Handspun, the Weaver's Friend

Handspun, the Weaver's Friend.

We've invited Anita Osterhaug, editor of Handwoven magazine to share a little about her recent experiences combining handspun yarn with weaving.


Turquoise warp (by Brown Sheep) and my handpsun Romeldale with silk and kid mohair, waiting for its turn on the loom.

Anita Osterhaug: I recently had the pleasure of working on an upcoming spinning video with Sarah Anderson, the author of The Spinner's Book of Yarn Designs. Sarah is from the Pacific Northwest, where I live, so I've known and admired heras an exquisite spinner and knitter for years. But to my great delight, Sarah is now venturing into weaving with her handspun yarn. And I can't say which is the greater pleasure, seeing her enthusiasm for the possibilities of weaving with handspun or my own anticipation of the amazing cloth she will weave as her explorations deepen.

Ever since I learned to weave, I have never spun without envisioning what I might weave with my yarn. In woven cloth, colors interact in a whole new way. Right now I'm thinking about weaving houndstooth patterns with light and dark color-changing yarns. (You can weave houndstooth easily on a rigid-heddle loom, by the way.) As I mull that over, I'm warping my loom for an undulating twill scarf that will use beautiful hand-dyed, handspun Romeldale singles plied with a commercial silk/mohair yarn. The fine silk-mohair balances the yarn and adds an element of textural interest without detracting from the long color runs in my singles. I can't wait to start weaving and see the color changes emerging on the loom.

Handspun yarn expands a weaver's horizons, just as weaving expands a spinner's horizons. It gives us more ways to use our colored yarn and our art yarn. Spinning yarn for warp challenges us to improve our joins and think about plies and strength. Handspun yarn and weaving have a 20,000-year-old marriage that is still fresh, and you don't need much to begin exploring it. Rigid-heddle weaving, pin-loom weaving, inkle-weaving, or backstrap weaving are all great ways to get started, or maybe it's time to dust off that floor loom you've been meaning to use. When you're ready to start (or continue) your weaving adventures, you'll find Handwoven waiting with techniques, and projects for weavers of all kinds. From small looms to large and color design to embellishment, you'll find plenty of ideas just perfect for using your handspun yarn. I hope you'll join in the fun.

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