Design a Warp With Me!
My test warp is off my Cricket Quartet, my studio finally has great lighting, so now it's time to get weaving!
Most weaving videos on the internet focus on the actual weaving process, and there are plenty of those coming up. Today's videos focus more on the design process. This is the process I learned when I first started weaving, and it's let me mostly design all my own projects without having to rely on printed patterns.
I do use a few books for "design recipes," though! Here are a few of my favorites for 4-shaft looms:
In this first video, I walk through the math I use to make sure I have enough yarn. For this project, I'm using a 3-ply linen from Weaver House, sett at 20 ends per inch. My pattern has 268 ends, which lets me use the whole width of the Cricket Quartet.
As promised in the video, here are the free downloads:
In this second video, I walk through my process designing the warp in WeaveIt. This isn't a full tutorial of WeaveIt, but if you need one of those, Sally has created plenty of helpful tutorials on her channel.
If you're interested in using or modifying this pattern for your own use, there are free downloads below - one is to the WIF file, and the other is a printable PDF.
Now it's time to get warping! I'll be back with tips on how to use a warping board, check out what happened when I asked an AI chatbot how to do it.
Lighting a Fiber Arts Studio
Last year my husband and I packed up our home and business and moved across the country. This was a huge shakeup, and one of the biggest changes was my studio space.
Lighting has been a huge challenge in this space. My previous studio spaces had lots of windows for great natural light, plus great overhead lighting. This one doesn't. Since we've had a lot of other big expenses with this move, I've decided to hold off on hiring an electrician to install hardwired lighting. This also gives me time to figure out exactly how I want the lighting in the studio set up.
This approach has had its fair share of challenges! One of the first things that I figured out is that lighting a fiber arts studio is way different than lighting other spaces in a home.
TL;DR - Use an online calculator to determine how much light you need. Use bright, cool light. Look for plug-in wall sconces and pendant lamps to get lots of light on the cheap. Your eyes (and your wallet) will thank you!
Design Challenge #1: All the Light is in One Corner
This room was originally meant to be either a formal living room or a large dining room. And somehow, all the light ended up in one corner of the room. There are large windows that let in a lot of natural light in the summer and fall. There's also a ceiling fan with three small lights.
I started out with using two floor lamps in the darker parts of the room, but even with a high-powered task lamp for extra lighting, I found I wasn't getting enough light.
This led to....
Design Problem #2: I Don't Want to Hire an Electrician Just Yet
Design Problem #3: Floor Space is at a Premium
As far as I'm concerned, these two problems are related. In an ideal world, I'd have dimmable, moveable track lighting, so that everything in the room is well lit. But there are several reasons why that's not on the table right now. First, it's not in the budget. Second, I want to "live in" to the space and really make a solid decision before making big changes.
Once I'd made that decision, I found that most of the lighting options were for floor lamps - like I already had. Adding more floor lamps didn't seem like it would solve the problem. Plus, they'd take up valuable space, add to tripping hazards, and potentially increase glare. I wanted a bright room, but one without too much glare.
Everyone I consulted kept saying "wall sconces," but I kept thinking of the dim mood lighting in hotels. Plus, all the wall sconces I'd ever seen had been hardwired in - work that would require hiring an electrician. This conundrum kept me stuck for longer than I care to admit.
Finally, I found out that there are plug-in wall sconces available. I bought two sets (four total), and it only set me back $60. They do require that you drill a few holes in the wall, but they are simple to install and connect to your existing outlet. No electrician needed, and no floor space sacrificed.
Design Problem #4: Light Temperature
Even after doubling the amount of light I had in my studio, I found it still wasn't bright enough. So I swapped out all my bulbs for brighter ones. And it STILL wasn't enough!
At that point in time, all the light bulbs in our house were "soft white," or about 2700k. This is a warm light, and it seems to be popular among designers as the "best light" for homes. But we use our homes a lot differently than we did even a few years ago. A studio space is more like an office than a living room. While warm light is great for relaxing, cool light tends to be better for working. So out went the soft white bulbs, and in came (ever brighter) "Daylight" bulbs. These have a color temperature of 5000k, and helped make the studio feel better lit.
Design Problem #5: How Much Light Do You Really Need?
Switching to brighter, cooler lights was better - for a while. But I found I was still experiencing eye strain, especially when threading the heddles on my floor loom. I was limited to the times that the room was filled with natural light on a sunny day. Even then, I needed to have all the lights on and use a task lamp to be comfortable. This was limiting me to working from about 9 am to 11 am in the winter months, and those hours didn't always line up with the other things I needed to get done.
I used an online lighting calculator to determine how much light I needed in my space. The answer: somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 lumens. At that point, I had about 3,000 lumens from my overhead lighting and wall sconces, plus about 1,000 from my task light. At less than half the minimum, no wonder I still felt like it was too dark!
I knew I needed lots more light, and I especially needed to add light to the middle of the room. This time, it was plug-in pendant lights to the rescue. A set of two cost only $39, and they were easy to install.
Lastly, I made sure all the bulbs were as bright as they could be.
There are currently 7 electric light sources in my studio - three overhead lights, three wall sconces, and one task lamp that I move around as needed. I have one more wall sconce to install (I'm waiting until I've finalized the room layout). Once that last sconce is installed, my ambient lighting will be around 10,600 lumens.
