Mid Island Weavers and Spinners (and other fibre enthusiasts) Guild

This is the Mid Island Weavers and Spinners (and other fibre enthusiasts) blog page. The group meets the first Wednesday of the month during the fall/winter/spring (September through to June). Meetings are held in the hall of St. Paul's Chruch downtown Nanaimo (across from the Dorchester Hotel - the entrance is on the other side of the church at 100 Chapel St, across the street from the new condos). 7:00 pm. Guests are welcome to come...bring your knitting, spinning wheel or other fibre addictions. Meetings usually consist of 5 minutes of business, show and tell (bring something), tea and cookies, and some sort of workshop, seminar or talk where you will learn something fibry and interesting.
We now have an email address: MIWSGuild at gmail.com

Saturday, September 25, 2010

wraps per inch

Thought this may be of interest to people who weave and knit.
Wraps Per Inch vs. Gauge Swatching

Determining wraps per inch

Have you every wondered why people worry about wraps per inch (wpi)? Me too.

Some people use this method when they have two mystery yarns and they want to see if they're the same size (to use in a striped, gauge-buster vest or something like that). I can see wpi coming in handy in this sort of situation.

And spinners use the method a lot to get an idea of what weight their handspun yarn is, too. In fact, it was in the fall issue of Spin-Off magazine that I came across the article below, which got me thinking abut wraps per inch. I thought you might like to read it, too, so I've included some excerpts here.

The author is Amy Tyler, who was trained as a scientist and spent many years teaching research methods and statistics to physical therapy students. Although she now works as a fiber artist, she still finds a systematic approach to come in handy.

What is "Wraps Per Inch"?
by Amy Tyler

I was first introduced to the wraps-per-inch method of measuring of yarn thickness at a workshop in 2003. I loved the workshop, but I was skeptical of this method from the get-go. The instructions for measuring reminded me of Goldilocks and the Three Bears—not too this . . . not too that . . . just right. With just right being in the eye of the beholder.

For example, here are the instructions from the Spring 2008 issue of Spin-Off: "Wrap a length of yarn around your gauge, packing to refusal, to determine the wraps per inch (wpi) of the yarn. Packing to refusal means that you push the strands together to fill the 1-inch groove, being sure not to stretch or smoosh the yarn as you wrap it, as this will distort your result. Strands should not overlap or gap. Then simply count the number of strands in the 1-inch groove to obtain wpi."

How could a measure with such ambiguous instructions be reliable? By reliable, I mean consistent and free from error (the definition common to many research designs and methods).

I recently attended a fiber arts retreat and I had the opportunity to carry out an informal study of the reliability of wraps per inch. I asked some of the fiber folks in attendance to help me and thirteen people agreed.

I gave each person a 3-by-5-inch index card printed with ¼-inch grid marks. I folded each card in thirds to make it a bit sturdier. I then cut a notch in the card and used a pen to mark off 2 inches of the grid. I gave each person one of these cards. Then I gave the participants some basic instructions for wrapping a yarn around the card to measure wraps per inch. My instructions were essentially, "Wrap the yarn around the card, not too tight, not too loose, with wraps touching but not squished together. Wrap for 1 or 2 inches and then count the wraps in 1 inch."

I also gave each person long strands of yarn, one at a time. First, I handed out strands of Cascade 220. I asked everyone to calculate wraps per inch. When everyone had done so, I asked them to announce the measurement they'd gotten. I repeated this sequence with three more yarns: Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, Rowan Magpie Aran, and Schaefer Yarn Anne.

Each person got the same yarn, the same measuring tool, and the same instructions. Yet the resulting measures of wpi varied quite a bit. And in the case of Cascade's 220, no one got the published measurement; all estimates were too high. It seems that measures of the thicker yarns (such as the Magpie Aran and the 220) were more off than those of the thinner yarns. Also, not all people were consistently high or consistently low in their estimates.

I concluded that wraps per inch is not a very reliable measure.

Some spinners may find wraps per inch helpful as an approximate measure, but it shouldn't be used as the only measure of yarn thickness for a spinning project. In the end, it's not the thickness of the yarn per se that's important. It is how the yarn works in the finished product.

For knitting, there is no better way to decide if you've got the right thickness of yarn than to knit a gauge swatch. With that swatch, you can decide two very important things: Does the fabric behave as it should (drape, density, springiness)? And if you're following a pattern, are you getting the number of stitches per inch and rows per inch that you need?


