Hand Spinning News
Spindle, my spindle, haste, haste thee away,
And here to my house bring the wooer, I pray.
Shuttle, my shuttle, weave well this day,
And guide the wooer to me, I pray.
Needle, my needle, sharp-pointed and fine,
Prepare for the wooer this house of mine.
How better to approach the Halloween period than with a verse From a Grimm Brothers story about a spinner with magical powers.
This month many of the the patterns and gallery projects use very bulky yarn woven, crocheted or knitted; hats, wall hangings, even a ballerina-style top.
super-bulky yarn... hoods... orange and earth-tone palettes... yes it must be October!
Read on for this month's collection of spinning-related news, views, cues and reviews; patterns, inspiration and finished projects. This is the free, edited issue for October 2017. Scroll to the bottom to find out how to receive a longer version of HSN a couple of weeks earlier.
Photo right: Autumn shawl by Maryann. Cover photo "spinning wheel at Fort Hawkins"
by Dsdugan used under CC0 1.0
Bolt Threads debuts its first product, a tie made from spider silk
The tie shown here is made from spider silk. But not harvested from actual arachnids. It's one of the first products from Bolt Threads.
Scientists have been trying for a long time to reproduce the incredibly tough yet soft material. Previous (slightly horrific) ideas include producing it in the milk of genetically enhanced goats and genetically tweaking silkworms to make their silk more like the tougher spider silk.
As previously reported, the silk of golden orb spiders has been harvested, spun and woven. but they're difficult to farm because the spiders are cannibals. Bolt's latest process involves yeast.
For those fascinated by the technology, there is a collection of pictures of Bolt's lab here which will appeal to Breaking Bad fans. There's also an excellent picture there of a couple of inches of their yarn.
For the sharp-dressed man in your life, the tie costs $314.
Twist Collective relaunch
I'm very pleased to see the Twist Collective return with a relaunch. They've teamed up with the WEBS yarn store and promise six issues per year.
The featured patterns are elegant, modern, understated colourwise with the complexity in the construction and stitches.
These are accompanied by articles, columns and tutorials.
The navigation can be confusing, I'd suggest sticking to the left-and-right arrows at each side of the window rather than the menus at the top.
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Perth Festival of Yarn and Yarndale
Celebrating Yarndale 2017
The best collection of photographs I've seen from Yarndale is (as traditionally) from Lucy herself, who is recovering from the hard work she does to make the show happen.
The order of the day is large, colourful projects and there are more each year. As well as the bunting, mandalas and general yarnbombing around the site, this year there was a yarn canal and flower meadow. A massive mandala was on display which represented one round of crocheting for each of the 365 days in 2016. Crocheted hearts from around the world raised over £1200 for MIND.
Somewhere among all of this is a wool show within Skipton Auction Market and Lucy also gives us plenty of pictures of the varied exhibitors.
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As I finish this issue of HSN, Spinzilla 2017 has finished and the members of team HSN, team Hilltop Cloud and team Weavolution (the three UK teams) are catching up on their sleep, getting their strength back and in some cases recovering from various spinning-related injuries.
This was the fifth year of Spinzilla. It's a week-long, spin-as-much-as-you-can competition aiming to promote the craft and small businesses. You can participate in teams or individually.
Team Hand Spinning News spun 203,980 'Spinzilla' yards (which counts the yardage of singles plus plying credit) and came second out of 70 finishing teams. The UK was the second highest placed country.
I'd like to thank those who supported Team HSN's endeavour; Adam Curtis, John Arbon, Wooltops, Freyalyn, Babylonglegs.
At the link below is a collection of pictures from Spinzilla 2017, team HSN UK's are here from the week's spinning.
One of the first blog posts I spotted following Spinzilla was from Goldilox, who was persuaded to take part for the first time this year.
Her post details her whole week and really gives a flavour of the event if you've been curious but not joined in yet.
Spinzilla - a learning curve
Team HSN's own thesassyspinner spun an astonishing 20696 Spinzilla yards (calculated from the total length of the singles, plus plying credit). That's nearly 12 miles.
In this post she describes her method of 'double-plying' and has more advice about how such high totals can be achieved.
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From the Blogosphere
The WEBS first spinning summit sounds like a world-class event with teachers such as Amy King, Beth Smith, Abby Franquemont and Jillian Moreno.
Plus a whole load of shopping. Jillian records the event in words and pictures on the KnittySpin blog.
