Advice Column: Ask Experienced Weavers

Thank you so much to Sue, Amelia, Kristin, Lynette, Leigh and Susan for offering up advice last week! I asked for advice about types of yarn and places to buy it.

Regarding good places to buy yarn, here is a (linked) list of the wonderful suggestions that I received:
With regards to what type of yarn to use, several people encouraged me NOT to use "knitting yarn". Unfortunately, I'm not exactly sure what counts as knitting yarn. Back when I used to knit (dinosaurs still roamed the earth), I pretty much thought I could knit with anything I found in the store... I didn't know that certain yarns were officially "knitting yarns" and others weren't.

In contrast, a couple of people said that wool is a good first yarn, because it is very forgiving of beginner's mistakes.

So, based on this advice, I did return the cotton yarn that I had purchased (shown in the previous Dear EW post), and bought a wool yarn (Patons 100% pure new wool) instead. I don't know if this also counts as knitting yarn or not, but in the future I'll order from the above web sites, just to be sure... ;)

Other miscellaneous suggestions included a recommendation for thread on cones (vice balls) and to look for a local weaver's guild for both help and a community.

Finally, I also followed Susan's advice and downloaded the Master Yarn Size Chart from Interweave Press. I'm not sure exactly how to use it, but I'm sure I'll figure it out and it will come in handy eventually! ;)

Thanks again to everyone for taking the time to offer up so much advice and encouragement!

Dear EW,

I'm working on my first warping, and I'm wondering about the warp separator. Chandler recommends heavy brown paper, corrugated cardboard, wallpaper, venetian blind slats or warp sticks. I didn't have any of those materials at hand. (It's lucky our house isn't wall papered, or I would have probably ripped a few panels off the wall! Ditto for venetian blinds...)

I ended up using medium weight crafter's vinyl, because it was the material that I had available that seemed most consistent with that recommendation.

I'm not sure how well it will work. Hopefully it won't stick unevenly to the yarn ends. We'll see...

So, do you have any recommendations? What do you use and where to you get it?



photo credit: snikrap

Post a comment 6 comments:

Lynnette said...

Hi Gwen,
I use brown craft paper on my Louet looms. Just the basic brown wrapping paper you use for mailing parcels works extremely well, about the heaviness of a grocery bag. A good tip when you are winding on your warp with paper, is to stop every once in a while and give the paper a good pull down, it will tighten on the back beam and when you begin to rewind your warp it will go on much tighter.

Sunrise Lodge Fiber Studio said...

I use a roll of brown paper that I got from the dollar here....but, you have to be careful that it doesn't rip since it is much lighter than the craft paper Lynnette is suggesting, which is much better anyway. :)

Jane said...

On my large floor loom, I use a heavy roll of carpenter's/builder's paper that I got at Home Depot. I leave the heavy roll on the floor, tuck the end onto my back beam, and it unrolls itself as I roll on my warp -- then it unrolls itself as I weave.

On my smaller, Baby Wolf, I use yard sticks (also from Home Depot) cut down to 26" (about the weaving width of my back beam). I sanded them to get them nice and smooth. They work like a charm and are cheap, cheap for an entire stack of them.

I also made my own raddle for my floor loom (warp spreader) using finishing nails and wood from Home Depot -- and I use 2 very small bunji cords to hold the raddle onto my back beam.

You'll discover that home builder stores are a great place to find do it yourself weaving suppllies. :)

Sue said...

I use that parcel wrapping paper on my Baby Wolf too!

On my Toika, I'm not sure what I'll use. It came with lots of warp sticks - but they're kind of I'm not sure about them yet!!

Of course, my first few Toika projects will be small, so I'll use my trusty brown paper until I make something with a wide warp!

callybooker said...

I am not sure about the technical definition of "knitting yarn" either although traditionally I suppose we might be talking woollen spun as opposed to worsted spun yarn. However, in my random explorations of various kinds of yarn for weaving I have noticed two things about yarn sold for knitting.

One is that it can be very, very stretchy, and that is definitely not a good thing in a warp (unless you don't mind your woven cloth pinging back to half its length!).

The other thing is that it is sometimes composed of lots of fine strands quite loosely plied, and these have a tendency to un-ply themselves on the loom, which is also a rather bad result, especially at the edges where the fine strands are easily abraded and broken by the rubbing of the reed.

So to come at it the other way: if it is tightly spun and not too elastic then even if it is billed as "knitting yarn" it may work fine.

Happy, happy weaving!

AmeliaSews said...

William made lease sticks for the loom for this set of towels. The first set he used fabric yardage from my room. The yardage works okay, but he had real issues with it bunching when we wrapped the warp on, so it seemed to be tight, but when it came back off when he was weaving it would have tension issues because one side had thick and the other thin (does that make sense?). The lease sticks work much better! The tension is much more even throughout the entire warp.