Hand Spinning News
Feeling sheepish? There are various projects in progress which are evaluating different breeds. We're into shearing time, we have tips from Margaret Stove herself about spinning from the lock and Beth Smith takes a look at the costs of keeping a sheep for a year.
Wonderwool is a favourite show for some. I've not seem many blog posts from others, maybe some will appear before the next HSN. In the mean time, I've included my own pictures and comments from the day.
Read on for all of this and the rest of this month's collection of spinning-related news, views and reviews; patterns, inspiration and finished projects. This is the full issue for May 2018.
Photo right: Tuff Socks Naturally project: Shropshire Sock. Cover photo my own, thanks to The Lost Sheep Company at Wonderwool.
In the news
Weaving a sustainable future with yarn made from paper
Neerja Palisetty's finished items are stunning and it's hard to believe that they're made from waste paper.
"Our products are 100 percent handmade and handcrafted, and with minimal use of electrically operated machines", she says.
The paper is cut into thin strips, twist added using a charkha and then woven using either cotton or silk warp, in both cases waste materials.
Postcard from Wonderwool Wales 2018
The poppy curtain was an astonishing sight this year. It formed the backdrop to the 'Sheepwalk' fashion parade.
It was made in association with the British Legion, marking 100 years since the end of the Great War. It will be touring during 2018 before finding a permanent home at the Gower Heritage Centre.
This and a few other pictures from Wonderwool are at the link below.
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From the Blogosphere
People say the strangest things to handspinners
We're well into show season and if you've spent any time in front of the public, you'll have noticed many onlookers saying the same (sometimes very silly) things. Parents like to explain things to their children, regardless of whether they understand it themselves.
The misconception that the yarn you're spinning goes through the orifice and then all the way around the drive wheel is in Anne Merrow's list, and does seem a common one.
Shearing day final
it's always a pleasure to see how chilled sheep look while being shorn. If you've watched it happen you'll know how ridiculous certain claims are about it being cruel.
Whispering Pines have posted a video of a shearing, along with some pictures of the finished bags of wool - many bags full!
First 28 days - learning to spin
If you're an absolute beginner then you'll find Leah's article encouraging. She writes about her thoughts and feelings during her first 28 days, and gives lots of great advice including "don't put a lot of pressure on yourself and have fun".
Tuff Socks Naturally: Shropshire
Rebecca's Tuff Socks Naturally project has become a regular feature here, and why not.
She's trying to evaluate various breeds and spinning techniques for toughness and washability, as more natural alternatives to superwash and nylon, and invites you to join her.
She's very pleased with these socks from rare breed Shropshire.
Please use the hashtag #tuffsocksnaturally when searching for (or posting) pictures on this subject.
Margaret Stove, New Zealand's lacemaker to royalty
This fascinating article contains an extract from one that appeared in Summer 2013's Spin-Off.
Margaret is known in the spinning community but achieved fame when New Zealand's gifts on the birth of Prince William and his son Prince George were lace shawls designed and made by Margaret.
The article contains some detail about the way that she prepares and pulls apart locks of wool and spins them (holding the butt end - CR 'spinning from the lock' under Tips and Tutorials). It made me want to pick up some locks and spin them because it's something I've not yet mastered.
Spindles grow on trees
"A craftsman of fine spindles looks at a forest of trees or a woodpile in much the same way that a spinner views sheep in a field", says Kathy Augustine.
Each piece of wood has its own properties. For spindles, wood is often chosen for its grain or colour. What's your favourite spindle made from?
Wool Exploration: Romney
This is certainly an outstanding year for projects which highlight British wool.
The latest breed in the KnitBritish Wool Exploration is Romney. "extremely versatile, with personality and charisma", says the Fleece and Fibre Sourcebook. There's lots more information here about the breed, where to get some and how to take part in the exploration.
The cost of fleece
Beth says that she feels "gratitude to small farmers who are raising sheep and sometimes saving breeds from complete extinction".
In this article she gives some examples of the costs of keeping a sheep (in America) and it's clear that the price that you might be asked for a fleece is just a fraction of what it's cost to keep the sheep in a small flock for a year. Even given the value of the lamb for resale, it's no wonder that farmers are having to find efficiencies in order to avoid making a loss.
Do you keep a small flock for business or hobby reasons here in the UK? I'd love to hear via the HSN forum about whether the information in Beth's article is a reflection of the costs here in the UK.
Yarn is not for the birds
katknit of danceswithwools has posted these points which apparently appeared first at Interweave.com, but I've not succeeded in finding that original article.
The message is that putting out yarn may be bad for birds. I do remember being taught that it's good to put out waste fleece which I guess is just what they'd find naturally.
There are a number of points here about why yarn itself might be harmful to them.
2018 Flax Project
This picture may get your pulse up if you're a keen gardener. It's flax, which Goldilox has previously tried and failed to turn into yarn, but is more confident this time.
