Hand Spinning News
Our cover photo this month reflects the fact that we make a couple of visits to small mills; with Jenn to deliver her Norfolk Horn fleeces, an interview with a mill owner plus a bonus visit to a skeining and balling facility, with thoughts on the challenges of single-ply yarns.
There's lots of natural dyeing this month including acorns, mushrooms, madder, onion skins, as well as 'unnatural' dyeing; finished projects in Kool-Aid and easter egg dyes.
The subject of remaking also pops up in this month's bumper crop of stories. One blogger thinks long and hard about what to do with a jumper of great sentimental value that doesn't fit or suit, and about a beloved pair of socks now beyond the repair stage.
Read on for this month's collection of spinning-related news, views, cues and reviews; patterns, inspiration and finished projects. This is the full issue for November 2017.
Photo right: Jean Betts' naturally-dyed silk. Cover photo "spinning wheel at Fort Hawkins"Reproduction Spinning Jenny, Ratingen Industriemuseum Cromford by Wuselig used under CC BY-SA 4.0
- In the news
Remembrance and decadence
Further thoughts and feelings following the recent worldwide spinning event
- From Blogland
Interview, gift suggestions, unusual tools, fun facts
- Tips and tutorials
Ways to wear, keeping coy, predrafting and punis
Magic ball and favourite wool books
Showing off some of the best images I've seen 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
Hannah Ryggen: Woven Histories
Hannah Ryggen's tapestries are made from hand carded, hand spun and naturally-dyed yarns. She responded to the socio-political events of her time.
Hannah is largely unknown outside of Scandinavia. This exhibition now showing at Oxford is "a series of dramatic works from the 1930s and '40s responding to the horror and violence of fascism - themes that hold fresh resonance today".
The exhibition runs from 11 November 2017 - 18 February 2018 at Modern Art Oxford, Pembroke St, OX1 1BP
Thanks to adelemoon for the tip, who was "so excited to stumble upon this amazing exhibition".
Sterling Silver Ball Of Yarn
This story has appeared everywhere, and I'm not afraid to jump onto a moving bandwagon.
Many of the other objects in Tiffany's collection are fully functional, but I've not discovered whether the $9000 ball of yarn made of "handspun strands of textured sterling silver" is flexible enough to knit with.
Reactions online vary from "proof that the trend in expensive crap has gone too far" to "It's perfect and I need it!"
Tiffany & Co themselves claim to be "rendering the ordinary extraordinary".
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Spinzilla wrap-up party and spin-in
Team SweetGeorgia achieved 13th place with 100,367 yards
Felicia writes about the team's 'wrap-up party and spin-in'.
"Spinners brought their handspun yarns and we did a little impromptu show-and-tell around the room."
The team photo is a very clever mosaic picture of a spindle made out of smaller pictures of the team's faces and skeins.
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From the Blogosphere
Colour me happy
These are the results and notes from Jean Betts' recent natural dyeing. She used home-grown madder root, pomegranate, cochineal (I guess the cochineal bugs were not home-grown)
She plans to spin the silk together.
In this later post there are pictures of Jean beginning to separate the dyed hankies and pull them into roving.
Gift suggestions for your favourite spinner
Unfortunately there are no pictures in Beth's post, you have to click all the links in turn, but there are some gems in there. Some of the suggested sites are in US, some over here. This is a good list of gift ideas.
Norfolk goes to the mill
This is not just a regular visit to a mill, Jenn was delivering Norfolk Horn fleece for processing and spinning.
Following her articles about Norfolk Horn fleece, and discovering that the fleece worth half its shearing cost to the wool marketing board (clearly the WMB could be better at living up to their name) Jenn spends a few days at Gressenhall Farm. She had a go at shearing, and then took her "Three bags full" to the mill with a view to producing an 'economically sustainable' yarn.
Found! A squirrel-cage swift
This post contains a number of photos which take a close look at a squirrel cage swift.
This type of swift is sturdy and can handle variety of skeins. This one is very old and well-worn but still functional.
In defence of our friend the alpaca
Alpaca fibre, like the animal, has some particular characteristics. Some spinners advocate blending it with other fibres rather than using it on its own.
LBHandknits sets out to bust some myths and gives some tips for using 100% alpaca.
Slowtober: Remaking 2
Socks are more precious when made from handspun yarn but they inevitably gain holes over time.
This pair have been repaired but need more serious work.
