Getting the right loom for a beginner weaver
So you've decided you've wanted to give weaving go and you think that a rigid heddle loom is for you but there's so many choices out there that you might not know which loom to choose.
Well, don't worry as in this blog post we're going to talk through what we recommend to new weavers when they are looking to get their first rigid heddle loom.
Choosing a loom is daunting as there are so many options. How wide do you want to weave? Do you want it to fold for travelling? Do you want two heddles (and why do you want two heddles)? How easy is it to use? What yarn do you need? How much will it cost? What do all these words like warp, weft, heddles, etc. mean?
What we'll do is go through all of this to help you understand it all and hopefully help you to choose the loom for you.
What does warp, weft, reed, heddles, and all this other stuff mean?
It's always good to start with the basics before going onto anything else. So here goes:
Warp - This is the yarn that you will measure and put onto your loom first and goes from the back to the front of the loom and through the heddle.
Weft - This is the yarn that you put in-between the warp yarns, usually using a shuttle. This is the yarn that goes from left to right and back again as you weave.
Reed - This is what the warp yarns are passed through as they go from the back to the front of the loom. The name Rigid Heddle for this type of loom comes from the main part of the reed that is usually made from plastic and has vertical slots and eyes cut in to it - this is the heddle. The warp yarns are alternately threaded through a slot or an eye in the heddle. When the heddle is lifted into an up position the eye warp yarns move to the top and the slot warp yarns are at the bottom. When the heddle is in a down position the slot yarns are up and the eye yarns are down. This basically mechanises the over under over under process you would have down with a needle and thread when weaving on cardboard at school. The heddle also spreads out the yarn and you can get different heddles for different yarn thicknesses.
Shuttle - The shuttle is the tool that the weft yarn is wound around and is then used to pass the weft yarn through the warp threads to help link the warp and weft threads together.
Shed - This is the gap between the upper and lower warp yarns and is where you pass your shuttle through with the weft yarns.
Warp beam - This is where the warp yarns are wound around before they have been made into cloth.
Cloth beam - This is where the handwoven cloth is wound around.
Cloth is what you make on a loom and the advantage of a rigid heddle loom is that you can make a couple of metres of cloth easily on these looms. You can then make anything from a scarf, table runner, bag, cushions, blankets, jumper, trousers, jackets or anything else from it really. Your handwoven cloth can be stitched to other handwoven cloth and even cut up to create more intricate patterns. So you could furnish your whole house and make all your own clothes with one loom. This brings us to the next question...
How wide a loom do I need?
This really depends on what you want to make.
We generally recommend a loom between 15"(38cm) to 25"(64cm) are good size to start with.
Smaller looms than this are great if you're just wanting to weave scarves, strips of fabric or just something small to transport and work well.
Looms larger than 25" can be daunting for beginners, unless you definitely know you are going to weave on these widths a lot then we suggest you're better sticking to something smaller.
You don't need to weave across the whole width of the loom at any time so on a 24" loom you can still weave a 10" wide fabric and then weave a 20" wide fabric another time.
The following photos give you an idea of the different sizes of the loom (other loom sizes are available) and the mug is to give you an idea of scale.
I really like the smaller sizes of looms such as the 15" Schacht Cricket and the 16" Ashford SampleIt as they are a nice and compact size and easily fit on your lap when you've got your feet up in front of the tv. They're a great size to start with and easy to store too.
We do find a lot of people think that bigger is better but this isn't always the case. For example the 32" rigid heddle loom seems to be popular for new weavers as their first loom but then they can feel intimidated by the size of it when they go to use it. Plus it's pretty big to move about and store.
Getting a smaller loom is less intimidating and you may find you will use it more, and you can always get a bigger size loom at a later date.
Do you want to travel with your loom?
The ability to be able to take your rigid heddle loom with you may be important in the decision of which loom to go for.
Hauling around a large loom can be done but may not be practical, especially if you need to use public transport.
The Schacht Cricket and Ashford SampleIt looms are nice and compact looms and you can get tote bags they fit into to take them with you.
The Ashford Knitters Loom and Schacht Flip looms have wider widths and are designed to fold so that you can take them with you, or fold for storing away. You can fold both of these looms in the middle of your weaving and then just open them up again to get weaving away.
Out of the two the Ashford Knitters Loom is more compact and folds up neatly and comes with a bag. You can get a bag for the Schacht Flip but it is a bit of a bigger loom. However, we find that the Flip does have better tension than the Knitters loom and the loom locks in place once it's in the weave position which helps to keep the loom shape.
You can take the standard Ashford Rigid Heddle Looms with you and a trusty blue Ikea bag can help to lug them around. Or, you could weave your own bag for it.
So, you can travel with all of them, but some are easier to travel with than others.
How easy are these looms to use?
They are really easy and straightforward to use!
Ashford have great tutorials on how to warp and weave on their rigid heddle looms and these methods work for the Schacht looms too.
You can have a lot of fun playing with different colours, types of yarns, thickness of yarns and even add in things like fibre, leaves and anything else you can find.
Once you've finished weaving just cut your cloth off your loom. You can knot or twist the ends to make a fringe to hold the yarns in place. Or, if you're going to be sewing the cloth you can overlock or zig zag stitch the edges.
Then, gently wash your fabric in warm water, rinse out and then iron out the creases whilst damp. Lay out flat to dry and then cuddle and love your own handwoven creation!
What yarn do you need?
You can use knitting yarns as well as cottons, linens, etc.
For the warp your yarn does need to have strength and little stretch as it's going to be under tension.
For the weft you can use anything, and that's anything from yarn to unspun fibre to leaves from your favourite plants.
You will need different reeds for different thicknesses of yarn and there are variable dent reeds where you can use more than one thickness of yarn at the same time.
