Why Not Try Novelty Yarns

I have a secret. I know I shouldn’t, I know they’re “not for me” but I LOVE novelty yarns. From the subtle ribbon yarns and to the ridiculously fluffy eyelash yarns, I am drawn to them like a moth to a flame. If you add in some glitter or make it variegated, I am sold.

Novelty yarns like this can be weaving yarns, as long as you know how it's appropriate to use them.
Novelty yarn: So pretty and so mysterious.

While this was OK during my brief foray into knitting (I made so many scarves using fur yarn and giant needles that I had to give them away), in weaving it’s slightly more difficult to find good reasons to pick up a skein or three of ladder yarn. As a result I rarely buy novelty yarns; intead I look at them longingly while they sit on the yarn store shelf, calling out to me. The ones I do buy get sent to the back of the stash like naughty children.

It is true that if you’re using the rigid-heddle loom, it’s slightly easier to incorporate these yarns into your weaving. Rigid-heddle looms and novelty weaving yarns do go together pretty well, but sometimes I want something more. My rigid-heddle loom is pretty skinny, so what if I want to weave something wide? And in twill?

I know I could use a novelty yarn in the weft and a “normal” weaving yarn in the warp, but how do I make sure that the fun and unique aspects of the novelty yarn won’t get lost? Can I use a variegated yarn in both warp and weft? Is it ever possible to use a novelty yarn in the warp? How can I tell? Once you weave your piece, how do you finish it? Do novelty weaving yarns behave the same as other yarns?

There are so many questions I want to ask before I can begin!

Now, I’d rather not boldly blunder ahead. I trust myself to create projects around familiar weaving yarns: cotton, cottolin, silk, and wools. I know how to test them for warps (and often I already know if they will work for a warp or not) and I know how they’ll behave when I warp, weave, and finish them. This is not the case with rayon bouclés and other highly textured novelty yarns. I love the way they look and the way they feel, but will I love the way they weave?

So far in my (short) weaving life, I’ve managed to avert most disasters at the loom and have lost only a minimal amount of yarn to poorly planned weaving, and I’d like to keep it that way.

What’s a girl with a love for novelty yarns to do?

Well, once again it’s Tom Knisely to the rescue. I can’t wait to get my paws on a copy of his latest weaving workshop Weaving With Novelty Yarns. In this new video, Tom answers all these questions and oh, so much more!

Use novelty yarns as weaving yarns to create exciting cloth!
Variegated yarns can be scary to weavers, but when used right they produce gorgeous cloth!

I’m looking forward to learning Tom’s tips and tricks for designing, weaving, and finishing fabrics made with these fun yarns. It’s so nice to know that not only are novelty yarns no longer off limits for the floor loom, and that Tom Knisely—a legitimately professional weaver—sees novelty yarns as weaving yarns.

So maybe it shouldn’t be a secret anymore, and maybe I’ll stop hiding my novelty yarns on the top shelf of my stash, behind the fluffy skeins of alpaca. If Tom Knisely approves, then surely weaving with novelty yarns can’t be a bad thing. And perhaps I now have a new reason to visit the yarn store this weekend and see what new, fun weaving yarns I can discover. I can’t wait to see what ends up on my loom next!

Happy Weaving!

Christina Garton

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Christina Garton

About Christina Garton

I'm Associatet Editor for Handwoven where I get to interact daily with all sorts of wonderfully creative people. I'm obsessed with twill and weaving dishtowels, although I'm also in love with deflected doubleweave. When I'm not weaving twill towels, I love to try out new fibers and structures and blog about it as I go!

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