Hand Spinning News
The end of the year is a time for looking forward as well as looking back over the past twelve months.
This issue contains Advent and Christmas projects, retrospectives and reflection of 2019's spinning and a sneaky peek at some things we can look forward to in 2020.
As a special Christmas bonus, the 2020 show dates (announced so far) are here. They start in January with Waltham Abbey Wool Show on 19 January. I'll add further dates as I have them.
Read on for this month's feast of festive fibrey fun for spinners, knitters, crocheters, dyers and weavers. This is the full issue for December 2019.
Photo right: Goldilox' Nature's Walk blanket. The cover photo is Highland Heffalump's Smitten garland
In the media
Twool: Garden twine from wool
Kim Stead had a simple idea which has resulted in her using around seven tonnes per year of the British wool clip and also producing an everyday product using a renewable, durable and natural material.
As her product has gained a foothold, she has been able to move from a premium product produced in small batches to a larger-scale operation and is developing a wider range of products.
This article on RBST's website tells Kim's story.
Longest thread competition winner
The winner of the 2019 longest thread competition was Julitha Barber of Australia.
Julitha spun and plied an amazing 986m from just 10gms of Merino.
This was back in March. The reason that I'm mentioning it now is that the story appears in the latest copy of The Wheel magazine which landed on my mat today. It contains a very good article with more photographs and a useful list of tips from Julitha herself.
I'm linking to the story on Ashford's website. The full article as it appears in the magazine doesn't seem to exist online anywhere, but I do recommend this new issue of The Wheel. It has a new look, is bigger and contains so many enticing projects and articles. I have to say that I'm really impressed. You can subscribe for a glossy heavyweight copy, or you can ask for a free copy on lower-quality paper from your Ashford dealer when you place an order.
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This is Josefin's 'Bianka' jumper, named after the sheep who donated the fleece.
The fleece came in shades of grey, Josefin sorted this and spun five skeins in a range of shades. There are lots of details and photos in this blog post.
The jumper is "an everyday sweater that lets the colour gradient be the star".
Spinning my way through 2019
Knottygnome makes two interesting points in this post. She is pleased with the amount she spun in 2019 and this was achieved with 15 minutes a day. Little and often really works.
She also points out that the original fibre for this second skein of yarn was "eye-searingly bright" and yet the finished yarn is pretty and more muted.
A multicolored library of the world's ochre pigments
Artist and researcher Heidi Gustafson forages, processes, and catalogues ochre samples.
Ochre is a naturally-occuring mixture of iron oxide, clay and sand. It has probably been used since pre-history for art, body decoration and medicine.
Her archive has over 550 samples and the variety of colour is surprising.
Wool Exploration 2020
The KnitBritish Wool Exploration will continue in 2020 with slightly fewer breeds. There isn't a schedule yet but some details are revealed in this podcast and the shownotes.
It also contains a chat with Esther Rutter of the new book This Golden Fleece: A Journey Through Britain's Knitted History
At the sheep show: Rhinebeck roundup
Rhinebeck is one of the major shows 'across the pond' and Anne Merrow of Spin-Off magazine writes about the trends she noticed as well as her experience buying a fleece and handing it to a processor.
Nålbinding: a short history of an ancient craft
Nålbinding goes back to ancient times and is enjoying a resurgence today. There are a few archaeological examples which Penelope Hemingway mentions here, some of which we've seen here in HSN.
Smitten (a Holiday Garland)
I look forward to seeing Smitten garlands each year, it's a great idea for a home-made Advent calendar. But this one is more than that, each little mitten and the iCord string is made from handspun yarn. Some is art yarn, some is home-dyed, some is blended.
"It has a history of my early spinning, plying, blending and dyeing experience", says Highland Heffalump.
Nature's Walk blanket crochet-a-long
Goldilox hadn't tried a crochet-a-long before but thought it would be a good way to use up oddments of handspun yarn. It started in September and she received patterns for six different squares and then patterns for joining and the border.
She also used some additional patterns, including a dragonfly design which is very clever.
My epic cloth project
Flora and Fiber was inspired by Felicia Lo's Epic Cloth Challenge. One preps and/or dyes the fibre, spins the yarn, knits or weaves the fabric. Felicia suggested ideas and milestones.
She spun 1,945 yards of yarn in five colours of alpaca fibre. This is the finished wrap. There are many more details in this blog post, along with a link to part 1 in which she talks more about the project.
Spinning for lace: a test
There are opinions about whether 2-ply is better for lace, whether combing or carding is better and whether you should use fine or coarse, short staple or long.
Heather Fulford puts these things to the test.
Breed stufy: Värmland
Värmland is another traditional Swedish breed. I'm not sure how likely we are to come across such fleece in the UK but this is an interesting read. A fleece with outer and under coat presents so many possibilities for spinning and Josefin's yarn looks beautiful.
