlemade 3d printed spindle mf 2015

Spinning yarn is all about twist, drafting fibers, and winding your yarn off the spindle so you can do something with it (some people just display their yarn). There are many types of spinning wheels, some specialized, some more all purpose; some are suitable for historical demonstrations and some are very modern in appearance; some are made of plastic pipe and some are one-of-a-kind, multi-thousand dollar handcrafted masterpieces. I love my wheel, but spindles are much easier to take with me wherever I go. I prefer spindles made by talented craftspersons, but you can spin a lot of yarn with toy wheel or CD spindles. While I can spin faster per minute on my wheel, if I carry a spindle kit around with me, I can put in a lot of time and make a lot of yarn. I read an article once about a Florida woman who spun cotton on a supported spindle during her breaks at work, and eventually wove a shirt with the yarn.

A basic spindle kit can be as simple as a container, a spindle and some fiber. I like clear plastic yarn containers with a handle and a hole for the yarn in the top for top and bottom whorl spindles, as I can see what’s in the container, the spindle is protected from accidental breakage, and often I can park a spindle in the hole if I need do something else with my hands briefly. Some people like the wine bottle “boxes” available at many stores. I have a couple of turkish spindles and fiber in a Dr. Who lunchbox. Your spindle size is limited by the container size, and CD spindles require a larger container than a toy wheel spindle. Typically, I include a card or piece of paper on which I can record the type of fiber, when and where I was spinning, a sample of 2 or 3 ply yarn if I want to spin the same yarn on another occasion, and any other notes I might want to make (no, I won’t remember later—I have a lot of multi-colored fiber and it’s not as easy for me to tell one fiber blend from another as I originally thought). I often have a piece of yarn to use when I begin spinning, and a small felted ball on which to wind some freshly spun yarn, as it tangles badly if I just start a ball on my fingers (a folded up paper napkin will work too!).

As with many other activities, there are some “rules” which aren’t always appropriate for YOUR spinning. You don’t need to start by buying raw wool, washing and carding it, etc., unless that is what you want to do. Frankly, that’s a lot of work to do before you even know if you like spinning. You should start with a fiber that you like to look at and touch, and that generally means colored fiber. You and a friend or two can share a 4 ounce braid of BFL (Blue-Faced Leicester) or Corriedale for less than $20. If your aren’t too fussy about the softness, many generic wool blends are quite nice. Merino and slippery fibers such as tencel, bamboo and silk are likely to be frustrating while your hands are learning what to do. Spinning is NOT cheaper than buying yarn in many cases, just as sewing clothing is often not about saving money. However, you have hours of enjoyment spinning, hours of making your yarn into something, and the pleasure of having the yarn you want in the colors, size and texture you want.

Children from the age of 4 on who have a reasonable amount of patience will have no more trouble learning how to spin than an adult will; historically, children have been spinning by that age in many cultures. They might enjoy decorating a toy wheel spindle with paint, markers or stickers—anything that doesn’t interfere with the spin of the spindle or rub off on the yarn. And they LOVE to push the pedals on a spinning wheel….

There are many places to gather information about spinning yarn, and using your handspun to knit, crochet and weave. Locally, the Weavers of Orlando is a nearly 70 year old guild, with some members who spin their own yarn (http://www.weaversoforlando.com). A small spinning group meets at the Drunken Monkey coffee shop in Orlando on the first Saturday of the month, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DrunkenMonkeySpinners/ –join the Yahoo group to receive meeting notices, ask questions, etc.). Many of the businesses listed below have videos of products. Distaff Day

(the first or second Saturday of January) and the Fiber In (September) have been held annually for several years now. The Fiber In has a website (http://floridafiberin.org), yahoo group and a Ravelry group and is supported by donations and an auction of donated items. It is a casual event organized by volunteers and is a wonderful venue with free mini-classes, vendors, an auction, and plenty of space to sit and spin and knit and chat with other fiber-loving people. It is now held in Orlando regularly and the third weekend in September (check the website for specifics about vendors and mini-classes). Distaff Day (on Ravelry) has demos, vendors/free stuff, a fashion show, and many knitters, spinners, weavers, felters, etc. just having fun together.

Spinning information on the Internet:

a. Interweave (www.interweave.com) publishes magazines, books, e-books, DVDs and provides free resources for many crafts. Their spinning offerings include: Spinoff magazine, spinning books, and quite a few DVDs in the past year or two (magazines, some books and dvds now also available as digital downloads). They also have produced an online magazine, where you click thru to see video interviews, slide shows, etc. If you subscribe to Spinning Daily, you’ll receive notices of special sales, etc. They have free information on basic spinning (wheel and spindle), plus a variety of spinning projects. Among the free e-books is Drop Spindle Spinning: Learn How to Spin With Drop Spindles, which includes directions for a CD spindle, drafting and other basic techniques, how to take your yarn off the spindle and how to ply your yarn.

b. Knitty.com has a section on spinning with reviews, articles, and patterns. Their reviews of sources of fiber and how the fiber spins include ratings of ease of drafting, how much dye washes out, the types of yarn the fiber is suited for, and clear pictures of knit samples from 3 or 4 reviewers.

