Hand Spinning News
This is the last one before Christmas and the last one of the year. I'm sure you're thinking the same as me, "where has the time gone?"
A look back through your 2015 projects will help to keep some perspective. I'm sure there will be plenty of that kind of thing in January's issue, but there are some wonderful projects in this one which are linked to events earlier in the year such as Tour de Fleece, Spinzilla and Wovember.
Before you read on, let me wish you a wonderful Christmas and happy New Year.
This is the free edited version of Hand Spinning News for December 2015. For more information about how to receive the full version, earlier in the month, scroll to the bottom.
- In the news
- From Blogland
- Tips and tutorials
A new cartoon
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
News & Events
Victorian mill returns to its cotton-spinning roots
This is a good-news story, complete with a fascinating picture of Gandhi with Lancashire textile workers. The meeting was held to persuade him to lift his boycott of British textiles.
Since then the British textile industry has declined for other reasons, but 85 years later, a company has invested in a Victorian mill in Tameside to reopen a cotton-spinning line.
(Article appears in part - subscription to The Times required to read the article in full).
Spinning a green fabric revolution
Apologies in advance for the amount of ads on this newspaper, but if you can click them away and get at the article, it's worth the trouble.
Many of the more unusual fibres that we can obtain for hand spinning (including some of the banana I believe) are produced chemically, but this article discusses the extraction of the fibres from banana plants by rotting (I assume the same as our 'retting') and their use in sari-making.
The picture of the bicycle-wheel charkha is worth a look too.
From the Blogosphere
April wanted to spin cashmere and here she writes about her first experience with the fibre.
She had to experiment to find the right settings for her wheel. For a lofty, airy yarn, she allowed the twist into the fibre supply (which I think makes woollen rather than worsted).
Interview with Michelle baggerman
We occasionally see things spun and knitted / woven from plastic bag yarn (or 'plarn' if you're into your portmanteau words).
Sarah of Crafts from the Cwtch interviews the appopriately-named Michelle Baggerman about her inspiration and techniques, there are some useful tips if you're considering giving it a try.
Tension magic - antique flax wheel restored
This is the new flyer and bobbin made for a wheel KnitKnack Lara has recently finished restoring. It's now looking good and working well.
Follow the link below for more pictures of the whole wheel and more information about the restoration.
Musings on paying a fair price for our habit
The title says it all; Jenn made this hat for a friend who gave her a fleece. It made her think about the costs and profits of rearing sheep for larger farmers and for smallholders.
(Late) Fall Lambs
Lamb photos? In December?
Kate Larson says that this year's weather has been perfect for fall lambs. She has posted pictures and a video of 4-day-old Horned Dorset lambs, and hopes to be making combed top soon.
A history of the spinning wheel
Do you know just how recent an invention the spinning wheel is, in comparison with the length of time we've been spinning with drop spindles?
Roving crafter Jenn tells stories while she sits at her wheel in her cowgirl boots and spins. As always the result is compelling and relaxing. In this one she tells of the origins of our 'modern' spinning wheels.
To block or not to block
Do you set your yarn with a heavy weight? Lots of tension might appear to take out any excess twist, but Jillian Moreno says that this may be reactivated when the knitted yarn is washed.
To demonstrate, she has made some singles and some two-ply yarn with loads of extra twist, set it, knit it and then wet it.
Project Apocalypse - day zero
This is me out in the rain holding a stinging nettle after thinking up Project Apocalypse.
I've decided to put to the test the theory that if we were put back into a natural environment, us spinners and knitters would be the warm and well-dressed ones.
I now have the nettles dew-retting on my lawn and have bought some cotton seeds ready to plant in the Spring.
If you'd like to join me, in any way you like, there are more details at the link below. Tag any pictures you post with #projectapocalypse
Tips and tutorials
It's that time of the year, the snow could be with us here in the UK over the next month or two. If and when it does come, perhaps have a bucket and some fibre standing by.
