Make Clothing

Article & Pattern Provided by Mary Berry

Beautiful yarn makes stunning clothing.  When you aren’t sure what to weave next, weave yardage!

Less than three yards in a finished width of 18” was used in this long wooly vest constructed of only two pieces.  The shawl collar was picked up and knit on large needles to allow the yarn plenty of space to fluff.

Warp: Jagger Yarn Super Lamb 4/8 (Superwash Merino, Worsted Weight) in Graphite, 3 yards, 20” in the heddle.

Weft and Knitted Trim: Lock spun wool and mohair locks in mixed colors of gray and charcoal plied with a commercial yarn in silver with tiny sequins.

When weaving with bulky hand spun yarns, the best way to handle cut edges is to straight stitch twice on both sides of the cutting line, cut between the stitching, then turn under a narrow hem along each cut edge and stitch again.  This is particularly important on an edge where you plan to pick up and knit!  Without this turned under hem, your picked up stitches could pull your stitching right off the edge, leaving a gap where your knitting connects to your woven piece.

Mary Berry owns the Fancy Fibers Farm and the Fancy Fibers Store. At the Farm, she raises spinning fiber on the hoof. At the Store, she teaches spinning, weaving, felting, dyeing, and rug hooking and sells all the fun stuff you need for those crafts. Her life goal is to entangle everyone she meets in the world wide web that is the fiber arts.

Weaving Outside the Warp

When I was sitting down next to Heather Lightbody weaving at our looms, I noticed her using a technique I hadn't tried before. She would take the yarn and, rather than passing it between all the warp threads, she would pull it to the top of her weaving - let it rest over the warp threads, and then tuck it back in-between the warp threads to secure at the end of the row.

Sometimes it would just be a thick clump of wool that she allowed the freedom outside the warp. Sometimes an embellishment. Sometimes a couple inches. Sometimes almost an entire row. This created a beautiful airy effect that really showcased some of the unique textures that art yarn provides.

You can use this technique in any weaving, using any warp, and any yarn. Simply bring your yarn up thru the warp threads, let it rest across them, and tuck it between the warp threads later on in the row.

Screenshot 2017-02-01 20.37.39.png

Weaving Accent Stripes

by Ashley Martineau

This idea was centered around a yarn that Laura Spinner had spun from Wensleydale Locks from Melissa Kness

You can read more about Melissa's farm here and shop for this yarn in Laura's ETSY shop - or spin your own from a kit from Melissa's ETSY shop

I let Melissa choose the colors of this yarn and told her all I wanted was some fun tailspun to use as an accept warp in a scarf. I ended up using this yarn in almost every scarf in my Spring 2017 series for THISyarn because it was so joyful and I loved working with it.

My idea for this scarf was to weave this yarn with pure white yarn - but when I sat down to weave I didn't have enough white yarn. So I used a blend of white & grey & navy blue with some copper (all psudo-neutrals to my eyes) and started weaving. The end result is a more muted idea of my original inspiration - but just as beautiful.

In order to accomplish this look I used my Ashford Sampleit Rigid Heddle loom with a 2.5 dent reed. I used 4 strands of the accent yarn (slightly off-centere) and grey handspun warp yarns in a similar weight thru the rest of the reed. Then I wove the navy / white handspun yarn from my stash until I was at the end of the warp. The last step was to go thru the scarf and fine-tune the locks by gently pulling them out of the weft and letting them hang free.

I think this scarf came out simply lovely - and it's a great use of one special accent yarn in your stash over an entire project. Accent stripes would be lovely on woven blankets, cowls, pillows, and hats. 

Weaving Fabric Warp

by Ashley Martineau

One of my weaving experiments was taking sari silk ribbon as my warp on my Ashford Sampleit Loom (using a 2.5 dent reed) with art yarn and seeing what the benefits & downsides were for using fabric as a warp.

My favorite moment of this scarf was when I took it off the loom and didn't like one of the wider ribbons I had woven as weft. I removed the ribbon, which left a gaping hole showing off the warp and I really liked this. Looking back - I think I would have spaced out this scarf with many open-warp areas to show off the warp. Maybe weave an inch of worsted weight yarn. Then weave in bulky fabric (to be removed to expose the warp) for a section - then weave worsted again. 

The silk ribbon gave the scarf plenty of drape. It didn't feel stiff or tight. The fringe on the ends was spectacular - full and thick. 