c. The Joy of Handspinning website includes a LOT of information, including how to make a basic toy wheel bottom whorl spindle (http://www.joyofhandspinning.com/make-dropspin.shtml), while Squidoo (http://www.squidoo.com/diyfiberspinning) has a section with basic info, including illustrated step-by-step instructions for making a CD spindle (instructables.com is a fun site by iteself), and E-How (http://www.ehow.com/how_4886474_make-drop-spindle-making-yarn.html) has basic info for a top whorl toy wheel spindle. The main tip my husband would share is have the correct tool to insert the cup hook, or you will be demonstrating dowel repair using string and glue!

d. Craftsy (www.craftsy.com) is a terrific source for online classes, patterns (many free) and inspiration for crafts of many types, including spinning, weaving, knitting, cooking and more.

e. Ravelry (www.ravelry.com) is an online craft portal that has hundreds (perhaps thousands) of forums and groups devoted to sharing information about fiber crafts such as knitting, crocheting, spinning and weaving (mostly with small looms). A group may be based on a particular shop, type of spinning wheel, making your own handspindles, etc.

f. YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/). More yarn spinning videos published every week (perhaps every day).

g. Facebook. I don’t do Facebook much myself, but many shops, groups and individuals share spinning information.

Hand Spindles (top whorl, bottom whorl, Turkish) and spinning fiber are available from many online sources, some of which also have physical stores. Most also carry spinning wheels, yarn and weaving equipment. There are many beautiful spindles available, and frankly, more expensive spindles made by a craftsperson who understands the physics of spinning and the qualities of their materials are noticeably better than toy wheel and CD spindles. If you really enjoy spinning, try out the spindle where possible with the type of fiber you like to spin—different styles behave differently, and some spindles will feel “better” in your hand. My first spindle was a “beginner spindle” that I acquired with a kit. I learned from the video (now available on DVD), but didn’t really feel excited about spinning until I bought a lovely, hand-turned spindle that was lighter (about 1 oz. vs 2 1/2 oz.) and fit perfectly in my hand. You can find a basic kit with a spindle, directions and fiber from many sources. Locally here in central Florida, Four Purls now carries basic spindles and sells a spindle and fiber for $20 to $25 (http://www.fourpurls.com/ ). Four Purls also has a truck that travels to different locations—check the website or email them if you would like to see spinning tools and fiber. There are now several people making 3D plastic spindles, and I use one from TurtleMade on Etsy for demoing spinning—many schools have a 3D printer now, and the children understand how the spindle was made.

Small businesses that I have used and have been happy with the products and service provided:

a. Spunky Eclectic (http://www.spunkyeclectic.com/) carries a variety of spindles made by several different makers, a variety of fibers including many different colorways that she dyes herself, fiber clubs, spinning wheels, weaving looms, etc. She has a blog and is on Ravelry.

b. Susan’s Spinning Bunny (http://www.spinningbunny.com/) has several styles of spindles primarily made by her husband, wheels, fiber clubs, and a variety of fibers including many different colorways that she dyes herself. She has a blog and is on Ravelry.

c. Jenkins Woodworking makes lovely Turkish spindles of many woods and sizes (http://www.yarntools.com/ ). Videos and info available. These have become VERY popular and you may wait a while for one.

d. Turtlemade on Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/shop/TurtleMade) has 3D printed plastic spindles that are reasonably priced, work well, and come in a variety of colors—you pick your preferences. The “standard” is a good first spindle, about 1 oz.

e. Threads Thru Time (http://www.etsy.com/shop/Threadsthrutime?ref=top_trail) also makes Turkish spindles using a different style of wood. I bought two Christmas colored ones, and kept one for myself! You can check out their blog to see pics of spindles they have made in the past. These are also very popular and snapped up with hours/minutes of a batch posted for sale.

f. Wool Peddler on Etsy (http://www.etsy.com/shop/stefknits). If you like small amounts of a variety of multi-colored fiber, check out her “cupcakes.”

g. FatCatKnits (http://stores.fatcatknits.com/StoreFront.bok ) provides a wide source of dyed fibers, fiber clubs, and an active Ravelry group. In early 2013, Ginny raised money for a new, better shop and dyeing space through her Ravelry group.

Some large businesses that I have used and been happy with the products and service provided:

a. Knitpicks.com (http://www.knitpicks.com/Accessories/Spinning__L30054402.html) carries some basic spindles, some colored fiber and some fiber you can dye yourself (my sisters and I have dyed their fibers using typical commercial dyes plus Wilton’s cake icing colors (not the icing), Kool Aid and other food coloring options. Their website and blogs provide useful information.

b. The Woolery (http://www.woolery.com/store/pc/home.asp) carries a wide variety of spindles, wheels, DVDs, fiber and other fiber related tools.

c. Halcyon Yarn (http://halcyonyarn.com/) has spindles, wheels, looms, fiber, yarns, classes, etc.

d. The Yarn Barn of Kansas (http://www.yarnbarn-ks.com/default.asp) has spindles, fiber, and a variety of spinning DVDs, many produced by Victorian Videos and now available on DVD. I found Patsy Zawistoski’s basics video very helpful, and have all her DVDs now. I also had a class with her, and she was terrific!

e. The craft shopping portal Etsy (etsy.com) has dozens, perhaps hundreds, of sources of fiber, spindles and handspun yarn if you don’t want to spin it yourself.

f. Paradise Fibers is a family business that has grown tremendously over the past few years (http://www.paradisefibers.com/ ). They have a wide range of handspindles and fiber, regular specials, discounted shipping, a fiber club, and more.

g. Webs (http://www.yarn.com/index.cfm ) has regular sales, videos in addition to spindles and an increasing variety of fiber.

