Hand Spinning News
Spring is in the air and the wool festivals are underway. Reviews of Unravel are in this issue, and Edinburgh Yarn Festival will be included next time.
It's also the time for cute lamb photos and lighter knitting patterns.
Read on for this month's selection of news, reviews, a feast of free patterns, finished projects and fibrey pictures.
This is the full paid issue for March 2017.
Photo right: from review of new book, Wool Seekers. Cover photo from editor's own collection, Fibre East 2015
In the news
Students take to the charka... become self-reliant
I'm constantly surprised by these stories of self-sufficiency in India.
This charitable trust believes in the capability of everyone to be self-reliant, including disabled students.
I'm baffled by the claim that each student produces 2,000 metres of cotton per day. Maybe that's wrong, or maybe the 'machines' referred to are small mills rather than the charkhas pictured.
The students earn cash for their spinning as well as receiving woven cloth that they can make into clothes.
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From the Blogosphere
Extreme slow fashion
This article has fascinated me the most this month. I'm not sure how the topic has passed me by for so many spinning and knitting years.
Perhaps I have come across denim yarn before, and not appreciated how it works. Tomofholland's article made my heart skip a beat because I've been learning a little about denim garment manufacture recently in William Gibson's novel, Zero History.
Jeans are obviously made from woven fabric, but denim yarn is made from the same stuff; spun cotton, rope-dyed indigo, and like jeans, should be knitted oversize and shrunk to fit. Stitch patterns and cables stand out because of the tighter gauge achieved by shrinking, and because the yarn fades more in exposed areas than the nooks and crannies.
I could go on at length about the stuff, but I'll just link through to tomofholland's article. If the subject doesn't give you the blues, his link to the Mason-Dixon blog is worth following for further reading.
A - art or craft?
This is a translation of a Swiss page and the title is a little more elegant in the original French.
For me, there's a clear differentiation between art and craft, but the two aren't mutually exclusive. So I don't think that you need to remove function, form or good cratsmanship for something to be art, as long as it's thought provoking or engaging.
Diary of a handspun cardigan
The bright blue here is a special blend by John Arbon called Spin Fresh, in carribean colours in keeping with the pirate theme of Team HSN's efforts in last year's Spinzilla.
Team-mate Jenn found the blend a delight to spin. She decided to ply the resulting singles with a natural grey whitefaced woodland/Jacobs fleece (also in the picture).
As I write this I've only seen a sneaky peeky of the finished cardigan, but there are more pictures in this blog post of the singles, plied yarn, knitted swatches and knitting in progress.
Lambing Tales 2017
I have a weakness for cute lamb pictures so here's a lovely set from Leyden Glen Farm, a working Massachusetts farm.
The conditions look a little harsh, but apparently not as harsh as they could be in that part of the world if the farmer opts for a January lambing rather than February.
The text contains some interesting information about rejection, bottle feeding and some fun names.
Explore the blog for a couple more similar posts with more pictures.
The effect of iron on some dyes
The array of colours in this post is astonishing.
Leena of the Riihivilla Dyeing with natural dyes blog has carried out tests to show the effect of iron on madder, cochineal, mushroom caps and mushroom stems.
No need for machine translation here, she has written her post in both Finnish and English.
This overhead shot of around 50 spinners at their wheels is a beautiful sight.
The event appears to involve the Victoria guild and the Deep Cove guild of British Columbia, Canada.
Experienced weaver, spinner and dyer Jean Betts writes about the day with more photographs (don't miss the Bosworth Journey wheel). The day involved spinners from a number of groups.
Spin the Bin 2017 Challenge
From a spin-in to a spin bin.
This post from Thread Head Joanne declares her binful of fibre for a fun event, the 2017 Spin The Bin Challenge. It's also a useful introduction to the Challenge.
There are a few rules, but in short, you choose a dozen fibres from your stash and then spin them all. If you take one out, you have to replace it with two more items. There are some rewards, plus an optional 'use it or lose it' club where anything you fail to spin by the end of the year is given as a prize to someone who clears their bin.
Joanne's post links to the Ravelry group where the whole thing is being administered
Handspun experiments: opposing 3-ply sock yarn
I've featured these socks as work-in-progress at least once before. April experimented with an opposing-ply 3-ply yarn for her first pair of handspun socks.
In this post they've been worn a bit, and she examines the beginning of felting on the soles, as well as reviewing the project. The jury is still out on whether the opposing ply has increased the durability of the yarn.
April says, "this pair is the Bearded One's new favourite out of the many pairs of socks I've made for him. Knowing that does a spinner/knitter's heart good".
How to make a 2,000 year old slipper
Chris Pappas continues her examination of the prehistoric slipper that she's planning to reproduce in order to learn more about how it was made.
This time she examines the plant fibres and the textile structure - this is 'twining', which produces a result similar to woven fabric.
The Making of the Plant Anatomy Shawl Pattern Collection
You'd be forgiven for thinking that this picture shows shawl designs, but it's an early microscopic photograph of plant cells.
The vintage book, Anatomy of Plants, inspired Dr. Julia Riede to create ten shawl patterns based on these old photographs.
