Hand Spinning News
As we pick up the pieces after Spinzilla, we clearly haven't stopped spinning though we may have been spending more time knitting with the monster pile of yarn.
As the weather is getting nippier, it's a happy coincidence that the patterns this month and finished projects include a few cardigans.
October was Slow Fashion October and this month is - what else? Wovember. Read on to find out about these projects plus loads more.
This is the full unedited version of Hand Spinning News for November 2015.
Photo right: Handspun Mitt and Bee by knitpotion. Cover photo Wang Juzheng's Spinning Wheel (public domain)
- News and events
- From Blogland
- Tips and tutorials
- Product reviews
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
News & Events
Put your skills to the test
There are many different spinning challenges around but this is an interesting concept.
On entry, each spinner receives 2oz (50g) of Vermont wool and a sample skein. The challenge is to spin yarn that's as similar as possible to the sample. This removes all other variables; fibre, colour etc, just leaving the judges to compare the spinners' skills in producing exactly the required yarn.
The Vermont wool is pin-drafted and has a staple of over 5 inches, making it a joy to spin.
Unfortunately I've been told that the entry kits are now sold out but in future years they may take more entries and open it up worldwide. In the mean time, do read Kate Larson's blog post which contains more details, and look out for more news about this particular competition.
Wovember wool-a-long 2015
Wovember isn't (as I first thought) about weaving, but celebrating wool in all ways.
I'm a little late with this one, but there's still time to knit, crochet, sew, weave, felt, spin or wear 100% wool.
If you want to get cracking, there are some prizes, including the project with maximum sheepiness!
And / or you could stalk or participate in the Wovember Ravelry group.
From the Blogosphere
Making pi and wearing it too
It's so good to read about someone enjoying knitting a project from start to finish, and that comes through here. "I want to spin and knit more of these ... It is one of the most soothing knits imaginable", says earthchick.
I've often wondered how one wears a circular shawl, and here are many ways, let me count them.
The handspun singles are shown in the post, the 4 oz of fibre seems to have gone a very long way and made a large circular shawl.
Sheep, sheep, sheep
If you're interested in keeping sheep of your own, or in the Ouessant breed then this post will inspire you.
Corrie of Plutonium Muffins has taken delivery of four mules and four Ouessants. Her competition to name them is now closed but you'll enjoy reading about some of the basic requirements. In a more recent post Corrie has posted a video showing off all of these girls.
When cut into thin strips, kozo goes a long way and spins into a fine yarn. Woven, the yarn makes a very convincing fabric.
The Terrible Knitters of Dent
knitting history *and* a completely true vampire story in one post? Perfect! Thanks to Jenn for her research on the Terrible Knitters which she has obviously found very distracting.
This relates to Jenn's interest in knitting sheaths. More on that topic here.
Plying with purpose
The owner of this braid discovered when she unwound it, that it contained more pink than she'd anticipated.
Her friend woolandchocolate had a plan. She separated the colours so that the pink only appeared in one single (avoiding pink meeting pink in the plying) and split one single more times than the other (fractal spinning) to blend the colours.
Click through for more details and the successful result.
Slow Fashion October
I started to notice some stuff around tagged #slowfashionoctober. The movement is not just about making your own clothes (that's very slow fashion in my case) but spending more on things that will last (the concept of 'cost per wear' is very useful here) taking pride in mends, sustainability and not playing the 'current trends' game.
As spinners, I think this movement is right up our street.
I'll let Fringe Association pick up the story.
Slow thinking: a slow wardrobe
As an antidote to last month's 'man who made an entire suit' and continuing the slow fashion theme, here's mending wizard tomofholland wearing socks, trousers (not knitted) jumper and gloves made by himself.
He discusses his own 'slow wardrobe'.
Mythic crafters with the power of life and death
Thanks once more to Roving Crafter Jenn, who pulls on her cowgirl boots for Halloween and tells us in her own inimitable style why everyone should be nice to women who play with yarn.
The North Hat
Simone has long been an inspiration to me, her finished projects are often striking and this is no exception.
White against a variegated background works really well, especially with a wintry scene like this one. She's combined her handspun with commercial yarn here.
Rebecca of chemknits loved the deep tones in this club fibre. As a personal challenge she set herself a target of getting 400 yards from this 100-and-a-bit grammes of Polwarth/silk.
Click through for lots of pictures of her progress and to find out whether she made it.
Natural gradient beauties
This is the second of two posts on the KnitBritish blog showcasing some inspirational images featuring gradients in natural shades.
Adventures with Babydoll Southdown wool
It's so good to see a youngster with enthusiasm for wool as well as the necessary dedication.
iriegemini agreed to mentor the daughter of a friend through her grade 8 school project. We see the selection of the Babydoll Southdown fleece and scouring but sadly only a distant picture of the finished work.