All the yarn we sell at Weft Blown can be used on Rigid Heddle Looms and we recommend a DK weight wool to start off with, such as the Ashford Tekapo 8 ply, John Arbon Knit by Numbers or Eden Cottage Millburn DK, as these all work with a 7.5dpi/8dpi reed which comes with the looms.
What size reed do I need?
This depends on if you've got a yarn stash already and also what you want to weave.
Most looms come with a 7.5 dpi or 8 dpi reed. The dpi stands for dents per inch and basically is the number of warp threads going through a dent (slot/eye) in the reed.
To calculate what reed you need, wind your yarn around a ruler until you have wound an inch with the yarn sitting snugly.
In this photo there are 15 yarn wraps per inch (wpi). If you wove with 15 warp yarns in an inch with this yarn, there would be no space for the weft to be added in between the warp yarns. To get what's called a balanced weave, equal number of warp and weft threads, then we divide the wraps per inch number by 2. In this case that would be 7.5 warp threads/ends per inch (epi). Ends per inch is the same as dents per inch so you would need a 7.5 dpi or 8 dpi reed for this yarn.
Different reed sizes are used for different yarns and a rough guide for knitting yarns is below:
2.5 dpi = chunky yarn
5 dpi = Aran weight yarn
7.5 dpi = Double Knit weight yarn
10 dpi = Sportweight yarn
12.5 dpi = sock weight or 4ply
15 dpi = heavy lace weight
Always check your wraps per inch before starting any project as different types of yarn can give a different thickness of yarn.
What about this two heddle weaving?
You can do more patterns and weave two layers of cloth at the same time using two reeds (heddles) at once. This can be a bit faffy to set up but is fun. All the looms we sell have the ability to do this, you just need to have two reeds of the same dpi.
However, if you're thinking you want to do twills and double weave on a regular basis then do look at table looms like the Louët Erica as it is far easier to weave such techniques on a table loom than a rigid heddle loom.
How much does this all cost?
This depends on how large a loom you want, how many reeds and whether you want a stand.
The cheapest option are the Ashford SampleIt looms and they're great and affordable little looms.
If you're after something a bit bigger then the Ashford Rigid Heddle Looms are great for the price and you can get a wide loom for a decent price.
If money is no object then do look at the Schacht Flip as it's a great loom, and is lovely to weave on.
If you're thinking of getting a loom 20" or wider do think about getting a stand as it's easier to weave with a wider loom on a stand than propped against a table.
The cost of reeds is worth thinking about too as Ashford reeds are cheaper than Schacht reeds so if you're on a budget and know you'll need more reeds then do think about this too.
All the looms come with threading hooks, warping pegs (to help measure your warp), clamps to hold your loom steady when putting on the warp and instructions to get warped and weaving and two stick shuttles. The Schacht Cricket looms also come with yarn to get you going with your first project.
Are you ready to weave now?
We hope this has been useful and helps you to decide what rigid heddle loom may be the right one for you.
If it's made you more confused then don't worry as we're always here to help and do get in touch with us if you've got more questions.
Rigid Heddle weaving is great fun and we do hope this has helped you to get your own loom and then you can create your own magnificent handwoven cloth of your own.
It's time for another free pattern and this time I'd thought I'd talk through the basics of how I design my handwoven scarves.
Photography has always been a passion of mine and I especially love taking photos of the landscape and sky around us.
Living in West Kilbride on the Ayrshire coast of Scotland has given me lots of inspiration over the years since we moved here. Regular walks down the beach and through the local glen, and watching the sky from our house have given me a library that I keep diving back to for new pattern ideas.
The sunset photo below is one such example of this and is the inspiration behind this post's pattern.
If I'm designing for a plain weave cloth I generally look at the colours from the photograph and then think of them as blocks of colour. So, in the photos above I would look at the clouds and take a generalisation of the different colours in the horizontal and then use these blocks to make the warp colour pattern.
I've simplified the colours quite a bit in this pattern and just taken the purple, a dark blue, red and yellow and decided to have them blend straight from one colour to the next. This gives the effects of the colour of the clouds blending together as they are in the photo.
The weft colours used are the same as the warp and playing with large blocks of colour again in the weft gives the striking effect of the sky in the photo.
I have ignored the trees in this photo this time but there's nothing to say that their colour and texture couldn't be used in another design.
I do have a habit of revisiting certain photos or days for inspiration as each time it could lead to another idea for patterns.
This method is easy enough to adapt to your own inspiration and photos. The joy of having great cameras on your phone these days does mean it's easy to take a quick snap of something and then come back to it later.
You could use photo editing software to pixellate or blur the photo which can help to see the colours.
There is also a very low tech method which is to look at your image and squint your eyes. You should be able to then see the colours become more fuzzy but defined. This is how I do it most of the time.
Now you know how the pattern came about it's about time to give you the actual pattern.
You can buy this pattern with the yarn as a kit which you can find on our website here.
My aim is to make our blog patterns available to everyone so that's why we are posting the patterns for free on our website as well as selling them as kits.
Sunset Scarf Pattern
Rigid Heddle Loom. You can also use a table loom at the same sett as for the rigid heddle loom and weave as plain weave or for a twill use a sett of 10 dpi.
7.5 or 8dpi
Weaving width in Reed: 25cm/10"
Eden Cottage Yarns Millburn DK in
1x50g ball in Harvest Gold
1x50g ball in Dogwood
1x50g ball in Night Sky
1x50g ball in Damson
This yarn does give a lovely silky smooth drape but you can use any other DK yarn in similar or different colours. For choosing contrasting colours check out our Cornish Summer Skies blog post.
Warp Length: 2.5m/8'2"
Total Number of Warp Threads: 78
Thread your loom in the following colour order with the number being a single warp thread.
The weft stripes can be as big or as narrow as you want them to be. You can also weave the stripes following the warping order too. Remember that this is your scarf that you are weaving so feel free to make it your own.
