Weaving With Handspun Yarn – What’s Your Approach?

Do you have a stash of yarn you’ve spun and wonder how you can use it in a weaving project?
Or, do you have a project in mind and wonder how to spin the yarn so you can use it for weaving?

There are different challenges and rewards depending on which approach you choose to take.

If you start with yarn you’ve already spun – the yarn determines the project.

Photo of a variety of handspun yarns, different sizes, different colors, different weights.
What can I weave with these?

If you decide to start spinning specifically for a project – the project determines the yarn.

Photo of yarn spun specifically for weaving
Handspun yarn for a handwoven scarf

I think the second route is easier and more satisfying.

Maybe it’s because it’s easier for me to start with a picture in my mind of the kind of fabric I want to make – and then go do that.

Maybe it’s because I think it’s more satisfying to spin to a standard rather than just hope I have it right – and end up disappointed with the results.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t come up with the ideal project for all (any?) of the yarns I made before I learned how to control my spinning.

What about you? What’s your approach to weaving with handspun yarn?
Are you wondering where to start?

In upcoming posts, I’ll be sharing some of the things I’ve learned about weaving with my own yarns, and offering some tips about how you can start weaving with yours.  Let me know what you think.  What works for you?  What would you like to know before you start warping your loom for handspun handwoven fabric?

Joanne's blog signature, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio

Sometimes What You Don’t Do Is Just As Valuable As What You Do

Or – why it helps to go beyond the urge to ‘just say no’.

Have you ever had a day when you realized you spent a lot of time answering  questions with “No,  I don’t do that”?

Here’s some of what I remember saying at Farmer’s Market last Saturday :

  • I don’t use natural dyes
  • I don’t spin dog hair
  • I don’t do other craft shows or events
  • I don’t have handspun handwoven cashmere scarves in other colors
  • I don’t do custom weaving or spinning
  • I don’t have any more of that particular piece.

As I debriefed from the day, I realized several of the conversations I’d had were about what I don’t do.  I’d been saying no an awful lot and it had me wondering what was going on.

Was I having a bad day? Were people bothered by my answers? Did they walk out of my booth in disgust?

Honestly? No.

The family that had seen a demonstration of natural dyeing at a living history museum – was interested to learn about why I choose to use synthetic dyes.

The young woman who loves her dog so much she wants to have some of his fur spun into yarn – appreciated knowing how to harvest and store the fiber.

The ladies who offered me information about a really big craft show they liked to attend – were impressed that I was satisfied ‘only’ doing the Burlington Farmer’s Market.

The young man who asked about other colors of cashmere – understood that the brown, beige, white, tan and gray pieces on display are natural animal colors – that the fiber is so special it’s taking me awhile to feel to comfortable with the idea of dyeing it – and was very happy choosing the light gray/tan color as a present for his wife.

The vendor who was curious about whether I made most of my sales at market or from custom work – learned that I prefer to concentrate on a particular and peculiar path of my own.   If I can incorporate what I want to accomplish with a customer’s request then yes, I’ll consider it.   If not – no, I don’t do that.

And the person who wanted to know if I had any more like the narrow hand-dyed piece I’d made specifically to show her?   She’s already a collector of my work.   One of those special people I learned about from Alyson Stanfield .

Telling this patron of my craft no means she has the only one.  She knows I’ll continue making things with her in mind, –  taking into account the questions she asks and the ideas she shares about what she likes.

All of the no-ing I did at market last week?
It gave me a clearer picture of what I choose to say yes to – and why.

That means:

  • I’ll be dying some cashmere yarns and fiber pretty soon.
  • Weaving more pieces with hems instead of fringe.
  • And maybe writing a post or two about: “natural vs. synthetic”;  why the Burlington Farmer’s Market is so great; and what things to consider if you want your dog’s fiber spun into yarn.

What does your list of “don’ts” inspire you to do?
And yes, I plan to be at market tomorrow.
I hope you will be, too.

Joanne's blog signature, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio