A Happy New Year! We're already two weeks in, or nearly a month in, depending on which issue you receive. Hopefully we've now all started to remember to write 2018 rather than 2017.
Accordingly, in this issue there are some St Distaff's Day posts, resolutions and fresh starts, and the usual 'best of 2017' posts which are always a good read.
Pantone's colour of the year "points us to the future" and one indie dyer tests three commercial dyes to find the closest.
Read on for this month's bumper New Year collection of spinning-related news, views, cues and reviews; patterns, inspiration and finished projects. This is the full issue for January 20172018.
Photo right: Mary Ellen Joe, Cowichan Knitter. Cover photo Sheep in the snow by Robin Pollard (CC BY 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons
Pantone color of the year 2018
"A dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade, PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future."
What better way to start the year than with a colour that points us towards the future, and who knew that a colour could say so much?
Wool Exploration: Gotland
This is a reminder about the KnitBritish wool exploration or 'swatch-a-long'. Louise is inviting you to try sampling a British Breed each month, send in your evaluation which she'll collate and summarise.
This article contains some places that you can find Gotland yarn and fibre for spinning. She also includes her summary of Gotland's properties from some 'swatch sessions' previously held at Edinburgh Yarn Festival.
Record-breaking plastic yarn tee-shirt
You may assume from the title that this is 'plarn' or spun plastic bags, but it's actually something more closely resembling regular yarn made from plastic bottles converted into fibre.
This giant tee-shirt is nearly 100 metres tall and 70m wide. It's to be cut down into thousands of normal-sized teeshirts and given to the needy.
Plastic has a very bad name at the moment, and one of the aims of this project is to demonstrate that it's a recyclable resource that doesn't need to be used once and thrown away.
'Usain Bolt of knitting' wows audience on TV debut
Seen here looking every bit as bonkers as a yarn shop owner and indie dyer ought to be, Jess James is enjoying the glory of being dubbed "the Usain Bolt of knitting". She appeared with Kirsty Allsopp on Channel 4's Kirstie's Handmade Christmas
Jess took just 30 hours to make a fine festive jumper and less than an hour and a half to make a bobble hat.
The Times reports some of her speed-knitting secrets, but only a few paragraphs are visible unless you're a Times subscriber.
See the next item for another side to this story; some controversy over the judging.
The Jumper Challenge
Social media exploded after Kirstie's Handmade Christmas over the judge's decision on the Festive jumper challenge. (Always a danger with anything which has to be judged). Nadia writes about all the ins and outs.
The positive outcome is the inspiration. Four participants chose different approaches to their jumper - ranging from very loud to fairly tasteful, some in hand dyed yarn, one embellished with embroidery and LED lights, another knitted in just six hours from very chunky wool.
There was some controversy in the national news before Christmas about 'throwaway' Christmas jumpers. It's a long way off, but there are some ideas here for a longer-lasting and more ethical jumper for the next festive season.
Spinning yarn for a wash-and-wear energy harvester
A while ago we had a story about yarn made from carbon nanotubes which generated power when stretched.
This yarn also generates power but its construction is different. It's made from fibres of conductive and dielectric fibres. It can include more familiar fibres, and the maker has considered the practical requirements such as the need to be able to cut the fabric to shape and the ability to be laundered.
The output is modest but in the video a garment is lighting some LEDs. It could also be used to sense movement by the wearer.
Foam dyeing process cuts water and chemicals in denim production
This is also industrial news, but very good news environmentally and there are some intriguing details of the commercial indigo dyeing process.
A new foam-based process can reduce the water needed by a staggering amount and also reduce the electricity needed and some chemicals. I was most surprised by how much water is used currently to dye cotton for denim - 400 gallons per 100yards of fabric.
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From the Blogosphere
Schacht top ten blog round up for 2017
If you're a regular HSN reader (or indeed a follower of the Schacht blog) you may have seen some of these posts.
It's a very good round-up of patterns and tips. They're not all from 2017 as the title suggests, but their posts that were most read during 2017.
Roc Day or St Distaff's Day
It's that time of the year again (or just past). The feast day of our favourite made-up saint is traditionally the first day back to the distaff and spindle after Christmas, and now a day for spinners to gather and spin together.
We may have had the information and this poem in years past, but thanks to Ewespecial for posting them along with a couple of great images.
Saint Distaff Day- Back to Spinning
Sue has also written about St Distaff's Day, she links to a very thorough article which includes the importance of the wool industry and some jolly japes.
Again in the spirit of fresh starts, she sent her wheel for a proper pampering before getting down to the year's first plying.
Tuff Socks Naturally update
Last year Rebecca invented the #tuffsocksnaturally project. She wanted to explore more natural aternatives to superwash/nylon sock yarns and fibres.
In this 'round up' post, she shares thoughts and pictures from others who have taken on the tuffsocksnaturally challenge.
