3 Tips for Using Handspun Art Yarns as Warp

Creative handspinner Esther Rodgers is often asked how to use highly textured art yarns to showcase their best qualities. One of her favorite ways is weaving. Esther shares her tips for using art yarns as a warp. (Don’t think you can? Think again!)

Esther Rodgers Aug 13, 2018 - 3 min read

3 Tips for Using Handspun Art Yarns as Warp Primary Image

Esther believes that weaving is an amazing way to showcase art yarns.

Art yarns have a huge effect when used as warp, which may surprise you if you’ve been afraid of loom waste.

1. Abrasion

When you think of using textured yarn as warp, you need to consider abrasion. Make sure that the space the yarn is moving through in the heddle (and reed, for a shaft loom) is large enough for the yarn. If the yarn is rubbing too much as you change the shed and place the weft, you risk weakening the fibers and breaking the yarn. If your art yarn (or any yarn you are thinking of using for warp) is on the fragile side, reconsider. Save fragile yarns for weft. Warp yarns need to be able to hold up to repeated abrasion.

art yarns

Esther’s weaving demonstrates that you can use art yarns, such as beehive and coiled yarns, as supplemental warp. Photos by George Boe

2. Heddles and Adding Supplemental Warp

On a rigid-heddle loom, use a heddle (or heddle segment, if you have a variable-dent rigid heddle) that has fewer dents per inch (dpi) on textured yarn. On a multishaft loom, you can rig up a large-eye heddle by using a shower ring and two pieces of twine. Tie the twine onto the ring in two places, then tie the ring onto your heddle bars. You can pass a strand of art yarn warp through the shower ring and either include it with the other warp yarns or add it as supplemental warp by anchoring the end with passes of the weft. If you’ve added the handspun yarn as a supplemental warp, add some weight to give it tension.

3. Sett

Another thing to think about when choosing warp yarns is sett—how close together your warp threads are. What do you want the cloth to do? Stiffer fabric is good for bags, placemats, rugs, or outwear, while drapey cloth is better for garments, shawls, and scarves. If you are using mostly bulky yarns as weft, leave more space in the warp (sett the piece wider) to compensate and give the cloth good drape. Thinner yarns in the weft also keep the drape of the

Excerpted from Spin Off Spring 2018.

Esther Rodgers is a full-time fiber artist and wool sniffer. Check out her courses Color Blending for Spinners and Card Wool for Color and video How to Spin Art Yarns. She lives in Mebane, North Carolina, with three spinning wheels, multiplying looms, and chatty cats. To follow her ridiculous schedule, find a workshop, or look into her studio, visit