Monday, February 29, 2016

We've Moved!

 Our Lotsaknots blog and our website have joined together here. With special thanks to a very smart friend, who understands html code and how to build a website, you can find Lotsaknots in our new home.

We also have an updated look.

In our Etsy shop, we continue to sell our very popular weaving kits for rigid heddle, table or floor looms.  Our original towel kit has a pre-wound warp and weft and includes printed instructions along with videos and email support.

In addition, we now have 2 types of scarf kit.  Our original scarf kit makes one plain weave scarf using washable wool weft.  Both warp and weft are pre-wound, saving you lots of time and money.  No need for warping boards or bobbin winders.  It's all done for you.  Plus, we have a new scarf kit which includes a hand dyed, washable, Merino wool weft.  This yarn is super soft and comes in a wide range of vibrant colors, all hand dyed by Dalis of Dancing Leaf Farm.

Visit our Etsy shop to see all the great choices we have available.

Join our new Mailing List and receive occasional emails with valuable coupon codes for discounts in our Etsy shop.

Please join our blog to receive notification of new blog posts.  

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Lotsaknots Etsy Shop

Here is a view of our Lotsaknots Etsy shop.  We have a wide variety of both towel and scarf kits currently available.  It's so exciting to see the front page of the shop nearly full.

Our kits are very different from most weaving kits available online.  We offer pre-wound warps, with a threading cross and weft on bobbins ready for the nearest boat shuttle.  We strive to make weaving easier regardless of your skill level, expert to beginner.  We offer kits to make 2 towels or 2 napkins or fabric for a table runner.  In addition, we offer a variety of kits for making attractive fashion scarves.

New weavers are faced with lots of decisions about how to invest their weaving dollars.  Along with the loom, comes the need for lots of additional equipment.  We ease that financial burden by winding the warp and weft for you.  No need for a warping board or mill, no need for a bobbin winder.  These additional items can get expensive and often cause lots of undue stress.

When I began weaving, I recall being asked which I preferred a warping board or a warping mill.  The board was less expensive so I bought it.  Later, I learned how much easier and often faster winding a warp on a warping mill can be.  It's also more expensive, whether new or used.

Bobbin winders come in a wide variety and, I later learned, the Swedish version is more reliable and much more expensive than the belt or band driven winders.

The equipment I now have, after over 12 years of weaving, is not the equipment I began with.  I now own a Toika 3 meter warping mill and a Swedish hand winder.  Both tools serve me well and are work horses.  Sure, there are lots of choices but these are the tools I prefer and they have lasted a long time with easy maintenance.  Both are a far cry from the warping board, missing some essential pegs, and band driven bobbin winder with an impossible crank operation that I first owned.

We now ofter a wide variety of scarf kits.  Warps are, as always, pre-wound, ready for threading on a rigid heddle, table or floor loom.  Bobbins are wound and ready for a boat shuttle or can be used with a stick shuttle by winding them off the pirn and onto your shuttle of choice.

Here are a few photos of our first scarf kit:

Many other warp and weft combinations now available in Lotsaknots Etsy Shop

Happy weaving!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Scarf Kit Sample

We sample all the kits we offer on our Etsy site and we have received requests for a scarf kit.  I began work on this new kit with a project plan and measured the yarn for the warp, threaded my Schacht FLIP rigid heddle loom with the warp and started weaving with a measured amount of weft.  The scarf was quick to weave, I used variegated washable sock yarn for the weft and cotton for the warp.  I finished the weaving today and will tie the fringe and wet finish it tonight.

Looks like a new kit is on its way to our Etsy shop along with several new table runner/towel/placemat kits.  Last step is to write the instructions which we include with every kit.

I am pleased with the scarf and will take better photos when it's done.  We have purchased several different colorways in the sock yarn and will offer the new scarf kit in each.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Time Out

Attended a Christmas gathering yesterday dressed in purple instead of our typical ugly Christmas sweaters.  I took the opportunity to wear the brand new cashmere sweater that was a gift from my lovely, talented, great shopper daughter-in-law and son.  Yes, she comes first because she found the sweater and knew I would love it.  A special thank you to them.

Back in the studio work continues on the new kit.  We wanted to add a scarf kit to our popular towel/placemat/table runner kits we feature in our Etsy shop.  I am weaving as fast as possible to complete the sample and am concerned about my weft picks per inch.  I believe I am going to run out before I complete weaving the 78" needed for a finished size of 66".  I calculated the weft based on 10 picks per inch (ppi) and I keep measuring as I weave.  I'm going to double check my calculations on my project sheet before I return to weaving.  I am also going to measure my ppi again and see where I am.

New photos of the sample to follow soon.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Three looms A Day

 Here are the new napkins for our family in process on the Toika.  This  loom and this project are very special to me.  The Toika Eeva is the first floor  loom I have purchased brand new.  It's a long story and one I enjoy telling.

In July 2014 we went on a car trip to New England to visit Cape Cod, friends in Dartmouth, Massachusetts and to stop at the Marketplace at Convergence in Providence, RI.

A couple words about Convergence.  Every 2 years, Handweavers Guild of American (HGA) organizes a large conference for weavers, spinners and dyers.  It used to be THE place to go if you did any of those crafts.  Nowadays, most people seem to be attending classes closer to home and enjoy seeing the newest yarns, spinning wheels, drop spindles, etc. at shows like Maryland Sheep & Wool, Estes Park Wool Market and New York Sheep & Wool (often called Rhinebeck).  My personal favorite is Maryland Sheep & Wool but that may be because I live in Maryland and have for close to 30 years.