We often read about 'micron count' and it's easy to work out that the lower the number, the finer the wool.
But what is micron count exactly? Jen has written this very informative post about how the sample is collected and measured, and what micron count means.
Results of lightfastness test
Leena has carried out a light-fastness test with fascinating results. She left some samples half-covered in the sun for a couple of months.
The blues she obtained from fungi were attractive if a little muddy to start with. In the light they have faded to almost brown. But a woad sample given the same test was pretty to start with and proved light-fast.
As a bonus, Leena has written another post here about how she dyes, there's a fascinating picture of her wood-burning pot!
Lion Brand colors of the year
Lion Brand have also jumped on the 'colour of the year' bandwagon and chosen not one but twelve colours which they've linked to each month and unsurprisingly to a selection of their yarns.
Despite feeling cynical about the whole exercise, I did enjoy reading about the thoughts behind their choices and some of the pictures of OTT outfits that they've placed with the picks.
Alternative yarn choices
Last year there were a couple of stories about ethical wool choices and a related discussion on the HSN Ravelry forum.
Blogger Lena has recently compiled this post containing two separate lists. If you scroll down there's a list of suggested vegan yarns, and above that a list of suppliers selling wool from "not for slaughter" sheep. That's an interesting concept to me and at least one of the listed suppliers is UK. Even that list breaks down into those farms that sell the lambs on (where their fate is uncertain) and those who state that they don't.
Mary Ellen Joe: Cowichan Knitter
Thanks to 1764 Shepherdess for sharing this very worthwhile video. It was another Cowichan Knitter video which inspired me to make my own jacket. (I now know that it's important to refer to your own garments as 'Cowichan-style' unless you are a born and bred Cowichan person.)
Some of this interview is biographical but there is a little spinning at the start, some sheep at one point and many fascinating details about the knitting or the history to pick up along the way.
Balanced and plump
Day 3 of #wemakeyarn was 'twist' and this is my favourite of those pictures. It comes with some nice words. Trinity says "I love when the plied yarn is balanced and plump. When you take it off the niddy noddy and it hangs nice and straight, even when you've got some crazy beehives and spirals going on... That's a good feeling : )"
Spinning for a Project - Wolkig Cowl
In August I picked Wolkig as a free pattern and still really like it. Jillian does too, and in this posts she writes her first thoughts about choosing fibre and spinning a yarn which will be a suitable substitute for the Manos Del Uruguay silk blend yarn that the pattern suggests.
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Tips and tutorials
Facing rough wool: a solution for sensitive skin
We love our 'soft and squishy' fibres and yarns but the rougher stuff has its merits. Durability and alleged warmth and moisture-resistance too.
Some don't like the prickliness of the more rustic yarns, but here's a fascinating solution.
Garments that fit
Coincidentally this month there were a couple of articles about making jumpers that fit. (Yes, swatching comes into it pretty heavily).
Even more spookily I was about to start my second Gansey in a row. The first fits great after one false start and then a bit of aggressive blocking.
This tip about 'swatching in the round' or 'i-cord swatch' is the one that really grabbed my attention. I've tried it for the first time and I'm confident in the result that I got. The point is that your tension is different when you purl / knit. So if you'll be knitting your garment in the round (ie all knit stitches) you should make your swatch in the round too.
(For reference, here is another article on the same subject)
Shed sweet spot
I don't often feature weaving tips but this one does seem worthwhile.
Laura of Weaving a Life explores the 'sweet spot' of the shed. How to recognise the top and bottom of the sweet spot, and the benefits of staying within it.
Circular knitting needle organisation: hot tips
In the spirit of New Year resolutions, Kathryn of Crafternoon Treats discloses the secrets of her storage system for circular needles, double-points and interchangeables.
There is quite a selection of hot tips in this post.
Day 9 of the #wemakeyarn project was 'draw'. This video is short but it's close-up and demonstrates the short-draw "inchworm" technique so well.
Battle of the Violet Dyes
Relating to Pantone's announcement of Ultra Violet as their colour of the year, Nicole Frost has made this 'Battle of the Dyes' video to pit three brands of violet dye against one another.
There are some details of her process. The difference between the three dyes is huge and the result is convincing. Find out which brand of dye produces the best 'Colour of 2018'.
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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
Why not try an Yvonne jigsaw on your computer or tablet? I've set them up with 36 pieces, just the right number for a coffee-break challenge and you gradually reveal the cartoon.
Thanks so much to Amy King for the idea, she takes photographs of her own sheep and 'jigsaws' them. You can follow her blog or sign up for her newsletter.
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Sometimes just a picture is enough
Favourite fibre prep
After all that snow and frost, let's warm up with a flashback to the Summer. This video is guaranteed to raise a smile. Under the 'prep' category of #wemakeyarn, Melany demonstrates how she grooms her woolly friend.
