Yards per Pound is Huge Key

A comment on my previous post gave more information about the yarn balance. It is available from Eugene Textile Center, in Eugene, Oregon ( www.eugenetextilecenter.com ) for $35. I find it one of my most important tools in my studio. It can tell you the yards per pound of a yarn as I explained in that post. In this post I want to show more about knowing the Yards per Pound.

Sett Chart for Plain Weave
You can see that by knowing the yards per pound in this sett chart you can get the yarn count of the yarn which is the number given on yarn labels. The diameters used in using the Ashenhurst Rule have been calculated, as well.

If you didn’t read about Ashenhurst and his rule when it was described in the recent post, “Sett Thoroughly Revisited on March 25, 2023,  https://peggyosterkamp.com/2023/04/sett-thoroughly-revisited/  refer to that post for links with information. There are 7 pages of charts for various fibers in my book Winding a Warp & Using a Paddle,  and 7 pages for the same yarns for twill. If a yarn is not listed in a chart, the formula to calculate your sett is given HERE https://peggyosterkamp.com/ashenhurst-rule/  . There is information in Weaving for Beginners with fewer charts and a way to use them to estimate your sett.

Sett Chart for Twill
Here you can see  the comparable chart for figuring the sett for twill. These charts also have calculated the diameters according to Ashenhurst, and the variations in sett for different purposes. (I use the 80% figure for “ordinary” fabrics.)

Information you can get from a Yarn, Ball or Skein

The other day my weekly Zoom Weavers group met in person for a hike on Ring Mountain It was cold, grey, and windy but we had a grand time. After our lunches next to a large rock out of the wind we brought out things for show and tell.

One person wanted to know if two threads she had were the same.  I showed her how to hook them together to find out. In other words, she wanted to know if the two were the same “grist”. (A term sometimes used when talking about yarn size.)

You can compare two yarns quickly to see if they are the same size (grist) by hooking them together as if you linked your two index fingers together. Hold one set of yarns between your thumb and index finger. Twist the other two ends so that both sets twist. If they both feel the same, they are likely to be the same size.  One thread she knew was 5/2 cotton. When we twisted it like in the illustration, we discovered the 2nd yarn was the same size as the 5/2 and looked just like it so we gathered it was also 5/2.

Another person had a lovely skein of bamboo with the tag still on it. It said how many yards were in the 50g skein. She wanted to know how to translate that information to what she needed for planning her weaving project. I asked how many of the group had a McMoran yarn balance (now simply called a yarn balance). I was surprised that only a couple people did. This is a balance scale used to determine how many yards of a yarn are in one pound.

It’s great for letting you know how much yarn you have on an unmarked cone or skein. Place a length of yarn in the “V” on the balance arm and cut off pieces until the arm balances. Measure the length of yarn in inches. Multiply the number of inches (and fractions) by 100 for the approximate number of yards in a pound. Measure carefully because you multiply your measurement and your error by 100.

You can use the yarn balance to compare yarns, too. If they are the same length when they balance on the scale, they are the same weight and therefore, have the same number of yards per pound and are generally equal in size or thickness.

Basically, what our friend needed to know was how many yards per pound were in this 50g skein. She also wondered if it was sport-weight or fingering-weight yarn. I couldn’t show her this nice chart but said it was in my book, Weaving for Beginners.

If you know how many yards are in a ball or skein or ounce, see the chart above to find the yards per pound (ypp) for your particular yarn. If your yarn isn’t shown in the chart, use the worksheet in the following illustration to calculate the yards per pound.

An easy way to find the yards per pound is to take the known yarns in a 50 g ball or skein and multiply by 9.

Here is a worksheet to find the yards per pound (ypp) for 50 g and 100 g balls or skeins. And also, with the inches from a yarn balance.

Views from Ring Mountain are from many directions. Here we looked west to admire Mt. Tamalpais as well as the flowers carpeting lots of areas on Ring Mountain in Tiburon, California.

Ring Mountain is known for the Tiburon Mariposa Lily. It’s the only place it is to be found.

Pads of Graph Paper! And Project Planning Worksheets, too!

I got the idea for pads of graph paper when planning my booth for CNCH. I was thinking maybe some weavers might have questions and it would be much easier to work on graph paper that was on a pad like a tablet. I love my padded graph paper now. I took a sheet to my copy place and voila! They made copies and made them into a pad. So much nicer to work on a cushioned surface than on my desk which usually is full of papers. And I can rip off pages as I make variations or keep them together.

