Hand Spinning News
The clocks have changed, Halloween and Fireworks Fortnight are behind us and the nights are almost as dark as they're going to get. But still it hasn't felt like spinning and knitting season has really started because the weather has hardly felt autumnal yet. Not that I'm complaining!
Spinzilla helped, some of us binged on spinning for a week and below I've linked to some of the prizewinning photographs.
Read on for the usual round up of spinning news, reviews and fibrey fun and don't miss the easy-to-enter giveaway.
Photo right: earthchicknits wearing a skein of Shetland.
- News and articles from around the web
- From Blogland
- Tips and tutorials
Showing off some of the best images I've found this month
- Free patterns
A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn
Some dates for your diary
News and Blog Posts
Fall shawl style
This is a post I've been waiting a while for.
As part of a project bringing together bloggers on the subject of shawls between now and Christmas, Jennifer Lassonde has compiled six ways to wear your triangle / crescent shawl.
More general sheep strangeness
A month or two ago Woolwinding wrote about our long relationship with the sheep, maybe one of the first domesticated animals.
We have used every part of the sheep in ways ranging from ingenious through unbelievable to disgusting.
Not for the faint-hearted; here is part two of 'sheep strangeness'
A tale of a wheel's transformation
The whorls of Hazel's wheel as well as the drive wheel are made of MDF which was showing wear. Hazel's solution was to seal the material with shellac before painting.
She finished with a silver paint for a metallic finish.
She also made her own flexible drive band from a surprising but effective material.
Playing with colours
Here's a very long post but we get to see this silk/merio's journey from plain white processed fibre through Joanne's dyeing process, spun into yarn and then knitted into an entrelac cowl.
Guest Post: Baa, No Wool?
The surprising thing about this hand-carded, handspun and knitted shawl is that it contains no wool.
Why would you want to work exclusively with man-made fibres? I'm sure we all know someone who is unable or or unwilling to wear wool. Fake fibres are also hard-wearing and machine-washable.
It's more usual to blend the fibres used here with animal fibres to add strength, lustre or sparkle, but it's very interesting to see how they dye, spin and knit by themselves.
There are many synthetic fibres available today and they can be flat and lifeless, but in this guest post on the Louet blog Sayra Adams says that the resulting yarn here was "springy and a joy to knit"
Giveaway at OwlPrintPanda with Sara's Texture Crafts
You may have met Sara at one of the wool shows. Her online shop is the first place I try for unusual fibres and she dyes too.
OwlPrintPanda is giving away a 'dyed to order' skein of Sara's superwash sock yarn.
It's easy to enter - use the link below for more details.
Tips and tutorials
The mayan or paddle spinner is said to be great for beginners because of its park-and-draft action.
It can be fun and I've heard that it's easier to use than a spindle for people with certain problems in the hands or fingers.
This video very clearly shows the 'rattle' action of the spinner, although the yarn isn't being wound in the way that I'm used to (with the yarn coming off the little end, closer to the pivot.)
Where to Buy Raw Fleece for Spinning
Ashley Martineau advocates buying fleece direct from the farm. It's a great way to obtain reasonably-priced raw material and helps the farmer out with their costs.
In this article she gives five sound tips for buying a good fleece.
The Man Behind the Kitchener Stitch
The Kitchener stitch is used in places where two rows of live stitches need to be 'grafted' together. It's used to join the arms of the cardi I'm currently knitting, and it's commonly used to join the toes of top-down socks as well as 'mirror image' situations such as cowls that are knitted in two halves and grafted around the middle.
Thanks to this post by man-who-knits kiwiknitter I now know that it was named after Lord Kitchener, moustachioed WW1 Secretary of State for War.
He may not have invented the stitch, but he did promote the stitch by distributing a pattern which used the method. Previously, a seamed toe-join was popular, but this caused problems for men when marching or in damp conditions.
The link below goes to my favourite tutorial, which I always have to refer to because I can never remember exactly how it goes.
Lying Piece of Swatch
Filed under 'cautionary tales'.
How many times have you read about the importance of swatching? Woolandchocolate conscientiously put a lot of time into her swatch. After she had spent many hours on the jumper, the difference between her swatch and jumper was small, but multiplied over 400 stitches, added several inches.
This is Knitspot's Kingston lined cowl which I've just added to my queue.
It will look great in dark and light natural colours. But what if the yarn isn't so suitable for wearing next to the sensitive skin of your neck? No problem.
Along with the pattern, Anne has written this post about adding a luxury lining to any cowl or hat which she says is "fairly easy and straightforward". There are many reasons for doing this, see how the cowl in the picture stands up around the ears by itself and adds a softness against the skin. Click through to read more reasons.
How to spin an ombré yarn
To save you looking it up (which I had to do), ombré means graduation in shade, ie light to dark rather than one colour to another.
Our hombre with the ombré is Benjamin from Schacht. The effect he has achieved by carding three different commercial fibres is very impressive. This picture has all five of his blends wound into one jumbo ball. For more pictures and details of his method, follow the link below.
Cropped Raglan Cardi Tutorial
If you're ready to make your first cardi but unsure about some of the techniques involved, then this tutorial may be for you.
