Hand Spinning News
In plenty of time for Halloween, the pattern suggestions in this issue include some suitably monstrous ideas as well as some seasonably warmer projects.
The sea features in some of the stories this month. Have you heard of byssus aka sea silk? And a scientist is using bundles of yarn to collect rare elements from seawater.
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 September 2018.
Photo right: hanapaimen's handspun Shawl Shirt. The cover photo is 'Sheared' by Ardiss Hutaff on Unsplash (the full picture is well worth a look)
In the news
Actor in spinning wheel controversy
Indian actor Mohanlal has found himself in trouble for appearing in an advert for commercial clothing using a charkha.
The charkha is keenly protected as a symbol of freedom struggle and should only appear in connection with khadi, the name for hand spun and hand woven cloth.
Wool producers flock to British Wool open day
Around 200 wool producers (or more likely the owners of the actual producers) visited Ashford, Kent recently for an open day at British Wool's grading depot.
The aim was to improve understanding of the supply chain and what makes certain wool more valuable than others.
Shetland Wool Week
Shetland Wool Week
The Lacework for Lazy Knitters cowl "is the perfect project for those wee bits o' handspun as this uses only 60g of jumper/fingering weight wool."
It's a project developed by DJ Stefek for her class Lacework for Lazy Knitters which is happening on 24 Sept (or happened on 24 Sept if you're reading this after the event).
It's one of a large number of events happening during Shetland Wool Week, 23-30 September.
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BritSpin - the British Wool Spinning Marathon
A reminder that there's still plenty of time to get involved with BritSpin, the British Wool Spinning Marathon which coincides with Wool Week, 11-14 October.
Within the main four-day marathon team event there will be more sports-themed fun and challenging events for spinners to enjoy.
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From the Blogosphere
At the Sannich agricultural fair, British Columbia, members of the weavers' guilds took part in a sheep-to-shawl demonstration.
Before the event, the fleece had already been prepared and some of it dyed. As you can see from this picture, this resulted in a very attractive shawl by the end of the event.
A lady called Laura did the weaving. She managed to weave an overshot pattern while fieldling questions.
There are several pictures here of the spinning and weaving. Thank you to Jean Betts for sharing.
There seem to have been a number of stop-motion films using needle-felted characters.
Anna Mantzaris has made this short film with a number of short scenes. She has used the soft materials to make a contrast with the harsh events. They are dark but funny and often relatable.
If you like this then there are more on her website and Vimeo pages (links on this Colossal page).
Dyeing wool and silk with deep pink hollyhocks
The colours here are beautiful if a little subtle. This fibre has been dyed using hollyhock flowers. It's a blend of wool and silk, which have both taken the colour differently, resulting in a mix of green and pink.
With some experimentation, Fran has been able to achieve more impressive colours on silk. The details are in her blog post.
Hand carders then and now
Linda Ligon says that ten handspinners would have ten different ways to card their wool. The most interesting part of this article is the history.
For example, carders as we know them would have been impossible before the 13th century because that's when drawn wire was first developed (from which carding teeth are made). Combing would have been possible much earlier because teeth are made individually by a blacksmith. Picking, teasing etc. would of course go back still further.
Rebecca's memorial of a particular old ewe with a very fine fleece is an enjoyable read.
She reminds us that sheep are individuals who provide us with with our materials. "They turn grass into warm, renewable, biodegradable clothing for us".
For Old Leader's owner, Rebecca made this beautiful bookmark from the fleece. A very nice reminder.
Sea silk is byssus, a bundle of fibres produced by pinna nobilis, a type of clam. The shellfish is threatened with extinction thanks to us (it's far from alone in that respect) and for that reason, Chiara Vigo maintains that items made from the material can never be sold or traded, because this would encourage over-exploitation which would spell the end for the mollusc.
There are several videos around featuring Chiara Vigo, who is said to be the last person to be master of collecting, processing and naturally dyeing the fibre. This is the best one I've found and shows her processing, spinning and weaving the stuff.
Blending board gradient project
A couple of months ago Fibre Sprite Pamela wrote about blending complementary colours and not being afraid of the 'mud'.
This is a larger project which she wasn't keen on tackling with hand carders, so used her blending board instead. She loves the effect it gives, "a little nubbly, a few random pops of colour, and an overall heathery feel"
The wholesome goodness of woollen socks
"wool is important. It keeps us warm and healthy. It is renewable and biodegradable. It can be human scale not just industrial scale."
This post is part of Rebecca's tuffsocksnaturally project, which you can join in.
It contains a lovely little ode to woollen socks and some thoughts on the subject.
Berry dyes, wash and light fastness tested
See the beautiful purple that Fran has achieved using Blackberries. She also has impressive photos of wool dyed using elderberries and sloes. The heat this year has produced a good crop of wild fruit.
One important concern with natural dyeing is light-fastness. Fran decided to test these colours by wrapping some samples on a card, covering half of the card and exposing it to light.
Spoiler: none are very fast, but maybe the transience makes the colour more precious while it lasts.
