Hand Spinning News
"Sock. The most beautiful thing in the world." So says Cheeky Red Head about hand-knitted socks this month and I'm sure many of us agree. And just the job now that the weather is cooling down a little.
To keep the middle cosy, how about a wool skirt? In this month's free patterns include a round-up of knit and crochet skirt patterns suitable for handspun yarn.
Read on for the usual round up of spinning news, reviews and fibrey fun.
Photo above right: Latest pair of socks, Get a Clew.
- 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
Black Eyed Susan from the Plant to the Wool
The green colour from the plant dye doesn't show up so well in this particular picture, Fran had to experiment with black-eyed-susan before she achieved an olive-green.
She takes us through the process of growing the flowers, extracting the dye and trying to achieve the colour using various mordants.
Here are two finished projects, both patterns could feature in the free patterns section (Knottygnome gives links to the patterns in her post).
The first is a lovely toy, with a moustache because the brontosaurus is clearly French.
The second is Knottygnome's Tomboy cardigan with some modifications, made in naturally-dyed yarn.
Latest pair of socks
This is a wool/slik mix and this month's sexy spindle. We follow the yarn's progress through to a finished pair of socks.
Along the way, Cheeky Red Head uses a very detailed series of pictures to show us how to make an afterthought heel.
Wool we love you!
Wool and the Gang are doing much to promote knitting.
Did you know.....? Here are seven amazing facts about wool, some obvious, some less so. All are reasons to love real wool.
Needle felting with acrylic?
Zoe of Lion Brand says "felting and acrylic aren't usually words that go together"
Spinning and acrylic aren't often heard together either, so I was intrigued to see that Lion Brand are selling acrylic roving for spinning (the same stuff they use for their dubiously-named 'Homespun' range).
It's not the nicest stuff (remember that squeak when you're knitting with it?) but it has its place. It's very soft and can take as much machine washing as you like.
No word on how it spins, but here Zoe tries needle-felting it and it worked surprisingly well.
Blending polwarth and bond fleece
I've learned the hard way how important it is to examine a fleece carefully before buying and I'm sure you also have a story of disappointment involving a fleece.
Here's Fran's cautionary tale. The usable locks from her fleece didn't amount to very much, but she blended it with a different but related wool so as to make a graduation of colour.The result is this beautiful shawl.
Owl punis from Fondant Fibre
Punis have certainly been very popular in the last year or two along with the rise of the blending board.
Chrissy of Stitched Together has a board but still buys Punis from Deborah of Fondant Fibre because she admires Deb's eye for blending colour.
These punis are called Owl and Chrissy has made a fine two-ply for a shawl. "The punis spun up so quickly because they are spun using long draw, which is a fast technique" she says.
Handspun birds of paradise
Sandandskycreations takes some beautiful pictures of her work and this is no exception. It's a mitten pattern which she's using for a cowl.
See how the slight variations in the hand-pained and handspun merino make a beautiful background to the white detail in a commercial yarn.
The finished cowl is here in a later post
What is a steek?
Taking scissors to knitted fabric is a very scary thought, but as Kate Davies explains, the yarn is less likely to unravel than you might think.
So why do it? If you're making a cardigan, blanket or even a tea-cosy, working in the round allows you to knit all of your stitches, making life easier and the finished result neater.
Kate (of Sheep Heid and Rams and Yowes fame) writes in detail about the technique with images, many from the Shetland Museum and Archives.
I hit it with a shoe
Yarn Harlot has inherited this magnificent great wheel or walking wheel which has been in her family since three generations back. But in bits for a long time.
In this post she assembles it, which was quick. Then she has the longer task of making it run properly.
Spinning beautifully bright gradient yarn
Chrissy of Stitched Together loved the gradient in this Superwash Merino dyed by UK dyer, Countess Ablaze. She knew that it had to be navajo plied and she carefully kept the cops in the right order to preserve the colours and the gradient.
Later in this issue I've linked to the finished project
Tips and tutorials
Simple setup for core spinning yarn
Core spinning is a way of making a bulky yarn using a smaller amount of an attractive fibre, wrapped around a core of less precious yarn.
Ashley Martineau has written this tutorial in which she takes us through one technique for making an exact yardage of corespun yarn without over-twisting the core.
Locking mattress stitch (for crochet)
Who'd have thought there was so much to say about mattress stitch? If you crochet and you're not sure how the stitch goes, then this may be a good page to bookmark. As well as tips, it has many pictures showing each stage of the stitching with single crochet, half double, double and shoulder seam.
Thanks to makezine.com for sharing.
Talk about tension
The folks at Schacht have been very busy with their blog this month. This post is a back-to-basics article about tension. Do you know your Scotch from your Irish tension? Your single from your double-drive? Do you know when to use a smaller whorl and less tension? Denise has the answers.
Andean Plying over a book
Andean plying is very useful when spindle spinning - I sometimes also use it to ply the remnants from one bobbin after plying with a lazy kate.
If you don't like making the bracelet around your hand, there are wooden tools. Here's a tip from Amy using a book and lolly sticks / tongue depressers.
