Thursday, March 27, 2014

Weaving with Overtwisted Handspun Singles: It Only LOOKS Hard

I repeat: It only LOOKS hard. The photo above shows a warp chain of overtwisted handspun singles. I used Ashland Bay's multicolored Merino roving in Mojave and its Colonial (Corriedale) roving in Goldenrod (no longer available, I believe). I am not a whiz-bang spinner, but I can do overtwist! I spun two different yarns, both approximately sport weight, with the Goldenrod in Z-twist and the Mojave in S-twist.

Why go to all this trouble? I love fabric that has loads of texture and personality, with yarns that misbehave in wonderful ways after washing. Although I haven't yet made a garment out of the fabric that I'm weaving (most of it is still on the loom), here is what the finished product looks like.

And here.

I love the pleats and bumps and the tracking, which you can see pretty clearly in the photo. To achieve this effect, I wound a warp of stripes in S and Z twist: 8 ends of Z (Goldenrod) and 8 ends of S (Mojave). Then, for the example above, I wove plain weave with a Z-twist weft. And then washed it. 

Just to clarify: S and Z twist refer to the direction of the plying or spinning of a yarn.

Here's what the fabric looked like just off the loom, before washing.

Even before I put it in hot water, it had a mind of its own:

I can't quite figure out why it's creating a Z twist, other than the fact that the Mojave yarn (red, spun in S-twist) seemed to have more energy than the Goldenrod. Just a theory.

If you want to know more about how I wove this fabric, what follows is a brief tutorial. For starters, pay no attention to the twisting and turning of the yarns in the warp chain. Treat them just as you would any others.

The warp starts to look more orderly once you've inserted the least sticks, so:

It looks even better when you tighten the heck out of the warp as you're beaming it:

Threading: Well, the yarns insist on maintaining their original twist when you're threading them and after threading as well. So you have to be very patient with them!

It all works out in the weaving, which creates a pretty conventional-looking cloth, as you saw at the beginning of this post. After washing -- well, as Laura Fry aptly titled her book, there's "Magic in the Water"!

One postscript: This June I will be flying to London to study with Ann Richards at the Handweavers Studio and Gallery. She is the author of "Weaving Textiles That Shape Themselves" and she is inspirational! I hope to take many photos and post a lot of good information after I return.

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