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Looms

Which Loom & Why

One of the questions I’m asked regularly and also see popping up on Weaving Facebook Groups is which loom is the best to use.

We use both Kromski and Ashford Rigid Heddle looms in our workshops. The Ashford looms were bought as I started off teaching and I’ve always been very happy with Ashford products (we use their Traditional spinning wheels in our Beginners Spinning Classes).

Because we were asked all the time for looms on our Weaving workshops, it made sense to have some at the classes with us and Kromski was the company that we chose to work with.

All rigid heddle looms work in the same way so it comes purely down to your preference, what you want to make and your budget. Sadly, we’re not able to attend yarn shows at the moment which are the ideal places to try out new looms so I’ll give you a few pointers as to what I’ve found make the different to new weavers. Im purely working on Ashford v Kromski for this blog’s purposes.

  • Budget – Kromski are around about £30ish more than Ashford looms. The ratchet and pawl in the Kromski are made of metal whereas they are plastic in the Ashford. The Kromski is a slightly larger loom and the wood is a little bit thicker.

2. Storage – The Kromski Harp Forte loom folds up even with your weaving on it so if you like to take your weaving wherever you go, in your caravan etc, it’s a great little feature. The Ashford Rigid Heddle doesn’t do this, but the Ashford Knitters Loom folds up so that’s also a good option if taking your loom with you is a feature

3. Ease of use Both looms are warped up in a similar way but with one main difference. The Ashford has a warp stick attached to the loom and the Kromski’s warp stick is moveable. There is a small piece of wood called the helper included in the Kromski kit which enables the warp stick to be positioned in place while you warp up.

For warping quickly, the Ashford system is more stable and easier to use. Quite often we will warp up the Ashfords first. If you like to use painted warps or create a long warp using a warping frame, then the Kromski is a great option and gives you more choice in the things you can create.

4 Warping Frame included The Kromski Harp Forte has a warping frame included in the loom. All attachments will come with your loom when it is delivered. Direct warping is brilliant and the easiest way to warp up quickly. If you want to weave more than one item or have a particularly long project to weave, you would probaby consider indrect warping. Ashford have warping frames to purchase which you would attach to your wall. I have one of these but also, if I have a longer warp to make and I’m in the boat, the warping frame on the back of the loom is great.

Sooooo, in my little miusings here I’m not 100% sure I’ve helped. I’ve tried to be complerely honest with my feelings about both looms. I really do thing both are great companies with brilliant products. Having worked with both, I would chose the Kromski, it’s a solid workhorse of a loom, is beautifully made and gives me all the options I need for my weaving.

I hope that helps. If you have any questions, by all means message me. At the time of writing, we are not able to have people over to the shed due to the virus but as soon as we can, people are welcome to come and try the looms out or if you attend a workshop and would like to use a particular loom, let us know and we can make sure we warp your choice.

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Lazykate Blog

On the road again…

In the early part of the year, around February we moved from our rented house back onto our boat permanently. We had lived there previously in 2009 for three very chilly years on an end of garden mooring and I swore I would never live on it again.

But when an inspirational, very industrial mooring came up on the Liverpool docks last year we slowly drifted back on and it was a very different life than living on the canal. I felt like if we survived a winter and were warm enough then I would feel comfortable moving back.

Training Courses taking place around the yarn

Along with the mooring which was in a dock used for training people from all over the world who work on wind farms came a couple of containers to rent. One was a shipping container in which I did the dyeing of the yarn (now undertaken by Jessamy and Sofia) and the other a portacabin where all the weaving preparation and yarns are kept.

Inside the Collingwood Dock Portacabin

We thought these would be available until November this year after which we could make a decision whether or not to invest in our own container and keep it there at the dock. Then of course Covid happened and everything changed.

The training company decided to changed their way of operating and served all the boats with eviction notices and the containers were given until September to ship out. So on top of a rollercoaster year we now found ourselves having to find new premises and with nowhere near the income we had pre lockdown.

Friends of ours heard about what had happened and offered us a small section of their barn (actually, small to them was quite a size to us!). This would have been a usable space for the dyeing section of our operation but still left us with having to find storage for all the looms and wheels etc which we didn’t want to be affected by the weather, or damp.

While we were there they mentioned as an aside that we might want to look in the shed. The shed or Jack Shack blew us away. At 30ft x 12 ft it’s a brilliant size space. Already split in two it has an area for our looms and possibly workshops and a separate area for all our dye kit. It has electricity and access to water. To say it was perfect is an understatement. On top of that, we can do whatever we want to it in terms of decorating or putting up pictures or wall hangings.