While I was at it, I thought if I wanted to help anyone plan a project, working on a padded surface would be nice, too. These are my project worksheets that I always use. They are in my book Weaving for Beginners. Someone asked if I could put them here on the blog so it will be easier to make copies than from the book. I first posted them on my blog 9 years ago in 2013. I posted them again in 2016 after I had 598 subscribers. Now after 2,135 subscribers, I’m posting them again—but this time with the pads idea. There are two sheets but often I just need one of them for a different version. So, I made each sheet on its own pad. You can download both sheets HERE

I use my worksheets to calculate the many things needed when planning a project. When I was starting out, I was always worried that I’d forget a critical calculation. Now I don’t worry about forgetting.

I designed them a little bit like a tax return.

Allowing for Loom Waste When Planning a Project

I received a comment today on my website about a tip I’d made about loom waste. I’m not sure what I was thinking, but not clearly, for sure. I hope it was done long ago. I will get my tech guy to delete the tip (when the lockdown is over?). In it I also showed the two-stick heading which is not about loom waste but about headings. It should not have been in that tip at all. Also, the illustrations and text didn’t match up.

A certain amount of your warp cannot be woven into cloth. It’s at each end. You must allow for it when deciding how long to make your warps. I remember a student long ago who wanted to make a baby blanket. We calculated how long the warp should be. Then she made the warp only as long as the finished blanket was going to be. She hadn’t understood why we’d done all the calculations for loom waste. The next week she came to class and reported on her ultrasound. Twins! And her first thought was that she could only make one blanket! I never saw her again!

Front loom waste
The front loom waste is at the beginning of the warp. That is the place where some of the warp is used in tying it onto the cloth beam apron rod. See the illustration. Front loom waste might be anywhere from 6-8 inches to 20 inches long, depending on how thrifty or wasteful you are and on what method you use for tying on (knots or lacing on). Lacing on uses the least amount of warp.

Back loom waste
The loom waste at the back of the loom can be seen in the illustration. It is the amount that cannot be woven because of the warp’s being threaded in the heddles on the shafts. Large looms have more distance between the beater and the back shaft, so they have more distance between the beater and the back shafts, so they naturally have more loom waste than a small loom would. To know how much to allow, see the illustration and measure on your loom the distance represented by the arrow. Pull the warp beam’s apron rod up to the heddles on the shaft furthest back on the loom. Measure from there to a few inches in front of the beater or about one-half the distance between the beater and the breast beam. Add a few more inches here if you warp front-to-back, for tying the knots on the warp beam’s apron rod, say, 4-6 inches more

Organizing My Fabrics By Value

I had accumulated a large pile of fabrics I collected for collages and it was growing uncontrollably. I decided to organize them by value. That was too foreboding at first so I sorted them by color (hue) then I took each pile and took out the light ones for the box of light-values.

Next I pulled out the darkest value ones for the dark box. That made it easier to fill the medium box.

The fourth box was for larger pieces of cloth.

What fun. But I sure had a backache after all that working with piles on the floor.

Yarn and Sett Charts for Good Weaving

Here are the sett charts from my book, Weaving for Beginners.

Peggy Osterkamp - Weaving for Beginners [click to enlarge]
Peggy Osterkamp – Weaving for Beginners [click to enlarge]


They are more like summaries of the comprehensive charts found in my book, Winding a Warp & Using  a Paddle but I think they can do for a quick check. My charts are based on the yards per pound (m/kg) of the yarns. You can read how the calculations were made, Ashenhurst, and much more about sett in my tips on the website. Search for sett.  
Sett Chart

Twill Sett Chart

Meters? Yards? Kilograms? or Pounds? –Calculating for Weaving

Metric Equivalants
[ click to enlarge ]
Here is a chart to convert yards per pound to meters per kilograms. I got a request a while ago for this information so my European subscribers could understand US labels better. In my book , Weaving for Beginners, there are sett charts with both yd per lb and m/kg. I thought it would be handy to just have the equivalents in a separate chart here.
My next post will be 2 sett charts that include both metric and US measurements.

