Weaving with handspun

There are a lot of variables in weaving with any particular yarn. And some of those start with the loom you’re using. There are tricks to make almost all yarns work for you but so that this isn’t a full feature giant length class, I’m going to stick with Rigid Heddle looms for this video.

With the average Rigid Heddle loom there is a beater which is also the heddle and some companies have heddles that might be more abrasive then others. The good part of these looms though is that you are working on a short area that’s getting the abrading and you are the “weight” in the beater. You can work it more softly if you need to.

So let’s just jump right into using the handspun on your loom and finding the right yarn and the right heddle.  First take your yarn and gather your WPI information.  Yes. WPI again! That’s why this series began with a WPI guide.

Let’s say your WPI for a yarn was 20. Divide that in half and that’s 10. For a balanced weave you would want a 10 dent.

Let’s say your WPI was 22. That gives you 11 when divided in half and that’s in between the 10 and the 12 dent heddle. Ok. It doesn’t need to be exact. So what are you going for? Do you want a loose more drapey fabric? Or tighter? For looser, go with the 10. For tighter, go with 12.

I’d like to note that even with this information you can go with a heddle that isn’t balanced. If you want airy holes in your fabric, you want to go with a fatter heddle. If you want a really solid (maybe even stiff) fabric then you want the smaller heddle. If I’m weaving for a bag or a tote, I use the smaller heddles for a stiffer fabric and conversely if I want an airy flowy scarf, I use the fatter one.

But is the yarn good enough?
Will it fall apart?
Give it a little tug, not a hard one like you would to break yarn when you’re done with a project, just a little tug. Does it just melt away in your hands? If it does. Stop right there. It’s not suitable for a warp and maybe you can add more twist to it or just use it for the weft. If it survived a little tug, feed it through the dent of your heddle and rub it back and forth a few 10-20 times. Does it fall apart or does it hold up. You’re probably putting a little more stress on it doing this then your loom will so if it survived that, then it’s good to go.

Finally you can just calculate yardages and what you need and get your project started like a wild person throwing caution to the wind. Or, you can swatch. Yes, you can swatch on the looms and I have another post and video planned for that because it’s long. Most of these short lessons/videos/blogposts are longer classes that I’m chopping up. It is how I make a living but I want to spread the information a little wider. So I started doing videos and asking for Patrons who are finding the work helpful to help keep me going supplying this information to you all. I am working on a weaving project that isn’t up on Patreon yet. It’s coming, so stay tuned.

The companion video:

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Crocheting with handspun

Look back at the knitting episode and pretty much, its’ the same as that. I hate to have to tell crocheters to go read yet another thing written for knitters but I happened to do that one first and it’s almost all the same information.

But you might have already known that. It may be my perception but I see fewer crochet folks asking if they can use handspun where it seems to be a common knitters and weavers question.

I know there are a lot of hooker handspinners that will ply in the opposite direction of knitters. But it’s not necessary. Most of the commercial yarn is spun in the same direction and it works…. right?

Let’s back up and talk about why first. When you crochet vs knitting, you are adding or removing twist in a different direction. Yes, there is some knitting that will behave like crochet but the majority of knitting does not. So for most people we can assume that with knitting and crochet, you will add and remove twist differently. Now this is one of the beauties of making your own yarn, if you find it a hindrance to have twist added or removed, you can adjust and make the yarn that makes your heart sing. It’s not a requirement but isn’t it excellent that we can do so?

If you’re buying handspun, then assume that it’s no different then working with commercial yarn that you buy off the shelf. The only difference is that you don’t have all that information on the ball band that commercial yarn has.

I find myself usually making crocheted accessories but not so much the large projects. I tend to knit sweaters and make crocheted scarves. While there is more leverage in knitting a scarf (if gauge is off then gauge is off and I’m not usually worse for wear) but in a sweater you need to know what you’re up against.

It’s the same as in the knitting. Start by getting your WPI.
Here’s the lesson on checking WPI. 

Then take a gander at the chart that corresponds to the WPI and hooks:

Just like the chart for knitting last week, this one references all the common information and then gives you a blank chart so you can fine tune the information as you need it. Not all information is the same across breed types or blends. If you have a couple of fibers that you use frequently only you notice they behave outside the norm, make your own chart so you have this information.

I’ve said it before and I’ll likely say it a million more times…. I advocate doing a lot of prep work and swatching but if you play historian and save this information thoroughly, you might not have to do it again.

