I had the opportunity to take a seminar with Pirkko Karvonen, on weaving with paper
I wove the paper vases pictured above, using the technique described by Pirkko. The warp
was a 3 ply hemp, and the coloured weft was paper yarn, alternating with a weft of 6 ply
Paper yarns have been used in Finland, Sweden and Japan to make textiles, clothing
fabrics, placemats, rugs and other decorative items. Once paper yarn has been woven, it
retains its strength and can be cleaned by wiping with a damp cloth. Paper yarn is low in
dust and is a good alternative for those with allergies and environmental health
problems. Paper yarn is best used as weft. When you weave with it, dampen the paper yarn before
you weave with it. Try to weave all the paper yarn that you have dampened that day. If
you are interrupted, you can put the damp paper yarn into a plastic bag to keep it moist
and use it the following day. If you leave it damp for too long, it may mildew or start to
fall apart. When I wove with the paper yarn, I wound it onto a bobbin and then dipped the
bobbin in a small dish of water, before I wove with it.
Holding a flower made with paper yarn.
A Japanese vest handwoven with silk and paper yarn.
The Japanese vest was woven with a silk warp. The special paper used as warp in the
vest was folded and cut into narrow strips(about 2 cm wide), almost to the edge of the
paper. This cutting technique is similar to that used for cutting rag rugs.
(Sakiori) The paper is dampened and wrapped in a towel. Let the
damp paper rest overnight. The next day,when the paper is opened up, it produces a long
narrow strip. The narrow strip of paper is then rolled on cement or a smooth surface to
produce a spun yarn. The edges of the paper are rolled between the fingers to smooth them.
The selvage edges will show up as slubs in the weft of the fabric.
Searching for Myself
Pirkko Karvonen has made significant contributions to the textile community in Canada.
Her work exhibits the ethnic traditions of Finland.
Star and the Birch Tree
A fibre tapestry depicting a snowy winter in Finland under Russian rule.
Pirkko and her husband Albert also produce wildlife and nature documentaries.
Where to Find Paper Yarn
Paper yarns from Sweden, in a nice selection of colours.
Manila linen and Shifu paper yarns.
A very unique assortment for the yarn connoisseur: raw silks, bamboo, hand-tied ramies,
cashmere, paper, naturally gold silks, handspun silks/cottons, silk stainless steel and
An Italian producer of paper yarns.
Paper Yarn Flowers
A how-to project for making paper yarn flowers.
DIY – Paper Yarn Lampshades
A project for making lampshades with paper yarn.
Ritva Puotila weaves rugs, carpets, table runners and accessories with paper yarns.