Here’s the great library of “How did you learn that?” It’ll be updated periodically as I find more things. Below are book-books, favored tutorials by craft, and other resources and links you should know about 🙂
- Women’s Work: The First 20,000 years by Elizabeth Wayland Barber
- Textile article stash on dropbox
- Witches and Pagans: Women in European Folk Religion 700-1100 by Max Dashu
Resources by skill:
Fibers: Scroll down to the Masterlist for more fiber resources !!
- Art yarn
- Historical Fiber Crafts
- Oils, scents, blends
- Harold Roth of Alchemy Works (seems to have transitioned away from vending, but you can still read the site for educational purposes)
- Infusions, etc (these are NO substitute for actual medical treatments. That being said, it’s a very good idea to become familiar with local plants, how to grow, how to safely collect, what you can and can’t eat/handle/mix, and so on. So I’m putting those links first, and I’m making them obnoxiously large.
- How to make Herbal infusions and decoctions from the Mountain Rose Herbs blog (also, great vendor, love their products but definitely a “MONEY” option. I have found following their blog to be educational, though!)
- How to make homemade perfume with essential oils (Aura Cacia) (also pretty good products!)
Fiber resources masterlist
Get to makin’!
How-to knit 101
- Good Knit Kisses BEGINNER Playlist
- New Stitch a Day: Knitting cast on for beginners
- We Are Knitters Long-tail cast on
- Garter stitch washcloth by Jayda InStitches
- How to bind off your knitting for dummies
Common knitting terms you will hear in the beginning:
- Needles – knitting is done with needles, which come in a variety of sizes and materials. Certain projects call for the stitches to be larger or smaller; the size of the stitches is largely “decided” by the needle (generally the bigger the needle the bigger the stitch). Needles may be many different lengths as well, depending on what you intend to use them for. Needles generally have 1 (dull) pointed end with a cap at the other. Since knitting (usually) uses only 2 needles, they are sold in pairs. More advanced knitters may use more exotic needles such as double pointed (no cap) needles or circular needles (double pointed connected with a flexible nylon cord. More information can be found at Makers’ Mercantile here.
- Cast on – to cast on means to put the desired number of stitches on your needle
- Knit stitch – this is one of the most basic stitches you will learn – it makes the classic “V” shape we associate with knitting. Chances are, if you look at any off the rack clothing you’re wearing (sweaters, tunics, t-shirts) you’ll find the knit stitch. It’s smooth and has a million uses.
- Purl – this is the back of the knit stitch. It looks like ridges, and doesn’t “look” like knitting to new folks, but it is. It also has a million uses.
- Row – when we knit, we think in rows – imagine an old fashioned printer laying down line after line of ink in preset patterns to form lines….or rows…of text. That’s what the knitting does – you basically make rectangles and squares at first before you move onwards and upwards to the heady heights of the sock or sweater.
- Bind off – when we bind off we are locking down all those loops we made in our piece. If you drop a knitted piece or remove it without binding off, you can just pull the stitches out and destroy the whole work. Sometimes we do this on purpose to go back and fix a mistake (called “frogging”) or just want to cancel a whole project out of frustration (called something far ruder).
- Gauge – this is the number of stitches and rows you produce in an inch (also depending on the size of the needles and the thickness or thinness of the yarn. You don’t have to pay attention to this when you’re just learning to stitch, but this becomes very important when and if you get into patterns and garments.
How-to crochet 101 (I’m even newer at this than knitting or spinning so this will be a bit thin for now)
- How to Crochet for Absolute Beginners with Bella Coco
- How to Crochet a Granny Square with Jayda inStitches
Common crochet terms you will hear in the beginning:
- Hook – crochet involves not the two long needles of knitting but a shorter hook. Crochet hooks can be metal (mostly aluminum), wood, plastic, and more. You use one at a time to make loops of yarn and pull them through. In a way, very similar to knitting – loops through loops. But the single tool means you can do some wild stuff, like amigurumi.
- Slipknot – a slipknot is a type of knot that can be adjusted. The way I learned it was basically kind of like a yarn pretzel that went over my hook. From there you start stitching or, “chaining”.
