Hand Spinning News
Have you heard of 'splicing'? It predates today's drafting technique. Surprisingly, we're still learning about the history of spun yarn and the news features not one but two articles with new things we've learned from archaeological textile samples. Two separate stories involve Icelandic Vikings.
Tour de Fleece finished at the end of July, so we have several bloggers showing off the fruits of their labours.
Don't miss this month's book giveaway, the draw will be open to full and free subscribers.
Read on for all of this and the rest of this month's curated collection of spinning-related news, views and reviews; patterns, pointers and a particularly nice selection of finished projects. This is the full issue for August 2018.
Photo right: Peacock with a Hint of Klimt by Hilary Tudgee. Cover photo Llamas of Machu Picchu by Willian Justen
In the news
Arctic people were spinning yarn before the Vikings arrived
The thing that surprises me most about this story is that historians thought that the ancestors of the Inuit didn't know how to spin yarn until the Norse arrived in around 1,000AD
As archaeologist Michele Hayeur Smith says, "the idea that you would have to learn to spin something from another culture was a bit ludicrous, It's a pretty intuitive thing to do."
She had noticed that samples of yarn from the area were of a different construction from Viking yarn.
It's now been possible to carbon-date the samples, which wasn't possible until they'd developed a process to remove whale and seal oil. This has shown that the yarn predates the Norse settlers.
Shaggy sheep produced 66lbs of wool
How would you like to try a 13-inch staple merino fleece?
Another hermit sheep has been in the news, dubbed 'Sherk 2'. His fleece, once sheared, weighed 66lbs.
Such sheep evade capture for shearing for a number of years and grow ridiculously long fleeces.
It's good news for the now "light-footed" Shrek 2 and also for farmer Graeme Bowden because Australian wool prices have been at record highs.
Making thread in Bronze Age Britain
It has been a rich month for Archaeological textile news. This study is concerned with the switch from splicing to draft spinning.
Splicing is a more primitive technique involving stripping plant fibres from plant stems and joining them individually. Draft spinning, which we're much more familiar with, may date back to 1,000 - 500 BC.
This sample is older, it's from a bronze-age settlement, Over Barrow, Cambridgeshire and has been shown to contain spliced fibres.
Thousands flock to festival in village famous for its weaving and spinning heritage
Congratulations to the historic Worstead Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers for this great story in the local news.
The Worstead Guild is particularly good at taking their crafts to the public. In this case they were demonstrating spinning and weaving at the popular Worstead Festival.
Tour de Fleece wrap-up
Tour de Fleece sock yarn, it's fine
"When anyone making anything says 'it's fine', what they really mean is, 'this is probably messed up, but I don't want to figure out why or how to fix it, so I'll keep on, and change my plan as I go,'" admits Jillian Moreno.
She met her Tour de Fleece goal, to make a braid of fibre into yarn for socks. But she found herself saying "it's fine".
"Even though it's not exactly what I wanted, I'm happy with my yarn and I'm still going to make one very pretty pair of socks!"
My favorite spinning accessory (it doesn't get much more low tech)
During her Tour de Fleece, caityrosey decided to write about her favourite spinning accessory.
Surprisingly, an old sock functions as the best fibre receptacle. It's lightweight, stretchy, can be rolled for easy access.... the list goes on and on.
Every spinner should have one!
TDF day 13 -15
Sue says that her idea of heaven is "spinning wheel, headphone and my phone or tablet with radio programs downloaded".
During days 13-15 she attended a festival. The journey gave her the opportunity to spin by spindle (I assume she wasn't driving, although she doesn't say so).
Sue likes to spin fleece in natural colours. Here is her finished line-up of Tour de Fleece skeins.
We've had a list here before of the silly things that people say to us when they see our wheels. Sue heard a new and very funny one at this festival.
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Fibre East and Yarnfolk
Goodbye Fibre East and Hello Yarnfolk!