I couldn’t find my hook gauge. I know. It’s a little disappointing but it’s likely in a bag that I didn’t check. We also lost a  stole that I made out of handspun. Things disappear and then turn up when I no longer need them. So I decided to charge on with this post and video anyway. I’m going to fake the needle gauge thing right now….

This is how it looked for the knitting and it’s the same for the crochet. Fold your strand of yarn in half and see which gauge hole it fits through best. Not too tight, not too loose. You want the Goldilocks fit.  That’s the hook I’d start with to see if I had gauge.

Make a swatch. Make your notes. Away you go!
If you want this all video style:

Happy hooking y’all.

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Knitting with Handspun

Let’s talk a little bit about knitting with handspun. Now, there are some specialty handspun yarns, novelty yarns. And just like commercial novelty yarns, there is a bit of special consideration for them and as I talk about how they’re made, I’ll also talk about how to use them. I’m going to talk about general run of the mill handspun here.

Well. Run of the mill sounds mundane but I’m talking about the handspun that many spinners make as a general default:

Many spinners consider a standard “general”  handspun is just a simple 2 ply. We make many things but we’ll consider a stander, not novelty, handspun for this task.  It comes in different weights but it can be a little difficult to gauge what you have so let’s tackle that and talk about how to figure out what we have and what we can do with it.

Here’s a Chart to start with and then I’ll discuss how we use it.


First let’s check the WPI. There’s a guide HERE on how to use WPI. And once you have that you can look on the chart above and see what it all equates to.

Needle gauge.

I double up my yarn and start poking it through holes to see which one I like how it fits. Yes, this is a bit subjective. I don’t want it so tight that I have to try to really work it in and I don’t want it so loose that it’s all airy. Think, that’s about how it will be in your knitting. I want it about spot on so that gives me the needle I should start trying to reach a gauge with.

Next step. Make a swatch. From there I can figure out what my gauge is and I can start hunting for a pattern.  Voila.

Now I made a chart for you all and I just wanted to note that there is a section at the bottom that’s blank so you can fill in your notes. I’m a big proponent of do the work only once. Once you do this, note your info and you won’t have to do it again, you can get to actual knitting faster.  I mean, you may have to have a separate chart for Longwools and fine wools and silks or whatever but it’s helpful to start making notes so you can refer back to it.

There’s more explaining in my video:

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WPI Guides – how to


This is a short (short for me) how to on wrapping and finding your Wraps Per Inch. For some it might seem intuitive but for others there are questions. Believe it or not there is a right and a wrong way to wrap. First let’s look at the WPI guides.

There’s a ton of them out there and you can simply use a ruler or you can measure out one inch on a book or a marker. Something. Anything that seems reasonable to you.

I know there’s some of you out there that might want to wrap something insanely large and if you want to measure out an inch on your dog and go that route, you can if you can get her to sit still and you can get an even measurement. I wouldn’t say it’s going to be fun for you or the dog but you might be able to manage to do it. It’s the inch that matters not girth of the thing you’re wrapping. Case in point:

These both equal 13 wraps. What matters is how many times that yarn goes around. See? Girth doesn’t matter.

You can do this with thick and thin yarn too. You just want the total of wraps and in a thick and thin, that evens out and gives you the median. There is a bit more I want to talk about using thick and thin yarns but that’s a whole blog post or two (maybe three) of it’s own.

Anyway. I told you that girth of your wraps per inch guide/ruler didn’t matter but something else does. It matters how you wrap it. If you’re stretching your yarn tight, it thins out and you can cram more wraps on there. If you’re loosey goosey with your yarn it might be all over the place and not give you an accurate measurement. You need to wrap your yarn side by side without over stretching it and without being messy or loose with it. Just an average tightness.

Hopefully my video explains it pretty well:

This is where it gets subjective and can be difficult to gauge what you actually have. I’ve included the chart I use to tell you what yarn weight you have based on WPI. But, there are a bunch out there. This is one I’ve used and based on ones I’ve published all over the place. I added a blank note space just for you to make your own notes based on your own experience.

WPI chart

Here’s what I can tell you about all of this and you will have to use our own objectivity to decide some of this. The yarn I wrapped (the grey rainbow stuff “Let Love In“) is a commercially made worsted yarn that I dye. I’ve made a ton of things in this yarn and always use it as a worsted yarn. It came out as 13 WPI for me and that on my chart is a worsted. When I looked up other charts, one said that 13 WPI is between a sport and Fingering weight.

