Hand Spinning News
We're now well into 2023 and in-person events have returned to pre-pandemic proportions. This issue sees news and reviews from Wonderwool, a well-established show that has had its best year ever, and Cotswold Wool Weekend, a new show with bigger plans for next year.
As the weather warms up here in the northern hemisphere, three of our free pattern suggestions use crocheted lace or openwork for garments that are suitable for warmer weather.
Read on for this month's round-up of news, views and reviews for spinners, knitters, crocheters, dyers and weavers.
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Cover photo: Stephen West's Aurora Cabin Shawl, hand spun and knitted by woollyelly. Picture right: Lauren and Martha of John Arbon Textiles at Wonderwool Wales with the two special limited-edition Spring shades of Devonia tops
- In the media
Wool and Savile Row celebrate the Coronation of King Charles III, Isle of Man farmers take charge of exporting, Wonderwool Wales, Cotswold Wool Weekend
- Handspun stories
Open Studios, commissioning handknitting, the h+h show in Cologne, blue dreams, how to make rope, shawl surgery, dreaming of lace, handcarding like you've never seen it before, earliest-known true tartan, milkweed, natural dye for speckles
- Tips and tutorials
Sett thoroughly revisited, warping back to front, reclaim yarn from a charity shop sweater, crochet cable charts, Judy's magic cast on, clasped weft join, foundation stitches explained, finding you skin tone colour, Italian cast-on, backstrap rigid heddle basics
- Products and reviews
Spring pastels - limited edition Devonia tops, handmade pewter spindle whorls, Techniques of Sprang Plaiting on Stretched Threads by Peter Collingwood, Bandweaving Using Rigid Heddles and Inkle Looms eBook
A cheaper method for making woven displays and smart fabrics, crochet Dance Dance Revolution mat, UK knitted satellite
Some of the best spinning images I've seen this month
- Pattern and project suggestions
More project ideas which will work well with handspun yarn
- But is is art...?
Recycling in textile art: five artists, Kanako Abe cuts exquisite paper works, Karen Turner's stitch journal, Victoria Villasana and Joseph Ford, Susannah Weaver making furniture out of felted concrete, the Living Room, In the round by Matt Taylor, reflective connections by Bev Butkow, The Knitted Light by Sangmin Oh
- UK Events
A very healthy list of 2023 woolly events
In the media
Farmers take charge of exporting
Due to payment issues, farmers on the Isle of Man have obtained an export licence and are sending their wool to British Wool and are inviting other farmers on the island to join them.
Farmer Danny Creer said that British Wool sell the Manx wool as a separate lot "because apparently it's got a bit of a following".
Wonderful woolly pictures of the Cotswold Wool Weekend
This news article contains a gallery of 13 pictures of the recent Cirencester event, including an overhead shot of the bustle, some of the stalls and stallholders and the felting workshop.
Plans are already underway for next year's event.
Kate and the beanstalk
If you knit, it's almost certain that a friend has found a pattern for a large project and asked you to knit it without expecting to pay for the time.
It's great to read this story of a non-knitter appreciating the value of real wool yarn and a knitter's time. They commissioned the knitter Kate through the UK Hand Knitting Association.
This is the heartwarming story of the meeting to hand over the finished project.
Southern California Fibershed: an unexpected place
Susan Hector decided to create a garment inspired by the history of the Churro sheep and her region, San Diego.
She chose a rebozo which is a Mexican shawl that covers the head. It's 100% Churro, locally raised and processed. It's a breed introduced by the Spanish and associated with Navajo rugs and blankets.
For the win
In this post and the previous two here and here, Daryl takes us on a tour of 64 looms in her studio, and shows what's on them.
It's a fascinating tour with some particularly fascinating examples. The one in my thumbnail is only 4 inches wide with two shafts.
Wool, paper, milkweed
Sarah spotted "perfect winter-retted milkweed" while on a run and took home a bundle.