This is John Arbon's 'Pondlife', their special blend aimed at the Britspin event taking place later this year. It's a blend of 50% Corriedale and 50% Scottish Down Cross which has good grip, designed for fast drafting to help their teams in the mileage event.
They sold out of the blend at Fibre East but promise to make more.
In this blog, they discuss Fibre East, Yarnfolk and Britpop.
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From the Blogosphere
Til It's done
Laura Fry has been writing a book and has been weaving this pinwheel from tencel as an inspirational project .
Tencel is a dense silk-like fibre which feels stiff when wet and takes a long while to dry. When it is dry it has a lovely drape.
There's lots more about tencel in this post including some microscopic photographs and comparison with cotton.
National Exhibition of the Association Glasgow 2018
Grateful thanks to Michelle of The Spinning Shed for documenting so thoroughly the Association of SWD Guilds' national show.
There are so many inspiring pictures that she has made four separate blog posts, containing mainly photos.
They're well worth browsing through. They contain everything from traditional Shetland knitted lace to the contemporary. Garments, cushions, jewellery, art. Woven, knitted, felted.
The main link here goes to part one. Here are part two, part three and part four. (Or use the navigation of her blog.)
Taking on shape
Shawl knitting is popular and it's no surprise. They're manageable projects with a practical, versatile and attractive end result.
If you've not made one, or have just made the traditional triangle shape, you may be curious about those fascinating crescent or asymmetric shapes.
Tabetha Hedrick describes a variety of shapes and how they're constructed.
What Is a yoke?
It's no yoke. (LB didn't use that pun so I felt I ought to) but the word can cause some confusion.
Most of us would think of a yoke as a circular section above the armpits with colourwork or lace. But the definition is broader, says LBHandknits.
What's the difference between plied yarn and rope?
I might have guessed only one or two of these points. But there are many differences.
Alden Amos is sadly no longer with us, but he was keen on making rope as well as yarn. He co-wrote an article in a 2015 issue of Spin-Off and part of that article appears here on the Interweave blog.
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Places to Visit
Help save Farfield Mill
I was late catching up with events here (it's all happened very quickly in the last couple of weeks).
Farfield Mill is a restored Victorian Woollen Mill in the Yorkshire Dales. It's home to around 20 small craft businesses, shop, exhibitions and so on.
The centre is at a crisis point, shareholders have to decide whether the mill is to become a community benefit society, or to be dissolved. At the first vote there weren't enough people present, 75% of the membership have to vote for the change.
I believe it's too late now to become a member and be entitled to vote, but thanks to certain people (notably castlemilk who worked hard to publicise this on Ravelry and Dick Moriarty, the Bare Weaver), a large number of people have joined (over 400 people signed up in a matter of days).
I gather that the deciding vote is to happen towards the end of August. you can read about this developing story at this Ravelry thread.
Tips and tutorials
Where are all the left-handed crafters?
If you're the one in ten whose dominant hand is the left, then National Left-Handed Day was 13 August (National meaning American in this case).
Lion Brand have put together some tips for left-handed knitters and crocheters. Do scroll all the way down because sometimes the comments that people leave are more useful than the ones in the article.
Weaving handspun yarn: sizing your singles
What is warp sizing? It's a new one on me, but then I'm still a novice weaver.
Stephenie Gaustad remembers the first time that she tried the technique. After applying size (a starchy substance) her warping went much more smoothly and her cloth was better than she'd woven before. The size simply washes out in warm water. "A new day dawned" she said.
Her article explains in more detail, and gives four tips.
We've had a long spell of hot weather here in the UK, as has much of the world and the grass has gone yellow. Bad news for those who graze.
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.
Jigsaw - online
Thank you very much if you've had a go at any of these on your computer or tablet, particularly to the one or two people who've written to tell me that they've enjoyed them.
I've set them up with 35 - 42 pieces (this most recent one has 50) - just the right number for a coffee-break challenge and you gradually reveal the cartoon.
