Historical Textiles-


Spinning History

From Wool to Cloth: Using a Historical Weaving Technique on my Wildwool Farms Rolag Box

So many people have been buzzing about Wildwool Farms and their incredible rolag boxes — so I had to try one!

The rolag box was a surprise to open because I didn’t pick out specific colors or fibers. I was going to try to spin and weave whatever was in the box. My goal for this project was just to have fun, embrace the challenge, and try to make a beautiful, historically inspired woven cloth out of it.

"from wool to cloth" a multi-color rolag of wool with an arrow and finished fabric
This was a one-day, historically-inspired weaving project made from a Wildwool Farms rolag box.

And I think I succeeded! Keep reading for the highlights of this weaving project or watch the full video about this project here.

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What is in a Wildwool Farms Rolag Box?

My box was completely full of beautiful rolags. It contained 10 ounces of one multicolored fiber made from a Moreno, Corriedale, Alpaca, and Angelina blend. Absolutely gorgeous!

Rolls of multi-colored blue and brown rolags arranged in a box
The box was absolutely filled with these beautiful rolags! I was so tickled by it!

The box also contained a cute little enamel sheep, some tea, and chocolate.

So, each box will contain approximately 10 ounces of fiber (of a surprise breed and color) and a little surprise goodie. You can sign up for a monthly subscription box or just a one-time purchase.

A woman's hand holding up a multi-colored rolag
I absolutely love these!

Spinning the fiber from my Wildwool Farms Rolag Box

The appropriate spin for your rolags depends on how you’re going to use them.

For me, I chose to weave on a Schacht Cricket Rigid Handle Loom. This loom comes with an 8-dent reed. The size of the reed refers to how many threads will go through the slot in the space of an inch. So, with the 8-dent reed, I can fit 8 threads per inch. That is why I went with a worsted yarn around 9–11 wraps per inch when I was spinning.

Multi-colored yarn on a table Cricket loom
The holes and slots in the reed determine the dent of the loom.

Since there were so many rolags, I decided to use my Ashford e-spinner. The Ashford e-spinner works quickly, so I could get them done in a reasonable amount of time.

Multi-color yarn wound on a large wooden bobbin
The rolags created a really beautiful yarn.

I only had one available bobbin and was interested in the challenge of weaving with singles, so I just spun this once. I often hear people say you can’t work with singles, but you absolutely can! I used a long draw method because that tends to work well with rolags.

While spinning, I thought about medieval European textiles and how people would often spin the warp in one direction and the weft in the other direction. This method allows the twist to balance itself out and it all comes together to make a sturdier fabric. So, I spun about half the rolags in the z-twist and the other half in s-twist.

Multi-colored yarn wound into a ball
I love how this yarn came out!

Preparing the yarn for a historical weave

Weaving can be very rough on the yarn because it goes back and forth through all the holes with the heddle. The weaving process can cause the yarn to frizz, fray, and even potentially break the warp.

So, I finished the yarn really hard to make sure that the single was very secure and could withstand the tension and abrasion of the weave. I washed it with hot and cold water, massaged it like it was bread dough, and smacked and thwacked it up one side and down the other.

Calculating the yardages for weaving

I always round down when I calculate my yardages because I would rather have extra than not enough.

I ended up with about 162 yards. I divided that by two, because I am doing a 2-yard warp, and rounded down to get about 80 yards of weft.

Since it is an 8-dent reed, I divided 80 by 8 to get 10 inches on the heddle. The heddle on this Schacht loom is a 15-inch heddle, so I decided to do 10 inches on the heddle and just center it.

Weaving the fiber from my Wildwool Farms Rolag Box

Finally, it is time to get weaving!

I used a direct warping method, which means I set up a peg on the opposite side of the table from my Cricket loom. I put my warp yarn into a yarn bowl on the floor because it’s really convenient and stays out of the way.

A wooden peg attached to a table with multi-color yarn wrapped around it
Everything is clamped down onto the table for easy weaving.

To weave, I pulled loops through the heddle, down to the peg, and then fed the loops through the slots in the reed. This method of weaving on a loom is a lot faster than other weaving methods, such as using a warping board.

A brown-haired woman sitting at a wooden table weaving with a small loom.
I really enjoyed spending an evening weaving with my Schacht Cricket loom.

For more detailed information about how I weaved using this loom, you can jump to that part of my video here.

Key Takeaways: Historical weaving with my Wildwool Farms Rolag Box

I have a couple of takeaways that I want to share with you.

I did this entire project over the course of one day. I spun all morning, warped up the loom, and finished the cloth before I went to bed. I just enjoyed myself so much! But, of course, this does not need to be a one-day project if you don’t want it to be.

The finished scarf came out so beautifully and I am so excited about it. However, I did get some of the math wrong. The warp was just about perfect, but the weft was off. The scarf ended up being closer to about 1.5 yards long instead of 2 yards, and I had a lot of yarn leftover.

But that just means that I still have some beautiful yarn to do some other projects with!

A blue and brown woven scarf arranged on a wooden table

I had a great experience and learned a lot about weaving with singles and having the warp and weft spun in opposite directions. I want to explore this historical technique further and share more about it in future projects.

The fabric really feels different than any fabric that I have woven before. It is hard to explain, but it has so much stretch to it and is very flexible with just a plain weave. The fabric also seems to bounce back and hold its shape well. The effect is sort of like when you make a really bouncy and springy yarn. It is the sort of thing that you can only explore through handspinning yarn — I don’t think it is possible with commercial yarn.

I’m truly fascinated by this experiment and need to do more exploration.

There were a lot of twists in my singles and they were buckling, crimping, and folding over in some places. I think it may have been too must twist but this was just a fun project. The yarn gave the cloth some texture—I’ll call the final look rustic! But I love that as a design feature of the final product.

When it was all dry, everything just came together and locked together. Many of the coiled places relaxed out as the opposite twist energy worked together, as if the ply happened in the cloth. This was so cool to explore as a spinner and a weaver! I definitely encourage you to try something like this because it was a lot of fun and very interesting.

A close-up of the weave patten on a blue and brown scarf

I’ll definitely be taking some more time to explore this and maybe even make entire garments using these historical weaving techniques!

But for now, I need to go get some of my other projects done that are just sitting on my bobbins. I am sure you can relate!

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Happy spinning!