She documents her process for stripping off the outer fibres and turning them into beautiful yarn.
Natural dye for handspun speckles
Kate used two different dyes to create a speckled yarn.
After the first dunk in logwood, she tied cotton resists around the skein before the second dip into Saxon blue. This gave purple speckles and also turned the blue a more indigo colour.
Tips and tutorials
How to reclaim yarn from a thrift store sweater
Sandi Rosner says that the local thrift store (charity shop) can be a treasure chest of raw materials for the clever crafter. Second-hand sweaters are found in abundance.
She discusses finding the right sweater, undoing seams and preparing the yarn for reuse.
Judy's magic cast on
I have a special nostalgia for Judy's Magic Cast-On. One of my earliest knitting projects used it, and so ever since then I've felt that toe-up is the correct way to knit socks.
My reference (which I need every time) is this one and I hope that page never disappears.
It's great to see a video demonstration of the cast-on. Video is way better than images for demonstrating a knitting technique.
Techniques for texture: rya and soumak
This page contains two short video demonstrations by Esther Rodgers. They are techniques for adding texture to your weaving; rya knots and soumak.
They stand alone but are extracts from her weaving course.
Backstrap rigid heddle basics
With backstrap weaving, you are part of the loom. "A beautiful thing", says Kate Larson.
Plain weave bands are super easy to learn to warp and weave and the loom is super-portable. You can use handpsun yarns for warp and weft, a tight twist is helpful.
In this article and video, Kate explains what you'll need and goes through the setup and weaving.
Plying with Jo Reeve
Jo Reeve says that the way we ply can be the difference between a good yarn and a fantastic yarn.
Jo goes into how to ply and how much twist is right. Then there's a thorough look at the differences between singles, 2-ply and 3-ply yarns with solid and variegated yarns.
If you are a beginner then this post will be very useful. Otherwise, a bit of back-to-basics can be refreshing.
Kate presents this article on the Ashford blog.
Products and Reviews
Spring pastels - limited edition Devonia tops
To celebrate the return to Wonderwool Wales, the JAT team created two special limited-edition Spring shades of Devonia tops called Primrose Drift and April Showers. The two shades pair well and are still available while stock lasts.
Handmade pewter spindle whorls
Aecwyrd's spindle whorls are cast in English pewter and come with a natural fibre drawstring pouch.
Just add a wooden dowel and start spinning wool in the manner of our ancestors.
Techniques of Sprang Plaiting on Stretched Threads by Peter Collingwood
This book was first published in hardback in 1974 and later in paperback with a foreword.
An agreement with the author's family means that the book has been made available electronically. There are around 16 sample pages online and for $35 you get a pdf download.
Carol says, "this book is a must-have for anyone who wants to explore sprang. It is encyclopedic in scope".
Crochet Dance Dance Revolution mat
TikTok user kims_threads has crocheted a mat which can control the game Dance Dance Revolution. She used conductive thread and an Arduino microcontroller. She followed a tutorial but "had to make lots of adjustments to suit my project".
UK 'knitted satellite' will see Earth day or night
Two British companies are to fly an innovative, low-cost radar satellite - part of which will be made on a knitting machine.
an 'almost invisible' gold-plated titanium mesh will be made on an industrial knitting machine. The fabric will be folded in such a way that it can spring into position when deployed.
The article I'm linking to is the one that best describes the knitted fabric and how the deployment works.
Sometimes just a picture is enough
Feral Fibres makes 'warrior coats' woven from handspun yarn and locks. This one is in dark brown and jet black alpaca. Before delivering it, she took it along to display at Wonderwool.
Juniper, Guillemot, Plover, and Myrtle
St Anne's Spindle used fleeces from moorithillfarm to create this lovely hat in natural colours. She credits Juniper, Guillemot, Plover, and Myrtle who I assume are the donors of the fleece.
Coucou tout le monde
This beautiful shot shows detail of a shawl made using a triangular pin loom.