Although not the result Rebecca was hoping for, this is a good tutorial and there are still some interesting things to note.
The technique allowed the purple food colour to separate into red and blue, which then dyed different areas of the fibre. This experiment ended up with large areas of undyed fibre, which may be an effect you'd like, or if not, start with coloured fibre.
Stacked Andean plying bracelet
Did you know that it's possible to 'stack' andean bracelets in order to fit loads of singles on your arm for plying? Thanks to @whateverlizzie. Click through for tips.
Spinning on a drop spindle
If you're here because you're curious about spinning but have yet to try it, here's a great introduction to the drop spindle.
Kristin's style is very friendly, and in this video she makes a comparison of a top-whorl and a Turkish spindle. She makes the whole process look very easy (because it is, with a little practice) and she also conveys just how relaxing and enjoyable is to use a spindle
The barber pole - why love it?
Some people like to see different colours barber poling around each other (aka marling, I think). I'm not fond. But it does transform when knitted, to a more flecked effect.
But Beth explains here why you shouldn't be so afraid of the barber pole, especially with colour gradients.
With thanks to knittingsarah for this tutorial.
She takes barber poling / marling to the next level, deliberately "blending colours on the fly" to make marled singles and then 2-plying them. It really does blend the colours in indie-dyed fibre.
Easier plying from a center pull ball
When you have singles left on one bobbin at the end of 2-plying, or maybe when you're winding your singles off a spindle for plying, you may make a centre-pull ball.
This tip helped April to ply more easily and tangle-free from her centre-pull ball.
Yvonne the sheep
Recently I met Yvonne the sheep and she's been telling me about her recent adventures. I thought they were appealing enough to draw.
Printed just below is a recent episode, and if you like you can follow this link to Yvonne's page where you can see a new one at least three times a week and as long as I can keep thinking them up!
Keeping this wheel spinning
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Sometimes just a picture is enough
I'm looking forward to seeing the finished cowl but in the mean time, here's a beautiful photograph of a work in progress.
The mitred (or mitered) square is versatile and always looks fantastic in a colour-changing handspun yarn.
Doulton Hat Knitting Pattern by Fran Rushworth
Wovember is a celebration of wool, Fran's project was these hats. Not in handspun but worsted yarn from a small producer and dyed by Fran herself.
Click through for the pattern (3 sizes) and Fran's notes on her lichen dyeing.
Waysides Yoke Sweater
Rebecca also used a commercially-spun yarn from a small producer for her Wovember project.
She incorporated yarn from her Waysides dyeing project. The main yarn and her hand-dyed handspun yarn were so different that she came up with this perfect way to combine them. Spots of her colour are framed by the main yarn.
Click through for all details.
Colourful and totally biased
"Knitting with handspun is truly an experience. Stitches are not perfect but unique." says Monica.
This pattern is not so much a pattern as a recipe, which is included in this post. It's based on Totally Biased by Susan Ashcroft, Monica also gives a link to that, so take your pick. But either way this is a great way to show off colour changes in handspun or hand dyed yarns.
Click through for more great shots of this one which really does look smashing.
This isn't handspun yarn but Rachel has used a yarn with a bulky handspun look.
Although the pattern was outside of her comfort zone, she says that it could be "the coolest thing I've ever knit?!"
Fun and quick, Rachel includes a link to the pattern and details of her modifications.
goldilox made this baby blanket from handspun superwash Falkland, so that it's easier to wash, and she chose the pattern because the celtic knots represent motherhood.
"Knitted vests are the way to go" says Araignee.
She spun this yarn from raw fleece during Tour de Fleece 2014 and knitted the Galiano vest with some apprehension - it seemed itchy and bulky.
When she tried it on, she found that it was neither. Click through for a novel idea for a fastener and to see pictures of the raw locks through to the finished item.
The pattern works demonstrably well for handspun yarn.
Handspun Sisterhood Stretcher
Something I've read and felt myself sometimes is that when you knit, you're capturing the essence or emotions of a time.
