What can you say about a company that is so instrumental and ingrained in the crafts that you love? My entire experience of spinning and weaving would be completely different without the beautiful cherry Baby Wolf loom, cherry Matchless wheel, and end-delivery shuttle. My Schacht trifecta. They are inseparable from my craft and I am ever thankful to Barry Schacht, Jane Patrick, and the wonderful company that is Schacht Spindle.
I will always fondly remember my trip to Colorado in 2012 when Liz Gipson brought me to the Schacht factory to visit Barry and Jane and they took me on a tour of the whole factory. To see wheels, shuttles, bobbins, and looms in various stages of assembly and creation was incredible. It gave me such respect for what beautiful things they make, but also the great care and detail that goes into every piece. So, of course, when Jane emailed me several months ago about making a hand-dyed yarn or spinning fibre to celebrate Schacht’s 50th anniversary year, my answer was a resounding “ABSOLUTELY”. Fifty years! What an incredible achievement to celebrate!
After consultation with the resident spinners at Schacht, we decided to create a custom hand-dyed colourway using the Polwarth+Silk spinning fibre blend that we dye at SweetGeorgia. I love this fibre for its poofy and plump feel. It’s 85% Polwarth wool and 15% tussah silk, making it a little bit streaky and shiny but also really soft and plush. It’s beautifully easy to draft and spin, and then once the yarn is plied and washed, it just puffs up like a marshmallow. Squeee, I love it.
Jane presented us with some colour swatches that they had selected to represent the 50th anniversary. There were four main hues to represent four aspects of the Schacht story: burgundy red for Weaving, warm sky blue for Spinning, golden ochre for Winding & Warping, and a warm neutral cream for Schacht’s History. Looking at this palette was interesting because it basically represented a sophisticated take on primary colours, with a red, blue, and yellow. These primary hues were all grown up and expressed a wisdom and character to them. The wine red, blue, and gold were paired with deeper and more saturated versions of themselves as small accents—so a dark purple, deep teal, and bronze. This palette was rich, warm, and diverse enough to represent their story, and together the colours worked beautifully to complement and contrast with each other.
We worked to design a handpainted colourway that would clearly represent these hues and keep them distinct rather than muddying them up. We gave each aspect of the palette an equal share, but the colours don’t appear to compete with each other. Using our existing SweetGeorgia colour recipes, we designed two colourway options and presented this to the Schacht team. After a couple rounds of test dyeing, we set about dyeing all the fibre. It was glorious to see the fibre all dyed up in a mountain of colour prior to the task of braiding them all into lovely, compact chains.
When I look at the handpainted braid of fibre, I think about all the different ways it could be spun and how the colours might intermix and play. We worked intentionally to dye the fibre into distinct sections of colour that do not overlap too much, so part of me thinks that spinning the fibre and chain-plying it to keep the colours distinct would be a good way to go. I do also like the look of a traditional 2-ply yarn spun from a fibre that’s split in half lengthwise. The colour sections generally line up, but where they don’t match up, there is a natural bit of marling as the colour sections catch up with each other. It’s gentle and the progression through the colour sections is a little softer and gradual when it’s knit up. As I write, I think I’ve convinced myself to go with a traditional 2-ply split down the middle.
If you’re curious about how to spin the fibre and how it might turn out, you might want to join and participate in Schacht’s spin-along happening this June. I’ll be in there with my braid of Polwarth+Silk and cherry Matchless, spinning along with the entire Schacht community.
Thank you to Schacht for making such wonderful things for us. Congratulations on 50 years of spinning and weaving, and wishing you many, many more!
Earlier in June, we had a staff picnic to honor our employees who had a work anniversary in the second quarter! Here’s a little bit more about them all below.
Assembly 2 years
Jillian has lived in Colorado for her whole life. When she was looking for work that involved lots of repetition and concrete operations, someone suggested that she apply to Schacht. She came here in 2017 to be a woodworker in the production department. Since then, she’s joined the assembly team in spinning wheel land making and finishing parts as well as building wheels.
Jillian started woodworking in college. As a knitter, she’s also familiar with the world of crafting—yet she’s still surprised at how many people weave and spin. She’s learned these skills herself, owning a Ladybug and a Lilli Loom. Her other hobbies include sleeping, surfing the net, playing Pokemon Go and other video games.