There is a bonus video here showing nona removing the shawl from the loom and modelling it.
She says that she wasn't expecting this result, but loves it.
This finished shawl uses colourful handspun for the stripes and squares with commercial yarn background.
Free patterns and projects
A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.
Halibut Crochet Pattern by Hailey Burley
This pattern is provided by the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve (Alaska). It was designed by Hailey Burley who is a ranger at the park.
Over 200 species of fish call Glacier Bay home, including the iconic Pacific halibut.
The difficulty rating is easy - medium and for once you are encouraged to pick your hook to suit your yarn and keep the finished size a mystery!
It requires a light and dark natural colour. No yardages are given but it appears that you need equal quantities of each.
Easy crochet potholder
This crochet potholder pattern uses the dense thermal stitch to create a double thick hot pad that's stylish and extremely protective.
The pads go well with her easy crochet kitchen towel, shown in my thumbnail.
As usual with Jess' patterns, the information is all there on the page for free or you can buy an ad-free PDF.
This pattern is available for free for a limited time. It's aimed at the "adventurous beginner". You can use a laceweight for a light shawl or worsted-weight yarn for a more substantial accessory.
The pattern allows you to make a scarf, shawl or cowl.
Through the Portal by Amy Gunderson
This surprise Knitty pattern makes sizes ranging from XS to 5XL.
It suggests a DK yarn in a plant fibre with no elasticity but wool or wool blends will also work.
Pattern and project suggestions
Birch mittens by Jenn Monahan
Jenn of fibreworkshop has revised her Birch mittens to use her own Norfolk Horn DK yarn.
You can buy the pattern by itself, or a kit which includes the Norfolk Horn yarn in natural and naturally-dyed green.
But is it art...?
Recycling in textile art: five artists
This page showcases five artists who are using discarded materials in their work.
Zwia Lipkin is drawn to upcycled home décor textiles. Ruth Singer has a passion for vintage fabrics. Elnaz Yazdani is inspired by industrial materials, Vanessa Barragão transforms waste from the Portuguese textile industry, and Julie Peppito has a unique approach when it comes to old toys, litter and other found items.
Karen Turner's stitch journal
A stitch journal functions like a diary, recording emotions and abstract thoughts. It has also given East Yorkshire-based artist Karen Turner mindfulness and ritual.
She has spent a year making daily stitches on a single 95-inch length of fabric.
the Living Room
coincidentally using wool and concrete is this 'Living Room'', a construction made using waste wool from the Lake District and other waste materials.
It's part of an exhibition called More with Less at the Farrell Centre, Newcastle University until September.
The fascinating video shows the construction.
In the round by Matt Taylor
Matt Taylor's recent videos feature yarn being formed into knitted stitches and pulled out again.
They're very soothing and in the comments knitters have said that it has helped them to understand how knit stitches are formed.
As I write this there are two similar videos in Matt's feed which are not to be missed.
Loewe turns classic stick chairs into "sculptural objects"
Fashion brand Loewe has worked with artists worldwide to transform wooden chairs into something new.
The chairs are decorated with woven materials including foil, shearling and paper and were shown as part of Milan design week.
Mill Open Weekend, John Arbon Textiles
Friday 16 - Sunday 18 June, 2023, John Arbon Textiles, Hacche Lane Business Park, South Molton
This legendary event returns. Includes mill tour and workshops, talks and even a few other vendors at the beautiful 18th century function rooms in South Molton Town Hall
Tickets for tours, talks and workshops are now available for booking.
Cumbrian Wool Gathering
24 and 25 June 2023, J36 Rural Auction Centre
A gathering of people with a love for wool and yarn, and the associated crafts. The first Cumbrian Wool Gathering is organised by the same team responsible for Bakewell Wool Gathering and Buxton Wool Gathering.