Melanie (threadbender) takes some splendid spindle shots. This one contains the whole story from fibre to skein. She says "I love the complex neutral colour of the finished yarn".
I think this is simply a garden sculpture rather than a working wheel, but kathkat67 comments that it looks like a metal Wee Peggy.
Handspun scarf, bits and bobs
siljadevine's photo shows how leftovers from other projects can work together to great effect in a woven scarf.
Honeymouse handmade socks
tiggulino's first handspun socks are a great success. They're made from a hand dyed BFL / nylon mix from Elfenwolle.
This shawl took craftypuppylover exactly a year to finish. She says "Don't think you're the only one who procrastinates or forgets projects!"
The pattern is Alcea by Susanna IC. craftypuppylover wishes she'd added more short rows to make it longer.
Alice Rabbit spindle
This month's sexy spindle shot is this classic White Rabbit spindle from Woodland Woodworking. The whorl reminds me of a teacup, reminiscent of the Mad Hatter's tea party?
how Christmassy! These spinnable fairy lights were included in Louise's Spin City Northern Lights spinalong box.
The box is sold out, but maybe if you contact Louise she maybe able to help.
This is Yllie's first time knitting some home-dyed handspun yarn into something that she can wear.
I don't have details of the pattern but Yllie dyed the yarn 'blood orange' by dyeing pale orange, plaited and overdyed with a deeper orange and finally replaited and overdyed red.
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A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.
Embossed Leaves Hat by Heather Tucker
Thanks to SueJay for the pattern suggestion. Her own handspun Embossed Leaves Hat is another story for the future, but SueJay says that the pattern suited the handspun yarn well, the pattern is well-written and the hat stretchy.
Fridley Legwarmers by Melissa Schaschwary
Interweave say that legwarmers are "trending hard". These ones are thick and cabled.
I also notice that they appear flared at the bottoms. I can't see any increases, so maybe it's just the way that the button band allows them to lay. I like the way they sit over the foot in the pictures, and guess that they might sit happily over short boots.
Textured Hat (Crochet)
I like the plain colour of this hat and the way it's worn here as a slouchy hat. The one project I can see on Ravelry is made in pink as a pussy hat.
Either way, it's a rectangle in a simple stitch pattern, using a super bulky yarn so will be very quick to make.
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Zombie Love by Megi Burcl
This imaginatively-titled pattern has been made with handspun yarn in mind; the handspun yarn used in this particular example is chain-plied worsted-weight and Megi the designer says that it worked "REALLY WELL with handspun".
It calls for 270 - 370 yards of Worsted / 10 ply (9 wpi). For added fun, you have to 'unzip' the dropped stitches at the end.
Megi says that the shawl is "designed for that special someone...who may be falling apart a tiny bit". There are several ways of fastening, to make sure that you "don't have to trip over the ends while running away from an undead horde".
Okehampton Tie by Wyndlestraw Designs
This tie looks ridiculously smart in the pictures; nicer than knitted ties or bowties that I've seen before. I guess a handspun version would have a slightly more rustic look unless the yarn was fine, even and tightly spun.
With thanks to Knithacker for sharing.
Mini Skein Infinity Scarf by Julieanne Cole
It may have been the colours that first attracted me to this pattern, but it's also true that it's a very useful pattern for using up those precious ball-ends or smaller skeins of handspun yarn.
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Yarn Bombers thank firefighters for rescuing knitted donkey
This is a donkey from one of the Hereford postbox yarn bombings, reported widely just before Christmas.
Firefighters had to 'rescue' the knitted neddy from high up on a building and the donkey is said to be recovering nicely.
The sad side of this story is that a number of these knitted items have gone missing, presumably during drunken or just idiotic japes. Nevertheless, the crafters raised £11,000 for a hospice charity.
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Friday 16 - Sunday 18 February 2018, Farnham Maltings, Hampshire
The 10th anniversary of the event will feature a programme of bookable workshops, talks & demonstrations led by UK & International experts and a marketplace of over 70 quality exhibitors selling yarn & fibre accessories.
Edinburgh Yarn Festival
15 - 17 March 2018, Edinburgh Corn Exchange
(classes from Friday 19 January)
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
28 - 29 April 2018, 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 22 and Sat 23 June 2018, 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)
Friday 10 and Saturday 11 August, York Auction Centre, Murton Lane, Murton, York, YO19 5GF
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.
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.
Perth Festival Of Yarn
8 and 9 September 2018. Dewars Centre, Glover St, Perth
Bringing together independent dyers, farmers, knitters, spinners, felters and weavers. A quarter of the 60 confirmed vendors will have materials, tools and equipment relating to spinning.
Classes will run over the weekend including two spinning classes led by Janet Renouf-Miller.
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
This year sees the sixth 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 and a fleece stand selling plenty of local fleece
Happy spinning, a happy and healthy New Year!
Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator
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