Where to purchase tapestry yarn.

One of my private students said something to me the other day and I felt a sinking in my heart. He asked, "if you keep doing tapestry do you end up with a closet full of yarn?" As in, I don't want to store a bunch of yarn. I recognized that he was not a yarn connoisseur and I was going to have to make him into one if he was going to stick with tapestry weaving.

Yarn is something of an addiction. I love dyeing yarn. Making my own colors is fantastic. Dyeing is, however, extremely time intensive and very hard physical labor.

Sometimes students catch the dyeing bug and haul off and learn to make their own colors. But most of them want to know where to buy yarn already dyed. And even if you dye your own, what yarn to start with is still a good question.

Here are some of the yarns I have had some experience with. I'd love to hear what other yarns people use for tapestry. You can post in the comments below (or because some people have trouble with the Blogger comment "prove-you're-not-a-robot" thing, you can also email me at rebecca (dot) mezoff (at) gmail (dot) com). I'll do a follow-up post on what other people use.

I currently use Harrisville Highland (2-ply) for all my workshops and classes and I used to weave all my own tapestries with it. It is available from Harrisville Designs. If you look in the knitting yarn section, you can get it in 3.5 oz skeins (if you want to dye it yourself or buy smaller amounts). It is the same yarn you get on cones in the weaving section of the website. It weaves well at 8 or 10 ends per inch.
Harrisville Designs Harrisville Highland. I dyed these colors myself.
The yarn I use for all my own tapestries now is this singles yarn also made by Harrisville Designs. They do not sell it commercially right now, but if you order enough you can get them to do a special mill run sometimes. I use three together to weave at 8 or 10 epi.
Harrisville Designs Harrisville singles. I dyed these colors also.
A yarn I bought for use in the Helena Hernmarck workshop I took last summer was Vevgarn from Norsk Fjord Fiber (my apologies to all you Swedes out there. I suspect the yarn name is actually Frid and the fiber content is vevgarn, but I'm not sure). This yarn is beautiful and works well at 8 epi doubled. It does come in a fair number of colors.
NOTE: 8/2/13, Excellent correction in comments below about this yarn. Vevgarn means "weaving yarn" and the yarn name is Frid. And my abject apologies for suggesting otherwise, but this yarn is Norwegian.
Vevgarn. I purchased from Norsk Fjord Fiber.
Vevgarn. I dyed these colors except the white.
Glimakra USA carries some beautiful Swedish yarns. Tuna is a 2-ply yarn that can be used doubled for tapestry at 8 or probably 10 epi. I have not woven with this yarn, but there are tapestry weavers that do. There are a fair number of colors available.
Glimakra USA also carries this gorgeous Swedish yarn, Faro. I really like this yarn. It has more sheen than the Harrisville single but is essentially identical in weight. I use three together to weave at 8 or 10 epi.

Weaving Southwest in Arroyo Seco, NM carries a fairly good selection of tapestry yarn. They hand-dye this yarn themselves. It weaves at 8 ends per inch and might even work at a wider sett. I was unable to get it to cover a 10 epi warp. Each of the colors comes in a 5-color gradation and it is a 2-ply yarn. It is much stiffer than the Harrisville Highland.

Weaving Southwest's Tapestry Yarn
Australian Tapestry Workshop has the mother ship of tapestry yarn. Unfortunately I don't know exactly how to get it the easiest in the USA. You can order from their website but I don't know what the prices currently translate to. Any experience by any of you in purchasing this yarn would be helpful!
Australian Tapestry Workshop yarn I was able to try in Shelley Socolofsky's workshop in Tacoma recently.

Tapestry weavers frequently discuss where to get tapestry yarn. I definitely don't have all the answers. I would love it if you all would reply to this post in the comments with your tapestry yarn suppliers! Also specify whether you buy their colors or dye it yourself.

The best news is, that same student who wasn't so happy about the prospect of a closet full of yarn just bought himself a Mirrix. I think he is hooked. Bye bye rigid heddle loom, hello wonderful tool that will last for years.