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Hand Spinning News

Happy Spring, Easter is behind us and it's time to think about lighter garments and Spring colours.

Maybe it's the season to try freeing yourself from the careful meticulous spinning, and allowing the fibre free expression? This topic appears among our picks this month, along with historical spinners, mixing up the plant and animal fibres, cycling with your wheel. But it's not all sweetness and light, you may also spot a touch of distaff-based violence and spinning-wheel humiliation.

There's also the usual collection of seasonal patterns suitable for handspun yarn and gallery of inspirational finished work.

This is the free edited version of Hand Spinning News first published April 2016. For details of how to receive the full newsletter earlier in the month, scroll to the bottom.

Photo right: Araignee getting Wild and Crazy.


In the News

Unravel: Solving Puzzles with Yarn

Unravel: Solving Puzzles with Yarn

This little character is called Yarny, obviously made of yarn, and the further he travels from his ball, the smaller his body becomes. He can use his own yarn to make bridges and solve puzzles.

If you're not a gamer, you can watch this video like a short film, this particular trailer has a commentary explaining what's going on. The scenes are absolutely beautiful and it's astounding how far computer games have come.

As a bonus, here's a video explaining how to make your own real-life Yarny character.

Young spinners and doffers in Richmond Spinning Mills

Young spinners and doffers in Richmond Spinning Mills

Believe it or not, these youngsters are workers in a spinning mill, East Lake, Tennessee. Taken around 1910.

At the bottom of the page under 'more like this', there are more photos like this. I couldn't find any of people actively working, but of course this is industrial spinning using spinning mules rather than hand spinning.

It's dangerous work, as evidenced by a bandaged finger in one photo.

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From the Blogosphere

Worsted Nests

Worsted nests

It's fun to be able follow Rebecca on her journey through her spinning certificate. She covered the topic of Worsted preparation and writes her thoughts here.

calling all the singles!

Calling all the singles!

The topic of singles yarn comes up occasionally. But Rachel makes a point here that I'm not sure I've considered before. "spinning with the intention of making a singles yarn is very different from spinning singles with the intention of plying".

Rachel has made a commitment to spinning singles. Will she be loyal? We'll see. But she's certainly making some gorgeous yarn, click through to see more.

Spinning cashmere and trying out a blending board

Spinning cashmere and trying out a blending board

I suspect that Fran is being a little modest about her efforts to spin cashmere as there's a picture of a nice 50g skein in this post.

But the reason I've bookmarked it is Fran's step-by-step photos of her using a blending board to make some beautiful-looking cashmere / silk / wool 'punags' using a blending board.

Protip: if you spot Fran's link to the Qaria project, it's worth a quick browse to read about our own Amanda Hanniford's visit to train the spinners in Kabul and see the fibre and yarn that they now sell.

Powerful women who spun yarn

Powerful women who spun yarn

I suspect that Queen Victoria is merely posing for this picture but I'd love to discover that I'm wrong.

This is one of a number of pictures that Roving Crafter Jenn has collected of powerful people at the wheel or spindle. (Plus one guy being beaten with a distaff, and Samson being forced to dress as a woman and spin.)

She also muses that these things indicate that it's traditionally an exclusively female occupation.

Engineered Sock Yarn

Engineered sock yarn

Engineered is a strong term, but appropriate. Goldilox has carefully designed the construction of her yarn to make it suitable for socks.

She's made an 'opposing twist' three ply, one of her plies being spun in the opposite direction so that it gains more twist in the plying, adding reinforcement. She has also blended mohair with wool for strength.

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Tips and tutorials

Whorls and more

Whorls and more

Rachel says that ratios are "really simple". "Kind of".

If you're at all unsure about those pulleys on your flyer and what to do with them, then read on.

Make your own niddy noddy

Make your own niddy noddy

No, not more PVC pipe. This tutorial makes a niddy noddy from wood and copper.

It looks good, but if you're buying the parts especially, you'll need to either have the parts already or hunt around for a bargain to save very much money over buying a new niddy noddy. (based on extensive research me making a quick visit to eBay just now.)

A long look at short rows

A long look at short rows

The short-row technique is used in sock heels, sometimes garment shaping and that shawl in the thumbnail. So you may come across it if you haven't already.

This is a long promotion for Craftsy's classes, but they are currently offering a free class in short rows. So you can either see this as a free tutorial, or a free introduction to the Craftsy format. Or both.

The startling differences in gauge between knitters

The startling differences in gauge between knitters

The title says it all.

There are countless articles telling you how important it is to knit a gauge swatch, and I do one every time, honest...

But this experiment by an anonymous blogger really illustrates the point. Twelve knitters were asked to make the same square using the same yarn and needles. The difference between the smallest and largest is the equivalent of 5 dress sizes.

Incidentally, the website could be useful. If you visit its home page, type the name of your yarn into the search box, you'll get a long list of suitable substitute yarns.

