Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals: Weaving with Fine Yarns

building my confidence for both handling and weaving with fine yarns.

Do you have a big, scary goal for your making but don’t feel like you are making progress? I’ve mentioned here previously that one of my long-term desires is to make my own garments from my handwoven cloth. My skills-building strategy for the year was aimed at building my confidence for both handling and weaving with fine yarns.


It is all well and good to have strategies for reaching goals… how about putting those strategies into practice? Are our strategies effective? Are we making progress toward our goals?

In the Epic Cloth workshop, Felicia Lo encourages us to reflect on our progress. Let’s look at what I discovered this year as I wove with fine yarn and see how much progress I’ve made toward garment-weaving.

building my confidence for both handling and weaving with fine yarns.

Handling Fine Yarn

This year I worked mostly on projects that used fine yarns in the weft. The easiest yarns to work with came on cones and spools, but the most difficult to manage were the ones that came in skein form. I could wind bobbins or quills straight from the cone or spool, but if the yarn was in a skein, I needed to wind it in a ball or cake first. Ideally, you would wind it onto a cone or spool, but there aren’t too many cone-winders on the market for home use and my single-end bobbin winder doesn’t hold a spool. If you have a double-ended bobbin winder, you may be in luck. Let me just say that winding a cake of yarn from a single skein for thousands of metres is a tiresome task.

More Weft Picks = More Weaving!

Weaving with fine yarn in the weft means that there are many more picks to weave per inch. Think of all that extra weaving practice you get per project! I also noticed how much I improved at winding bobbins and quills for my boat shuttles. The quills are more evenly packed, and my weaving is more even as a result.

building my confidence for both handling and weaving with fine yarns.

Material Matters

So many yarns and fibres become more affordable as fine yarn. This means that you get to compare the qualities of different materials and how they affect the result. I wove with silk and alpaca, which I would never have been able to afford otherwise. The benefit? The more I sampled, the more I learned about the ways weave structure and materials interact.

For example, I had warped my loom with 12/1 NeL line flax and found that switching out a flax weft for a 40/2 Nm alpaca/wool blend drastically changed the hand of the cloth, changing it from towelling to a luxurious dress-weight fabric. Making colour-and-weave patterns with 12/1 NeL flax and 16/2 Ne cotton in the weft produced completely different fabrics again, with visible differences in draw-in.

More for Multicraftual Makers

One thing I didn’t expect as I’ve wove with fine yarns was how much I would enjoy working with them in other crafts. Ruth Nguyen wrote about her experiences crocheting with laceweight yarn and I’ve followed suit by crocheting with leftover yarns from weaving projects! I’m particularly proud of my 30/2 Nm silk scarf version of Charlotte Lee’s Heartfelt Shawl, which I completed during the SweetGeorgia Yarns Spring Make-Along. On my crochet hook at the moment is a version of the Yona Cowl, from Charlotte’s new crochet course. This time I’m working with 28/2 Nm worsted wool. A multipurpose stash appeals to me.

building my confidence for both handling and weaving with fine yarns.

Am I Closer to My Goal?

I may have gotten more comfortable handling finer yarn this year, but it hasn’t necessarily got me any closer to making handwoven garments. Some of the cloth I made could have been used for garments, but none of those experiments yielded enough yardage for a garment. Where might I have gone wrong?

I can see that I never really set any measurable goals and so my plan was in service of a nebulous idea. It is no wonder that, although I feel more comfortable with fine yarn than I did before, I do not feel more comfortable weaving garment cloth nor making garments from handwoven cloth.

So, What is Next?

If you find that you too have a big project on your bucket list but you never feel like you make progress, there are two courses in the School to help: Felicia’s Epic Cloth Challenge and Tabetha Hedrick’s Plan Your Make Nine.

I’ll be working on breaking down my big, hairy, audacious goal into baby steps. Join me in the forums as we work through our reflections and plans for the new year. There are groups for both the Epic Cloth and Make Nine challenges and I’d love to see you there. Not a member of the School of SweetGeorgia? Join us!

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