What is Tapestry Yarn? (with pictures)

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Floor looms are a popular choice for weaving large scale projects like tapestries.
Floor looms are a popular choice for weaving large scale projects like tapestries.

In order to understand what tapestry yarn may mean, it is first necessary to unravel the meaning of the word tapestry. Tapestry means several different things. First, it is the name of a specific style of weaving, and you will often find tapestry weave or kilim weave contrasted to plain weave.

Tapestry weave is weft-faced, with the warps invisible, and has characteristic joins for color changes called diagonal, dovetailed, interlocked, and slit. In this usage, tapestry can be applied to medieval European wall hangings, Navajo blankets, and Middle Eastern carpets, among other fabrics in which discontinuous weft is used to form scenes or patterns. There is a particular style of loom called a tapestry loom on which this work is done.

Tapestry yarn can be made of wool, silk, linen, and cotton fiber.
Tapestry yarn can be made of wool, silk, linen, and cotton fiber.

So, going by this first usage, tapestry yarn can be applied to any yarn used on tapestry looms to make tapestries. Traditionally, this has included wool, silk, linen, and cotton fiber. Tapestry yarn is purchased specifically according to whether it is intended to serve as warp or weft, because different qualities are needed for each.

Recently, tapestry has come to be applied to fabric constructed on a backing and used for wall hangings or upholstery; that is, needlepoint and crewel embroidery that usually depicts scenes or pictures. In the this latter day usage, tapestry yarn is the name of a specific type of yarn, alternatively called tapestry wool, a 3- or 4-ply wool yarn often chosen by crafters for crewel embroidery and making needlepoint. Tapestry yarn is sold in skeins of 8.8 or 11 yards (~8 or 10 m) and 40, 42.7, or 62 yard (~37, 39, or 56 m) hanks, depending on the manufacturer. Tapestry yarn is available in a wide array of colors.

In addition, tapestry refers to a specific weight of fiber, called tapestry braid in the following scheme used by Kreinik, a thread manufacturer:

Very Fine Fine Tapestry Medium Heavy
#4 #8 #12 #16 #32

Kreinik's metallic braid, which comes in a variety of styles, including confetti and glow-in-the-dark, is recommended for use as a tapestry yarn. In addition, their tapestry braid is suggested for use in cross-stitch, crochet, as companion yarn in knitting, and for collage and other crafts. Shorter lengths are recommended for doing needlework with this type of tapestry yarn in order to limit the wear on them caused by repeated pulling through the base fabric or canvas.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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    • Floor looms are a popular choice for weaving large scale projects like tapestries.
      Floor looms are a popular choice for weaving large scale projects like tapestries.
    • Tapestry yarn can be made of wool, silk, linen, and cotton fiber.
      Tapestry yarn can be made of wool, silk, linen, and cotton fiber.