Wool. Live & breathe
Sci-fi is generally more about the present day than the future.
This Woolmark ad contrasts a dystopian future that has plastic-coated sheep against fresh air and real wool.
Once again, natural dyeing is a strong theme in this month's selections. It has apparently been a great year for indigo plants. We have news of the 2019 Plant Dyes for All Seasons calendar with a giveaway. Jenn's rare breed Norfolk Horn yarn is now available in a surprising range of colours from natural dyes.
It's scarf-knitting season (despite some remarkably warm weather while I've been writing this). The pattern choices this month include scarves, shawls, mittens, hats and wraps.
Read on for all of this and the rest of this month's cunning curated collection of inspirational information and entertainment for spinners, knitters, crocheters, dyers and weavers. This is the full issue for October 2018.
Photo right: vermontgirlamy's Scrappy 3-ply from leftover bobbins. The cover photo is 'getting the look' by Frantisek Duris on Unsplash
Sci-fi is generally more about the present day than the future.
This Woolmark ad contrasts a dystopian future that has plastic-coated sheep against fresh air and real wool.
Sisal is a stiff fibre usually used for flooring and rope. It is harvested from a Mexican succulent plant.
Sisal Sanctum is installed at Shoreditch as part of London Design Festival 2018. A hairy guardian stands watch as you are invited to relax in a walled area with sisal loungers and flooring.
In addition to the Selvedge article below, there are more photos at Twitter.
At 93, Eugene O'Sullivan is Ireland's oldest sheep drover. Every Summer he packs wool for local farmers as he has done for the last 80 years.
I may not have clicked the 'play' button on the video before I spotted "warning: language advisory". Who doesn't love a sweary senior? (hint: if you don't, then don't follow this link.)
I think we can probably all agree that this is a good and overdue move.
As from 1 Oct, the practice will be banned in New Zealand, even by vets using pain relief, with heavy penalties.
Often regarded as a cruel practice, it's done to prevent flystrike, a serious problem caused by a particular fly being attracted to waste products trapped in folds of skin around the animal's back end.
The fact that many of the sheep in the UK are called 'mules' causes some confusion. It has nothing to do with the surgical practice, and mulesing is already banned in the UK and Europe.
it's still practised in Australia, but a vet there has developed a cryogenic process which could replace the surgical technique.
This is the now-traditional retrospective post from organiser Lucy. It's always good to see her 'behind the scenes' shots and hear her thoughts.
The topic of this year's community project was butterflies which alone raised 2339.94 for charity.
Thanks to Lucy of Attic24 for her link to Donna's blog which gives a visitor's account of the event and some lovely photography.
This blanket is a Carpathian Lizhnyk. The people of Yavoriv make blankets from thickly-spun wool, they're heavily felted in a 'water tumbler' and then brushed to raise a long nap.
The video at the top of this page is a fascinating watch and shows a way of life and skills that are diminishing. But one weaver feels that it will never die out. "Our tradition will survive - you make yourself a spindle and you're good."
Jenn decided to produce a range of naturally-dyed colours for her Norfolk Horn yarn.
This surprisingly vibrant colour spectrum is produced using ingredients with a connection to Norfolk and grown by Jenn herself (or in the process of being grown).
electric spinners suit people who want portability or who have trouble treadling. But the big-name e-spinners are very expensive (see under 'Reviews' for a big 2018 spinning wheel round-up).
This is a fascinating interview with Maurice Ribble who designed such a machine for his girlfriend (now wife. Who wouldn't marry a man with these skills?)
Within the article is a link to Maurice's own site. He sells the standard 'Electric Eel Wheel' as well as a mini version. He appears to ship worldwide. He has also made his hardware plans and the software available as 'open source' for other makers to use for free.
This is the start of a pair of two-at-a-time, toe-up socks. Joanne made opposing-ply yarn and you can read all about that and see pictures in this blog post.
This yardage is handwoven using gradient handspun yarn for the warp but not the weft. (Yes I do have that the right way round.)
We did see Fibre Sprite Pamela's gradient yarn in a previous HSN, prepared using a blending board, but in case you can't remember that, she has put a link at the start of this article.
For weavers, there's loads of detail about the weaving and wet-finishing.
Fran thinks that the hot summer has produced indigo plants with larger leaves and more indigo in each leaf.
There's a blue theme to this article, which also discusses overdyeing grey yarn with indigo, overdyeing weld with indigo to produce green and how much slugs enjoy woad plants.