Do make sure that you are not beating too hard and also that you start the next colour to the opposite side of where you finished the last colour.
Finishing your cloth:
Once you've finished weaving you can either knot your fringes or twist them and knot them. Wash your cloth in a sink of hot water with wool wash and then remove excess water. Iron your scarf whilst it's wet and then lay flat to dry.
Finished Size after washing:
21cm/8" wide by 1.9m/6’5” long excluding fringes
I'm more than happy for you to make this scarf in other yarns in other colours so do feel free to use your stash or use other yarns.
I'd love to see your finished versions of this scarf so if you do please tag #weftblown and we will see what you've made.
I hope this pattern helps to give you an idea on how to design your own scarves and patterns and if you need help then you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Unfortunately we don't get notifications on comments on our blog posts so email is the easiest and best way to get in touch.
The pattern is made available for personal use only.
Welcome to our first free weaving pattern blog post at Weft Blown!
As a weaving teacher I've been wanting to create a series of patterns for people to weave in the comfort of their own home. So this will be the first pattern in this new series.
One of the reasons for writing patterns is that a common issue that crops up with my students is that many of them are scared of choosing colours for weaving with to get well defined stripe patterns.
Weaving with different colours of yarn is a bit different to knitting or crocheting with different yarn colours. In weave you notice a lot more the difference in contrast between colours. Sometimes you think that 2 yarn colours will look great together, but then when they're woven up they blend in together and become a bit mushy. This happened to me quite a few times when I started weaving and it wasn't until I learned about contrast in the yarns makes a difference that things changed.
The easiest way to work this out is to use a camera and use the black and white setting on it. If you place the yarns you want to use side by side and either look at it on the screen in black and white or take and photo and convert it to black and white you'll instantly see how different one is from the other.
As you can see in the image above the white and the blue have a quite distinct tonal difference between each other in black and white so would work well together.
The Navy and Yellow and the Yellow and Grey yarn combinations also have quite a big tonal difference too and would be great.
These 3 yarn combinations have a more subtle tonal difference but again would work well together.
You can use this method with any yarns at all in your stash and it's even easy to use when out yarn shopping as just quickly grab your camera, put them together and see how they work.
With all of this in mind I thought that the first pattern I would create would use the first combination of the blue and white yarns to create a scarf based on the stunning summer Cornish Skies from our summer holiday. It also reminds me of our visit to John Arbon's Mill in Devon when we were there too, where the yarn comes from.
This is the view from St Michael's Mount on the far southwest of Cornwall looking out to the English Channel. It was a gorgeous hot summers day and I love the little Cumulus clouds against the deep blue sky.
I wove the pattern using our 15" Schacht Cricket Rigid Heddle Loom but it can be woven on any rigid heddle loom that is at least 10" wide.
Below are the instructions for how to weave the scarf:
Reed: Schacht 8dpi Rigid Heddle Reed (The Ashford 7.5 dpi reed will be fine for Ashford Rigid Heddle Looms)
Weaving width in Reed: 25cm/10"
Warp Length: 2.5m/8'2"
Total Number of Warp Threads (also known as warp ends): 78
Warping Instructions: Thread your loom in the following colour order with the number being a single warp thread
Blue: 16 - 6 - 8 - 18
White: - 4 - 14 - 12 -
To change colours in your warp you can knot off one colour and then start another colour, or you can carry them along the back as shown below.
Weaving Instructions: The weft stripes can be as big or as narrow as you want them to be. What I did was to wind some yarn onto the shuttle, weave what was on the shuttle and then wind some of the next colour on. I know this is not very mathematical but if you did want to be mathematical you could follow the warp colour pattern in the weft, or just weave what you feel. Remember that this is your scarf that you are weaving so feel free to make it your own. I did stop and start with the blue colour. There should be enough yarn for you to use both colours in the weft.
Do make sure that you are not beating too hard and also that you start the next colour to the opposite side of where you finished the last colour, as shown below.
The blue colour was finished at the left hand side and the white was then started on the right hand side. This way when you tuck in the ends of the yarn they will not cause a bump on one side as they are away from each other.
Also, do notice how balanced the weave looks in the photo. A common mistake for new weavers is to beat too hard on the cloth and not leave enough space for the warp yarn to be seen. Don't worry about seeing little gaps in the cloth when weaving as you need to remember the warp yarn is under tension and when released will loosen up and start to fill in the gaps. Once it's washed it will full up a bit as well and become nice and balanced.
Finishing your cloth: Once you've finished weaving you can cut the cloth from your loom and either knot your fringes or twist them and knot them. Then wash your cloth in a sink of hot water with wool wash and leave for at least half an hour. Rinse if needed and then remove from the sink and either roll it up in a towel to get rid of the excess water or put on the lowest spin setting on your washing machine. Then iron your scarf whilst it's wet and then lay flat to dry.
Finished Size after washing: 20cm/8" wide by 2m/6'7" long excluding fringes
I chose to do wide weft stripes in my scarf and really liked how it turned out.
This scarf can be woven with any colour combination and you could use the colour pairings at the beginning of this post or create your own from your stash.
Any DK weight yarn will work for this pattern and you will need 100g of each colour to weave with.
I hope you enjoy this pattern and I would love to see your own versions of it so I have started a thread on our Weft Blown Ravelry group where you can share your weaving and is a good place to ask any questions you have about the pattern.
Also please do share images of it on Instagram using #cornishskieswb or post to our Facebook group.
I will be back soon with our next pattern which will be using Eden Cottage Milburn DK yarn.
Ange at Weft Blown
(This pattern is for personal use only and not to be used for commercial purposes)
Back in July this year we had a great morning learning about how John Arbon Textiles create their fantastic range of yarns and fibre.
We've known John, Juliet and the team for a couple of years know after chatting to them at shows and using their yarn for our handwoven collection in the past.