Stages of nettle transformation
I'm very grateful to a.textile.enthusiast for documenting her work with nettles. I've tried and failed to obtain fibre from these plants in the past but now I want to try again.
Explore her photos for more pictures of this process along with lots of notes.
I can spin
Here are some new spinners at a workshop run by alittlebitsheepish at the Southern Wool Show.
The show appears to have been well-run and will be a two-day event next September (dates tba).
For more pictures from the inaugural show, follow the #southernwoolshowuk hashtag within craftyescapism's post.
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Places to Visit
Plans to rescue South Lakes arts centre win backing
Farfield Mill is a visitor centre which accommodates a number of resident craftspeople including the 'Bare Weaver' Dick Moriarty.
A month ago, the future of the centre hung in the balance. A plan to secure its future by making it a community benefit society (a type of co-operative) had been rejected but there weren't enough members present at that meeting to make the decision stick.
There followed a campaign which you can read about here on Ravelry. A large number of people became members and used their vote.
Shares now have to be sold to raise the money for improvements but the future looks good for the historic building and the businesses within.
Tips and tutorials
8 tips for spinning with a woolee winder
A WooLee winder replaces your flyer and moves the hook up and down for you, winding your yarn very evenly onto the bobbin.
If you've ever pondered getting one, Jillian has some considerations and practical tips. It does make a difference to the way your spinning wheel feels, and there are some things to know about choosing, using and maintaining one.
A 'tender' yarn is, as you'd expect, one that is weaker. But this is not necessarily a bad thing.
Laura discusses the factors that contribute to a yarn being tender, the trade-offs, and how to treat it if you want to use it as a warp.
(Bonus tip from me - also see sizing mentioned in last month's issue)
Weaving 101: part 3
Twist Collective is a free online magazine which is now published every two months.
The current issue features the third part of Amy King's series, Weaving 101, in which she covers the basics and beyond of weaving.
This part is 'Finishing Touches' and contains the 'No header header', hemstitch and even edges.
The magazine contains other interesting articles and patterns.
Idaho scientist found 'green' way to mine nuclear fuel from the sea
Seen here are bundles of yarn in seawater. They've been treated in some way (not revealed) which means that they absorb the nuclear fuel uranium which occurs naturally in very small quantities in all seawater.
Acrylic yarn has been used in this experiment, but it's not clear whether the type of fibre is important, or just the yarny structure.
A huge amount of seawater has to pass through the yarn, The yarn is even re-usable when the uranium (in a form called 'yellowcake' has been extracted from the yarn).
This is all cleaner and more efficient than mining the metal ore. Whether you consider nuclear energy clean is a different question but the same tech could also be used to extract other useful metals from the sea, such as those used in batteries.
This is unrealistic - in real life sheep wear their underwear *under* their wool of course.
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
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.
Keeping this wheel spinning
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I was delighted by the response to last month's giveaway of Pam Austin's new book. Thank you to everyone who took part, and welcome to the new subscribers to HSN, I hope you'll enjoy receiving it.
I've made the draw and contacted the winner, I'm waiting to hear back and make sure that they're happy for me to give their name.
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Sometimes just a picture is enough
We could make worlds together
This amazing picture was taken at the Northamptonshire Shambala festival.
Matt of One Man Crochet fame was invited to make an installation. It's hung from trees in the Enchanted Woods and by arrangement it was lit at night with strong UV lights so that it glowed.
In his blog post he documents the process in pictures and a video. It took an amazing amount of his time.
Nature's Shades FO gallery
ShonaMCM's 'Shetland' is one of the entries in KnitBritish's Nature's-Shades-Along competition. (now closed for entries)
The entries are posted in this Ravelry thread. There are several pages with little chat, containing many inspiring finished projects and pattern ideas.
Some use handspun, many are (like this one) in commercial yarn, but all are in natural shades of British wool. ShonaMCM' drafted the colourwork pattern herself.
(Ravelry link - free signup if you're not already registered.)
Although this is commercial tencel yarn, the stunning irridescent effect of this woven scarf makes me want to pull out my loom and try to make something similar.
Laura was "disappointed" at first, but this changed when she saw how the intense royal blue and dark teal worked together in the light.
Unseparated tog and thel
Icelandic fleeces have tog, a harsher outer coat, and thel, a finer undercoat.
You can separate them fairly easily, but Deborah has spun some unseparated wool and says that it may be one of her favourites.
Turning three into one
This is cotton singles being plied into a very even 3-ply yarn.
"It's strange to have so many months of spinning go by so quickly through my hands" says a.textile.enthusiast
First handspun project
This is an 'in progress' shot of diaryofa_medschoolwidow's first project using her handspun, hand dyed yarn.
The yarn is a 3-ply fractal spin from a summer spinning class
Explore her pictures or click here for the finished hat.
A very big accomplishment
There's a sweater quantity and a sweater quantity. The (not baby-eating) Bishop of Ballerat looks handsome and suitably pleased in his handspun jumper.
totally_handspun spun some wool, her friend made the jumper. Congratulations to all concerned.