Office 4 years
Nate has worked at Schacht since 2015, when he and his wife moved to Colorado. (His family also includes two dogs.) He was born outside of Chicago, then lived in Indiana and Ohio. He calls Dayton his hometown.
Nate had a lot of experience in manufacturing administration before coming here: previously, he worked for a factory that made metal products. Wood is a lot less greasy, he says. At Schacht, he’s Controller and Personnel Administrator; in other words, he manages people and money.
Nate wasn’t familiar with the craft industry before coming to Schacht. He first learned to spin on a Sidekick. Now he’s a hardcore spinner: during football season, he pulls out his cherry Matchless and the bourbon to make yarn as he watches games. In the winter, he knits that yarn into beanies and scarves.
These snuggly knit accessories come in handy for his outdoor activities: mountain biking, hiking, snowboarding, rock climbing. Nate also plays guitar in a band.
The Matchless is his favorite Schacht product. Someday he may get a loom to weave kilt fabrics; he likes the Black Watch plaid best.
Quality Manager and Customer Service 31 years
Cindy was born in Montana and grew up in Fort Madison, Iowa. In 1981, she moved to Colorado, where her extended family has lived. She’s lived in several places across Iowa (Danville and Iowa City) and Colorado (Estes Park, Boulder).
Cindy began working at Schacht in April 1988. She started out building Matchless spinning wheels. Around 2000, she moved into the Assembly and Production departments, working as production lead and then production manager for about a decade. When the company decided to create its first production database to handle inventory and workflow, Cindy built it. Now she works as quality manager and in customer service, as well as helping out where needed.
Cindy’s favorite work involves helping customers so they can enjoy working with their Schacht looms and wheels. Cindy calls herself a technical expert on the equipment, rather than the skills involved in spinning or weaving.
Her specialized knowledge came in handy when Schacht developed the Ladybug spinning wheel (released in 2007). It’s her favorite product because she helped design it. She thought of creating a plywood version of the Matchless wheel; she also contributed the Ladybug’s signature red wheel and its use of lightweight plastic tubing for the footmen.
Cindy’s hobbies also involve making things, from wooden toys to furniture. She’s spent years remodeling her craftsman house to keep it authentic. At home, her 2 basset hounds and 2 cats keep her company (“they’re really the same animal,” Cindy says) unless she’s visiting her partner in Pittsburgh.
Assembly 6 years
Chai was born in Thailand and came to Colorado as a newborn, when his family moved here.
Chai has worked at Schacht since 2013, spending his time sawing, woodworking, machining, and making metal parts—sort of a jack of all trades. Nowadays, he’s risen to “king of the Zoom Loom,” since he can insert the pins so quickly. Making Zoom Looms and working at the ripsaw are his favorite tasks. With the loom, he can sit down and focus on a repetitive task; with the ripsaw, he’s got to make precise cuts while he’s up and moving around.
Chai didn’t know anything about crafts when he started working here. He’s still surprised and impressed by the size and history of textile arts. When this history connects to Japan, it especially thrills him, because it’s related to his hobbies of collecting Japanese figurines and watching animé. He also enjoys photographing the beautiful scenery of Colorado. Chai has learned how to weave and has gifted looms to family members.
Assembly 15 years
Luz was born and grew up in Juarez, Chihuahua. She also has a chihuahua named Manchitos (“spotted”). In 1996, she and her mother Martha visited Colorado and decided to move here.
She has worked at Schacht since 2005. Luz assembles parts for the loom builders: cutting cords, creating accessory packs, and putting together loom accessories. Her favorite loom is the Baby Wolf, because it’s the smallest one she’s involved in making.
Luz had no experience with crafts before coming to Schacht. She’s tried crochet but hasn’t found the time to really pursue it. But she can appreciate a good-looking loom, and she likes being involved in their production.
Assembly 10 years
Va was born in Laos, grew up in Thailand, and moved to Colorado in 1998. She came to Schacht in 2009. Va makes bells and mirrors for our sister company, Mirrcyle, and boat shuttles.
She and Shoua have known each other for many years, mainly through family events. Since their husbands have the same last name, they’re considered cousins.
Outside of work, Va spends her time gardening and at family events.