Hand Spinning News
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In this month of amour we have an abundance of articles, tips and project ideas for you to fall in love with.
Photo right: Kate Larson and Joan. Photo top: Merioneth County Agricultural Show at Tywyn.
- 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
- Not so free patterns
More project ideas which will work well with handspun yarn
Some 2015 dates for your diary
News and Blog Posts
Mule Sheep haven't been Mulesed
Lorraine of Cambrian Mountains Wool clears up an unfortunate confusion of the UK term mule (to refer to a particular cross) and the practice outside of the UK of 'mulesing' a lamb.
A simple point but it's well worth knowing if you like to know about the origins and welfare of your wool.
Have you tried spinning faux cashmere?
Back in November we featured a guest post on the Louet blog by Sayra Adams about making wool-free yarn using faux cashmere.
This month Kate Larson posts about the synthetic fibre with the help of Patsy Sue Zawistoski (PatsyZ) and agrees with many of Sayra's points - it dyes well, it's strong, soft and bouncy. It can be spun on its own or blended.
Happy Baa-lentine's Day
Anna makes tiny knitted characters and her animations are very funny.
Love is in the air here for these little sheep. The pattern for the dinky rose is available for free and Anna promises to give away the pattern for the sheep too.
As a bonus there's a 'making of' video here.
Head sizes of a newborn and the hats that fit
Baby hats are a great gift, very quick to knit and using small amounts of yarn.
Babies vary in size, but if you don't have the luxury of exact measurements for the recipient, then you'll need to make an educated guess.
Rebecca of Chemknits has kept a note of her own baby's measurements since birth and shares the figures for various ages.
If you're looking for pattern ideas, There are pictures of Lucky modelling a large number of different hats and Rebecca also links to a website which gives more general baby measurements.
The beginning of the year is a natural time for taking stock and making plans.
There has been a lot of talk about going 'cold sheep' - the Cold Sheep 2015 project involves using yarn and fibre from stash rather than buying more, which of course is bad news for indie dyers and suppliers.
Sadie wants to continue to support the small businesses and at the same time reduce her stash to a size that she can accommodate.
This is her spreadsheet, I'll let her explain how it works and wish her success with that.
Pretty red corriedale
Having dyes nearby can save the day when you need fibre or yarn in a specific colour.
Results can be hit-and-miss, but Araignee dyed this corriedale red for a project and it worked like a charm.
Lessons from Andean spinning
Can a North American spinner with a modern spinning wheel spin faster than a Peruvian woman with a spindle?
The answer, along with some interesting observations, is in Linda Ligon's post about her visit to the Peruvian Highlands.
Washing and hand spinning black wensleydale fleece
This is a Wensleydale ewe, shorn of her long, lustrous fleece
When scouring and spinning Fran found that this type of fleece needs different treatment than shorter wool. She shares her experiences here, warts and all.
How Fibres Are Spun
Thank you to Rahardjo for sharing this beautiful educational film from the forties.
It's a delight to watch although I couldn't help expecting Harry Enfield to walk into shot and say something inappropriate to the spinners.
The strangeness of coloured sheep
Ever since we've been breeding sheep to improve certain properties, including whiter fleece, black sheep have popped up occasionally in white flocks giving rise to all sorts of superstitions, sayings and nursery rhymes.
Last year Kate of Woolwinding gave us two comprehensive articles about the strange and sometimes unsavoury things that people have believed about sheep.
In January she wrote two posts about black sheep. Part one is here and part two is the link below.
A colourful process
As babylonglegs says, colours certainly do look different in roving, when spun and in finished fabric. For this reason I love seeing blog posts that show all stages.
Here we see her spinning a 3-ply yarn (a true 3-ply rather than navajo or chain ply) and she explains how she records the process - useful when things work out well and when they don't.
I must admit that I'm guilty of not crediting sheep with very much initiative or character (I'm sure this will rattle anyone who keeps sheep, please don't write, I know better now).
This is Kate Larson and Joan. A similar picture of Kate that I put at the top of HSN a year or two ago proved very popular and in this post Kate tells us more about Joan, about how flocks may have a leader who takes some responsibility, even calling out when something's wrong.
Tips and tutorials
Charting and layout software
Do you like to design for knit or crochet, or maybe adapt other people's designs? Maybe you like to draw charts when the pattern only contains written instructions.
Kate of A Playful Day writes with the help of Kate Atherley on the various ways to create a chart from no-cost through to specialist software. There are lots of links and I particularly like the 'knitting symbols' font that you can install on your computer and simply type the symbols.