You could play with this idea by using fabric as a stripe down your warp - or just on the edges. Or just do fabric down the middle. Experiment. Try something new. You never know what you might discover when you step outside of the books. 

Happy Weaving!

Sunbreak Woven Scarf

by Robyn Story

I had some unusual yarns that I wasn't sure what to do with. Really short length of lock spun, a dozen or so yards of long twist fringe yarn, a really fat somewhat soft spun wrapped yarn... they needed the right project. When I bought a 2.5 dent heddle for my loom, suddenly some possibilities opened up! I decided to use them as warp.

Now, I did regret using the fringe yarn as warp while I was weaving because I had to keep all the fringes from getting packed in with the weft for every pass up until the fringe was at the edge of the weaving progress and ready to hang down. Multiply by all the twists, and it was a lot to pay attention to. But when it was done, I was glad I persevered! I still might leave those yarns as weft choices in the future, though. Ha.

The other yarns looked and worked nicely as warp and I'm glad I used them.

For weft, I used a mix of yarns, but didn't pack them too tight most of the time so the warp yarns could shine. I did use a little of commercial yarn because matching color mattered more to me than being exclusively handspun.

Fun details besides the twists include cutting the warp ends long and uneven so it makes a cool fringe, and weaving in a little crocheted flower (though I did tie it in because my ends were a bit short to hold it in place when just woven in). 

I love the creative possibilities in weaving, and I think it's a perfect medium to highlight the good qualities of both "normal" and unusual handspun yarns! I will be able to continue to play with dent, warp, and weft choice for many years to come without getting bored.

Weaving with Space

My favorite weaving technique that I discovered thru experimentation was leaving a wide gap in my loom. I threaded about 1 inch of warp on either edge. The results were very beautiful to me and I loved the way it allowed the textures of art yarns to "breathe". 

Beginner Weaving Mistakes

I spent 4 weeks in December & January with my Ashford Sample-It Rigid Heddle Loom experimenting with a huge collection of yarns and scraps from my stash. 

I wanted to learn, hands on: what warp threads to use, what different yarns do, what intentional "mistakes" are beneficial, what "mistakes" shouldn't be repeated, and teach myself as much as I could (my favorite way to learn) about the most basic guidelines of weaving with art yarn.

Here are some guidelines I decided to follow while weaving. These are probably rules in books, but in my world all art rules can be broken in some way to make something beautiful. However, based on my frustration learning "the hard way" - here is what I found:

Weaving Mistakes:

  • When I used slippery (metallic gold) warp thread, my weaving fell apart. The knots untied after a day and it unraveled. Lesson learned. No slippery threads for me. 
  • When I used a stretchy warp thread (not even realizing that it had stretch) I wove a scarf and when I took it off the loom it was 50% the size that I planned. Impossible to wear. Awkward length. Lesson learned. I might try a length of stretch in the future (like elastic warp thread down the center of a scarf to create a very ruffly scarf) but as the entire warp - nope. Now I triple-check all my threads to make sure they aren't stretchy. 
  • Thick warp (like fabric) makes a scarf that many people might find too heavy / bulky. But the fringe on the ends is sure pretty. Anything with a bulky warp needs to be woven super, super loosely or it becomes rigid and uncomfortable to wear. 

Weaving Highlights:

  • Cotton warp thread is my favorite. By far. It isn't too stretchy, or heavy, or itchy, or grabby. It's got the goldilocks principle: it is just right.
  • Leaving intentional big gaps in my warp was my favorite technique to play with. It allows the art yarn to breathe and be exposed like it is in the skein. And, as someone who is inspired by skeined yarn rather than patterns, this was a big deal to me.
  • Using an accent yarn as a stripe in the warp (slightly off center) created a very pretty result.
  • Making sure my blocks of color were random looked better than keeping each block the same size (too stripey for my taste)
  • Putting fringe on anything was winning. 
  • Using any type of weft art yarn went effortlessly. There was never a moment thru my stash of random yarn where I said, "This yarn isn't working". Every yarn worked. Every yarn looked great. Weaving seems to be the best answer for mystery or abstract project yarns. 
  • Leaving all the ends untucked = fringe = winning. 

Stuff I want to weave for THISyarn in the future:

  • Wirecore yarns used as the center warp yarn. To create a sculptural / moldable scarf. 
  • Elastic yarn used as the center warp yarn to create a ruffly scarf.
  • Weaving a whole scarf just as fringe texture.

I hope these simple guidelines help you as you begin your own weaving journey. Happy Weaving!

- Ashley Martineau