Hand Spinning News
This issue lands in the middle of the Tour de Fleece, a worldwide spinning event that runs alongside a sporting event with a similar name. Spinners find different ways to take part. There are few rules - to spin every day that the cyclists are spinning and to challenge yourself.
It really does get people spinning and there are so many great blog posts that I'll include some this month and some next month.
Looking ahead, I'm very pleased to have registered Team HSN UK for Spinzilla 2015. If you're interested in some competitive distance-spinning then find out more below.
Ecological matters arise this month, needleandspindle looks at the number of miles that 'local' commercial yarn travels and if you're processing your own fleece, using a suint vat may save energy.
With Summer in mind the gallery this month includes some Summer tops and the patterns include a reclaimed-material carry-all and a soft Kindle cover.
This is the free, edited version of Hand Spinning News for July 2015. Details of how to receive the full version earlier in the month are at the bottom.
Photo right: Withwool, first week of Tour de Fleece. Cover photo Spinning, Dorse Tribe, Ethiopia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
- Tour de Fleece 2015
- In the news
- From Blogland
- Online spinning events
- 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
Tour de Fleece
Day one and a glindle
My first Tour de Fleece item is also this month's sexy spindle shot. I've never appreciated the 'glindle' or glass spindle before but now I have thanks to Jenni K who is spinning for Team Unicorn, a team for users of Bristlecone spindles.
These spindles are apparently difficult to get hold of, the shop being updated rarely and selling out almost immediately.
No word on the beautiful amethyst colour fibre here. Maybe it's a rule with glindles that you colour co-ordinate your fibre and spindle.
One of the great things about the Tour de Fleece is the personal challenge. Goldylox is trying some new things.
She joined a team that could choose some challenges from a list. In this lovely selection of pictures she shows us pictures of her 'acid dyeing in the grease' and 'cloud spinning'
Rocking the first week of tour de fleece
April's post on her first week has some great photography and some varied yarns too. A three ply, a fat single-ply and a sock yarn, destined to be an 'opposing ply 3-ply' which she says is the biggest challenge for her.
#tourdefleece2015 on Instagram
If you enjoy browsing pictures of people's progress in Tour de Fleece then the best place may be Instagram's exploration of the tourdefleece2015 hashtag.
This impressive 'day 10' picture is by lesjoliesdemilie
In the news
Shetland highlights, taatit rugs
If you're further North then the Shetland Museum, Lerwick, has an exhibition of taatit rugs.
The rugs on display were made using a technique similar to rag-rugging, with yarns spun on a great wheel, a thick two-ply, perhaps thinner for the pile.
If you can't visit the museum or you're reading this after 19 July then Kate reviews the show with pictures and information
The Vintage Shetland Project and blog tour
Susan Crawford has been studying a number of garments in Shetland's museums, has re-created them stitch-by-stitch and has written the patterns, each accompanied by an essay. This is The Vintage Shetland Project.
She plans to include all of this in a book, which is to be crowdfunded. The remarkable news is that the project reached its target in a few days, so the book will definitely go ahead. If you're interested in contributing then Susan sets out what she plans to do with the surplus on her own blog.
Accompanying the project is a 'blog tour', a new concept to me. Twenty bloggers have been asked to write a piece about a selected item from the collection. I'm linking here to the KnitBritish post in which Louise comments on a Fair Isle vest in a rayon yarn.
At the bottom of this post are links to other stops in the blog tour.
From the Blogosphere
What is a local yarn?
There are many good reasons for spinning your own yarn; being able to spin the exact type or weight of yarn you want for your project or the pleasure of seeing the fibre through from raw fleece to finished project. Or my favourite reason, because we'll be the ones wearing clothes after the apocalypse.
Rebecca raises a reason that I've not thought through before; sustainability. She noticed that some of her commercial 'local' yarn is travelling thousands of miles for processing despite the fact that the sheep live a few miles away.
She wonders whether this environmental impact is less important than other issues such as animal welfare or traceability.
In her footnote she points out that spinning your own locally-raised fleece makes the least-travelled yarn.
The struggle for freedom meant you took to your spinning wheel
In what has become a regular feature, and no apologies from me for that, Jenn is once again spinning in cowgirl boots.
This time as she does her hypnotic thing at the wheel, she tells the history of the war of independence and the very important role played by spinning wheel (which reminds me of Gandhi's boycott of British cloth).
If you love watching these as much as I do then as a bonus she has made another this month telling of red dye and the cochineal beetle, with many interesting facts about those useful creatures.
Revisit with blue
Also in colour history news this month is Cheryl's post about blue dyes; the fall of woad and the rise of indigo.
baby mohair woven scarf
Here's an interesting comparison, One of these scarves has a handspun weft, the other a commercial yarn. (The warp is partly handspun too).
If I know my left from my right (I'm not confident) then after enlarging the image, the results weren't as I expected.
Click through for more pictures and Jean's notes.
Preparing and spinning a portland fleece
Here we follow a whole Portland fleece from shearing to bulky two-ply.
