Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Additional information about weaving a handspun scarf.

Deborahbee left a comment on my post Handwoven Scarf, from the wool to the finish that I think deserves a detailed response:

I want to use some 2 ply handspun but am nervous of holding the tension.I have 6 ends on the warping mill and then lost confidence. I am going to re read your posts seeking tips.

I think you are probably finding, just as I did, that handspun wool yarn feels different to the commercial yarns I am used to. My yarn was spun semi-worstead style, but still had significant bounce in it (although less than if I had used rolags and spun woollen style).

I found winding the warp interesting, because my yarn was springy I started off winding tight, stretching the yarn, then realised this might not be a good idea. Maybe this is the stage you are at, Deborahbee?

The consequence of this was that the first few bouts of warp were wound a bit tighter and ended up shorter than the the last couple.

The difference evened out as I wound the warp onto the loom, a light weight on the warp ends (two one pint milk cartons, one-third full, tied on with a piece of linen yarn and a simple slip knot) and lease sticks made sure of even tension on the beam and the slack collected in from of the lease sticks. (I had a similar experience of seeing the tension even out at the lease sticks when I wove with linen!).

For weaving, the tension on the loom was probably the loosest I've ever woven with, and I was interested to find that the edges did not draw in and for the first time I wove an even width without a temple.

There were slight variations in the width along the length of the finished scarf, I put this down to irregularities in the handspun wool.

So thoughts on winding a handspun wool warp:
  • concentrate carefully on just wrapping the wool around your warp board or warping mill without stretching it,
  • a gentle weight on the yarn as you wind on and using lease sticks should even out any differences,
  • the yarn is very forgiving, it is less important than with linen or cotton to have exactly even tension on all warp ends, as good as you can get it is going to be good enough, so don't fuss indefinitely,
  • give it a go!

Comments from other people's experiences of preparing a handspun warp will be most welcome!


Life Looms Large said...

I didn't weave with handspun, but with my recent scarf project made from tons of novelty knitting yarns with different elasticity I second your opinion that scarves are pretty forgiving.

I don't use tension when I'm winding on - I just pull on the warp every 2 turns of the handle on my warp beam. (I never use tension winding - not specific to unusual yarn).

Also, if you'll have multiple scarves in the warp, remember that you can cut and re-tie to fix tension if needed between scarves. If you're making a fringe, the cut and re-tie won't cost you any warp.

Good luck and have fun!

Peg in South Carolina said...

You do need to wind with some tension to get the warp on evenly, but as little as you can get away with. Build into your warp length figures this bounce factor. I also use weights when I beam on, though not as heavy as the weights with silk. There needs to be some tension and it needs to be even. The longer your warp, the more important this is. I use quite high tension when I weave with my handspun, not as high as with silk, but the warp is definitely firm when I weave. In short, I handle it pretty much as I would handle any commercial yarn of similar fiber and fiber prep.

Helen said...

Dot, I was wondering if you know of anywhere I can get spares for my 4H Weavemaster. A friend gave it to me for free :-) but it has no ratchets. I think it should have metal ones as it has metal pawls, unlike yours. Thank you, and I love the handspun scarf! I have one planned too, but as a collapse weave on my rigid heddle.

Dorothy said...

Thanks very much to Sue and Peg for their thoughts on weaving with wool / handspun yarns, much appreciated.

Helen, I hope you look here for my answer, as I don't have an e-mail address for you. I have made enquiries and the best person to contact about the parts you need is going to be Don Porritt, who is amoungst other things a loom builder. Don is friendly and helpful.

Contact details for Don:
The Studio, Leathley Road, Menston, West Yorks, LS29 6DP, England (no website), tel: 01943 878329 and 874736

Meg in Nelson said...

Hello, friend. I have acces to the internet for the next couple of days but cannlt find the ampersand on the keyboard, so I am unable to eamil you! Anyway, nice to catch up and see what you and others have been up to!

Helen said...

Thank you Dot! I have passed the problem over to my Dad, if he can't come up with something I will get in touch with Don.
Helen x

Dorothy said...

Hi Meg, it's good to hear from you.

I'm slipping on the blogging due to everything else just now. We have a new theory that my photo upload problem could be due to the router settings and following a software upgrade for the router, I now know how to change them! I do hope it works, if I didn't have to get to the library to post photos it would make blogging easier! I'm taking photos of the new bobbins on my antique wheel for a test post ;)