Weaving Handspun Yarn: Sizing Your Singles

Afraid of weaving handspun yarn as singles? Hog wash! Applying sizing to your singles before you warp will help you reduce abrasion problems, tame overtwist, and get weaving faster.

Stephenie Gaustad Apr 7, 2023 - 4 min read

Weaving Handspun Yarn: Sizing Your Singles Primary Image

Why size your warp? Illustration by Stephenie Gaustad; frame by Manuchi on Pixabay

In the Spring 2018 issue of Spin Off, Stephenie Gaustad shared a few tips on how to size your singles. Once you try it, you‘ll be singing sizing‘s praises, too!

What is warp sizing (or size)? It is a temporary stabilizer, a starch or glue applied before the warp is dressed onto the loom.

The charm of a size is that once its usefulness has passed, it simply flushes out with plenty of warm water. Glues such as gelatin, hide glue, and flaxseed mucilage are stiff protein-based sizes. They rinse out freely in warm—not hot—water. Starches such as boiled flours or rice water are cellulosic; they slip off in warm, hot, or cool water. Fabric should be cleansed of all sizing completely before steam-setting, boiling, dyeing, or steam-pressing either yarns or fabric.

weaving handspun yarn

Sizing tamed the twist in Stephenie Gaustad‘s singles until she finished the cloth, which made the warp easy to dress onto the loom and the weaving easy. Photo by George Boe

In the case of my first attempt at warp sizing, threading the loom was a dream. The warp was stiff like wire—no need to use a reed or heddle hook. Winding on the warp went smoothly. The sized ends were well behaved and slid right on without tangling. While on the loom, the yarn had greater body, with no tendency to fuzz up or shred. When an end broke, it was easily discovered and repaired.

The cloth was superior to what I had woven before from either handspun or commercial yarn. A new day dawned: weaving handspun yarn as singles for warp and weft.

Sizing Yarn for Weaving with Singles

Once you have spun and skeined a sufficient yardage of handspun singles, it is time to size the skeins.

  1. Apply the size to the yarn in skein form.
  2. Wind the wet, sized skein onto a blocking reel to dry.
  3. When the size is dry, wind the stiff sized yarn onto a bobbin.
  4. With the bobbin on a lazy kate or a handheld pirn pin, wind the warp on a warping board. If warping a rigid-heddle loom, work from the lazy kate, pull a loop through each slot for the desired width, wind the warp onto the warp beam, and sley the holes before you tie onto the cloth beam.

Portions of this article have been excerpted from the Spring 2018 issue; read the full article in Spin Off Spring 2018.

Also, remember that if you are an active subscriber to Spin Off magazine, you have unlimited access to previous issues, including Spring 2018. See our help center for the step-by-step process on how to access them.

For decades, Stephenie Gaustad has taught fiber arts, spun, woven, dyed a ton of fiber, and apprenticed textile toolmaker Alden Amos. Her many articles have appeared in Handwoven, Spin Off, Ply, and Shuttle, Spindle and Dyepot. She is the author and illustrator of The Practical Spinner‘s Guide: Cotton, Flax, Hemp and illustrator of The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning.

Originally published July 26, 2018; updated April 7, 2023.