Spinning, Weaving

Weaving Handbags

I’m working with a friend to create a new line of handspun, handwoven handbags. I’ll be doing the spinning and weaving, and my friend will be doing the sewing, putting the handbags together.

I warped my rigid heddle loom at 10 ends per inch. The warp yarn is a commercially spun wool yarn that came out to 18 wraps per inch. For plain weave, the standard is to figure your wraps per inch and then warp it at about half that many ends per inch. I decided to go just a bit denser because I’m wanting a good sturdy fabric and also because, well, I have a 10 dent reed and an 8 dent reed, so I had to go either a bit denser or a bit looser. Since my weft yarn is considerably thicker than my warp yarn, this will be a weft-emphasis fabric.

Here’s the loom with the first few rows woven.

I personally don’t really enjoy warping. I think of it as a necessary chore in order to get to the fun part, which is weaving. So, if I can be efficient with warping, I am. The length of the warp is enough for five handbags, so I have many enjoyable hours of weaving ahead of me.

I’m using my Firebird colorway for the first handbag. By nature, I tend to go for blues and greens and purples, so I have to make an effort to get outside my comfort zone, and I’m often really pleased with the results. I started with one of my Firestar batts here. These are available in my shop, by the way.


I also made another batt using all the same materials, but instead of carding it twice, I carded it once and then dizzed it off the drum carder into roving. I spun both variations and then plied them together, making a fractal yarn. This gives the yarn some extra depth since the colors change at different rates.

Here are a few pictures of the yarn:

I’ll be using different weft yarn for each of the five handbags. Once I have woven them all and taken them off the loom, I may decide to full the fabric a bit to make it thicker and denser. It just depends on how it looks after it comes off the loom. A lot of decision making goes into weaving, doesn’t it? I’ll keep you posted as I go.

Now back to work….