Weaving with hand spun, again!

Weaving with hand spun, again!

Jan Scott documented the Sale and Exhibition put on by our Guild in early November, kudos Jan.  It was a great success and inspired me to try to answer a recurring question asked by so many of my clients.  I was embarrassed that I didn’t have the information for them.  Will this skein make a hat, scarf, mittens, socks, etc?  The response was always – ‘that depends’ and it does.  It depends on technique, the width of the weaving, stitch size, needle size, size of hands for mittens, and all sorts of variables.  It’s so frustrating to not have an empirical answer, so I decided to use my handspun and make a scarf, standard 14 inches wide by 40 inches long.

I calculated I had 234 yards/215m of brown and 495yds/457m of burgundy and silk.  I would need 106yds/98m brown for the warp and 214yds/196m burgundy and silk for the other part of the warp.  Based on that I had lots for the weft.  We’ll see. Math and I are not on speaking terms.

Just to keep the learning curve vertical, I also decided to use a warping mill along with my sectional beam.  If you have ever watched videos of industrial weaving facilities you will see huge walls of bobbins feeding into the back of looms.  A sectional beam is one step down from that.  All the threads you want are wound onto a single inch of the back beam of the loom.  So if you want to weave something with 20 threads per inch you need 20 bobbins full of thread to wind onto that little 1 inch spot.  You wind on for as many yards/meters as you want, then move to the next slot in the beam, wind on another twenty threads/inch and continue on.

The warping reel lets the weaver measure a single thread for the whole length of the project, change the colour as needed and then keep measuring for the whole length of the project.  It’s perfect for smaller projects. The craftsperson will have to decide when it’s time to move onto a different warping technique to suit their purposes.  This time I wanted to try a hybrid method of warping.

When using a warping reel you must keep the warp from tangling.  It can become the weavers’ worst nightmare.  I know in my early days I did lose the cross on one of my warps and nearly lost my mind.  It did get untangled but I swore it was never going to happen again, so I do double crosses on all my reeled warps.  Tie the cross at both ends of the warp.  Better to be safe than very, very sorry.

I also didn’t want to waste any of the handspun if possible since it was in very, very short supply, so I used a salvage technique of tieing onto an old warp.  This can save up to 24 inches or nearly 3/4 meter of handspun wool per thread.  That’s a huge amount of handspun. It’s also a ridiculous amount of work, so I’ll have to rethink this, but once done I was pleased with the result.

I still had to check for threading errors and there were some.  Don’t thread the loom late at night, don’t thread the loom late at night….and don’t thread the loom late and night.

The next morning, a quick check of the basic threading by lifting the threads at an angle shows that everything is in order, literally, and the threads are ready to be tied up and woven with a test thread.

And finally woven with the real stuff. I wish you could see this in real light, daylight, oh my goodness, it shimmers.

What a load of work, and what a great result!!  I had no idea my hand spun could be so lovely, I’m so pleased, but there is the last bit of finishing that I need to do and hopefully that will be successful too.  This will make a great display piece for the next Sale and Exhibition!

12 thoughts on “Weaving with hand spun, again!

  1. Wow! I would love to see you in action! The results are fabulous and while the photo may not actually show the shimmer it’s just at the stage where the visual imagination can kick in.
    Your post has given me more of an appreciation of the intricacies of weaving, thank you! I can put this knowledge to work when looking at these beautiful pieces in the future.

    1. The colour shift is disappointing, this is a true burgundy and it’s so rich looking. I’ll try to get Jan to take a better photo once it’s done. Seeing me in action is slow going I’m afraid, but I’d love the company if you’re ever this way.

  2. That was really interesting. This is the part of hand weaving that I really like doing – something to keep the brain involved. It’s the actual throwing of the shuttle back and forth (or poking the stick shuttle through) that has me bored rigid by the time a couple of inches of fabric appears.
    There were some lovely tips there and I’ve sent a link to your post to my friend’s weaving workshop.
    I’ve often had the question of how much fabric (woven, crocheted, knitted or felted) will this make and yes the answer is usually first of all “how long is a piece of string” and then it’s “if you’ve a garment or piece of fabric similar to the one you want to make – weigh it.” It should give a “ball park” answer – possibly.
    Looking forward to seeing the finished scarf.

    1. Thank you Ann, I find the math nearly crippling when it comes to figuring out how much yarn I need. People think you need 50% for the warp and 50% for the weft, which would be the case in a perfectly balance tabby weave, but that doesn’t allow for loom wastage or other incidentals. I find you always need more yarn for the warp and calculating how much more is the really big challenge. And your answer, to weight the piece is a good suggestion. It will definitely give people an idea of what they are looking for, so I’ll use that, if you don’t object.

  3. Good post. I’ve not woven much with handspun, but a rearranging of the stash recently made me question why not. I may need to you come hold my hand.

    1. Absolutely, love to help out. I’m so over whelmed with hand spun there is no option. I have to use it. The trick is not wasting it if at all possible, there are tricks out there that can help with that. My hand is available for holding any time, but hopefully it will be handling a coffee mug instead, you do serve coffee, right?

  4. You know we all need to see a photo of you wearing the scarf, right? I bet it’ll look amazing because the preliminary view is already fabulous 🙂

  5. Thanks for your explanations, Bernadette. I would love to weave if I didn’t have to set it all up to start. 🙄

    I can imagine how gorgeous this scarf will be and please do share photos from Jan. We would love to see them.

  6. What an informative post Bernadette! Thank you.
    Weaving involves a lot of time and dedication but your results are wonderful.
    Really looking forward to seeing the finished piece.

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