Why Did I Run Out of Yarn?

Handwoven MagazineAsk Madelyn

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Madelyn is temporarily out of the office—or, more accurately, the studio—so for the next couple weeks, we'll have guest weaving teachers answering the questions they hear most from their students. Today's Ask Madelyn is from Karen Donde, frequent Weaving Today contributor and co-owner of the Sutherland Handweaving Studio.



I did all the calculations for warp yarn needed, weighed my cones, etc., so why did I run out of yarn before I finished winding the warp?





In the Sutherland teaching studio, weaving students are usually working from my yarn stash, which means the calculation of how much yardage is needed for any given warp is less focused on how much yarn to order than whether there is enough of a particular yarn left on the cone. The calculations are very orderly. Determine the yardage needed for the warp and yards per pound of the yarn you are using, weigh the cone of yarn, and convert that weight to yardage.

For example, if you need 1,500 yards of warp, and you have 15 ounces of a yarn that is 2,000 yards per pound: 2,000/16 = 125 yards per ounce. 125 X 15 = 1,875 yards on hand. Or another way, 1,500 yards/125 yards per ounce = 12 ounces of warp yarn needed. So there should be enough yarn to wind the warp.

A couple of factors can alter these numbers enough that you find yourself with an empty cone and 20 more warp ends to wind. One is the weight of the cone. Some cones are small, some are big, some are thick paper, others are plastic. You could simply allow 1-2 ounces for cone weight. For more accuracy, zero out your scale with an empty cone of the same size and variety, then weigh the cone of yarn.

Another variable, and I am embarrassed to admit I only realized this recently, is the actual size of your warping board. I was taught the width of a warping board from the outside edges of the side pegs is a yard. So if you need a 4 yard warp, wind from side to side four times. As I was demonstrating this for a beginning weaver, I held a measuring tape up to my warping board, and lo and behold, it was 39 1/4 inches across. I looked at the logo on my board: LeClerc. Yes this is a metric warping board, so that distance is one meter.

Three and a quarter inches doesn’t sound like much in the long run, but multiplied over a six yard warp, that’s more than half a yard. Multiply that 19.5 inches by 100 warp ends and you need an extra 55 yards of yarn. Yep, the devil’s in the details.


—Karen Donde


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