Roving Reporter: Spinning for Bandweaving

In this excerpt from Kate Larson’s article “Spinning for Warp-Faced Bands,” get a sneak peek at two exciting happenings: Spin Off Spring 2018 and Kate Larson’s new class, Spinning for Bandweaving, which she’ll teach at Interweave Yarn Fest 2018.

While buried deep inside Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum’s textile storage area, I opened a drawer of woven, patterned bands that took my breath away. I had seen similarly patterned bands while traveling in Estonia and Finland that all seemed impossibly complex to my knitter’s eye. Only when I was able to peer closely at the bands in the quiet of the textile storage did I understood that the woven structure of the bands is actually quite simple.

By varying the size of the warp threads as well as the fiber, texture, and color, bandweavers can create incredible patterns with a technique called pick-up. This made me revisit the few pearl cotton inkle bands I had woven and wonder . . . How would they look in handspun? What if I varied fibers within the warp? Would it still work if the warp threads were not the same size?

I was already scrabbling down the rabbit hole and ready to start spinning for bandweaving.


Warps for inkle bands are a great place to mix solid and gradient handspun yarns.

Narrow Ribbons of Cloth

Around the world, there are an amazing variety of ways to weave bands and tapes. Many of these techniques are warp-faced. This means that warp threads are pushed closely together during weaving to completely (or nearly) cover the weft, becoming the dominant feature of the fabric. Plain weave, or tabby, is one of the simplest and most common types of warp-faced bands. During weaving, alternate warp threads are raised while the others are lowered to create a shed. The weft is passed, and then the two layers of the warp switch position. Plain-weave tapes, often called inkle bands, can be woven in solid colors or in vertical or horizontal stripes by changing colors during warping.


Using yarns with opposing twist creates lively handspun bands in plain-weave or pick-up.

Pick-up patterns are created when some of the warp threads are manipulated so that they do not follow the natural over-under positions of plain weave. There are different types of pick-up techniques. In Nordic and Baltic pick-up bands, pattern threads within the warp often are a contrasting color, are larger than the background threads, or both. With each pass of the shuttle, a pattern tells the weaver to either pick up pattern threads from the lower layer of the warp or drop them from the top layer to create a design on the surface of the fabric.

—Kate Larson

Eager to learn more? Join Kate on Saturday, April 14, 2018, for her class Spinning for Bandweaving at Interweave Yarn Fest.

Featured Image: Handspun yarns in a variety of fibers make these ribbons of cloth shine. Photos by George Boe

Pick up bandweaving!


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