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Sunday, February 15, 2015

What kind of yarn/thread do you use? And why?

 Question three from Jacqueline at Cheapskate Blethering. Hop  over to see her contest.         

After a while, Jan and I wove exclusively in cotton. It is so reliable; the cottons we selected made lovely fabric with “good hand.” “Good hand” is old weaving terminology  that simply means the cloth feels good. It is woven well, using appropriate pics and ends per inch for the thread selected, properly processed after weaving. Done right, I suppose distills the idea.

We wove our shirt fabrics with eight/two or smaller cotton threads, in plain weave or twill. We built interest with colors; blending tones, using bold colors or stripes.

Almost all our cotton thread we bought as mill ends; thread left from big jobs in big mills and sold by brokers. We selected carefully and seldom paid more than two dollars a pound.

Because we kept our material cost low we could sell our shirts at a price customers did not mind paying. In truth, there was no possibility we could order thread from a big mill, with minimum orders of hundreds of pounds.

Right now I am weaving with thread left from ten years ago. But, the odds and ends I am putting together are dwindling, and in April I will be in Boiling Spring, North Carolina, in the converted spinning mill Sheldon Small has converted to a thread warehouse. He warned me it is thousands of square feet; wear comfortable shoes.

Before we settled on cotton, Jan and I used a lot of different threads. Rayon, synthetics, novelties. They simply are not cotton. But one novelty thread taught us a valuable marketing lesson. The thread was boucle.

Boucle simply is French for “bump”. The thread can be cotton or synthetic; the latter have all the bling and jazz. It’s a time consuming thread to work with, but it makes an eye catching shawl or scarf. Jan, who was far more technically proficient that I, mastered the yarn and produced beautiful shawls with a V back.

At the first show we displayed them, we had no good place in the booth to hang the shawls, so I put them outside. People reach out and touch things as they pass. When they touched the lovely yarns they stopped to look, and often to buy. We soon called the shawls “the hook.” I set up every booth from then on with a “hook.”

And in tomorrow’s post about a favorite piece to weave, I’ll also tell you about my least favorite piece, and how it was “the hook” for twenty years.



  1. I'm knitting with boucle right now...I hate it.

    1. Interesting Joanne how tastes change. Although of course I don't weave (I think far less people in this country do so compared with the US) I smiled at the introduction of synthetic material. I remember my father and his love of cotton shirts in the summer. He liked the finest Egyptian cotton shirts, with long sleeves and when short sleeves came into fashion he absolutely refused to wear them until my sister bought him one for a June birthday. Once he had worn them that was it - short sleeves from then on.
      Actually I love boucle, although I rarely see it these days but I do agree with Delores - it is hateful to knit with.

    2. Boucles are hateful to weave with, too. Each inch of weft must be inspected to see it laid properly into the shedd and will not snag another one of the loops and cause a mess. I admired the finished product, but not the making of it.

  2. I don't use any yarn, but I do receive your post alerts!

  3. I would think cotton would be the best one to weave with as it is the most comfortable to me of all the different fabrics out there to wear. Good that you found the hook of what drew people to buy at your shows; looking forward to reading what the other hook was that you were not fond of making.


  4. Hari OM
    Ughghh.... yup, what Delores said - and I am sure it is equally so with weaving - Likewise for crochet, though as you say, sometimes the end product is worth the agony. ....sometimes... YAM xx

  5. I now know more about threads than I ever dreamed I would.

  6. I'm not a weaver... I'm a knitter.... but love working with different yarns. I recently finished a pair of socks that I hated the yarn... it split constantly, and when using #1 knitting needles, that's a real pain. When you weave, do you "feel" the yarn as much... does it glide over your hand and around your fingers (like knitting)? Once I bought some yarn from a friend who raised sheep and spun yarn to sell.... the lanolin in that was like using a hand lotion. Thank goodness I wasn't allergic!

  7. Well, with that last line you've also hooked me for tomorrow's installment! Interesting stuff, all of it.

  8. I used to crochet, and I'd buy whatever yarn was soft from Joann's!

  9. I like cotton, it's very forgiving. Hand or machine wash, stains can be scrubbed, fabric can be easily dyed, iron or don't iron.
    I also like silk, it's my favourite yarn, but I can't afford it, so in the past I have had shirts and skirts made of rayon which is artificial silk, so much cheaper and very, very cool to wear in summer. Now, rayon clothing is hard to find, it's all natural yarns or polyester.
    So I'm back to cotton.

  10. What kind of yarn do I use......well, see....I size them up first, figure out what will work best.....maybe the Navy stories, or how I can do Thai cooking....then I.....wait. You're talking about something else, aren't you?

  11. I'd love to learn to weave. I'm a terrible knitter, however I continue to make prayer shawls. Knit six rows - purl a couple -- knit six rows. Currently working on a new Christmas stocking for my new daughter-in-law to be. Will match all the others I've made. However, she is a knitter. A good one. I pray she doesn't critique my stitches. (I don't think she will. She is much too kind.)

    Talented woman you must be.

  12. The closest I get to yarn is buying it for my 14year old granddaughter. She has liked to crochet since she was about 6. From the comments that I have read here, I will make sure that I don't buy her any boucle.

  13. I love shawls, too, and they are indeed a hook. Most of my muumuus are made of cotton.

  14. well, I learned here recently how much I am over making something we made many many of.