Weaving with Thick Yarn

Handwoven MagazineAsk Madelyn



Dear Madelyn,
I recently became entranced  at the yarn store and ended up coming home with some beautiful singles yarns. While the yarns are beautiful to look at and wonderful to pet, I’m not sure how to use them in weaving (or if I even can use them in weaving) so that their best traits will shine and I won’t end up with a mess. Any suggestions on weaving with thick singles? The yarns are two skeins of a wool/silk blend by Manos de Uruguay (70% extra fine merino, 30% silk, 150 yds/50g skein). One skein is space dyed and the other is a solid color that is also in the space-dyed yarn. When I do a wrap around a ruler, I can wrap 11-12 ends per inch. It’s beautiful and I love it and am terrified to weave with it.

Hi Christina!

I know the yarn you are asking about and it is truly lovely, a great favorite of knitters. The merino in it will give it a tendency to full quite a bit, a factor that will affect your chosen finishing method. At 150 yd/50 gm, the yarn is about 1,300 yd/lb (50g is about .11 lb; divide 150 by .11). In weight, this is finer than Harrisville Shetland, but it is so lightly spun that it is thicker. Your wrap of 11-12 ends per inch would suggest a plain-weave sett of 5 or 6 ends per inch. Because the yarn will full, I’d start with 5 ends as a plain-weave sett, closer for twill.

You could opt for plain weave, in which case I’d use the space-dyed yarn in the warp and the solid color in the weft. If you sett the yarn at 5 ends per inch and you have one skein (150 yd), you could plan a 3-yd warp for a scarf, therefore 50 warp ends, and a weaving width of 10 ends per inch. You’d have enough yarn to weave a bit of a sample on the scarf warp to wet-finish so you can determine  if a closer sett (6 ends per inch, say), would be better.

Another option would be a simple log cabin using your two colorways in the warp (which would give a plain weave structure but a bit of pattern interest) with the same considerations as above.

A third option would be twill–straight, herringbone, plaited, or other–again using the space-dyed in the warp, the solid color in the weft. I’d start with a sett of 6 ends per inch, weave a small bit to wash and test, and then change if necessary.  

And even another option is to use your two skeins as warp and a finer yarn (JaggerSpun Superfine Merino, say) in the weft. The sett in that case should be closer so that the fabric is warp-emphasis, maybe start with 8 ends per inch. A simple twill will make the yarn the focus of the piece. You could alternate the two colorways in the warp or design a simple stripe arrangement.

Send a photo when you are finished!




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