3 June - 9 July, actual events and venues tbc
A celebration of innovation in textiles across Kirklees
Summer Wool Festival
29 -30 July 2023 Redborne School, Ampthill, Bedfordshire, MK45 2NU
For all lovers of woolly crafts - spinning, knitting, weaving, crochet, feltmaking and dyeing.
Picks up from where Fibre East left off.
North East Wool Show
12 - 13 August 2023, Newcastle Racecourse
70 amazing stalls plus a great range of workshops. Cafe, demonstrations.
Pop Up Wool Show
19 August 2023, Hulme Hall, 23 Bolton Rd, Bebington, Wirral
A selection of vendors selling everything from hand dyed yarns and fibres to felting kits and needles
Entry £4 per person, available on the door or online.
Southern Wool Show
2 and 3 September 2023, Newbury Racecourse, Berkshire
The perfect event for all lovers of knitting, crochet, feltmaking, weaving, spinning, dyeing, and all things woolly!
Fri 8 and Sat 9 September 2023
unravel... autumn is a celebration of all things yarn making from knitting and crochet to spinning and weaving
At the core of unravel... autumn is the curated marketplace which showcases independent producers, well established makers alongside first-time yarn show exhibitors from around the UK. In addition, on each day of the festival, there is an inspiring programme of bookable workshops.
Perth Festival Of Yarn
9 & 10 September 2023. Dewars Centre, Glover St, Perth PH2 0TH
Scotland's contemporary yarn and fibre festival. Bringing together independent dyers, farmers, knitters, spinners, felters and weavers. In 2018 nominated for the best yarn festival in the UK. Vendors' gallery marketplace, over 80 vendors, keynote event, social events and classes run over the weekend.
Cornwall's Yarn and Fibre Festival - Sunday 17 September 2023, The Pavilion Centre, Royal Cornwall Showground
A new event in Cornwall showcasing the best of hand-dyed, hand-crafted and sustainable yarns, fibres and related products, all in an exciting market-style show with a vibrant festival feel.
23 and 24 September 2023, Skipton Auction Mart, North Yorkshire
over 180 makers, craft workers, retailers, and artisans in the picturesque market town of Skipton, North Yorkshire.
Shetland Wool Week
23 September - 1 October 2023
Shetland Wool Week is a world renowned celebration of Britain's most northerly native sheep, the Shetland textile industry and the rural farming community on these islands.
Includes classes, talks, drop-ins, art. See website for the full events listing.
The Wool Event, Masham Sheep Fair
30 September and 1 Ocober 2023, 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.
West Wales Wool Show
Saturday 7 October 2023, 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.
Bakewell Wool Gathering
14 - 15 October 2023 Bakewell Agricultural Centre
A wool festival dedicated to the best of yarn, knitting, and crochet, in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales.
There will be exhibitors, demonstrations of fibre crafts and a fleece stand selling plenty of local fleece.
Kelly House Woollyl Weekend
14 - 15 October 2023, Kelly House, Lifton, Devon
Many exhibitors from around the South-West and further afield, producers of the finest woollen yarn to felt makers.
The Glasgow School of Yarn
20 -22 October 2023, The Trades Hall, Glasgow
Scotland's longest running yarn festival, championing local and innovative makers since 2011.
GSoY has an abundance of beautiful yarns, fibres, and accessories for every crafter.
Kendal Wool Gathering
Last weekend of October 2023, Kendal Town Hall
Kendal Wool Gathering mixes demonstrations, fun activities and displays, all connected to the cloth on which the town's wealth was built.
All things woolly - exhibitions, patterns, demonstrations.
All that remains is for me to thank everyone who blogs, writes articles or posts pictures on the subject of spinning, knitting, crochet or weaving. This newsletter wouldn't exist without them.
Nor would it exist without your support, so thank you for that.
If you enjoy Hand Spinning News, please do share a link to hand-spinning-news.com by email or on social media with anyone who may be interested.
It's always good to hear from readers for any reason (or no reason!)
Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator
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