Here are some of the mercerized cottons sold in the US and which have proved to be very suitable for making warp faced pieces on my backstrap loom.
Aunt Lydia thread by Coats is a size 10 crochet cotton. It wraps about 35 times to the inch which will give non US weavers a better idea of its size. I use this for bookmarks and keyfobs.
Patons Grace is a number 3 cotton which wraps 24 times to the inch. I use this for bags, placemats and table runners. This size teamed with double strands of embroidery floss is good for supplementary weft pieces. This thread has a lot of sheen.
Coats Royale size 3 (24wpi) is similar to Patons Grace but with less sheen.
Nazli Gelin Garden cotton thread (35wpi)…firm and smooth and comes in beautiful strong colors. I bought this from a yarn store in North Carolina but it is available online too.
Plymouth Yarn Fantasy Naturale is a cabled mercerized cotton (12wpi). This weight is great for making a backstrap or for getting the hang of a new technique. I bought it at The Mannings. It is the same weight as Peaches and Creme and Sugar and Cream. However I don’t recommend using these cottons that have been designed for making dish cloths as they are too soft for warp faced weaving.
A member of the Backstrap Weaving Group at Ravelry has recommended Tahki Cotton Classic. You can see it at Webs. Cathyz made this backstrap with it:
FOR THOSE OF YOU IN THE UK….
I have a link to the Hand Weavers Studio site which has information about 22wpi (similar to number 3 US crochet cotton) and 32wpi (similar to number 10 US crochet cotton) cotton threads. I am told that they are pricey but they sell thread in convenient small quantities. This link was provided by Toby in the Weavolution backstrap group.
Barry in the Ravelry backstrap group gave me the link to Purplelinda Crafts which has a great range. I can’t guarantee that these are mercerized…best to check with them.
Dot provided details about this UK supplier who has mercerized cotton thread…
|William Hall and Co.
|We stock over 1500 repeatable yarns, many used for braid and tassel making. Plain and mercerised cottons, linens, cotton/linens, wools, viscose rayons, chenilles and fancy yarns in a large range of fast dyed colours. Send for details of our shade cards collections. Call us on 0161 437 3295.|
Toby at Weavolution provided this info for those in the UK…
I’ve been searching for chunkier yarns to weave with. Most of the smooth/mercerized yarns I’ve found are very fine, which is great for detail on bands, but I’m trying to experiment with a range of yarns at the moment, to see which ones I enjoy working with the most.
Just thought I’d share this with my fellow backstrap weavers, the Patons Smoothie DK yarn is great for use on a backstrap loom! The range of colours seems excellent and its smoothness means it doesn’t stick. The finished product feels a lot like the thicker mercerized cottons, despite being 100% acrylic.
Here in the UK it sells for about £2.50 per 100g in Hobbycraft, and it’s widely available on ebay. It measures in at 14wpi (6wpc). I think it would make a great yarn for beginners who find it more difficult to manipulate very fine yarns and who need something that won’t get sticky! Also good for BIG projects I imagine!
Knitting wool can be used for backstrap weaving but must be respun first so that it is strong and smooth enough to stand up to the abrasion of the heddles and will resist pilling as the yarns rub against each other. The yarn should be spun firmly enough so that it kinks back on itself as seen in the picture below.
I usually repsin the yarn and wind it into a tight ball leaving it for a few weeks before winding my warp.
If you spin your own yarn, the same applies.
I am not very knowledgeable about spinning wool. I spin it, I ply it, I weave with it, it works. Maybe I have just been lucky so far. That’s about all I can tell you!
So, I got this small ball of plied handspun wool from the experts in Chincheros Peru. I hope that it might give you some idea of the high twist…
I always ply the yarn as that is what the weavers here do and have never tried to use singles. Below is a piece I made from my handspun llama fiber.