Print publications:

1. SpinOff magazine (Interweave). Quarterly (current subscription and back issues also available as digital downloads).

2. PLY magazine – (http://plymagazine.com/ ). Printed on high quality color paper with projects based on several of the techniques discussed. I think it provides information and inspiration that is not the same as SpinOff.

3. Books – there are a lot of books on spinning now (many of them also available digitally). Some primarily focus on wheels, many address both, and some specifically focus on spindles (Respect the Spindle, Spinning in the Old Way). If you are a fan of books, most of them feature “look inside” on Amazon.

DVDs/digital downloads (Interweave offers its products as digital downloads as well as DVDs, with preview videos and regular sales). I have quite a few spinning and weaving dvds, a few of which focus on spindles. Some devoted to wheel spinning are also relevant as they discuss how to make textured yarns, work with different types of fiber, etc. I have seen or read that someone has done anything I have seen done on a wheel done on a spindle—although you won’t be able to fit the same yardage on most spindles as on a large wheel bobbin. If you like to watch on a larger screen while you knit or spin along as I do, DVDs are generally a minimum of 45 minutes long and professionally produced (although YouTube videos have greatly increased in quality in the past couple of years). Most of these are available from Interweave.

Beginning my Rigid Heddle Project for the 2015 Orlando Maker Faire

September 10, 2015 by pmffadmin

I am about to warp Reggie, my 20 inch Schacht Flip rigid heddle loom for demonstrating at the Orlando Maker Faire this weekend. As I will be away from Reggie and my house from 7 am to at least 5 pm tomorrow/Friday teaching, I need to warp him TODAY!!!! I don’t seem to make any more warping mistakes when under extreme time pressure, but I don’t do any better, either.

Here is Reggie, in his regular spot in the living room, waiting to be warped. He hangs out with some ham radio gear, an old laptop (it might still work), 4 containers with handspindles and some shoes. When I am ready to weave, I shove the spindle containers out of the way, and turn him to face me in my office (OK, it’s an old recliner in a corner surrounded by bookcases).

reggie ready to warp mf 2015

OK, I haven’t figured out when and how I should rotate pictures…hubby is at work.  Yay!  Hubby found the fix on the internet.

I am going to warp him with doubled ends of 5/2 pearl cotton weaving yarn, using my 8 dent rigid heddle. I will direct warp, after I move a few things so I have about a 4 yard run to the warping peg attached to the counter. I SHOULD plan out my color scheme, but I will probably just “compose” as I warp. As I may end up cutting this into panels to make a small blanket or a bag, it doesn’t have to be any specific width.

warp for mf 2015

I will be using handspun weft, mostly dk or worsted weight in knitting sizes. This yarn represents years of spinning small amounts of fiber just to try out the fiber. I bought fiber from many sources such as Woodland Woolworks (no longer in business), Spunky Eclectic, Susan’s Spinning Bunny, Paradise Fibers before the shop became really big, forgotten sellers on EBAY, etc. Some of it was fiber hand-dyed by my sister after prepping a local fleece (to her, she’s still in Maine and I’m in Florida). Probably half of the yarn was spindle spun, and half on a wheel, either my Babe or my Lendrum. It’s all plied and wet finished. I wasn’t even pretending to document my spinning process at the time.

I had fun knitting Frankie’s 10 stitch circular blanket (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/ten-stitch-twist), but it became a 12 stitch blanket after a few rounds, I included a couple of yarns I KNEW were too thin and too light colored to “go” with the other yarns, and eventually I put the afghan in time-out. It’s been over 2 years, and time to frog it and reuse the yarn!

ready to frog for mf 2015

I will post about the progress, and hopefully someone who takes better pictures than I do will share pictures for progress posts….

Orlando Maker Faire 2015 Basic Spinning Handout

September 10, 2015 by pmffadmin

1. Drunken Monkey Spinners (https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/DrunkenMonkeySpinners/info). Group meets at the Drunken Monkey coffee shop at the corner of Bumby and Amelia in Orlando on the first Saturday of each Month from 8 – 11 a.m. We are ready to do a quick “introduction to spindle spinning” class or demonstrate wheel spinning. Monthly reminders and other group information provided by joining the DrunkenMonkeySpinners yahoo group.

2. Weavers of Orlando (http://www.weaversoforlando.com/). Meets the third Saturday of the month, has workshops, an annual sale, and an extensive library.

3. Florida Tropical Weavers Guild (http://www.ftwg.org/). Statewide guild. Has an annual conference in mid-March.

4. Some local knitting shops have basic spindle and fiber kits and/or offer rigid heddle weaving classes and supplies.

5. Online sources of spinning and weaving tools and supplies—there are many! Here’s a few that have a variety of items: The Woolery ((http://www.woolery.com/store/pc/home.asp), Paradise Fibers (http://www.paradisefibers.com/ ), Spunky Eclectic (http://www.spunkyeclectic.com/), Susan’s Spinning Bunny (http://www.spinningbunny.com/), Turtlemade on Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/shop/TurtleMade).