So, in 2014 we were in New England at the same time as Convergence and decided to go to the Marketplace so I could try the various computer assisted countermarch looms that interested me.  I started weaving on a Schacht Baby Wolf jack type loom.  A couple of years later, I bought a used countermarch/counterbalance 8 shaft Glimakra Standard because I experienced back and leg pain when weaving on the Baby Wolf.  I continue to weave on the Glimakra  and I enjoy it but there are some days my body can't deal with using treadles at all.  I knew the time for something easier, like a computer assisted loom which lifts the shafts for you, had arrived.  I wanted to stick with a countermarch loom because I love the shed size and how quiet they are to operate.

There were only 3 looms that interested me, Leclerc Weaverbird, Louet Megado and Toika Eeva.  I had always heard the Toika was the Cadillac of computer assisted looms and, supposedly, the most expensive.  I knew I wanted 16 shafts and I wanted at least 48" weaving width so I could weave wide rugs. We arrived at the Marketplace for opening and I expected them to be prepared.  Leclerc was the first booth we found but they were not ready for customers yet.  I watched as the company owner worked on a sampler he had on the loom.  I was concerned about how noisy the shafts were as they rose and lowered to create the shed for the shuttle.  Although it was a countermarch, the loom controls were metal and seemed quite loud.

Next stop was to visit Louet.  They were busy threading the loom and completing the set up of the computer which worked to raise and lower shafts.  They suggested we return in 15-20 minutes and they would be ready.  I stood and watched as they worked on the loom and became discouraged as I watched one person after another approach the company president and request information about the part they had ordered.  I learned that there was a 2-3 month delay in orders and many were turned away without news of when they could expect their part.  It seemed like a bad sign.

On to Toika.  The loom was set up and ready for me to try weaving on it.  I was introduced to the various features of the loom and invited to sit down and weave.  It was everything I had hoped for.  It was quiet, it was easy to operate and understand.  I learned that if I ordered a new loom, the Elkins (US dealers for Toika is WEBS in Northampton, Mass.) would come to my home and set up the computer box that sat on the top of the loom and give me an introductory lesson for using the loom.  In addition, the software needed to operate the loom was included in the price.  It was  the Cadillac others had dubbed it and the price was less than other looms I was considering.

I wanted to decide then and there but thought the wisest thing to do was to think about it.  I stopped at Louet and the loom was ready for a test drive.  There was still a part missing, I don't remember what, but it effected my decision since even the owner was unable to get the parts from the main company in Holland.  In addition, it required a lot of leg strength to raise and lower the shafts.  That was the one thing I was looking to avoid!  We also stopped at Leclerc and I wove for a few minutes on that loom. Although it was easy to operate, it was not as quiet as the Toika and the clinking and clanging of the wires as they lifted and lowered the shafts was very annoying.  Plus, there was no one to help with setup.  You receive over 40 boxes of loom pieces and you are responsible for assembly.  Not ideal.

I gave it a night but truth be told I knew as we left the Marketplace that my mind was made up.  The Toika was everything I wanted and needed and I called Barbara Elkins the next morning and ordered the loom.  It was a great choice.  I love my loom a year later!

Art Elkins preparing to install the computer

Toika Eeva ready for computer installation

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Kits and samplers

Our newest kit was just added to our Lotsaknots Etsy Shop.  It's a beautiful combination of silver, green, gray and beige stripes with a matching silver weft.  We wind the warp and chain it off the warping mill.  There is a thread-by-thread cross all ready for the lease sticks.  It can be  beamed either front-to-back or back-to -front on your choice of loom.  Whether you have a rigid heddle, 4 shaft or 8 shaft loom does not matter.  This warp works well on any variety of looms.  We have sold dozens of these kits and received very good reviews.

Now back to the studio.  The coin toss went to the Glimakra today and I spent some time getting familiar with the twill sampler.  It's been a while since I wove twill and it has taken some time to find my bearings at the treadles.  It's not a difficult design but it takes some concentration.  I will post the draft another day and leave you with a photo of the sampler.

Twill sampler from Graver book

Smmpler close-up

Friday, December 18, 2015

Weaving going strong

Scarf kit sample on the rh loom

All 3 looms are up and running and I am faced with a daily dilemma of where to begin.  The project on the Glimakra is a sample which may become a table runner if I wasn't neglecting it, totally.  I received the new Patty Graver book, Next Steps in Weaving, as a gift a few months ago and decided to weave the projects in order.  I have been studying weave structure this year and it isn't sinking in very well.  I studied Sharon Alderman from cover to cover and I did all the exercises in Madelyn wander Hoogt's Complete Book of Drafting.  I believed I understood what I was reading and studying and I find I don't really "get it".  I look at a piece of fabric and I am stumped as to the weave structure.  I know all fabric is either woven or knit.  Beyond that, I find myself guessing and getting it right part of the time.

Logic tells me I need to study it more.  I need to weave more and I need to find a way to drum it into my head further.  The Graver book lays it out really well so I am going to weave all the samples and work to understand why certain structures look the way the do.  I need to get back to weaving the sample on the Glimakra but the Toika is so much fun.  Plus, I am weaving napkins for our family on the Tooika and they look great.

Now, where did I put that 3-sided coin???

FLIP rigid heddle loom with scarf sample in progress