I'm not going to lie, Im not the one to come to for fashion tips. But The recent 'ponytail/bun hat' trend hasn't passed me by, and there are some examples in the pattern suggestions and gallery this month. Chunky scarves and oversize jumpers are also apparently in, all of which work happily with handspun yarn.
This is probably a good time to say a massive thank you to all of the VIP readers. I do love doing this, it's a great way to achieve my mission of promoting the craft by inspiring new and experienced spinners. The contributions help to cover the very real costs and make all of this possible. Assuming that you're reading this before Christmas, may I wish all of you a very happy festive season, and a New Year filled with fibrey fun.
This is the free edited issue for December 2016.
Photo right: Spinning project bag, knitted fabric and leather, Katrina Stewart. Cover photo, 'Sheep looking for their winter feeding', wrobison CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
News / Events
Pantone's color of the year for 2017 is...
Pantones colour of the year is 'Greenery'. They call it "nature's neutral". It's said to be a relaxing colour, it is certainly cheery and optimistic and it's making me yearn for Spring.
Here Craftsy select a variety of products inspired by the colour of the year; fabrics, prints and yarn.
discuss any of this
From the Blogosphere
Knitting a handspun sock
Some issues ago, we saw April's experience of making an opposing-ply 3-ply for socks. If you'd like to read about that, follow the link within this post, but it didn't go well and she sums that up in this post.
However, after starting to knit her first pair of socks with handspun yarn, she's much happier.
I hadn't heard the term 'princess sole' before, but it's a sole with purl bumps on the outside so that the smooth knit stitches are next to your foot. April understandably didn't like all that purling as has come up with an excellent solution that seems to be working out well.
Sontag, Habit Shirt and Bosom Friend
Cheryl of the Ewespecial blog has been reminded of an interesting garment that she has worn during some reenactments.
This type of shawl is called a bosom friend because it ties at the back which keeps the ends out of your cooking, and keeps your front warm.
She includes some vintage pictures and links for further reading.
Thick core spun yarn
Sarah of Lighthouse Yarns says that if you think of something new and can't find an example of anyone doing it, "give it a try!"
Usually, she core-spins using a fine cotton thread. But she has a quantity of DK weight chenille yarn, and decided to try using that as a core. This is the result. She says "I am super excited about it! "
Processing and spinning qiviut
This month's sexy spindle shot is puffintoad's picture of this little turkish spindle among quiviut fibre.
Quiviut is the downy fibre of the musk ox and is said to be one of the finest fibres. puffintoad says that she's "so addicted to processing and spinning qiviut! The fiber is clean and silky, and has the slightest sweet musky smell."
This is despite the fact that she's manually pulling out guard hairs, which sounds very laborious. Explore her recent photos for more images and comments about the fibre, processing and spinning.
As I'm sometimes wont to do, I'm cheekily slipping in one of my own projects. In mitigation, it is a pretty special one and probably my favourite and most wearable of my spin/knit projects ever.
I can't recommend the pattern highly enough - Boreal by Kate Davies. It's really comfortable and looks great and gets compliments.
I spun plain white Shetland as part of my Spinzilla 2016 spinning, and dyed half of it green. By mixing a little yellow into blue I got a nice deep forest green, with a little variegation.
The only mod I'd suggest is to add a few stitches to the upper arms. I did some remedial work to mine - I added 4 stitches, and that was just about enough. There are more details in my posts and my Ravelry project.
discuss any of this
Tips and tutorials
Christmas tree angels with tinsel yarn halos
Fran has modified her wool-roving fairy technique to make some beautiful tree angels. As well as the roving they use a 'tinsel' yarn and some wool locks.
I guess you may be trimmed up by the time you read this but if you have room on your tree and you're reading before Christmas, then Fran details how she made the angel wings and halos, and links to a previous article for making the main head and body (actually Fran's adaption of instructions which originally appeared on another blog which she links to.)
Understanding your wheel to get the yarn you want
For a new spinner, producing a skein of yarn is an achievement and one to be proud of. As time goes on, you develop the skill to decide what type of yarn you'd like for your project and the ability to spin it.