Dyeing with australian natives
This is an eye-opener. These plants may not be easy to collect if you're anywhere else in the world, but Australia has some native plants that yield some beautiful colours.
Rebecca is excited about these discoveries and shares the details with us.
The most surprising natural fiber you can spin
You might touch this fibre very cautiously, given where it's come from, but there's nothing left of the sting.
Nettles are similar to hemp and flax in that the stems contain strong fibres that can be removed and spun. The process involves allowing the stems to rot (retting) to extract the fibres. Apparently you can now buy the fibre by itself or in blends.
Dyeing yarn from the grocery aisle
Rebecca of Chemknits has done a lot of work in the past with chemical food-like substances such as Kool-Aid. She has proved the stuff effective and colour-fast.
In this 'soda-series' post she has achieved some amazingly strong colour using some colourful fizzy drinks.
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Tips and tutorials
Measuring Yarn Length
I think it's very funny when someone cares this much about the correct way to say something. (I do it myself - my number one wordy bugbear is the American pronunciation of "herb" as "erb". I've heard an English friend say it, I blame television.)
Adele cares so much about the pronunciation of 'skein' that she's coloured it purple in this article.
With that straight, she goes on to discuss the best ways to create a skein, finish it and measure the yardage, which is so important if you need to know whether you have spun enough yarn for that project.
Very Berry - cabled yarn tutorial
In short, cabled yarn means plying plied yarn together. The photographs in this post show how effective this can be; close-up it really does look like tiny chains.
Rachel gives some general tips, such as seriously overply your singles because you'll lose that twist when you ply again. She also goes deeper into the maths of the situation if you like to do things by formula.
One of the top benefits of being a spinner is being able to make the perfect yarn for your project - choose the fibres, choose the colour, choose the yarn weight and grist, choose the number of plies / level of twist.
If there's a commercial yarn that you like, you can 'reverse-engineer' it. And that includes fancier yarns like Malabrigo's Caracol.
Jillian Moreno describes how she reproduced this 'bubble crepe' yarn.
How I tackle a textured spinning batt
Kate Larson tackles this very heavily textured batt and details for us how she went about it.
Review: 50 Tips From Shetland Knitters
Louise of KnitBritish reviews this DVD (also available as a digital download).
Hazel's review is thorough, in summary she says, "50 Tips from Shetland Knitters is a real masterclass from two brilliantly talented knitters and tutors".
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Sometimes just a picture is enough
Little Waffles boomerang shawl
This boomerang-shaped shawl contains over 600m of hand dyed and hand spun merino
Maker Desiree Ross says that Susan Ashcroft's designs are "a perfect match every time" for her handspun yarn.
The pattern is Little Waffles by Susan Ashcroft.
There are several pictures at the link below showing the finished shawl and the handspun yarn.
Harvest fade sweater
Thanks to Katie of Hilltop Cloud for sharing this finished project which uses one of her Fade Packs, spindle spun.
Some careful advance thought has produced perfectly-matching sleeves. Maker missalicefaye says "I read in a few places that 30% of the total yarn was needed for sleeves. Since I had 100 gram skeins, I wound off 15 grams of each color per sleeve".
The pattern is Harvest by tincanknits
Long distance trip with charkha
One of my favourite images of the month, Kate Larson uses a book charkha at the Yellowstone National Park Entrance.
Not Rebecca's usual style, the spinning technique is called 'hopscotch' (corespun using oddments) and she has made a coil-pot basket.
Handspun Aestlight shawl
The beauty of this finished project comes from both the lovely colour - Polwarth/mohair/silk from Pigeonroof Studios called "Maritime" - and from the pattern - Aestlight Shawl by Gudrun Johnston
Sara / sjmakes says "I overspun the singles and then underplied them, so the texture is a little weird."
One commenter says "perfect pattern for handspun".
Autumn mini skeins
Remarkably these skeins were dyed using walnut, spruce cones, Brazilwood, dock leaves and dandelion leaves, all (except the Brazilwood) foraged locally by scruffydogyarn.
This woven shawl in autumn colours incorporates Maryann's own handspun. It has a V shape, but is woven in one piece. The comments contain details of where to find more information about this.
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A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.
Hostkappe by Cynthia Spencer
This type of cowl does will appeal to you if, like me, you have trouble arranging a traditional shawl around your shoulders neatly and getting it to stay that way.
