Hand Spinning News
I've got Blues this month. Happily not the downhearted kind but the natural dyeing kind. Who knew that grape hyacinths and black beans both give a pretty blue?
We've recently had April Fool's Day and a Friday 13th so this month's collection of spinning stories includes some fibrey foolishness and superstition.
Read on for all of this and the rest of this month's collection of spinning-related news, views and reviews; patterns, inspiration and finished projects. This is the full issue for April 2018.
Photo right: Crescent shawl in BFL, Dan and Virginia. Cover photo thanks to Gemma Evans on Unsplash
In the news
Elizabeth Johnson honoured to be Shetland Wool Week patron
Elizabeth Johnson feels honoured to have been chosen as Shetland Wool Week's patron. Her pattern 'The Merrie Dancers Toorie' is to be the event's official hat pattern.
Elizabeth looks forward to seeing the colour combinations that people come up with. The hat features three small patterns, you can use any colours you like.
The pattern is available for free from the Shetland Wool Week website.
Britspin dates announced
Britspin is to take place in October. Spinning will start at 12.01am on Thursday 11 October and finish at Midnight on Sunday 14 October BST
"The British Wool Spinning Marathon" is a challenge event. Teams will consist of up to ten spinners. Sponsoring of teams by fibre-related businesses is encouraged, as is the use of British wool.
There is no entry fee but spinners are invited to make a small donation and all of that money will go to the event's charity, which this time will be the UK Air Ambulance.
The main event is a team yardage competition and there will be other fun and challenging sport-related events.
Edinburgh Yarn Festival
Twisted together in a strong ply
Louise's summary of Edingurgh Yarn Festival is "Big on wool, big on people and community, big on everything".
This post contains two parts of Louise's latest KnitBritish podcast (CR: later item about what to watch / listen to while spinning). One half looks at Ryeland as part of the KnitBritish Wool Exploration. The other features Edinburgh Yarn Festival and a review of Cheviot yarn.
It also has a slideshow containing many pictures from EYF which appears to involve a lot of hugs.
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From the Blogosphere
The top five knitting superstitions
I'm still writing this issue on Friday 13 April. I'm not superstitious, if you have a ladder that needs walking under then I'm your gal.
But Rachel Koon is taking no chances. She's sought out some knitting superstitions in case there were any that she didn't know about.
A knitted skirt
thetwistedyarn makes a strong case for knitting a skirt. She looks fabulous in her 'Jenna' skirt.
"When the weather turns grey or chilly", she says, "I do recommend knitting your own skirts, because what could be simpler than circling round and round and round, with no need for armholes or heels or collars to slow you down?"
The jenna skirt was made by casting on the right number of stitches and knitting in the round, adjusting the stitch count for some shaping and working motifs found in various places.
This post has details of this skirt, plus a second original pattern and a link where you can find out more about that one.
Tuff Socks Naturally: Ryeland the Spin
I'm sure you'll spot right away that one of these yarns is an opposing-ply 3-ply and the other a high-grist two ply. I'm kidding but if you look closely you can spot the tighter, shinier ply in the left-hand skein.
Last month, Rebecca blogged about preparing her Ryeland fleece for spinning. In this post she spins the two types of yarn. Both have proved to be tougher than regular 3-ply and Rebecca hopes to find out which of these two yarns proves more durable.
Depending on the way that your mind works, the technical details of the wheel ratios and treadle rates in this post may be a bit mind-blowing or exciting.
(Further reading on this story: Here Rebecca knits the socks, dyes them and begins testing them.)
Dyeing with grape hyacinth
Keen gardeners will identify these flowers as grape hyacinths.
Alex tells us that the flower was popular for dyeing in Italy. I don't remember seeing it used before, and I'm certainly surprised that the lilac-blue colour remains very true on silk and wool.
Click through to see the results of this experiment. This is an old post (found by accident, thank you Pinterest).
Makers' Month, Norwich Forum
I don't include many of my own blog posts, but this event was too good not to share.
I think it gets better each year. This time the centrepiece was a knitted sculpture of our queen at her coronation (theme: Nostalgia). There were many impressive works on display, along with demonstrations, 'have a go', the Womans' Hour Craft Prize exhibition and more.