Workroom to be
Dyeroom to be

Obviously there is a ton of work to do yet but we are so excited to get started and settle into our new home. It’ll be a place for the three of us to be able to work which is brilliant because we have a ton of ideas to start setting into plans. We’ll keep you updated with each step of the way.

In workshop news, our weaving workshops are back up and running which is fabulous and hopefully covid permitting will continue. Spinning workshops are in the pipeline and we will post dates as soon as we have them

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Lazykate Blog

Workshops!

I’m so pleased to tell you that we are starting to run workshops again. As I have mentioned on my social media accounts, I really thought this might be the end for spinning and weaving workshops.

But there is good news. Jessamy my daughter and her friend Sofia have taken over both the dyeing arm of Lazykate and also the running of the weaving workshops. Jessamy has weaving and spinning in her blood, having been taught by me since childhood and Sofia is an artist with her own painting business so they have the chops!

We’ve all been working hard to create a new arrangement with input from the girls taking the dyeing in different directions, something which is very exciting for me. Fresh ideas are always welcome

So we have a new base range for our hand dyed yarns. These will stay throughout the season. Then we will add limited editions to go with these, keeping everything fresh and interesting.

The first workshops will take place at Eden Tearoom and Galleries in Newburgh, Lancashire a beautiful inspiring venue that we’re sure you’ll love. We will be observing social distancing rules to protect us all so we feel confident that we can all have a brilliant day and keep safe too.

If you’d like to come along we have two dates,

Saturday 5th September

Friday 2nd October.

If you’d like to come along, click here. You’ll receive an email confirming your place and asking for your choice of warp colours and we can go from there. Any questions, ask away!

Speak soon x

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Lazykate Blog

Something changed

Well one night we went to sleep and the next day our world was completely different and I have to admit, I still can’t quite believe it.

Lazykate Textiles is mainly built around teaching and passing on skills that are very important to me so when we were not able to do that anymore, I closed the doors for while I tried to figure things out. Being a member of the high risk team, the thought that this might be it for me work wise was a little overwhelming, but actually also a bit of a sigh of relief. I had been closed to being burnt out for quite a while. I absolutely love teaching but I was tired and not too well.

Weaving Workshop at Ten Streets Market, Liverpool

So I stopped. Stopped with the lists and the pressure on myself to keep lots of plates spinning. Stopped worrying that everything was not good enough. I didnt realise how much I was struggling.

Once I stopped thought it was difficult to feel motivated, especially when essentially my method of working (teaching face to face) was over.

Eventually, as the weeks have gone on, despite minimal direction and focus, things are beginning to seem clearer. Sadly, the Dyer’s Palette Box Club had to come to an end. A mix of difficulty getting supplies and postage options made it untenable. Perhaps in the future it could be something to revisit, it certainly was enjoyable while it lasted. That was it then, no Box club, no teaching.

So Heather, the Inquisitive Weaver and I decided to start a podcast. Just a chat while in lockdown about the projects we are doing to help us pass the time and ones to inspire us in the future. It’s something neither of us has done before so it’s been a learning curve but give a pair of women an opportunity to talk about their textile projects and you might never shut them up!

So bear with me while I try to work out a new direction, give the podcast a whirl and maybe join our Weaverbirds groups on Facebook or Ravelry. We have a small but talented group of women (only women just now but men welcome of course) and hopefully a community will grow.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KgcJLZfaZeE

Speak soon

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Lazykate Blog

Little things to help you spin

Over the years during Spinning Workshops, I found that breaking up the process into separate sections can help the fledgling spinner grasp each part of the process.  Let’s face it, spinning is a skill and takes a some co-ordination so everything I can do to help make it easier, I will.

Sometimes I will treadle while the new spinner masters the drafting technique, sometimes I’ll draft a little.  For some it doesn’t take long and the penny will drop, for others it might take a few hours for spinning becomes comfortable.

I teach using Ashford Traditional wheels which are steady and slower wheels,  great for beginners.   It helps to have everyone on the same wheel, but on occasion we might have to try something different.

Ashford Spinning Wheel

This is what happened recently at a class in Liverpool but changing the wheel made all the difference and the lady was able to spin.

Kromski Sonata

The difference in the lady’s case was the double treadle. So both feet were used to treadle, evening out the effort made and making it more ergonomic.  She found the treadling gentler with less stress on her back.  