Now that we're into the season of chunky jumpers, Hayley DeBerard takes a look at the distinctive features of both.
This Nigerian page has lots of pictures of hair extensions made with Brazilian wool.
Why Brazilian wool? According to the article, it's lighter and puts less stress on the follicles, reducing the chance of headaches or damage.
If these images appeal to you, there's a mesmerising video at the bottom showing a girl deftly applying wool braids to surprisingly short hair.
Excavation of a mound in Turkey has uncovered artefacts including this spindle whorl.
It's thought to be 8,000 years old, the end of the stone age. Tools were made of stone or clay.
The title of this article refers to spun wool, although there's no mention in the text of this article.
This yarn has been dyed using ink from highlighter pens.
The yellow seemed to disappear in the presence of acid (pH sensitive) but Rebecca discovered that the dyed yarn glowed under a UV light! She suggests that it could be used to write secret messages on a sock blank.
There is a very long video but all of the information you need is in text and pictures.
I'd not heard of Russian paddles before, they appear very similar to English combs, used in the same way. They have a clever bracket that you sit on.
If you don't speak German, you may still enjoy chantimanou's enthusiastic voice. I found that Youtube's autotranslate worked well in some places but not others - find it using the little cog and then Subtitles > Autotranslate > English.
If you don't watch all of it, it's worth skipping to 3:00 . I've never seen anyone spin directly from a comb before, it made me want to try.
If you're very new to spinning, or haven't even started yet (what are you waiting for?) this may be useful.
Kerry Bogert's blog contains an extract from Abby Franquemont's book Respect the Spindle. It's a shame that it doesn't include some other popular types such as Turkish and daelgan but it answers a common question.
Spinzilla went ahead as usual this year following some controversy last year.
Goldilox decided to take part and spun 3.5 miles even with visitors coming to stay. Her comments show that an event like this is great for getting through fibre that's been stashed for a long time.
The log of her week's spinning is
There's a surprising amount of information and pictures in this Ravelry forum post.
knittinglikemadUK dyed various fibres using the greens from home-grown carrots. She then blended the dyed fibres with some other fibres including Angelina using a hackle and comb set.
There are pictures from all stages including the finished yarn.
Other label printers / embroiderers are available, but Kristin demonstrates how she used Spoonflower to design, order and use these labels. Spoonflower do ship to the UK and Ireland.
Do you love or fear your fibre stash?
Anne Merrow has four tips for dealing with these 'lost treasures'
Mom (not my Mom but somebody's) says that it's the handiest tool for yarn crafters of all types. If you're new to spinning then you may not have one yet.
In this article she lists some of the things that the simple niddy noddy can do and has a video demonstrating how to use one. If you're good at making tools or have someone nearby who is, there's also a link to an earlier tutorial for making one.
You may have seen plenty of pictures of people's solar dyeing jars in the sun, but how is it done?
Rebecca says that the technique allows the colours to absorb really slowly, giving them more time to 'break'.
She gives a full tutorial in video form.
A tahkli spindle is small and portable. They're often used for spinning cotton and downy fibres.
Using a supported spindle and spinning short fibres come with challenges. Kate Larson gives some troubleshooting tips.
Yak / silk blend isn't something that you see every day, but the main tip here applies equally to other blends which contain a long, slick fibre and a shorter, stickier fibre, such as alpaca / silk.
Janelle is making a jumper-quantity of yarn from fleece. She liked the sample that she made from hand-carded fleece and a friend offered her the use of a drum carder.
If you're curious about drum carding, this will be useful. Janelle documents the process of using the drum carder and spinning from the resulting batts.
The North Face has been selling hats and shortly jackets and scarves all made from wool that comes from a farm that works to a 'carbon plan'.
The farm goes further than simply being carbon neutral - it takes more carbon out of the air than it uses.
The "climate beneficial" hats quickly sold out.
If it was April 1, I'd be suspicious about this story.
It appears to be genuine. Recently-published research has found that wool contains proteins that can be used as a dietary supplement to improve digestion and nutrition.
If you're reaching to pop your wool scraps in your cat's bowl, wait! The wool has to go through a hydrolysis process to extract the proteins.
According to this video on the same subject, coarser wool was used in the experiment, "effectively a waste product".
"There's a lot of potential in terms of how it can add to the wellbeing of pets and other animals, and even people, but we do need to see how it stacks up in the further research", says Dr Deb-Choudhury
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.
Thank you very much if you've had a go at any of these on your computer or tablet, 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 (this most recent one has 50) - just the right number for a coffee-break challenge and you gradually reveal the cartoon.