7 knitting rules it's ok to break sometimes
The first couple are pretty obvious - you don't always need to check gauge or block your item. But hang in there, things get more controversial - a time and place for acrylic yarn?
One of Ashley Little's suggestions makes me decidedly uncomfortable - knitting a sweater for your partner. I'm not superstitious but....
Russian join and felted join
I hate weaving in ends and have mastered the spit-join which really can make an invisible and end-free join in feltable yarn. I've mentioned it a couple of times before and I know that some are squeamish when it comes to salivating on your own hand (although fetching a glass of tap water works as well).
The Russian join uses a needle rather than fluids and also works with non-feltable fibres. I first read about the technique on CrochetMe but (sorry Toni) I wasn't able to see from the pictures how it works so I'm linking to a video which helpfully shows both the Russian join and spit join (done tastefully).
When bad bind-offs happen to good people
If your bind-off is visible on your project and your bind-offs are usually spoiled by a sloppy last stitch then here are some steps for a flat and tidy finish.
Opposing ply yarn
After accidentally spinning one bobbin of singles in the 'wrong' direction, Heather learned at her guild meeting that this is a recognised technique.
One opposing single in a three-ply yarn can add strength and durability while the relaxed plies are soft and cushy.
Heather says "it's always amazing to learn that something you thought was a mistake actually is a practiced and well known technique."
Playing with colours
The FoxPaws pattern is very popular at the moment to say the least. It has a clever interlocking design and allows for much creativity with colour.
pamelamama's first tip is the Adobe colour tool which will be extremely useful for any project that involves choosing colours. This tool is web-based and I believe it'll work on any device or computer.
You can lock your colour choices into certain colourwheel rules or just go freeform. Or you can choose a photo - pamelamama explains how (she uses a photo of her actual yarn)
She goes on to explain how to colour in your pattern to see how it looks. The Fox Paws pattern is available in a suitable form for colouring in and other patterns may be too. pamelamama uses Microsoft paint but the eyedroper and bucket tools she uses should be available in your painting or photo editing software of choice.
Power Scour v dish washing detergent for washing fleece
When I learned to spin I was advised to use dishwashing liquid or cheap shampoo to wash fleece and lots of spinners agree with that.
I've used Power Scour and more recently Aussie Know How Fibre Scour. I particularly like the scent of PS and in a comparison test I did prefer the results of PS over washing-up liquid.
I've never compared the costs. (This does of course rely on following instructions carefully instead of using a "decent squirt, plus a bit more just to be sure" as one might be tempted to do.)
Heather has referred to two other bloggers who have 'done the math' and found the specialist product comes out on top. Another interesting point is water temperature, which can be lower with the products and therefore help with the economy if you're scouring a lot of fleece.
Note that Unicorn have recently revised their directions and now recommend using a bit less - 3 or 4% of the weight of the fibre rather than 5% as previously.
Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius
A reference book rather than a good read, says Nadia but a wonderful addition to a library.
The book covers over 200 fibres and their properties, it shows them spun and unspun.
Click through for Nadia's full review.
Keeping this wheel spinning
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Gorgeous Gradients- new from Hilltop Cloud
Gradient Packs are one of the latest items now stocked by Hilltop Cloud. They let you spin up a seamless gradient yarn with no obvious colour transitions.
Each pack contains a bumper 140g of beautifully blended fibre. Every month there's a new set of limited edition colours, all inspired by the world around us.
Sometimes just a picture is enough
Shawl from a braid of Wensleydale wool
Earlier in this issue we saw Fran flicking and spinning some black wensleydale locks and it's always so good to see a finished garment, particularly one as nice as this.
Fran has combined the natural black locks with a dyed Wensleydale roving. As her companion Elinor says, it's a striking effect.
The pattern is Dissent by Lisa Mutch, Fran includes a link in her post.
Needle felted barn owl
This gorgeous owl was needle-felted by Kris of the 2nd Monday Weavers group. The same page has many more beautiful projects.
linda aka stoneleafmoon makes some beautiful projects with natural forms and natural colours. This recent crochet shawl is made from her handspun but we have no more details about the fibre or pattern.
Handspun Kindle cover
Although a simple pattern (appears to be a sock-toe cast on and a tube of stocking stitch) it's perfect for showing off the colours and texture of suziesparkle's lovely handspun yarn.
onemoreknitter has made a beautiful job of this colourwork cardy.
She says "The main yarn was spun semi-woolen from a mysterious in-the-grease roving, the gold and darker brown were spun from feltstudioUK batts"
She's cleverly worked her initials and some dates into the pattern. You may be able to spot these if you click through some of the other photos in her stream.