At long last
Nice work, Sarah, with a thick single like this it's difficult to get a consistent yarn but this looks very neat.
One potential problem with a single is that it's not balanced by another ply, and so there's a risk of biasing when knitted. She's done everything she can to combat this; letting it rest, soaking and drying and she also let it felt slightly (fulling).
There's a link to the original braid of fibre, which gives some idea of the colour progression through this yarn.
The finished hat is here, she enjoyed knitting it (to the point of obsession) and learned some things about knitting with handspun.
Tips and tutorials
Grist - it is really important
I'm grateful to Rachel for this great article about something I've rarely read about. Or maybe I've subconsciously skipped over because it looks complicated!
She makes a point which sums things up very well, "sometimes 'beginner' yarns can be identified as handspun immediately due to the heaviness".
I've noticed that certain finished projects have been heavy, and that some of my more recent yarn has been squishier and lighter (even though I've been using combed top and trying to keep the fibres parallel).
What we're talking about here is grist, and if you're at the stage where you've started to think about these things, then this is a most worthwhile read.
Handspun, now what?
Sara of Webs asks what you'll be making with your Spinzilla yarn and offers some useful tips for finding the perfect pattern for your handspun yarn (whenever you spun it).
If you're a weaver, there's a companion post called what to weave weave with your handspun
A strategy for moths
We spinners tend to work with wool and alpaca as well as luxury fibres such as cashmere. These fibres are apparently tasty to the clothes moth and so there's a possibility of finding a hole like this in your hand spun, hand knitted garment.
Spinnerlady has listed the measures you might take - preventative and remedial.
How to recycle yarn
These tips will apply whether you're recycling some commercial knitwear or frogging one of your own projects.
Grace of Webs has written this guide. As spinners we're familiar with making and setting skeins but there are some other useful tips in there too.
Mastter Magic Loop Knitting - free guide and patterns
I'm a fan of double-points, I've now settled on an effective way to prevent laddering but I've never given magic-loop a serious try.
It looked to me as if the stitches would still 'pull' as much at your magic loops as they would with dpns. But as Kathleen explains and demonstrates in the accompanying video for this guide, because the adjacent stitch is around a thin cable rather than a needle, the stitch can tighten a little, allowing the yarn to pull without making permanent slack between those stitches.
This free guide contains instructions as well as three patterns, a hat, socks and mitts. The video is on the download page.
Top three reasons to try an electric spinner
I've only ever had good feedback from those who've bought an eSpinner.
I'm not sure that Linda has picked the best 3 reasons for trying an eSpinner; there are two reasons in the text of the article which I think are more compelling - a. to save your dodgy knee / ankle and b. the fact that you can position yourself in relation to the spinner however best suits you - your feet don't need to be over treadles.
There are more tips and advice in this article.
Making your own gradient yarn
Following on from the KnitBritish look at natural gradient beauties, here's a tutorial for making a gradient using yarn that you already have in your stash.
Louise takes us through how to make a 'magic ball' and has some very good tips for picking the right colours.
The Modern Natural Dyer by Kristine Vejar
Thanks to Kristin for her review of what looks like a very useful new book.
The book seems to cover dying of fabric as well as yarn, plus some interesting ideas such as contact dyeing with flowers. I don't sew but I know that many spinners do.
The review has many shots of pages from the book, it looks beautifully laid-out with excellent photography.
Keeping this wheel spinning
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Sometimes just a picture is enough
Handspun Handknit goodness
I love this picture so much; handsome boys in handsome handspun handknit jumpers.
This link could be under 'free patterns' because the Flax jumper by Tin Can Knits is a perfect first jumper, it's seamless and suits any age and any gender.
This picture shows how the simple design allows beautiful colours in handspun yarns to speak for themselves.
I've said it a number of times but rahardjo continues to inspire me with her fine yarn, often spindle spun, in lovely solid or semi-solid colours.
As usual, this is an ambitious project, a smashing pattern but unfortunately despite a high rating, it seems to be no longer available.
Handspun mitt and bee
No info on the handspun mit but a superb photo.
It's not immediately obvious, but this handspun top is doll-size. It has involved picking-up and cables (proper cables, on the back).
WigletZ uses sewing-thread thickness yarn and 1mm needles for the mini-me garments.
Click through for front and back, and some tiny lace mitts too.
Sheep to Sweater - Prairie Rose shawl 2
A month or two ago we saw the Spinning Shepherd's Prairie Rose shawl, which had an attractive variegated effect as a result of blending fibres.
This shawl has a similar effect, not dyed fibres this time, the fleece came from a ouessant ewe offering various shades in the same fleece.
Blubberblasen: a hat with(out) a pattern
Although Nadia gives the pattern as Blubberblasen by Andrea Ludwig, she had trouble downloading the pdf and instead looked up the bubble stitch and improvised the rest of the hat.
