Thursday, 28 October 2010

A handspun scarf woven on a handmade loom...

Much as I like spinning, I often wonder what to do with all the yarn I've made, especially very chunky, textured 'art' yarns. I've tried knitting them in various different ways but I've yet to come up with a knitted style that really makes the most of these kinds of yarn.

One of the most exciting things about a lovely handspun art yarn is the way it flows from one section to the next, through a series of colours and textures. I often feel that knitting a very textured yarn somehow interrupts this flow. You can just wear a lovely skein of yarn around your neck but I know I'd end up in a tangled mess doing that!

I had an idea recently that if I could weave a scarf using some handspun yarn as the warp (vertical strands) and create an almost invisible weft (horizontal strands) with some sewing thread, it would give the effect of wearing a skein but without the risk of tangles. It would show off every inch of the yarn in all it's glory!

The one thing that put me off using handspun yarn as a warp in the past is that you generally have to cut through each warp thread at the end of the weaving to release it from the loom. This might not seem like a big deal but I've got a strange aversion to cutting my handspun yarn! It always feels wrong somehow (I know, I'm a bit strange!) so I was keen to find a way of weaving using a continuous warp thread that didn't need to be cut to get the finished item off the loom.

A tall order perhaps but I'd heard about triangle looms and Weave-It looms, which are basically frames with rows of nails around them that you loop the weaving around and then lift off the loom (whole - no cutting!) at the end. So I cobbled together a loom from some scraps of wood and nails and then made a heddle from some cardboard with holes punched in it and some string. It was very heath robinson! :)

Anyway, enough waffle, this is the result of my first attempt...
Draped hand spun scarf
I'm quite pleased with it!
Folded hand spun scarf

As you can see (or rather, not see) the sewing thread that I used for the weft is hardly visible and the main thing you see is the handspun yarn.

Even close up it's hard to see the sewing thread...
Close up detail of hand spun scarf

I used a whole skein of this yarn...
Camels in the Forest yarn mound
Called 'Camels in the Forest', which is a light fluffy corespun yarn made with all kinds of soft fibres like merino, baby camel, silk and soya bean fibre.

This first attempt was very fiddly to do but I've got plans for how to make it easier. I just need to make some more bits of loom because the first one had more or less fallen apart by the end of the scarf!

This prototype scarf was a gift for my Mum, seen here bravely modelling the scarf while suffering from a cold...
Mum modelling her hand spun scarf
She's going to provide regular scarf updates, so I'll get to see how well it holds up in day-to-day use. If the reports are good, I'll get on with making another one soon! :)


  1. This is absolutely fantastic! I love it and what a wonderful idea. You are sooooooo clever. Nice to see your mum again too! xxxx