A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.
Kassia by Anniken Allis
Looking ahead to the Spring, Anniken Allis has told us that Artesano have made many of their patterns available for free, including her Kassia lace stole.
It uses a lace weight 2-ply alpaca silk mix. When I tried such a blend I remember the silk wanting to slip out of the blend leaving me a handful of alpaca fibres. Maybe someone has a tip for avoiding this?
This attractive stole is rectangular and knit in one piece.
Crochet felted jellyfish pincushion jar-toppers
Thanks to Sue for this pattern and step-by-step guide. A fun and practical project that will use up small amounts of handspun - but remember that it'll need to be a feltable yarn.
Long John Cowl Pattern by Heidi Gustad
This pattern calls for a super chunky yarn, but you could achieve the gauge by using multiple strands.
If you have a yarn that's plain as here, then the stitch pattern adds interest. I'm sure it would show off a coloured handspun too.
The waffle stitch pattern also adds warmth and helps the cowl to stand up around your face when it's windy. It rolls up when things are less inclement.
Arm knit a chunky cowl in 30 minutes or less
If your yarn is of the bulkier variety then arm knitting may be a quick and effective way to use it. No needles or equipment required other than your two arms.
The cowl in the picture here is made in commercial yarn but how much nicer it would be in an individual handspun yarn.
The link below takes you to a page with an instructional video by Vanessa the craftygemini.
Tunisian crochet glasses case by Alice in Knittingland
I love functional projects. Plus I've recently found myself switching between three (yes, three) different pairs of glasses. There's a sign of middle-age. I've caught myself considering one of those stringy things to wear my close pair around my neck.
This project is very useful if you're in a similar situation. It'll show off a small amount of handspun in special colours, plus the Tunisian crochet adds a nice texture and makes a stiff fabric.
If you just thought "what kind of crochet?" then there's a tutorial video with the pattern on this page.
Tea Cosy by tomofholland
This is not a new post, but I do think this cosy is so attractive. Tom says that the honeycomb stitch is deceptively easy, and it really shows off several different natural shades.
In this example the yarn is made from Foula Wool.
Foula is West of the Shetland Islands and claims to be Britian's most remote crofting community. Foula sheep are a distinct variety of the Shetland breed.
For the pattern, see the notes in Tom's Ravelry project. His blog post also contains a Protip about avoiding a jog in the colour changes.
Wolfpup by tiny owl knits
I'm going to start including some paid patterns in HSN for the sole reason that I love this hat so much.
I'm wondering what to do about the fluffy yarn for the inside / folded out bits. Any ideas? I'm thinking maybe a commercial yarn for that part and a natural grey handspun for the cabled outer part.
tinyowlknits has made a video to show how to make the faux-fur pompoms.
25 & 26 April, Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells
Promoting wool and natural fibre production and its use.
Exhibitors and trade stands covering all aspects of felting, knitting, weaving, spinning, crochet and textile art with raw materials, equipment, books and finished products for sale. Competitions and a range of hands-on workshops.
A list of accommodation and camping in the surrounding area is available on the Wonderwool website.
Holsworthy Livestock Market, Devon, 30-31 May 2015
An event to bring together fibre crafters and producers in the South West. A great new venue with plenty of room for lots of exhibitors, and of course, lots of visitors.
Friday 26 June and Saturday 27 June, Cockermouth, Cumbria
Woolfest was founded to provide a showcase and a celebration of the best of wool and wool crafts.
The event is all about creativity and design with beautiful quality, amazing colours and skilled craftsmanship and this was recognised in 2012 when Woolfest won the Cumbria Tourism Award for Event of the Year.
25 and 26 July 2015, Redbourne Community College, Flitwick Road, Ampthill, Bedford MK45 2NU
The fifth Fibre East, those in the Eastern, Midlands and Southern Regions an opportunity to join in an event which aims to encourage and promote British wool and natural fibres.
The college provides an indoor venue.
26 and 27 September Skipton Auction Mart, North Yorkshire
For you if you love yarn and are passionate about all things woolly. It aims to celebrate the beauty and diversity of wool, cotton, linen and silk fibres in all their forms
Bakewell Wool Gathering
Bakewell Agricultural CentreSaturday 17 and Sunday 18 October
This year sees the third year of the Bakewell Wool Gathering, an event for wool lovers in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales.
There will be exhibitors, demonstrations of fibre crafts, workshops plus a knitting and crochet help desk to help novice and expert alike.
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Happy spinning and don't be a stranger!
Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator
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