6. Online and print spinning information—there are many, many sources of info. Interweave (www.interweave.com) publishes books, magazines, and digital products. Ravelry (www.ravelry.com) is an online craft portal for sharing information about fiber crafts. Craftsy (www.craftsy.com) is a terrific source for online classes and patterns. Spinoff and Handwoven magazines (www.interweave.com). PLY magazine (http://plymagazine.com/ ). YouTube and Facebook.

7. Blogs: http://www.yarnycurtain.com/, http://www.postmodernfiberfun.com/ .

Rigid Heddle Pink Sampler, Half Woven in a Moving Van

September 10, 2015 by pmffadmin

Rigid Heddle Weaving in the Van Pink Sampler, May 2015

The program for our Weavers of Orlando (www.weaversoforlando.com) May meeting was rigid heddle weaving. It is finally gaining popularity in my guild, as even some hard core multi-shaft floor loom weavers have discovered the fun of direct warping with knitting yarn and finishing a scarf in a couple of hours. Several of us brought examples of our work for show and tell, and I was inspired to warp my 10 inch Schacht Cricket loom (http://www.schachtspindle.com/our_products/cricket.php). I didn’t have time to do any weaving at the meeting, so I sat in the back seat of the van and wove (middle seat removed so hubby can carry whatever he feels like, so plenty of room for me to work). I held the Cricket on my lap, and was able to weave about a yard on the drive home—the area of bad traffic was much more entertaining when weaving! As the ride can be bumpy, and turns can be exciting, that’s my excuse for not so perfect selvedges…. I am still working on guessing how tightly I need to wrap the selvedges so things will look the way I want after wet finishing. I finished the warp off at home, as I am always inspired to weave or spin after the meeting.

I used white and pink pearl cotton (the pink was from WEBS (www.yarn.com), and not sure where I bought the white. I wasn’t in a particularly pink mood, but those were the first cones I pulled from my stash under the bed, and I had some leftover superwash sock yarn I thought would work as part of the weft. I direct warped in the kitchen, placing the Cricket on the table and attaching the warping peg to the counter, over a 2 yard run. I was working fast to be done before other human members of my household wanted something from the refrigerator without having to do the limbo (google it!).

I used my 10 dent rigid heddle, with 16 ends pink for each border, and 20 each alternating ends of pink and white in the middle. I wove most of it in plain weave, except for the small waffle weave section, at about 10 picks per inch. I did basic hemstitching at each end. I didn’t weave the ends in as I wove, as I was thinking I might use it as fabric and wouldn’t need to work the ends in. There are a few floats that I didn’t fix before wet finishing, although I did see most of them.

 

full length pink van sampler may 2015

I wet finished by handwashing in a small container and hung it to dry on my beloved fat white plastic hangers from Target. There wasn’t much take up at all, so I dampened it again and tossed it in the dryer on permanent press with other cotton items until it was nearly dry and pressed it then. It did shrink some. The fabric is nice and drapey, but would need to be interfaced for a bag fabric. For a firmer fabric, I would use my 12 dent rigid heddle, and beat at 12 picks per inch.

 

pink van waffle weave section

I’m not good with colors on my new phone yet—the pink should be a bit brighter. The multicolor section is the sock yarn weft, woven plain weave. The closeup is a short waffle weave pickup section (from a Jane Patrick book – http://www.amazon.com/Weavers-Idea-Book-Creative-Heddle-ebook/dp/B00DH40Q0K/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1441896603&sr=1-1&keywords=jane+patrick ).

stinky in cricket

Stinky, our orange cat, supervised as usual. He loves the Cricket and the visiting table loom. (Stinky is my avatar on Ravelry—robobeagle). Other than not noticing a nasty knot in the white yarn, which I should have cut and retied so I didn’t have to fix that warp thread later, the warping went well.

Basic Handspindle Information, UCF demo Oct 23, 2013

October 22, 2013 by pmffadmin

 

Spinning yarn is all about twist, drafting fibers, and winding your yarn off the spindle so you can do something with it (some people just display their yarn). There are many types of spinning wheels, some specialized, some more all purpose; some are suitable for historical demonstrations and some are very modern in appearance; some are made of plastic pipe and some are one-of-a-kind, multi-thousand dollar handcrafted masterpieces. I love my wheel, but spindles are much easier to take with me wherever I go. I prefer spindles made by talented craftspersons, but you can spin a lot of yarn with toy wheel or CD spindles. While I can spin faster per minute on my wheel, if I carry a spindle kit around with me, I can put in a lot of time and make a lot of yarn. I read an article once about a Florida woman who spun cotton on a supported spindle during her breaks at work, and eventually wove a shirt with the yarn.

