Weaving with Handspun

This is my Country Grass handspun made from hemp fiber and merino fleece. I spun these colors  and textures together in a thick and thin diameter to look like late summer grass clippings.

Hemp fiber blended with merino fleece using carding combs, then spun.

Combining merino fleece with a coarse plant fiber like hemp creates a yarn soft enough to wear against the skin.  The fineness of merino allows it to blend easily with the stringy hemp.

Hemp is half plant, half tree. It grows as fast as a plant and as strong as a tree; the fiber it yields is tough and versatile. Cultivated in the United States since colonial times – Thomas Jefferson was a hemp farmer – it was a traditional English and American crop for making rope, sails, fabric, and paper.

Aargh, a bulging selvedge!

Country Grass is the first handspun yarn I’ve woven on my Cricket rigid heddle loom and I was worried the thick and thin style handspun would weave unevenly, something like waves in a tapestry weaving.  This began to occur, but I just packed the rows in tighter and they evened out.  Only the selvedges were affected, bulging in places despite best efforts to keep them even.

As a result, the entire piece has a sort of crooked look to it.  Listen, I told myself, considering the yarn was designed to be rustic and natural looking, why shouldn’t the weaving be that way too?

I had set the twist on this handspun yarn but the piece still came out puffy and uneven as weavings do when they pop off the loom.   (For any non-spinners, what does “set the twist” mean?  After spinning, handspun yarn is !shocked! with hot and cold water baths or steam to cause the spun fibers/fleece to interlock, thus preventing it from unwinding back into its original state and remain as yarn.)  So I gently handwashed it, and the weaving filled out a bit as a result but it didn’t truly flatten out and look completed until I gave it a good rub with a steamy iron.  Here’s before & after pics, with apologies for the differences in lighting: 

And in the end, I’m happy with my rustic, country-ish, grassy table runner.  Looking now at the before and after photos, maybe I liked it better fresh off the loom.  (And that’s ok, because I’ve got two more skeins of Country Grass in my stash, she said, rubbing hands together in glee!)  Another plus is the fact that weaving was light years faster than knitting and I think really suited this particular yarn.  Cheers!

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