The pattern is Lion Brand's Cropped Raglan Sweater and Staci is knitting the example using a yarn which is woolly and has a homespun look, so you'll get a similar result using handspun,
The pattern itself is here. You'll only need to know knit and purl stitches. Other techniques such as ribbing, raglan increases and picking up are demonstrated and explained in the video.
Free eBook, Guide to Felting
It may be one of the oldest ways to make cloth from fibres. We spinners may see it as a poor cousin but felt is a quick to make, warm, firm fabric.
This free eBook from Spinning Daily discusses the history, fibres and preparation plus a number of projects; a pom-pom toy, felted bowls made from unspun roving, a felted woven scarf and a needle-felted ballerina doll.
Arm knitting with wool tops
Arm knitting is still growing in popularity and that's not surprising. You can make a gorgeous and very cosy cowl or snug scarf in minutes from your art yarn or multi-strands of bulky yarn without needles.
Why not try commercial top or roving for a very bulky and squishy result? It comes in a variety of fibre mixes and dyed colours. This is Kate from Ashford demonstrating the moves which will be familiar if you knit already.
Make sure you won't need to take a break!
Keeping this wheel spinning
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New Kiwi Super Flyer
If a jumbo-sized flyer isn't big enough for you or if you'd like to spin art yarn and be able to switch back to your regular or jumbo flyer sometimes then this may be an option for you.
The Ashford Kiwi now has a 'super flyer' with an enormous 27mm orifice (matching the Country Spinner 2)
It has new 'freeflow' yarn guides and you can swop it back and forth with your regular flyer with a single allen-key bolt.
Sometimes just a picture is enough
Spinzilla - a picture is worth a thousand words
Spinzilla is a spin-as-much-as-you-can-in-a-week competition for individuals and teams with money raised for a spinning-related good cause. 2014 was the second year and open to spinners worldwide.
I managed about two and a half miles, which was nowhere near enough to make the prizes. My photos didn't figure in the results either, but the photo results page on the Spinzilla blog is an enjoyable visit.
Achievement unlocked :: spinning mojo
After the Spinzilla photo comp I now have a taste for the creative yarn photo!
This is eathchicknits with just one skein of the three that she features in this post after rediscovering her spinning mojo. This is a bulky woollen yarn spun from Shetland.
Handspun rainbow mini skeins
I love to see the transformation of fibres into singles and then into plied yarn.
In this case the singles were solid, so there wasn't such a magical development when they were plied, but these seven mini skeins look lovely as a set and I hope they'll end up all being used in something which shows off the graduation through the rainbow colours.
Knitty Professor Jordynn's pouffe is an interesting mixture of two patterns and "various scrap yarns that were DK to Worsted weight ... four held together at a time".
She used the Puff Daddy pattern with the stitch pattern from the Sediment Blanket.
Hinagiku hat in handspun
This could be a finished project for our gallery as well as a great free pattern, proved to look great in handspun yarn by Nadia of abso-knitting-lutely.
The yarn here was spun longdraw and chainplied and Nadia is very happy with the stripes.
The free Hinagiku Hat pattern is here.
Denim gradient shawl
kerryhill is "so pleased" with her first singles shawl.
She's used a denim gradient from PIcperfic's Fluff n Stuff. When I made mine, I added a little white at the lace edge, but Marianne (picperfic) is now fading her dyeing out to an undyed end of the braid, making for a better graduation through to white.
A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.
Snakes and Ladders hat pattern by Fran Rushworth
With thanks to Fran for this fun pattern.
She made hers from North Ronaldsay fleece and it's interesting to read about how she added the colour.
The hat is knit with fewer stitches than you'd expect for a hat. Deliberately dropping stitches is fun and slightly scary.
Noro hat, a free-form recipe
Manuèle calls this "a wordy recipe, full of 'do as you wish'"
If that's your thing, this pattern looks great in shifting colours
Spinster Cowl by Valerie Miller
Valerie likes colour but has chosen a neutral colour for this cowl and a yarn which has a handspun look.
Her appropriately-named Spinster Cowl has a rib and cable pattern which makes it stretchy and easily goes over your head without messing with your hair.
the link below is for the cowl. As a bonus she has designed a slightly slouchy hat using the same cable pattern here.
Spider's Web by DROPS Design
A little late for Halloween (this year) but the yarn used here has colour changes mimicking yarn spun from hand-dyed fibre and the colour changes really bring out that central web.
The unusual construction and bewitching spider-web design will make an interesting knit and eye-catching result.
Magic Loop Teddy by Julie Tarsha
I've not yet seen this bear made using handspun, but the suggested yarn is a kettle-dyed 100% (superwash) merino, and the 'Paddington hard stare' in the eyes of that bear on the left leaves me no choice but to list the pattern here.
Gauge obviously isn't important but suggested yarn is worsted-weight with a needle a little smaller than you'd usually use with the yarn so you don't see the stuffing.
Another plus is that there is no seaming at all (if you don't count the ears) because Julie the designer likes seaming just as much as I do. "Not much?" Not at all.
Happy spinning and don't be a stranger!
Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator
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