Designing Around Fashion Yarns

Fashion yarns can be fickle beasts. They’re so enticing in the yarn shop, but sometimes when you get them home, you start wondering how to actually weave with them. Fortunately fashion yarns don’t have to be difficult. Here are some tips to working with these wonderful, beautiful yarns.

  1. Build your project around the yarn. Figure out your yarn’s strengths and weaknesses, then work from there. Can the yarn be used as warp or will it work better as weft? Would too much texture in the weave structure distract from the yarn? For example, variegated yarns should be used in a way that shows off the color changes. If you’re using a variegated in the weft, choose a structure and draft that has floats long enough to make the yarn front and center.
  2. Sett it right. If you’re using fashion yarn in the warp, make sure you’re setting it loosely enough so it won’t abrade during weaving and so it can bloom when off the loom. Similarly, make sure your weft picks aren’t so tight that they cover up your warp. You might even consider doing a hand-manipulated technique such as Brooks bouquet or leno.
  3. You can use a little to make a big statement. It doesn’t take much of a fashion yarn to make a piece pop. Take these scarves from Line Dufour: just a bit of inlay with the ladder ribbon yarn takes them from simple to simply stunning. Danish medallions in fashion yarn also make a big statement with a small amount of yarn.
  4. Line Dufour’s Inlaid Iridescent Scarves  use the Theo Moorman technique to inlay some beautiful fashion yarns into the base fabric.

    Line Dufour’s Inlaid Iridescent Scarves use the Theo Moorman technique to inlay some beautiful fashion yarns into the base fabric.

  5. Supplemental warps are your friend. Use precious yarns in supplemental warps, and you won’t need much yardage. Turned overshot, for example, is a great way to use luxury yarns or glitzy fashion yarns. Just pair the yarns with a simpler, less expensive yarn as the main warp and weft, and you’ll weave up something spectacular without having to buy skein after skein. (For more information on supplemental warps, check out Deb Essen’s video or eBook on the subject.)
  6. Sample, sample, sample. I know this is probably obvious to most of you, but it always bears repeating. Make sure you have enough warp on the loom for a small sample that you can cut off and wet-finish. If you’re doing a plain-weave piece, or just want to see how different yarns and colors combine, consider using a sampler loom such as the Purl and Loop Swatch Maker to test out your weaving. These looms are quick to warp, quick to weave, and make samples just the right size for evaluating your project plans. If you need to rethink warp or weft, just make another quick sample.

For more tips, tricks, and expert techniques, check out Tom Knisely’s excellent video Weaving with Novelty Yarn or pick up the latest issue of Handwoven, which is all about fancy fibers.

Happy weaving!

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