Hand Spinning News
Greetings and welcome once again, take a seat and we'll take our regular look what the web has had to offer us spinners.
Among this month's blog posts, tips and tutorials, patterns and finished projects are health and safety tips for walking with your spindle, speculation about the Venus de Milo's occupation, sheepy contraception, Summery patterns and even a bedtime story.
This is the edited free version of Hand Spinning News for May 2015
Photo right: The Wayside project, one tree
- News and articles
- From Blogland
- Tips and tutorials
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
Some 2015 dates for your diary
In the news
Venus de Milo spinning thread
In the aftermath of the election newsfest, it's fun to see the media reporting some real non-news such as speculation about what the Venus de Milo might have been doing with her arms.
Cosmo Wenman looks at some of the theories and uses 3D modelling and contemporary painted vases to demonstrate his favourite, that she was using a drop spindle - at the time a lowly occupation.
London linen garment
Earlier this year, a vest was modeled that had been grown and made in London.
For many of us it's not so extraordinary to see a garment produced from scratch, although even in the craft world, cultivating and retting flax or hemp is far less common than using animal fibres.
I think this will be more of an eye-opener for those in the fashion world and the young people that were involved. The seeds were planted at The London College of Fashion and school children in East London were involved in the harvesting, processing and spinning.
Madder used to dye some of the fibres was also grown from seed. Click through to see the finished garment on a slightly puzzled-looking model.
From the Blogosphere
Wonderwool Wales took place as usual on the Royal Welsh showground, Builth Wells. This year's show was the 10 year anniversary. Our man on the ground is Matthew the crochet man.
He wanted to make a change from showing the many quality suppliers, and has tried to show "more of the arty side of the show".
His colourful pictures include the two major knitted works on show, a gingerbread house and this fascinating idea - a cardigan knitted by the people of Cardigan and featuring.... the town of Cardigan!
the Appleton-le-Moors Alpaca Back to Back Challenge
I was lucky enough to visit Yorkshire on the weekend of 9 and 10 May and take part in the Appleton-le-Moors Back to Back Challenge, possibly the first back-to-back involving alpaca fleece. (Unless you know better - please do let me know.)
Everyone involved had a great time, people were inspired to learn to spin, the jumper was finished and an amazing amount was raised for Macmillan.
Strange sheepy things
If you've enjoyed woolwinding's previous articles about the strange things that have arisen around our long companionship with sheep, then she's written another, this time looking at contraception.
Handspinning is not hard... except the vocabulary
Many spinners develop their own technique and, as Jenn says, "just spin".
For the more adventurous there are many types of preparation and drafting and conflicts sometimes arise over the details.
Jenn likes to keep her vocabulary simple and limits this article to two terms which really are worth knowing if you're at the 'just spin' stage. Woollen and Worsted. In spinning terms, worsted is not about the weight and woollen is not about the fibre the yarn is made from.
This kind of mending was once part of the school curriculum (stell writes from New Zealand). How times have changed.
Stell is using Swiss darning here and says that it's not easy but it does look effective. Handmade socks are so precious so it's worth learning how to repair the inevitable holes.
Stell caught this thin patch before it turned into a hole, which meant that she was able to use this technique, which looks just like knit stitches. She doesn't give details but there are many tutorials online; search for Swiss darning or duplicate stitch.
My own teacher was delighted when she found that I like to plan a project with the finished item in mind and spin accordingly. According to owlprintpanda, this makes me a 'pattern starter'. There's no doubt about one thing though - I'm a better starter than finisher.
owlprintpanda has written this post from the point of view of buying yarn for a project, but she is a spinner and I believe her thoughts apply to spinners too.
What kind of starter are you?
wip: beach comb
We touched on drafting methods earlier and here's a good reason for trying out different methods.
It's true that some fibre is happier when it's spun using one method or another. Rahardjo had been struggling with this seacell and banana mix until she tried spinning from the fold and had a 'eureka' moment.
(Rahardjo has since finished plying this yarn which you can see here)
English combs and worsted preparation
True worsted preparation uses combs rather than carders. The combs separate the best and longest fibres and aligns them.
It takes longer than carding, but the resulting top spins very evenly and quickly.
I still find it amazing that manky-looking (and smelling) fleece transforms into natty clothes, and this is possible with the simplest tools. Patterns can be made without dyeing.
Ella Gordon works at Jamieson and Smith and blogs on their behalf. Here on her own site, she's posted a number of 'before and after' pictures of raw fleece beside some shots of her natural-coloured knitwear.
Tips and tutorials
I think I've featured this tutorial before but I don't keep track and hey, does it really matter?
Here's Sheralynn's video showing how she prepares hand-dyed top / roving for longdraw spinning from the end of a rolag, or in this case 'fauxlag'.
With thanks to Rahardjo for sharing, who also shared this video from David of Southern Cross Fibre and wants to try experimenting with dowel sizes.
Testing a fibre before you spin
Because every fibre (or fibre blend) takes twist differently, Jenn uses this quick trick to find a new fibre's 'sweet spot'
How to Pick a Spinning Wheel That You will LOVE
If you're still thinking of buying your first wheel, and especially if you've not yet started spinning then this series of posts is for you. (Jenn says "part of my master plan is in fact to turn every knitter and crocheter into a spinner".)
I've linked to part 1 below, (flyers/bobbins, double vs singe drive, saxony/upright) here are part 2 (treadles, orifice, portable) and part 3 (buying new/used)
kerryhill has read that 2-ply is better for lace and 3-ply better for cables.
