I love to deep dive into different equipment that you can use in your weaving studio because there is so. much. out. there! No matter what equipment you are buying (or making!) there will be different options that you have to choose from and sometimes it’s hard to know what the best option is for you.
Today we are talking about weaving yarn holders – what types you should use, when to use them, and how to make your own!
First, though, while you can definitely get away with not having yarn holders at all (I did it for years!) not having one means that your yarn may be rolling around your floor collecting dust or just generally getting as far away from you as possible. Using a yarn holder makes life and weaving a bit easier.
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What types of yarn holders are out there?
Weaving yarn holders come in different shapes, sizes, and can hold different amounts of types of yarn.
For the most part when you think about a holder for your weaving yarn, you are looking for something that can hold a cone or tube of yarn in place while your are moving the yarn from the cone to somewhere else. That being said, weaving with knitting and crochet yarn can also be a great way to expand your weaving possibilities and this yarn may require a different type of holder.
The stick yarn holder
This type of weaving yarn holder is the most common type that you will find when looking for an option for your weaving yarn. At its simplest, this holder is just a dowel rod that sits upright in a base. That is it! This is an option that is easily made if you have a few tools on hand and just a little bit of time.
Don’t worry! I will go over that further down in the post.
This type of yarn holder can be either singular or can have multiple rods to hold multiple cones at a time. The multiple cone option can be really great if you want to warp multiple warps at the same time or if you are sharing a holder with someone else in a studio. We do that a lot in my classes.
Some of them might also have another part to it that helps to direct the yarn a bit more by threading your yarn through an eye (like this one here.) This can be a great option if you can’t have your yarn holder close to you when you are warping. This will help keep things clean and tangle-free.
Another option is the horizontal yarn holder that works best for yarns that can be found on tubes as they tend to be smaller.
Choosing between vertical and horizontal yarn holders is mostly a matter of type of yarns you use and personal preference. If you only ever weave with smaller yarns, then this one is really great because it has different spots for multiple yarns plus areas to store smaller tubes or even thread.
Regardless of whether you choose vertical or horizontal, ideally your yarn holder will have a bit of weight to it so it’s not sliding around while you use it. Otherwise, you might as well just put your yarn on the floor!
The bowl yarn holder
When you are using yarn that comes from a ball or cake then you can usually use the stick yarn holder but you also have the option of using a yarn bowl. These bowls are basically just like any bowl you would use in your kitchen but they have a hole or a spiral slot to thread your yarn through. This keeps the yarn from jumping out of the bowl. You can usually find these in either wood or ceramic and can sometimes even come in cute designs!
This type of holder would most likely not work for any sort of cone or tube unless it was small enough to fit in the bowl. I still would not recommend using a yarn bowl for cones or tubes, though, since it wouldn’t move as smoothly.
If you are working exclusively from yarn balls then you could really choose whichever option appeals to you the most since they will work on either option. If you are working from both forms of yarn or just weaving yarns then I would recommend the stick option.
When to use a yarn holder
Unlike some of the other weaving equipment we have talked about on Warped Fibers, the yarn holder is a tool used for the prep part of the weaving process and not the actual weaving part itself.
If you are interested in other weaving tool guides you can check these out:
When you are warping
Regardless of whether you are direct or indirect warping, you will need to find a place to house your yarn while it is going from the cone to its next destination.
Don’t forget, if you do not have a yarn holder then your yarn may start rolling across your studio (this has happened to me SO MANY TIMES) and either getting away from you so you have to chase it and/ or collecting some of the dust bunnies that may live around your loom…
When you are winding your shuttle
Another one of the big circumstances where you would want to use a weaving yarn holder is when you are winding your shuttles. For pretty much the same reason that you would want to use one while warping, having a tool to keep your yarn in place while your wind it onto your shuttle can be incredibly helpful and help keep your frustration down.
Embroidery weaving is a hybrid technique of embroidery and weaving! It is a fun and portable weaving technique that is perfect for beginner and advanced weavers alike. The Warped Fibers Embroidery Weaving Kit contains everything you need for at least 3 samples and a finished embroidery weaving. Plus, if you have never done this technique before – don’t worry! The kit also comes with a download that will walk you through the process.
How to make your own stick yarn holder
Previously we talked about the fact that the stick yarn holder is basically just a dowel rod and a base and this means that it is pretty simple to make your own, if that’s your jam!
To create your own yarn holder you will need:
A dowel rod (I’m using 3/8 inch)
Drill and drill bit (drill bit the same size as your dowel rod)
Wood block (scrap wood is fine!)
Wood glue (optional)
Choosing the size for your dowel rod can be decided by trying out a few options with the yarn you currently have. You do not want to choose a dowel rod that is too thin because then it won’t have the strength that it needs to withstand any pull on it, but you don’t want it too thick that you can actually have it house your yarn cones or tubes.
For my holder I am using a size 3/8 inch dowel rod cut down to 10 inches with my hand saw. I also recommend sanding down the end of your dowel rod to make it nice and smooth for your yarn and yourself.
I took everything outside to drill the hole so it would require less clean up. A 3/8 inch hole is pretty big so it could make a large mess. Keep that in mind.
With your drill you will drill a hole into the center of your wood base either all the way through or about 3/4. I opted for 3/4 just so I didn’t accidentally drill into my deck railing, but you can do whatever works best for you.
Your dowel rod will fit snugly into the hole you just drilled! You can glue it if you never plan to take this apart or you can keep it unglued if you want to be able to store it more easily.
How to make your own yarn bowl
If you have access to a clay or wood studio you could make a really nice yarn bowl, but we are going a little more low tech for this option.
What you need to create your own yarn bowl:
A paperclip and masking tape
Can you see where this is going?
If you are using the paper clip then grab any bowl that you have that will easily hold your yarn ball and tape your paperclip to the inside with your masking tape. Make sure that there is enough of the paper clip about the rim of your bowl for your yarn to go through.
Using the clip is even easier because all you have to do is clip it on to your bowl and thread your yarn through the top openings.
This is probably as easy as it gets.
While using a yarn holder of any type is not a necessity for your weaving process, it can be a helpful tool to create a smoother and less frustrating weaving experience. There are many different types that you can choose from, but all of them should help you out and make your life just a little bit easier.
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