Last month, a member of my local weaving guild reached out to me to ask me if I would be interested in a tapestry loom and tapestry yarn. I ecstatically said “yes.” She was clear that this was a gift with no strings attached and froze the yarn for about three weeks before I went to pick it all up. We social distanced and wore masks on the back porch of her home the day I picked up this special gift. She shared some of her books by a few modern tapestry artists including The Making of Modern Tapestry: My Voyage of Discovery by Silvia Heyden and the whole experience felt like Christmas in July.
There were approximately 100 skeins of Norwegian tapestry yarn made from spaelsau wool (specifically designed for tapestries in a wide range of colors), four tapestry looms, tapestry bobbins, and a wooden tapestry comb. She said she bought these looms when she started weaving in the mid-seventies (just around the time I was born). As we talked, we discovered that 25 years ago, her home was just around the corner from where I live. Her generous spirit inspires me to continue my pursuit of becoming a professional weaver, and every time I incorporate this special yarn into one of my tapestries, use the bobbins, and pack down the weft, I am reminded of that. I love how weaving connects us!
Starting a weaving business has been the most exhilarating and most challenging endeavor of my life. I am stretching all of my skills and putting myself out there. It is not only frightening and terrifying, it’s also empowering and rewarding. I can feel the universe ushering me in. Thanks for joining me along the way and thanks for joining me on my fiber journey.
I just want to show you a little tip so if you are ever in a position where you are gifted some vintage yarn from Norway, specifically for tapestry – this really did happen to me. It feels like a dream come true, but it did happen. Spaelsau is a Norwegian sheep bread, and this particular sheep bread is very old; and has been domestic since the Iron Age. This is really special sheep. I wanted to see if I could find this bread of sheep in the United States, but I could not find a Shepard with this breed of sheep locally. If you know otherwise, please comment below and let me know because I would love to spin some of their roving into yarn. This is a two-ply yarn, it is very dense. It is not like the yarn that you use when you knit that is soft and fluffy with a lot of air in between. This yarn is dense and that’s what you want yarn when you are weaving tapestry. You want the yarn to be very compact, little air in between the fibers and this is two-ply yarn twisted together and the twist is pretty strong. So much so that it does get easily knotted, and that fact that is it wool, it is a little course. Actually, it feels like linen in a way.
The skeins come like embroidery floss or DMC thread. You have to pull from one end. There are two ends, but you have to pull the right one, otherwise it gets into so many knots. You want this dense type of yarn that packs down really tight, so this yarn is perfect for tapestry weaving. One end pulls from the inside out and one is wound from the outside wrapping in. Make sure you pull the right end which is the end that begins from inside of the skein. Attach the end to the yarn ball roller, hold the skein in your left hand (if you are right-handed) and turn the yarn ball winder with your right hand. In a matter of seconds, you will have a perfect ball of yarn. Here is my basket of tapestry yarn I’ve wound into yarn balls and now I can see all my yarn without needing to worry about the yarn getting tangled. I can see what I have easily, and I can use this basket of yarn much in the same way as a painter uses a palette. I hope you enjoy this tip of how to roll these small skeins into yarn balls.