Hand Spinning News
This is certainly the most amazing time of year; newborn lambs are in the fields, the days are getting noticeably longer, flowers are blooming and people are smiling.
If you're tempted to give some of the more creative spinning techniques a go (and we have a blogger this month with three reasons why you should) then I have an offer on Lexi Boeger's book, only for HSN readers.
This is the free edited version of Hand Spinning News for April 2015
- 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
An Irish yarn for St Patrick's Day
Heather's articles are always a good read; thorough, well-researched and balanced.
On St Patrick's day she posted about Irish yarn, the myths and legends that have grown up as well as the current state of play with links to producers and processors.
In praise of the sub-herd
Is there a collective noun for spinning wheels? A whirl of wheels maybe?
iriegemini shows us her collection of restored antique wheels, and yarn that she's spun on each, proving that there's no reason an old wheel shouldn't spin just as well as a new one.
Spinning through time and space
Thanks so much to Arlene who has sent me these pictures of her handiwork.
The Kiwi wheel lends itself particularly well to being decorated and this is a particularly fine example.
She's used transfer-printed vinyl and finished the blue with a coat of glitter varnish for a sparkle. Despite the label, it's probably not free for public use. Do click Arlene's name to see some worthwhile close-up and in-progress shots.
If you write to her, expect a reply in Gallifreyan.
Three reasons every spinner should make art yarns
I feel that Anne Merrow is speaking directly to me, maybe you also prefer spinning relatively fine, even yarn.
But she says that there's more to art yarn than you think, and gives three reasons why it would be beneficial to take some time out and 'have a play' with some creative techniques
The Spring Knitting and Stitching Show 2015
If you're curious about shows but never been then I don't think I've seen a more thorough review than Corrie's review of the Olympia Spring Knitting and Stitching Show. Over four posts with loads of photos in each, she reviews many of the exhibitors. Use the 'previous' and 'next' buttons at the top of the page to find them all.
Edinburgh Yarn Festival unwinding
While we're in an exhibition mood, Louise of knitbritish brings us the atmosphere of Edinburgh Yarn Festival in pictures and sound, with more of a focus on the social side. I'm not such a big fan of podcasts but audio certainly does transport you to an event in a more immersive way.
I've linked to part two below, part one is here.
A good saturday
I'm very grateful to Ella Gordon, she visited a spinning day at Ollaberry Hall which is full of examples of Shetland knitting (is this a permanent exhibition? If you know, let me know).
It looks as if there were spinning / knitting demonstrations / workshops alongside the exhibition, which contains some breathtaking examples. Don't miss the delightful old black-and-white photo of a boy wearing a jumper pinned to the actual jumper.
Some really special pictures of a tradition which is still alive.
The Shepherd's Life
You may already be following Herdwick Shepherd @herdyshepherd1 and be familiar with James Rebanks' family, his flock and sheepdog Floss.
James farms in the Lake District. His views on the landscape as a working environment versus a playground are frank and are food for thought if you walk in the Lake District or have even decided to live there.
He has published his book, The Shepherd's Life, which is being serialised on Radio 4 as I write this and should be available on the BBC website until the middle of May. A worthwhile - I'd go as far as to say important - listen. To enjoy the full text and support James, the book is available in hardback now.
To accompany the book and the programme the BBC have put together this web page of nine things you (may) never have known about sheep.
Do you like to spin fine? Hilltop Cloud's Katie likes a challenge and was tempted to enter the Bothwell SpinIn Longest Thread Competition. This involves spinning the longest 2-ply possible from 10g of wool or alpaca. There are classes for wheel, eSpinner and spindle.
Congratulations to Katie who did fabulously well and came in 5th. Katie writes more details about how she spun her yarn in her post at the link below.
Tips and tutorials
Free Online Spinning Lessons by Ashley Martineau
Ashley Martineau has made a couple of changes this month. She's decided to work under her own name rather than Neauveau Fiber Arts, and she's been working hard, in conjunction with SpinOlution Wheels, on a series of video tutorials.
Here is a page listing all of her tutorial videos. Many focus specifically on art yarn techniques; how to core-spin, how to navajo ply, how to add beads as you ply etc.
Yarn weight is probably even more relevant to us hand spinners than those using commercial yarn. You'll need to do the 'wraps per inch test' to find out your WPI number, and then use a chart to find out which weight name that corresponds to.
Amy of Webs writes with commercial yarn in mind, which is usually labelled with a weight / gauge but her notes are very useful for us hand spinners.
How to tie and replace spinning wheel drive bands
A selection of videos here deal with replacing string-type drive bands on Schacht wheels
If you were a Girl Guide then reef knot (or square knot) may be all you need to know, but there are tips within the videos which may be useful to owners of Schacht and other brands of wheel.
Spring Clean - Wheel Clean
Sue recommends cleaning a wheel after each session, especially if you spin 'in the grease'. But every so often she likes to dismantle and give the wheel a 'good overhaul'.
Here is her procedure and tips.
Crazy about coils
Arlene is crazy about coils and in this post on the Fibery Goodness website she experiments with coils.
With a little info on coil-spinning she asks a number of 'what if...' questions such as "what happens if I ply a coil with a coil?" and posts the results.
Pilling no more?
Pilling is a fact of life with knitwear, says Amy. But with handspun yarn there are a number of things that you can do while spinning and knitting to minimise the problem.
