Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

Before I can wind the warp bouts from my handspun, I have to convert my skeins to cones.  Some people convert theirs to balls, using a ball winder.  I have found, however, that the yarn unwinds much more easily from a cone than from a ball.  So I use a (relatively) inexpensive cone winder I purchased from Halcyon Yarns years ago.

An annoying cost, however, is that of the cones.  I have accumulated quite a few.  There is a way to save money here I learned recently.  Spinning Lizzy posted a wonderful tutorial here on her blog which shows how to to create cardboard cones you slip over the cone winder and then remove with the yarn wound on it.  This is similar to making cardboard cones for a ball winder, something I have occasionally done.  But the technique is a little more complex.  Go to her blog to learn how.

The first thing I need to do is to slip the skein over my skein winder.  Yes, this skein winder, by LeClerc, can function as a swift, or unwinder, as well.  In fact it works better than a swift because there is no danger of the skein falling down.  It operates more smoothly as well. And if the yarn is uncooperative (as fine silks tend to be), I can use the handle with my left hand and turn it in a rhythm to synchronize with the right-hand turning of the handle of the cone winder.

Handspun skein closesup To ensure that the skein will come off smoothly, I snap it between my hands a few times. This helps to align the yarn.

Then I put it on the skein winder.  As I put it on I look at the places where I made the figure-of-eight ties.  I look for the knots.  I want all the knots to be in the same place.  Either at the back of the skein or at the front of the skein. In this case, they are at the front of the skein. 

Once on the skein winder, I then stick my finger in the spaces formed by the crossing of the holding ties and slip it all around the entire skein.  I do this with each space. In this skein there are three spaces. When I do this I always find some of the yarn has moved over with the next group where it does not belong.  I pull it away and bring it home.   If I did not, when I got to that bit of yarn in the unwinding, it would undoubtedly get caught and stick a bit and force me to stop and settle it down.

Once I am satisfied that the yarns are all aligned as well as they can be, I remove the ties Skein winder to cone winder and attach the yarn to the cone winder.

Winding handspun warp on cone winder


The photo on the left shows the yarn as it goes from the skein winder to the cone winder and gets wound onto the cone.  The photo on the right shows a detail of the cone winder. 

Handspun wound on cone And here is a full wound cone.  I wound two more cones and from there I went on to make the warp.

Winding bouts for warping is not really any different from winding handspun yarn.  I try to exert less tension, however, because my handspun wool is very stretchy.  I have never woven with knitting yarn, but I imagine that it too is stretchy.  The last handspun warp I made jumped into a shorter length when I took it off the board.  It was visibly quite surprising.  This warp did not.

I really enjoyed winding these bouts. I loved the feel of the yarn as it went through my hands.  Soft, yet, because of the bits of rayon and silk incorporated into the fiber, it was at the same time silken.  Quite delicious.

Related Post:
Skeins to Cones
Tying Skeins

Making the Handspun Warp” was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on February 18, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina


Leigh said...

This is timely because I've just posted about my spinning progress for my weaving project (in the distant future.)

I never would have thought to wind my handspun off into cones. I've always done balls and pulled from the center. I will have to give this a try.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Leigh, pulling from the center eventually leads to "ball collapse." especially if you wind big balls. Even when I knit with balls I have made from skeins, I take the yarn from the outside, not the inside.