Thanks to Amanda for the tip.

4 ways to style a cowl

4 ways to style a cowl

Here's another one of those 'how to wear a scarf' videos. I find them useful, although I never manage to get a good look as effortlessly as the model in the video.

This one shows four ways to wear a long infinity (loop) scarf. Including 'The Shrug', which I've just tried with my Sisterhood Cowl and it works!

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Crow whispers to Yvonne: It's said that meeting your doppelganger is a fatal portent.

"Is there anything I can do? Crossed hooves or something like that?"

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 weekly digest email.

Keeping this wheel spinning

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Sometimes just a picture is enough

Knitting a rainbow! – Fibre to yarn to shawl

Knitting a rainbow! - Fibre to yarn to shawl

Corrie made this yarn last year but forgot to blog about it at the time.

The yarn is "a three ply yarn with one wool, one nylon and the third nylon with beads." Corrie has started a shawl and it'll be interesting to see the finished item.

For inspiration: An inkle loom weaves a thin band, useful for straps, belts etc. Although nigdziekolwiek appears to use a rigid-heddle loom.

She has made this band using raw fleece, handspun and woven. It looks naturally-coloured.

The nicest prep

The nicest prep

This month's sexy spindle shot is by threadbender, the spindles are Bosworth, and the fibre is superwash merino/tencel from Kinfolk Yarn and Fibre. Threadbender says "I don't think I've ever spun a nicer prep". They're such gorgeous colours.

Handspun Riddari

Handspun Riddari

I'm sneaking one of my own into the mix here.

This Riddari jumper started life as real shetland tops, some spun during Spinzilla last year and some earlier this year. All natural shades, true 3 ply.

As I write this, it's back on the needles. I wasn't happy with the narrow neck. It's exactly as per the pattern but I'm not comfortable with such a close neck. So I've unravelled the top few rows of the yoke (it was knit bottom-up) and am knitting it again a little wider.

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Free patterns

A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.

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Not-so-free patterns



Raglanify is a .79p iPhone / Android app. Enter your needle size and gauge, sizing info and a few options, you get a custom pattern.

I first heard of Raglanify when ballandskein finished a handspun sweater and was so pleased that she immediately cast on another. Unfortunately I've not yet seen a picture of her finished Raglan in handspun shetland, the one to the right is electriclandlady's.

I've linked to Ravelry's projects page for the app, because it's amazing to see the wide number of variations that people have made.

[update] It's been suggested that I point out that a search of the Ravelry forums for Raglanify turns up some reported problems. But a very large number of people seem to have used it and recommend it. I have bought it and generated a pattern without problems, but not knitted it yet.

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2016 events

wonderewool wales

Wonderwool Wales

23 & 24 April, Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells

Promoting wool and natural fibre production and its use.

Exhibitors and trade stands covering all aspects of felting, knitting, weaving, spinning, crochet and textile art with raw materials, equipment, books and finished products for sale. Competitions and a range of hands-on workshops.

A list of accommodation and camping in the surrounding area is available on the Wonderwool website.

Woolly Worstead

Woolly Worstead

18 & 19 June, 10am - 4pm, Village Hall, The Street, Dilham, Norfolk

The Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers of historic Worstead have asked me to list their family fun day (note the slightly different spelling of Worstead village and the worsted yarn; I'm assured that the one is named after the other.)



Friday 24 June and Saturday 25 June, Cockermouth, Cumbria

Woolfest was founded to provide a showcase and a celebration of the best of wool and wool crafts.

The event is all about creativity and design with beautiful quality, amazing colours and skilled craftsmanship.

Fibre East

Fibre East

30 and 31 July 2016, Redbourne Community College, Flitwick Road, Ampthill, Bedford MK45 2NU

The sixth Fibre East, giving those in the Eastern, Midlands and Southern Regions an opportunity to join in an event which aims to encourage and promote British wool and natural fibres.

The college now provides an indoor venue.

British Wool Show (formerly British Wool Weekend Show)

British Wool Show (formerly British Wool Weekend Show)

Friday 5 and Saturday 5 August, York Auction Mart

Supporting the Campaign for Wool.

Exciting treasures to discover; wool from fleece to finished items and other items you will need to spin, weave, knit, crochet, hand dye, cross stitch, embroider or make felt.



24 and 25 September 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

Shetland Wool Week

Shetland Wool Week

24 September - 2 October 2016

A busy weekend dedicated to celebrating Shetland wool and textile heritage.

Events programme to be announced in April.

Bakewell Wool Gathering

Bakewell Wool Gathering

Bakewell Agricultural Centre Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 October

This year sees the fouth year of the Bakewell Wool Gathering, an event for wool lovers in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales.

There will be exhibitors, demonstrations of fibre crafts, workshops plus a knitting and crochet help desk to help novice and expert alike.

Happy spinning and don't be a stranger!

Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator

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