Hand Spinning News
Welcome to the Midsummer Hand Spinning News; we don't have enchanted forests or love potions but we may be away with the fairies at times, and we do have a spinning-related fairy tale.
Cotton is a summery fibre, important in our history but maybe a little neglected now among spinners. It pops up among this month's internet offerings along with supported spindles, some butterfly-related posts and some delightful archive finds.
We have reports from recent woolly shows and dates for more to come. There are also a couple of online events that you could take part in wherever you are.
This is the free, edited version of Hand Spinning News for June 2015
- News, articles and blogs
- 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
From the Blogosphere
I Knit Fandango
snoopygodknits and josiekitten visited London in May for the I Knit Fandango show and both have posted many pictures from the day.
Something that's clear from all images is that the venue is well-lit by natural light from glass in the roof. Both of our correspondents have captured the colours and the choice and they had a grand day.
If you enjoy a podcast then Corrie of Plutonium Muffins talks about the show and goes into some detail about the exhibitors in this episode.
Following her plying experiments and comparisons last month, Liz has been trying some samples using four different drafting methods to see how this affects the knitted fabric.
"Butterfly Effect" a 4-ply cabled yarn
Rebecca of Chemknits is a scientist and brings her science into her knitting (see her DNA and caffiene cozies and covers) so I was hoping that Butterfly Effect would be a reference to some concept in spinning (a very small tangle when plying leads to a large change in the spinner's stress level, for example?)
But in this case Butterfly Effect is the colourway of the merino Rebecca was spinning. She wanted to try something new and followed the directions in The Spinner's Book of Yarn Desgns for a cabled yarn, which she calls a "simpler advanced spin".
Plying together two two plies is a way to halve the yardage that you'll get from your singles, but it also blends the colours, giving almost a 'chained' effect. Rebecca isn't a fan of 'barber poling'. She has posted many pictures of the steps along her way, including details of twist direction and the ratios she used.
Spinning Cotton by Hand
Not a recent post but still very interesting and informative.
Avital grew this naturally-coloured cotton herself on a balcony. She carded the 'ginned' fibres herself and used a support spindle
Click through for photographs of each stage with many tips, and decide for yourself whether she's serious about beating it with a forked stick.
A sad tale indeed. Not only is there a lot of work in a lace shawl, but Sara really did like this one and wear it. An unintentional wash at only 30 degrees turned it into something akin to a flatbread.
Do click through to see her pictures of the original shawl (before felting). It really does look inspirational. The pattern is Damask shawl which I wouldn't really have looked twice at based on the pictures with the pattern, but Sara's looked gorgeous in this particular yarn.
Goldthread, brief beauty in the woods
This arresting photo of a beautiful and delicate North American flower was taken for us by weaver Van Waffle. He calls Goldthread the "brief beauty in the woods". (The small version here may not do it justice.)
Although Wikipedia and its references don't mention the plant's dye uses, Van lists a couple of ancient references from books which claim that European settlers used it as a good yellow dye. It seems that lots of flowers were needed to be of any use and it also has an important medicinal use, so the latter was encouraged.
Van prefers to appreciate their ephemoral beauty.
The Tale of the Three Spinners
Jenn has hit on a wonderful formula. She has a talent for telling a spinning-related tale. At the same time, she focuses the camera on her hands and we watch her gently spin as she speaks.
The result is calming as well as entertaining. Last month she related the myth of Arachne. If you enjoyed that, here's another. This is a Grimm's fairy tale involving three spinners which stirred some memories because I'm sure I remember it from a ladybird book.
How to survive a show
Proper Woolly will have been and gone by the time you read this, but YarnAddict Anniken's top tips will apply to any show you're planning to visit.
This is a particularly good 'show survival' post because she also gives three tips from a stallholder's point of view.
If your surname is Walker or Fuller then this may be the origin of your name. Walking or waulking new cloth 'fulls' the fibres, softening and thickening the material. Songs accompanied the rhythmic beating.
Thanks so much to Sarah for sharing this archive recording of the process.
All about spinning with hemp
Like cotton, hemp is a traditional fibre that's not so well-known among today's spinners.
This post on the Spinning Daily blog doesn't have all about spinning hemp (I think you have to buy the Summer Spin-Off for that) but it does have some Qs and As which may inspire you to learn some new skills if you like processing fibres from scratch.
Some fleece can be frustratingly full of bits of straw, twig and other foreign objects, aka vegetable matter or VM.
Here are Araignee's thoughts. She has a very laid-back attitude. It's true that a lot of it falls out during the various stages, particularly carding or combing and she finds the bits and pieces reassuring. Click the link to find out why, and to see the results of her recent washing and dyeing.
