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Hand Spinning News

The nights are drawing in, giving us more indoor crafting time, and it's that time of year when we look back as well as forward; back on some recent shows and events, and forward to the holiday season and beyond into next year. Happening right now, you'll see references to Wovember, which is a celebration of things 100% wool.

Looking a little way ahead, the patterns in this issue include chunky hats, mitts and shawls, and some Advent projects.

We have a good selection of tips this time which include gradients, blocking, carding and more.

This is the free edited issue for November 2016.

Photo right: The power of randomness by fishercatfiberco. Cover photo, Handspinner spinning (with open book), Loggie-log.


News / Events

Prime Minister distributes 500 charkhas to women spinners in Ludhiana

Prime Minister distributes 500 charkhas to women spinners in Ludhiana

It's hard to imagine this happening here, but if you are reading, Mrs May, I'd heartily recommend replicating this initiative taken by your Indian counterpart.

PM Narendra Modi has distributed 500 Charkhas to spinners. This action is part of his 'Make in India' campaign, and revives a 'tradition' begun in 1945 by freedom fighter K Kamaraj on the advice of Gandhi (the word tradition is used in some newspaper articles, despite the fact that it only seems to have happened the once before as far as I can tell).

I'm linking to this video rather than any of the newspaper websites, because there is quite a bit of footage showing the charkhas being used, and they really do look like enviable pieces of kit. If you'd like to read more, I'd suggest this article.

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From the Blogosphere

The ouessant sheep of france

The ouessant sheep of france

Diane, the Spinning Shepherd, often features here. She keeps a flock of Ouessant sheep in France.

The Wovember project asked her to write an article for their website. The story of the small, primitive breed is interesting and Diane has included many tips for hand spinners interested in using this wool.

Spinning and knitting dyed zwartbles and silk

Fran was led to this Hilltop Cloud blend after admiring another handspun hat which used the same fibre. She was surprised at the mix of zwartbles and silk, and that the varied colours could make a navy-looking yarn.

In this post we see the fibre's journey through to the finished hat, which is a Woolly Wormhead design, Tucked.

A spinner's journey

A spinner's journey

Facebook's 'Memories' feature reminded babylonglegs of her first spinning wheel, which she bought 9 years ago.

She's compiled this list of the wheels she's owned since then, and comments on each. This is a useful read if you're contemplating your first wheel or thinking about a change.

Paola Vanzo - Tibet, family and mYak

Paola Vanzo - Tibet, family and mYak

Paola is a remarkable Italian woman who has spent time in Tibet, formed a co-operative with nomadic yak farmers and made knitwear with a short supply chain.

I'm not such a fan of video or audio podcasts but this is a particularly special interview. There are plenty of facts about yak fibre and turning it into yarn commercially, and Paola's story is worth a listen. Skip to 15 minutes in to get to the start of her Tibet / yak story.

If you don't listen to the podcast, the pictures on this page are still well worth a look. There are many pictures of the nomads with their animals, and the resulting knitwear.



Goldilox has been spinning the brushings from her stepson's cat. Pet hair can be very soft and make good yarn, depending on the breed and age.

She found that she could spin from thin punis made on fine carders, but that some of the fibre had felted and wasn't usable. The lesson here is that if you do keep the fur for any length of time, try not to let it become compacted.

Click through to see her first plied 'pussgora' yarn.

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Tips and tutorials

Spinning for a Project: Matching a Yarn

Spinning for a project: matching a yarn

Jillian Merino has literally picked apart this millspun yarn because she wants to reproduce it for a particular project.

It turns out to be a 'mill pool' mix of wool fibres

Some may find her tutorial a little unnecessarily technically detailed, I suspect, but it's worth a look because there are so many factors to a finished yarn that you can vary for different effects. If you tend to spin your default yarn, appreciating these things can make you begin to think outside your usual box.

Using Blocking Wires To Block A Lace Shawl

Using Blocking Wires To Block A Lace Shawl

Again on the subject of finishing; if you've knitted lace, you'll know that when you finish knitting, your work looks bunched and not lace-like. Lace requires blocking to open up those holes and achieve the lace effect.