Peggy Osterkamp’s Worksheet

My Worksheet
Here is my project worksheet that I always use. It’s in my book Weaving for Beginners. Someone asked if I could put it here on the blog so it will be easier to make copies than from the book. I posted it on my blog a few years ago, but think it’s time to post it again now that I have close to 600 subscribers (598). It is used to calculate the many things needed when planning a project. This worksheet lets you figure out how long and wide the warp should be and the amount of warp and weft yarn you need. When I was starting out, I was always worried that I’d forget a critical calculation. You may download the worksheet HERE.

My Top Ten Weaving Tips – #9: Determine Yards Per Pound with a Scale

Spools of Yarn

Weaving with a McMorran Balance
Yarn Balance (formerly called McMorran Yarn Balance)

This is a balance scale that is used to determine how many yards of a yarn are in one pound. It’s great for letting you know how much yarn you have on an unmarked cone or skein. Place a length of yarn in the “V” on the balance arm, and cut off pieces until the arm balances. Measure the length of yarn in inches. Multiply the number of inches (and fractions) by 100 for the approximate number of yards in a pound. Measure carefully because you multiply your measurement and your error by 100.

This tip can be found in Book 1: “Winding a Warp and Using a Paddle” and “Weaving for Beginners”

More “Bookmarks”

Woven Bookmark - Peggy Osterkamp - click to enlarge
Bookmark Hanging – Peggy Osterkamp



Before I left for Greece I wanted to weave off the warp that was on the loom. I decided to make more bookmarks. [see original bookmark post here] I thought they could be given as special gifts in case someone might be interested in a show. You can see the white wefts I made for the cutting lines. Midway through I thought about trying a black weft and brown horse hair then decided I liked the white better.

When I took the warp off, there wasn’t time to cut so I just pinned it up on my wall–then I thought I liked it the way it was–with none of them cut apart.

So much for planning. that’s the way I like to do it–try something I think will work and see what happens.  Then I said “Oh, that’s the way it is.”




Bookmark Hanging 1

My Thoughts about Color Wheels

screenshot.02-04-2013 15.43.36A color wheel that was introduced to us in our guild program on Optical Mixing is the first one shown here. It is called the Magenta, Yellow, Cyan (turquoise) color system or color wheel and the one more suited for weavers. Our speaker told us it was better to use this one than the one we all learned and are familiar with which is the Red, Yellow, Blue system or color wheel (which is for mixing light). This is the second one shown here.

 If you look at my previous post screenshot.02-04-2013 15.44.02showing my own stash of colors, you won’t see anything like on either wheel. That’s because the color wheels show us intense colors. In real life, most of us don’t stick to only those intense colors—we darken, or lighten, or dull them, or mix them optically with other colors.

 So, how do you use a color wheel if the colors aren’t what you like? The colors on the wheels are NAMED. That is what is important. You need to name the colors or read them first. For example, red and red-orange and red-purple are names of three colors (officially called hues). Then you can use the wheel for relationships of the hues to one another or to put together color harmonies. For example, harmonies might be hues that are opposite one another or beside each other on the wheel. THEN when you know the names of the hues you are looking for, you can “doctor” them us (so-to-speak) so they aren’t so intense and to my mind, more beautiful or interesting.

 You can change a hue these ways:
Change the value,
Change the intensity
Change the temperature

 That’s how you get nice interesting colors that don’t look like kindergarten colors.screenshot.02-04-2013 15.48.20

 One of my teachers, Cameron Taylor Brown, had us make different color wheels. We named the colors from the regular color wheel we were used to. Then made these: one color wheel with all the hues being light in value (pastels), one with all dark hues, one with duller hues, etc. You see, we named the hues but then made up color wheels (like pallets) with the same hues but changed in the ways I listed above: value, intensity and temperature. There were some I liked screenshot.02-04-2013 15.49.00better than others. Using the yarns from one wheel makes your work look coordinated: to add punch, she suggested adding something from a completely different pallet (color wheel).

 For our talk on Saturday about Optical Mixing, we will be talking about value. Threads that are of the same value will blend or mix.

 One important thought: You don’t need to have all the colors in the wheel—just work with the ones you like or have.

 Use what you like and used the color theory color when you are stuck.

 My mentor, Helen Pope, always used to choose what ribbon for her pony tale by using a color that was one step from the opposite of the color of her outfit. In other words she used the harmony “split complementory”

A New Wrinkle for My Ruffles

When I was ruffling up the tube for the ruffle for the Room Art Gallery show, I got an idea for the next one. I like this photo of the ruffle–not so tight. Maybe I’ll make one “loose” like this that would be a sculpture and sit on a pedestal in a plexi-glass box (called a vitrine).

