I am an experienced weaver, but a new spinner.  I'd appreciate your input on weaving with handspun.  

  • Warp and weft - singles vs plied
  • Amount of twist, particularly for warp
  • Using handspun fine threads
  • Warp tension (I'm using an AVL, and weave with a lot of warp tension)
  • Wash the yarn first to set the twist, or not

Your advice would be most welcome.



liana (not verified)

I have used my handspun in almost every form imaginable.  It was a way to use up thrums and the way to add color and interest.  I make dog beds from my hand spun dog hair and purses from handspun as well.  I've made pillows, scarves and rugs all with some or all of the yarn for the weft being handspun. and Spinning

With handspun I find I control the size of the yarn and I like big chunky yarn for my projects so that is normally what I make.

I am also just beginning to spin for warp.  I'll let you know how it goes.  Everything up until now has been as weft only.  I have enjoyed that so much I am just now looking to branch out.  I do have some 50% Silk, 50% Camel Singles that I'd like to try as warp.  I put it through twice the same direction to make it consistent and tight.  No fluff in this yarn!  That's what I've read in SpinOff and a few other places to make warp yarn.

Hope this helps you find the courage to jump in with both feet and try it!!!

Happy Spinning and Weaving!


Sara von Tresckow

 I've woven with handspun for years - and with fine threads as warp. There is a set of handspun linen towels at 24/38 epi (mix of plain and twill weaves) that turned out beautifully with almost no warp breakage - and that was handspun warp.

I usually size my delicate warps. This means making the warp chain, choke tying it well, and dipping the whole chain(s) in a sink with enough water to cover with a generous dollop of liquid laundry starch from the grocery store.

Hang this warp up to dry and warp the loom as usual - the sizing coats the surface of the threads and protects them until you have the project off the loom - it will cover any potential weak spots. I use this method not only with handspun, but with any delicate yarns - as well as with all linen warps. It is also helpfulin controlling fuzzies on mohair warps.

Works with any fiber. Rinses out after weaving with little or no detergent.

whorlwindweaver (not verified)

I am thinking of trying to make a handspun warp.  I have some moorit merino I could mix with some unusually soft brown llama for strength and to reduce stretchyness.  If it doesn't work out, I will buy warp and use it for weft.

Cheekyredhead (not verified)

I'm experimenting with the warp sizing recipes in Aldan Amos's Book.  So far I've tried the flour one and had no breakage on sett of 20 EPI of handspun merino.  Next I'll be using the gelatin method on 24 EPI merino. That is if I ever get off my butt and get to winding the warp.  So much to do, so little time.

dteaj (not verified)

I've used handspun warps of wool, cotton, linen, silk and alpaca.

In my experience, a moderate size(20/2), relatively non-fuzzy handspun would probably not need sizing. At a guess, a singles in this grist would probably be relatively trouble free, although I've used mostly 2 ply.

There is someone I know who uses exclusively handspun singles warps. I beleive she weaves with moderate size wool yarns and she does size with gelatin.

I use sizing for fine linen, cotton, and anything close to as fuzzy as mohair.

I do not wet finish yarn before weaving, except when sizing. I size the yarn in hank form in a gelatin size, dry the hanks, wind off into balls, then wind the warp. I've found that sizing in the warp can cause adjacent yarns to stick together, although perhaps my technique is to blame for this.

dteaj (not verified)

Looking back, I also see you are asking about twist. Look at the twist that is used in commercial yarns. That should guide you well.

Typically warps have a little more twist to allow them to withstand the abrasion of the loom. I've found this makes the most difference with fine or fuzzy yarns.


Thumper70 (not verified)


You just solved a problem/question I had in my mind about using homespun linen singles! Oh oh oh - gotta try this now . . . he he he he - but . . . but. . .nooooo - something's on the loom. I need another loom (or two!)!


whorlwindweaver (not verified)

Do you think a two ply wool warp would need sizing?  I don't expect it to be fuzzy. Thanks.

dteaj (not verified)

It's hard to say for sure. You could try rubbing two threads against each other at 90 degree angles to see how much abrasion you get. I've never tried this, but it may help you get an idea.

You can always try it without and add sizing after it has been on the loom if you need to. IMHO, it's a little more finicky to add sizing after it's been on the loom. You have to make sure that the threads don't dry together and it adds time because you don't want wet sizing going through the heddles. Some very good weavers use this method, though and make wonderful cloth.

caloosa (not verified)

I am a new weaver and concerned about the loom waste involved with hand spun warp. 

Will I get over this or is there a solution that I am unaware of?



jj50 (not verified)

I have been using hand spun as warp since I started spinning because I don't know how to knit or crochet. I learned that worsted spun is the best method of spinning for warp so that how I spin the majority of my yarn. I prefer 2-ply, but I'd like to try wool singles sometime. I've never had a problem with warp breaking except for my first alpaca warp in which I had a bad join and one of the plys came apart. So far I've woven with alpaca - suri & huacaya, wool, silk, linen, cotton blended with silk, and silk-wool blend. I've never used sizing.

