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Got Odd Woven Samples? Here's an Idea!

Posted on February 29, 2016 by FiberObsessions | 1 comment

l make lots of samples and encourage all weavers to make them rather than just cutting off the remaining project threads and tossing them. Try out a new yarn, a different color, a change in treadling sequence, or just weave an exact copy of what was woven for the project in order to have a record. Samples are a great way to learn and experiment.

Sampling is even more rewarding when you can make useful things from the results! Today, while my back was aching and I was thinking about getting out a heating pad, I remembered those buckwheat bags that you heat up and use instead. I decided to make one out of a piece of sample fabric left over from a set of summer and winter towels I had made a couple of years ago.

Here's how you can make one of these heat pillows, too:

You will need a piece of cotton cloth (my piece was about 16" x 18") and a couple pounds of dry beans, buckwheat, rice or dry corn. I used dry lima beans. You could use a cloth half the size and 1 pound of dry whatever for a more compact pillow. Using cotton is important as this will go into the microwave for heating and you don't want it to easily burn or melt. You might also be able to use wool, but I haven't tested that.

  • Fold the fabric in half and sew all three sides closed, leaving just a 2-3" opening on one side for filling.
  • Fill the pillow with the dry ingredient. It doesn't need to be stuffed tightly. In fact, it's more comfortable to use if it is still flexible.
  • If you want some fragrance, you can add in some rosemary, lavender or other aromatic herbs.
  • Sew the opening shut, and there you have it!

To use, simply put it in the microwave on high for 1-3 minutes. The first time you do this, go for less time until you learn how long it takes to heat up your pillow. You want it warm to the touch but easy to handle. (Because mine was on the larger side, I heated mine for 4 minutes.) Then put it on that sore shoulder or aching back. And enjoy your sample in use!

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The Beauty of the Swatch Well Done

Posted on September 29, 2015 by FiberObsessions | 0 comments

Margaret is knitting a sweater. More precisely, she is making the Modern Wrapper Fine, a wonderfully roomy cardigan with pretty drape. She is a small woman, so the extra small size seems just right. The finished cardi for her size will measure 54" across the bust. I know what you are thinking....can that be right? And yes, the sweater is intentionally large.

So when Margaret began swatching, she was careful to get pretty darn close to gauge. She made swatch after swatch, then washed and blocked each one before measuring. She did that until she had the needle size that would get her spot on. Her sweater should fit her perfectly.

Often, when we swatch, we give up before we get it right. After a couple, we think it's 'good enough'. Or we just don't have that next needle size available. But, just a small difference can add or subtract inches in a large garment and be the difference between it fitting or not, between you loving it or not. And we all want to adore wearing the things we spend time making for ourselves, right?

In the case of Margaret's sweater, using the needle called for in the pattern would have added two stitches every four inches to her gauge and would have made her sweater 4 inches smaller around. Yes, 4 inches! That is the difference between the garment fitting as intended and maybe not fitting at all.

Swatching to get it just right is a beautiful thing so don't start a sweater without it!



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Tip of the Day - What Colors are In Fashion?

Posted on September 02, 2015 by FiberObsessions | 0 comments

I know, this is not your most burning question today, but sometimes don't you just wonder how colors in fashion are decided? Why is it that one year, everywhere you look you find your favorite blue... in shirts, sweaters, pants, even kitchenware. Then, a couple years later, you want to buy something to match or coordinate with your favorite blue pants and absolutely nothing works. 

This is where Pantone comes in! Their coloristas comb the world seeking trends, testing the economic climates, the collective moods of us all and decide upon color palettes that reflect what they believe they see, hear and feel. By the time the color palette for a season is announced and then gets published everywhere, the wheels are already in motion for a season or two of new colors in fashion. 

This is the one for Fall 2015. Earthy and muted. So if you are looking for the bold jewel tones, this is probably not your season. Pantone 2015 fashion forecast

Of course, when if comes to hand-dyed yarns and fibers, we have the luxury of doing any colors we want, 'in fashion' or not!

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Tip of the Day - Keeping Dangling Threads from Untwisting Trick

Posted on August 31, 2015 by FiberObsessions | 1 comment

Today's tip is for the weavers among us. We've all had the experience of having a broken thread or two and having to pin in replacement threads, or realizing we need floating selvedges after we've already beamed so add them in and leave them to dangle off the back of the loom. 

I usually put mine in little pill bottles with some coins so they are weighted to match my warp tension. It's easy and quick, and solves the problem. The only issue is that those little pill bottles or weighted anythings can twirl around, untwisting your thread. And what happens when threads untwist? Well, they break, because there is not enough twist to hold them together! So now, we have replacement to a broken thread that has, itself, now broken.

Here's the trick:  Put an extra string, shoelace, strip of paper, etc., into the pill bottle along with your replacement thread. Let it hang long enough so it always touches the floor. Voila! That will keep the bottle from twisting around and untwisting your thread. No more broken replacement threads!

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Tip of the Day - Where is the 4-Ply?

Posted on August 29, 2015 by FiberObsessions | 2 comments

We get this question weekly and it's not a point and shoot response. So we thought others might like to know the answer, too. It all goes back to our mothers'/grandmothers' day when acrylic yarn was overwhelmingly the most common yarn. A 4-ply yarn referred to a worsted weight acrylic that could be made into sweaters & afghans using a size H hook or size 8 knitting needles. It was usually an inexpensive yarn, the most common being Red Heart 4-ply. These can be found today and are sometimes still called that way.

But 4-ply is really the number of threads that have been spun individually and then plied together. They could be of any weight, so it really doesn't represent the yarn size or quality. Also, lots and lots of worsted weight yarns today are not 4-ply, but may be made up of a single ply all the way up to 12 or more plies. For a knitter or crocheter, finding a yarn that has 4-plies is not only not useful, but most often not necessary for the project.

So the Craft Yarn Council came up with a system of more clearly identifying yarn weights based on thickness and gauge, irregardless of the yarn's construction or number of plies. It is called the "Standard Yarn Weight System" and can be found at www.yarnstandards.com

It's useful to get familiar with it as that is the easiest way to help you locate the size yarn you want for your project. We have signs in the shop identifying the yarns according to this system, if you ever get confused. And, of course, we can help!

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Tip of the Day - Taming Unraveled Yarn

Posted on August 28, 2015 by FiberObsessions | 1 comment

We've all been there... knit a hat, scarf, sweater and realize when we get it done, or nearly so, that we hate it. And I don't just mean hate it, I mean that there is no possible way we can live with ourselves knowing this item is still in existence in the universe!

So, we unravel it, wind into balls as we go, or sometimes even let it pool into it's little wavy strands on the floor while we contemplate what to do next. Do we just use it as it is? how do we get it back into it's original lovely state without making it look like a rag the dog tossed around?

So, I have the answer, yes I do!

First, put it into a skein. If you don't have a skeinwinder or niddy noddy to get it into a skein, just use your hand and elbow to wrap it. It doesn't have to be fancy. Just make sure you secure it with ties in 3 or 4 places before you go to the next step.

Next, put water into a kettle and let it start boiling. Carefully hold the two ends of the skein so it is right over the steam. You want to hold the skein maybe 5 or 6 inches above the steam, being careful not to let the steam touch you as it will burn. Do one section at a time. Magic will happen... the kinks and waves will wiggle away, leaving you with perfectly straight yarn again. And this is super gentle on the yarn. If you have one of those nifty clothes steamers, that works even faster.

Once you try this method, you will never want to do it any other way!

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