Keeping this wheel spinning
Your news here
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Hand Spinning - Essential Technical and Creative Skills by Pam Austin
Pam once gave me an impromptu lesson in longdraw at a Fibre-East. I like her very much and so I was delighted to see that she has channeled her teaching skills into print.
I prefer to curate articles and reviews by others. But so far no reviews of this book have appeared yet and so here's my own review.
The marvel of Japanese knitting
The stitch patterns in this book are extraordinary and wondrous, but what amazes Rebecca even more is that stitch symbols are standardised in Japan. Publishers don't print a key, knitters are expected to know what each symbol means.
"Even if you never knitted from this book", says Rebecca, Hitomi Shida's Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible "would still change your knitting life."
I've linked to my review of Pam Austin's new book just above. I have a review copy to give away. (Open worldwide.)
What I need you to do (I'm going to make you work for this!) is to introduce a friend to HSN. Yes, there must be people out there who would enjoy Hand Spinning News but are not aware of it.
I've set up a special thread in the Hand Spinning News Ravelry forum. Reply to that thread, earburn the friend who you want to recommend to Hand Spinning News, and I'll hold a 'random number' draw one month after the full issue goes out.
In order to be inclusive, if you're not on Ravelry and don't want to join (which I can't imagine) then email me and let me know that you've recommended HSN to a spinner friend.
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Sometimes just a picture is enough
A Viking Wheel
It's a shame I can't show both sides of this wheel in my thumbnail. The paintings are gorgeous and each side of this Iceland-inspired spinning wheel features a contrasting scene representing the ice and fire of the land.
Click through to read about this remarkable wheel and see it from all sides.
Open Waters Cowl in handspun cashmere
I've been following the progress of this cowl. quiltotaku says that the stitch pattern is "such a fun pattern. Very organic looking" and "a piece of cake".
The yarn is 25% cashmere, spun by Turkish spindle and naturally-dyed with indigo. She hopes that there's enough yarn to join this for a cowl.
Making the Seasons :: July
Lucy has a long-held interest in butterflies, so a thriving butterfly bush outside her window inspired her to use her crafting time to make some accurate crocheted butterflies.
This is the result, which she's enjoyed playing with as much as making.
Tuam artist 'fleeces' her subjects
From a distance, Kathy Ross' pictures look like paintings, but they're a combination of dyed merino wool, applique, embroidery and inks on fabric.
She has always been fascinated with livestock and helped with farming as a child.
As an artist, she became frustrated with two dimensions and experimented with fleece in order to bring more life to her hyper-realistic paintings.
Tour de Fleece: The finale!
Last month I included one of TeatimeCreationsUK's Tour de Fleece photographs.
This carefully-arranged 'finish line' photo is one of the sexiest spindle shots ever, featuring her spindle collection and the chain-plied mini-skeins that she made during the Tour.
Spindle spun sweater
I've been watching the progress of this project, looking forward to seeing the finished result, and here it is.
spinneanne says that it is "soft and warm and light as a cloud"
It uses fibre from threewatersfarm, spun by spindle.
The pattern here is Tilly by This.Bird.Knits. I have to say that ithja's looks far more flattering than the pictures in the pattern. I'm not sure whether she's made modifications / added shaping.
Explore her Instagram photos (only a few back) to see the handspun yarn before knitting. According to her Ravelry project page, she did the knitting in just three days.
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A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.
Crochet Four-Hour Fall Sweater
A couple of months ago I said that if you're as slow at making as me, then it was time to think about starting some warmer projects. And then we had a very long heatwave. Sometimes the weather plays twisted tricks on you. (I'm not complaining, it's been lovely.)
Ashlea makes the same point and at this point in the year she's more likely to be correct. (Cue long Indian Summer....)
it's difficult to believe that you could make this jumper in four hours, but that's the claim. It uses big yarn and an oversize (15mm) hook.
The pattern is right here in the Heart-Hook-Home blog post.
