Can I Weave with Knitting Yarn?

The Difference Between Knitting and Weaving Yarn

There are only a few things I can think of that’s more satisfying than strolling through the yarn aisles in a craft store. The colors and the texture of the yarn are just so tempting. It’s like they’re all calling out, “pick me! pick me!”. It was in one of those moments that this incredibly soft, yummy yarn called out and I thought, “well, why wouldn’t this work for weaving”? So I purchased the yarn and several coordinating colors and off to the warping board I went. I was so confident that I was going to create the most beautiful baby blanket yet.

I noticed issues right away. My coordinating yarn was super stretchy and staticy (is that even a word?). Even more of an issue was that the main yarn was getting fuzzy as it moved back and forth through the reed. This caused the yarn to stick together behind the reed and affected the movement of the heddles. It was a mess!

So the question is, “Can you weave with knitting yarn?” The answer is “yes”, but you need to know which yarns could work and which yarns would not. So here are a few things you need to know. First, it’s important to understand that yarns for knitting and yarns for weaving are processed differently as they are created for different purposes. Knitting yarn is designed to be soft and stretchy and therefore, they do not have a tight twist. Weaving yarn is designed to be strong and durable. Weaving yarn is often tightly twisted making it strong and able to handle the tension when used as a warp.

Determining Sett When Using Knitting Yarn

Another HUGE difference between knitting yarn and weaving yarn is how the size of the yarn is described on the label. The label for knitting yarns provide the weight, a number to describe the size and size recommendations for knitting needles and crochet hooks. This is not the way yarn is sized in the weaving world so you have to do a little translation. I wasn’t quite ready to ditch the idea of using knitting yarn for weaving so I thought I’d give it another go. I found this colorful variegated yarn at Hobby Lobby so I’m going to try another baby blanket.

So how did I figure out the sett? First I needed to figure out the Wraps Per Inch (WPI). To do this, I wrapped the yarn around a ruler and counted the number of wraps. For this yarn, I calculated 10 WPI. Translating this into the weaving world lingo, this yarn is somewhere between “worsted” and “dk”. I’m planning on weaving a project with a broken twill so I used a calculation chart that I found online where you multiply the WPI by 2/3 and you’ll get the recommended sett.

Based on this calculation, I should try starting at 7 epi. Understanding that this is just a guide, I decided to weave a few samples with my 10 dent reed and then samples with my 8 dent reed. I decided on using a mixed twill pattern from The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory. This is a 4 shaft pattern.

Recommendations for Using Knitting Yarn for Weaving

  • Test the strength of the yarn by pulling on it. If you are using the yarn as a warp, you want to make sure it will hold up under tension
  • Consider how the yarn will behave when having to go back and forth through the reed. Trust me, dealing with those fuzzies was no picnic.
  • Check to see how stretchy the yarn is. Try avoiding yarn that is too stretchy.
  • Purchase a small amount of the yarn first and WEAVE SAMPLES. After a few projects didn’t turn out as I envisioned, I am increasingly becoming a fan of weaving samples. Especially when using yarn designed for knitting, you’ll want to be sure to test it out first.

Resources and Items Used in this Project:

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