Earthchick feels "wrapped in sisterhood" when she puts on this shawl. Read more about this and see more images of this lovely handspun project.
Robins Pincushion Pi
Proving that special events do help us along, Jenn's wonderful shawl was spun during Spinzilla and knit during Wovember. It took a year in the making and will now keep her warm on the sofa while watching telly.
The colours and the edge are inspired by a robin's pincushion. There's more about that and the dyeing, carding, spinning and knitting.
Sun and moon
I featured this wheel in August but it's now finished.
Gary's Olympic Spinning Wheels are a bit ornate for some, but they do involve so much work and creativity. He seems especially pleased with this one, and enjoyed the fact that his imagination was given a free rein by the customer.
It features Alaskan Imagery, with two sides for sun and moon, with various animals.
3 Billy Goats Gruff
SandAndSkyCreations made this hat from dyed club fibre and a cashmere/merino blend.
A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.
Mitt-o-matic... it's interactive!
Mitts like these are great at this time of year if you're outside but doing something that requires a bit of dexterity. These handspun ones were made using the Mitt-o-Matic, a pattern generator by Suzie Blackman.
Enter a couple of simple measurements and out comes a personalised pattern.
If you like to spin thick and use fat needles (9 stitches = 4" on 9 mm needles) then this snuggly hat is alleged to take an hour to make. Plus you get to make a pompom, always fun.
I'd suggest that if your yarn is thinner, knit with multiple strands.
Simple Cable Knit Boot Cuffs
Boot cuffs are a nice quick-to-make gift which looks good on the young or young-at-heart girl in your life.
This pattern will use smaller amounts of yarn (100 - 150 yards) and may be a good introduction to magic loop and/or cables.
If cables don't do it for you, then there's a link at the bottom of this post to another easy boot cuff pattern.
Not a pattern but once again a recipe.
Ewespecial saw this puffy scarf and investigated. The stitch used is the puff stitch (which seemed familiar to me, it should be, it's used in one of my never-to-be-finished WIPs, the Tatiana)
Cheryl has gathered some information about this stitch, including the steps to make it.
There is no pattern for the scarf shown, but designer Bren Boone says "I chained on 10 stitches loosely and just did the puff stitch over and over and over till I was happy with the length. Then seamed it."
KnitBug Valerie admits that this unusual design restricts your arm movement. It's also impossible to wear a coat over it. But it does appeal to me, it looks so snuggly inside there.
She gives the pattern for free, and asks for a donation to her favourite charities.
Sidekick socks by Kate Atherley
There are some great patterns in the Winter Knitty.
these socks are designed to compliment winter boots. the foot is knit in a single strand of sock yarn, the heel and ribbed legs in a double-strand and designed to be folded over.
Slow Dog Noodle by Anne Hanson
This is a very new pattern and I would have waited until the author had published pictures of finished examples, [update, jsut before sending out this issue, I saw this post] but between now and the end of December, 100% of the sales will go to a charitable cause.
I think it'll be great for handspun yarn, either a gradient made from natural colours as here, or a variegated or graduated coloured yarn. The stitch pattern will make an interesting knit and add interest to a plainer yarn.
Metropolitan Knits is a pattern collection by Melissa Wehrle.
The Skyline Sweater caught my eye (shown here) I like the wide neck, longer body and the lace pattern which is to one side of the body.
There are 20 patterns in all, many of them jumpers and cardies but also scarves, hats and mitts. It's currently on sale, reduced to $7.49 (£5) + p&p (the ebook is also available and appears to be more expensive but is less than the cost of the hard-copy book with postage).
i-cord braided rug
This rug may be quicker to make than you think, if you use a hand-crank braider like the one in the video on this page.
It'll use a lot of yarn though, so it may be a good and functional project to use all those balls of handspun yarn you've accumulated.
The pattern is actually Sock Yarn Braided Trivets, just keep working until it's rug-size!
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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