A Few Thoughts From Tom Knisely

It’s that time again! What time is it, you ask? Well it’s time to nominate your choice for Handwoven’s Teacher of the Year contest! If you have a teacher you’d like to nominate let us know who he or she is and why you think they should be the Handwoven Teacher of the Year. We’re accepting nominations for all kinds of weaving teachers whether they teach classes at a school, a yarn shop, or travel around the country giving workshops. This year’s contest is generously sponsored by Ashford Looms and Foxglove Fiber who are offering a $500 grant to the winner. The contest is open until October 24 so make sure to nominate your favorite teacher today! Our very first teacher of the year was Tom Knisely of The Mannings, who has gone on to do several wonderful video workshops for us. His latest video is the The Weaver's Yarn Companion, and in his post below, Tom explains why he wanted to make this video and what he hopes you get out of it. —Christina


  Tom Knisely
  Tom Knisely, former Handwoven
Teacher of the Year, wants to
teach you how to pick the best
yarn for your project. 

For many people it’s enough to just weave and follow either their teachers suggestions for thread choices, or to weave the projects in Handwoven. While you can weave for a long time this way, I wanted the opportunity to explain why you would choose a certain thread or yarn over another. This thinking led to my new video workshop The Weaver’s Yarn Companion.

In my video I want to help weavers make wise choice so all the time put into a project will result in something that they can be proud of. I explain and show just how to test for warp strength and how to avoid a yarn that might be just a little too stretchy. There is only so much you can learn from the written word so I wanted to show and teach you through video the things you can’t see in an article. I am a visual learner. Show me once, well sometimes twice, and I have it. You will, too.

I also wanted to explain to viewers how to read a yarn label. What does 8/2 mean? And is 2/8 the same thing? If you are confused don’t worry. I’ll teach you all about thread sizes and what these numbers mean. I’ll explain to you why 10/2 linen is not the same as 10/2 cotton, and why you rarely see a numerical identity given to wool yarns. I want to help folks feel comfortable about their choice of sett or EPI, and how to make your EPI work with the limited number of reeds that you might have.

When I started weaving I was just sure there had to be some relationship to the size of the thread, say 10/2 and the sett. But of course I found out pretty quickly that there isn’t. When you get the cone home you are on your own. If the warp is too open you will have weft-faced fabric, and if too tightly sett you have warp-faced fabric. For a balanced fabric such as toweling it’s somewhere in-between. Normally to figure this out you need to sample, sample, and sample some more, but I feel after watching this video you will have the tools to choose the right yarns for your projects without a month’s worth of sampling. I will also show you how to combine threads of different sizes and properties within the same warp to add textural interest.

It’s is my absolute pleasure to help you understand more about your threads and yarns and how to use them to their best advantages. You will receive in just about an hour and a half what has taken me a span of four decades to discover and learn. I am so excited to have done this video and I just want to thank the folks at Interweave for again doing such a wonderful job.  Thank you for allowing me to come into your studio and as always, Happy Weaving!

—Tom Knisely

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