Fran's 2017 Plant Dyes for All Seasons calendar was a huge success. She has taken two years to make the 2019 Twelve Months of Plant Dyes calendar and the result is (in her own words) "twelve of the finest pages anyone could have hanging on their wall". The pictures are lovelier, instructions clearer, the learning structure smoother, the print quality better and still with FSC accreditation.
Follow the link below for Fran's own blog post about the new calendar with pictures of many of the pages. Scroll down a little way for details of a giveaway and if you don't fancy your chances, click through to Fran's website and buy.
Are you a teacher, pattern designer, dyer, equipment manufacturer or supplier?
Would you like to reach the readership of thousands of hand spinners and at the same time help to support Hand Spinning News ?
Thanks to Interweave for this comprehensive list.
They've collated the specifications for all of the wheels, e-spinners, and charkhas currently on the market from the major manufacturers. (This is an American article, the prices are in dollars and the contact details don't include the UK).
The actual guide is here in case you can't find the link in the article I'm linking to. It originally appeared in Spin-Off magazine.
Unless your PDF reader will display pages side-by-side then you may have to print it off and tape them together because the tables run across the magazine pages.
Just above, you may have spotted the information about Fran's new Plant Dyes calendar. My own review is here.
Fran would like to send a copy to the winner of a draw.
All you need to do is leave a comment below her blog post at the link below. Mention Hand Spinning News and your name will be in the hat.
Riihivilla also comments that it has been a great summer for Indigo plants. She has just received this book by John Marshall. "it feels like I'm taking his private workshop when I'm reading this book", she says.
Sometimes just a picture is enough
Believe it or not, this jumper started out as only 200g of self-dyed Polwarth.
In this post, Thread-Head Joanne shares pictures of the dyed fibre, the spun yarn and the finished jumper.
We had this tip some months ago: ply those leftover scraps of singles to make a 3-ply yarn.
That's just what vermontgirlamy has done. She thinks that this colourful yarn will make "a pretty cute teddy bear".
You wait ages for an artist who makes wool paintings and then three come along in three months.
This work is by Yorkshire artist Andrea Hunter who makes very realistic 'paintings' using wool fibres.
This hooded cardy was made by elfenwolle using handspun leftovers, all sock weight.
This is beautifully-spun cashmere. It's destined to be dyed with indigo and woven into a scarf. I'll be watching interstitialspaces' Instagram feed, looking forward to seeing the finished items.
There are two pictures together here, before and after wet-finishing and you can really see the bloom in the second picture.
These are finished skeins of Romney.
vermontgirlamy tantalisingly mentions that one skein is more barber-poled while the other has the colours more lined up. But there are no details about whether this was deliberate or how it was achieved.
Proving that yarn can be beautiful even without bright colours, this is 28oz of merino/silk from Three Waters Farm.
I think this is a dyed grey rather than natural because she mentions that she had two separate dyelots. In this post she discusses how she divided those lots up to end up with a uniform result.
This hat is "soft sheltie and samoyed yarn" spun and knit by dogfibres.
Thanks to jaknitspurls for sharing her knitted and lined bag with the Hand Spinning News Ravelry group.
it's made using her first hand dyed handspun yarn.
This is chicksinrubber's wrap-style cardigan (link to the pattern Sari Cardi by Jenise Hope)
It was part of her guild's challenge with a theme of 'The Sea'. She dyed Polwarth locks using greens and blues, and made a three ply yarn using two plies of the wool and one of silk.
The Ravelry project page is here. Thank you to her for sharing it with the UK Spinners group.
A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.
I have yet to make a knitted skirt, handspun or otherwise. This could be the one.
It combines knitting and crochet to take advantage of the properties of those two types of fabric.
The pictures within the pattern include one made with negative ease and one barely long enough to cover the model's bum. At my age both of those things are out but the shot I've used in the thumbnail looks reasonably modest. I like the denim colours too.
This pattern is included in the current Knitty online magazine.
This is huge and would require a large amount of wool if handspun. (1400 yards of aran-weight / 8wpi yarn).
Having said that, it's versatile and cosy. It can be worn like a huge chunky scarf or wrapped like a poncho.
I reminds me of Cowichan knitting and it looks great in colours or in natural shades as here.
The pattern is free at the web page below, or you can buy an ad-free pdf.
