Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Eye Candy: The Yarns We Use

Edit: June 2010
Yarns Plus has closed down their business. To get the same colours and quality, take a look at Webs for tencel.  Also, no one seems to be supplying 10/2 dyed tencel any longer. This is my preferred size and so if anyone learns of a supplier, please email me!
Consider doing up joint orders with other weavers to reduce shipping costs.  
There! That should get your attention... a nice cone of yarn. It's 2/8 tencel in a colour called eggplant. This picture gives you some idea of how rich this is but the photo doesn't quite measure up to the real colour! Tencel has such a sheen that it's difficult to take a picture without the shine getting in the way.

I have received two yarn orders recently. I *had* to order some as the shawl commission will be using some shades I don't have in stock (darn). The shawl will be two shades of red, alternating end for end across the warp to give a more dimensional colour than a single shade and the weft will be black.
You'll be seeing more about this commission in posts to come...

So I naturally took advantage of the order to pick up some colours I don't have in my stash and here are the bonus cones:

Ming blue, red purple and the eggplant. These are in 2/8 tencel. My preferred yarn size is 2/10 but Yarns Plus can't get a consistent and regular supply of dyed tencel in that size so they had to drop it. The only colours available in 2/10 is undyed off white and a black, which they get dyed locally in Ontario. But Don did have one colour left and on sale and I jumped on it! This is 2/10 in a gold shade. I have used it before to good effect! Orders from Don at Yarns Plus are a real treat. It's like Christmas opening those boxes up!

Okay, want some more?
As you know I have been weaving up a lot of towels lately and Brassard has new colours out in all cotton sizes. The LYS has some of these in stock and look what followed me home!

The colours don't show as well as I hoped but there 2 of plain white ( your basic, good for everything white), 2 cones of a colour called clay which is more than a beige or ecru, 1 each of a deep plum and a olive green. No project in particular but merely an attempt to update colours on hand. Works for me!

More? Okay.....

This is 2/12 authentic tartan yarns from Locharron, Scotland that were on sale at The Yarn Source. I had read about the sale quite late after the initial sale announcement due to my computer being at the repair depot and so a bit 'late to the party' as I told Lise who runs this business. Most of the colours I wanted had already gone home with other weavers. So I used my colour card and we went through what was left of the modern, ancient and weathered shades left. These are a basic white, red, maroon, and a charcoal black, plus a medium green.

I chose all of these purchases by using colours cards I have on hand here at home....

We seem to talk a lot about looms, equipment, books, magazines but very little about something we use every time we sit down to weave.... our yarns. Only that we got some new... but what and from where? And colours? Sizes?

Mail ordering yarns: how to have a happy experience! Well, it means investing in sample cards and keeping them current. If your local yarn store doesn't carry weaving supplies, you should invest in a least one set. Most companies have them and over time you can build up a nice collection. Be sure to ask them for their return policy just in case you get something you weren't expecting.
I would like to recommend that you check out this 'Master Yarn' chart at the bottom of this page at Interweave Press/ Handwoven web site. I have these sheets in plastic sleeves and refer to them quite often. They also show the yarns used and where to purchase them in each magazine issue. This chart is just very convenient to use as they also include recommended setts.

My colour samples on hand.... and I use them!
Here's Treenway's. I usually buy my silk undyed in either 2/20 or 2/30 as my basic sizes for weaving and doing painted silk warps. I do have other silks and blends of course....

Here's Brassard's sample BOOK! ( great investment and one I recommend for Canadian weavers at the least). It's an amazing resource!

Look at all the sheets and dozens and dozens of samples! Well worth the $13.00 ( in Canadian $ too)

Jane Stafford's selection featuring Louet yarns. These have a lovely colour range and beautiful quality too.

The Silk Tree ( situated at Diane Sanderson's Silk Weaving Studio at Granville Island, in Vancouver, BC. and also Maple Ridge, BC) They seem to feature silks from Europe. I bought some lovely tussah silks in a natural gold and blacks and did some houndstooth check scarves... lovely to weave with and from Italy...

Yarns Plus, in Mississauga Ontario.
Don and Marie also feature a full range of colours in rayon chenille as well as a full range of undyed tencel in varying sizes and 2/8 in astounding colours!

Another card from Aurelia Wool and Weaving. They feature wools and spinning fleece from New Zealand. (If I can find their web site address, I will edit this in later)

I like to use (synthetic) orlec from time to time for wash and wear table linens. I ordered some from an Ontarian business called 'What's Weft" and they sent me the colour cards. At that time there was 63 colours to choose from.... and now there are 90! Brassard carry it and they call it orlon. Its nice to have the colours on hand for planning.

