Z and S plyed yarn in Weaving Shaker rag rugs

Paula's Weave Class

I was in weaving class on Friday morning. Doreen brought in some old weaving magazines to inspire us. It worked, I WAS inspired. Let me give you a little background on Z and S twist, the part of the article I found fascinating.


The reason for spinning in a Z or S twist is to give strength to the fiber being spun.

Z and S applies to the twist that is set into the spin. The Z twist is in the clockwise direction. The S twist is in the counter clockwise direction. Even if you turn the yarn upside down the Z twist is still a Z twist. The S twist is still an S twist. Singles (single stranded yarn) are usually twisted with a Z twist. Two Z twist yarns are plied together with an S twist. This makes for a more balanced yarn.

If you want more info on “Why ply ?[and how!],  Michele Lock puts it in an easy and informative way.

Shaker Rag Rugs-The  simplest weaving techniques produce interesting looking carpets by Cheryl Anderson. Threads magazine Aug/Sept. 1988 This was the article in the magazine I saw that sparked my interest as a spinner. Cheryl Anderson writes of the Shaker Rag rugs and the use of S variegated spun  yarn and Z variegated spun yarn. With the simple change of using variegated yarns and these two twists the rugs look more intricate though less complicated and made me want to try it.

S and Z Shaker Rug

This is an example of the Z and S twist in the Shaker rag rug design.

It was subtle but inventive, and a sense of unity, order and balance was inherent in it.”

That’s how Beverly Gorden author of  Shaker Textile Art talks about Shaker rugs that were appearing during the Civil War era.

I think I will start small and make the Shaker rag carpetbag. Pattern shown at the end of Cheryl Anderson’s article. The color yarn I dye and spin will be in the colorway of the rag I use. I will need to ask my weaving teacher if, according to the directions I need so little yardage of spun yarn. If true….I should be able to get this project in gear, shortly…to be continued.