Rebecca has found a way to make them into a pair of "wearable, durable handspun socks which preserve the original spindle-spun-Jillybean-Blue-Faced-Leicester-travel-memento-yarn-and-knitting".
She is determined to think more about durability when making socks and has invented the hashtag #tuffsocksnaturally for people to share their thoughts and experiences in this area.
A special shawl
I think I've featured articles dealing with the two parts of Icelandic wool before,
lopi (unspun) yarns mix the tog and thel of Icelandic wool. The Uppspuni project aims to produce a different type of quality soft Yarn
thefibersprite tried some batts containing a creamy white thel. There are pictures here showing the spinning in progress, the yarn and a beautiful shawl made to a suitably Icelandic pattern.
Fun fibre facts for everyone
Did you know that the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary was once thought to be both animal and vegetable? A lamb was supposed to be connected to this plant by an umbilical cord.
For trivia fans, this and many other fun fibre facts appear on this page.
It's more difficult to spin thicker yarn more evenly, but Katrina says "there's something about spinning thicker yarns that is so very gratifying."
Gratifying means fast - she spun this skein in an hour and a half.
There are pictures here of the original braid of dyed fibre, and then little nests, split for fractal spinning. See how the colours play out.
A day in the life of a fiber mill owner
Following nicely from Jenn's mill trip, Jessica Cook speaks to Kim Biegler of Ewethful Fiber Farm & Mill
"I love going to work every day. I fall asleep thinking about what the next day will bring and what potential there is to accomplish in the day", says Kim, and gives her thoughts on starting such a business.
Making Milarrochy Tweed
The importance of finishing and presentation is often overlooked.
Kate Davies gives us a glimpse into the workings and history of a skeining and balling mill, and discusses the specific issues with single-ply yarn such as her own Milarrochy Tweed.
Slowtober: Remaking 4
Also on the topic of remaking, Rebecca has long been wondering what to do with this jumper of great sentimental value.
She now has a solution that preserves the stitches that her friend made.
The lovely colour here comes from acorns. Sarah shares lots of good information about the process. She used iron to make the colour more grey.
She acknowledges that the end result looks underwhelming, but says 'watch this space' as she has the perfect use for the subtle colour that she achieved.
Kool-Aid dyed wool scarf, eight years later
"I've had high-end sock yarns fade like the colours were created with washable markers", says Evin.
So when you dye your own yarn you want to make sure it lasts.
She takes a look at a scarf that she made from Kool-Aid dyed fibre eight years ago. The colours have lasted, and she gives her top tip for colour-fastness.
Bow used for fiber prep
I've watched this video with interest, but I'm still not very clear about how the bow is being used in the preparation of this fleece. There are some comments but they don't help much.
The women are from Dagestan. If anyone knows what the bow does, do use the HSN forum to enlighten.
Why don't you speak for yourself?
Thanks to Hilltop Katie for sharing this picture from Peabody Essex Museum. The delightful sculpture illustrates a scene from a possibly-true story of Plymouth pilgrims.
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Tips and tutorials
How to make gifts and still post on social media
It's 'that' time of year. But we like to share what we're doing.
Here's how to post to social media while being coy about what you're making and avoid completely spoiling the surprise.
Candy for spinners: carding wool punis
Punis have become a popular way to buy fibre, and I can tell you that spinning longdraw from carefully-prepared punis is very fast and satisfying.
Here are two methods of making punis for spinning without a blending board; the first with hand carders, the second using only dowels
Yarn Review: Be Sweet Magic Ball
Believe it or not, this is not handspun yarn but multi-textured 'magic-ball' yarn. A very interesting yarn and results.
The advertising blurb says that it's "a divine arrangement of hand dyed boucle and brushed mohair yarns tied with knobby, ribbon, and metallic goodies."
Angela reviews this yarn which may be inspiration for creative art yarn?
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Sometimes just a picture is enough
Felted socks into star decorations
adelemoon has found an interesting use for this pair of socks that accidentally went into the washing machine.
She says "I was super chuffed to find a non-superwash yarn for socks but felting is still an issue".
Congratulations to Kate Davies' husband Tom whose stunning photographs you may have seen on Kate's blog.
My little thumbnail picture here is an inexpertly-cropped detail from Tom's photograph which he took for a competition and has had shortlisted. Click through for the larger version.
The theme of the competition is Made by Britain, Loved by the World. He chose the topic of Shetland wool which fits the theme perfectly.
