Shetland Tartan Blanket (Part 2)

As promised, here’s the continuation of the blanket project.

Back when I was planning this project, I needed to decide how I wanted to spin the fiber. This impacted my decision about how to prepare the fiber after washing it. I wanted a smooth and fine yarn, so I decided I wanted to spin it “worsted”. This is a particular way to spin rather than a size (as in 4-ply worsted that you see in yarn and craft stores). To get a fiber preparation that goes with that goal, I needed to comb the fiber with wool combs.  

 This lays the fibers parallel to each other. Combing, by its nature, keeps the longest and strongest fibers and leaves behind the shorter and weakest fibers. This waste is frustrating, but inevitable.

Being someone who doesn’t like waste, I used this fiber to make dryer balls that supposedly help reduce the drying time for clothes. This made me feel better.

When I got several little nests of fiber combed, I spun it trying to keep my size consistent at about 22 wraps per inch (WPI). This would be a good fine size. How did I arrive at that size?

Well, I was aiming to use my loom with a reed (the thing that determines how close together the threads are) that had 15 dents (slots) per inch (AKA EPI). This decision led me to do a series of calculations based on the size of the finished blanket I wanted to make. This was going to be a lap blanket about 36 inches wide and about 54 inches long (although the length would be determined by how much I could get from the threads on the loom. (More on that later.)

These calculations led me to decide what pattern I wanted to use. I knew I wanted a Tartan (plaid). I happened to see one in a video on spinning that used a pattern registered to the North American Shetland Sheep Breeders Association (the official registry for tartan patterns). Perfect, because I was using Shetland wool.

I downloaded the official thread count (the number of threads in order and in the colors needed to weave that pattern). Doing a bit more math (those who know me know  that it is something I am challenged by) I was able to figure out how much of each color I’d need. That told me how much I’d have to spin to reach those goals. Whew! 

 All these calculations came down to needing to spin about 4,700 yards of yarn divided roughly evenly between the 3 colors I chose (black, white, brown). Off I went spinning (I got interrupted in this several times by other projects that came up, but, I wasn’t in a hurry).

In the next post, I’ll continue sharing the process. Hang in there, and thanks for reading.


One thought on “Shetland Tartan Blanket (Part 2)

  1. Liza,

    Seeing this reminded me that I had a dream about you either last night or the night before. You had made a blanket and were going to auction it off. It kind of had the colors of cow hide, but felt nice and soft. I remember I was the first person to bid on it and then I woke up. Is that crazy of what?

    Off to help out at Kevin’s office for the rest of the day. Hope yours is a good one!


    Website: Blog: >


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