I have the most wonderful story to share with you! A few weeks ago my best friend called me to say that her boyfriend had finally asked her to marry him. I squealed and congratulated her and she told me all about the proposal. They are just such a sweet couple. She didn’t say anything at the time about her wedding party. I desperately wanted to be a bridesmaid, but I live 2,000 miles away, so I thought maybe she had decided to ask someone closer to her.
About a week later she sent me this text:
This is the reason we are best friends. Who else would think to propose to a bridesmaid this way? I should add that she is also a knitter, and she is the one who taught me how to tat. Of course, I said yes.
So in May I will be putting on a blue dress to help her with her white dress. I can’t wait!
When I had my weaving lesson last week my teacher gave me a weaving planning sheet.
The sheet takes you through all the calculations you will need to determine how much yarn you will need for a given project. For the warp (vertical yarns) you start with the desired dimensions of your finished cloth, add in extra for take-up and shrinkage, then calculate how much yarn you need based on ends per inch (epi, this is the weaver’s term for how many strands of yarn are in an inch of warp) and the length of your cloth. The process is very similar for the weft (horizontal yarns). The main difference is that the number of ends per inch is predetermined for your warp by the heddle you use (The heddle is the plastic thing in back of the loom that you thread all the warp yarns through. You can buy heddles that have more or fewer ends per inch to weave a coarser or finer cloth.), but the number of picks per inch (ppi, this is the weaver’s term for how many times the yarn crosses the warp in an inch) is determined by how closely you beat your weft.
So for a “balanced weave” I would have 8 strands going vertically and 8 strands going horizontally. But if I beat my weft closer I could end up with 8 strands going vertically and 9 or 12 (or any other number) strands going horizontally. This also goes the other way. I could have fewer weft (horizontal) yarns than warp (vertical) yarns.
So why does this matter?
The more closely packed your weft yarns are, the more yarn you will use. So if you are really close on yarn it is a good idea to do a few inches as a sample just to make sure you will have enough.
The picture you see above is my planning sheet for a plaid project bag. I want the finished bag to be an 8″ by 8″ cube with a fold-over top. I planned for the front, bottom, back, and flap to be all one piece, then for the 2 sides I skip an inch or so and start weaving the next pieces. My EPI (ends per inch on the warp) is 8 and my PPI (picks per inch on the weft) is 12. But my original calculations assumed a balanced weave. I started the project with almost twice the yarn my calculations said I needed, so even though my math was way off I went ahead with the project.
I guess it’s a good thing I paid attention in Algebra!
Do you have a process for calculating yardage for your weaving? Let’s talk about it in the comments.
My husband’s grandma is a crocheter. When we visited them recently I showed her a picture I found on Instagram of a bracelet made of broomstick lace. We realized that we could totally make that, and before I knew it we were in her yarn closet (She has a yarn closet! I knew I married into the right family!!) picking yarn and finding a dowel to make broomstick lace with. She rooted out her crochet notebook from when she taught Home Ec. in the 80s and found the directions for Broomstick Lace:
She guided me as I awkwardly made a chain and single crocheted a few rows before starting.
The bracelet was a rousing success! So fast! So easy! The hardest thing was picking out buttons. I decided to go with blue, since my wardrobe has been skewing toward blue recently.
It would be super easy to make up a whole set of bracelets in different colours – something for every occasion!
If you want to make a bracelet just like mine, here is what I did:
- Yarn: 10 yds fingering weight yarn
- Hook: 3mm
- 4 buttons, sized 1/2″-3/4″
- Dowel: 1″ wide and at least 6″ long – it helps to have a very smooth dowel with a rounded end, so take the time to sand your dowel down if it’s not already smooth
- Ch 21, turn work
- Skip 1 ch, sc 19, turn work
- Ch 1, sc 19, turn work
- Ch 1, sc 19, do not turn work
- With crochet hook pull up last loop and place on dowel held in left hand. Insert crochet hook in each st of ch, pull yarn through and place on dowel (20 sts).
- Insert hook in center of first 5 loops, holding these loops together as one, yarn over and pull off needle, ch 1, and work 5 sc in first set of loops. Work 5 sc in each set of 5 loops until no sts remain.
- Repeat rows 4 and 5 six more times, or until the bracelet is just long enough to go around your wrist. Cut yarn and hide the end.
- Sew 4 buttons to the foundation rows.
- Wear your new bracelet with pride!
Have you ever crocheted Broomstick Lace? What do you think of it?
The yarn is finished!!
There were a few moments during this spin where I wondered if this crazy yarn would work out. What if all the colours paired up garishly? What if I hated it? I voiced my concerns to my husband and he told me to just knit socks with it. If the yarn is awful no one has to see it but me. It can be an exciting sock secret. Now the yarn is done and I love it! My husband has claimed it – he wants the crazy socks all for himself.
I’ve been following Treadle Handspun Yarns on Instagram for quite a while now. Robin spins the most beautifully even yarns – they are such a pleasure to look at. Every now and again she also works up a bag of Tiddly Bits to sell in her shop. Tiddly Bits are bits and bobs of different coloured rovings all tied up and thrown in a bag together. They always sell quickly, and I’ve been trying to get my hands on a bag for months.
The idea is to reach into the bag and spin the next colour, no matter what it is (or I suppose you could carefully lay them out in colour order if that’s how you prefer it). I started spinning my bag of bits last night and oh, I love it!
So many colours just jumbled up next to each other, all willy nilly! I think when the bits are done I may spin up something a bit more staid to calm everything down and make a 3-ply yarn like I did with my SkyWool: 2 fun plies, one calming. Or maybe I’ll really go crazy and ply with a cone of crochet cotton!
Who knows. I have the Tiddly Bits, and the world is my oyster.
I finished spinning the SkyWool! It started as the bounciest Merino top I’ve ever spun.
I spun it quite finely (spun S or clockwise), hoping for a fingering weight yarn. I wanted to make a 3-ply yarn, but I didn’t want to divide the roving in 3 pieces and risk wasting some of my fiber, so I spun the merino from end to end and then spun some natural coloured BFL to go with it. I plied from both ends of the merino, with the BFL as my 3rd ply (plied Z or counterclockwise). About 2/3 of the way through plying I ran out of BFL (I talked more about this here). Oops.
So I spun some more of the BFL and finished my plying. I wasn’t quite happy with how the yarn looked, though. You can see in the picture above how loose the plying is, and I desperately wanted a yarn as bouncy as the Merino Top was. So I decided to run it though my spinning wheel again to add more twist. I am so glad I did this because now I love how the yarn looks!
Technically the yarn is overplied: it tries to twist on itself when hanging, even after a wash. But I don’t care. I have 290 yds of beautiful blue fingering weight yarn!
I have no idea what to make with it.
It’s been a white since I published my last design. This hasn’t been intentional, but I find that if I don’t plan things out I don’t do them. Accordingly, I drew out a calendar for the next few months (can you believe that I don’t have a single calendar in my house??) and wrote in several design goals for the next few months. I included time for swatching, time for knitting parts of a pair (if applicable), time for pattern testing, and hopeful release dates.
So I have started work on my next design. It will be a pair of lightly cabled fingerless mitts. My first swatch is done and blocked, and I’m ready to start the second.
Note to self: writing charts is hard!