Spinning on a blanket
"Love gets you only so far with a project" says iriegemini of Knit Knack. Very true, but she shares two tips which have helped her to make her combing more efficient.
She also has a copy of The Spinner's Book of Fleece and she was able to learn more about the Romney that she is combing and spinning here. Her spun singles certainly look very good.
The ultimate sock recipe
"Sock. The most beautiful thing in the world."
As if to accompany Cheeky Red Head's article featuring the afterthought heel, (Latest pair of socks, above) Liisa gives us her thoughts on making perfect sock yarn.
You can buy a fringe-twisting device to finish off the ends of a scarf or any other weaving. In the absence of the proper tool, Rahardjo tried a drop spindle. What could be more simple and effective?
Know your Sheep
Here's a useful resource. Did you know that there are thought to be more breeds in the UK than any other country?
There's a little information about fleece for most of the breeds, but the value here will be breed identification and finding out more about a particular breed.
8 tips for better lace knitting
Kathleen of Knitting Daily gives her top 8 tips for lace knitting and they're all very good, I'm sure you'll agree.
Book review: The Spinner's Book of Fleece
If you're thinking of getting up to your elbows in mucky fleece, you may find The Spinner's Book of Fleece valuable, says Kate of Woolwinding.
Beth Smith's book covers twenty-one specific breeds but they're categorised so that you'll be armed to deal with any fleece based on its characteristics.
Follow the link for Kate's full review of the book.
The Practical Spinner's Guide - Cotton, Flax, Hemp by Stephenie Gaustad
The second book review this month covers plant fibres; cotton, flax and hemp.
Ashley Martineau had a bad time spinning cotton early on in her spinning life. After reading The Practical Spinner's Guide - Cotton, Flax, Hemp by Stephenie Gaustad she feels "excited to try it again". Read her full review of the book.
Spinning a cloud: Malabrigo's Nube
The title comes from the fact that Malabrigo's dyed merino fibre is called Nube, which means cloud in Spanish.
Nadia reviews a braid of their yarn, she loves the result although not as easy to work with as she'd hoped.
Read her full review of this fibre.
Keeping this wheel spinning
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Sometimes just a picture is enough
Antarktis in Geeks Like Rainbows Too
Earlier in this issue we saw stitchedtogether's coourful gradient yarn.
Here is her finished shawl, of which she is rightly very proud. She thinks that the gradient effect is wonderful and chose a pattern very carefully to suit it.
Pin looms have been making an appearance this month. Compulsivespinner found hers on an antiques shopping trip and to test it, made these earrings from her hanspun stash.
A goal achieved
Rahardjo says that a long-held goal is to make a sweater from spindle-spun handspun.
This sweater is much lighter than her previous handspun sweaters, the reason is that the yarn is woollen, or rather something between woollen and worsted; spun longdraw from the fold.
The phoenix risen
Olympic Spinning Wheels are handcrafted, custom spinning wheels. Functional but with an amazing artistic twist.
Gary keeps a blog and so you can see each wheel develop. This is his latest, the phoenix.
The link below will take you to his official finish-line photo, but here is a link to an earlier post which I think make a better job of showing off the phoenix.
A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.
Lanesplitter skirt by Tina Whitmore
Suggested yarns are wool (main colour) and cotton (contrast colour). The colour changes here made me think that this skirt would be suitable for handspun yarn.
Being knit on the bias, the skirt won't curl at the edge.
Slanted crochet skirt by Tanja Osswald
Very similar to the Lanesplitter but for you if you crochet rather than knit
Flickering Flames Circular Skirt
In contrast to the skirts above, Flickering Flames is a large circular skirt in knitted lace.
(requires free login to elann.com)
Skirt with Domino squares
This skirt uses 250g of a sock-type yarn, fingering weight, knit using the entrelac technique. It looks great in a yarn with colour changes.
Seed Banded Slouch Hat
The yarn suggested for this pattern is cashmere, so I would suggest a DK weight yarn in cashmere or another soft & warm luxury fibre.
Shipwreck by Bethany Kok
This magnificent shawl is based on Zimmerman's Pi shawl, it uses a sock-weight yarn and there are many examples on Ravelry made in handspun yarn.
With thanks to Knit-n-Purl for sharing the pattern.
Back to school pencil case
A little late now for 'back to school'
The fabric here was made from a mixture of commercial and handspun, but the author notes that any fabric will work.
Maybe the handwoven book cover also on the Schacht blog could be made to match?
Not a pattern but an idea for using up oddments of fleece or roving. Cheryl says that they're effective and make wonderful gifts.
Makeup removal cloths
These colourful characters are mini-washcloths. The nine-point star shape appeals to me, along with Mom's assertion that they "fly off the needles".
We usually spin finer singles from cotton, so for such cloths your yarn will have to have more plies, or perhaps try doubling up 2-ply yarn.
27 and 28 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 Centre Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 October
This year sees the second 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.
Part of British Wool Week.
Happy spinning and don't be a stranger!
Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator
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