Crochet Lacy Dress Scarf by Sue Doran
This is more than a written pattern, Sue has been very thorough with her illustrations too.
After publishing the chart last year, she's had a lot of hits on it, indicating that people were looking for a lightweight lacy scarf. Some asked for written instructions.
This pattern uses a 2.5mm hook and laceweight yarn.
Handspun Mittens by Kari Simpson
These mittens have a classic cable look and are specifically designed for handspun yarn, 12 wraps per inch, 85yds approx.
They're one-size (medium/large female hand) but could be adjusted by gauge or stitch count.
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Josefina And Jeffery Elephant Rug by Ira Rott
Last month one of the pattern selections was a crochet rug. A rug is a great project for that yarn that doesn't turn out to be as soft or drapey.
By coincidence, I also spotted an article about Ira Rott. Her Josefina And Jeffery Elephant Rug apparently "went viral" and since then she's designed a bookful of animal rug patterns (I have the peacock on my radar).
This is her original elephant design. It uses a variety of stitches including shell, popcorn and picot, so it might be a good project if you're approaching intermediate level and want to try those.
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Our linen stories
Scotland is more usually associated with tartan and tweed, but linen and flax are an important part of its history
This touring exhibition aims to combine stories from the past with new works from contemporary designers.
The towns in Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands that the tour visits have their own stories and this gives the opportunity to include local designers and stories.
Southern Wool Show
Saturday 1 September 2018, Newbury Racecourse, Berkshire
Plenty for knitters and crocheters, feltmakers, weavers, spinners, dyers, and lovers of all things woolly!
Perth Festival Of Yarn
8 and 9 September 2018. Dewars Centre, Glover St, Perth
Bringing together independent dyers, farmers, knitters, spinners, felters and weavers. In 2018 nominated for the best yarn festival in the UK. Vendors' gallery marketplace, over 70 vendors, keynote event, social events and classes run over the weekend.
Shetland Wool Week
22 - 30 September 2018
A busy week dedicated to celebrating Shetland wool and textile heritage.
Includes classes, talks, drop-ins, art. See website for the full events listing.
The Wool Event, Masham Sheep Fair
Saturday 29 Sep and Sunday 30 Sep 2018, Masham Town Hall
Craft market and fleece stalls, specialising in British wool to compliment the sheep-related events that fill the square of Masham over the weekend.
29 and 30 September 2018, 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 13 and Sunday 14 October
An event for wool lovers in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales.
There will be exhibitors, demonstrations of fibre crafts and a fleece stand selling plenty of local fleece.
West Wales Wool Show 2018
Saturday October 6, Queen's Hall and Plas Hyfryd Hotel, Narberth, Pembrokeshire
A celebration of all things woolly. From beautifully hand crafted items, clothing and footwear to knitting wool, fleece and all the equipment needed to make at home. Demonstrations run throughout the day with stall holders sharing their skills and knowledge with visitors plus wool skill workshops such as felting.
Kendal Wool Gathering
Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th of October
Kendal Wool Gathering mixes demonstrations, fun activities and displays, all connected to the cloth on which the townâs wealth was built.
Stands and stalls representing all aspects of commercial wool products, including carpets, looms, spinning wheels and crafts will be on display at a large unit at Kendal Leisure Centre. Outside there will be livestock, walks and talks. Linked fun events take place throughout the Kendal.
Nottingham Yarn Expo
Nottingham Conference Centre Goldsmith Street Entrance, Nottingham. NG1 4BU
Workshops Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 November. Market place Sunday 11 November
A final word of thanks to everyone who blogs, writes articles or posts pictures on the subject of spinning, knitting, crochet or weaving. This newsletter wouldn't exist without people writing interesting and useful things.
If you do keep a blog, or if you read a particularly interesting blog or website and you're not sure whether I already know about it, please write and tell me about it.
It's always good to hear from readers for any reason (or no reason!)
Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator
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