10/2 Cotton and a New eBook

  Some of Madelyn's 10/2 Yarn Collection
  Just part of Madelyn's collection of
10/2 pearl cotton. 

I started weaving in 1981. At that time, weavers were using relatively thick threads. These were your grandmother’s thick threads—2-ply, 3-ply, and 4-ply yarns, some in cotton, some in wool, some in acrylic. I don’t know if weavers bought them from knitting shops or whether they were carryovers from the 1970s era of weaving on hoops with found objects or part of the bog-jacket/poncho craze. They did not resemble the knitting yarns and novelties available in knitting shops today. 

The 1980s, however, were explosive and exciting times for handweavers, including a growing trend toward using finer yarns as well as the manufacture of new yarns specifically for weaving, especially fine cottons. Weavers began using these yarns, and new sources—Cotton Clouds, UKI, the Lunatic Fringe, Halcyon Yarn, Webs, and more—offered a wide range of colors in 5/2, 10/2, and 20/2 pearl cottons. 

10/2 pearl cotton, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.  

First, you are very strong. I have seen you crammed into rusty reeds for workshops, form countersheds on a drawloom, get woven and unwoven and woven and unwoven to correct errors, be wound and unwound and rewound on warp beams to correct tension problems, and get stretched and yanked and drawn in and snarled and still not fray or break (of course, you do have your abuse limits). You can endure repeated washings by machine and by hand in water of any temperature.

You are very smooth. This means you are easy to warp with and weave with. You slide through crosses and heddles without tangling. You shine in twills and other weaves with pattern floats and spots. In lace weaves and other weaves where threads deflect, you really slide over to make lacy holes and curvy shapes. You stay smooth and shiny after repeated washings. 

You are not too fat; you are not too thin; you are just right. You are right for clothing, such as blouses and tops in twills, plain weave, and lace weaves. You make wonderful curtains in lace and table linens in twills, damasks, and doubleweave. You can be scarves and shawls and yet you can also be rugs and mats in warp rep.

You are even beautiful just as you are, without becoming anything at all. Whenever I am around you, in fact, I buy you in cones and put you on shelves to admire whether I use you or not.


I do this often, in fact, and therefore have a comprehensive collection of 10/2 pearl cotton. Someone once asked me why we don’t list projects by the yarns they use in our Handwoven cumulative indexes–all the projects that use 8/2 wool, 8/2 cotton, 5/2 cotton, etc. That way, if you have a lot of a certain yarn on hand, you could find projects that use it, either to weave as directed or to get ideas for designing your own pieces. Someday, when all of the issues of Handwoven are available digitally, we’ll all be able to do that with a simple search. But until then, the thought occurred to me: What about eBooks that each gather projects that all use one yarn with tips for working with it? It was a no-brainer picking the first yarn: the first eBook in our new yarn series is about 10/2 pearl cotton, and it's available now.


Madelyn van der Hoogt

Doubleweave Mat by Alison Irwin   Tablecloth by Everett Gilmore Twill Towels by Mary Frost
Doubleweave mat by 
Alison Irwin 
  Huck lace tablecloth by
Everett Gilmore 
  Twill Towels by Mary Frost

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