Weaving Handspun Singles on a Rigid Heddle Loom

My current weaving adventure is weaving fine handspun singles on a rigid heddle loom.

I’ve long advocated the rigid heddle loom for handspun because the plastic heddle is gentle on the threads and you have less loom waste than a floor or table loom.  (With the right warping techniques, I can get loom waste on my RH down to about six inches.)

While I was down at GGFI, a couple of folks asked if I taught a class in weaving with handspun on the RH loom.  And I haven’t thus far, but it sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

So I decided to start playing around and weaving samples.  And being the type of person I am, started at the deep end of the pool: lace-weight singles.  You know, that yarn that some folks will tell you “Cannot ever be used for warp.  No way.  Your loom would explode.”

The yarn was spun from lovely 80% shetland/20% alpaca roving that was donated by Franna of EverRanch Farmfor use in the spinning demos at the Seattle Green Festival.  I had some left over after the event, and it was so lovely to spin that I couldn’t stop myself, and ended up with a pile of gorgeous singles in a variety of natural colorways.

colored wefts

Note: I enjoy buying from local shepherds, it supports cottage industry and local economies, is greener for the earth because products don’t have to be shipped far, and can bring you specialty products you can’t find elsewhere.  But I’ll confess, the real reason: you get to know the names of the fiber animals involved. I have a sentimental warm fuzzy from knowing that this fabric is being woven in the Espresso-Asa-Suzie-Jasper-Blaze colorway.  Having owned sheep, I can imagine these shetlands and alpacas muching away on their cud, growing fiber for me.

I spun the  yarn fine, about 32 wraps per inch, ‘Z’ twist, semi-worsted, with lots of twist.

(Question: when I’m figuring out wpi, I’m always confused about how much tension to put on the yarn when wrapping, how much to squish the wraps on the ruler.  Any advice from the experienced spinners here?)

fine single

So far, the weaving is going fairly well.  It’s a bit of a hairy yarn, and I probably should have sized it before warping, but I’ve tamed the frizz with a bit of hair spray (Note: let the hair spray DRY before you start weaving again.)

The yarn is sett at 12 ends per inch, so I’m weaving a fairly gauzy cloth.  Which given the hairness of the yarn, is a blessing.  I’m hoping it will do fun and crinkly things off the loom.

Or my loom could explode.  I’ve never woven with fine handspun singles before, you never know…

(I’m still planning to share my new vision for WeaveZine on September 15th, I just couldn’t wait until then to share this bit of adventure with you.)

2 thoughts on “Weaving Handspun Singles on a Rigid Heddle Loom

  1. Perfect! I just finished spinning my black alpaca and want to keep it single ply to weave but was afraid to try it! Thanks for being the adventurous one! I know how hard it is to spin your own yarn then have a project flop. And all that work……

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