"If you are ever in a creative rut, try something new", advises Melanie Duarte.
This article documents her first skeins of cotton. She tried spinning various types of cotton on various tools, and made small samples using a pin-loom. The simple samples have shown her how gauge and sett can change fabric.
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When little needs saying except 'beautiful colour'
The curse lives
KnitWit says that the colours in this yarn don't look quite as Christmassy in real life, but I do like the Christmassy look.
She spun fine and was hoping for more yardage than the fibre yielded.
Spinning Glacier Sunrise
This is the fibre and resulting yarn that Fiber Sprite calls Glacier Sunrise.
The colours were based on a photograph that she took. She formulated dyes to match the colours. The original photograph and more pictures of the yarn and fibre are at the other end of this link.
A New Start
At first glance this bobbin of singles looks very sombre. "moody and subtle" says Knit/Wit. But look more closely and you'll see an intense blue and an olive green.
A picture of the original fibre is at the link below. You'll see some rich purples and browns in there too.
The colour way is called Two Roads Diverged on Bond wool from Southern Cross Fibre.
Feeling icy blues
aliceinfiberland is feeling the icy blues as the Midwest heads into winter.
This fibre was pulled through a diz from her blending board
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Short stop-motion animation with wool | "Revolution"
This is a clever and cute stop-motion video on the subject of yarn and also made from yarn.
Thanks to at least two Ravelry groups that have shared it.
Tips and tutorials
Idea Gallery: Weave a Memory
I've seen sliced photographs incorporated in woven pieces before but now I've learned from this article that the technique of holding down the slices (or any material as a weft) with warp threads is known as the Theo Moorman inlay technique.
Rather than slice a paper print, Daryl Lancaster suggests printing onto special cloth designed to take printer ink. Details are in the article.
How I make my felted lampshades
I've enjoyed seeing these felted lampshades online, I think they're a clever idea and an attractive product.
So it's good to see that Highland Heffalump has detailed her entire process.
This tutorial is in three parts. I'm linking to part 3, which has links to the other two parts at the top.
Explore her Instagram feed to see some Christmas baubles in a similar style.
Corinne's Christmas Wreaths
This is one of Corinne's Christmas Wreaths.
It involves some home dyeing and some tailspinning so it may be an opportunity to learn some new skills.
This tutorial appears on Fibreygoodness' blog, a link to a tailspinning video is included.
If you like Yvonne, click the image to find her page, you can use next and previous to explore more cartoons.
Become even more involved. Become a patron.
Jigsaw - online
Thank you very much if you've had a go at any of these on your computer or tablet.
I've set them up with 35 - 50 pieces- just the right number for a coffee-break challenge and you gradually reveal the cartoon.
But if you fancy more of a challenge (or less) you can customise the number of pieces before you start.
Keeping this wheel spinning
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Adding the Ashford E-Spinner 3 to my life
This episode of Sweetgeorgia's Vlog is effectively an unboxing and review of the Ashford e-spinner.
Felicia met Ashford's Kate Sherratt at a show and saw that the latest version of the spinner seemed a little quieter, smoother, better than previous versions.
In this very insightful video we see how she feels after a month of using it.
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Sometimes just a picture is enough
Back to Nature
This shawl was made some time ago. It looks familiar, I may have featured it before, but the picture is used this month as the lead image in a magazine article.
The attractive shawl looks perfect against the fence which is slowly being reclaimed by nature.
The pattern is Nature's Lace by Susan Ashcroft was made from mini-skeins, each of which was spun using a different tool.
Liz Green has been doing a 365 challenge, spinning from birthday to birthday. As 2020 will be a leap year, I suspect that may make it a 366 challenge, which is even better (to the tune of one).
This rather splendid spindle shot shows day 194.
It's raining men
This embroidery is called "It's raining men". The clouds were once a disappointing experiment in vegan wool, but brought out to make these colourful clouds.
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A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.
Headband with a twist by Mirella Moments
A headband will keep your ears warm without flattening your hair as much as a hat.
This is not so much a pattern as a tutorial, in pictures and text as well as a video.
The headband is in English rib with a twist which hides the seam.
Crochet water bottle carrier by Wool and Chocolate
It has a strap so that the bottle can be easily carried and doesn't get lost. The carriers can be colour-coded so that everyone knows whose bottle is whose.
This blog post doesn't really contain a pattern but it does contain enough information for you to be able to make one if you know some basic crochet.
Striped Hooded Scarf by Deborah Carpenter Bagley
This is Benjamin from Schacht giving us a cheeky peek from inside his hooded scarf.
What's not obvious at first glance is that the scarf is made from pin-loom squares.