We're still in the aftermath of Spinzilla and this is a really nice set of pictures showing an attractive braid of fibre, the resulting singles and plied yarn.
It's always useful to see the same singles 3-plied and navajo-plied.
No details about the yarn or the construction (in places it looks plaited) so we'll have to just admire it as it is.
Large shawl in hand spun acrylic yarn
After a mention last month of a dye especially for acrylic yarn, Pat contacted me about this shawl that she's spun and knitted from acrylic fibre, bought at the Stitch/Craft/Hobby show in Birmingham last year.
Besides being easier to wash than wool, acrylic is great for people who can't wear wool, and the fibre is useful for spinners who can't touch wool.
In July we saw Louisa's Larch cardy, an appealing pattern that she made in a tweedy alpaca and merino mix.
She has had enough of the yarn left over to make three more smaller projects, a dragonfly wings shawl, a beret and fingerless mitts, all using free patterns (links in her post). That's quite a matching outfit!
Interestingly, the beret is a pattern worked by measurement rather than number of stitches (thus working for any yarn and needle size). Louisa notes one drawback of this method, the fact that you're measuring before blocking (I think setting your yarn is important between spinning and knitting).
Spinning project bag
No pattern here, just an idea.
I don't think the construction of the bag is important, but a suitable strap makes a useful wool holder to save the bending!
This decorative doily has been made by Jennifer Cantwell from 'Sgt Pepper's' for artistic purposes but if you're of the more practical persuasion, cassette tape (audio and video) has been used effectively for bags and other items. Just knit or crochet straight from the cassette.
Thanks to KnitHacker for sharing.
Featuring this pattern here has become an annual tradition. According to Ravelry, it's an incredibly popular pattern.
This is Laura's second set of handspun Smittens and she enjoyed making them so much, she's planning a third set.
The variety of colours here shows how useful the little mittens are for using up small amounts of yarn.
It's a versatile pattern too, the mittens can be numbered and contain small gifts to be used as an advent calendar, hung as a garland or tree decoration, or made into a wreath.
The pattern is here, Laura's handspun set is after the link below.
This is anna_of_the_woods' first pair of handspun socks. No word on the pattern or the yarn but I like the pattern and I like the way she's started in exactly the same point in the colour repeat at each toe (if these were top-down I'll be very impressed!)
Another great picture showing how fractal spinning can produce some really interesting striping.
A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.
Madge is part sweater, part wrap, which appeals to me greatly, being a fan of the off-centre and unconventional in all walks of life.
It's made in a worsted-weight wool or wool blend.
Garter Stitch Slippers
Amy recommends these slippers as a nice and "truly simple" pattern, although she made this first pair much more laborious than necessary (details in the blog post).
The pattern is here and free.
Dragon Wing Cowl by Jessie Rayot - knit and crochet patterns
I can see this pattern in a dark semi-solid handspun yarn and I definitely will make one. (My growing queue is making me wish there were more hours in the day).
It has a very unusual shape which really does look like a dragon's wing. The 'veins' are a tricky dropped-stitch technique. It has an intermediate skill level.
Good news for crocheters, the pattern is available in both knit and crochet versions, both free.
Thanks to ewespecial for the tip.
Squish Slouch, one skein crochet hat
This hat is meant to be big and slouchy, "saving your cold weather hairdo".
It uses a special stitch - the Split Bullion which makes the squishy fabric. There's a very good video explaining how to make the stitch.
If you like the bulkiness of this hat, there's a matching cowl, see the link in the first sentence.
Turquoise Glacier with Splash of Blue
Dentaurus had to make some small modifications to the pattern because she ran out of her main colour too soon.
This one is made in fingering-weight yarn, BFL / Tussah Silk from HilltopCloud but the pattern has instructions for a heavier weight yarn too.
The increases are made with yarn-overs and short-rows produce the wedge-shapes.
Quivira Coat by Meghan Babin
An ambitious project, especially if you're spinning the yarn yourself, but if cables hold no fear for you (or you'd like to learn) and can put in the spinning and knitting time then this will be a great project. I think cables are timeless, but if you do care about such things then you'll be 'on trend' this season.
It'll suit taller girls and the belt will help it to flatter your figure.
Ribby Number 2
This is DistelFliege's second Ribby and she enjoyed it so much that she wants to cast on another right away.
This one is for her partner, "he likes it and finds it very warm and comfortable!"
The not-free pattern is here, Distelfliege's photos at the link below:
Hand spun, knit and dyed Starling
Another cardy, hand dyed too this time. I like the pattern and the colour.
The pattern is Starling by Cecily Glowik MacDonald and unusually, Lynne knit the cardy using white handspun Polwarth yarn and then dyed after the knitting was done. Pictures of the whole process are also in her Instagram photos
Happy spinning and don't be a stranger!
Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator
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