I find that in the weaving world we are talking a lot about using "knitting" yarns in weaving. I can't quite figure out what a "knitting" yarn is. I know that they come in balls instead of cones, and that they tend to have more air in them than worsted-style "weaving" yarns. Sometimes they have more texture that can give heddles fits and get squished when used as weft. But still, all yarns used for knitting can be used for weaving as well. I think what we mean when we use the term "knitting yarn" is yarn marketed to knitters. I know there are some creative folks out there using these yarns in nifty ways. One of my favorite ways to use them is to find sweater kits on sale and use the yarns for large lacy shawls. What's yours?
Managing Editor, Handwoven
I only started to weave two years ago by making a Navajo loom from the instructions in "Navajo Weaving Way" by Noel Bennett and Tiana Bighorse. When I joined the local Weaver's Guild I discovered spinning and processing fleeces. I make Navajo style rugs on both my Navajo loom and a two harness Jack loom, with my own hand-spun, hand dyed yarn. These yarns can also, and have been used for knitting projects. I have also made rugs using Navajo warp and store bought wool knitting yarn. The store bought yarns make a very soft rug, but the hand-spun looks more like a real Navajo rug. Wheel Crazy in Oregon
Well, the primary difference between weaving and knitting yarns is that weaving yarns are treated before being coned to keep them from becoming too *hairy* or abrading in the weaving process. As you know, wool yarns when woven and finished *bloom* when washed so that the yarn fluffs up somewhat and the sizing is removed. Knitting yarns are not so finished since the knitting or crochet process is not as abrasive as the weaving process. This is also why knitting yarns give your heddles fits or makes your sheds grab so that they are a bit more difficult to open.
I have an extensive stash of yarn -- collected over decades of knitting. Now that I am weaving more than knitting, I am using up my stash. I really like weaving with sock yarn (that doesn't have any nylon). The results are super soft laprugs and scarves. You can see some of them on my blog. One thing I have discovered about sock yarn as a warp -- works better when just using 4 harnesses and not 8. With 8 there is alot of stretch and getting the tension right is tough (at least for me!).
I like to use knitting yarns to accent either the warp or weft. That allows me to experiment with texture, one of my favorite things to do.
I don't knit, but my stash does include "knitting yarns". They are great for texture, I don't often use them in the warp, although I do have eyelash yarn mixed in with chenille for a scarf just now. I'm waiting on a larger dent reed from webs for the loom, as I expect both yarns will be abraided enough going through the heddles.
Another area where yarns similar to those used in weaving is my embroidery. I can see a difference in the pearl cottons I use & not just in price! The thread is shiney. I can get wonderful silks and cotton floss in lovely hand dyed colors, but the small skeins are definately not for using in most weaving. I do incorporate some of these threads, when left over, in tapestry. In fact, they are a wonderful way for me to use up thrums. I have two small looms (one I got in Grand Rapids Convergence) as well as a larger Penelope from LeClerc.
Happy Weaving to All! - Joan in Jamestown
If I use knitting yarns in my weaving It is usually in the weft. I often float them on the surface so they don't end up squished. Some "railroad" yarns look good being squished because they are usually varigated, and, used randomly, not consistently, add just a flash of color. I find that almost any yarn can be used as weft, but a good warp yarn must not stretch very much.
A mixed warp can yield differential stretch, and that may lead to tension problems. For example, I purchased a space dyed, mixed fiber warp chain, and threaded my loom front-to-back. The first threads through the heddles that got tied to the back beam had the colors lined up just the way they looked when I purchased the warp chain. By the time the warp was fully wound and tied on to the front beam the colors looked muddy, due to varying amounts of stretch in the different yarns. I found that I had to use a weft with "tooth" to stay in control, because the stretching continued throughout the weaving process. This problem was very visible because it was space dyed. So, watch the stretch of warp yarns, especially if you use "knitting" yarns.