I shared a bunch of suggestions in my last post about selecting warp yarns. Mostly, it boils down to your warp needing to be strong & durable enough to make it through the weaving process without breaking.
Still, lots of myths seem to have sprung up around what kind of yarn can't be used for warp, and that's today's topic.
Until the Industrial Revolution, ALL yarn was handspun, so it drives me a little bit nuts when people say you can't weave with handspun.
Still, weaving with handspun is a big investment of time, energy, and money, so this video goes into depth on ways you can make sure you're spinning a yarn that's going to make a successful warp. One of the key ways is to spin a consistent yarn, and you can certainly use the Spinner's Multitool to help you do that. Another great resource is the book Spin to Weave by Sarah Lamb.
Weaving with singles is another persistent "no-no" that I've heard. This one has a little bit more to it, because singles don't have quite as much strength as plied yarns.
But take a look a your denim jeans, your dress shirts, your sheets - chances are, most of the commercially woven items in your life are made with single-ply yarns!
As a spinner, I find weaving with singles especially attractive. Singles spun for warp do need to be strong and consistent (another job for that multitool!), but you don't need to spin nearly as much yardage. While I'm certainly willing to ply to get the yarn I want, plying is an extra step, and my least favorite one at that.
Why not take advantage of this and warp with singles? This video talks about some other considerations you'll want to make, like sizing your yarn, keeping an even tension while warping, and warping back-to-front to reduce abrasion on your loom.
I hope these videos encourage you to push the boundaries on what you're willing to try as warp yarn!
Choosing warp yarn is one of the most important parts of a weaving project! Here are my tips on what to look for in a good warp yarn.
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.
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:
Last fall, we moved across the country and into a new house. This was a huge shakeup! One of the things I needed was a new laundry basket to fit a dark and awkward corner in our bathroom.
The Starting Point - A "Sad Greige" Laundry Basket
I ended up buying this laundry basket at Target. The size was just right, but the gray fabric just made me sad. Right now gray walls are everywhere, but we decided to paint the house in more cheerful colors - peach, turquoise, and a very pale pink. So gray just wouldn't do. Luckily, I'm a weaver! I set out to weave a fabric that would go with our new color scheme, and brighten up that dark corner in the bathroom.
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