Peggy Osterkamp's Sculptural Ruffle [click to enlarge]
Peggy Osterkamp’s Sculptural Ruffle
[click to enlarge]
I loved the look when the ruffles were tight together. My idea for another one is to make it tight so it would be a sculpture and sit on a pedestal, rather than hang from the ceiling.

Peggy Osterkamp's Pedistal Ruffle [click to enlarge]
Peggy Osterkamp’s Pedistal Ruffle
[click to enlarge]

Peggy’s Planning Weaving Projects Worksheet

Worksheet Clip

I gave a lesson the other day about planning projects and gave out the worksheet my students have liked and that is in my book, Weaving for Beginners. I thought it would be good to share it. It is used to calculate the many things needed when planning a project. This worksheet lets you figure out how long and wide the warp should be and the amount of warp and weft yarn you need. When I was starting out, I was always worried that I’d forget a critical calculation. I’ve used it with my students for many years so I don’t worry that I’ve forgotten a calculation they needed for their projects. You may download the worksheet HERE.

Ideas for My Weaving


I got so many weaving ideas during the holidays when I visited a friend at her farm. What goodies I brought home! She had a persimmon tree which was gorgeous with all its leaves gone and just the lovely fruit hanging from the branches. I love to set them out as an  arrangement on my table and watch them ripen one-by-one.

Rose Hips in a Vase

She had a big rose bush full of rose hips! What a treasure. I can’t wait to weave them in something.

As a final gift, she cut her cow’s tail for me. What could be more fun to incorporate than pieces of Rosie’s tail.

The rose hips are the first on my  agenda. Watch out!

A Color Lesson I Forgot

White Border Too Big (click to enlarge)

I wove what I hoped would be a narrow band to be sort of a border separating parts of my wavy wefts cloth. I used white because that was what the warp is and  it would blend in since a lot of white shows in the wavy wefts cloth. I forgot that light colors really advance and actually look larger than darker ones. I made my “border” 2 inches tall–it looked much wider. In fact it sticks out like a sore thumb.

Narrow Borders Look Better

What to do–it came near the beginning of my proposed hanging. Well, since the lam broke, it made me stop and think about it. I cut off what was woven and made narrow hems which look much better.  In the illustration the wide border is a little rigged up, but it shows an inch of white. Originally the border was 2″ tall and really looked too big. But that lesson of light colors looking larger really came home to me.


Beautiful Scarf, Unusual Sett

Ellen Miller's Doube Weave Scarf (click to enlarge)

Ellen Miller showed me her gorgeous alpaca double weave scarf. She was disappointed that the sett wasn’t exactly balanced as typical double cloth is. This showed more in the white areas. My sense is that it is beautiful with the more open sett.

Beautiful White Block

You can still see the solid black and white areas. For her warp and weft (both the same) she used less than the 80% figure  (Ashenhurst calculations) and this is one time I think less that 80% turned out beautifully. (The sett is more open when less than the  80% figure is used.) One reason is that the threads were dense in the warp because of the double weave. That made friction in the reed that prevented the wefts from beating down too much as can happen when the sett is more open than the 80% figure.

The Blocks (click to enlarge)

What’s On My Loom

Undegummed silk for weft 9click to enlarge)

I’m still experimenting with sheer this time with a warp of sewing thread instead of the fine silk.

The weft is the lovely gold silk that took me a month to spool off from the skein. It is stiff because it is undegummed. That helps keep the beat open and there are variations in the thickness of the thread which make the cloth look nice.

I was very nervous about the sett–wasn’t sure if it was too open, but wanted the cloth to be sheer for sure. It probably is too open, but of course, I made do. What I had to do was beat gently (which I hate to do) and beat on a closed shed (also don’t like to do). So, it’s going slowly but I’ve got the cloth I’m after. (The next risk: will I be able to make  out of it what I have in mind?)

I have reed marks which are just fine–in fact they are a gift. The threads in the reed groups move around randomly which gives a bit of color variation. Nice, so it doesn’t look like commercial cloth. So, the next time, I think I’ll stick to this sett and just go slowly so I can get the color variations.  (I made the warp with  10 different spools of thread–so 10 different shades in the warp. Instead of a paddle, I have a wonderful heck block on my reel that I inherited from Jim Ahrens. This allows me to get a thread-by-thread cross.)

