Anyone done any weaving with Z and S twist yarns?

I saw a really interesting fabric at Convergence in 1990(?) at San Jose - it had been woven from stripes of Z and S twist yarns.  I'd like to experiment with this but since I'm not exactly a spinner (in spite of owning 3 (!) spinning wheels) any pearls of wisdom would be appreciated.




Posted on Thu, 11/12/2009 - 02:52

Laura, you might want to contact Abby Franquemont...I know she's done some weaving with Z and S twist yarns on her backstrap loom. I'm pretty sure she used doubled yarns (not plied, just doubled), and very high twist (important on the backstrap loom), but she might have some insights for you.

~Jen, your friendly neighborhood spinner ;)

Posted on Thu, 11/12/2009 - 05:28

Thanks Jen.  I know Abby is really busy right now launching her book.  Looking forward to getting my copy.  Who knows, maybe I'll turn into a real spinner one of these days!  :D


Here's my first skein of Z twist singles.  Focus isn't great - couldn't seem to get a really good shot of it.  Still needs to be wet finished.  Waiting until I've got a bit more spun up before I do it all at once.



Posted on Thu, 11/12/2009 - 11:24

Hi Laura,

I assume you want balanced yarns, one S and on Z  that can be used for the warp?  So you're really looking for at least a two ply yarn.  My thought is that you'll get a more distinct S or Z effect with a two ply rather than 3 or more.

A few tips for spinning for weaving.

1 you have to be careful with your joins because if not done right, they will fray in the heddles and reed.  Texsolve may put a little less stress on them, but it is something to think about.

2 you can test your yarn as a warp by using the friction test.  some people use their fingernails, I think I saw one person use something like a paper clip. 

3 You noted in another thread that worsted spinning will show the effect better.  I think you would get the effect with any evenly, smoothly spun yarn, but concur that worsted should show it the best.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something - it is rather early and I've had very little sleep, so if I think of anything else, I'll write.

Posted on Sun, 01/31/2010 - 21:52

Not yet - I've got some Z twist yarn spun up, but haven't done the S.  Too many other things going on.  :(  I've also got a spinner making me some Z and S twist yarn so I can do an actual project - she says it should be ready in March so maybe after the Fibres West show the end of March I can work on that.  :)



Posted on Mon, 02/01/2010 - 03:34

I've seen that green mountain spinnery has s and z twist commerically spun yarn. Haven't purchased it, but might get you closer to your project than handspinning.  As a spinner, it's on my list to spin enough of both for a project, ahem, on the list.

Posted on Mon, 02/01/2010 - 21:30

If you wet finish your "energized singles", they won't work as well in the cloth (make puckers, ripples, etc.)  The best way to do it is to follow Kathryn Alexander's lead, and leave them on the bobbin, or wind them off onto toilet paper rolls.  Don't get them wet.  They need lots of twist (can't tell from the photo, but it looks like it could use some more).  The twist will relax on the bobbin/tp roll, making it easier to work with warping and weaving.  AFTER it's woven, place it gently in warm water and watch the magic happen (you know all about that!).  Don't full it, as the puckers and ripples will be reduced.  There are articles in older Handwoven magazines that cover "collapse" cloth, which is basically what you're trying to do.

Good luck!

Laura Cunningham

Posted on Mon, 02/01/2010 - 21:41

I don't actually *want* active twist.  I'm exploring the phenomonen described by Judith McKenzie, Oelsner and others about having the twists settle into each other.  And the effect of light reflection making apparent stripes in the fabric.  I'm wondering if I can make a denser fabric this way - and just wanting to explore.

I've worked lots with active twist and know how to get fabrics that go bump - I've been exploring that since the early 1980's when I worked on my master weaver's thesis for the Guild of Canadian Weavers.  If there is interest I can post some photos of fabrics I've worked on and some of the various ways I've achieved texture through shrinkage differential etc.



Posted on Tue, 02/09/2010 - 19:00

Hi Laura,

I'd love to see what you have done with differential shrinkage. I'm working on this quite a bit right now and have recently joined the CW group devoted to the topic.



Posted on Thu, 10/16/2014 - 13:41

Original to left

I saw similar comments on the Z/S twist and light reflection.  So thinking this might make something interesting if visible in a single color I spun some 2-ply in Z and S and wove a sample with stripes of Z and S alternating in both the warp and weft.

First one I hadn't taken into account the slight variations of my homespun and had the sett at 11 epi, the result was a little bit more weft than warp., so a second attempt at 12 epi gave me a good balanced tabby.

The first showed a slight indication of weft stripes - no real warp stripes visible.  The second has better weft and a slight hint of warp stripes and hence 'squares' at the crossing of stripes (although it takes a powerful squint!!).

I may some other fiber with more luster, this was Clun Forest spun semi-worsted. 


Posted on Thu, 10/16/2014 - 15:18

(Margrete Hald's doctoral dissertation, Copenhagen 1950)

Just because I was reading in this book today: two pictures of s/z patterning, both finds from Donbaek, probably about 1100 AD.

Posted on Thu, 10/16/2014 - 15:24

Interesting. Something I didn't manage to delve into at the time but may have to look into.

Tack, Kerstin. :)