It would be awful if someone came along to spin and thought they didnt have the ability when actually, if they just tried a different type of wheel they might find they can spin comfortably.

So, if you attend one if my workshops, you are welcome to use my wheels, (whether it’s an Ashford or a Kromski) or bring along your own if that would suit you better.

Whatever makes it easier for you to spin….we’ll do it!

Upcoming Spinning Workshops

Friday 17th April, Black Sheep Wools, Glaziers Lane, Culcheth

Friday 1st May Ten Streets Market, Cotton Street Liverpool

Friday 12th June Ten Streets Market, Cotton Street Liverpool L3 7DY

Friday 17th July, Ten Streets Market, Cotton Street, Liverpool L3 7DY

To book click here https://lazykatetextiles.co.uk/shop/spinning-workshop-learn-to-spin-lancashire-north-west/

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Lazykate Blog

Dyer’s Palette Box Club

 

Dyer’s Palette Box

 

I’m so excited about this new venture, the Dyer’s Palette Box Club. It’s something I’ve been talking about for absolutely ages (ask Ovis Yarns who has had her ear chewed off a few times).

Dyeing yarn is such a wonderful process. Quite a simple procedure producing something completely unique.  If you are a spinner it means that you can dye all manner of different fibres and spin them up into art yarn, or 4ply. You can heather those shades with conventional plying or keep your colours true with chain plying.  Either way, something magical happens and beautiful yarn appears.

If you chose to dye yarn you have an element of control to produce bold or soft  colours, bright or muted.  And then sometimes, something crazy happens and you’ll get a happy accident.  That’s the joy of it all.

So this course of boxes are designed to take you through different techniques in dyeing using different yarns so that you can create your own unique yarn or fibre and have as much fun as I do when I dye.

There are six months of boxes and I’ve given three options, monthly payments, two payments of £90 or one of £180 depending on how you would find it easier (or maybe if someone else is footing the bill!)

If you have any questions, ask away and I’ll do my best to answer them and hopefully we’ll start creating together very soon

Dyer’s Palette Box Club click here to join

 

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Lazykate Blog

Believe None of What You Hear and Half of What You See or Adventures in Flax

I’ve had a bag of flax in my large fibre box for quite a few years.  I found the reputation for flax being a difficult fibre to spin proceeded it and I don’t have a distaff so my bag of fibre remained neglected.

It has been the dyeing of this beautiful yarn that peaked my interest.  This is a baby alpaca/silk/linen mix, it takes dye so readily and has a beautiful sheen due to the silk but it’s the linen that I wanted to experiment with, especially with weaving.

Flax Tow

Well you know how these goes, the yarn is dyed and I love it so its partially woven and is at Ten Streets waiting for me to finish it, wait, what’s that? It was the Tour de Fleece and the challenge of spinning something a little bit out of my comfort zone. Well the alpaca/silk/linen was so beautiful, I wanted to spin my own linen, so the ancient bag of flax fibre was retrieved from the box.

What is flax tow?

It turns out that there are two types of flax, line or sticks which are really long fibres and require a distaff or flax tow, shorter, coarser fibres that are more easily dealt with.  I had flax tow.  So anyone who has had experience of spinning with will should be able to get to grips with flax tow.

The direction is to wet your fingers, the flax is floaty and gets everywhere. I’ve spun with both wrt and dry fingers and I’m sure the wet in better but I’ve not always been bobothered.

How to spin flax?

I found the best way to spin it was to split the length of flax into very thin sections, when drafting, full the fibres until they are very thin, that drafting triangle will be very see through! This way your yarn will be nice and thin when you’ve plied it.

I also read that it can be helpful to spin with your wheel going in the s direction (anti clockwise) but I only read this after I started spinning z wise so I’ll attempt that maybe next time.

So my first ball of yarn was pretty thick while I  got my head around the technique.

Flax spun worsted, z twist, 26wpi for the single 16wpi for the piled yarn.

16 wpi plied flax yarn

Plied flax yarn

Woven yarn 16wpi

Flax has no elasticity so very different to weave than a wool yarn so you would need to take that into consideration if you’re weaving for a project but as this is for experimental purposes I used mainly plain weave with a litt,e bit of Brooke’s Bouquet thrown in for interest.

Actually, the fabric was like hessian! Not really sure what I would do with it.  Also, the sample piece was way to long  a small square section of fabric would have been much more useful.