 

A basic spindle kit can be as simple as a container, a spindle and some fiber. I like clear plastic yarn containers with a handle and a hole for the yarn in the top, as I can see what’s in the container, the spindle is protected from accidental breakage, and often I can park a spindle in the hole if I need do something else with my hands briefly. Some people like the wine bottle “boxes” available at many stores. I have a couple of turkish spindles and fiber in a Dr. Who lunchbox. Your spindle size is limited by the container size, and CD spindles require a larger container than a toy wheel spindle. Typically, I include a card or piece of paper on which I can record the type of fiber, when and where I was spinning, a sample of 2 or 3 ply yarn if I want to spin the same yarn on another occasion, and any other notes I might want to make (no, I won’t remember later—I have a lot of multi-colored fiber and it’s not as easy for me to tell one fiber blend from another as I originally thought). I often have a piece of yarn to use when I begin spinning, and a small felted ball on which to wind some freshly spun yarn, as it tangles badly if I just start a ball on my fingers (a folded up paper napkin will work too!).

 

As with many other activities, there are some “rules” which aren’t always appropriate for YOUR spinning. You don’t need to start by buying raw wool, washing and carding it, etc., unless that is what you want to do. Frankly, that’s a lot of work to do before you even know if you like spinning. You should start with a fiber that you like to look at and touch, and that generally means colored fiber. You and a friend or two can share a 4 ounce braid of BFL (Blue-Faced Leicester) or Corriedale for less than $20. If your aren’t too fussy about the softness, many generic wool blends are quite nice. Merino and slippery fibers such as tencel, bamboo and silk are likely to be frustrating while your hands are learning what to do. Spinning is NOT cheaper than buying yarn in many cases, just as sewing clothing is often not about saving money. However, you have hours of enjoyment spinning, hours of making your yarn into something, and the pleasure of having the yarn you want in the colors you want.

 

Children from the age of 4 on who have a reasonable amount of patience will have no more trouble learning how to spin than an adult will; historically, children have been spinning by that age in many cultures. They might enjoy decorating a toy wheel spindle with paint, markers or stickers—anything that doesn’t interfere with the spin of the spindle or rub off on the yarn.

 

There are many places to gather information about spinning yarn, and using your handspun to knit, crochet and weave. Locally, the Weavers of Orlando is a nearly 70 year old guild, with some members who spin their own yarn (http://www.weaversoforlando.com). A small spinning group meets at the Drunken Monkey coffee shop in Orlando on the first Saturday of the month, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DrunkenMonkeySpinners/ –join the Yahoo group to receive meeting notices, ask questions, etc.). Many of the businesses listed below have videos of products. Distaff Day (first Saturday of January) and the Fiber In (September) have been held annually for several years now. The Fiber In has a website, yahoo group and a Ravelry group. It is organized by volunteers and a wonderful venue with mini-classes, vendors, an auction, and plenty of space to sit and spin and knit and chat with other fiber-loving people. It is now held in Orlando regularly and the third weekend in September (check the website for specifics re whether the 3rd Friday or 3rd Saturday is the deciding day). Distaff Day has grown and has been held at UCF in the Student Union for the past couple of years. There are demos, vendors/free stuff, a fashion show, and many knitters, spinners, weavers, felters, etc. just having fun together.

 

On the Internet:

a. Interweave (interweave.com) publishes magazines, books, e-books, DVDs and provides free resources for many crafts. Their spinning offerings include: Spinoff magazine, spinning books, and quite a few DVDs in the past year or two. They also have produced an online magazine, where you click thru to see video interviews, slide shows, etc. If you subscribe to Spinning Daily, you’ll receive notices of special sales, etc. They have free information on basic spinning (wheel and spindle), plus a variety of spinning projects. Among the free e-books is Drop Spindle Spinning: Learn How to Spin With Drop Spindles, which includes directions for a CD spindle, drafting and other basic techniques, how to take your yarn off the spindle and how to ply your yarn. The relatively new Craftsy online service allows access to many Interweave products for a monthly or annual fee. Sometimes they offer short term trial access.

b. Knitty.com has a section on spinning with reviews, articles, and patterns. Their reviews of sources of fiber and how the fiber spins include ratings of ease of drafting, how much dye washes out, the types of yarn the fiber is suited for, and clear pictures of knit samples from 3 or 4 reviewers.

c. Yahoo and Ravelry (Ravelry.com) have quite a few spinning groups that provide a lot of information. There are probably hundreds, even thousands, of youtube videos now, of varying quality, demonstrating many fiber related techniques. If you haven’t already checked out Ravelry, you really should! Tammy Rizzo’s Plying on the Fly technique was popularized from the videos, based on a blog post from several years ago.

d. The Joy of Handspinning website includes a LOT of information, including how to make a basic toy wheel bottom whorl spindle (http://www.joyofhandspinning.com/make-dropspin.shtml), while Squidoo (http://www.squidoo.com/diyfiberspinning) has a section with basic info, including illustrated step-by-step instructions for making a CD spindle (instructables.com is a fun site by iteself), and E-How (http://www.ehow.com/how_4886474_make-drop-spindle-making-yarn.html) has basic info for a top whorl toy wheel spindle. The main tip my husband would share is have the correct tool to insert the cup hook, or you will be demonstrating dowel repair using string and glue!