I think Denise's article on the Schacht blog is aimed at the spinner who's looking to take a little more control. She talks about the difference between single- and double-drive, and then gives a simple guide to spinning larger or thinner yarn.
Spinning on a Great Wheel
This two-minute extract from a longer video is one of the slickest demonstrations of using a Great or Walking Wheel that I've seen.
Scot Norman Kennedy shows just how efficiently you can spin on this ancient type of wheel. You see him get into a rhythm, which he says is hypnotic. In a cycle of just a few seconds and five footsteps, he drafts out maybe a couple of metres and winds it onto the spindle. If I heard correctly, he made this wheel himself.
Yoga poses for crafting aches and pains
I've had some prolonged spinning sessions recently which have resulted in some of those middle-age "ooh's" and "aah's" you make when you eventually stand up or stretch out.
I think I've featured LB's Yoga for Knitters and Crocheters before, but I think there were just one or two videos dealing with breathing and relaxation. Here is quite a collection of poses, dealing with shoulders and neck, wrists, hips neck and back. They are suggested for alleviating as well as preventing aches and pains.
The BIG book of Fibery Rainbows
Suzy Brown and Arlene Thayer (woolwench and spin artiste) have announced their first print book. The foreword is by Lexi Boeger (pluckyfluff) which will give you a clue as to the content.
I haven't seen a copy but the video on Suzy's blog post gives a good 'look inside'. If you're interested in making art yarn then those techniques are there, but there are also chapters covering colour theory and preparation (combing, carding, dizzing) all with bigger and fancier yarns in mind. There's also a picture gallery for inspiration.
Innovations I've never imagined
This product is very much in development. Can you guess what it is? That's right, it's a spindle crane. Its little pulley allows you to spindle if you're unable to use it vertically or have limited space.
Knittingsarah has been using it and says that she now "can't imagine life without it." Read her review.
discuss any of this
Saying 'meteorological' without moving your beak was pretty impressive!
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.
Keeping this wheel spinning
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Sometimes just a picture is enough
A sweater by any other name
Rachel says that this isn't the most flattering pattern, but that's intentional, the pattern says "This design is intended to be worn with at least 8 inches of positive ease (to achieve the boxy oversized look)".
For hers, Rachel spun a natural dark brown crossbreed, quite a tight 3-ply, which she says made a firm fabric.
Hermie the Hermit Crab
Are you like me and enjoy odd things that aren't garments - the more unusual the better?
Louisa says that Hansi Singh's "20 Cute Mini Knits" are neither mini nor cute. Hansi herself describes them as 'peculiar'.
This type of project can of course be made with any sized yarn and suitable needles, but Louisa recommends practising with bigger stuff first. She says that her giant-size crab is delightful.
Her Hermi is made from handspun, hand-dyed yarn from her stash. Explore her earlier blog posts for details of Hermi's component parts. Not for the faint-hearted, apparently, bits needed several re-starts. But well worthwhile!
These very neat fingerless mitts are knit from wensleydale singles. The pattern is the free Camp Out Fingerless Mitts Rachel says that Wensleydale has lustre and warmth and is one of the best fibres for singles.
She has posted a picture of her yarn, it's very even, and has some colour variation to create subtle stripes. She deliberately went low-twist and her approach was very measured. She's given plenty of detail about that in her post.
Janov village in fabric
This is a special piece of handweaving using hand-dyed yarn. I'm relying on machine translation, but I gather that ka3me is thinking of making a bag with this fabric (after a rest) which I look forward to seeing.
Spinning project bag, leather and knitted fabric
This is a great idea, beautifully made and photographed. It's a bag made using leather and knitted fabric. Katrina is "beyond excited" with the result.
It doesn't use handspun yarn, but it is club dyed yarn, and Katrina is using the bag here to carry her spindle and fibre.
jeanaschwab123 crocheted this rug from yarn spun by her sister in law. She says that until she blocked it, it looked like "a big octopus in a pink wading pool"
discuss any of this
A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.
