Banner image - 'snow at lambing time

Hand Spinning News

Out like a lamb

With Spring just around the corner, it's time once again for some cute lamb images, the next generation of the source of our raw material.

But the weather hasn't been spring-like yet and there are still many hats and scarves among this month's blog posts.

So on with this month's selection which is filled with fluffy fascination, fun and free patterns

(photo right: Pat's Handspun Waterville Hat.)

Top Stories

Featured designer

I'm very happy to have met up recently with my own teacher, Alison Daykin of Alison Yule Textiles.

Read more

Andean puka poncho

Andean puka poncho

This post is as captivating as the hand spun, dyed and woven poncho that the The Knit Knack has bought.

Read more


News, resources and articles from around the web

KnittySpin Spring 2013

KnittySpin Spring 2013

The Spring KnittySpin is out. It's a spinning companion to, a free web-based magazine containing patterns, articles, news and reviews.

From the blogosphere

Handspun Waterville Hat

Handspun Waterville hat

It's always great to see posts that take us from fibre to finished project and it's especially interesting to see here how Pat has divided her braid of fibre into four colours.

Do click through and see her cashmere lining!

Not surprising that Pat says it's her new favourite hat.

Dyeing to show you!

Dyeing to show you!

Sue Webb wrote this fabulous tutorial last September; I'm not sure why it's remained in my bookmarks since then, maybe because I featured another of Sue's posts the same month.

Anyhow, she takes us all the way from food colouring and roving through to finished scarf with lots of pictures.

Sue says that it's "ridiculously good fun and soooo easy" which I wholeheartedly agree with so do give it a go if you've never done so.

Patchwork lamb

Boy, oh boy, oh boy

It's that time of the year again, and patchworkfibers says that she loves lambing.

There are pictures here of her first day's lambing, two sets of twins, all boys.

Sara Lamb

Spinner, weaver, myth-buster

Anita Osterhaug of Spin Off magazine says that it can be a 'daunting task' to spin for a weaving project. Especially if it really did take six colonial American spinners to supply one weaver (can anyone confirm or deny that this 'historical fact' is true?)

In this blog post we meet the appropriately-named Sara Lamb who busts a number of myths about spinning to weave by dressing herself in her own hand spun and woven cloth.

Swiss lateral treadle - a very sweet wheel

Knitsnthings posts never disappoint. She likes restoring old wheels and making tools and equipment.

Her latest old wheel is interesting with its transverse treadle arrangement.

The wheel has captive rings (a decorative woodworking feature) and I love knitsnthings' comment that someone loved the lady who owned this wheel.

Do click through to see more pictures, it's wonderful to see this ancient wheel spinning again.

progress with your spinning goals

Making progress with your spinning goals

Felicia Lo asks "Do you feel that your spinning is constantly improving and how do you push yourself to progress all the time?"

This post actually caught my eye because of the picture of her studio which looks very bright and conducive.

But it's not about her space, instead she writes about goals and gives us three very good tips to help achieve those goals.

Lichen Mists scarf

Lichen Mists

Click through to the large version of this picture and you will be glad that you did.

SandAndSkyCreations says that she's kept this skein of handspun for a couple of years just waiting for the right project to come along, and this is it.

I also have an excuse to mention designer Ruth Garcia Alcantud, whose pattern she's using. (I'm a fan of Ruth's designs and am currently making her Twinkle Twinkle for which I've spun and dyed.)

Great wheel

Great big wheel

This is Pete aka Wikkidknitter who is making it look easy to spin using this great wheel.

If you're not familiar, this type of wheel is large and uses a quill spindle. Guzzisue writtes about the demo they had at her most recent guild meeting, which sounds as if it was a fun and informative evening.

Corespun hat

Corespun hat

Spotting a finished item using corespun yarn is very rare, this may be my first time.

Mono has made her corespun from organic merino with a double lace weight core. It's fine and neat, with lovely blues. The hat is reversible and made as a gift for a lucky sister!

Andean puka poncho

Andean puka poncho

This post is as captivating as the hand spun, dyed and woven poncho that the The Knit Knack has bought.

Her Handweavers & Spinners Guild held an auction of textiles from a private collection. She has read about and was inspired by Andean textiles and set her heart on this piece and gives us many photos and details.

Knit Knack says "The sheer accomplishment of having spun, dyed and woven this for the man who wore this humbles me".

DIY corner

Home made cardboard charka

Making a cardboard charka

I'm grateful to Guzzisue for sending me this link.

Rabbitgeek really has made a charka from cardboard. It's hard to believe that it works but it works so well that he's spun some wool and alpaca which he's woven into a little mat using a loom he made from a picture frame!

He gives full instructions for making the charka. If you make one, please do let me know!

discuss any of this


Sometimes just a picture is enough

fantastic throw

Spinner who parked on King Richard III

No information about the pattern but this throw really is a lovely piece of work and all handspun.

Spinning School headteacher Pam Austins posted this picture of Erica's shawl. Do click through for a larger version of the picture and Erica's royal claim to fame.

Handspun crochet/felt bag

Handspun crochet/felt bag

Congratulation to Janet who many will know as dizzyspinner for this beautiful felted bag.



This elegant cardi was made by ljusoluft, the pattern is Tilda

The yarn is gotland, with subtle natural striping.

Taina Anttila's Vellamo socks

Taina Anttila's Vellamo socks

The socks in the picture are in handspun and made by brailaustralia.

Unfortunately I have no more information about the spinning but I love the changing colour through the colourwork section.