Online spinning events
Spinzilla 2015 October 5 - 11
I'm very happy to announce that 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, and unless someone else beats me to it, I may have registered "Team HSN UK" by the time you read this. 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
Let's Get Ready For Tour de Fleece 2015
Lots of spinners enjoy taking part in the Tour de Fleece, a spinning event which runs alongside another sporting event involving a different kind of spinning.
It's not so much a competition but about personal challenges. April says "I use it as a time to learn new techniques, try different fibers, and level up my skills."
Here's her post in which she's feeling very excited about her fourth TdF. Look out for her link to her Training Tips for Tour de Fleece post from this time last year.
If you're interested in taking part, more information and chat is here.
Tips and tutorials
How do you get 4 oz of fiber onto one spindle?
That in the picture is a top-whorl drop-spindle with 4oz (100g) and counting.
My own attempts at fitting half that amount onto one spindle failed half-way through because of the issue in Amelia's first tip.
Ask The Bellwether discusses how to fit a large amount of fibre onto the spindle. Click through to read her tips, plus another picture of a poor turkish spindle whose arms are completely engulfed by the yarn ball.
Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high...
Despite cotton's importance in textiles now and historically, it's often overlooked by hand spinners in favour of animal fibres.
It has a very short staple (fibre length) compared to wool, so it takes a little practice and a lot of twist. Denise says "I felt like I had to learn how to spin all over again!".
If this interests you, this post on the Schacht Spindle Blog is a great introduction, outlining the various types and forms of cotton and what you can do with them.
How to properly maintain your spinning wheel
This month Craftsy have published an article about Spring cleaning your spinning wheel; the usual clean, lubricate, polish. At the end of that they link back to an article on their own site from exactly a year ago by Ashleigh Martineau. I think that one has a much better selection of tips and so that's the one I'm linking to here.
Two-colour spirals in crochet
If you're a freeform kind of crocheter (that seems to be more common in crocheters than knitters) then you may love this tutorial from Jenn. She says "15 minutes after watching this video you'll be done with your first spiral and ready to make... about 17 more"
Apart from the obvious coaster, a spiral like this can turn into a hat or a rug. She also gives instructions for starting a 3-way spiral.
Know your sheep
Know Your Sheep is a free app by Simon Jackson for Android / iOS (search your app store) which is "a handy guide to sheep breeds likely to be seen in Britain."
It'll help you to identify the next sheep that you meet, and the terminology section [a 'flossary'?] will have you talking like a shepherd.
Thanks to Judith for spreading the woolliness.
Prevention is better than cure
We've looked at duplicate stitch before as a way of reinforcing a thin patch before it becomes a hole.
Melanie shows us with many pictures how she makes vertical columns of stitches, 'locking' the columns together as she goes.
I witnessed recently how well handspun yarn works into pompoms.
But I'd never have thought it possible to make a face in a pompom [spoiler: it doesn't look easy].
If these bears appeal, click Rebecca's link for Chiyo915 's Pompon All Stars and see what's possible with a lot of practice.
Find pom-pom makers here
The difference twist makes
comparisons are so useful. Here Liz has made some low twist and high twist yarn using the same fibre and made a hat from each. The difference is remarkable and she has suggestions for which type of garment each would be best for.
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).
Sometimes just a picture is enough
This month's sexy spindle shot shows cashmere that Rahardjo spun by support spindle and plied on a wheel. Her yarn is always so fine, and she says that this cashmere is "soft and light". I can't wait to see what she will make with it.
Click through to see more pictures of this yarn, and as a bonus, in another post she answers a reader's question about where she bought these three particular spindles.
I have no more details about the materials or method but sexyninjamonkey has used 'felted rope' crocheted together to make these baskets.
This one is my favourite but use the next & previous buttons to see his others.
Be with you shawl
I love posts that show photos of fibre through to finished. This beaded Boo Knits shawl began as wool, silk, baby alpaca, and angora, which she blended on her blending board.
Ring of Bright Water
spinningdogz loved this beaded pattern as soon as it came out (Nigella by Rahymah). She says that the cast-off was a "close call", with only 3g remaining at the end.
Note the subtle gradient, achieved by carding a number of gradually-lightening batts using various fibres, mostly merino.
Thanks to Liz for the tip-off. Click through for photographs of this plus another handspun shawl and some luscious punis.
The Odyssey Trail : books nine & ten
Where does one find colour inspiration?
Countess Ablaze has found an epic theme, literally. She's working through Homer's Odyssey [no, not that Homer] and each month releasing a set of colours based on two books from the classic work.
The braid in the picture is called "Stranger, you are a simple fool". Click through for a dozen colours based on books 9 & 10.