Charlene, for a long time I only used my table loom when weaving with my hand spun to minimize loom waste.  I got over it eventually, and mostly because my table loom has only 4 shafts, I started using my floor loom with 8. I have a nice collection of hand spun thrums. :~)


Kurt Pippin (not verified)

Hi, Liana--

Which spindle or wheel do you use for making the big chunky yarn?


liana (not verified)

Hi Pippin,

I use an Ashford Joy for most of my spinning.  It has a "Wooly Winder" for spinning any size yarn imaginable.  I also have an Ashford Traditional I won in a silent auction that I have all the sizes of bobbins for and the country bobbin size is great for chunky yarn especial when I am plying because the 2 or 3 ply needs a big bobbin if you want a lot of yarn.  I had a spindle that I knit directly from the spindle to the knitting needles.  It works great for a fine, delicate angora yarn.  The spinning of singles though, in either knitting or weaving requires a bit of extra twist so that when it relaxes it doesn't untwist.  Then when you wash it, it fluffs so beautifully and it fulls some to give you a solid structure that will never unravel.

You also asked how I use my handspun on a loom as the warp.  I use a rigid heddle and I over-twist the yarn and set it.  The it works well.  I haven't tried the starch or gel because I haven't needed it, yet.  But I do like the comments from those who have.

As far as advice goes, I suggest you do as I do, read, read, read.  And then try it for yoursel.f.  There's no amount of reading that can substitute for experience.  And your own experience is the best place to start because then you know the questions to ask to hone your craft.  And you have something to show, that, for example, let's you ask, "This is sett to close and is too thick, how do I change the sett and what should I change it too?"

I am so grateful to the weaving community for making so much information availble that I can learn from my home.  I never would have done what I have if it wasn't for the books and magazines availble.  They inspire and teach so much.

Hope this is helpful.  Just one person's opinion!


jenadina (not verified)

You might enjoy reading about Holly's process at hjsstudio.com. She weaves with low-twist handspun singles as both warp and weft and has a rundown of an entire project (a coat) from start to finish. There are also a few articles there about spinning low-twist singles.

Alison (not verified)

Here are a few more thoughts about spinning handspun for warp:

It has to be able to withstand the tension and the abrasion of the reed and heddles.  So a softly twisted yarn generally won't work (unless fulled before warping) unless you weave it under low tension, perhaps with a bulkier yarn (fewer beats - less abrasion).  Practice your joins as a bad join can fray with the abrasion.  I think the sizing idea is great, at least until you're confident enough in your spinning product.  You can also test your yarn by running it against something smooth but hard such as between your fingernails, or in a reed - you get the idea, something to simulate what the yarn will go through.

Regarding reducing loom waste - another thing you can do is to tie on your warp rather than start with a new warp.  There are a number of sources for explaining how it is done.  One of the ones I have is in one of Peggy Ostercamp's books.  In short, you tie your warp threads to a set of warp threads already on your loom (for example, from you last project).  I haven't done it, can someone else explain it?


Alison (not verified)

Nice lace picture, btw - did you make it?


A dummy warp is as you described - but I've found that on most looms the waste behind the heddles isn't all that great.   For instance on my Leclerc Fanny, I can weave the apron rod up to about 6 inches from the heddles.  That's only about as far as you could easily weave a dummy warp due to the knots tangling, anyway.

The big advantage to a dummy warp IMHO is if you have an extremely complex threading that you *know* is correct.  If you just tie on a new warp, you know you won't have any mistakes in the new warp, either.  :)



Kurt Pippin (not verified)

I decided last night on a Fricke single treadle wheel with the WooLee Winder and 4 bobbins, plus the Jumbo Flyer/Bobbin with an extra jumbo bobbin.

We can always save our thrums and toss them into the carder to make 'art' yarns.  :-)

While I'm waiting on the wheel, I'm getting some drafting experience on a variety of top-whorl and Turkish spindles, and something called the Rakestraw Spinner, a paddle spinner that turns like a party noisemaker. My first plied Icelandic wool yarn is drying in the laundry room, and a couple of Rakestraw singles are resting.

And, yes, reading reading reading.


dteaj (not verified)

I've used a dummy warp once when I had a limited amount of fiber and hence yarn, with no access to more. There's a picture of the dummy warp with the project. In this case, I didn't tie on to a previous warp. I just used junk yarn to eliminate the loom waste on this short warp. I probably eliminated about 18" of waste. My Schact typically has 24" of waste. Let me know if you have any questions.


Kurt Pippin (not verified)

'I have read that some of the most meticulous weavers in Scandinavia would never dream of spinning their warp by any means other than on a handspindle. In their opinion, a spinning wheel was fine for making the weft, where minor inconsistencies would not threaten the weaving's sound structure!'

from Spinning in the Old Way by Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts

She also writes that a high-whorl spindle can reach the speed of the average spinning wheel. I have far to go....



Thank you for the link to Holly's Studio. Cool 

The coat tutorial is brilliant and has given this newbie the courage to warp up and go with my handspun singles.   

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