The free pattern is Vellamo and is available on Ravelry to members and non-members. (The pattern gives adult size - brailaustralia has scaled down)

Sweet Dreams - Café Con Leche

Sweet Dreams - Café Con Leche

The Sweet Dreams patter by Boo Knits is a gorgeous design, and there are so many examples in so many beautiful colours.

I do particularly like this one. Ines bought the dyed BFL/Tussah silk, and a friend spun it for her.

The colour is called Guinness but it makes me want a coffee!

(Ravelry link)

Sponsored feature

I'm very happy to have met up recently with Alison Daykin of Alison Yule Textiles. Alison is my teacher, she introduced my Mum and myself to spinning at a weekend retreat.

Alison manages to fit quality design projects around a busy teaching schedule. You may also recognise her name from regular contributions to Yarnmaker magazine.

Briefly describe yourself and what you do

I'm a woven textile designer and tutor of spinning, weaving and dyeing. I design and hand weave bespoke fabrics for interiors and fashion.

Do you have a favourite design/weave project and do you have anything special in the pipeline at the moment?

I enjoy most of my projects, but loved my Haddon Hall project, an interiors collection based on a beautiful painted motif from the chapel at Haddon Hall. I developed this into a range of wall panels, cushions and window panels for 100% Design and have subsequently redeveloped into a fashion fabric using the Theo Moorman inlay technique!

My current projects include updating and developing all my workshops. I've included the Theo Moorman inlay technique for weavers, including rigid heddle weavers with two rigid heddles.

How long have you been spinning / dyeing?

I've been weaving since I was 8 years old! At the age of 6 my sister, who's 7 years older than me came home from her senior school with a small woven scarf she'd made I couldn't believe you could make your own fabrics. I pestered my parents for the next 2 years to buy me a loom and finally got a small Spears Rigid Heddle Loom and made everything in the book and more until I finally got to the same school as my sister.

At the school, a technical Grammar school in Derby, the craft class taught pottery, sculpture and weaving. I enjoyed pottery, but didn't like getting my hands dirty, I couldn't see the point of sculpture, I'm a bit like William Morris, I don't have anything in my home that's not functional and beautiful! But when it came to weaving it felt right and I took an O and A level in Craft, Design and Practice - Weaving.

I was introduced to spinning and dyeing at school during the A level, but began spinning in earnest in 1981 when I joined our local Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers.

What or who inspires you?

Bernat Klein was the biggest influence on me, he pushed the boundaries of weave with unusual colour and textural combinations, designing for the likes of Chanel, etc.

What aspect of your work do you enjoy most?

It's the designing and sampling that I enjoy most of all, trying out new ideas, etc!

What type of yarn do you enjoy spinning the most?

Fancy, composite "Art" yarns, but they must be functional, I can't bear the so called art yarns that don't balance and move when they are knitted into fabrics - hats that slip round your head are so uncomfortable!

There are some fantastic techniques for creating very decorative yarn; is there a case for yarns which just look beautiful, or do you feel that yarn should always be usable for a project?

I think like William Morris and believe all yarn should also be practical as well as beautiful. A skilled spinner should be able to produce both in one yarn! Sorry that's a bit controversial, but the band wagon of "Art Yarn" spinners has meant we have a whole new group of spinners, but not all of them understand basic techniques and we need to ensure we don't lose these skills.

Where can we see your work?

Most of my work is available online at: or my commercial designs can be found at: and my classes and workshops are listed at I've exhibited across the country, including 100% Design; The Harley Gallery, Nottinghamshire; 78 Derngate, Northampton; The National Centre for Craft and Design, Sleaford; Leeds Craft Centre and Design Gallery.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell folk?

I'm very keen to ensure my practice is sustainable and have been practicing sustainability for as long as I can remember, before it was popular. I have a Sustainability Policy and Environmental Policy and last year I was awarded the Environmental Quality Mark from the Peak District National Park.

Alison is also co-author of Creative Spinning. You can also contact Alison on 07813 068722 or at

Free patterns

A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.

Liquid Amber by Stacey Simpson Duke

Liquid Amber by Stacey Simpson Duke

Looking forward to Spring now, this infinity cowl may be ideal for our British climate as it can be worn long and loose or doubled-up when it's chilly.

It looks lovely in these earthy colours but the lace pattern is ideal for showing off your own colour changes.

Designer Stacey says that the pattern is "made to showcase hand-dyed, handspun yarn". It uses laceweight yarn and has a very high user rating and low difficulty.

A Ravelry download but seems to be available to non-members.

Silk and sparkle wrap

Silk & sparkle wrap

This wrap is dressy and will be perfect when you need an extra layer over your shoulders.

It's from Knit Now and is a knitted lace pattern for two contrasting lace yarns.

I'd suggest that it would be perfect for two different handspun lace yarns, something special including silk and something including sparkles.

Darrowby cardi / jacket

Darrowby cardi / jacket

Named after the bleak winters of James Herriot country, this jacket is practical, but it's attractive too with its deep ribs and a really interesting cable on front and sleeves.

Sturdy jacket or a cosy drape, you choose and spin accordingly. The one shown is made from Romney fleece.

I've selected more free knit and crochet patterns this month over at HSN's sister publication, Purl Two Together

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Events 2013

Fibre East

Fibre East

[NB - updated date and venue] 27 and 28 July 2013, Redbourne Community College, Flitwick Road, Ampthill, Bedford MK45 2NU

The third Fibre East, those in the Eastern, Midlands and Southern Regions an opportunity to join in an event which aims to encourage and promote British wool and natural fibres.

Note the change of venue and date. The new venue is inside.

Courses and tuition

Please let me know if you are or you know a tutor with a calendar of events.

discuss any of this

Happy spinning and don't be a stranger!

Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator

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