Handweaving Kitchen Linens

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Whether weaving on a rigid heddle loom, table or floor loom: kitchen linens are rewarding to weave. They are useful, help decorate your room, nice to use and can protect your furnish. Linens are fun to create with patterns, colors and fibers. They also make the perfect gift for an engagement, wedding shower and hostess present.

I enjoy putting on yards and yards of neutral warp and thread in a pattern that has many variations. Then it is a matter of sitting down, relaxing and creating.  If you need a little prompting on what pattern to weave your towels, place-mats, table runners, napkins, tablecloths and mug rugs, I have just the book. Master weaver Tom Knisely is truly an inspiration with his latest beautiful projects, “Handwoven Table Linens” 27 fabulous projects from a master weaver.

Though some of the patterns look complex, don’t let that stop you. There are simple weaves that are worked on 2 and 4 harness looms. For the more experienced weaver and for those who have looms with more harnesses, there are wonderful patterns for you to explore. The photographs make it difficult to decide what you want to weave first. You will get good use out of this book.

Tom gives you great information about the history, materials to use and ideas on different finishes. The weaving drafts are laid out in a clear easy to use (large print) manner. He has a project called ‘Kitchen Sink’. Weavers always ask what to do with the waste thread on the loom. Tom and I use them in the same way. Now I have a name for it, “Zanshi”. It is a Japanese word for leftover thread weaving. You will like the results and feel good about recycling.

I believe you will enjoy this book as much as I have. If so, look for his other bestsellers “Weaving Rag Rugs” and “Handwoven Baby Blankets”. Anyone of the projects in these books given as a gift will be appreciated and well remembered.

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When Does a Collection become an Obsession?

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What is your favorite item to knit? I have a few favorites but, shawls top the list. By using the term “top the list”, I mean over the top (a collection bordering on obsession). In the fashion world they are still so popular that I feel justified in knitting these all season.  They can be worn in various ways, knit in a variety of fibers (silk/cotton/wool…), weights (chunky, lace…) and techniques (side to side, top down and vice versa). There are patterns that are simple and fun for beginners to complex and creative for seasoned knitters.

Author and knit designer Jen Lucas loves shawls as much as I do. I know this, because of her many books on shawl patterns. She has a wonderful collection that uses one skein of sock yarn. She has recently come out with another book, “Stunning Stitches”. It contains 21 shawls, scarves and cowls you’ll love to knit.

In her latest book, Jen knits up seven different stitch patterns into sets of a shawl, cowl and scarf. To see the same stitch modified and in a different color yarn, allows you to see the stitch in new creative ways. I love the “Pomelo Cowl”, it is youthful, stylish and the colors with the pattern are showstopping. The “Kelsey Shawl” will be on my needles. It is an asymmetrical garter stitch and cable pattern with a bobble edge. What I like most about it is its look of simplicity and the way it shapes and form on the shoulders.

The photographs are clear and show the details. There are patterns for all skill levels in the book. Special techniques are included with step by step written instructions and photographs. There is a glossary and other useful information. Jen is on ravelry, so take a look.

If you know someone like me, recommend they check out this book. What is your go-to knit? The other two items on my top three list: fingerless gloves and socks. Enjoy what you knit. You put a lot of time into it.

Crazy Knit Socks

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Most of us know knitters who have a sock knitting addiction or obsession. A sock addiction is a person who loves knitting socks. They have a few patterns they refer to and have them memorized.  An obsession is a sock knitter who loves the challenge of mixing it up. They try top-down, toe-up, different toe and heel patterns, two circular needles, magic loop… and then the many options of technique. Both have dozens of pairs, with another pair on their needles.

Author, Ann Budd is all too familiar with sock knitters. The weather is turning cold and knitting a pair  of socks piqued my interest. So looking through my library,  “New Directions in Sock Knitting” fell into my hands. There are 18 innovative designs knitted from every which way. This book encourages you to take your sock knitting in a new direction. Throughout the book there are side-bars for you to customize.

Each pattern is by a different designer. There are patterns for first-timers to the experienced sock-knitter. The book contains a chapter on top-down and one on toe-up designs. The third chapter takes construction to new heights. You will find the mitered, intarsia, double knitting, short row, mirrored color and textured patterns in multiple knitting directions.

The “U-Turn” pattern works from the center back and outward. General Hogbuffer has designed this sock to work in rows and rounds. This sock doesn’t require grafting as the stitches are joined when worked. “Seed beds” by Betty Salpekar starts at the center bottom and worked in rounds. This technique has no heel flap, grafting and no stitches to pick up.  For those knitters who have been a little leary to try socks because of these techniques, there is surely a pattern you can find that doesn’t contain them.

If you have never tried sock knitting and want to see what all the buzz is about… Ann Budd’s  also has “Getting Started Knitting Socks”. Once you are hooked (needled), give her sock books a try. Your feet will love you.

Fall/Winter 2017 Colors and Knits

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When Pantone splashes a color, people swatch. Whether you are a fashion designer in NY or a fiber artist in New Haven, you take time to know the color trends. Winter is coming! Pantone color experts tell us warmth is the mood for fall/winter. Eiseman the Executive Director of Pantone Color Institute says; “While comforting, enveloping colors and ease are crucial to the seasonal feeling, standout shades include a pale pink Ballet Slipper, a refreshing Golden Lime, and a bright Marina blue. These hues add a striking touch when paired with the classic autumnal shades of Navy Peony, Neutral Gray, Butter rum and Tawny Port.”