Also see: The historic Worstead guild have shared their pictures from the event on their Facebook timeline.
What to watch while handspinning
The title should be 'what to watch or listen to' because if you enjoy audiobooks or podcasts then this does include you.
Anne Merrow doesn't give an actual list of recommendations, but does discuss the sorts of things that will work well while you're spinning.
Fresh madder root contact dye prints and dye vat
These colours look attractive, but they're not such a deep red as Fran's first attempt at using madder roots.
The only difference that she can think of is that she kept the roots in a net bag this time to avoid having to pick the bits out of the wool before spinning. Did that make the difference?
The wool was alpaca/merino tops which had some colour of its own.
Silver birch bark dye at acid, neutral and alkali pH
Last but not least in natural dyeing news, this is a beautiful picture of some skeins of birch-bark dyed yarn swathed over a fallen birch which may or may not have been the donor of the bark.
Fran gives some useful tips about dyeing with bark and discusses how the pH of the bath and modifiers like copper and iron affects the colour.
The Yorkshire Tippie
Knitting sheaths, belts or sticks are used to anchor one needle. The free needle is moved around the fixed one with the left hand, while the right hand throws the yarn. This method is used by the fastest knitters.
it's known as a Shetland tradition, but Ann Kingstone has discovered similar devices from Yorkshire called tippies or tishies.
She writes about her discoveries, and links to another post by Penelope Hemingway on the subject.
Plants and Sheep: an adventure with wool, flax and ramie
What do you get if you cross wool with flax or ramie? It's no joke; in the latest Knitty, Jillian Moreno speaks to Katie from Hilltop Cloud and Jill Duarte of Hipstrings about the properties of these wool / plant blends, and tries some various spinning techniques to see what works.
Amy King attempts to answer the frequently-asked question "How much yardage will I get out of this fibre?"
The answer of course is "as long as a piece of string" but Amy attempts to give some averages for different yarn weights, and then some advice about buying yarn for a specific project.
A little lesson in Tweed
This is a eye-opening demonstration (using a J&S colour) of how dyed fibres of various colours can be blended and spun to produce a single sophicsticated shade. Suzie says that she can spot seven different coloured fibres in this deep red.
To demonstrate how this is relevant to us as hand spinners, she has taken a braid of blended colours and drafted it in two different ways and knitted the resulting yarn.
She achieved a fairly tweedy looking knitted fabric by simply spinning from the end of the fibre, 'combination drafting'. You can achieve a more tweedy look by blending the colours further using carders or a blending board.
(Tip - follow the link that says 'introducing Rebel Blend', I really like the look of the range.)
Crafting 'Black Panther'
As a 'sequel' to last month's story about Nakia's Infinity Scarf from Black Panther (see what I did there?) here is a collection of related knitwear by designer "THE Josh Bennett" (as referred to in the video).
As far as I can see, Josh is not selling the patterns but his knitwear, which tell the story of Black Panther's journey from human to hero. (appears to be official Marvel merchandise. Pictured: vibranium ombre saddle-sleeve.)
After the interview with Josh, Lion Brand is suggesting patterns of theirs which vaguely correspond with Josh's designs but I'm sure that you can find or modify other patterns to recreate his 'inspired by' designs more faithfully if you want to.
Also see: Knithacker's list of the best Black Panther crochet amigurumi patterns.
Batts in the Belfry
One way to deal with a batt is to separate it into its separate colours (if they are in layers or not toooo blended together) and then put the single-colour singles together when plying.
Janelle did this using some batts from a Jillian Moreno class. We see the process from rolags through to finished yarn.
Eeeeeek!!! A Steek!
Despite the title, this is a story of a steek that works out "pretty well" and results in a finished handspun project that Goldilox is happier with than the sweater that she cut.
There are details and pictures of the handspun yarn as well as the steeking and finished project.
Great war historian wears replicated historic great war socks
I did feature the background story of these replica socks a month or two ago, so it's lovely to have a follow-up.
The blog post contains a short summary and a link to the original story. This happy conclusion sees a very dapper and distinguished local historian wearing the replica socks and modelling them beautifully!
