The Daily Skein

All the craft that’s fit to make.

It’s Here!! April 26, 2011

Filed under: Other Crafts — Cailyn @ 2:12 pm
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My inkle loom finally arrived!!




It’s from Palmer Looms.  I was surprised at how small and lightweight it is.  I mean, I knew it was going to be small because it’s a mini loom, but 15 inches always seems bigger when you’re looking at a ruler.  Anyway, it can weave a band around 3 inches wide and 60 inches long, so it packs a lot on that little frame!


I tried a little weaving last night.  My warping tension is a little haphazard and I apparently missed a heddle towards the end.  I got tired of warping (I had a cat on my lap and it was awkward to keep tension when changing colors) so I ended up with a 14 warp band, which turned out to be really narrow!  It’s just a little over a quarter of an inch wide.




You can see how my tension was all off at the beginning- I wasn’t pulling the weft nearly tight enough.  But it improved pretty fast, I think!  I used some mercerized perle cotton embroidery thread for the band, just some DMC stuff that I picked up at the craft store.  I’m planning on going to Weaving Works to get some more weaving yarns this week, maybe some linen or silk or nylon.




Inkle bands are what’s called a “warp faced fabric.”  That means that you don’t see the weft (the strand that goes horizontal) at all- well, just a bit at the edges.  I used a white weft and you can see the little white bits up the sides of the band.  It also means that the work to create a pattern is done at while you’re warping the loom, so that step is really important!  I need to get better at it.  I started a new band with a more interesting pattern today, but messed up the warp at the end so that the design isn’t centered.  Oh well, it’s still pretty cool!




Learning is Fun! April 8, 2011

Filed under: Musings,Other Crafts — Cailyn @ 1:05 pm

I have many craft magazines.  Some are subscriptions and some are single issues I pick up because of an interesting project or article.  While I’m reading a new one, the magazine is enshrined in the sacred bedside table spot.  This spot is also reserved for back issues and books for a specific technique or fiber that I’m interested in at the time.  I distribute the other magazines around the house (and by that, I mean bathrooms).  I don’t “distribute” in any meaningful or planned way; I just toss a few older issues into each bathroom and then move them around occasionally.


Right now, in my downstairs bathroom, there is the latest Piecework, Spin Off Fall and Spring ‘10 and Fall and Summer ‘09.  There’s some miscellaneous yarn catalogs in there too.  I’ve looked through these magazines more than a few times!


Last night, I was half-heartedly flipping through the Summer ‘09 Spin Off, thinking that it was past time to move it to the bookshelf and get something “new” in there.  This was the first issue of Spin Off that I ever bought, just after I took a spindle-spinning class at the Sock Summit.  So it’s been around a while, thoroughly read and admired.


But last night, during my bored look through, I flipped to a project that used handspun and woven ribbons to make a small bag.  I must have read this project a dozen times, each time saying to myself, “Interesting.  Very interesting.  But I don’t like the look of that bag and I could never spin thin enough to weave a narrow band and what would I do with those strips anyway?”


This time, I looked at the ribbons, I read the project, and said to myself, “Hm, I still don’t like that bag, but I MUST DO THAT.”


I grabbed my laptop and typed “inkle weaving” into Google.  And then I was down the rabbit hole, watching clocks and looms and shuttles fly by my head.


I tend to devour crafts.  I love learning new techniques, new disciplines, new materials, new tools.  Every year or so, I learn a new craft.  Sometimes they stick, like spinning, and sometimes they don’t, like beading or wood carving.  Sometimes, I don’t even know it’s coming.  But the process is always the same and has been since I was a kid (although with more money and unlimited access to the Internet, it’s a lot easier now!)  I stumble upon a new craft in a book, at a craft fair, on TV; it can be something I’ve seen before, but now I have to know how it’s done.  I am immediately struck with the desire to know more about this craft.  I can’t stop thinking about it.  I suck all the information I can towards me like a planet’s gravitational field.  I read and practice and read until I have grokked the new craft. 


I don’t mean that I master the craft; obviously that would take years and years.  But I get to a point where I feel like I understand the essence of the craft.  I know the history of the craft, the materials usually used, the special terms to talk about it, the advantages and disadvantages of different techniques or tools, etc.  I’ve practiced the craft enough to be able to produce something decent, maybe even beautiful.  And then the new craft either takes a place in my normal rotation or it doesn’t.  The knowledge sticks with me, but I might not continue making whatever it is once the initial shine wears off.


