If you're in the northern hemisphere then this is the time of the year when wool comes into its own and helps to keep us warm and comfortable. In our news this month we see home insulation, socks, scarves, blankets and skirt projects; woven, knitted and crocheted. For when the weather's really cold, have you ever thrummed mittens?
This is also the time for looking back over the year. An unusual one to say the least. It's not surprising then that the subject of the lockdown has appeared in a number of items this time.
Read on for this month's especially festive feast of fibrey fun, features and freebies for spinners, knitters, crocheters, dyers and weavers. This is the full issue for December 2020.
This topic has been in the news during 2020 thanks to considerable campaigning with some success.
This article explains the many benefits of using wool for insulation rather than artificial product. It is a high tech product, going through various processes to make it fit for purpose and ensure that it lasts the lifetime of the building.
Perhaps that's why Pantone decided to do something a little different this time. Their own colour of the year is a colour combination. A bright yellow shade, called Illuminating and Ultimate Gray. This makes a mix of optimism and resilience, which is probably very appropriate for the current time.
This is a 2-in-1. In this blog post, Rachel looks back at her "Make Nine 2020" and considers her prompts for 2021.
Her 2020 projects page contains an impressive collection of finished projects, most of them using handspun yarn.
I find it a little poignant that she started that project in March, when we had little idea how the year would unfold.
Even if this doesn't inspire you to take part in Make Nine 2021, I hope that Rachel's thoughts will inspire you to think about one or more projects that you'd like to make in 2021 and begin to look forward.
This is a bittersweet story, it's the start of Wool Merchant's Daughter's journey in spinning. It shows that being judgemental can be damaging and a little kindness can be the start of a lifelong pursuit.
At first glance the answer to that may seem obvious.
But what about fibres that come from natural products but go through human manufacturing processes (regenerated fibres)?
Amy Clarke Moore gathers some plant and animal fibres. If you're new to spinning, this will be a good introduction to some fibres that you may not have considered. If you're more experienced, this gallery is still a joy to scroll through.
This weaving loom saved me when all my (pre-pandemic) hobbies disappeared
I'd find this story more convincing if it had a picture of the author's work rather than a library picture of the loom and a list of affiliate links, but I'm still including the story because the sentiment is a good one. If you had hobbies that involved going out and being with other people, then you'll have missed those this year.
Nikita Richardson says that her pottery and music hobbies were curtailed and so she decided to buy a weaving loom. Tapestry weaving was a popular theme in last month's HSN. Nikita rightly says that you can even begin with a loom made of cardboard. It may be a while before things are back to normal, so this may be something you'd like to try if you've not tried it before.
Anu Bhatia's final words in the instructional video are "easy peasy". I'm not sure that I would agree but I feel that if I watched the video some more times and tried it myself, I'd be able to produce something using this technique.
The technique is doubleweave pick-up. In doubleweave, two layers are woven at the same time. In pick-up, weavers manipulate warp ends manually with a pick-up stick to create various weave structures. Doubleweave pick-up combines these two techniques to produce a pixelated graphic in fabric. A pattern such as a cross-stitch pattern will work, and Anu Bhatia's Leo The Cat pattern is available at the link below.
Historically, wool yarn used in embroidery, or crewel embroidery, would tend to be fine, smooth, and consistent. However, says Kate Larson, as spinners we can make any yarn we please. The type of wool and the preparation and spinning method produce yarns with various properties.
Here are Kates tips for producing different types of wool yarn for embroidery. If the subject intrigues you after reading part one using the main link below, then part 2 is here in which Kate discusses some common stitches and demonstrates them with wool thread.
Intarsia: the full ball fallacy and other tangle tips
If you've tried intarsia knitting then this may be a familiar sight. If you've done very much of it then you'll have found your own techniques that work for you. But if you haven't reached that point, then Kay has some tips.
I've already added Kaffe Fassett's Village Scarf to this month's patterns. In this article Kay is knitting (and links to) his Kites Throw from the same book.
Patterns that include tassels will often explain how to make a tassel, but of course you can use your favourite method. There's nothing stopping you from adding them to any other shawl of scarf to add weight to the edges or points.
Kiwi inventor banking on corn starch and wool combination to save the wool industry
Inventor Logan Williams has created a biodegradeable material made of a combination of strong wool and corn starch, which could be a replacement for plastic and help the wool industry. (very few details on this page.)
If you like Yvonne, click the image to find her page, you can use next and previous to explore more cartoons.
Keeping this wheel spinning
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The Coronavirus pandemic is causing havoc in all our lives at the moment but what about the charities and organisations that rely on public fundraising to maintain their care services? Martin House Children's Hospice is such a charity, with an annual running cost of around £9 million to provide their vital services to families, they need our help.
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The Valkyries' Loom: The Archaeology of Cloth Production by Michèle Hayeur Smith
As an academic book, this isn't cheap but Laura Fry says that it's more readable than you might expect.
Michèle Hayeur Smith examines Viking textiles as evidence for the little-known work of women in the Norse colonies. While Previous researchers have overlooked textiles to help understand gender and economy.
It's not so much the yarn but the technique that intrigued me about this bag.
As Janelle says, you could make flat fabric, fold and seam it. Doubleweave makes two layers of fabric connected at the selvedge. This is tubular doubleweave; two layers connected at each selvedge to make a tube.
This is a woven skirt incorporating handspun made by Melissa Ludden. It's mostly cottolin, but uses handspun singles for the warp near the hem.
This archived article gives instructions for weaving the fabric. There is no sewing pattern for the skirt, I guess a sewing pattern is difficult to provide electronically or at least print at home. but Melissa does give some tips for drawing your own. Or you can use your favourite bought pattern.
This Doctor Who-inspired scarf is one of nine handwoven projects appearing in Handwoven magazine's Reader's Gallery. The page is especially interesting because each has a 'designer statement' and many of those reflect on the life during lockdown.
This particular piece uses picked-up doubleweave; a tutorial also appears in this issue. Tanya used charts from a double-knitting pattern.
This is an interesting approach to providing a pattern. The primary link to the pattern takes you to a video tutorial, which may be useful if you want to see the designer talk through some of the techniques used. In the video's description is a download link for the free written pattern.
The thumbnail I've used is from the designer's Instagram. It's a yoked sweater. Scroll through the pictures on this Instagram post to see the many different looks you can achieve with your yarn / colour choices.
This pattern is made from squares, each in two colours. The pattern suggests an overall main colour and any number of contrast colours. Gauge is not so important although I guess that the yarn weight should be reasonably consistent throughout the project.
This all means that it could be ideal for using stash yarn.
There are no seams, you pick up stitches as you go. This could be a shawl or blanket.
The Bourdon Street Chemist, a fully stocked felt pharmacy
Lucy Sparrow has been responsible for felted food and well-stocked supermarkets, here she has filled a grim operating room with felted pharmaceuticals, a skeleton and medical mannequin, dripstand complete with blood and a bleeding heart.
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.
And, if you celebrate Christmas, to wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.
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