It's from the current Knitty online magazine.
Believe it or not, this one is commercial yarn and uses only two yarns, a plain orange and a 'transitioning' yarn. I think the cowl would look at least as attractive using handspun yarn made from a dyed braid with transitioning earthy colours.
It has some intriguing stitch patterns which add interesting textures and keep the knitting interesting.
Spiral Pumpkin crochet pattern by Fox Leaf Studio
One day I'm going to find out what pumpkin spice actually is and what it tastes like.
In the mean time, this free crochet pattern from Fox Leaf Studio proves that pumpkin decorations don't have to be 'that' particular shade of orange. Make them in any colour of yarn you have, and as a bonus, gauge is really not important.
Finger-knitted beanie hat by bean creative
Thanks to Team HSN's Lesley for this suggestion. She says, "this is one I've used for my art yarns. Very quick and easy. Ideal project for travel too."
It's more of a tutorial than a pattern, and fascinating that you knit this entirely using your fingers.
It suggests 'super chunky' yarn so I'm assuming <6wpi
Beatrice Gansey by Victoria Graham
This selection is very self-indulgent, as I've chosen to use this pattern myself.
The gansey is an iconic garment. Men in fishing communities worked, rested and played in their ganseys. They were personalised, which served as identification should the worst happen. They were close-fitting and weatherproof.
This pattern has a high star rating, but also has a high difficulty rating.
If you'd like to spin and/or knit along with me, I've set up a thread in the Hand Spinning News group, it would be great to share thoughts and information with others on the same journey.
Frabjous Collaborous Stole
I don't feature nearly enough spin / weave projects here.
Judy Pagels actually used both commercial yarn and handspun wool, but counterintuitively used the handspun as the warp and commercial yarn as the weft.
This article on Schacht e-newes gives all of the details of the spinning method and full instructions for the weaving.
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Mont Blanc Cardigan by Alexandra Tavel
This pattern looks gorgeous on the model but after viewing people's finished projects and comments, perhaps it needs to be made to a larger size than you think.
It calls for super-bulky, so once again, it's one for a very bulky handspun yarn, multiple strands or maybe a thin roving.
It uses a surprisingly low yardage of yarn, I guess that's the lack of sleeves, which does appeal to me no end.
Old Growth by tincanknits
You don't get a wider range of sizes than newborn -> 4XL.
I think that this could look quite rustic or quite smart depending on the handspun yarn choice. Either way it has the charm and interest of the buttons to one side and the lace motif.
It calls for worsted-weight yarn (9wpi) so won't be a slow knit. Thanks to caityrosey for the tip, who says "Sweaters for small ones are so satisfying.You get the enjoyment of knitting those hems and collars in record time. You get the thrill of small lace or colorwork patterns that last only long enough to be fun"
The pattern is available individually or as part of the 'Road trip' collection.
Durango Crochet Socks by Brenda Bourg
Crochet socks are less common than knitted ones. This pair are very open, giving a very airy warmth (or a 'fishnet' look if that's what you like).
They'll be fast and easy.
The price seems to vary, I'm linking to Craftsy who seem to have the lowest price in our British pounds. They suggest an orange yarn for a Halloween look. If spinning you'll need 392 yards of fingering (14wpi) weight yarn and 4mm hook.
Trapper Cowl by Lisa R. Myers
I'm quite taken by this for several reasons. I've been wanting to learn double-knit for some time. It's reversible and best of all, it doesn't have floats on one side.
This cowl has a classic 'lumberjack' check about it, so if, like me, you sleep all night and work all day, that will appeal to you. For me a slightly darker grey would do the trick there.
It uses 438 yards of worsted weight (9wpi) yarn (I'm guessing equal amounts of the two colours). The pattern is available individually or as part of an Interweave Knits collection which doesn't cost much more than the pattern.
Alexandra Ballerina Top by Stefanie Japel
The finished top in this picture does look as if it could be handspun yarn but it's Stylecraft Allsorts.
The pattern is written for a super bulky yarn (5-6wpi) or you could hold multiple strands to achieve the gauge. It's top-down, raglan sleeve.
The designer says "This feminine sweater lets you carry the airy flavor of ballet-inspired fashion into even the coldest winter months."
I've read that there are errors - some are listed in the errata and there may be others that are not, so be prepared.
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Happy spinning and don't be a stranger!
Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator
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