Hand Spinning News
There are many ways to make a gradient or ombre yarn; by blending fibres, by dyeing the fibre in a gradient or dyeing the spun yarn. This month Rebecca of Chemknits has published a tutorial for a fascinating and very effective way to make a long and even gradient by 'breaking' food dye with a machine-knitted blank.
Using a gradient yarn takes a little forward planning to make sure that you use the entire gradient, or the part of the gradient you like.
Gradient yarn is a theme that runs through this month's issue; tips, tutorials and finished projects for inspiration.
Edinburgh Yarn Festival appears to have been a great experience for all concerned, I've picked out accounts from a vendor, a visitor and a volunteer.
Read on for all this plus news, reviews, a feast of free patterns, finished projects and fibrey photos.
This is the free, edited issue for April 2017. Scroll to the bottom to find out how to receive a longer version of HSN a couple of weeks earlier.
Photo right: handa396's shawl using Hilltop Cloud fibre. Cover photo 'Red White Green and Black Woven' copyright creativecommonsstockphotos used under Creative Commons Zero (CC0) public domain licence.
Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2017
Edinburgh Yarn Festival recap and yarn haul
Kristin crossed the Atlantic to visit EYF, so it's no surprise that she has included shots of the city and Scotland generally in her video montage.
The first few minutes of this episode of her video blog (after the introduction) feature video clips of her trip which will certainly whet your appetite for the next EYF if you've not been before.
The video also includes a review of Kate Davies' Book of Haps which Kristin bought while in Edinborough.
More yarn - Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2017
I'm grateful to everyone who has posted photographs and blogged about EYF, though it was harder to find the spinning.
Ruth gives us the volunteer's point of view, including some behind-the-scenes and this picture of the lovely Spin City Louise.
Look out for the hilarious photograph of Sockmatician Nathan Taylor.
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From the Blogosphere
Rachel spun the yarn that made this pullover during last year's Spinzilla. She was unsure about whether to overdye the attractive grey but took the plunge and used black walnut.
She met a problem while knitting; hardened left-over lanolin spoiled her knitting experience, but following advice from others, she completed the knitting and then soaked using Power Scour.
She says that the stitches are visibly more even after this treatment.
The pattern is Fireside Pullover. It's designed to be flattering, which Rachel agrees with.
Final Project: Part One
Aaargh. What's the point of a forward-thinking law that bans dodgy chemicals, when the large companies simply ship the fibre to another country to have the same treatment done? It gives the goods a larger carbon footprint because of the transport, and the pollution is only moved somewhere else.
Australian ultrafine merino is the fibre in question, it's used in hi-tec high-performance undergarments.
Rebecca of Needle & Spindle decided to see whether she could make a much more ethical alternative for her Spinning Certificate's end-of-course project.
There's a lot of information in this inspirational post, but not the finished project itself, which is in her part two, I'll link to that next month.
Spinning all the things
I start to feel a little guilty if I have too many projects started. I love this photograph because it shows that there's someone with more fibres on the go than me, because of the varied fibres involved and because the colours in this picture look so amazing together.
Tracy has realised that she has all four major fibre types on her spindles (I think those would be linen, cotton, wool, silk)
Taking Bentheimer Landschaf for a spin
Bentheimer Landschaf is an old, endangered German / Dutch breed. nemo ignorat bought some fleece from this breed and others last year.
This an interesting look at fleece from a dual-coated old breed. For comparison, there are pictures of yarn spun directly from the fleece, from carded fleece and from combed fleece. Also combing using mini-combs, a look at the separation of the guard-hairs and a comparison of yarn spun from (mostly) undercoat and yarn spun from the hair(!)
Daffodils and the effect of alkaline pH
March was the month for Daffodil dyeing on the Plant Dyes For All Seasons calendar.
Fran's own crop was diminished by slugs but she found a plentiful supply.
In this post she also looks at achieving and keeping a strong colour and the effect of alkali on the colour.
Sheep to Shop: Hosiery and Knitted Goods
Thanks to Ashley of Woolful for sharing this Australian heritage video.
It was made in 1924 and shows the fleece's journey through a commercial mill. Commercialisation was slow in Australia and until the late 19th century was largely home-based.
This shot shows a frame containing dozens of flyers.
Five secrets of natural dye
Natural dyes are all around us, in mushrooms, leaves, insects, roots and wood. "You just need to know the magic recipes to coax them out" says Anne Merrow in this article on the Interweave site.
She goes on to spill five secrets from Natural dye experts Elizabeth McTear and Dagmar Klos.
Genuine hebridean wool from Skye
Although this is a story of what's ultimately a mill-spun yarn, Croft 29 is a real croft with a small flock of sheep.
This is a very interesting read. The photographs are amazing and if you're like me they'll make you yearn to be there, although I'm sure the lifestyle is much tougher than it appears here!
More about the yarn: Louise's review of Croft 29 yarn features in episode 81 of the KnitBritish podcast.
Perfect slouchy grey-dient hat
This gorgeous finished project isn't made in hand spun yarn, but Tanis has used a very special yarn, 100% merino, with a gradient handpainted by an indie dyer.
The reason I'm including this project (other than the excellent pun in the title) is because she's used the gradient perfectly. It is something that takes care, and Tanis gives some advice in her blog post.
There is unfortunately no pattern for me to link to, but I suggest typing 'slouchy hat' into Ravelry's pattern search for loads of free and paid options, knitting and crochet.
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Tips and tutorials
Ply 2+ singles with a hand spindle
I'm not the biggest fan of the medium of video but I love chantimanou's posts. Despite the fact that I barely understand the language.
