Saturday, June 08, 2013

The math of spinning for weaving

One of the things that I have been persistently ridiculed over is my search for ways to spin faster.

However, lets think about hand woven cloth form hand spun yarn.  A garment weight cloth is 10 or 12 ounces per yard, and a traditional English bolt of cloth is 12 yards, or 144 oz or 9 pounds. If the yarn is 10s (5,600 ypp) then a bolt cloth will contain 90 hanks or ~50,000 yards.

With a wheel ratio of 1:12, a treadle rate of 90, you can spin about 150 yards (of 10s) per hour that comes to ~334 hours of spinning.    With a faster wheel a spinning rate of 370 yards per hour is reasonable and it is only 135 hours or 3 hours a day for 7 weeks to spin the yarn for a bolt of cloth.

Spinning fast is better.  This is why I want fast spindles. This is why I am willing to work a little harder to spin much faster.

Skeins? It is faster and easier for me to store yarn as cakes, bobbins, and cones. For knitting, I wash and block the yarn on reels, and put it up as center pull  cakes. For weaving, I wash, block, and put the yarn on little bobbins that each hold an ounce of  yarn. With 50 such bobbins, I can wind 2" of warp at a time.  There is just no way in world to juggle 50 skeins of yarn while winding on to the loom.


Dianne said...

As someone who has sewn for many years, and studied historical costuming extensively, I can state categorically that there is no one "garment weight" for fabric. I have used linen as fine as 2.8 oz per yard, and that's not as fine as the gossamer cambrics and lawns that were used for upper-class garments. (The threads for which were spun on spindles!)

Einar Svensson said...

Hello my old friend. I cannot picture your warping technique. Do you not make a chain to full length and then beam it? Please explain - I would be very interested.

Aaron said...

"Garment weight" as opposed to yarns spun on spindles to make rugs, upholstery, tenting, and sails.

Aaron said...

I have a sectional beam, and tension box. See section 2.

Anonymous said...

Here's a little Socratic adventure for you, Aaron. I'll use words you like.

What are sails traditionally made from?


What else is traditionally made from sailcloth?

Trousers. Smocks. Jackets.

You know what those are?


What are tents traditionally made from?


What else is traditionally made from canvas?

Anoraks. Trousers. Uniforms.

You know what those are?


"Garment weight" is not a thing, Aaron. You cannot make it a thing.

Dianne said...

10 oz per yard fabric is canvas weight. I regularly spend a week at a time camping in a tent made of 10 oz canvas. A garment made of fabric that heavy would be ridiculously uncomfortable to wear.

Einar Svensson said...

Thank you. Please post more about your weaving. I am so curious about your progress.

Aaron said...

Good jeans for a working farmer are 14.5 oz/ yd 9 for heavy jobs like haying, we would have double layers of fabric across the thighs and knees. It protected our legs from the ridiculously uncomfortable 90# hay bales.

The LLBean shirt jacket features 15 oz/yard fabric. Just the thing for a cool, rainy day, when one must be out all day fixing barbed wire fence.

Yes, a tabby weave fabric at more than 8 oz/ yd^2 is canvas. The MASH units in Korea lived and worked in tents made from #2 cotton canvas that weighed 32 oz/yd^2.

10 oz canvas is for city folk that are not going to be living in the tent, in all weather, for months on end.

Aaron said...

"Garment weight" is a term I got from Amos (page 218).

Dianne said...

My point, which I am sure you are getting but not acknowledging, is that "garment weight" is not a standard measure.

Our 10 oz canvas tents have been lived in during every kind of weather from frost conditions to 90+ degrees with 100% humidity and gale force winds. A variation of the yurt, made with 13 oz canvas instead of wool felt, is still used today for permanent dwellings in places as varied as Canada and central Asia.

Aaron said...


If you are spinning yarn for a person weaving material for a tent, then you need to know how to spin "tent weight" yarn. If you are spinning yarn for a person making garments, then you need to know how to spin yarn that meets their needs. I call that "garment weight". What do you call yarns of a grist suitable for weaving into clothing?

My little alpine tent of 7 oz/ yard fabric has withstood wind storms that took out whole campgrounds of heavy canvas tents put up by Explorer Scouts. The caretaker of the Mt. Shasta Hut lived in a even lighter tent for 5 years. Most of the time, he did not even bother to sleep inside the tent. When he did sleep in the tent he made sure he had a shovel in the tent so he could tunnel out after snow storms, e.g., he let snow drift over it so it formed a snow cave.

In cold weather, a yurt made of felt is warmer than a yurt made of canvas. When it gets cold, I move into an igloo or snow cave, because they are warmer. Felt yurts developed in places that got cold, but did not have the right kind of snow to make shelters. The modern canvas yurts are possible because of cheap energy to heat them.

The real test of tent in warm weather is when a black rhino uses the guy lines to scratch his itches. The tent we had was not so good.

LisaR said...


What Dianne is saying (and she probably should have not mentioned tents again, as that word sent you into a tangent which didn't answer anything), is that there is no standard for ____-weight fabric; not garment, not tent, etc.

Standards such as you are quoting are subjective, not set by any international body, etc. A particular organization which requires certain objects from fabric MAY specify certain weights (in ounces) of a specific fabric as being minimum standard for *their* use, but that does not make it a universal term.

"Garment-weight", in particular, is a term with absolutely no meaning in the absence of context. Garment-weight canvas? Garment-weight velvet? Etc. And there is no actual weight in ounces associated with or defining these various weights, in their individual contexts. It's highly subjective and depends on the use required.

I recognize that you tend to be a weights and measures and specifications guy, but that's not gonna get you anywhere in this discussion.

spinninggeer said...

Your whole post is very confusing. Fabric is specified in terms of mass per area squared. It makes no sense to speak in terms of mass per length as the width varies. Delve into textile research if you don't believe me.

While it is true that it takes longer to spin than it does to weave and spinning faster would allow you to better meet the demands of a weaver, most of today's spinners don't spin for efficiency. If you want efficiency and productivity aids, why not just buy a commercial spinner and be done with it? Ideally, you'd need several, and then get yourself a commercial loom to weave your yarn. The problem with that, is then you need to be able to work with your yardage at the rate it is produced... so then you'll need to get an automated cutting and sewing process.

Might as well just get a fully integrated factory.

Aaron said...

yes, that should be per yd^2,

As I wrote that I was focused on what I needed to produce fulled cloth that was ~ a yard wide.

There is a fairly large gap between where I am now, and the the smallest commercial spinners.

The driving question is what is hand spun, hand loomed cloth like? Sure there is some in museums, but I want to know how it performs in weather.