This chunky bun beanie has a five star rating and very low difficulty rating. The pattern has child, adult and XL adult The one in the pattern looks as if it could be handspun yarn but it's a commercial super-bulky (5-6wpi). If you like to spin yarn that thick, then this will be a very quick knit.
If you like the messy bun style hat then I'm reliably informed that it's "still a popular trend". This is one of quite a number of patterns compiled by Knithacker.
The 'daisy stitch' used in this scarf looks fascinating and it also shows off a colour-changing yarn.
Use a handspun yarn with lots of colour, or that mad yarn plied from bobbin-ends!
The big round-up of Halloween patterns was last month but I couldn't resist including these.
There is no pattern but if you're a crafty with a crochet hook then it should be no problem
These were made by made by from optician Oksana Sokolova and shared by KnitHacker
As a bonus, here is a poncho along the same lines.
Janelle has made 157 pairs of socks which leaves a lot of leftovers. In 2015 she decided to use the scraps to make this sock yarn blanket.
The decision to arrange the squares in ROYGBIV order was a very good one, the 'overhead' shot (shown here) looks amazing.
She knitted the first couple of rows of each square in black, leaving her only the two long edges of the blanket to finish with black, which had been intimidating her but turned out to be not "that big of a deal".
In case you need it, I didn't find it easy to find the pattern for the square, so (via the wayback machine) it's here.
This little knit and felted bag is perfect for hanging from your wheel to hold small tools.
Janelle's blog post contains pictures of her handspun yarn and the bag before and after felting. She links to the free pattern.
InkyKnitter Fran Carle says "This shawl is completely adaptable to any weight and amount of yarn" which makes it great for handspun yarn.
This is not boring knitting. It features a cabled edge, eyelets in stockinette, applied i-cord selvedge edges and an i-cord bind off
These Ella Gordon traditional Shetland fingerless gloves were featured in last year's Shetland Wool Week annual, and now that we've reached that time of the year once more, Ella is free to sell the pattern separately in her store.
They feature trees which she would usually use in a yoke using the decreases. Here she's found another way to fit the trees together.
Appropriately, they use fingering-weight yarn, 14wpi.
Ebel is designed specifically with John Arbon's Harvest Hues colours in mind. The zwartbles wool in Harvest Hues give the range a deep, mottled look and it's available in millspun yarn and tops. In September John added some new colours to the range.
Ebel is worked entirely in garter stitch, making a good travel or TV knit. It's shaped with increases and decreases, and finished with a crocheted bobble edging.
Hopefully the snow is a little way off yet. But what a wonderful way to show off your special yarn and an opportunity to do some colourwork in a practical project which may be a little less daunting than a Fair Isle jumper.
The idea of wearing a tree on her back inspired Ann Kingstone to make this pattern. She most associates the tree of life with the celtic tradition and so that's the style that she incorporated into her cabled design.
Textile artist Alexandra Kehayoglou makes "functional works that explore the landscape of her native Argentina".
She uses surplus materials from her family's carpet factory. The works are often installed against the wall, with a section trailing so visitors can walk or lay on them.
Scotland is more usually associated with tartan and tweed, but linen and flax are an important part of its history
This touring exhibition aims to combine stories from the past with new works from contemporary designers.
The towns in Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands that the tour visits have their own stories and this gives the opportunity to include local designers and stories.
Saturday October 6, Queen's Hall and Plas Hyfryd Hotel, Narberth, Pembrokeshire
A celebration of all things woolly. From beautifully hand crafted items, clothing and footwear to knitting wool, fleece and all the equipment needed to make at home. Demonstrations run throughout the day with stall holders sharing their skills and knowledge with visitors plus wool skill workshops such as felting.
Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th of October
Kendal Wool Gathering mixes demonstrations, fun activities and displays, all connected to the cloth on which the townâs wealth was built.
Stands and stalls representing all aspects of commercial wool products, including carpets, looms, spinning wheels and crafts will be on display at a large unit at Kendal Leisure Centre. Outside there will be livestock, walks and talks. Linked fun events take place throughout the Kendal.
Nottingham Conference Centre Goldsmith Street Entrance, Nottingham. NG1 4BU
Workshops Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 November. Market place Sunday 11 November
A final word of thanks to everyone who blogs, writes articles or posts pictures on the subject of spinning, knitting, crochet or weaving. This newsletter wouldn't exist without people writing interesting and useful things.
If you do keep a blog, or if you read a particularly interesting blog or website and you're not sure whether I already know about it, please write and tell me about it.
It's always good to hear from readers for any reason (or no reason!)
Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator
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