Weaving with Cashmere & Silk

Thanks to my daughter, I recently decided to try some weaving in a cashmere silk blend. I ordered two different colors in a very fine yarn, actually a thread, since it’s 6,000 yards per pound. The colors are really beautiful — a deep, dark, purple like the royals used to wear, and an earthy, coppery orange.
cashmere silk yarn on back beam

This picture gives you an idea of how fine the threads are, and how I’m planning to sett it at 20 ends per inch. I want the finished scarves to be very fine and light. We’ll see if this sett works. (Of course, as per my usual mode of operation, I haven’t done a sample. Lots of weavers are now shaking their heads in dismay.)

The blend I’m working with is 45% cashmere & 55% silk. It’s so soft – when I took the chain off the warping board, it was all I could do to not just pet it.

I ordered the yarn directly from China, from Yubina. I was a bit apprehensive, but Fleegle convinced me that the company was reputable, so I took the leap, and had no problems at all.

Despite all its wonderful qualities, I have to say that NOTHING I have warped before – wool, cotton, bamboo, rayon, cottolin, or even rayon chenille – holds a candle to winding this cashmere silk yarn onto the loom. Although the yarn feels very smooth to the touch, the cashmere has the tiny little hairs associated with wools. These tiny little hairs, on such fine thread, catch on each other and cause the yarn to stick together. It took me HOURS to wind the 9 yards on the back beam at this pace: wind about 6″, comb for 5-10 minutes, wind about 6″, comb for 5-10 minutes. Now I’ve finally gotten it wound on the back beam, and have about half the heddles threaded.

Your turn: weavers out there who’ve worked with this yarn, please tell me the secrets you’ve used when winding on.

8 comments to Weaving with Cashmere & Silk

  • […] I’ve commented that the cashmere silk blend yarn I use for those airy scarves is a challenge to beam. As a result, after my first really frustrating effort with winding a warp for three scarves (which is how many I usually warp for) I’ve been warping for only two scarves at a time. While this made the beaming process remarkably less frustrating, it also made it much less efficient. Threading 300 threads though heddles and reed for just 2 scarves instead of 3 takes much more of my time: for every 6 scarves I have to thread heddles and reed 3 times instead of 2. But at least I could do it without wanting to scream. […]

  • Have you tried a dummy warp that you can tie each of your warps to to save the threading time. It takes time to tie each new warp thread to the dummy warp but you don’t have the thread the heddles or reed. I do it all the time until I want to change the threading.

    • Peg Cherre

      Thanks, Suzy. I tried tying on once, and found that I much prefer simply threading heddles and reed. I believe I can do that more quickly than tying all those knots. But that’s just me. I know lots of other weavers tie on regularly.

  • Janet Ducote

    Thanks for telling about this yarn. I want to ask if there was pilling when you used the scarf?

    Thank you!

    • Peg Cherre

      Actually, Janet, some pilling did occur over time, but it was rather minimal.

      • Janet Ducote

        Minimal is acceptable!

        You’re gonna laugh at this next one — I also understand the twist is “tight” so does it still feel soft on a neck? I ask because I want to make a scarf to replace an old one, but I want it to function the same way – soft and warm feeling, but without the heat of 100% wool, etc. Thank you!

        • Peg Cherre

          Janet – The scarves with this yarn are VERY light, they are soft and cozy – almost lighter than air – not the slightest bit scratchy – and they do offer softness and warmth, from both the silk and the cashmere, without the heat of wool.

  • Janet Ducote

    Thank you for answering my questions – it really helped me to understand the yarn for the use I have in mind, before I sprung for it! Your shawl warp looked lovely in the picture above, as I am sure the finished piece is!

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