When we mentioned to John we were going to be in North Cornwall for our holidays he said why don't we visit the mill and so we did.
The mill is based in South Molton (and they have a shop in Lynton, North Devon), and we made it there on a rather hot day in July.
The first thing you notice when you get into the mill is the sheer volume of fibre that they process.
The fibre is dyed and scoured elsewhere but all the carding, combing, blending and spinning occurs at the mill.
There is a fantastic range of old and the occasional new machine at the mill and each one has it's own name.
The fibre is carded first before being combed and carded ready for spinning.
When we were there they were spinning up some of the shades for the Knit by Numbers range.
The singles spun on Butler are then transferred to cone and then go on to be plied together.
Then the final stage of the process is the yarn being wound onto the skein using the oldest machine in the mill that's over 100 years old.
It was fantastic to get a tour around how the mill works and also to hear John's amazing knowledge and passion about creating yarn and ensuring the high quality that goes into every skein they produce.
The fantastic quality of their yarn was the reason it was first on our list to stock when we were planning adding yarn to Weft Blown.
I had used it before for weaving cowls when I was doing a wholesale collection.
It weaves up so soft thanks to the 100% organic merino wool from the Falkland Islands that the yarn is made from.
It's been great fun seeing customers come into our shop and falling in love with it too and we're hoping to start getting people elsewhere to find the love for this yarn.
So, starting in January we are going to do a blog post for a handwoven scarf using this yarn and you will get a free pattern that will work on both rigid heddle and table looms.
This is the start of a new monthly blog post where we will be releasing a free pattern for weaving and we hope that this will be a way to help you to weave more. And there may also be a cowl pattern with instructions on how to make them later in the year.
We have to give a huge thanks to John and the rest of the team for taking time out for us in July to let us see how they create their amazing yarn.
They do mill tours on their open days which is on 8th and 9th June next year. It's really worth it to go and see what they do, and Lynton and nearby Lynmouth is well worth a visit too.
Hello everyone and welcome back to the Weft Blown Blog and hello to all of you who have discovered Weft Blown over the past few months.
This blog has been in hibernation over the past few months as we've been so busy keeping up with day-to-day running of Weft Blown that we've not had time to post.
However, things are now settled down now with my husband Rob jumping onto Team Weft Blown full-time and this blog can be brought back to life.
So, I thought it'd be good to use this blog mainly for my handwoven textiles and the process behind weaving them and starting with where my inspiration comes from.
A long time ago at the very end of the last century (1999 to be precise) I finished my Masters degree in Applied Meteorology and started working immediately at the Met Office as a trainee Weather Forecaster. Getting onto the trainee scheme was tough and somehow I managed to get through, even after stumbling on a question about how tornadoes formed.
I joined 25 others on the Observing, then the Initial and Advanced Forecasting courses and after 14 months of training I finally became a qualified weather forecaster.
My on the job training was at Glasgow Weather Centre and I then worked at Birmingham and Manchester Weather Centres when I qualified.
I wasn't on TV but I did do the forecasts for aviation, power and gas companies, council gritting, newspapers, radio, and various other things. It was a great job and I loved having access to satellite images, radar data, weather observation data, and other information at my fingertips thanks to the access we had.
Due to a lot of reasons I decided to leave the Met Office after a couple of brief years and after bouncing around jobs and becoming self-employed I finally settled down and created Weft Blown.
Over the past couple of months I've been thinking a lot about my weaving and how I feel it's gotten away from where I wanted it to go a couple of years ago. My aim was to weave the weather but also try and explain about how the weather has formed to create the textures and the colours that I use in my weaving. However, I feel that the in-depth side of it hasn't really happened how I would like it to and I want to be able to push that side forward, and in doing so it should develop and expand my own weaving designs.
I really want to push myself more in what I'm weaving and get back into weather again as I miss studying about meteorological processes and analysing satellite imagery and data.
So, what I'm planning to do over the next couple of months is take a step back and start researching areas that have been in my head for a while that I want to develop. This includes the structure of warm and cold fronts in weather systems, the observational codes that are used worldwide for weather records, and also looking at satellite images that correspond to the photos that I've taken on the ground and tie-up why the clouds have formed and the processes behind it.
I had already joined the Complex Weavers last year but not had a proper chance to properly look at what the weavers do until now. In their latest Journal there is a brilliant article by Theo Wright on weaving Sine waves which has really got me thinking of how would meteorological mathematical formulae work in weave.
I've also dug out my old textbooks, Met Office training books, and reading a book about how meteorology evolved in the Victorian age. I'm actually looking forward to studying things again and try and re-awaken my brain again.
I've no idea where this meteorological journey in weave is going to take me, and in a way that's really exciting me as I feel I need a change and want to look at new ways of working and weaving.
My aim is to keep this blog fairly regularly updated with what I'm researching and working on and through it I'll show you how my design and weave process works so you can gain more of an idea of how my handwoven textiles are created.
So I know I always start a blog by apologising for not writing sooner as I've been really busy. Well this time it has been the busiest couple of months I've had for a very long time and I've finally got a chance to tell you all about it.
Tay Bridge Collection
Back in January at Scotlands Trade Fair I met the lovely Joyce McGlone at Gallery Q. She asked if I wanted to have some of my work in her gallery in Dundee and I jumped at the chance.
Dundee holds a very special place for me as it is where my mum's side of the family lives. We moved about a lot when I was a child as my dad changed jobs every couple of years, so Dundee and Edinburgh (where my dad's family lives) have always been the main anchor points in my life. It's always a comforting sight to see Dundee from the A9 as you drive in from Perth, and even better is the drive along the side of the river into the city centre where you can see the Tay rail and road bridges and over to Fife where I was born.