- Chain – this is the baseline of many crochet projects. When you are chaining, you pull loops through other loops to form a chain (easier shown than typed). This chain looks a lot like braided hair. As you continue with your project, you may work from one long chain, or make a short one and connect the ends into a circle, as in the granny square (see the above tutorial by Jayda InStiches)
- Yarn-over – this comes up in knitting too – it merely means to place the working yarn (yarn coming off the ball or skein) over the implement, whether hook or needle.
How-to weave/weaving terminology
You need a loom and yarn. A loom can be made from almost anything you damn well please. All you really need to do is think in grids. When weaving, you will produce a square or rectangle. THis can be super small or you can literally make yards of fabric if you have the means. But just to get the basics across, I’ll talk as if you’re going to make a small square piece of fabric.
You will need some way to hold your warp steady while you weave with your weft. Your warp is the assortment of string/cord/yarn you will weave onto. It’s the skeleton of your textile. Your textile is the cloth/wall hanging/tapestry/whatever flat cloth object you’re making on your loom. Your weft is the yarn/cord/string you’re weaving with. Generally, the weft hides the warp as you go along. But not always. Depending on the design, the warp can sometimes be visible in the finished textile.
But what about this grid? At its most basic, the warp goes “up and down” (y axis) and the weft goes “under and over” each warp string (along the x axis). This is called plain or tabby weave. In plain weave, all strings are at right angles to each other. If you were to take a good look at a piece of plain weaving, it kind of looks like graph paper. There are many, many, MANY other ways to weave, but this is the basic concept. Warp set out taut, facing away from you, weft threaded alternately above and below the warp strings. As you go along, you’ll need to “pack” or beat warp threads down to make them sit tightly together (or not, if you want a loose, net-like textile, eg for an art piece). The whole operation has to maintain tension – the warp threads have to be taut and the weft should be reasonably packed down. This is so that the final product will hold together when taken off the loom.
When you’re done with the thing you’re making, you have to get it off the loom. The most basic, down and dirty way is to just cut the warp threads, and knot them together one by one so the textile does not fall apart. There are better ways to do this, especially if you want to make fabric, something you can use in a piece (dishtowels come to mind, bags, scarves) – those can be found in tutorials.
–Frame looms 101
How-to spin with a spindle
–Top whorl spindle
–Bottom whorl spindle
–Other types of spindles
How-to spin on a wheel
How-to prepare fiber for spinning
How-to dye yarn and fiber
Adaptive fiber arts
–common terms for fibers
–PacificNorthwest Wood (general woodworking, but nice crochet hooks – I have one of his interchangeable hook necklaces and I love it!)
–Windhaven Fiber Tools (I have a shuttle and two weaving needles from them – great work!)
–Sistermaide (fiber tools – I have two of her niddy-noddies – they get frequent use!)
–BlueBarn Fibers (roving, plant based fibers, yarn)
Blogs, publications, podcasts
PLY magazine – spinning and fiber
The Woven Road – general fiber talk
**NB: Scribd has a lot of books on everything, including fiber arts. It boasts a “free” 30 day trial, wants you to enter a payment method, then charges $9 USD a month for access. For me, that’s not too bad, I may go back to it. But this is not the case for everyone.
The books below will largely be amazon links due to my laziness, but please check Abebooks.com and Alibris.com as well.
Miscellaneous and Fun
Let’s play Money/No money!!