Whether your edges have points (as in this example) or are just straight, like the arms and sides of sweaters, blocking wires can make the process quicker and use fewer pins.

How to make your own shape sewing mannequin

How to make your own shape sewing mannequin

A sewing mannequin is pretty useful when making your own clothes (or even displaying for photographing).

This one is home made. It's cheap to make and will also match your shape exactly. (You guessed it - it involves a lot of gaffer tape, stuffing and a reasonably close friend.) it looks simple enough, with care obviously needed not to stick the tape to your skin.

Thanks to Knithacker for sharing this English language translation of the article which originally appeared in German.

Handcarding Helpdesk

Handcarding helpdesk

"Good carding - your stuff's half spun", says Norman Kennedy.

It seems that different spinners will give you different advice about carding. This article on the Spinning Daily blog contains top carding tips from three tutors - Carol Huebscher Rhoades, Norman Kennedy and Maggie Casey.


Plant Dyes for All Seasons 2017 Calendar

Plant Dyes for All Seasons 2017 Calendar

Fran Rushworth's name has been appearing in HSN for some time. Her mission has been to learn to grow and use plant dyes, and she's written about her successes and failures on her blog.

When she asked whether she could send me a review copy of her calendar, I imagined a dozen large glossy photographs, but I couldn't have been more wrong.

As you (or the person you give this to) turns each page, instructions for a project are revealed along with seasonal tips for growing dye plants.

My own review is here. Click the link below for Fran's own page about her calendar.

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Yvonne: Dear old Cornelia's been gone for a while, but don't you still sometimes feel her presence?

Some part of her is still around and walks among us.

If you like Yvonne, click the image to find her page, you can use next and previous to explore more cartoons, and join the mailing list for a regular digest email.

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Sometimes just a picture is enough

Lace spindle

This month's sexy spindle shot is this Linum Lace Spindle with polwarth / silk which threadbender says is "simply a joy to spin". I like the multiple notches around the whorl.

Backstrap weaving

Backstrap weaving

This is a fascinating short video of a lady deftly picking up threads with her fingers to make a pattern in handspun and naturally-dyed yarn. She's using a 'backstrap' loom which is a simple affair involving lots of sticks.

Lavender filled sachets

Lavender filled sachets

Here's an idea for an entirely handmade small gift. These are lavender pouches.

Instagram user atelier_videnovich used handspun wool, and even dyed it herself using Kool Aid.



doffeliten has done a great job of making these long socks match. The fibre is a Hilltop Cloud gradient. She says "The fiber made it easy, a perfect mirror gradient."

Hit and miss

Hit and miss

This had already caught my eye before I saw that one of the tags was #hitandmiss. I guess it shows the potential power of randomness.

It's made from leftovers of handspun, hand-dyed yarn. The result is very attractive.

Hand spun extra long scarf

Hand spun extra long scarf

This is a beautiful finished project, and I particularly like that myeldamato has taken photographs of a number of ways to wear this very long lace scarf, paired with an attractive pin.

She's used Merino / Hannui New Zealand Halfbred fibre from blacksheepfibre in a colourway called Still Waters.

There's no pattern, myeldamato says that she used "just an old traditional pattern stitch".

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Free patterns

A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.

Coral Reef Hat and Magic Mirror Mittens

Coral Reef Hat and Magic Mirror Mittens

vermontgirlamy has paired these two patterns and they work well together.

The hat calls for a slightly thicker yarn than the mitts but I'm sure that you can use the same yarn for both if you adjust needle size for gauge.

I can't find a handspun example of the hat yet but there are a few examples of the Magic Mirror Mittens in handspun yarn, notably these ones by MillaMargherita in sarastexturecrafts grey corriedale.

Smitten (a holiday garland) by Emily Ivey

Smitten (a holiday garland) by Emily Ivey

As is now traditional, I'm once again including the Smitten holiday garland pattern. These little mittens can be made from left-overs of handspun yarn and put together into a garland or wreath, or used as tree decorations.

The lovely example we see here was made earlier this year by Smyoo.

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Not-so-free patterns

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Happy spinning and don't be a stranger!

Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator

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