How many strands of singles yarn should I use for my tapestry?

My online students are learning a lot about various tapestry yarns. Many of them are using Harrisville Highland, but just as many are using other yarns. One frequent question lately is about how many singles to use at 8 ends per inch. I did a little experiment with a beautiful Swedish yarn,


This yarn is quite similar to the Harrisville single that I use in my work and it is the yarn that James Koehler used at the end of his career. It is well-spun, a little shiny, and it weaves beautifully. I use this weight yarn at 3 singles over 10 ends per inch. I wanted to see how this yarn would behave at 8 ends per inch in both 3 and 4 strands. (It may be important to note that I am using a 12/6 cotton seine twine warp.)

I made this little video to show you what happened! (Tip, you can enlarge the video by clicking the little square icon in the bottom right of the video player.)

Here you can see the three bundled strands on the left and the four on the right. For the first part of the weaving I just laid the yarn in without twisting the singles together.
For the second part of the weaving with the darker purple, I plied the yarn on my spinning wheel. The difference is in the texture of the fabric. The plied yarn created a smoother texture, the un-plied was much bumpier as it is harder to get all the strands to behave the same way. Overall, I don't think it matters that much whether you ply it or not. Especially if you are using multiple colors in your bundle, plying them together may not cause the visual effect you want. Sampling may be necessary!
You can see the darker purple yarn plied here.

Make sure to watch the video at the top of the post if you are interested in this concept. I talk about why you might want to use 3 versus 4 strands in the video.

What singles yarns have you used? Leave a comment below this post!
And if you enjoyed the video, please share it!

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