Check the project notes in Handwoven for the yarns used in their project and the companies selling them. Names such as Webs, Halcyon, and Habu , to name just a few of the many, are featured. Also check the back advertising section closely too for smaller operations that can provide you with yarns, tools and supplies.

Most weavers (spinners and dyers too) normally try to support local businesses first, regional next and then national. I would shop across the border much more often if our exchange rate was at par or close to it. (If that happens, I would get the Halcyon yarn store in a box! I love their catalogues) I must admit here to my international visitors that my knowledge is focused on Canada and the USA. I have no information about European yarn suppliers or 'down under' from Australia and New Zealand. Please share in the comment section if you like... and thank you!

Going together with other weavers to place an order is a good idea as well so the shipping expenses are shared. Ask if they have a magic order size where you can get a discounted rate. For example, Treenway gives a discount on order sizes of $150.00 or more. Not hard to do given the prices of that yummy silk! Most companies have email newsletters and sales once or twice a year. Give those a close look and shop sales. Brassard has regular sales on basic cottons and speciality yarns. When ordering, be sure to ask if they have new, updated colours to add to your sample cards.

Then there's the all popular 'ugly yarn swap and shop' at guild meetings. I have brought home some lovely items from sale tables. Maybe the size is right but the colour not so much? Plan a day over dyeing it. You don't have much to lose by trying and a fun day what ever the result. I have some magenta 2/6 wool on cones that I plan to skein up and over dye navy blue. It's perfect weft for doing a balanced overshot using 2/10 cottons. I got the cone for $2.00 so it's worth a try.

Then every now and then a weaver hangs up their shuttle for the last time and we have estate sales. The first few sort of creeped me out, but eventually I adjusted to the fact that the weaver would have wanted her stash to be used and shared (including me someday.) I have some lovely yarns in my stash that belonged to special friends and they are with me in spirit when I use them. It really is one big continuous warp on the universal loom!

On a personal note: Thanks for hanging in there while I wrestled with my lack of smarts with regards to blogging. (Granted Blogger didn't help much...) I appreciated your collective help. I will be looking at that alternative you suggested Peg!
I have a weaving exchange runner warp going onto the Louet Spring... still have the place mats to weave off on the big CM (next!) and I'll be winding the shawl commission warp shortly now the cones have arrived. The trouble is time.
Time is being pulled in many directions now the grass is growing, along with weeds and 2 1/2 acres to share looking after, .....and the renovations will be starting again. We will be replacing the outer decks (upper and lower) and including reworking the entry way to our home. Most of the work is outside ( thankfully) and will be done in stages.
So, there will be pictures of that from time to time as it will be what's current and happening in our lives. Don't worry... there will be weaving too!


Life Looms Large said...

Thanks for all the yarn scoop! It is interesting to hear about other people's yarn shopping experiences.

I guess that since I'm between WEBS and Halcyon geographically, I tend to stick with the two of them....Halcyon is easier for me to do mail order, but every other year the regional conference near WEBS gives me the great excuse to shop there.

It is amazing how the warmer weather pulls us out of our studios! I feel myself pulled in many directions and losing weaving momentum.

But I love summer!!

Weave on!

Theresa said...

Oh Sue, lucky you to add all that wonderful stash.
Thank you for the great push about color cards. I have one set from Harrisville and have been on the fence about ordering others. Halcyon has a complete set called yarn store in a box with color cards from all their lines.
I can hardly wait to see the tartan you weave up. I love them but have yet to test the waters on one.

Laritza said...

Absolutely lovely colors. It is a hard planning decision. I too find that color cards are the most helpful.

Lynnette said...

I'm going with "Great Minds Think Alike" Susan, 'cause I just got my Yarns Plus order yesterday! I'm loving the tencel colours I ordered - so shiny and bright, and who doesn't like shiny things! I too am a big fan of yarn sample cards but have never thought of ordering the M. Brassard, it looks fantastic and now on my "to do" list.

bspinner said...

The tencel yarn is beautiful!!!! And the cottons for your towels are warm and inviting.

I agree with you on getting and keeping up color cards from at least a couple of good yarn companies.

Leigh said...

Great advice on mail ordering yarns. And great eye candy to accompany it!

Grunniens Yak Ranch said...

Your blog popped up in my daily Google search for "Yak". Not a weaver, spinner, or yarn person at all but, your blog is fabulous! Great photos, beautiful work! I will definitely forward it to my fiber friends.