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June 2018

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June 2018 Newsletter

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Jumping into Weaving with Hand-Dyed Handspun Yarn

I can’t get enough color in my life! My favorite thing is to spin hand-dyed top because there are so many different ways the colors can play out.

I’ve been dipping my toe into weaving using my Cricket, and I recently got the urge to try weaving hand-dyed handspun yarn. It was surprising and brought up more questions about color and weaving than answers.

At the Dallas/Fort Worth Fiber Fest, I picked up hand-dyed BFL Superwash top from Lisa Souza in two different colorways, Bird of Paradise and Lime & Violet. I knew I wanted to use them to spin and weave; the big question was how.

Since I’m newish to weaving and new to weaving with color, I went for very basic yarns with one color-mixing element in the ply.

I spun three 2-ply yarns on my Flatiron. I plied Bird of Paradise and Lime & Violet on themselves, matching colors in the ply (more or less). My third yarn combined one ply of Bird of Paradise and one ply of Lime & Violet. I spun them to 12 wpi and wove them with a sett of 10 EPI and 8 PPI.

I threaded my 12-inch-wide warp with 4-inch stripes of each yarn, putting the mixed ply yarn in the middle. My weft played out with 6 inches of mixed yarn, 4 inches of Lime & Violet, 4 inches of Bird of Paradise, 30 inches of mixed, 4 inches of Bird of Paradise, and 4 inches of Lime & Violet.

I had no real sense of the color outcome before I started to weave. While I was weaving, I was surprised and fascinated at how the colors played out.

After I rolled my scarf off of my Cricket and stared at it, my first thought was, “weaving is not knitting.”  I know, duh, but I didn’t realize just how different color interactions in weaving would be. The visual element of layering in weaving intertwines colors much more than knitting. Knitting mostly places colors side by side and stacked on top of each other. In weaving there is side by side, stacking and interlacing, color can get rich and complex or seriously muddy very quickly.

I had three big thoughts on weaving with color based on this experiment:

1) Weaving uses yarn and color in a very different way than knitting. Weaving has two distinct elements—the warp and the weft—that need to work together. I had to plan my warp and weft color-wise for their interaction to work. These were both yarns with long color runs. I originally wanted to weave a narrow project, but had to rethink it once I realized that the whole color-run wouldn’t show.

2) Marled yarn in weaving is astonishingly cool. The spot in the weaving where marled yarns of the same colors intersect made an amazing pattern. It’s visually textured using just plain weave. The lime and teal marled yarns in warp and weft look like stars.

3) Color in weaving gets visually busy very fast. Because weaving has layers, the colors need to work intermeshed. While I was weaving, I did doubt my choices several times. Once the scarf was off the loom, it came together better than I suspected: the colors relaxed into each other

I initially thought this scarf would get tossed in my scarf bucket for the fall when I was done, but I have so much to study and think about, it’s waiting patiently in my ”thinking about and make more samples” pile. The outcome of this experiment was fascinating to me and ignited a new fire my brain about color and weaving.

Which Spinning Wheel is Right for Me?

Dear Tabby,

I’m in the market to buy a new spinning wheel, but with five different Schacht wheels to try, I’m not sure which one will be the best fit. Help!

—Indecisive Irene

Dear Indecisive,

How exciting! The decision to purchase a new spinning wheel is a big one, and it’s very personal. Taking the time to research, test, and think, will prove to be the best decision in the long run. To aid you in this process, we’ve compiled a list of questions to ask yourself when wheel shopping.

  • What kind of spinning do you want to do?
  • Does your wheel need to be portable?
  • Do prefer a saxony-style or castle-style wheel?
  • How much space do you have?
  • What drive system do you prefer?
  • Do you prefer a traditional look or a modern look?
  • What’s your budget?

Once you know the answers to these questions, use this guide to narrow your choices down, or you can take a look at our spinning wheel comparison chart.

What kind of spinning do you want to do?

  • For fine spinning, the Flatiron, Matchless, and Schacht-Reeves have great ratios that will give you more twist with less treadling.
  • For bulky spinning, the Ladybug and Sidekick can slow down a lot with large whorls—perfect for those art yarns.
  • For a mix of yarns, you can’t go wrong with the Ladybug or Matchless.

Does your wheel need to be portable?

  • The Sidekick is our folding travel wheel, great for cross-country or cross-town trips. The Ladybug is also lightweight, has convenient carrying handles, and will fit comfortably in any car.
  • The Matchless (though it has a small footprint) is a little heavy to carry around for some individuals; if you’re going to travel with it, you can use the included carrying strap or get the optional cart. The Flatiron (though lightweight) and the Schacht-Reeves are both great for more stationary spinners.

Do you prefer a Saxony-style or castle-style wheel?

  • Saxony: Both the Flatiron and Schacht-Reeves are Saxony wheels. The Flatiron can be set up with the flyer on the left or flyer on the right, while the Schacht-Reeves must be ordered as a flyer on the left or flyer on the right. Note: for spinners who hold their fiber in their right hand, a flyer on the left is ideal; for spinners who hold their fiber in their left hand, a flyer on the right is ideal.
  • Castle: The Matchless, Ladybug, and Sidekick are all castle-style wheels.

How much space do you have?

  • A lot: The Flatiron and Schacht-Reeves take up about 3–4 square feet of floor space
  • A little: The Matchless, Ladybug, and Sidekick take up about 1–2 square feet of floor space.

What drive system do you prefer?

  • Every wheel we make can be set up for Scotch tension (flyer lead).  The Schacht-Reeves, Flatiron, Matchless, and Ladybug can also be set up for double drive. Only the Flatiron, Matchless, and Ladybug can be set up for Irish tension (bobbin lead).

Do you prefer a traditional look or modern look?

  • For a more traditional aesthetic, the Schacht-Reeves and Matchless are great choices.
  • For a more modern approach, the Flatiron, Ladybug, and Sidekick will suit your needs.

What’s your budget?

  • $700–$800: Ladybug or Flatiron
  • $800–$900: Sidekick
  • $900+: Matchless or Schacht-Reeves

Once you’ve gotten your list of wheels narrowed down, call your local Schacht spinning wheel retailer to schedule a time to try spinning on the wheels in person. Many spinners collect spinning wheels for their looks as well as their functions. It’s hard to say no to a spinning wheel.

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