Julia's page shows several of the collection that she's already completed. The shawls are made in hand-dyed yarn with colours to suit the theme.
History in her hands
This is not a recent blog post, but I came across it by accident and found it interesting.
Lonna bought a couple of ancient spindle whorls and has experimented with making spindles to carry them. Here she whittles down a couple of sticks for the purpose, with tremendous success.
Susan Point's art brings ancient wheel spinning into modern world
I stumbled on the article above after reading about Susan Point's art, which is inspired by spindle whorls.
It's not so surprising that we choose to decorate our wheels, which for the most part are a love rather than an occupation, but even when the spindle whorls were people's sole means of clothing themselves, they still chose to decorate their tools.
The picture and link below go to a very interesting article containing some surprising historical facts. This link goes to a different site where there are some more pictures of Susan's circular designs.
History of colours
It's a fascinating thought that not all colours have existed for ever. Maybe in pre-history there were colours that people never saw, certainly not in textiles or paintings.
Cheryl of Ewespecial links to this excellent chart containing places and dates of our historic dyes, animal, mineral, plant, or man-made.
if the subject colours your world then Cheryl also suggests a few books.
sandandskycreations has been experimenting with 'multiply' yarns. In this post she shows us a 3-ply, a cabled yarn and a chain-plied 2-ply.
She says that the cabled yarn is her favourite skein that she's spun in a very long time. "I love the bouncy, textured, softness of this finished yarn", she says.
Weaver's Shed - Gigg Mill
I was completely unaware of the Stroud Textile Trust, so thanks to Sue of Cast On and Cast Off. She writes about her recent visit with some great pictures.
The trust appear to have four locations, Sue visited the Weaver's Shed at Gigg Mill in Stroud, where she saw powered as well as hand looms. The visit included a talk, demonstrations and a 'hands-on' session.
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Tips and tutorials
Weaving with t-shirt yarn
This very colourful strap isn't woven from handspun yarn, but handmade tee-shirt yarn.
Annie of the A Spinner Weaver blog has found that the most interesting results come from tie-dyed shirts, and this one was a particularly gaudy one. I have to say that it looks far nicer as an inkle woven strap than it did as a tee-shirt.
A felted single
Hazel has never made a plain bulky single in seven years, but she's given it a go with a view to making it the weft for a cushion cover.
We have pictures of the transformation from twisty singles to felted bulky yarn, and she describes her process.
A few words on blocking
It's always good to see a little more information with an Instagram post.
snerbyarn's mind was blown when she first blocked a shawl because it makes such a difference to the finished look.
Fleece Club - Olivia
This is a pretty good tutorial about combing fleece, and the mention of a fleece club caught my eye too, what a good idea. "The idea is that you don't have to know how to choose a good fleece or clean it, but you can take all the steps after that", says Janelle.
This tip made me laugh but it's so effective!
rahardjoknits loves her pocket wheel but didn't like that she was unable to see the bobbin filling. One clip-on mirror later and problem solved.
In Search of the World's Finest Wools
This new book looks stunning. Dominic Dormeuil has explored and photographed the producers of the finest and most precious fibres.
Anne at Knitspot has reviewed the book and includes lots of photographs of the pages. Unfortunately, her giveaway will have passed by the time you read this, but I'm sure you'll be as tempted as I am to get hold of a copy.
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The winter comes to an end once more and the undergrowth has to be cleared.
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
This month's sexy spindle shot shows three Bosworth spindles with Polwarth fibre from pigeonroofstudios. "colorful curvaceous copps" as one commenter says.
Quaker yarn stretcher blocked
We saw the Quaker Yarnstretcher in the last HSN, it's designed to make 200yds of yarn go a long way.
The picture is deceptive, this shawl (blocked) is more than six feet long end to end! quiltotaku did the knitting as a race with a friend. Spoiler - she didn't win, but the race did motivate her to cast on and make progress.
She spun the yarn on support spindles, a worthwhile picture of the loaded spindles is here.
Bouclé on a spindle
This yarn is bouclé spun on a spindle.
kjerringrokk didn't follow a tutorial, but tried to translate the technique for wheel-spinning the yarn to a hand spindle.
After finishing this tunic just in time for St Patrick's Day, phoenixfarmfiber says that she wants to wear handknit tunics and leggings all the time.
I'm not clear about whether this is handspun yarn, it appears to be, but either way it shows how effective this type of garment would look in a fractal-spun yarn.
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A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.
Bousta Beanie by Gudrun Johnston, official Shetland Wool Week pattern
Gudrun Johnston's patterns blend her shetland heritage with contemporary ideas.
She has been chosen by Shetland Wool Week () as patron and her Bousta Beanie design as the official knitting pattern.
It calls for a fingering / 4 ply (14 wpi) yarn in three colours.
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Tea Leaves lace-topped tee by Lotta Groege
With Spring in mind, here's a top that promises to be "ultra-comfortable" and beautiful paired with a skirt or jeans.
It calls for 984 - 1312 yards (900 - 1200 m) of a sport / 5 ply (12 wpi).
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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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