She's done the legwork to test this out, and has also compared regular 4-plied yarn with cable-plied yarn.
Here are her results.
I've read references to the afterthought heel but never looked into how it works.
I found this video fascinating. I don't have any afterthought heels planned (but then I guess by definition you don't plan them) or afterthought pockets, but I'm thinking that this technique can be used for finding a nice row of live stitches each side of a hole in a sock, ready to knit and graft.
Keeping this wheel spinning
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Dyeing to Get the Colors You Want From Digital Photographs
Alanna Wilcox is a teacher, spinner and knitter. Like many in the fibre world she has a passion for colour. She has developed a technique for converting colour from a digital photograph into a dye recipe using a formula rather than guesswork.
Her aim with this guide is to help you to develop an eye for colour and then teach you how to accurately reproduce a colour using her technique.
It covers a little colour theory, how to extract the colour values using your computer and how to calculate the recipe for the dye. Finally there's an example worked from start to finish.
The guide has many 5-star reviews and comes as an instant download in the universal pdf format (there is an option to buy a printed copy).
Sometimes just a picture is enough
Finished Galiano Vest
In last month's full issue we saw araignee getting close to the end of this project and also getting close to the end of her yarn. A big advantage of handspinning (as long as you have more of the same fibre) is being able to spin a little more. Which is what she did.
The vest is now finished and she's not entirely happy. "This yarn could have been put to better use with a pattern more suited for wonky handspun". From the pictures, I don't agree on either count.
The colour variations in the Shetland locks makes a lovely subtle striped effect. The pattern is Galiano Vest by Megan Goodacre.
Olympic Spinning Wheels aren't to everyone's taste. If you've found the previous ones too elaborate, you may like this recently-completed 'nautiuls' wheel.
The nautilus shell is a wonder of nature and mathematics. Has Gary captured its essence here? Don't miss the little carved shell acting as the back foot.
Sarah has made this cheerful bear from a merino blanket which she dyed before cutting and sewing.
She hardly mentions his little cardy which she made from handspun, dyed using natural dyes; horsetail, madder, acorns, logwood and lichen. His bow-tie is also dyed using madder.
digitalmuse asks, "How cool is it to see something made with something YOU made?"
Very cool indeed.
The tan yarn in this sweater is handspun yarn that she made from Brandon roving, which I gather is alpaca. No more information about the pattern or knitter.
Rigid heddle/handspun scarf
This scarf demonstrates that subtle use of colour and straightforward technique can produce something elegant and beautiful.
A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.
Elgin Jumper Knitting Pattern
This beautiful finished project was a very quick knit, although the preparation of the Exmoorino fleece took time.
It's not obvious from the picture of the finished jumper, but Fran introduced some colour into the chunky yarn by allowing some dyed locks to enter the carded undyed fibre as she spun, giving a 'slubby' effect. (There's a link to an earlier post about the preparation near the top of this post)
Fran seems very pleased with her pattern, which can be worn slightly 'off the shoulder' and appears to fall from the i-cord neckline. She gives us her pattern in this post.
Tomboy Hat - vintage crochet
Not only a free pattern but a vintage one which I think makes it extra-special.
You can see a copy of the 1960s pamphlet, which isn't so easy to read. Many thanks to Katknit who's transcribed the pattern to make it easy to read.
Triticum by Anne Hanson
I love this cardy very much. I love the unusual lapel/collar, I love the lace detail at the elbows. It has options for full or elbow-length sleeves.
It's versatile and will go with a dress, trousers or even jeans. "nothing cheats the requirement to dress up like a garment knit with soft, elegant luxury yarn" says Anne.
She says that it works with a wide variety of yarns, use a sport-ish weight in wool or wool mix.
Waterlily by Meghan Fernandes
This is my favourite of the summer tops I've found this month. I love the neckline, I love the lace from the boobs up, I like the way the sleeves flare. I do like a bit of sleeve.
Modelled here by Volenvine who has just finished hers and is giving herself a well-deserved pat on the back. She discusses the pattern in her latest video blog, it's worth watching if you're interested in making the pattern; she passes on a tip from the Yarn Harlot about reinforcing the back neckline to reduce sagging.
Although Kristin is holding a spindle in this shot, her top is made with commercial yarn - a merino with nylon and cashmere. I will spin something similar for mine - maybe merino/silk.
It's unfortunate that the pattern comes in an eBook with seven other patterns, most of which I wouldn't make. But I like this so much I'll probably go for it.
Friday 26 June and Saturday 27 June, 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 and this was recognised in 2012 when Woolfest won the Cumbria Tourism Award for Event of the Year.
25 and 26 July 2015, Redbourne Community College, Flitwick Road, Ampthill, Bedford MK45 2NU
The fifth 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.
The college provides an indoor venue.
British Wool Show (formerly British Wool Weekend Show)
Friday 7 and Saturday 8 August, York Auction Mart
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.
26 and 27 September 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
Shetland Wool Week
26 September - 4 October 2015
A busy weekend dedicated to celebrating Shetland wool and textile heritage.
The extensive events list includes workshops, demonstrations, open studios, spinning, knitting, weaving and Britain's most northerly sheep.
Visit the website to download a free 'Shwook Hat' pattern, designed exclusively for Shetland Wool Week 2014 by Patron, Hazel Tindall.
Bakewell Wool Gathering
Bakewell Agricultural CentreSaturday 17 and Sunday 18 October
This year sees the third 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, workshops plus a knitting and crochet help desk to help novice and expert alike.
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.
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Happy spinning and don't be a stranger!
Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator
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