Sometimes it’s hard to gauge where these things fall but I’m going to continue these lessons on WPI in more videos and more blog posts. Stay tuned in. More is coming! We’ll work through all the nuances of this stuff together.

Posted in crochet, Knitting, spinning, tutorial, weaving | 5 Comments

Mystical Magical (fragile?) Handspun

ok. I love handspun yarn. I think it’s one of the greatest (if not the greatest) yarn that we can work with. It’s got that certain something that makes ya want to get up in the morning and knit or weave or crochet or just make more of it.

But it is not indescribably mystical. It’s totally usable. It doesn’t do anything particularly magical. It’s totally usable without spells. If made properly it’s not fragile. Even some of my singles are stronger then many commercial yarns. It’s totally usable.  You can knit with it, crochet, weave…. you can use it in any way that you would use commercial yarn. No really I’m totally serious.  You can use it just like any commercial yarn!

For some of you that’s not a news flash and for others I blew their minds. I frequently see questions asking if you can make a sweater, a pair of socks, hats, xyz items, from handspun. It seems that handspun has been attributed some attribute that makes it seem like some sort of unusable yarn. Some how so unique that if you manage to make it, it should just be looked at.

I’ll admit, I’ve made some yarns that I enjoy looking at so much in a skein that I don’t want  to use them and that’s ok. You made it, you do with it what you want. But if you made it and are afraid to use it; I’m here to tell you that you can do it.
Use that yarn.
I’m telling you that it’s ok. If you want to use it, USE it. The sheep are making more right now. I guarantee it. I’ve 15 (and counting) that hope you’ll use it because they can’t seem to stop making more all the time.

If you’re problem isn’t a mental block with the yarn and it’s more of a project related issue, then I’m going to keep working through my list to help you to use more yarns. Whether you made them or you purchased handspun from someone else, I’ll help you find ways to make them work.

I don’t want to make a giant feature film for YouTube so I’ve broken this up into usable sections and hopefully it also helps each person find what pertains to them. I’m going to work at continuing on and making more tutorials that can help you spin, knit, crochet, and weave better…. and maybe some other use like embroidery or tatting. I think handspun embroidery yarn in particular is pretty fun.

Here’s the video:

where I talk about this and a little about my latest knit obsession:

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Make Nine – Q1 Update

Ok. I know the first quarter of the year isn’t over but it’s coming to a close soon enough and I feel like this is possibly all I’m going to have done anyway….

So this is what my Make Nine board looked like when I started to think about making a list:

And then the plaid happened so this is what I finally ended up with:

The largest difference is that the lime green wool got booted. I was able to come up with a plaid everything else because well… the lime green was material specific and not plaid. Anyway. This enabled me to go a little plaid crazy and pull every bit of plaid fabric I had in my closet and scour the shelves of my favorite fabric haunts to see what new crazy things they might have.

I was a bit surprised at just how much plaid I already had. And how much of it is still available at my favorite places. Fabric dot com. Hawthorne Supply. LA Finch Fabrics. Harts Fabrics. And of course Joanns.

I managed to start a bunch of stuff and finish 2 things. One of the new style blouses. It’s the Sutton Blouse. It has a simple construction and as you can see, I chose to make it in 2 different fabrics and only one of which was plaid. I’m still counting it.

I also managed to finish off the plaid flannel maxi circle skirt.

It’s technically only 3/4 a circle but I’m counting and I love it. The waist is actually a little too big but I can take care of that.

This is what the list looks like now:

Not super impressive but the knitting is slower then sewing. The weaving takes time and I have a day job that requires me to do both of those without caring that I want to make more plaid! ha. I feel like if I end up getting 8 of the nine done by the end of the year, I’ll be doing good.

The video today was all of this wrapped in a video with a look at the plaid fabric sitting on my shelves at the moment.

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Basics – Short Draw and Bobbin Leaders.

Two weeks ago I talked about short draw. There’s a few little variations on that but they’re all about the same action. Short little draws to get the fiber out of your drafting triangle to make yarn.

None of this all works if you can’t effectively attach a leader to your bobbin. I have showed many people in classes how to do this well and finally I have a little video that hopefully gives a really full explanation.

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