Even without that last sconce, it finally feels bright enough. I no longer find myself wandering away from a task, only to later realize that it was because I couldn't see well enough.
Each light is controlled by its own switch, which has definite pros and cons. On the negative side, it takes more effort to turn all the lights on. In reality, it's less than 30 seconds! On the positive side, it's easy to customize exactly how much light I need at any given moment, making it much easier to just get on with the actual work of fiber art!
I also have read several books that have impacted how I think about designing my studio spaces:
Unboxing the Cricket Quartet
This summer, Schacht Spindle released the Cricket Quartet, an attachment that converts their Cricket rigid heddle loom into a 4-shaft table loom. The claim is that the Quartet allows you to switch back and forth at will between a rigid heddle loom and a 4-shaft loom. At $450, this is pretty expensive, considering you also need to have the Cricket, which is currently running around $240. So all in, this would cost $700, which is a lot for a table loom. (For comparison, a used 4-shaft table loom in working condition should be around $400).
However, I already had a 15" Cricket rigid heddle loom that I used to use for teaching and demonstrations. I enjoy using it, but I knew I would use a 4-shaft table loom more. We recently moved, and my weaving space is much smaller than it used to be, so space is at a premium. Gone are my days of acquiring looms just for fun! After looking at used table looms on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Ravelry, I realized that I had already had some experience with a lot of the looms out there, and found them to be too big, too loud, or too flimsy. So I decided to give the Cricket Quartet a try.
As always, Schacht does a really nice job of packaging with minimal waste, while still protecting everything inside.
Soon I will be putting the loom together and using it - I'll be sure to report back!
Spinner's Multitool Tutorial
There are as many ways to spin a gorgeous yarn as there are people who spin. Sometimes, getting a consistent yarn is really important - especially if we're spinning lots of yarn for a big project.
There are lots of ways to make sure you're spinning a consistent yarn. One of my favorite ways is to use the Spinner's Multitool. It helps me prepare fiber, and then check my yarn as I'm spinning to make sure I'm getting the yarn I want.
The Spinner's Multitool functions as a diz, WPI (wraps per inch) tool, and twist angle. The Ultimate Multitool also has a small 2" ruler that can help you determine twists per inch. These are all factors that can help you spin a consistent yarn. They're also helpful if you're trying to replicate another yarn in your stash.
In this post, I'll walk you through all the ways you can use the Spinner's Multitool. In this video, I'm using the Ultimate Multitool. but if you're into something a little different, we also have a Sheep Shaped Spinner's Multitool, an Alpaca, a Bunny, and the Original. If you still have questions after watching the video, I've added some more information and closeup images to help.
Using The Spinner's Multitool as a Diz
Each Spinner's Multitool has several different holes. These are designed so you can diz fiber from a drumcarder, hand cards, a blending board, or hand combs.
In this video, I share how to diz fiber from hand combs. Remember, the bigger the hole you use, the thicker your top will be (or roving, if using a carded prep). But you might be surprised - even though those holes seem pretty small, a lot of fiber fits through them!
Dizzing fiber is a great way to prepare fiber for spinning. I find that hand-dizzed fiber is a real pleasure to spin. It is light and fluffy and fun to work with!
Learning to diz fiber can take some practice. The key is to not try to get too much fiber through the diz at one time, or else you'll get stuck and frustrated. When this happens, back off a little bit, draft the fiber gently, and then keep going. And remember to be patient with yourself! The results are well worth it.
Checking the WPI (Wraps Per Inch)
To check the WPI, or wraps per inch, simply lay the yarn along the grooves, and move it around until you find a good match. Here, I've determined that the yarn is about 18 wraps per inch. Remember to not pull tightly, as this can distort your reading.
Checking Your Twist Angle
In the first image, you will see some unspun fiber. It literally has no twist! So I've laid it parallel to the "zero" angle.
Here you can see a yarn that is Z twist, at a 30 degree angle. I've added a red dash to show how the angle of the twist lines up with the 30 degree angle.
Checking TPI (Twists Per Inch)
TPI, or twists per inch, is a term used by the textile industry, but not as often by handspinners. Sometimes spinners might also talk about "bumps per inch." It refers to how tightly a yarn is spun or plied. This impacts durability, drape, and how your yarn behaves overall.
To calculate TPI, count the number of visible "bumps" in an inch of your yarn, then divide by the number of plies. The Ultimate Multitool has 2 inches to measure over, so if you use that full area, you will need to divide by two again to get your average.
In the sample above, I marked above a bump with a red curve. I counted 10 bumps across 2 inches. I'll divide that by 2 to get 5, then divide by 2 again for the number of plies, to come up with 2.5 bumps per inch.
It's easiest to see TPI in plied yarn, so that's what I've shared here. Jill Wolcott has an excellent tutorial with a deep dive on TPI.
Here are some key things to remember when you're using your Spinner's Multitool:
Fiber Sprite Podcast Episode 005
Here is the fourth episode of the Fiber Sprite Podcast! On this show, I'll talk about projects I've been working on and my visit to the Taos Wool Festival.
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