A Jumper for June
This jumper looks really good on Katie. She says that the fleece she used wasn't anything special and that she wasn't precious about spinning the yarn. Maybe there's a lesson there.
She added a little commercial yarn for the colourwork and plans to wear it through the rest of the Welsh summer.
Lobedu man spinning wild cotton
This delightful picture of a chap spinning cotton is an unlikely and accidental find.
It's from the Annals of the South African Museum, which contains a study of the Lobedu people of South Africa. The text says that handspun cotton was prized in the 1930s and had some practical and decorative uses. By the 1970s commercial cotton was used instead and the craft of spinning was remembered by a few old men (yes, the text says men).
The rest of the document is an interesting read and goes into the various materials the people use(d) in their homes, costumes and equipment; ceramics as well as fibres.
Handspun cardi in denim
Pantoffels has finished this attractive cardy. She used Blueface Leicester wool dyed by sarastexturecrafts and calls the pattern "a top down make it up as I go"
Byway Cowl by Laura Chau
Laura Chau designed this pattern for any season, it has cables as well as lace.
This one is made from handspun blueface Leicester dyed by Into the Whirled. She halved the fibre lengthways and chain-plied for strong stripes.
She says that "knitting with handspun is special indeed" and knit the pattern until she was nearly out before binding off.
LJW made this yarn during Spinzilla 2014. It looks like a rainbow in pastel.
Bean Bag Spindle Bowl
A beanbag helps keep the support spindle's bowl in place and helps it rest on a variety of surfaces.
This pretty one is made from natural white fleece with some hand-dyed fibre.
There are no instructions but it looks as if Jinx_HH has knitted a separate beanbag within the drawstring bag.
If you thought that anyone from Adelaide would never need to make a handspun jumper like this, SubmarineBells says that it's the "coldest start-to-a-winter that we've had for many years".
She does spin but being unable to use her wheel a friend donated the brown yarn which is eucalyptus-dyed grey corriedale. The jumper is made in the round and steeked.
A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.
Ridge and Furrow by Jenn Monahan
I'd bookmarked this lovely pattern before I discovered that the designer, Jenn Monahan is a compatriot of mine (Norfolk, UK) so I hope I won't be accused of nepotism. [nepp-otism?]
She's rightly very pleased to have had this free pattern published at Knitty.com. I'm linking to her blog so that you can read the worthwhile story of the making and designing of the shawl, from raw fleece to finished. Click Jenn's link for the pattern.
Outline, free pattern
This pattern has been designed with remnants of hand-dyed yarn in mind. The lacey stitch pattern is consistent along the wrap's length which allows the colours in the yarn to speak.
The only constraint Beata suggests is to keep to a consistent yarn thickness. There are links half-way down this page to the pattern either on Hedgehog Fibres' website or on Ravelry. Take your pick.
Crocheted stash basket
Lion Brand have published a series of patterns useful around the home. This is my favourite, it could use some of your stash and then hold more of your stash.
The pattern suggests a commercial teeshirt yarn. You could make your own, but this kind of project is ideal for that yarn which isn't so suitable for wearing. You're looking for something pretty bulky and a size P (10mm) hook (a hook size a bit smaller than you might normally use with the yarn you're using) although size isn't important here so you can experiment a bit with yarn weight and hook size.
Black Tie, Optional
Thanks to Adrienne Fong for this free pattern. She says "knitting socks in plain white or black yarn can be boring. So I've decided to liven up the challenge by adding beads and some fun twists".
You'll need a 14 wpi (fingering weight) yarn. For the sock wearer in your life with extra large ones, there's a pattern for an extra large version published in separate pdfs.
Note that this was originally published as a mystery knit-a-long, which is why the pattern is in parts.
Planter Cozy: a great use for leftover yarn
This looks so nice, who'd have thought that it's a crochet-covered ice-cream tub?
There's no pattern, but it's no more than a rectangle stitched together.
Mara Shawl by Madelinetosh
This very blanketty shawl will be very cosy in the winter.
It's an easy and versatile free pattern (garter stitch with ribbing, knit until the yarn runs out).
Kate calls this "a very comforting knit". I'm linking to her blog post because she lists a number of modifications that she made, including using aran weight rather than DK.
Find the link to the free pattern in the middle of the post.
Hitchhiker by Martina Behm
The Hitchhiker has become something of a standard, but I've only just cottoned on to the reason for the name (see the notes on the Ravelry pattern page.)
Ravelry lists over 300 Hitchhiker projects in handspun. The picture here is (palopinto's Handspun Hitchiker)
The crescent shape puts it between a scarf and a shawl. Garter stitch is stretchy, cosy and shows off variegated yarn well.The pattern is quick, easy and adaptable (it has a very high user rating and very low difficulty rating).
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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