Flax is suited to our climate here in the UK, so you may like to join her if it's not too late to plant the seeds this year. I'll be watching the progress of these plants with interest and hope that she is able to succeed in spinning the fibre.
comment on any of this
Places to Visit
History Makers: Knockando Woolmill
Knockando Woolmill (Moray, Scotland) was in a dilapidated state but A-listed as a site of international importance.
This video is delightful, it contains lots of information about the history and its restoration, some historic footage of the strict owner and cheeky workers, and some fascinating glimpses of spinning and weaving machinery being taken apart and restored.
As the video suggests, the restoration of the mill has been for production reasons, but they also provide a visitor experience.
Thanks to 1764 Shepherdess for sharing.
John Arbon's annual Mill Open Weekend
Readers of the full issue who are closer to the other end of the country should note that John Arbon's annual Mill Open Weekend is this coming weekend, Sat 19 & Sun 20 May.
If you're interested in the factory tour, it's important to book.
A visit to Cold Harbour Mill
Thanks to Sue for posting pictures and words about her visit to Cold Harbour Mill, Devon.
"Spinners and Weavers offer a nice demonstration and talk to show the visitor how the wool is taken through each stage from spinning, skeins, cones, warping and weaving"
They spin and weave to produce cloth. Although the mill doesn't process fleece any more, they do have machinery on display.
Tips and tutorials
Butt first? Spinning from the lock
Did I use this story simply so that I could use the heading 'butt first'? I'm not saying.
People disagree on the question of whether to spin with the tip of the fibre or the cut end facing forward. Anne Merrow gives the main reason (scales) why you might want to choose one way or the other.
Although the title mentions locks, if you want to be very careful to maintain the direction of the fibres while drum carding, I guess this all applies there too.
How to Make Bulkier Yarn with Chain-Plying
If your yarn is significantly thinner than a pattern calls for, you could hold multiple strands, but here's another suggestion, which is to chain-ply the plied yarn. (I guess this makes a kind of cabled yarn.)
April is using the technique here for bulkiness, but it's also useful to change the colour effect; April links to another tutorial where she uses the technique to turn a dyed yarn into a marled yarn.
April is starting with commercial yarn here, but I think that her many tips will apply equally to your handspun plied yarn.
Metal mordants and modifiers on plant dyed wool
The countryside, gardens and roadsides have recently been yellow with dandelions as they've responded to the brief bouts of warm sunny weather. It's possible to use the flowers to dye yarn a bright yellow as shown here in Fran's picture.
You may know that different mordants can affect the final colour, but did you know that using certain solutions as a mordant or with the mordant can also vary the colour that you get?
Fran gives loads of information here about using iron and copper with striking results.
6 Reasons why storage bobbins make my yarn better
Jillian Moreno gives some very good reasons here on the Schacht blog for transferring yarn onto storage bobbins. The bobbins she's using don't look as if they hold very much yarn, which would seem to make for a lot of time spent rewinding and breaking your singles up into shorter lengths.
However, she does list no less than six benefits of adopting her regime.
Guide to drum carders
I didn't know that you could buy porcupine quills, but apparently they make a great tool for extracting those rogue fibres - strong and pointy enough to probe in between the teeth without doing harm to the carding cloth.
Useless information: I used to think that they were called 'porky-pines' because they resembled little pigs. Which of course they aren't and they don't.
There are loads of drum carding tips in here for the beginner and experienced alike.
It's not a new link but I hadn't seen it so thanks to April for sharing.
Getting to know your commercial fiber
You may have noticed when you buy commercially-prepared wool that it's sometimes pretty compact compared to when you've combed and dizzed it yourself.
Jillian Moreno gives a sample a bit of steam from her kettle and says that the fibres spring to life, which gives you an idea of what the fibres are really like. I'd be a little afraid of felting, but these pictures speak for themselves and Jillian says that the "steamed fibres would make for different spinning experiences and a different yarn".
Spinning with Thread
Letting go of control is difficult but sometimes the key to success.
Jillian demonstrates how she has used three different techniques to ply some "fab batts" with silver sewing thread to make 'racing stripe singles, auto wrap singles and thread-plied yarn.
Why clothes don't fall apart
As spinners we know that adding twist locks fibres together. It's what we do.
Gallileo noted in 1638 that "the very act of twisting causes the threads to bind one another in such a way that... when the rope is stretched... the fibers break rather than separate from each other"
The actual science of why fibres lock together when twisted, so strongly that they break rather than slip apart, has apparently remained a puzzle to this day.
A new study has modeled yarn as operlapping fibres and have seen a "percolation transition" which accounts for the strength.
This new understanding could help to produce better threads by blending various fibres.
The *real* reason he won't have his daughter there is that it's bad enough having his ewes ridiculing his performance without his daughter laughing too.
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
I've recently added a few more older cartoons to the Yvonne jigsaws that you can play on your computer or tablet.
Thank you very much if you've had a go at any of these, particularly to the one or two people who've written to tell me that they've enjoyed them.