He has used worstead weight commercial yarn for his but it would be a perfect project for handspun yarn of a similar weight. Pin looms such as the Zoom Loom are fun and addictive to use, so you'll soon have these squares made up.
Little Window Mitts by Valérie Miller
Not only are these mitts very warm because they have two layers, the lining is colourful and the outer shell has holes which act like little window-frames for a stained glass effect.
This is a new pattern, not yet tech-edited but it's free right now and Val asks for a charitable donation if you like it.
Breckle by Shilo Weir
The spinning content in Knitty magazine has been reducing and in the current issue appears to be limited to just Jillian Moreno's column. None of the patterns this time are marked as 'designed for handspun'.
I hope it bounces back a bit. But I do like this pattern and I can see it made from chunky handspun yarn (or strands held together to make up the thickness.) The yarn suggested by the pattern is 7 wpi
The name, incidentally, was suggested by a neural network. We've had a link here before to at least one of Janelle Shane's crazy AI adventures.
Jul by Anniken Allis
Depending on when you read this issue, you may still have time to make these additions to your tree decorations.
I'm linking to her blog post in which she gives not only a link to the free pattern but also a number of video tutorials.
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But is it art...?
Spin yarn as text
These are contrasting yarns. Not only in their colours, but in the feelings that they evoke (or maybe even provoke).
One may fill you with feelings of disgust, the other with calm and delight. Maybe their meanings will be different for you and that's OK.
Rebecca says that all yarn tells a story. But usually not as intentionally as this art yarn.
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Waltham Abbey Wool Show
Sunday 19 January 2020 10am-4pm, Marriott Hotel, Old Shire Lane, Waltham Abbey
Chosen charity since 2017 is Knit for Peace. Workshops range from beginner to intermediate.
50 exhibitors, a selection of crochet, knitting, spinning and other craft workshops at a variety of levels.
Norfolk Makers Festival
Sat 8 To Sun 23 Feb 2020, The Forum, Norwich.
A wide variety of crafts including knittings, spinning, weaving, crochet.
Demonstrations, have-a-go tables, workshops and exhibitions include Norwich Castle tapestry, RBST, Nudiknits, Saori Shed, Drop Spindle for Beginners with Jenn Monahan and much more.
Friday 21 - Sunday 23 February 2020, Farnham Maltings, Hampshire
A curated marketplace of over 70 quality exhibitors, well established practitioners alongside first time yarn show exhibitors selling yarn & fibre accessories. A programme of bookable workshops, talks & demonstrations led by UK & International experts.
Heartlands, 15 March 2020
New larger venue, Cornwall College, Pool, TR15 3RD
Over 40 exhibitors, Cornwoolly brings together suppliers of virtually everything you need for your project, including a vast array of wool in all its states, and showcasing some of the best textile artists working in the South West today.
Buxton Wool Gathering
9 and 10 May 2019, Grand Octagon room, Pavilion Gardens, Buxton
The organisers of Bakewell Wool Gathering are pleased to announce the second year for Buxton Wool Gathering in May this year.
The Wool Monty
Saturday 13 June and Sunday 14 June 2020 FlyDSA Arena, Broughton Lane, Sheffield S9 2DF
Accessible, inclusive, welcoming.
26 and 27 June 2020, Mitchell's Lakeland Livestock Centre, Cockermouth, Cumbria CA13 0QQ
Woolfest was founded to provide a celebration of natural fibres and a showcase for the best of wool and wool crafts. It is all about creativity and design with beautiful quality, amazing colours, skilled craftsmanship and a huge enthusiasm for all things wool related.
11 and 12 July 2020, Uffculme Centre, Birmingham B13 8QY
A fibre festival produced by Stitches and Hos. It comprises of a marketplace, programme of workshops, demonstrations and of course cake!
1 - 2 August 2020, Location and further details tbc
Wool and Wellbeing festival for the North East.
Southern Wool Show
5 and 6 September 2020, Newbury Racecourse, Berkshire
The perfect event for all lovers of knitting, crochet, feltmaking, weaving, spinning, dyeing, and all things woolly!
26 and 27 September 2020, Skipton Auction Mart, North Yorkshire
Stunning exhibitions, skill demonstrations and a full programme of textile workshops create a visual feast and make Yarndale a real must-visit for yarn lovers.
Shetland Wool Week
26 September - 4 October 2020
A busy week dedicated to celebrating Shetland wool and textile heritage.
Includes classes, talks, drop-ins, art. See website for the full events listing.
West Wales Wool Show
Saturday 3 October 2020, 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.
The Wool Event, Masham Sheep Fair
26 and 27 September 2020, 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.
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 enjoy Hand Spinning News, please don't keep it to yourself. Obviously the link to the full version is a benefit for paying subscribers, but 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!)
Happy spinning and see you in 2020!
Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator
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