Amy's tips are at the link below.
Knitbug Val says that the problem with row counters is that you forget to click or twist the counter. I'm just the same, terrible at keeping count.
Here's an idea; the stitch marker is made of a chain of loops. Each time you slip the marker, you also move the chain on by one loop, a little like rosary beads.
Minimum number of stitches needed for circular needles by yarn weight
Here's an interesting chart to keep handy.
I'm not a big fan of magic loop, all that pulling on the cable seems to slow things down. Knitting on a circular needle without a magic loop can work well but too many or too few stitches can make it difficult.
So how do you know the optimum number of stitches for a given circular needle (or the correct needle for your number of stitches)? Click through for Lorna's chart.
Stranded colorwork getting tangled?
I've now made two colourwork projects using handspun yarn and it certainly does take some care to avoid tangles.
Could this yarn guide help? Ashley Little says that it is a tension helper as well as a tangle avoider. But it takes some getting used to and that it may not be for everyone. Read her full review at the link below.
My feeling is that tangles happen further down. I fine the best strategy is to have one ball on my left and one on my right. Have you tried a guide like this? What do you think?
Keeping this wheel spinning
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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).
Hand Spun by Lexi Boeger
There's art yarn and then there's Lexi Boeger. She likes to take traditional techniques and - in her words - turns them on their ear.
The book deals with traditional techniques and then expands on them. It also includes profiles of fibre artists such as Stephanie Gorin of Loop Fibre, Janice Rosema and Val Pascall. There are 20 project ideas.
I have a number of copies of this book for the very special price of 7.50 for HSN readers. (usually 16.99)
Sometimes just a picture is enough
Beating the 1000m barrier
Kerryhill has been trying to spin finer and has reached 1000m from 100g of fibre.
I love to see how colours look so different as they move from dyed fibre to singles, then to plied yarn and finally to knitted, crocheted or woven fabric.
The Shawl Rudy
This fluffy-looking yarn and shawl is made from a fibre which wasn't easy to spin, it's smooth and wasn't so ready to hold itself together. It also has a lovely natural colour with some variegation.
It's golden retriever. If you've not been approached by a dog or cat owner with a bag of brushings, I'm sure it will happen sooner or later.
If you're tempted to try, The Wool Merchant's Daughter has written in detail about her spinning and knitting experience.
Felting is for the birds
Two project ideas in one post; bird pods and a beret, both made from the Spinning Shepherd's Ouessant wool and both felted.
Handspun Alpaca Polar Bear Chullo
It always feels a little naughty to sneak in my own projects, but this one has a charitable cause behind it.
I made this hat in preparation for the Appleton Back to Back challenge, please support it if you're able, it will be fun.
What started as practice spinning (using some actual Appleton alpaca fibre) escalated into this finished chullo, which I'm incredibly proud of.
More of the story with lots of pictures is at the link below.
Annie prefers plant dyes to commercial dyes, and here she demonstrates some beautiful shades that can be obtained, as she says, "on the way to the washing line".
These mini-skeins are dyed using gorse flowers, oak leaves, walnut hulls and alder cones.
Coffee and cream Harmonize
No more information about this shawlette or the yarn, except that the yarn is spun from club fibre and the pattern is Harmonize and made as part of a knit-a-long.
Explore Anna B's photos for more images of the yarn and the work in progress.
Sweater Take 2
It's hard to believe that Joanne worked from undyed fibre to 1250 yards of 2-ply yarn to finished jumper in a month.
She recommends the top-down raglan, there is a formula that she gives in her Ravelry project (link from her blog post). It fits very well and she chose the colours because she wants to wear it with jeans.
Handspun merino / silk - golden hibiscus
This is a beautiful photograph and this month's most sexy spindle shot.
The yarn looks amazing too. It's now finished, it's Louet merino silk and Rahardjo has 1679 yards of yarn, spun on support spindles and plied on her wheel. It's still 22wpi after 3-plying.
I'm a big fan of her work and can't wait to see what she knits from this.
A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.
Hybrid Vigour by Mary-Anne Mace
I still have trouble wearing shawls. Even with a pin, if you can get it to look just right then it gradually slips until it looks odd.
Mary-Anne Mace shares my pain and has designed this solution. It's two shawls in one, worn as a poncho. It'll wear exactly as intended and always sit right. If you're OK with the regular triangular shawl then there are instructions for knitting that.
The one in pattern is made using custom-dyed merino and Mary-Anne has a tip for spinning a two-ply gradient yarn without the colours overlapping in a barber-pole style.
10 crochet flower patterns
These cheerful flowers are fun to make for their own sake, but can be used on a hat or fascinator, granny square or standalone ornament.
The Minnow Top by Alexis Winslow
This is such a beautiful summer top, I'm pretty sure that I'm going to make one, it's just a shame that the pattern only comes in a book called Graphic Knits and the other patterns seem to be quite different; bold shapes and colours, not so much my style. Please Interweave, supply this lovely pattern individually. Pretty please?
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.
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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The paid subscription gets you more stories (half as many again). It'll also be sent out two weeks earlier than the free version (the full HSN will go to paying subscribers in the middle of the month, the free version will go to non-paying subscribers at the end of the month).Become a paying subscriber
Happy spinning and don't be a stranger!
Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator
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