Hear, hear on the gauge issue! Yet another reason why knitters should always make a gauge swatch—we need to know what gauge we're getting with our needles and our yarn. That's really the only way to end up with a sweater that actually fits.

The Pass-Through Scarf

I know, some of you have been lucky and have winged it and ended up with a well-fitting sweater, but there are many more of you who have winged it and ended up with a sweater that you had to give away or send to the frog pond, am I right?

I hope this article has shed some light on wraps per inch for you. I know it did for me.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Knit-in and Spin-in in Public

Apparently knitting and spinning have become a geeky craft, or should I say a craft for geeks. Check out this article String Theory: Reflections on Knitting as a Hobby for Hacker Types This probably bodes well for a spin-in and knit-in to be held on campus.  

Listen-up locals ... 
Spin-in and Knit-in to be held at 
Vancouver Island University
Thursday, Sept 30th.
Location: sunshine = outside, in front of the library 
if rain = in the Welcome Centre.  
Bring what's on your needles, wheel or spindle and your fibre friends.

Despicable Minion designed by
Parking will be an issue. Come early and use Lot 5C (off 5th St.) and use the short term parking meters. Here is a link to the map. The outside location is the square in the centre of buildings 300 (cafeteria), 305 (library), 310 (theatre) and 315 (physics bldg).

Monday, September 13, 2010

Our Guild Shows and Tells - Part1

Darlene wearing her new jacket.
It has been a busy week for the Mid Island Guild! Our first meeting of the year had us organizing our selves for the year, plus organizing ourselves for the Fibre and Fashion Fiesta which was held this weekend.
First, the Guild meeting.  The Show and Tell was a highlight.  Here Darlene is wearing one of two jackets made from her Mother's woven fabric.  The two jackets (or was it three?) were made for her and her sister(s?) from left over fabric.  There wasn't enough fabric for each jacket but a seamstress cleverly  designed it with other fabrics that matched the woven sections. Their Mother passed away and these jackets are a beautiful way to remember her by.

Kathy was on a high, having taken a whole week workshop with Jane Stafford.  Here's a gamp she did from the Twills on 4 workshop.  Here's a link to Jane Stafford's workshops on her web site.

On display were dozens of felt pin cushions made by Heather and Anne (and others?) over the summer as table centres to be given away at the Fashion Fiesta (see the next blog post).

We also brainstormed ideas for workshops: Colour and design; fibre baskets, nuno felting, felted slippers (recycling a sweater), a trip to Salt Spring.....

Thursday, September 9, 2010

weaving personalities

No, we're not aspiring to become Cosmopolitan magazine with its famous tests, but Madelyn van der Hoogt has developed a weaver's personality assessment. I've taken it, and it's fun and sure to generate some interesting conversation during social time at your next guild meeting. Here's Madelyn to tell you about the quiz.

I hate warping! I love warping! I like to weave with very tight tension! Loose tension is the only way to go. I love to sample! I never weave samples. I love computer drafting! I don’t want to make drawdowns, I just want to weave. Four shafts is all you ever need. You can never have enough shafts.

How could the same craft provoke such strong, but opposite preferences? Weavers can almost come to blows over issues like whether it’s better to warp front to back or back to front.

Color/texture weavers like this.
I’ve come to the conclusion that this is because weaving is somewhat unique in its appeal to two completely opposite personality types (unlike, say, chemistry or teaching pre-schoolers). I’ve thought of the two opposite personality poles as the structure/pattern type and the color/texture type. You could probably guess your type by what specifically drew you to weaving in the first place. If you were fascinated by seeing a loom, wondering how it works, or you pondered the designs in airplane upholstery, you are probably a structure/pattern type. If you longed for angora rabbits, went from them to raising sheep, then from sheep to alpacas, and started weaving because you have so much yarn, you are probably a color/texture type. If you see an exquisite scarf and wonder how many shafts it took to weave? Structure/pattern. If your first question is "Is it silk or Tencel?": color/texture.

It’s good to know your type for many reasons. I think of the color/texture weavers as pretty lucky. It’s easier for them to disguise their addictions. They will be collecting a lot of yarn in their weaving lives, and you can sneak yarn into the house, bit by bit, hiding it here and there, much more easily than you can hide looms. By identifying your type, you also know a lot more about how you learn and what you need to learn. Structure/pattern weavers (of which I confess I am one) are control freaks. They like to explain things, and they usually teach the guild workshops. They make computer printouts of complex drafts instead of weaving. Color/texture weavers, on the other hand actually have something to show at Show and Tell besides computer printouts. They bake the best cookies.