This happened with knitting.  I was happily going along my merry way, making and selling chainmaille jewelry (which had the same process a few years earlier).   Then I saw someone’s beautiful Knitted Bodice from Stitch Diva on Craftster.  I fell in love with that sweater.  Even though I knew I could never pull off wearing it, I was driven to knit it.  I never did, cooler heads prevailing, but every time I think of it I give a little sigh of longing.  But it started me on my rediscovery of knitting.  I grabbed books from the library, I watched YouTube videos, I struggled through learning to purl.  I started talking about “frogging” and “Kitchener” and “throwing.”  I eventually churned out a wearable item in stockinette.  And then I moved on to more interesting techniques, like cables and Fair Isle.  As you can tell, knitting stuck with me long after I grokked it.


This is what happened last night.  I was struck, suddenly, by a perfect storm of Must Learn.  I spent the last year working on my spinning, but now my spinning is pretty good- by which I mean that I will continue to master the craft, but I can consistently make something decent.  My yarns have been becoming thinner and thinner as I get more proficient, so I can spin the thin yarns for inkles if I want.  I am itching to learn something new.  Inkle looms are not very expensive.  Weaving inkles has lots of design options with a smaller time investment.  It can be done on the couch in the evenings with a cat on my lap.  I can totally use those handwoven straps in sewing projects- I’m always looking for interesting ribbons and straps for drawstrings and handles.


The grokking has begun.


“Inkle weaving is a type of warp-faced weaving where the shed is created by manually raising or lowering the warp yarns, some of which are held in place by fixed heddles on a loom known as an inkle loom. Though inkle weaving was brought to the United States of America (US) in the 1930s, the inkle itself seems to predate this by several centuries, being referred to in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost. The term "Inkle" simply means "ribbon" or "tape" and probably refers to a similarly structured woven good that could have been made on different types of looms, such as a box-loom.

Inkle weaving is commonly used for narrow work such as trims, straps and belts.” – Wikipedia


image  image  image


Weaving on an Inkle Loom


Weaving on an Inkle Loom, Video (skip to 8:00 to see the actual weaving part, the rest is just set up)


Master Folder December 22, 2008

Filed under: Other Crafts — Cailyn @ 9:58 pm

I finished my Christmas knitting!  It’s all done!  Ha ha, take that knitting gods! I have 2 days to spare.  I wonder if I could cast on another present…  Maybe I should be quiet, I don’t want the project that I’m blocking to suddenly spring free of its pins and shape itself into something resembling an orc’s butt.  That would be very bad, given that I’m head over heels in love with the thing.  Maybe Lowell won’t want it…


I actually haven’t been knitting too super much these last few days.  Oh sure, I’ve been knitting a lot by Muggle standards, but I’ve been doing other things as well.  Mainly wrapping presents, remembering presents that I forgot to buy, then purchasing and wrapping those presents.  And there’s been the normal, fun family hanging-out time (which for me often includes knitting but slower.)


Last night, I tried to rectify my sad lack of Christmas tree ornaments (which was today further rectified by a trip to the mall) by trying my hand at paper folding.  Specifically, tea bag folding from this tutorial on Folding Trees.  Tea bag folding came from Holland and can make some pretty cool looking things.  I printed out some tea bag paper from this site and started folding.




After I “mastered” the basic fold, I tried some others from this site.  The instructions are not always clear, but careful examinations of the pictures can lead to success (but not always.)   This is the Easy Star Fold, which was indeed easy.




Soon, being who I am, I got tired of tea bag folding even though it was pretty fun.  Really I got tired to cutting out the tiny squares. There’s really only so much cutting I can do at one time, even with a rotary cutter.  So I tried paper wishing stars, also on Folding Trees.




Also a lot of fun, and certainly a lot faster and involving less cutting than the tea bag medallions.  These stars are made with scrapbooking paper, cut 3/4″ thick for the big stars and 1/2″ thick for the small stars.  Pushing in the sides is not as easy as the tutorial suggests, but I got the hang of it.  I threaded some of the stars together with some beads to make ornaments.  I think I like the stars better than the tea bag medallions, but that may be because the scrapbooking paper is so pretty and rich.  I probably should have printed the paper on the good setting, not the save ink setting!