I've set them up with 35 - 42 pieces, just the right number for a coffee-break challenge and you gradually reveal the cartoon.
Keeping this wheel spinning
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Sometimes just a picture is enough
Knitted dog fur bracelet
This beaded cuff was made by Thread Head Joanne using fur from a friend's dogs (Kerry Blue Terriers).
She says that the yarn was easy to spin, "the yarn soft, with a nice shine and halo".
Joanne provides a link to the pattern that she used.
Handspun Lunar Phase shawl
This is catsnrabbits' finished Lunar Phase shawl. She's used handspun yarn which included fibre from Hobbledehoy Classic Batts, Fluffy Owl Polwarth/Bamboo/Tussah, IndigoDragonfly 70/30 SWM/silk pencil roving.
Thanks to AsKatKnits as she posted pictures of the first finished Lunar Phase shawl that I saw. Kat and others have mentioned that they're not sure how to take pictures that best show off the finished shawl in all its glory!
So if you're on Ravelry, do take a look at catsnrabbits' pictures as there are several, including some of the whole opened-out garment.
I'm not clear about whether the pattern is available to buy, or whether the only option is to take part in the make-a-long. I'm sure Larissa will be happy to answer the question if you're interested.
Gradient mermaid tunic
This is Team HSN woollyelly's Mermaid top. The pattern is Nagarray by Ayako Monier, which has long sleeves (but you can obviously make them 3/4 or short as Elly has done here.)
She plied a Hilltop Cloud gradient pack with a braid of alpaca / silk. The spinning and knitting is great work.
I really like this pattern and will probably sneak it in again as a pattern suggestion in future.
This beautiful picture shows a lady called Inga posing in traditional Norwegian dress with her carders and spinning wheel.
The picture was posted by Instagram user mamacimino, great-granddaughter of Inga. Many thanks to her for sharing.
This month's sexy spindle shot rather unusually shows the spinner too.
This more up-to-date portrait is a painting of beckyinvt. She made the costume and sat for the painted portrait.
Another side of the moon
The rather cryptic caption here is 'another side of the moon'. I don't know whether it refers to the design, which seems to show a fox and a lamb, both asleep, or whether it just means that we're looking at the reverse side of the wheel.
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A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.
Skellington by Kim Hartmann
The yarn in this example isn't handspun but it looks as if it could be. The designer says that she's going to try handspun fingering-weight yarn with this pattern next.
Kim takes issue with skimpy shawls. "Forever falling off my shoulders and into a puddle or more predictably, my coffee cup."
Skellington makes a relatively small amount of yarn into a big wrappy shawl that will stay put. It will work with "any weight yarn if you adjust the needle size to get proper drape".
Old Way Gansey by Ann Budd
I'm not hugely enamoured with all of the patterns in this collection of knitting patterns for men but this traditional-looking gansey pattern looks excellent (if a little baggier in this picture than they're traditionally worn).
The link to this collection appears in this article from Interweave, along with several more good suggestions for 'sweaters men will actually wear'
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Sparkle Cardigan by Joji Locatelli
When a new pattern comes out it's always good to see someone start to make one in handspun yarn. (In this case, Rachel of Welfordpurls, so I look forward to seeing pictures of that.)
As it's made from fingering-weight yarn, it does require a good yardage, probably over 1000 if you're anything bigger than a 'small'. There are nine sizes from XS to 5XL.
In a single colour or slight variegation it'll look elegant enough to go with a smart outfit.
Wingspan by maylin Tri'Coterie
Wingspan has been very popular with hand spinners. The one pictured is tmkr's. Her project shows her yarn too which is spun from Polwarth/Mulberry Silk club fibre.
The pattern claims to be 'deceptively simple' and that's borne out in the Ravelry difficulty rating. It comes as an eBook with three modifications.
tmkr helpfully notes that each repeat takes around 10g of yarn (when using her yarn, but she doesn't say what thickness).
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Handmade textile weeds and other overlooked plants printed with found images
Miranda van Dijk prints faces from found images onto her handmade plants. She deliberately uses plants that some consider weeds combined with pictures of "sensitive women".
There is a number of images here. Miranda's book is in Dutch but it contains poems to accompany her works.
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half oot afore i' da left
For fine-art aficionados, Vivian Ross-Smith has made a collection of work exploring the family ties and history of Mull and Shetland.
The works include painting, textiles, metalwork and sculpture and explore "life, death, illness, healing, and dependency through crofting imagery, the handwriting of her mother and grandfather, and the artist's personal memories of life and loss"
The exhibition runs from April 6 to June 1 at An Tobar arts centre in Tobermory, Isle of Mull.
Vivian's website has good pictures of the works.
Woolly Worstead 2018
Saturday 16 - Sunday 17 June 2018, Weavers' Workshop, Dilham, Norfolk
Sheep-shearing demos, crochet, knitting, spinning, weaving, felting- demos and "have a go", alpacas and donkeys to feed and pet.
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
Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator
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