Structure/pattern weavers like this.
If you’re a stucture/pattern weaver, you are usually afraid of color. If you are a color/texture weaver, you don’t like drafting or taking workshops on structure. It helps to know this about yourself so you don’t blame yourself for what doesn’t come naturally. One of my favorite ideas is to pair up a structure/pattern weaver with a color/texture weaver to plan a project. The structure/pattern weaver designs the draft, the color-texture weaver chooses the yarns and colors.

If you wonder which type you are, come to
to take the Weaver’s Personality Inventory Test. (It will be in my blog.) And if you think you are somewhere in the middle of these two polar opposites, remember that from whatever place you start as a weaver, you move toward the center in your weaving life.

See? Doesn't that sound like fun? (Maybe we should be more like Cosmo. I can see the headline now: "How to put the sizzle back in your relationship with your loom!") OK, my mad daydreams aside, y'all come over to Weaving Today and find out your weaving personality. And if you'll share your results, I'll share mine. ;-)

Weaving and Spinning equipment for sale

Hi Heather,

Below is the list of items that Dianne Marshall of Youbou wishes to sell. She has also put together a photo gallery so you can see just what she has.

Dianne would be thrilled to have the information go out to as many weavers/spinners as possible, so if you can add the list and link to the Mid Island Guild's blog, that will be terrific.

Anyone interested in any item can get in touch with her; here is her contact information:
Dianne Marshall
9822 Miracle Way
Youbou BC
250 745 3340



Highlighted numbers relate to the pictures.
1 48” Sutherland 4 harness floor loom in Maple/counter balance

2 Reeds 60” #8 # 10
4 Harness

String Heddles
4 lamms
6 treadles
2 boat shuttles
Bench (LeClerc)
Asking Price 1000.00
1 30” 4 Harness Table Loom (JACK)

Harness and heddles Asking Price (will accept reasonable offers)

1 Inkle Loom Asking Price (will accept reasonable offers)
1 Table Tapestry Loom Asking Price (will accept reasonable offers)
1 LeClerc 16” Folding Table Loom, wire heddles
2 Harness with 16” reed
Asking Price (will accept reasonable offers)

1 Breakdown Tapestry Loom 4 Harness
Asking Price (will accept reasonable offers)
Assorted Books
Weaving, Spinning & Dyeing Asking Price (will accept reasonable offers)


Assorted Stick Shuttles, different lengths

Asking Price (will accept reasonable offers)
1 set of cards for Tablet Weaving Asking Price (will accept reasonable offers)
Baskets of Yarn and Unspun Fleece Asking Price (will accept reasonable offers)
1 Ashford Traditional Spinning Wheel
plus Lazy Kate and 3 bobbins Asking Price 300.00
1 Ashford Jumbo Flyer Asking Price (will accept reasonable offers)
1 Indian Head Spinner on Singer treadle sewing machine (include original sewing machine) Asking Price (will accept reasonable offers)
2 Drop spindles $6.00 each
1 Drum Carder Like new Asking Price 225.00
1 Set Hand Carders $30.00
1 Swift $25.00
1 Niddy Noddy $30.00
1 Ball Winder (Plastic) $25.00
2 Wooden Beaters/Combs (will accept reasonable offers)
1 Bobbin Winder (metal) with bobbins (will accept reasonable offers)
2 Boat Shuttles (will accept reasonable offers)
1 Warping Board $30.00
Shed Sticks (will accept reasonable offers)
Tapestry Frame 33” H 27” W (will accept reasonable offers)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Are people going to come and demonstrate?

Vancouver Island Fibre Arts Showcase and Fashion Fiesta www.vancouverislandfibrearts.com

Vancouver Island Conference Centre
101 Gordon Street, Nanaimo, BC

Come and experience two days of expressions of the rich heritage of fibre arts on Vancouver Island. Something for everyone! Admission $5. per day or $8. for two days. Bring your spinning wheel or other hand work and join the spinners' circle. Friday, Sept. 10 1 - 8 pm and Saturday, Sept. 11 9 am - 4 pm

Last Chance - Fashion Fiesta

Don't forget to check out the Fibre Arts Showcase Sept 10 and 11.  Last chance to buy tickets to the fashion show and Fiesta dinner is THIS Friday!  More information is available here: http://www.vancouverislandfibrearts.com/index.html  and tickets can be purchased on-line through the Nanaimo Port Theatre or via phone :