Fran seems happy with the finished yarn although it wasn't always a happy journey, the words 'compost heap' do come into the conversation.
What would you give to a fellow spinner?
If you enjoy giving and receiving then a swap group may be for you. Goldilox has written about the scheme in another post (explore her June posts to find it if you'd like to know more about that)
For this particular swap, she gave a practical present that she'd made herself, and received an uncanny package in return. Click through to see all.
Fermented Suint (FSM)
Elsewhere in this issue we're considering the environmental aspects of 'local' commercial yarn and how preparing and spinning your fleece cuts out those miles travelled.
However, Jenn of The Fibre Workshop found that cleaning fleece from scratch took "terrifying amounts of energy, hot water, time and soap".
She decided to try the ancient fermented suint method, which simply put is to let the fleece brew in cold water for a week. She reports her results here. For her earlier blog post in which she starts off the vat and gives a couple of useful links for more information, look for her 'Previous' link.
Are You Going to the British Wool Show?
If you're within reach of York on 7 and 8 August then Nadia recommends the British Wool Show (formerly the British Wool Weekend).
She says that she's seen a different selection of exhibitors there than at other shows.
If you're unable to go, they are looking for contributions of bunting, pompoms etc For more information on all of this, click through to Nadia's blog.
Online spinning events
Spinzilla 2015 October 5 - 11
As announcend last month, Hand Spinning News is one of the official sponsors for Spinzilla 2015.
I'm pleased to be able to support the event. I like the cause (providing craft materials for kids, particularly spinning stuff) and I like the event which involves spinning as much as you can in a week.
I spun 'rogue' last year (here is all the yarn I spun) because there wasn't a specific UK team. I would like to put that right this year.
I'm delighted to say that I have now registered "Team HSN UK". If you're interested, then please show your interest here, but note that there are limited places in a team (max 25 spinners) so it'll be first come first served when spinner registration opens on Sept 1
Tips and tutorials
Three ply fractal spinning
To date my 'fractal' spinning has used a simple technique of splitting a braid vertically, and splitting it more times for one of the two plies. It certainly produces excellent results with a multi-coloured or variegated dyed braid, but I've had my doubts about the term 'fractal'.
Benjamin's post caught my eye because of the title. But rather than the 3-ply with each ply split / repeating differently, he has navajo or chain-plied which concentrates colour. He explains the fractal principle of a repeating pattern and demonstrates how he splits a braid and navajo-plies to achieve a pattern which repeats at different rates.
As if all that isn't enough, the post comes with a free pattern. The stitch for this cowl gives it a woven look and I think the stitch pattern helps to soften the colour changes.
How setting the twist can change the yardage of handspun yarn
April discovered while knitting a shawl that she didn't have as many yards as she believed.
She had a number of skeins from last year's Spinzilla which she'd carefully measured before setting, so these were perfect for re-checking.
The results are surprising and vary from skein to skein.
She gives full details including her tips following this discovery. I'd add to her tips - use Katie's method and check the length of the skein after setting and use this re-checked skein length in your final calculation.
So you've discovered sock knitting
This post from Glenna is aimed at you if you're new to sock knitting. She has some suggestions to start you off. If you tried it and loved it, then she has suggestions for taking your sock knitting further. If you weren't so keen, then she looks at the possible reasons why and offers some solutions.
Keeping this wheel spinning
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Yarnmaker, number 23
Yarnmaker is the UK print spinning magazine and issue 23 is as packed as ever with articles. There are two 'back to back' stories this time, including the full story of the Appleton alpaca back-to-back that I mentioned here a couple of issues ago.
I should make it clear that I retail Yarnmaker but don't produce it.
Dyeing to Get the Colors You Want From Digital Photographs
Alanna Wilcox is a teacher, spinner and knitter. Like many in the fibre world she has a passion for colour. She has developed a technique for converting colour from a digital photograph into a dye recipe using a formula rather than guesswork.
Her aim with this guide is to help you to develop an eye for colour and then teach you how to accurately reproduce a colour using her technique.
It covers a little colour theory, how to extract the colour values using your computer and how to calculate the recipe for the dye. Finally there's an example worked from start to finish.
The guide has many 5-star reviews and comes as an instant download in the universal pdf format (there is an option to buy a printed copy).
Sometimes just a picture is enough
Elgin jumper by Fran Rushworth
A couple of months ago we saw Fran's Elgin Jumper knitting pattern (pattern and post about that one here)
Since then she's made another for herself with some modifications and using woad locks for the slubs.
She also discovered that using commercial combed top worked out to the same price as a raw fleece but with less work. For more about that, the spinning process and the finished jumper.
Gasoline Rainbow, the handspun
Can you predict what yarn will look like when you look at a dyed braid? Sarah says that she can sometimes, and this was one of those times.
This braid has an amazing colour palette, Sarah had it dyed to order. and was delighted.
Click through for shots of singles on the bobbins and the finished skein.
