Friday, October 18, 2013

Who or what is Lotsaknots?

Simply put, Lotsaknots is the company formed by Claudia Segal and Janet Dykstra in 2002 when we realized we were producing more textiles, knitting, weaving, crochet, spinning, than our family and friends could use.  We both enjoyed the creation process and we decided to enter a couple of crafts fairs and sell our stuff.

That's the quick and dirty explanation.  But what's the rest of the story.  Janet and I share a lifelong passion for textiles.  We both learned to knit and crochet at a very young age and have progressed over the years to creating our own designs.  Janet's first knitting project, at age 7, was a sweater.  I started with smaller projects, choosing to outfit all my dolls with hand knit and hand crocheted outfits.  Most fit very poorly but I enjoyed the process and it was fun!

Many, many years later we enjoy creating shawls, sweaters, vests, hats, fingerless mitts, scarves and anything else.  The list is extremely long.  Some things are featured on our website, and we will feature our designs for sale in our Etsy shop soon.

In 2003 I took my first weaving class and was hooked by the third week.  Despite being blind in one eye and having almost no peripheral vision in my other, I love handling the yarn for every process of weaving.  I often find myself daydreaming about the calculations for my next project.

Janet's mother used to say that knitting was her therapy and cost less than a psychiatrist.  We both agree with her and we have the added advantage of working together on most projects.  Since we live together, it's so easy exchange ideas.  Last night, Janet handed me her current warp plan and asked my opinion.
We went downstairs to the studio together and checked out the options for a few additions together.  It's a great system that works well for us.

Our current focus is on weaving baby wraps.  Janet and I are winding the warps together.  Janet has helped me thread and beam the warp and she has worked on every part of the weaving process except actually throwing the shuttle and weaving.  She leaves that to me.  I have been weaving for 10 years now and find each warp, each project has its own thrill.  I love watching the fabric form and thinking about its use and the things that inspired the warp stripes.  It's different for each warp and that's what holds my interest.  Even for 20 yards! or is it 20 meters?  I'll have to check my project sheet and make certain I'm following my own guidelines.

I am almost fanatical about writing everything down on paper.  I'd love to convert to the computer and iWeaveIt is almost good enough for planning my projects.  The project planner is still missing a few essentials.  Hopefully, they will continue to improve this program.  So, for now, I rely on the weaving calculator in Weavolution and my printer.

That's the history of Lotsaknots and an introduction to our studio and weaving.  I have many people to thank for teaching and encouraging me to be a good hand weaver.  Sue Helmken was my first weaving teacher, Tom Knisely from The Mannings has been a teacher and a mentor, Marsha provided transportation and friendship to get me through the early stages.  The list is very long and there are many weavers who has inspired me and have given me guidance.  I am grateful to everyone of them.

Next blog post  I will write more about our current projects and the hand made items on sale in our Etsy shop.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What's on the loom?

I never seem to have just one project in process but I just finished 4 rugs, including the best one I have ever made:   It's an 8 foot long runner that will hopefully go somewhere in our home.  The colors are almost perfect for our main floor and I am very proud of the result.

Both my floor looms are currently empty and I have been sampling for my first baby wrap.  What's a baby wrap?  It can be many things but the ones I am planning are long (4 - 6 yards) pieces of fabric used to hold a baby against your body.  The wrapping process is quite elaborate as the fabric wraps around the wearer, the baby, over the shoulders and around the body of the wearer a second time.  Instructions can be found all over YouTube.  Here is one I find quite helpful:

I received a request for a custom baby wrap about a month ago.  I read everything I could find and consulted with my client to learn she wanted a handwoven baby wrap.  I started, as I always do, with a little sample to see which weft my client preferred with the striped warp I wound using the colors of her choosing.

The top half is the green weft separated by the silver and the bottom half is the pink weft.  The pink is very bright and cheery and that's the color my client chose.  She has 2 daughters and the wrap will be large enough to hold both her toddler and her 6 month old.

I am looking forward to doing many more wraps in the future and have found a pattern I am hoping to try soon.  I will probably sample it first to learn more about the colors and design.  Here is a small sample of one of my favorite patterns:  

This pattern allows for a different color at each edge or rail as they are known in the baby wrap lingo.  It makes it easier when using the wrap to have some differentiation between the two edges.  I am looking forward to sampling this design on one of my other looms.  Winding the warp may be complex or I may wind half the total number of ends in each color and divide them in the reed.  Then, I will warp the loom front to back and the threads will fall into place as I beam the warp.  I will do my best to take photos as I move along.

We currently have a waiting list for handwoven baby wraps but will be moving full steam ahead now that vacations are over.  I expect the waiting list will diminish quickly.  

Feel free to contact us with any questions at lotsaknots at msn dot com.  You can also leave a note on our Facebook page.  

Happy weaving!
Claudia and Janet