Why Make a Sampler?

This comes from my new book, Weaving for Beginners. It is what I started all my beginning weaving students on and gives a very good foundation for future weaving. After the sampler was completed, the students planned their own original projects based on what they learned.

Beginners Sampler (click to enlarge)

Why make a sampler?
This is the way many weavers try out new things. A sampler is a cloth with several ideas woven into it. Some ideas to try out are using different colors, threads, weaves, or your own designs. (See Figure 221.) You can try out more than one idea at a time by dividing the warp into sections.
For example, if you were sampling different colors, you might
make your warp have portions two to three inches wide, each with a different color you are considering. Notice that the sampler described in this chapter has two sections in the warp—each one a different color.
When weaving a sampler, you would try out those warp colors using the same ones as wefts, or perhaps, using other colors.
It is a good idea to try out different weaves as well. Say, you have four colors in the warp, and you try each color in the weft in plain weave–that would give you 16 different squares woven, or samples—useful information for designing a project. Weaving the colors again in twill weave would give you 16 more samples. Weaving the colors in herringbone, another 16 samples, and in a broken twill, 16 more.
You are weaving a plaid, so to speak, with the colors and threadings in the
warp repeated in the weft. You also can see how colors look when crossed
with other colors and how expected structures look when they are woven
with other threadings.
Sampling is fun because you aren’t under pressure to make a masterpiece.
This is the place to try out lots of ideas. Then you can put the best ideas into
a project, knowing that it is likely to please you.

Make a Two-Stick Heading

Two-stick Heading, part One

Use this when you want to make a sample on a warp before weaving the entire project.

The two-stick heading (from Weaving for Beginners, beginning on page 134.)
This is a very useful heading. I have used it countless times. One reason is to eliminate the knots on the apron rod so that the cloth rolls up without lumps on the cloth beam. Another reason is so that you can cut off some of the cloth before the whole warp has been completely woven.
You need a pair of sticks that fit on your cloth beam and won’t interfere with
the ratchet.

Two-stick Heading, part Two

They can be lease sticks, dowels, or metal rods. I prefer thin and lightweight
sticks rather than thick ones because they take up less warp and aren’t so bulky.

Read the step-by-step directions beginning on page 134 in Weaving for Beginners.

A Sampler vs Samples

One reader suggested I talk a bit about sampling. How much to make, wasting “good” yarn, when and why, etc. etc.You can save yourself a lot of heart ache if you make a sample before weaving something and find out that it shrinks too much, or “doesn’t turn out.” You might make a sampler or weave samples. Read below how the two are different.

Beginning Sampler (click to enlarge)

A sampler is generally a warp designed to sample a variety of weaves and ideas. I’m making one in the studio right now. I feel like it’s a big gamble because I don’t know how it will turn out. But because it’s “only a sample”, there is no pressure to make it wonderful (although I hope it will be) and I can be free to try anything. I am not sure about the sett for what I’m visualizing so I need to weave with the sett I decided on and see if it works for me. I am worried that my sett is too open–but I know I can try different techniques (eg.fatter wefts, or beat lighter) if I don’t like the initial look. I can re-sley the reed if necessary. My warp is only 4″ wide so I’m not wasting much yarn–and 3 yards long. I planned the length to try to get a good piece or two after my sampling.
The sampler I have all my beginning weavers make  is shown in the illustration and is found beginning on page 93 in Weaving for Beginners.

Sampling: I had a student this week who wanted to make a baby blanket. Since it is a fairly wide project I suggested that she make the warp a little longer and weave a sample at the beginning and cut it off and wash it and be sure it suits her. If it shrinks too much or doesn’t look right. She can then make changes before weaving the entire project without wasting all the yarn and time. Use the two-stick heading from my new book, Weaving for Beginners, to reconnect the warp without wasting yarn to tie the threads back onto the front apron rod. You cannot make a narrow sample and expect the information to directly translate to a wide warp. Since there will be more friction in the reed, the wefts in a wide warp won’t pack down in the same way as for a narrow warp. I suggest allowing 6-8 inches, minimum for the sample. I really like to add an extra yard for sampling. That allows plenty to sample at the beginning and usually there is warp left for me to try out more ideas at the end. (This is when I am the most creative.)