 

Hand Spindles (top whorl, bottom whorl, Turkish) and spinning fiber are available from many online sources, some of which also have physical stores. Most also carry spinning wheels, yarn and weaving equipment. There are many beautiful spindles available, and frankly, more expensive spindles made by a craftsperson who understands the physics of spinning and the qualities of their materials are noticeably better than toy wheel and CD spindles. If you really enjoy spinning, try out the spindle where possible with the type of fiber you like to spin—different styles behave differently, and some spindles will feel “better” in your hand. My first spindle was a “beginner spindle” that I acquired with a kit. I learned from the video (now available on DVD), but didn’t really feel excited about spinning until I bought a lovely, hand-turned spindle that was light and fit perfectly in my hand. You can find a basic kit with a spindle, directions and fiber from many sources. Locally, Four Purls now carries basic spindles and sells a spindle and fiber for $20 to $25 (http://www.fourpurls.com/ ). Four Purls also has a truck that travels to different locations—check the website or email them if you would like to see spinning tools and fiber.

 

Small businesses that I have used and have been happy with the products and service provided:

a. Spunky Eclectic (http://www.spunkyeclectic.com/) carries a variety of spindles made by several different makers, a variety of fibers including many different colorways that she dyes herself, fiber clubs, spinning wheels, weaving looms, etc. She has a blog and is on Ravelry.

b. Susan’s Spinning Bunny (http://www.spinningbunny.com/) has several styles of spindles primarily made by her husband, wheels, fiber clubs, and a variety of fibers including many different colorways that she dyes herself. She has a blog and is on Ravelry.

c. Jenkins Woodworking makes lovely Turkish spindles of many woods and sizes (http://www.yarntools.com/ ). Videos and info available. These have become VERY popular and you may wait a while for one.

d. Shenanigan’s Yarn includes hand-dyed fiber and yarn by two local women (contact at shenanigansyarn@yahoo.com ). Check out their website to see where their yarn and fiber is available locally (Sip and Knit in Maitland is one location and they attend the Fiber In held annually in September).

e. Threads Thru Time (http://www.etsy.com/shop/Threadsthrutime?ref=top_trail) also makes Turkish spindles using a different style of wood. I bought two Christmas colored ones, and kept one for myself! You can check out their blog to see pics of spindles they have made in the past. These are also very popular and snapped up with hours/minutes of a batch posted for sale.

f. Wool Peddler on Etsy (http://www.etsy.com/shop/stefknits). If you like small amounts of a variety of multi-colored fiber, check out her “cupcakes.”

g. Sheep Shed Studio ( http://www.thesheepshedstudio.com/index.html ) sells left over fiber and yarns from Brown Sheep. They also dye some fibers. They provide a LOT of fiber for a very reasonable price, but don’t expect the smoothest preparation for all their fibers. My sisters and I have dyed the superwash wool with excellent results. Brown Sheep isn’t providing as much fiber as in the past, so check for what’s available.

h. FatCatKnits (http://stores.fatcatknits.com/StoreFront.bok ) provides a wide source of dyed fibers, fiber clubs, and an active Ravelry group. In early 2013, Ginny raised money for a new, better shop and dyeing space through her Ravelry group.

 

Some large businesses that I have used and been happy with the products and service provided:

a. Knitpicks.com carries a basic Turkish spindle, some colored fiber and some fiber you can dye yourself (my sisters and I have dyed their fibers using typical commercial dyes plus Wilton’s cake icing colors (not the icing), Kool Aid and other food coloring options. Their website and blogs provide useful information.

b. The Woolery (http://www.woolery.com/store/pc/home.asp) carries a wide variety of spindles, wheels, DVDs, fiber and other fiber related tools.

c. Halcyon Yarn (http://halcyonyarn.com/) has spindles, wheels, looms, fiber, yarns, classes, etc.

d. The Yarn Barn of Kansas (http://www.yarnbarn-ks.com/default.asp) has spindles, fiber, and a variety of spinning DVDs, many produced by Victorian Videos and now available on DVD. I found Patsy Zawistoski’s basics video very helpful, and have all her DVDs now. I also had a class with her, and she was terrific!

e. The craft shopping portal Etsy (etsy.com) has dozens of sources of fiber, spindles and handspun yarn if you don’t want to spin it yourself.

f. Paradise Fibers is a family business that has grown tremendously over the past few years (http://www.paradisefibers.com/ ). They have a wide range of handspindles and fiber, regular specials, discounted shipping, a fiber club, and more.

g. Webs (http://www.yarn.com/index.cfm ) has regular sales, videos in addition to spindles and an increasing variety of fiber. While I haven’t made it to the physical store myself, my sisters regularly go to big sales.

 

Some of my favorite Ravelry groups other than groups associated with the businesses I have already mentioned (I’m sure there are many others I would enjoy if I knew about them):

 

1. Spindle Candy – just what it sounds like! Pictures of spindles, many made by individuals, rather than larger companies such as Schacht. They have topics for information about vendors, where to post if you want a particular spindles, etc. Sometimes I spend an hour just looking at “images” on the various threads.

2. spindlers –tons of info here. They have a very helpful “beginners here first” topic with many helpful FAQ topics, among many helpful discusses and pictures of spun yarn, projects, etc.

3. spindlecrafters – learn about the many different spindles styles, admire pictures of spindles and samples of yarn made, tools used by various people when making their own spindles, etc.

4. support spindles – for those who are interested in supported spindles, rather than suspended spindles.