Having the chance to have my first show of work in a gallery and it being in Dundee was really exciting and I knew that I wanted to do a mini-collection for it. The obvious choice was to create some handwoven pieces that were based on the Tay Rail Bridge as it has always fascinated me.
In April, team Weft Blown went up and I had a chance to visit the Gallery to get an idea of the space, and on the way home I stopped and got some photos and the one above was the winner for the inspiration of the day. It was a blustery showery afternoon and I loved the shades of blue against the steelwork of the bridge and the cumulus clouds blowing by.
I wanted to make a full range of pieces and include some new things too.
My work was hung up alongside beautiful paintings of landscapes and it all worked brilliantly together. I created my first textile jewellery pieces for the exhibition which consisted of necklace and cuff bracelets. These were great fun to make and I will definitely be making more before Christmas in my usual sunsets and showers themes. Also in the Tay Bridge collection was a blanket and large scarf which I loved weaving. I haven't woven a blanket since college and I love how this one has turned out and I have ideas for more in a similar vein. This mega-scarf has given me new ideas for a different type of scarf from normal and again there will be more playing on the loom for some of these in the next month or so.
It was fantastic to see my work on show at Gallery Q and even better there were some sales too. There is some work staying up there in the run up to Christmas, which is all the jewellery pieces, badges and a couple of scarves. The large pieces have come back to West Kilbride and can be seen in my studio and online at the Tay Bridge Collection page.
After I got everything sorted for the exhibition the next focus for Weft Blown was Yarndale.
It was the first time any of us had been and we had a fantastic time meeting lots of new people as well as old friends.
I did also buy some yarn (surprise!) for new projects and also got some fun stuff for Weft Boy as he was a great help all weekend. Weftbeard was rewarded with beer and food from the brilliant farm shop next door.
Thanks for everyone that came by our stand as you really did make it a brilliant weekend.
After Yarndale things were meant to quieten down as I knew that I would have time to catch up with weaving in time for Christmas. However, on our way back to Scotland I got an email from Campaign for Wool asking if I'd like to be involved in something during Wool Week.
Campaign for Wool had already visited me earlier in September as part of their Wool Tour of Scotland and I was really touched that they had included me on this. So when they asked if i wanted to be part of something for Wool Week I said "yes".
It was then I found out that they were creating the first ever fully Wool BnB that would be kitted out in as many things as possible made of wool. I was really excited to have been asked for some of my work and my friend Mia at All Fankled Up who I'd worked with earlier in the summer when she created these cool Turks Head Knots paperweights. So in the space of 2 days our work made its way down to London and was included in the amazing Wool BnB.
I was then invited down to the preview evening for the makers involved and thought I can't miss this chance to see it. So I had a crazy 22 hour trip down to London and back to see it.
It was worth it to see my work alongside other companies and designers that I've followed and admired for years including Hilary Grant, Angie Parker Textiles, Melin Tregwynt, Warped Textiles, Wallace Sewell, Rowenna Masson, to name just a few of the great designers that were there. The attention to detail in the curating of it by Karina Garrick was amazing and I really wished that I could have spent a full weekend there to enjoy it all.
All the travelling has been great, but I am really glad I've now got the next couple of months to get things woven in time for Christmas, and also work on lots of new things for 2017.
As usual it's been a while since the blog post and as always lots has been going on.
At the end of June I had a stand at the 3D/2D Craft Tent at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh. This was a great event and it was great to meet so many people and get great feedback on my handwoven work.
Since then we've been enjoying the summer holidays and taken time to see what we need to do next at Weft Blown.
So, on to the title of this post. There are a few changes coming to Weft Blown over the next month or so and I thought it was better to explain them in a blog post.
As the schools are starting to return in Scotland thoughts are turning towards Autumn which will be here before we know it. To help you get over this fact I have lowered the prices on some of my scarves that are looking for a new home. The scarves are from my 2014 collection and are based on different clouds and the colours of Autumn.
I will have these scarves with me on my stand at the Galloway Country Fair this weekend or you can see them in my studio too, if they've not sold by then.
At the moment I am also busily working away on a mini collection for an exhibition I'm taking part in at Gallery Q in Dundee from the 10th September to 8th October 2016. I'm keeping what I'm making under wraps for now and I'll try and do a blog post soon about it all.
The Not So Great
As you may be aware there was a very important vote in the UK on the 26th June 2016 which culminated in our country voting to leave the EU. This wasn't what Rob and I wanted to happen and we've been keeping a very close eye on things as we knew it could have a direct impact on the Louët wheels and looms side of our business.
It's had a positive effect as it means that our prices are favourable to customers living in Europe (hello to everyone from there who are now following us).
However, it has had a negative affect on our business as the exchange rate between the pound and the euro has been impacted significantly. In real terms this means that the cost of us buying in stock from Louët has risen and we've tried really hard to absorb this but we've now reached a point where we can't.
So I'm afraid that we've taken the decision to raise our prices by 10% on the Louët spinning, weaving and carding equipment. But don't panic as we will not be raising the prices until 12am on Wednesday 24th August 2016 so you have a few days yet to grab your new Louët stuff at Summer 2016 prices.
As we are nice people and we hope that there are some of you out there who are thinking of buying from us at Yarndale in September don't worry as at Yarndale we will do a special promotion for the weekend of having our prices at the show held at the Summer 2016 prices and not at the new Autumn prices. We will also have demo wheels on the stand and for sale too so you might be able to get yourself a really good deal at Yarndale.
The price rises do not affect my handwoven products, classes, or magazines as these are unaffected by importing and exchange rates.
Speaking about classes, I have had to revise the payment policy for classes so that the full cost must now be paid at the time of booking for the class. I've been relaxed on class payments in the past but I need to bring in this policy now due to a number of recent last-minute cancellations. I am always happy for you to attend on a different date if something comes up that you can't make the date you booked on. For any classes that are cancelled by students two weeks or more before the class date then 50% of the cost will be refunded. So do get in touch as soon as you think you can't make the class so we can sort things out.
