Tuesday, September 11, 2018


magnification of seine twine and a 2 ply cotton yarn - seine twine is generally made up of several plys and much more tightly twisted and an 'ordinary' 2 ply cotton yarn

At a recent class I talked a wee bit about working with 'tender'* yarn.  About how more twist will make a short staple fibre (like cotton) stronger.  But that with the addition of more twist, absorbency will be compromised.

What makes a yarn 'tender'?  It depends.  (OK, now you've all had your drink...)

Short staple is one thing that will contribute to a yarn being 'tender'.  A longer staple fibre will produce a stronger yarn - if all other things are equal - than a shorter staple fibre. 

Examples would be things like quiviut, cashmere, cotton. 

A singles yarn will be more tender than a plied one. 

A thinner yarn will be less strong than a thicker one.

So, when working with a yarn that is likely tender, can you use it in a warp?  Well, yes, but you need to treat it more gently than a stronger yarn because it is, by it's very nature tender.

Winding the warp there should be less tension applied (most weavers hold their yarn way too tight anyway, but really important to wind with only just enough tension and not very tightly).

Beaming the warp, wind more slowly, carefully straighten out any areas with slack tension, finger comb gently rather than use a brush or comb.

To weave, set the tension on the warp as low as it can be effectively woven with.  When advancing the warp, try to re-apply the same low tension.

Stay carefully within the 'sweet spot'.  Do not weave too close to the reed as this will place too much stress on the yarns and they can break.

Beat once, gently.  Do not bang away at the fell or double/triple beat.

Keep your bobbins on the skinny side rather than fill them full to maximum capacity.

Use a sizing if the yarn is really softly spun or - if you haven't used a sizing prior to beaming - use a sizing that can be sprayed or painted onto the warp.  The cheapest hair spray works well on many fibres, like cotton and rayon.  I wouldn't use it on silk.

Many yarns have special 'needs'.  Weave a sample before plunging into a long project to find out if the warp chain should be sized before going into the loom, test how much tension the yarn can withstand, find out where the sweet spot is and get comfortable with advancing the fell frequently.

*tender being another word for a yarn that is weaker and cannot withstand as much as a yarn that is more robust - tender is not necessarily a bad thing...

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