So before you go out and purchase new yarns to be current for fall/winter, why not go through your stash. Besides, it’s the perfect excuse to sort and organize your stash. Find that one color of yarn you already own that complements this season’s colors. Use the savings to buy a beautiful cashmere or high quality yarn in this season’s color.

What will you be knitting? Hygge (‘hoo-gah’) is the Danish word for comfort. That is what this season’s knit look is all about. If this is a new word for you… you are now sure to see it everywhere in reference to knitting. Chunky, oversize  and exaggerated style are in. Colorful sweaters and pullovers, where the sides are longer are part of the look.

Fringe, tassels, pom poms and bobbles will be seen in knitting books, patterns and magazines. It is a good time to hone your skills for cables, stripes, intarsia, dropped stitch and fair isle. At least one sweater dress should be part of your wardrobe.     

Enjoy this season; the colors, new yarns and patterns. Let me know how often you see the word “Hygge” or see it in print. It’s everywhere and soon it will be the pattern on your needles.

Handwoven Tape*

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During my sabbatical, I tried my hand at making tape* (also known as bands, belts, trim, ties and ribbon). I used an inkle loom, a knee paddle tape loom (page 58 shows similar but more decorative than the one I own) and weaving cards or tablet. Along with my hands on introduction, I came upon “Handwoven Tape” understanding and weaving early American and Contemporary tape. This is a Schiffer book by Susan Faulkner Weaver. If you have read any Schiffer books, you know they are thoroughly researched, well photographed and inspiring.

Tape was used as a way to fasten clothes, well before elastic and zippers were invented. They were also used for agriculture (to tie grain bags), cordage, chairs… Ever wonder where a tape measure came from? “Handwoven Tape” not only gives you the historical background but also, 27 early American and 8 contemporary patterns to try.

Susan shows you step by step how to set up the loom, warp the threads and weave tape in words as well as photographs. I used the tape on my handwoven towels, so they could be hung on a hook. There is information on the types of fibers and dyes traditionally used. Periodically there are side-bars called ‘tape tales’, very short stories that resemble diary entries from the past.

The Holidays are fast approaching, put this book on your wish list. It is one you will want in your personal library.  An inexpensive way to try your hand at making tape is with a deck of playing cards and a hole punch. The video will show you how to make your cards and the book will fill you in and energize you to go further. 

Happy weaving…love to hear about your adventures in weaving tape.

Living Fiber History

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Fiber runs through my veins; I love the feel, colors, creativity, my results (most of the time) and enjoy sharing my knowledge. Probably, if you could test for it, it would show up in my DNA. Periodically, I dress up in a 1790’s or 1890’s wardrobe and act the part of a spinner and weaver of that time.

This past weekend, I enjoyed spinning and knitting the day away in 1790 at the Maine Forest and Logging Museum. I have reenacted the part here before, as well as at the Wilton historical society in Connecticut. If you have ever visited Kings Landing in Canada, Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts, Williamsburg in Virginia or maybe a local historical society near where you live, you may have enjoyed the interaction.

Historical societies and museums occasionally look for volunteers. The appeal for me is to expose children and adults to fiber and the process of where their clothes come from. Visitors can try their hand at a drop spindle, weaving on a barn loom, carding fiber, learning about natural dyeing, see a basket of flax: tools and diagrams of how it is turned into linen…

Questions are asked and answered. Suggestions on starting with a pot holder or pin loom (inexpensive) and if the interest persists to try a rigid heddle loom, join a guild and rent a spinning wheel or floor loom. And because it is the 21st century, I recommend you tube videos.

Whether fiber runs through your veins or wants to…the internet is a wonderful place to start. Besides spreading my knowledge I love learning and there is always something for me to research and try. If you have questions…ASK! The answer is only a few keystrokes away.  Photo: Two of the fiberistas (young and old) I wove and spun with.

Peg Looms and Weaving Sticks

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I enjoy weaving on all types of looms. I have my favorites but, love trying different techniques. Some I will get hooked on for awhile (tapestry, pin), other looms are experimental (triangular) and there are those that I find myself warping over and over (my floor and rigid heddle looms). About a year and half ago, I came upon the peg loom.

Being handy with a drill and making a jig to hold the dowels while drilling holes, I created peg looms of my own to give it a try. It was simple to get started and easy enough to get some children at a local “outdoor school” interested in weaving with me. After making some rustic looking wall hangings, we hung them in the woods off of tree branches.

Afterwards, I thought that was neat but, what next? My creativity was stunted so I put the loom on a shelf. I read Noreen Crone-Findlay was coming out with the book,  “Peg Looms and Weaving Sticks” a complete how-to guide and 30+ projects. That piqued my interest. Her book has finally come to market.

The book introduces you to the peg loom and weaving sticks tools, techniques and how to get started. Noreen also shows you how to change colors, weave circles and squares. Everything you need to create rugs, cowl, vest, home decor, dolls and toys, baskets, bowls, tapestry’s and more are included in clear step by step instructions along with photographs to prevent mistakes.

There is a quick reference glossary of weaving terms as well as sources and suppliers for ready made pin looms and weaving sticks for those who don’t have the ability or desire to make it themselves. It is time for me to dust off my peg loom and give it another go, Thank you Noreen.