Tea-Cozy Hat by Woolly Wormhead
A suggestion for a knitted pony-tail / bun hat (see crochet alternative and discussion under paid patterns below.)
I'm linking to Woolly's free patterns page, this pattern is somewhere near the top.
The Humdrum Helix Hat Pattern by Fran Rushworth
A pattern that is designed for a number of colours of yarn (even if they vary a little in thickness) is a useful thing for hand spinners.
Fran also comments on the difficulty of dyeing a larger batch of yarn with plant dyes.
(I'm going to take this opportunity to mention once again Fran's Plant Dyes for All Seasons 2017 Calendar which I know has been very popular, and rightly so).
So with all of this in mind, Fran has re-posted the pattern for her Humdrum Helix Hat, which allows for using four or more colours and varying thicknesses without distortion of the shape.
She also gives some tips about sizing.
The Dude Hat by FogKnits
Anyone who follows me (thanks to both of you) will know about the Cowichan jacket that I have in progress. I'm very interested at the moment in the Cowichan people, culture and knitwear. It seems that the popular style of sweater is a 'first nation' tradition, but it only emerged after European settlement and the introduction of sheep and knitting techniques. I love this 'acculturation' or a style emerging from the meeting of textile traditions from two different cultures.
I have to be honest and say that my interest was also piqued by the jacket that the Dude wears in the film Big Lebowski (which is actually a commercial copy of the cowichan style in a 1x1 rib to imitate the chunkiness).
Anyway, all of this waffle is to introduce a free pattern primarily based on the Dude's jacket, but I think has more in common with the Cowichan knitting.
It requires a little over 200 yards of a reasonably thick yarn, Aran / 10 ply (8 wpi) in three colours and is suitable for "an adventurous beginner".
My Cup of Tea socks by Robin Lynn
This free pattern is a straightforward top-down sock with a motif down the front.
Robin Lynn dyed the yarn for this pair using "an assortment of tea bags". It has made an attractive colour and apparently a fragrant yarn.
discuss any of this
Stacey's Bun Hat, crochet pattern by Stacey Thorngren
This picture went viral on social media before Stacey made her pattern available for purchase. It seems to have started a craze on pony-tail hats or bun hats.
It may not have been the first but it has certainly brought the style to popularity.
A New Slant Scarf by Jillian Moreno
Full marks for originality to Jillian Moreno. This pattern is designed for two different styles of handspun yarn in one infinity scarf. One gradient and one flecked yarn with similar colours. The pattern features two different stitch patterns, which complement the yarn styles.
The pattern is available as part of a collection, Spin-Off Spin and Knit 2017 which contains 20 patterns, all spin & knit projects. I'm linking to the Ravelry page for the collection because unlike Interweave's own website, it lists and pictures all of the patterns.
Armadale by Kim Wagner
Looking rather like alien-skin, these polka dots are made using "a simple, but tricky stitch pattern". Other than that, the construction is easier than it may appear, knit flat with only one colour per row.
These ones aren't made using handspun yarn, but see how well a graduated colour works. You'll need 140 yards of fingering / 4 ply (14 wpi) in each of two colours.
discuss any of this
17 - 19 February, 2017, Farnham Maltings, Hampshire
A three day festival featuring a programme of bookable workshops. Over 80 contemporary and innovative producers and makers selling yarn and yarn related accessories
Edinburgh Yarn Festival
10 / 11 March 2017, Edinburgh Corn Exchange
(classes 9 - 12 March)
A celebration of all things related to yarn, wool, knitting, crochet, spinning, weaving and felting. A fantastic market place with around 100 selected vendors, great workshops and a host of other attractions
22 & 23 April 2017, 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.
Fri 23 and Sat 24 June June 2017, 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.
British Wool Show (formerly British Wool Weekend Show)
Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 July, Thirsk Rural Business Centre, Blakey Lane, Thirsk
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.
23 and 24 September 2017, 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
Happy spinning and don't be a stranger!
Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator
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