Hand spun hand knitted cowl
Margaret of the historic Worstead guild models her handspun cowl at a recent show and tell.
No word on the pattern or the fibre but the yarn has some attractive colour changes.
Midwest Weavers Conferance
This stunning handwoven mermaid dress is made from plastic bags and has sparkly lights in the fishtail train.
Angela of Kindred Threads visited the Midwest Weavers Conference at St. Thomas University in St Paul, Minneapolis and has posted a fascinating selection of pictures. Don't miss the "lineup of middle aged women in their handwoven bathrobes, strutting their stuff" (not my words).
Irieknits' picture has reminded me that I've had some of this oft-overlooked fibre in my stash for some time now.
Bias scarf with handspun silk/merino
Here are two projects together. Flamingstitches visited Dumfires Guild of SWD Triennial Exhibition in May where her own bias-knit scarf was on display. She took several pictures, here is her scarf displayed with a handspun cardigan.
Alpaca tweed cardi
This is a good-looking design and works beautifully in the tweedy mix of alpaca and wool that Louisa spun.
The pattern is Larch by by Amy Christoffers. It can be worn open or buttoned. Look out for the buttons she's used, they suit it perfectly.
Handspun textured shawl
MadgeFace has finished this shawl using yarn that she spun during last year's Tour de Fleece. It uses stockinette, garter and an interesting mystery stitch.
Knitting with handspun
In this case I fell for this photograph rather than the project itself. The colours are very cheerful and the yarn is nicely spun.
digitalmuse says "I am LOVING knitting with my handspun! This makes me want to spin and spin and spin"
Combing Romney fleece
Rachel of ontheround is cutting down the 'fleece miles'. She has started spinning this Romney fleece which is local wool that she combed herself.
Of this fleece she says "Romney gets sort of a bad wrap, but really it's amazing for handspun. When you handpick a gorgeous fleece, carefully wash it preserving just the right amount of natural oils and carefully process it as the fleece requires, you will end up with an amazing yarn"
A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.
Crochet T-shirt Yarn Tote
This doesn't use handspun yarn but does involve making yarn of a kind.
And yes, great news, it seems that you can make pom poms from tee-shirt yarn.
The pattern is easy to crochet, holds "a ton of stuff" (possibly not literally) so is a perfect Summer carry-all. Designer Heidi says "This chunky bag is an awesome & fun way to use fabric yarn if you've never tried it, and the pattern is great for beginners!"
Entrelac Cozy Kindle Cover by Eileen Casey
Entrelac works very well with yarn that changes colour. If you love your Kindle then this pattern's double-layer of wool will give it protection.
This is more than a pattern, good instructions are provided all the way through, so may be a good project if you're new to the technique.
Thanks to Rebecca at Chemknits, and if you'd like to browse other patterns for the kindle or other devices then her list of free iPad and Kindle cover patterns is here.
Bobica by Eleanor Burke, crochet shawl
Eleanor of Knit Nottingham / Knit, Spin, Design says "I am SO excited about this... I think it's interesting ... more than a shawlette, less than a shawl so perfect for year round use "
It uses 100g of fingering-weight yarn with changing colours so will be also be perfect for that braid of hand-dyed fibre.
The Chambered Nautilus Tam by Elizabeth Zimmermann
Jenn hasn't made her tam (pictured) from handspun yarn but I'm sure the pattern would lend itself very well to your own yarn.
The pattern only seems to be available in Elizabeth Zimmermann's book of garter stitch patterns. If you're tempted to make one, Jenn's post includes more pictures of her hat, a review of the pattern and some tips on the trickier techniques - something that she feels is missing from the pattern.
Check Slouch Hat
Here's a pattern that I can recommend myself, that's my cheesy grin on the right. I've made the hat using yarn spun from a couple of bags of fleece I had stored, black, white and the grey is a blend of the two. I think the hat would look great in any combination of natural colours.
The colourwork involves slipped stitches, a technique I enjoyed.
I've linked to my post, the link to the pattern is within.
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.
British Wool Show (formerly British Wool Weekend Show)
Friday 7 and Saturday 8 August, York Auction Mart
Supporting the Campaign for Wool.
Exciting treasures to discover; wool from fleece to finished items and other items you will need to spin, weave, knit, crochet, hand dye, cross stitch, embroider or make felt.
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
Shetland Wool Week
26 September - 4 October 2015
A busy weekend dedicated to celebrating Shetland wool and textile heritage.
The extensive events list includes workshops, demonstrations, open studios, spinning, knitting, weaving and Britain's most northerly sheep.
Visit the website to download a free 'Shwook Hat' pattern, designed exclusively for Shetland Wool Week 2014 by Patron, Hazel Tindall.
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.
January 2015 saw a milestone; Hand Spinning News split into two; a free version, which is edited down a little bit, and a full version for paying subscribers.
If you would like to take the free option then you need to do nothing and you will receive Hand Spinning News as always, just a little later, and I'm very happy to still have you as a reader.
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Happy spinning and don't be a stranger!
Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator
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