Niddy noddy drop spindle
At first I thought that this was a regular turkish spindle being repurposed as an emergency niddy noddy, but it's a distinct type of drop spindle in its own right, a 'niddy noddy drop spindle'.
Seen here being demonstrated in a video, I can see how neat it would be to take a finished skein off your spindle if you want to set and use the singles yarn. But I'm struggling to see an advantage if you're wanting to ply the singles.
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Places to Visit
Macclesfield Silk Museum
Anne Kingstone visited the museum. She didn't find the Yorkshire silk buttons that she was hoping to see, but learned a lot about the textile history and the jacquard (punch-card) loom system in particular.
Tips and tutorials
Seven tips for knitting with energized yarn
One of the important considerations when using singles yarn is that it can bias when knitted. The bias can be reversed according to the stitch you're using, and Amy Tyler decided to experiment with the zig-zag effect and produced a series of patterns in 2006.
This short post on the interweave blog contains some practical tips from Amy for working with energised singles yarn. After reading these, if you're interested in digging deeper, there's a link in that post (and here it is if you want a shortcut) to Amy's entire recent article which appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of Spin Off.
Circular needle storage: solved
KnitPro used to make a ringbinder and sleeves designed to store needles and hooks. I'm not sure whether they still do but Suzie has found a suitable zip-up ringbinder and photo sleeves which do the trick.
Better ways of twisting fringe
If you enjoy weaving but don't always finish your project perfectly, then this article is aimed at you (I'm hanging my head in shame right now).
Susan E. Horton says that others will not admire the rest of the project fully if the fringe is unfinished or messy.
Here is her 12-step programme (actually 13) for creating the perfect fringe and fully attracting those admiring glances.
First stitch syndrome
The title refers not to a fear of casting on a new project but having a sloppy edge to your knitting because of bad tension on the first stitch of each row.
Some like to slip that first stitch but spinfoolish explains how to knit that first stitch and avoid the sloppiness.
Hand health for knitting
It's been World Health Day recently and there have been many articles about the different ways that knitting (and I assume spinning) is good for your health. There have been some possibly overblown claims, but there's one article that is genuinely useful. It contains some hand exercises which help to keep these fragile and precious instruments in good shape.
Quick and easy kitchener stitch
Thanks to NinjaBex for 'regramming' this tip.
Bex says "If you knit a few extra rows in a waste yarn, then steam set (or wash and block) the knitting, then remove the waste yarn, the stitches will hold and not unravel. This makes the Kitchener very quick and easy."
Yarn-like rechargeable zinc battery could power smart clothes
I'm doubtful about the practical applications, but this yarn-shaped battery is fascinating all the same.
This rechargeable battery is in the form of yarn (no word about the yarn weight, but I'm guessing that it's high-grist as it contains metal) that can be bent, stretched, knotted and even washed.
I'd like to see whether it can be knitted, but the developers have already woven it into a 'textile battery' and used it to power some flexible objects.
Knittable zinc-air batteries
Who'd have thought that yarn-like batteries would be such a ripe topic this month, but a different team have also produced a battery that looks and behaves like yarn. The chemistry is a little different here, claiming a longer lifetime than the MnO2 arrangement in the previous story.
I'd challenge the authors on their claim of being 'knittable' and 'knitted' into the garment, if the battery is the black yarn in this picture. Let's see it actually knitted if you're using a picture of actual knitting as the banner image for your article.
I like the fact that this team have started with a cotton base which makes the whole thing seem a little more organic.
Fabric turns kinetic energy into electricity
Not a battery this time but energy-producing fabric. We've seen such yarns before, but this one sounds much closer to an actual finished product.
Structurally the yarn is more like the yarns we know and love (24 hair-thin fibres plied together). Woven into the straps of a rucksack, it produces enough energy during a workout to light an LED, and if enough of the bag were made of the yarn, it could produce enough to "transmit a wireless signal".
It's a sign of bad luck when an acorn falls out of a tree in April. Unless you're the squirrel, who is now convinced that seeing a lone magpie is very lucky indeed.