5. A Spinner’s Study – organized program of learning about different fibers, techniques, etc. Lots of info!

6. Tour de Fleece – thousands of spinners spin for various teams while the Tour de France participants use bicycles. Dozens (perhaps hundreds) of teams for different groups, shops, etc., with prizes and tons of pictures. Many shops have special colorways of fiber and their own prizes as well as those for the overall Tour (I have participated somewhat on the Susan’s Spinning Bunny team, although I usually don’t spin every day and so far haven’t met my goal of spinning the team fiber until the next year).

 

 

Distaff Day, 2013

January 4, 2013 by pmffadmin

stinky in cricket  Stinky rests after “helping” me assemble my 10″ Schacht Cricket loom.

I will be attending Distaff Day on Saturday, January 5, with some fiber and spindles, my Cricket loom and samples of my rigid heddle weaving.  Here’s the basic Rigid Heddle weaving information I have prepared to share with people.

What is rigid heddle weaving? How is a rigid heddle loom different from a floor loom?

At its most basic, a rigid heddle loom allows you to weave “plain weave”, which means a warp of vertical threads is crossed by a weft of horizontal threads in an over/under pattern, under tension provided by the loom. As many others have said, “plain weave is anything but plain” and you can make many wonderful fabrics thru your choice of yarns. With a multi-harness loom, a reed with slots is used to space the warp threads, which are individually placed in heddles (holes). Each heddle is linked to a harness which is controlled by treadles (operated by foot on a floor loom, or by hand on a table loom). With a rigid heddle loom, the slots and holes are both controlled by the rigid heddle, alternating hole/slot. You move the rigid heddle to create sheds through which you pass the yarn, and you also use the heddle to “beat” the yarn into place.

I’ve heard that a rigid heddle loom isn’t a “real loom” and you can’t do much with one.

Not true! You can do many patterns and make many types of fabric with a rigid heddle loom. If you want to make heavy rugs, a rigid heddle loom isn’t a good choice, but there are plenty of floor looms that also aren’t the best choice for heavy rugs. There are some weave structures you can’t make with a rigid heddle loom, but there are a lot of structures you can’t make with a 4 harness or 8 harness loom, either. You can make many patterns with a rigid heddle using one or more pickup sticks. Betty Lynn Davenport earned her Certificate of Excellence in Handweaving for her work documenting the many patterns and types of fabrics she made using a rigid heddle loom.

You can make scarves with a variety of yarns, including textured knitting yarns. Table runners, pillows and placemats are popular. You can make towels of various sizes, depending on the size of your loom and if you want to sew pieces together. Mug rugs and bags of many styles are possible You can weave fabric for clothing and blankets. I made holiday and birthday cards using fabric inserts. You can even make some rugs. Some looms accept two heddles which allows you to use finer yarns and do doubleweave.

Many people (including me) have both a RH loom and a floor or table loom. I know people who have more than one of each!

What are some of the advantages of a rigid heddle loom?

Rigid heddle looms are generally cheaper than table or floor looms, although you might find an excellent deal on a used floor or table loom. They are usually smaller and lighter, and therefore easier to take on a vacation, to a friend’s house, etc. There are many styles and widths to choose from now. There is a lot of support for learning how to use one, including free online videos, specialty groups on Ravelry and Weavolution, books, DVDs, and face-to-face and online classes. You can weave on a table, or use a stand. RH weaving has increased so much in popularity that Handwoven includes at least one RH project in every issue.

Why wouldn’t a rigid heddle loom work for me?

If you primarily want to weave sturdy rugs, you want a loom designed for that purpose. The widest RH loom is about 25 inches. The smallest heddle is 12 ends per inch (12.5 metric) as this is as small as the holes and slots can be made to be sturdy enough for use (although some can use two heddles for a finer sett and doubleweave). If you have admired scarves and towels and other items that require at least 4 harnesses, and aren’t wowed by RH projects, you are unlikely to suddenly change your mind.

How hard it is to get started with a rigid heddle loom?

I have a 10 inch Schacht Cricket Loom that I assembled, warped and wove off some sample mug rugs in about two hours. I used the video instructions on how to assemble the loom from a YouTube video made by a Webs instructor, as I found the printed directions “terse.” I would watch a step, go to the table and do that step, watch the next step, etc. until I was done. My husband didn’t help me at all! It took me less than 30 minutes, and a more experienced person could do it in 15, easily. I used the direct warping method to warp it with 8/4 cotton warp (kit came with wool yarn to make a scarf). This technique is demonstrated on YouTube by Jane Patrick of Schacht, and in other videos. This took less than half an hour, as I have used this technique several times and had a narrow warp. I then used a variety of yarns to make mug rugs, including dishcloth cotton and small balls of some of my handspun wool yarn. I did three in an hour.

What free resources are available for rigid heddle looms?

Schacht (http://www.schachtspindle.com/our_products/cricket.php) provides a lot of support. The directions for the three projects that are included with the Cricket loom are available, They have a “Yearning to Weave” newsletter that includes many RH projects, and Jane Patrick has done several videos.