I am also struggling to add in any extra class dates over the next few months due to my workload. I am hoping to look at class dates over the next few weeks for the rest of this year and 2017 and will let you know by newsletter and social media when the new dates are released.
The Rather Exciting
To make up for the fact that there will be a price increase on Louët products we are happy to announce that we are in the process of becoming stockists of Glimåkra Looms and Hazel Rose Looms.
Glimåkra looms have always produced great sturdy traditional style floor looms and table looms as well as shuttles and accessories. We will have in stock the full range of shuttles, warping frames, tapestry frames and also their Emilia rigid heddle looms which I can't wait to have a play on as I've read lots of good things about them on Ravelry. You will also be able to order any of the floor and table looms which we'll be able to get shipped direct to you from their factory in Sweden.
Hazel Rose Looms are at the other end of the loom size spectrum and are small wooden pin looms that you can make square, rectangle, triangle, diamond, and heart shaped woven pieces that can be used individually or sewn together. I've had one of their looms for years and it's been great to take on my travels and weave squares here and there as they're so quick to weave.
We're hoping to have Glimåkra and Hazel Rose Looms with us at Yarndale. If there's anything you'd like us to bring then do let me know and I'll see what we can do.
Finally, I know this as all looms and wheels heavy, but there are some exciting new handwoven products that will be coming over the next couple of months that I am still tweaking in development and hope to get on the loom soon. Fingers crossed I will actually get a blog post done about them soon so watch this space.
If you've any questions at all about anything I've talked about in the blog post then do get in touch and we can discuss it further.
Enjoy the rest of your summer and I'll be back soon.
As usual its been busy at Weft Blown HQ as I have been working away on orders for lots of new stockists. I'm happy to say that all orders are complete for now and it's been great fun to work with such a lovely range of galleries and shops.
The orders have been varied and it's been fun creating bespoke items for some of my stockists.
Argyll Mountains for Lismore Gaelic Heritage Centre
Beach Textile Art for Highland Natural Accents
Ingleborough Moor for Finestra Gallery
I've really enjoyed weaving these pieces as it's great to weave new shapes, colours and textures that are linked in with these stockists local areas. It's also been interesting in how easy these shapes can be used for many other locations too.
I've also been able to use my handspun yarn again which I haven't used for a while. My spinning mojo had disappeared for a while but it has come back after being able to play with our Louët demo wheels. I've grown rather attached to the 5 spoke double treat S10 Concept as it's so lovely to spin on. It's the only one that hasn't returned to the studio so think that says something.
To complete some of these bespoke pieces I needed to create specific yarns. Again, hardship of having all the Louët things in the studio I played with the Blending Board to make rolags. I've never used a blending board before and to be honest I didn't see the point as I had the drum carder. After 20 minutes of playing I'm now converted as with the Blending Board you can make very cool striped rolags, be more precise in what you're adding in, and still make lovely fluff that is a joy to spin especially with the Art Yarn flyer.
All the fibre out ready to blend
Packing the fibre onto the board using the brush
Fibre building up on the board
Using the sticks to make the roles
I love my blending board
Getting back into spinning and making art yarn has helped to rejuvenate my creative side and I'm now ready to play at working on lots of new designs using lots of new yarn.
I am a strong believer in supporting independent yarn dyers and yarn producers, as well as supporting British wool in this country. So at Edinburgh Yarn Festival I did a spot of buying purely for research and development purposes. I want to widen my range of scarves and cowls and look at doing more one off designs that will be exclusive to buy directly from Weft Blown. Also, on a purely fun level, it means I can keep playing with different designs and yarns so it helps to keep me fuelled creatively.
My EYF 2016 yarn haul that includes yarns from Blacker Yarns, The Border Tart, Ripples Craft, Whistlebare Yarns, Buffalo Wool Co, fibre from John Arbon, and then purely personal yarn kit purchases from Kate Davies and Midwinter Yarns.
The colour palette is fairly obvious as it's still with the sky and landscape themes, but there are tonal differences from what I've used before. Plus, the base yarns are completely different in most cases and I can't wait to see how they weave up.
I have also bought some lovely hand-dyed yarn from Queen of Purls too but shamefully there is no photo of this. They are a lovely blue and sand shaded Dorset Horn yarn.
All of the new yarn has been sitting nicely in a basket since entering the studio to make me think about what it's going to turn into.
I've got a couple of ideas based on some photos I've take over the past few months.
I'm wanting to do a lot more work using texture and pattern as I now have the chance to play more with the 12 shafts on my Delta floor loom and I feel I haven't explored enough with what I can do with it.
This has resulted in yet more playtime and today I've been setting up the Jane table loom to play with Deflected Double Weave for the first time. So far it's great fun and I'm already getting ideas of what I can do with it and how I can get it to play with other structures.
Where the playing will take me I'm not quite sure yet, but I am enjoying being able to properly explore new designs and try to yet again bring the weather into my handwoven cloth.
Well then, Edinburgh Yarn Festival has been and gone and was indeed a lot of fun. There was also a declaration at the very end of the last blog post that promised a follow up blog post on how it all went. Well Ange is far too busy weaving like a demon at the moment so the honour has passed to me - Mr Weft Blown - this time for my inaugural blog post. I cannot argue really since I did volunteer to get involved with helping run some of the bits and pieces at Weft Blown HQ!
This is me! - Rob aka Mr Weft Blown aka Weft Beard
So, if you will excuse me, I will start by sketching out how I have arrived at this point. Firstly, being married to a yarn fanatic eventually resulted in me giving in and I did a bit of table loom weaving last year. I have to say I "got" weaving almost straight away; the delight in seeing your changes in to the shaft configuration magically transformed into the pattern of the fabric slowly emerging. I like the rhythm and flow of the process. Next, when Ange mentioned that she was looking into stocking Louet products the wannabe entrepreneur in me thought this sounded exciting stuff and was keen to get involved.
