first time weaving with handspun

I finally took the plunge and am weaving a scarf with my handspun.  The warp has 2 different yarns:  one is an unknown wool that was dyed as roving, and the other is a blend of shetland/alpaca/silk.  I wondered if I might have problems mixing these yarns because the shetland mix is much "springier" than the other and I can tell the difference in the warp tension after only 2 feet.  I think it's looking pretty, though.


Posted on Sun, 11/15/2009 - 22:49

Nice web there Tina.  You won't have any problems in the weaving.  I don't think there will be any problem when you take it off the loom either.  If your warp threads have different springiness it may show up after you wet finish.  That would be some puckering, but hey, people are doing that kind of weaving on purpose.  High fashion!  Are you finished yet?  I would like to see a photo of the finished web and after wet finishing.  Curious minds want to know.


Posted on Mon, 11/16/2009 - 03:47

I twisted the fringe last night.  I forgot about it today (oops!) so will get it wet finished tomorrow.   I hope it feels as good then as it does now.

Posted on Wed, 11/18/2009 - 14:45

And my scarf is done!  You can look at the project here, although I'll include the photo in this forum.  I was surprised that the shrinkage was as little as it was:   Only 10% for length and 12.5% for width.

Posted on Tue, 12/01/2009 - 12:33

Great job, Tina.  I just realized that the two scarves I wear most are just those colors.  No wonder it is calling to me. 

Posted on Thu, 12/03/2009 - 01:20

Thanks.  I'm just sorry I waited so long to try it.  There wasn't any difference, really, than weaving with commercial yarn. 

Posted on Thu, 12/03/2009 - 04:11

Thanks.  I like patterns, but wanted the emphasis to be on the yarn so thought a simple 2/2 twill would be best.  I thought about 1/3, but I wanted both sides to look the same.

Posted on Tue, 02/23/2010 - 02:10

I handwashed it using some Dawn dish soap, rinsed, rolled it up in a towel to get rid of the excess water, then laid it flat to dry.  Wet finishing means some kind of washing (or at least getting it wet) to let the yarn bloom. 

Posted on Thu, 03/04/2010 - 03:12


The only fibres that full are wool and other hair fibres.  Linen, cotton and other cellulose fibres do not full.

Wet finishing consists of scouring, agitation and possibly compression.

Scouring is done with soap/detergent and water to remove any naturally occuring or added spin oils, naturally occuring waxes or resins etc.  It also helps to remove any fugitive dyes.

Agitation helps the threads move to areas of least resistance, filling in gaps such as reed marks, developing weave structures that rely on the threads to move (i.e. lace weaves, waffle, etc.) and compression can be done hot or cold.  Hot with an iron of some sort, or cold which is pressure only, no heat.

Fulling is done during the agitation part of the process.


Laura Fry - where you can purchase copies of Magic in the Water; wet finishing handwovens - there are just 60 some copies left and then it will be officially out of print.

Posted on Fri, 03/05/2010 - 18:43

I have gone against the grain(pun) and have washed hand spun items in a front loader on delicate and dryed in the machine also on air only.  See purple scarf on

That was a mix of hand spun and commercial.  The hand spun was hand dyed.  Used as both warp and weft.


Posted on Fri, 03/05/2010 - 20:57

There is no problem using a front loading washer so long as you know your cycles and how to set them to get the results you want.  I've used the dryer as a fulling machine with good results as well.

The big thing is not to 'forget' the items in the machines but to moniter them and extract them from the equipment when they are 'done'.  :)



Posted on Sun, 04/11/2010 - 15:04

What a beautiful scarf!  Looks like the tension wasn't a problem for the weaving process.  I've always heard you can't use handspun for warp but you seem to have managed well.


Posted on Tue, 04/13/2010 - 23:23

Remember, before the industrial revolution, all yarn was handspun. Fine linens, work shirts, woolens, sails for sailing across the ocean - all with handspun warp and weft.

My guess is that the rumor (which has been circulating for a long time) came from the handspinning and weaving revival of the 60's, before the reintroduction/rediscovery of good spinning and weaving technique.

Posted on Thu, 04/15/2010 - 19:06

I read that in the Scandinavian countries, weavers who adopted the spinning wheel still insisted on handspinning their warp.

Navajo weavers like a really tightly spun yarn, especially for the warp and the edgings, so while not many of them spin their own yarn from the fleece, they will pick up a spindle and overspin storebought yarns.