The second attempt was 34 wpi as a single, 19 wpi as a plied yarn

19wpi plied flax

My third attempt was 45 wpi single, 28wpi as a plied yarn, I vlet much more confident to draft really, really thin at this point.

28wpi plied flax yarn

So I’m weaving with this last yarn using a 10dpi Reed and will see how it weaves up in plain weave.  I’m completely addicted.  If you’d like to have a go and I recommend it wholeheartedly, get some flax here and give it a go.

Just because someone tells you something is difficult, may not be the case after all.

 

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Lazykate Blog

Tour de Fleece 2019

British Fibre Art Tour de Fleece Team

 

It’s coming up to that time of year again.  Saturday 6th July sees the start of the Tour de France and so spinners will be preparing for the Tour de Fleece.

If this is something that is new to you and you’re spinner, you might like to join in.  The Tour de Fleece is an online spinalong. Spinners can spin on their own or join one of the many teams on ravelry.  I’m going to be spinning along with British Fibre Art team.  There’s all the information you need to know by clicking this link

https://www.3535press.co.uk/team-british-fibre-art-tour-de-flee

So I’ve dyed yarn in readiness.  I’ve chosen a Bluefaced Leicester/silk mix.  A couple of years ago a friend asked me to spin fibre for a scarf to be woven for her husband.  I order about 500g of BFL/silk mix, forgot all about it and then used it mistakenly on a workshop.  I couldn’t understand why there were fibres floating around, in my eyes and up my nose and then it dawned on me what I’d used for the class.  That was one expensive workshop.

So I’ve decided to complete the project two years on, bought the fibre and dyed it in a pebble shade of grey.  I love the way the wool takes the dye and the silk doesn’t but spins in adding a sheen and softness to the spun yarn.

Bluefaced Leceister/silk fibre dyed in Pebble

If you’d like to join us, message me and I can send you details, it’s just a fun spin along but you might enjoy it – you don’t even need to watch the tour to do it, you could watch Vera – although don’t tell anyone I told you that.

If you fancy learning to spin, you’re very welcome to join me on the 19th July at Northern Yarn or 20th July at Ten Streets Market or  13th September at Black Sheep Wools. It’s such a wonderful craft and has an amazing community along with it!

Beginners Spinning

 

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Lazykate Blog

Lazykate Textiles at Ten Streets Market

Ten Streets Market is a venue for artists and small producers to dip a toe into having a retail space.  It’s run by mum and daughter Tina and Georgia who you’ll meet when you visit.  They’ve created a welcoming quirky space filled with vintage and craft stalls and a great little cafe

I’ll be stocking hand dyed yarns and fibre, Kromski looms and accessories and hosting weaving, spinning and dyeing workshops. It’s really exciting to be able to have a space if my own!

If you’re coming over, please message me and I can arrange to be there, the beauty of this space is that because Tina and Georgia man Ten Streets I can be free to carry on with my other workshop commitments around the North West.  I wouldn’t want to miss anyone who has made the journey so let me know you’re on your way and I’ll be able to have a coffee with you.

I’ll post some images of the stand as soon as I’m set up.

Ten Streets Market, Cotton Street, Liverpool, L3 7DY

Opening times Wed-Sun 10.30-18.00

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Lazykate Blog

Yarn Shop Day at Black Sheep Wools

 

I’m really excited to be taking part in Yarn Shop Day at Black Sheep Wools this year held on the 27th April.

Black Sheep have joined in with Yarn Shop Day since it began in 2014.  As knitters we are all passionate about supporting our local yarn shops so if you’d like to see what’s going on around your area, take a look at the guide here:

https://www.letsknit.co.uk/yarnshopday/guide

In our area, as well as Black Sheep, Northern Yarn in Lancaster is taking part so be sure to support Kate and everyone there as well and you know, in the spirit of the day, if you have a local yarn shop that you want to support that isn’t on the list then please do that too – our lovely yarn shops need our support and the staff who work hard to inspire you with their gorgeous knitty items will appreciate your visit.

I’ll be taking along a spinning wheel or two and an enormous bag of fibre so if you fancy having a try at spinning, this is your opportunity.  Spinning is a wonderful skill and who knows, you might be part of that 00000.1% of the population that sits down and takes to it immediately.  I’m just bitter because that wasn’t me!

Anyway, hopefully I’ll see you on the day, please come over and make yourself known, it’s always nice to know that people read this and I’m not just typing into the void