This then all led to EYF, where I assisted Ange on the Weft Blown stand. In preparation for EYF I got busy spinning on our new Louet wheels. Now, I have had a go at spinning in the dim and distant past but quite frankly I was more than rusty. Good job I live with an excellent spinning tutor then! It is a steep learning curve but I am hopefully moving into the "vaguely competent spinner" category. This of course allows me to understand our products in detail and therefore be of some use to Ange other than just a simple bearded weaving roadie!
EYF was a fantastic experience. Totally energising and great to be immersed with all these people following their passion. I came away just wanting more. Plus, the Weft Blown boss also rewarded me for my efforts with some very nice socks from the Buffalo Wool Company.
Spinners busy on our stand at EYF
So, after a little time recovering it has been back to work and we are now very pleased to be able to announce that the Weft Blown online store is now officially up and running selling Louet spinning wheels, table looms, hand and drum carders and all the associated spinning, weaving and carding bits and bobs you would expect. We can also supply the range of Louet floor looms but hopefully you will understand that we can't hold these in stock and will need these looms to be ordered from the Louet factory on an individual basis.
The Louet wheel family getting settled into their new home!
So why has Weft Blown become a Louet supplier? Well, a pretty major reason is because we were so impressed by the build quality, craftmanship and general loveliness of Ange's Delta floor loom which was bought last Autumn. We think that Louet equipment is not only well built but elegantly designed in both appearance and also function. We also think that they represent very good value products for the weavers and spinners out there.
Ange's Louët Delta Floor Loom and Louët weaving bench
Basically, we want Weft Blown to be your one-stop-shop for all Louet products. We believe we have very competitive prices and are endeavouring to keep as much of the range in stock as is possible at any one time. If anything is out of stock it can be pre-ordered through the site and will then be on that week's factory order. Shipping rates are based on package volumetric weight and are clearly displayed on your order as you proceed to the Check Out. You can of course also opt to collect in person from our studio if you live in or are passing through the area.
Floor looms, being the more unique and hefty beasts that they are, can be ordered through our online contact form prior to confirmation of specific shipping rates, payment method and delivery timescales. Floor loom prices shown on our website are the actual sale price and not just an indicative guide price as some other websites display them.
As a working teaching and production weaving studio we will usually have numerous Louet wheels and looms built up and available for you to try out. So if you are in our part of the world and interested in a Louet product then please do get in touch with us to come and give the wheels or table looms a test-drive. You can also use Louët wheels and table looms at Ange's classes too.
Now, Weft Blown will be at both the Royal Highland Show and Galloway Country Fair this coming summer where Ange will be selling her weather-inspired handwoven range. And we are very excited to also announce that in September we will be off to Yarndale in Skipton. More on Yarndale to come closer to the time, but if you are going too we will be happy to take advance orders on any Louet items so that you can collect from our stand. We will also be happy to take payments in installments in advance if you prefer to spread out the cost - please contact us if you would like to place an order in this way.
Now, I should really get off this computer and back to upping my spinning skills. Before doing that I have to say that although still a bit clumsy and inconsistent in my spinning, I have really taken to our demonstration S80 Olivia wheel to work with. The more traditional-style turned wood appearance is a bit different from the other contemporary-looking wheels in the Louet range, but whatever your tastes in wheel style the Olivia is just totally effortless to treadle! Perhaps worth a look if you are thinking about a new wheel?.........
The very lovely S80 Olivia wheel
For those of you that have read my last blog post you my remember that I said that I was heading off to Scotlands Trade Fair at the end of January.
After a lot of hard work and stress I got there and it went fantastically well.
I am now making new stock for stockists across Scotland and one in England, and there are one or two rather exciting things in the pipeline too.
So, it's been very crazy busy at Weft Blown HQ as I've been busy getting these orders organised and also getting my new designs set-up too which include these new cushions, scarves and cowl.
They will be in stock from April in my shop and online so do watch out for them.
As well as getting all the things woven over the past couple of months I've also been sorting out a new venture for Weft Blown as I am now a supplier of Louët spinning wheels and looms.
My first spinning wheel was a second hand Louët S10 and it was great to learn on as it was so easy to use. Over the past few years I've also had a Louët Junior Drum Carder and Bobbin winder and then at the end of last year I got my brand new Louët Delta floor loom.
Having used them over time I've been very impressed with the build quality of Louët but also of how they have been designed to make it easier for the user to spin or weave on. It's for this reason that I decided to become a dealer.
To help with adding another string to my business bow, my husband Rob is now helping out with the Louët side of things. He has already done a little bit of weaving and has now learned to spin too, even if his perfectionist ways makes him get frustrated with it at times. It's great to have him help out now as I feel the pressure has lifted off a bit of having to run everything myself and means I can now talk to him about looms and wheels and he's starting to understand it all.
So, this means that what I'm bringing with me to my stand at Edinburgh Yarn Festival is a bit changed from last year. I will still be bringing a selection of my handwoven products to show, including my clouds and badges. I'll also be more than happy to talk to anyone about the weaving and spinning classes that I run.
Rob is coming to help out this year too as we're bringing our new range of Louët wheels and looms. We've not got the full range of wheels and table looms as we're still waiting on parts of our order to come.
We will have:
a Louët Klik table loom warped up that you can have a play on
the Louët S10 Concept Spinning Wheel which is fab to spin on and we're bringing the double treadle 3 spoke and 5 spoke wheels with Irish and Scotch Tension
a Louët S17 Spinning Wheel
the Louët Victoria S95 beech and S96 oak model which are very cute and dinky
Louët Classic and Louët Junior Standard Drumcarders with their cute spinning animals on the drums
You'll be able to have a shot on any of these wheels and if you order any Louët product at the show but we don't have it in stock we will ship it to you with free delivery afterwards (this applies to all products apart from floor looms due to the nature of their delivery).
