the heinous textile

July 10, 2013

I have this object I call the Heinous Textile.  Here it is:


When I first learned to spin wool, I wasn’t very good at it.  The yarn I produced was thick and uneven and all in all quite horrible.  But I was determined to do something with this awful yarn.  Just to say that I did.  I mean, it was my first ever handspun yarn!  Well, I knew from talking to other spinners and weavers and such that before you use handspun yarn you have to do something to it called plying — spinning two strands of the yarn together, making a double strand.  It increases the yarn’s strength, and also counteracts the twist that gets worked into the yarn when you’re spinning it.  At least, I know that now.  I didn’t then.  I just spun two strands together just like I’d spun the original yarn.  What I didn’t know:  when you ply, you have to spin in the opposite direction than you originally spun.  That’s what neutralizes the original twist so that you end up with a nice soft pliable yarn.  So when I plied, I plied in the same direction, and the resulting yarn ended up extra extra twisty.  Stiff, kinky, and awful.  But I was still determined to do something with it, so I knitted a square.  The most horrible, stiffest, roughest knitted object I have ever come across.  I’m pretty sure this thing could be used as armor, as it is most likely thick and stiff enough to stop arrows.  It was kind of revelatory — all those fantasy novels and historical accounts that talk about woolen or felted armor?  It might have looked something like this.

So, the Heinous Textile — not a total waste after all!  And my spinning — not terrible anymore.  In fact, I’m knitting something now with some merino that I hand spun, and it’s not heinous at all.  I’ll show you when it’s finished.



8 Responses to “the heinous textile”

  1. ZOO Says:

    Don’t forget…Kevlar is a fabric.

  2. WanabePBWriter Says:

    The “heinous textile” must look that up in the Monstrous Manual when I get home.

  3. Fran Oglesby Says:

    I took a weaving class in college and really got into it. I ended up inheriting my grandmothers antique spinning wheel and will have to learn how to use it someday. As a fellow knitter you’ve got to check out this artist: She’s clearly a fan of Sci Fi too.

  4. Sharon Says:

    I showed my spinning teacher the nice two ply linen thread I’d made and was pleased with. She showed me her latest project, a bigger skein of SIX ply that was thinner than sewing thread.
    Until the industrial revolution, every bit of cloth, even lace and velvet was made by someone spinning the thread first.

  5. Tiffany Says:

    All of us crafters must have that first work of sorts lying around. I still have my first crochet project. All done in the back loops because at that time, I thought that was how you did it. Nice technique for some things, but it made for a funny looking Ami Teddy Bear!

  6. Jim Van Pelt Says:

    Hi, Carrie. Not related to tough textiles, but I noticed you on a list of 100 Great Science Fiction Stories Written by Women at

  7. Carrie V. Says:

    Thanks for linking to that, Jim! It’s amazing how much attention that story has gotten!

  8. […] is the follow-up to my post about the Heinous Textile, the thing I knitted with the very first yarn I ever hand spun.  The thing I pretty much filed away […]

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