Her tips are good and her enthusiasm and spirit are infectious.
Her web pages and videos inspired me to begin using an app to improve my schoolgirl German. But Google Translate does a pretty good job of translating her web pages, and after a little digging I've discovered how to switch on autotranslate for her videos; first switch on captions to see subtitles in German, then click the cog for settings and find your way through to autotranslate and then English. It's far from perfect but her demonstrations are usually pretty self-explanatory.
Here she demonstrates two ways to ply a larger number of singles. The second method using a ball-winder is particularly intriguing.
The four easiest ways to spin gradient yarn
A long colour gradient across a finished project is a very effective thing, and there are many ways to achieve the gradient.
Anne Merrow writes about four ways to maintain a smooth colour progression from a dyed braid of fibre.
The lazy girl's guide to weaving tapestry with handspun
"We don't spin because it's fast; we spin because it feels good" says Sarah Swett. Whether you spin specifically for tapestry weaving, or use up small ends, the small loom has become a very popular way to create something decorative with your yarn.
Anne Merrow presents three tips from Sarah which will help if you're thinking of trying a small tapestry loom.
If you're an outdoors person, or if you'd like to introduce a young or not-so-young person to the craft, then this short video reposted by British Fibre Art magazine is a good demonstration of a very easy way to begin making yarn using a small wire spindle that you can carry around in your pocket.
February's mystery object
This is the 'mystery object' from an old photograph which appeared in February's HSN.
Readers got in touch and some posted on the HSN group discussion board. Most agree that it's a hand-cranked cotton gin / ginny, and thanks to keekee1 who posted some links which show very similar devices.
Team HSN's Zoe suggests that a modern pasta-maker will do the same job!
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Sometimes just a picture is enough
Sheep to shawl
This gradient has been achieved in the dyeing. The fabulously strong colour was obtained from lichen.
Puffintoad's 'sheep to shawl' project was made from local Wensleydale.
I gather that this stunning shawl was made as part of a mystery shawl knit-a-long. gumblossomyarns has used her own naturally-dyed yarns in a variety of beautiful colours.
During the conversation, gumblossomyarns makes some interesting comments about choosing shades for a project.
Explore her pictures for more photographs of the shawl. The hashtag #snowmeltkal shows the same shawl made in hundreds of different colour combinations.
Trindling silk hankies
This month's sexy spindle shot is judiuni's trindle, on which she's spinning some 100% silk.
Within the conversation, judiuni explains her method, she splits the silk hanky into thin layers, pulls each layer into a ring, drafting it to the right thickness, and then uses her spindle to add twist without drafting further. (she gives a link to a knitty article.)
Farm visit and shearing day
This is a fabulous shearing-in-progress shot. I love the expression on the sheep's face and the interestingly unusual view of a hoof.
There are many more 'before, during and after' pictures on the page which are the result of Elysa's visit to her friend Kristin's farm.
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A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.
Bandersnatch by Anna Wessel
The swallowtail elements reminded the pattern author of the sharp teeth of Lewis Carroll's creature.
Here's a chance to get creative. The pattern doesn't give row-by-row instructions but allows you to decided on the size of the shawl and number and placement of the swallowtails. Use any weight yarn.
Amalgam by Nell Ziroli
The particular colours chosen here hurt my eyes a little but I can see the potential for a more harmonious combination.
The concept of a single garment that can be worn as a ponchette or skirt appeals to me too.
The pattern appears in the current issue of Knitty.
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Echinacea crochet shawl by Andrée-Anne Marceau
Although Crafternoon Treats hasn't made her shawl in handspun yarn, I was inspired by her review of the pattern. She's used four colours, the requirement for the last colour looks quite modest.
Others have made the shawl in colour gradients and solid colours and all work well.
Idlewood by Cecily Glowik MacDonald
This pattern comes recommended by Team HSN's own woollyelly who says that hers is "cosy and soft and lovely". It's a very popular pattern that has been made many times using handspun yarn.
The integral cowl can be worn like a loose cowl or a hood. The pattern has short sleeves but I notice that some have chosen to knit three-quarter or long sleeves.
Blakeney by The Fibre Workshop
Last month Jenn had finished a cardigan from yarn she spun during Spinzilla 2016 using a special blend from John Arbon. But she was being coy about the finished project. Presumably because she was waiting for the perfect Norfolk day for this photo shoot with her model.
The pattern is designed for handspun. The garment shown in the pattern is made from Arbon's Spinfresh plied with a natural grey for a shifting blue/grey reminiscent of the shallow North Sea.
Helka by Linda Marveng
My powers of resistance are weak when it comes to a long jacket.
This is flattering with its V neck and figure-hugging shape.
There are many examples and I'm torn between dark natural, light natural or a solid colour.
The pattern rather intriguingly calls for two thinner yarns held together while knitting - a 100% wool and a blend. I guess this is to reduce stretch as one of the yarns contains nylon with an alternative containing silk.
Tups by Ann Kingstone
Thank you to Yarnspider Sarah who is making one right now.
This could be a great first colourwork project, or ideal for that situation where you have a small amount of fibre from a specific sheep, white or coloured. The main colour could be a commercial yarn.
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10 & 11 June, 10am - 4pm, Village Hall, The Street, Dilham, Norfolk NR28 9PT
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 names are historically linked.)
Fri 23 and Sat 24 June June 2017, 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.
British Wool Show (formerly British Wool Weekend Show)
Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 July, Thirsk Rural Business Centre, Blakey Lane, Thirsk
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.
23 and 24 September 2017, 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
Happy spinning and don't be a stranger!
Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator
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