Here’s a sampling of YouTube videos:

Assembling a Cricket loom: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-F6PUjSc2Q&list=PL1EFA018E3F8693A8&index=1

How to warp and weave on a Cricket loom: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otYt5C4snuU&list=PL1EFA018E3F8693A8&index=2

First in a series of warping and weaving on a Cricket loom: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnYJ83p9DbY&list=PL1EFA018E3F8693A8&index=3

Syne Mitchell: Spa washcloth pile demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_6ocWCqKSE&list=PLD78D936745AF2E91&index=7

Ashford: Warping a Rigid Heddle loom. Ashford is generally credited with the direct warping technique. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fa1WrHOTjxY

Patty Ann has a lot of videos. This one is on Leno: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZ1HN7-BY-U

 

A few books (most if not all available from Amazon, some at Knitpicks.com and many from Interweave—wait for the next sale as they have sales quite often):

Jane Patrick book: http://www.amazon.com/Weavers-Idea-Book-Creative-Heddle/dp/1596681756/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1357330847&sr=1-2&keywords=rigid+heddle+loom

Betty Linn Davenport: http://www.amazon.com/Hands-Rigid-Heddle-Weaving-Davenport/dp/0934026254/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1357330847&sr=1-1&keywords=rigid+heddle+loom

http://www.amazon.com/Weaving-Made-Easy-Projects-Simple/dp/159668075X/ref=pd_sim_b_3

http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Weaving-Beautiful-Fabrics-Simple/dp/1600590985/ref=pd_sim_b_4

http://www.amazon.com/Woven-Treasures-Sara-Lamb/dp/1596681020/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1357330847&sr=1-7&keywords=rigid+heddle+loom

Interweave: http://www.weavingtoday.com/ blog, ads, publisher of Handwoven magazines. and many DVDs. Interweave has been producing a lot of DVDs (also available as digital downloads), and they are quite well done. The style varies depending on the “instructor” which also serves to give you an idea of whether you would like to take a class with that person. You can check out the table of contents and preview their videos—be sure to do this. One woman gave a low rating to a warping video because it didn’t address sectional warping—this was clearly stated in the preview of the video and she admitted she didn’t watch the preview before ordering. I started many years ago with Betty Davenport’s Rigid Heddle Weaving video from Victorian Videos (YarnBarn of Kansas), now available as a DVD. She covered all the basics and project instructions are included. Jane Patrick’s is the best overall if you want just one, in my opinion. You can print out the directions for the sampler she works on during the video and do your own. I think both the book and DVD are good to have, as they complement one another.

On-line groups. Ravelry (http://www.ravelry.com/) has a RH group that among other things, is working through Jane Patrick’s book, with thousands of posts and lots of pictures (http://www.ravelry.com/groups/rigid-heddle-looms). Saori Weaving is a Japanese based weaving style that uses 2 harness looms and is mainly plain weave (http://www.ravelry.com/groups/weaving-in-the-saori-way). I did a Mobius Cowl using examples and inspiration from this group (http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/weaving-in-the-saori-way/2259679/1-25#25). Many items in the Weaving With Handspun group were made using an RH loom (http://www.ravelry.com/groups/weaving-with-handspun-yarn),

Weavolution (http://weavolution.com/) has a variety of information, including using RH looms. Online courses have been offered.

Weavezine is an online publication that Syne Mitchell doesn’t have the time to do now. However, the many articles, some of which are relevant to RH weaving, are still available. The textured spa washcloth is an example: http://www.weavezine.com/content/pile-loop-wash-cloths.

Craftsy has a class: http://www.craftsy.com/class/Rigid-Heddle-Weaving/63, They often have sales, and have a few free classes. You can check out samples of all their classes.

Pinterest has lots of fun things to view: http://pinterest.com/cindih123/weaving-mostly-rigid-heddle/

There are many bloggers who talk about RH weaving. Here are a few posts you might find interesting:

http://donisdelis.blogspot.com/2009/01/little-tutorial.html – turn a woven strip into a bag

http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/archives/2013/01/02/sometimes_i_impress_myself.html

Where to buy (I have bought something from all of these places and received good service—your mileage may vary!):

Cotton Clouds is one source of kits for RH weaving: http://cottoncloudblog.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/weaving-on-my-rigid-heddle-loom/

Halcyon Yarn: I shop here when I visit my family in Maine—quite a few books I hadn’t been able to check out anywhere else, and nice people. http://halcyonyarn.com/

Paradise Fibers: Expanding their weaving offerings, have sales. http://www.paradisefibers.com/

Spunky Eclectic: Shop here when I’m in Maine—has looms, kits, discussion group on Ravelry. Amy is a fun and creative person. http://www.spunkyeclectic.com/

Webs: volume discounts, sales, helpful videos. http://www.yarn.com/

Woolery: several RH loom and lots of supplies. http://www.woolery.com/store/pc/Rigid-Heddle-Looms-c52.htm

YarnBarn of Kansas: I have bought many Victorian Videos from them over the years, and yarn. They have quite a few kits suitable for rigid heddle looms. http://www.yarnbarn-ks.com/

 

 

Welcome to my blog!

January 4, 2013 by pmffadmin

After a year of talking about starting a blog to document my fun and learning with fiber, here it is. I have several objectives for this blog:

Maintain a record of what I’m learning and doing with fiber

Provide reviews of fiber resources I use (fiber, tools, looms, wheels, patterns, DVDs, classes, etc.)

Share my experiences, successful and not so successful projects, and ideas for more fun and success with future projects

Justify adding to my stash while hopefully using up slightly larger amounts of stash materials