Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How many strands of singles yarn should I use for my tapestry?

My online students are learning a lot about various tapestry yarns. Many of them are using Harrisville Highland, but just as many are using other yarns. One frequent question lately is about how many singles to use at 8 ends per inch. I did a little experiment with a beautiful Swedish yarn,

FÅRÖ

This yarn is quite similar to the Harrisville single that I use in my work and it is the yarn that James Koehler used at the end of his career. It is well-spun, a little shiny, and it weaves beautifully. I use this weight yarn at 3 singles over 10 ends per inch. I wanted to see how this yarn would behave at 8 ends per inch in both 3 and 4 strands. (It may be important to note that I am using a 12/6 cotton seine twine warp.)

I made this little video to show you what happened! (Tip, you can enlarge the video by clicking the little square icon in the bottom right of the video player.)


Here you can see the three bundled strands on the left and the four on the right. For the first part of the weaving I just laid the yarn in without twisting the singles together.
For the second part of the weaving with the darker purple, I plied the yarn on my spinning wheel. The difference is in the texture of the fabric. The plied yarn created a smoother texture, the un-plied was much bumpier as it is harder to get all the strands to behave the same way. Overall, I don't think it matters that much whether you ply it or not. Especially if you are using multiple colors in your bundle, plying them together may not cause the visual effect you want. Sampling may be necessary!
You can see the darker purple yarn plied here.

Make sure to watch the video at the top of the post if you are interested in this concept. I talk about why you might want to use 3 versus 4 strands in the video.

What singles yarns have you used? Leave a comment below this post!
And if you enjoyed the video, please share it!


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12 comments:

  1. What size is the loom you are working at? I'm researching which Mirrix I might pick up this summer.

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    1. Hi Mandy, the loom in this video is a 16 inch Mirrix. I like the 16 because you can just get it into a large size suitcase if you have to fly for a workshop and it isn't too huge for carting around. The 12 is rather small for anything but the smallest work. The 22 is a wonderful loom and if you're not going to be flying with it, I'd definitely recommend that size.

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  2. Thanks for posting this information and video, Rebecca. I was wondering if I could use my spinning wheel to ply blended strands. Also, it was great seeing the FARO in use. I have used the Tuna, as you know, in our on line class and was thinking about finding a similar very fine singles yarn I could add to it for more color blending and still stay at 8 epi. I have only experienced singles Churro, but not fine enough to use more than one strand at 8 epi. For the first time, I'm using a 2 ply in class. I don't really like the idea of using 3 or more singles strands in a bundle because it seems like it would be very expensive. You'd have to buy 3 times the amount of yarn.

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    1. Well, you sort of have to buy the same amount of yarn, but yarn is mostly sold by weight, so you get LOTS more yardage for the price. So honestly it kind of works out in the wash. In the next class we are going to look at taking apart the Highland so we can mix two colors in the same shed without using a singles yarn. This works with a few different 2-ply yarns. But the singles give you the most color diversity. The smaller the single, the more colors you can pack in there (if your sett is wide enough). I like the Faro quite a lot, but it is pretty much the same yarn as the Harrisville single I use. I am quite fond of Weavers Bazaar yarns and also Australian Tapestry Workshop if you can get your hands on them... all very very different than churro.

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    2. I am enjoying using a plied yarn versus the Churro. I find I don't have to watch for low areas so much that have to be filled. I'm ready for a change. I guess I wasn't thinking about weight and yardage. Thanks, now I won't be so afraid of the finer singles. Except, of course for putting them together like you showed in the video. I look forward to learning more about that in our next class. I had a chance to try some of the Australian Tapestry Workshop yarns once and really liked the look and feel, but I don't want to try to order from another country. That just doesn't seem like a good idea. To bad we don't have a dealer here. I'd definitely be buying that yarn.

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  3. I use Appleton crewel yarns and find them wonderful for tapestry.

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    1. Regina, I really like the Appleton Crewel too. I have only played with it, but it looks and feels really nice. I did feel it was a little expensive. I paid $7 for a hank, which is 195 yrds. and maybe 1 oz. At what sett and how many strands do you use, if you don't mind my asking?

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  4. Hi Rebecca,
    I was surprised that you wrote, parenthetically, "It may be important to note that I am using a 12/6 cotton seine twine warp." Wouldn't the characteristics of the warp --especially warp thickness and also warp material-- always be an important factor in relation to the weft thickness?
    Thanks.

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    1. Ah yes. The warp is very important. In fact, the warp could change everything. I made the video for my online class and they are mostly using this same warp. It is definitely one of the first things to consider in combination with warp sett and weft.

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  5. Thank you for the little weft study! Very interesting!

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  6. Thanks for this post Rebecca! I sometimes get stumped wondering how many strands to use in my weft bundles and your video offers some great advice I will use next time I'm stuck. Also what is the beater you're using?

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    1. Hi Laura, The beater is a Maggie fork from Magpie Woodworks. They are wonderful beaters. Mine is a medium size (actually it is a 1 inch size and I don't know if they make those any more but I have some of the 1.5 inch and they are great too... and the minis are super cute but very tiny for little spaces). Mine are all 10 tines per inch and I weave at 8 or 10 epi.
      http://www.magpiewoodworksusa.com/id28.html
      Look for tapestry and navajo weaving forks on the right hand side of the page.

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