Kate is equally pleased that the topic of Shetland wool is having exposure in a bigger manufacturing context.
The most amazing sweater ever!!!
chrome64 made this long cardigan from "only spindle handspun yarns, made entirely out of sample size bits of wool, from Phat Fiber, Fibreholics, and anyone who wants to chip in some pretty wool".
She took only 8 weeks to make it.
Thanks to Knithacker for sharing
Handspun cowl with stitchable sheep button
Katrinkles' stitchable wooden buttons, tools and jewellery have certainly been a hit.
Here the maker herself uses one on a handpun cowl that her Mum made her,
Teatime Creations (ravelry : jhey) had to work fast to finish this shawl for a wedding, hindered by falling a little short of yarn. She finished it in time using a matching yarn for the last few rows.
The fibre used is a HIlltop Cloud gradient pack, pattern is Tilia by Lene Tøsti
So Faded sweater
Here's Katy / katrinkles again, this time showing very effective use of a gradient. She's added button tabs to the handspun jumper.
The pattern is So Faded by Andrea Mowry, a top-down seamless jumper with long or elbow sleeves. Fibre was from Classy Squid.
Handspun Monica Shawl
Rahardjo has been a real inspiration but she has naturally found less time for crafting since the birth of her daughter.
So I'm delighted to see this recently-finished handspun Monica Shawl. Yarn: handspun pumpkin merino knit on 2.5mm needles.
The link to the pattern on Ravelry appears to be broken but I did find a list of mystery knit-a-long clues here which may well give you the full pattern.
Handspun Jacobs cowl
Thanks to scruffydogyarn for sharing this cowl. "Jacob raw fleece to handcombed top to handspun yarn to knitting to accessory".
Natural dye experiments
Proving that natural dyeing doesn't always produce bland beiges and grungey greens, this is siljadevine's natural dyeing experiments for this summer. I'm not sure whether it's all personally-gathered plants, lichen and fungi but some is.
N-plyed sock yarn
Beautiful colours and beautifully-spun navajo-plied sock yarn.
tiggulino says, "I hope it's enough yarn for socks".
Rug hooking with handspun
the1764shepherdess says that rug hooking is such a good way to use up scraps and paint with your wool.
I was intrigued by the tool but a quick Google search turned up where to buy it and the odd Youtube video.
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A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.
Free patterns, sweet sweet wine
I misread the title (spectacularly) as 'Free wine' which of course attracted my attention.
The page does however contain two wine bottle sleeves, one knit, one crocheted, which will be useful over Christmas or make good gifts.
Julevotter Advent calendar by Kari Haugen
These advent calendar mitts were made by judiuni. The link below goes to the Julevotter pattern. They could be simply used as a garland, or filled with a treat for each day.
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Wooler Road by Valérie Miller
Show your love of the spinning wheel. This bottom-up and in the round pattern has two different wheel motifs to choose from, saxony and castle. It calls for an aran weight (8 wpi) yarn so will be quick to knit. sizes XS through to XXL
use coupon SPIN until the end of November to save 25% on the cost of the pattern.
Granny Squares - Dream On Duster
Use smaller amounts of yarn *and* achieve the 70s look (which is back in according to Interweave).
Dream On Duster is one of the 70s-inspired patterns in the autumn Interweave Crochet, available digitally and in print below.
Seen here modelled by Margaery Tyrell (not really but it took me too long to work out who she reminded me of not to mention the resemblance).
The autumn colours here are so lovable. The yarn looks like handspun but isn't (quite). Entropy from Feederbrook Farm is designed to mimic handspun yarn. The darker colour is Stone Soup from Knitspot.
So it's clear that the kalio cowl and lacinato cap would look fabulous in changing colours of genuine handspun yarn.
Knitspot are selling a kit containing the yarn shown in these pictures plus the three patterns. To use your own yarn, patterns are available separately.
Wishmaker Mitts by Erica Heusser
Not seasonal, but you can wish at any time of the year.
If you're blowing the seeds off a dandelion clock, I guess you're wishing that there were more dandelions in the world.
I'm kidding, I think the clocks are beautiful and as with all of Erica's designs, this such an effective pattern. Thanks to KnittingSarah for the suggestion.
Half Moon Oracle by Voolenvine
I've been watching the development of this pattern with interest and I'm very tempted.
It's a half-moon variation of Voolenvine's circular shawl of the same name. I'm sure that I'll make one or the other.
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Happy spinning and don't be a stranger!
Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator
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