So you want to get into this all, but you’re broke? Check out the Money/Some Money/No Money matrix below:
|Ya got ya options….||MONEY||Some Money||No Money|
|Knitting/Crochet||If you’ve got the cash, you can indulge in the tools and fibers of your dreams! Yarnia (Customyarn.com), Webs.com are two I like to go to when I indulge. Etsy has yarn at all price points. If you’re really flush, you can go to fiber festivals and what not and buy whatever you like. If you’re looking to drop cash, please, PLEASE educate yourself on fiber or your desired tools first so you don’t saddle yourself with something you don’t or can’t use.||Craft stores carry lots of acrylic yarn – do NOT fear the 2 buck chuck! I don’t care what purists say! Make sure to shop on sale and use coupons religiously – you can easily run up as much a tab at Michaels as you can at a boutique.|
Also, ugly sweaters, scarves, hats from discount stores or thrift shops can be taken apart…just sayin’. Aluminum needles and hooks are the cheapest at a store. Amazon has them as well, if this is something you are ok with. Etsy has a lot of vintage resellers so you can buy old tools which will probs be the best option, cost-wise
|Lots of vids, you can try casting on pens or (smooth) chopsticks. This won’t get you too far but you’ll have proof of concept. Finger/arm knitting is also an option (not my personal fave tho). If you have old knit or crochet goods you don’t want anymore, you can take them apart and reclaim the yarn. If you have old tee shirts, you can cut those into strips as well and make them into yarn (will prob need tools). Freecycle is good to look at for free yarn and tools. Also crafters like to “destash” – sometimes this takes the form of a swap of like for like. If you’re truly lucky, someone will just gift you yarn or tools.|
|Weaving||Looms easily….EASILY run into the hundreds and thousands. If you have the education, the space, and the time….and the bucks, go hog wild. I’m under the impression that a lot of the larger equipment is sold person to person. As always, educate yourself and get to know your seller. If you want a frame loom or tapestry loom and you want it to be an investment piece, check private sellers of course – once more Etsy proves fruitful for buying woodwork.|
The further you get into this, you’ll learn the big brands (Ashford, Schact, etc). They are super good but also super pricey. You get quality that will last, but this can be daunting to the newbie. If you are ready, take that plunge!
|I got my first loom on ebay – it’s a child’s toy loom and it works perfectly fine (Brio brand). Toy looms are GREAT to learn on and use. Mine was about $40 USD. Bear in mind that if you’re looking at a rigid heddle loom, the width of the fabric you make will be dictated by the size of the loom, unless you stitch together individual strips/smaller textiles. That is always a valid option. |
If you’re looking to make a wallhanging type deal, I’d search out frame looms on Etsy and ebay. I try to buy used when possible.
Toy brands, vintage (be wary of condition), no-name brands – these are all good options when you’re getting into this but need to watch your pennies.
|Oh, my friend, looms can be made of almost ANYthing! Youtube is your best resource. I’ve made a(n admittedly crappy but functional) tapestry loom on a poster frame by cutting notches into the cardboard. You can use actual cardboard. You can use actual picture frames. You will probably not get super fancy or super durable pieces on these “proof of concept” looms but you can get nice little textiles and learn the rudiments. Seriously, this is one of humanity’s oldest technologies – go nuts and give it a go! If your work isn’t up to snuff, take it apart and keep trying until you get your skillbase up.|
|Spinning||Basically copy what I said above re weaving and apply it to spinning wheels. There are also Impossibly Sexy Spindles (™) out there that cost the earth – they seem lovely but really, we can do this with sticks and stones if need be. Like always, do your homework and enjoy it when you commit to a fancy tool.|
As for fibers, those are as expensive as you want them to be. There are up-market things like quivut which are *gorgeous* but super pricey. I tend to stick to middle of the road wools myself.
|Roving can be surprisingly cheap (See the vendors above). But cheap means different things to different people. If you are able to get to a festival or show, you may want to get some raw wool and comb/dye it yourself. Funky colors and add-ins like firestar and angelina are also not too pricey but the more crap you add, the more the price goes up. |
Plant fibers are not too shabby for price and offer exciting textures. Check Blue Barn Fibers above.
Spindles: learn to use a spindle, my friend. This is an ancient technology, and such a basic design that it hasn’t really changed much – spindles can be had very cheaply (look for student spindles, plain designs, basic as possible unless and until you decide to get fancy).
As for fiber prep tools: Cake breakers are great fiber combs, as are those bristle brushes you use on housepets. My blending board is a factory second from Howard Brush outlet on etsy – it was $80USD which was doable at the time – may be too much for some, but this gives you an idea.
|Got a stick? Got some old CD’s? Got some glue? Youtube it! You can make a spindle!! If you know how to whittle, you can really make your own. |
Have fiber you want to prep? You can work that by hand! Put a cloth on your lap and brush it out with your fingers like you would hair. You can mix colors this way too. It’ll take a while and the results won’t be as smooth BUT you’ll get the basics and more importantly get a feel for the base materials. That is invaluable.