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
Why not try an Yvonne jigsaw on your computer or tablet? I've set them up with 35 - 42 pieces, just the right number for a coffee-break challenge and you gradually reveal the cartoon.
Thanks so much to Amy King for the idea, she takes photographs of her own sheep and 'jigsaws' them. You can follow her blog or sign up for her newsletter.
Keeping this wheel spinning
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knit.wear's Capsule Collection: Wool Studio
Being the ignoramus that I am when it comes to fashion, I've had to double-check the definition of 'capsule wardrobe' because it seems to me that the designs in "Wool Studio: The Knitwear Capsule Collection" are the opposite of "essential / classic". They have interesting constructions and eye-catching details.
I'm not sure how many of these I would make but I find the collection very appealing. The wrap that I've pictured will be a definite if I buy the book.
I've chosen Dayana's review. Her giveaway will probably be finished by the time that you read this but her review contains lots of pictures showing many of the finished garments.
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Sometimes just a picture is enough
Felted dryer balls get worldwide attention
Sarah Turner has made a business out of making these felt dryer balls, which are a quieter and ecological alternative to their plastic counterparts.
She makes the balls from undyed wool with sheep faces and they represent particular breeds.
She also makes felted soaps, and Fran has recently written an article about how you make those.
I can only find the story on the Yorkshire Post, and boo to them for making me answer a question before I could read the article. I'm linking directly to Sarah's own website and good luck to her.
Painfree stranded colourwork
This beautiful piece is partly yarn spun during Spinzilla 2017 and partly unknown brown yarn.
Jenn has given lots of detail with pictures about the spinning and the knitting. It includes a horrific steeking story and fix (or bodge as she calls it).
She says that she is "really chuffed with how this has turned out".
Garter-vanilla shawl 'recipe'
This is an attractive finished handspun project and also a pattern 'recipe' for a vanilla garter-stitch triangular shawl.
Garter stitch is as simple as it gets (knit, and knit some more). This shawl recipe from Rachel of WelfordPurls adds a little interest by purling every sixth row, and of course there are increases in order to achieve the triangle shape. But otherwise it's a perfect beginner or 'no-brain' project that will turn your handspun yarn into a cosy and attractive shawl.
Handspun and commercial Humulus sweater
elfenwolle has made this jumper using a commercial yarn with her own handspun yarn made from fibre dyed by Katie of HIlltop Cloud.
Katie herself comments "a great reminder that you can mix handspun and commercial yarn!"
Hubby made spindle plyer
There are quite a few ways to ply spindle-spun singles; andean plying, winding off onto bobbins or a toilet roll centre, trasnfering the cop onto a drinking straw, winding a centre-pull ball.
You can improvise a holder and ply directly from the spindles. weavingheart's husband has made this custom spindle holder which looks as if it adjusts for different sized spindles.
Beware of the jellyfish kiss
@catiecorn made and gifted this felted jellyfish mobile. Commenter sharibinn says "Who knew jellies are the perfect felting project!"
Manus in John Arbon yarn
John Arbon met Ann Auger at Edinburgh and shared this picture. Ann had used JA fibre, pollen gold Devonia (yarn in this case but also available as fibre for spinning) to make Kate Davies' Manus.
Mermaid and sea glass
This month's sexy spindle shot is the perfect pairing of 'Mermaind Goddess' spindle and Sea Glass fibre from Inglenook Fibers.
This is Gus the Lonk seen here in an unusually clear and sharp lambing picture.
I had to look up Lonk. It's a hardy old British breed, over 200 years old (Lonk Breeder's Association) and said to back to the 14th century (according to Susan Crawford herself).
It seems to be more of a meat breed, the fleece being medium to coarse, likely to contain some hair / kemp. Finer grades are suitable for outerwear, coarser ones for carpet yarns. (Source: In Sheep's Clothing).
Match and Move
Catherine of ZigZagStitches has made this shawl using fibre from Three Waters Farm.
The pattern is Match & Move by Martina Behm (she of Hitchhiker fame). It uses a little over 1000 yards of fingering weight yarn (14wpi). It has a very low difficulty rating and very high star rating. One commenter calls it the "perfect handspun pattern!"
