I often mix a variety of threads in my weft bundles, winding them onto Aubusson bobbins. Since I do not dye my yarns, I work with the different color palettes of yarns in my stash, as well as from what is currently available. Some of the wools I use are: Anahera (New Zealand wool), Appleton crewel weight wool, Australian Tapestry Workshop wool, my mother’s hand-dyed yarns of varying weights, and my stash of no longer produced yarns: Paterna crewel and DMC Medicis wool (similar in density and thinness to Weaver’s Bazaar fine 18/2 weight).
It is important to keep the size, or density, of the weft bundle consistent. I usually use the classic European ratio :
the diameter of the warp = the diameter of the weft = the space in between each warp thread.
To determine a weft bundle diameter, it helps to twist the several strands in the weft bundle together and place it in the space between the warps. The twisted weft bundle needs to occupy this space without overlapping the warps beside it.
When I want a little sheen, a contrast to the matt surface of wool, I will add a strand of pearl cotton (available in different weights).
In these mixtures below, I have used a single ply handspun wool as part of the weft bundle:
I wind multiple strands of weft onto Aubusson bobbins by using a Swedish bobbin winder (the one with the smallest shaft measuring 1/8” in diameter at the smallest end).
In the video, I demonstrate how to wind four different strands of yarn that I am mixing for one weft bundle, in such a manner that all four strands wind onto the bobbin evenly, with a similar tension on each individual thread. This is important if you want to have a smoothly woven surface, with no unexpected bumps caused by one strand being looser in the weft bundle.
Also in the video, I demonstrate the hand gestures, les bons gestes, for efficient weaving, and for preventing the weft bundle from scraping against the warp threads, which will cause fuzzing of the weft. I generally twist the strands in my weft bundle as I weave, by twirling the bobbin and then winding the twisted area onto the bobbin. This makes all the strands become one thread. There are times when I will not twirl the bobbin because I want to a particular strand to show up more, as a particular pattern in the weaving.
On my basse lice (or basse lisse) loom, I am using a 12/12 cotton seine twine warp at a sett of 10 ends per inch. My weft bundle needs to be about the same diameter of the 12/12 cotton seine twine.
I have a Resources page on my website that lists sources of different yarns currently available, as well as other tools and supplies for tapestry making. Rebecca Mezoff also has a blog post describing weft yarns for tapestry.