Rob and I want to make sure that anyone who wants to have a go on these wheels and loom get a chance so we will have them out on the stall and just ask us if you want to have a try on them. We'll have fibre and yarn ready to go too. Also, if you want to talk to us about any of the other Louët products including floor looms then just ask.
The other reason I'm really excited about EYF is getting the chance to meet everyone and squish lots of yarn. I've already bought yarn in the past from quite a few of the vendors for weaving, including Old Maiden Aunt yarns, Midwinter Yarns, Jamiesons of Shetland, Blacker Yarns, New Lanark, Wollmeise, Whistlebare Yarns and the new Buchaille Yarn by Kate Davies. I'm really looking forward to seeing them all again.
This year I will be making a bee-line for Ripples Craft not just to see the lovely Helen and my weaving friend Dorothy but to eye up some yarn for future projects.
I can't wait to see The Border Tarts lovely indigo dyed yarns which I'd love to see how they weave up.
Easyknits is another one of my favourites and I use their yarn for knitting but I think their gradient packs of yarn will be great for weaving with too.
John Arbons Paint by Numbers range is also another I want to have a closer look at this year as I didn't get the chance to properly last year.
Buffalo Wool Co will be another stop as how can anyone resist the chance to see what buffalo yarn is like, especially if they've got their mini skeins.
Finally, I can't wait to see my old EYF friend Once A Sheep as she'll have with her the new Ashford Sample-It rigid heddle loom and the new Vari-Dent rigid heddle reeds which do look a lot of fun.
I will also be checking out all the other stalls and it doesn't mean that any of the ones that I haven't mentioned aren't of interest as they create great yarns that are great for weaving with.
If you're at EYF and want any help on what yarns to weave with then do stop by my stand and I'm always happy to have a chat about yarns and weaving.
Our stand is F4 and we're next to the Tour of British Fleece which looks like a great project all about spinning and working with British Fleece.
So do come along and say hi and I promise to be back to blog afterwards how it all went.
Hello again and many apologies for the long gap between blog posts.
Things have been rather busy at Weft Blown HQ with getting ready for Christmas fairs, being ill, and getting inspired by weather.
As you may have noticed the website has changed again. I've switched over to a whole new web hosting thing called Shopify, which I have to say has made having an online shop far easier as it instantly matches into what's in the studio. The only downside is that moving my blog to the new system hasn't been easy and the older posts do need to have images added back in which I'll do over the next month or so. Also, to those that had subscribed I do hope you can subscribe again. Nothing to do with websites and blog transfers seems easy but I hope that you all like the new look.
The past few months have been great and I've been up to Glasgow for a couple of fairs which were great and it was lovely to meet so many new people that hadn't seen my work before.
The other big change at Weft Blown has been the addition of my first brand new to me floor loom, my Louet Delta called who is now called Storm.
I have to say that I have been nothing apart from impressed by the service from Louet. My Delta came in several boxes, including one of the biggest boxes ever.
The only downside was it's arrival coincided with me getting shingles. I don't recommend anyone getting shingles as it's rotten and I was floored for a week. The biggest downside to it was that I got it in my left upper arm and shoulder. As a weaver and knitter this really wasn't good as it meant that I lost a lot of power in my left arm which has taken a while to get back.
A week after falling ill though I did get back into the studio and managed to build my loom with my dodgy shoulder and eventually she looked like this.
The build quality is fantastic, even with having to put all the parts together myself. For a loom that is still fully manual there are a few very cunning modern twists to the old design of a countermarch loom that really change how it weaves. It's such an improvement on my old loom that she is already cutting down on my set-up and weaving time to make her a very valuable addition to my studio.
My Delta loom is a 12 shaft 14 treadle loom. For those of you that are not weavers this means I have more uppy downy bits on my loom to make cooler patterns than before. For the weavers, having the extra 4 shafts from my last loom makes a big difference as it means I can do more block patterns and also just weave more complex designs than before in an easier way. The tie-up is also far easier and means I can change patterns while a warp is on the loom, again something I couldn't have done before.
Having Storm my new loom has also reignited by weaving juices and I have got my weaving design mojo back. I am now able to explore more weaving techniques that I dipped into at college and the one thing that I've really been wanting to explore for a long time is Collapse Weave.
As I am always looking up at the sky and the changes in the cloud and light, I've been wanting to explore more how to create more texture of the sky into my handwoven cloth.
I've delved back into my archive of photos from the past year and have dug out these as my new inspiration sources for scarves.
The subtle texture in the clouds in these images fascinates me and I want to translate that flow between the cloud and the sky into a scarf.
I've experimented with the basic structure using Shetland yarn with over twisted yarn. The second sample worked and here's the results.
I have dabbled in collapse weave at college and this time I've managed to create the crinkly structure in a more controlled way.
So, I am currently threading up Storm in some lovely Old Maiden Aunt yarn mixed with some Jamiesons of Shetland yarn to create a textured scarf imitating the sunsets above. Fingers crossed it'll work.
The new scarves and new cushion designs will be launched at Scotlands Trade Fair which is on from 24-26 January 2016. This is the first time I'm doing a trade fair and it's a tad daunting but hopefully it might lead to my work being sold in more places across the country. If you are going then do pop by my stand on LG8 to say hi.
I'll be back soon to let you know how it's gone and how the new scarves and cushions look.
During the summer the lovely Estelle at Midwinter Yarns got in touch with me to ask if I could weave a sample for them for their stand at shows using their Lithuanian Linen. This was very good timing as I had that day just been drooling over their linen Sweet Peas packs that they had […]
The post How to Weave with Lithuanian Linen from Midwinter Yarns appeared first on Weft Blown.
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