The Lakehouse Socks claim to be a recipe for those who already know how to knit socks rather than a fully grown pattern, which is probably why Joyuna found it an "engaging" knit and couldn't have finished without help from other Ravelers.
She spun shearling Romney and Mohair (which has been called 'nature's nylon') and N-plied on the fly.
The link is to Ravelry project, visible to Ravelry members only.
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A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.
Collab by Ashley Knowlton and Kate Atherley
The title of this pattern comes from the fact that the fibre was dyed, spun and knit by different members of the Knitty team.
There are notes on the fibre and the spinning method used in the one shown. It's hardly mentioned, but the pattern does say 'single ply'.
The Brethren Sock by Millard Fontenot
"A dude can never have enough hand knit socks", says the designer and who would disagree?
This pattern was not just designed for men but specifically for men who knit. It was designed for a men's knitting retreat and is now available for free.
The socks are made in fingering weight yarn (14 wpi) on 2 - 2.75mm needles. The braided cables intertwine in a very clever way, representing the fraternal bond between male knitters
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Also see some book reviews under Reviews above.
Deep Dive by Anne Hanson
I can't lie, I'm a fan of Anne's designs. They're often plain and classic with unusual and interesting accents, and this is no exception.
The cables are large and simple. They extend down the sides, around the neck, over the shoulders and plunge down the front, making the v-neck appear much deeper than it really is.
The designer suggests that you can use any fingering-weight yarn (14 wpi). That won't make it a fast knit, but it will be warm. "A favourite for all seasons" as she says. There are ten sizes included from XS to 6XL
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Cleveland teen's amazing portrait made of yarn goes viral
This portrait was created by a 16 year old Cleveland girl.
It took her over a month. "Every stitch I made was filled with the emotional bond me and my closest friend have", she said.
It went viral after the artist's sister posted pictures online, and she was amazed at the attention it received.
The photo gallery on this page has a large version and some close-ups of the work.
The wonderful thing that happens when steel wool gets microwaved
I do come across some wonderful non-spinning things while searching for stories about wool and fibre.
In this case, Steve Mould demonstrates what happens when you microwave superfine steel wool. this particular steel wool is "a few microns" which is finer than most of the fibres that we spin.
After some beautiful video of the wool burning, Steve talks in his rather beautiful voice about the science behind the spectacle. It's worth bearing with this (or skipping around) because he goes on to talk about why we're advised not to put metal in a microwave, and answers that classic question about why we're told not to microwave metal things when the inside of the oven is made of metal. He also goes on to show you how you can ignite the superfine wool using an ordinary 9v battery.
In case you try any of this and burn your house down, I should add a reminder that I'm not advocating any of this, merely linking to someone else's entertaining video.
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half oot afore i' da left
For fine-art aficionados, Vivian Ross-Smith has made a collection of work exploring the family ties and history of Mull and Shetland.
The works include painting, textiles, metalwork and sculpture and explore "life, death, illness, healing, and dependency through crofting imagery, the handwriting of her mother and grandfather, and the artist's personal memories of life and loss"
The exhibition runs from April 6 to June 1 at An Tobar arts centre in Tobermory, Isle of Mull.
Vivian's website has good pictures of the works.
28 - 29 April 2018, 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 2018
Saturday 16 - Sunday 17 June 2018, Weavers' Workshop, Dilham, Norfolk
Sheep-shearing demos, crochet, knitting, spinning, weaving, felting- demos and "have a go", alpacas and donkeys to feed and pet.
Fri 22 and Sat 23 June 2018, 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)
Friday 10 and Saturday 11 August, York Auction Centre, Murton Lane, Murton, York, YO19 5GF
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.
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.
Perth Festival Of Yarn
8 and 9 September 2018. Dewars Centre, Glover St, Perth
Bringing together independent dyers, farmers, knitters, spinners, felters and weavers. A quarter of the 60 confirmed vendors will have materials, tools and equipment relating to spinning.
Classes will run over the weekend including two spinning classes led by Janet Renouf-Miller.
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
This year sees the sixth 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 and a fleece stand selling plenty of local fleece
Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator
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