Portrait, Cody the Alpaca
This absolutely delightful picture shows Cody the Teeny Tiny Alpaca checking out her portrait painted by nikkimokshadesigns
Growing glasspin family
This month's sexy spindle shot is by mountainmud whose collection of glass russian spindles is growing! The colours of the spindles, yarn bowl and yarn all blend perfectly.
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A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.
Bruce The Great White Shark by Frances Gillespie
Another mammoth of the monster world is the great white shark Jaws. Apparently the mechanical shark from the original movie was called Bruce, who has inspired this knit-and-felted toy.
The pattern appears in the current Knitty, a free online magazine.
Hello Old Friend - Baby Shane Blanket by Tanis Lavallee
Tanis has written an interesting blog post about this pattern. It's true that we tend to be interested in things such as designs for a short time and then move on to the next exciting thing.
This was her first pattern and in this post she takes a fresh look at it and chats about how she feels about it.
The yarn she recommends is a 100% merino in a selection of colours. If this blanket is to be used as a baby blanket then it probably ought to be something that would take a bit of washing, but for an 'adult use' blanket, why not spin merino or another soft fibre in a selection of colours or natural shades?
Houndstooth lap blanket
(Halloween connection - Hound of the Baskervilles. No? Ok.)
If you're new to 8-shaft weaving then this lightweight blanket might be a practical project.
The houndstooth pattern is a classic and Schacht have given directions here, varying the classic design by using several different dark colours.
You can use singles in weaving without risk of it biasing, but spinning a thin 2-ply might be a safer bet if you're using handspun yarn for the warp as well as weft. See 'tender yarn' above in the Tips.
Bookmark Trio by Megan Goodacre
This may not be exactly the same pattern that Rebecca used in her post about Old Leader, but one of the trio of patterns in this free download is very similar.
A bookmark is an excellent project for beginner or experienced lace knitter. It uses a small amount of handspun yarn. It could be a sampler for trying a lace pattern and also makes a lovely present.
European Dreams by Benjamin Krudwig
This wrap is specifically designed for lofty thick-and-thin handspun yarn and will be very cosy.
As the name suggests, a recent trip to Europe inspired Benjamin to design the wrap which is reminiscent of an ancient Ionic column.
It appears in the Knittyspin section of the current Knitty.com
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by Alana Noritake
The Brain Hat has been a long-time favourite and I especially like tablebluff's hat. She has used handspun yarn for the hat part and a suitably gory red-splashed yarn for the icord brains.
Alana Noritake's pattern is a paid pattern, and I think that she deserves the reward for her idea and efforts, but if you have a cheeky Google you will find various other free brain hats including colourwork and crochet versions. Alternatively, if you have a favourite cap pattern and know how to knit icord then you're pretty much there.
Desk Loch Ness by Louise Walker
It's a little bit of a stretch to associate the Loch Ness monster with Halloween but at least it has 'Monster' in its name
With thanks to KnitHacker for sharing. I'm linking to Ravelry as I'm unable to find the pattern available by itself on Louise's own site or Etsy shop.
Basalt Shawl - by Fay Dashper-Hughes
This pattern has its inspiration in the Giant's Causeway in Ireland.
John and Juliet of John Arbon Textiles made a trip over the water to show their wonderful wares at the Yarnfolk festival. I'm linking to the post on their blog which documents that trip and is a worthwhile read in its own right. While there, they visited the fascinating hexagonal causeway which inspired this particular pattern. There's a link to the pattern in this post.
The Complete Andor Poncho Gang
If you care about trends then I'm told that Andor is on-trend at the moment with its boxy shape.
The title of this story sounds a bit Wild West. These 7 colleagues decided to knit one at the same time. Designer Linda Marveng is flattered and loves the photos of the friends in their ponchos of various sizes and colours.
Sheringham Fingerless Mitts by Beth Brown-Reinsel
I must confess to choosing this pattern because of a personal connection. I was inspired to make my first gansey after visiting Stella Ruhe's Dutch Gansey exhibition in the lifeboat house at Sheringham which is close to where I grew up.
This mitt pattern comes from a book of six patterns (including scarf, socks and full mitts) which are all based on the gansey knitting style and traditional patterns.
These mitts include a stitch pattern from the North East as well as a stitch pattern that can be traced to Sheringham itself.
Shawl Shirt by Susanne Sommer
This is hanapaimen's Shawl Shirt which she has made entirely in handspun. She says "I enjoy knitting with handspun yarns the most. Really. Most memorable knits were with handspuns".
The unusual construction of the jumper isn't obvious in her picture, for that click through to the pattern page. (the clue is in the name).
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This is one of Faith Humphrey Hill's 'knit paintings'. She designs the work digitally, then produces a knitting pattern, hand knits the piece and then finally combines the original artwork and the knitting digitally. The results are beautiful and "express how disparate elements can be integrated into a beautifully cohesive whole".
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Our linen stories
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.
Shetland Wool Week
22 - 30 September 2018
A busy week dedicated to celebrating Shetland wool and textile heritage.
Includes classes, talks, drop-ins, art. See website for the full events listing.
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.
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
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.
West Wales Wool Show 2018
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.
Kendal Wool Gathering
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 Yarn Expo
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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