The cover photo shows much merriment taking place on St Distaff's Day, Distaff Day or Roc Day as you prefer. It involves water dousing and possibly fire-setting. As is traditional in January, we take a look at the customs and myths associated with the feast day of this non-existent saint. JillianEve has covered the subject beautifully for us. She demonstrates the use of a distaff and shows us her own Distaff Day tradition along the way.
January is named after Janus, a Roman two-faced god who appropriately looks back and ahead at the same time. That's what we tend to do this month too, reflect on the previous year's projects and plan new ones. I don't know whether Janus is also responsible for January sales but look out for the odd January sale in the pattern suggestions this month.
Yvonne needs cheering up and I hope you'll find some reasons to be cheerful in this month's feast of fibrey fun, features and freebies for spinners, knitters, crocheters, dyers and weavers.
Many people used the extra time in 2020 to immerse themselves in big projects. This is Josie George wearing her temperature scarf. She recorded the temperature each day with two rows (you can see her colour chart on the tweet. It looks as if she held double with one of 4 colours of a finer yarn to record conditions.)
The finished scarf has 732 rows (2 rows per day) which makes 70,368 stitches and 1kg of yarn.
How long can fibre survive in your stash and still be usable?
That's such a good question, I'm going to post it in the HSN Ravelry group.
One of Knit/Wit's 2021 goals was to spin the oldest fibre in her stash. I use the past tense as she has now crossed that goal off her list. It caught my eye because of the beautiful colours, which are all tones of one colour (possibly technically 'tints' but a colour expert is welcome to clarify that for me). She bought this braid way back in 2008 (actually late 2008, so a mere 12 years ago rather than 13).
She says that the shades are well-distributed. I look forward to seeing how they play out when knitted.
This breed, which I'm glad that I don't have to pronounce, is a conservation breed with a dual coat. In the larger version of this picture you can clearly see the long silky fibres and the fluffy undercoat. You can separate these for two different types of yarn, or spin them together either woollen or worsted.
In this post, Josefin shows the two yarns that she has made. The outercoat combed and worsted-spun and the undercoat carded and spun longdraw.
The yarns are very different but both very beautiful.
Here's a fascinating experiment. You can make fibre from a blending board (or drum / hand carders I suppose) into fauxlags or sliver. The results are very different, as demonstrated here by beechwoodcraft.
Perendale is a cross breed which has fleece that is hard to classify. Janelle received this as part of the Breed School programme and spun this beautiful skein after sampling different spinning methods.
Here are her notes about the breed and her experiments.
I recommend JillianEve's video. In it she looks at the traditions / myths around St Distaff's day - the reason for this day, the shenanigans which may or may not be factual, a look at distaffs themselves and her own St Distaff's day tradition along with a demonstration of how to use a ring-distaff.
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
Your news here
Are you a teacher, pattern designer, dyer, equipment manufacturer or supplier?
Would you like to reach the readership of thousands of hand spinners and at the same time help to support Hand Spinning News ?
Find out more about advertising here using the link below.
If you are a supplier, please don't miss the UK Supplier List. If you're not already on it, please let me know, and if you are on it, please consider paying a modest amount for a coloured box around the listing and an additional sales message.
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.
As a way of offering support to Martin House, Adam Curtis Online are donating a percentage every sale of their two most popular ranges, the Best of British Wool Throw Collection and the Real Shetland Cushion range.
Please see their blog for more information about Martin House and the fundraising products.
This is Janelle's Pool Drops shawl made from a handspun gradient. It's one of two projects that she finished on the same day!
There's a warning in this blog post about running short of yarn. I'm sure we've all been there and one tactic is to weigh your remaining yarn after each row and thus calculate whether you have enough for the remaining rows.
By doing this, Janelle found out that handspun yarn can be less consistent than commercial yarn, with usage per row ranging from 1.9 grams to 2.7grams.
I haven't featured an Olympic spinning wheel for a while. I know that they're too ornate for some. I think the paintings on the drive wheels are amazing. Gary now has a laser machine and this nautical wheel has little engraved anchors and compasses.
I didn't notice the cute cat-in-a-diving-suit right away and I have to admit that it's very cute.
Most of the projects I feature are recent ones, but I came across this project while considering the Blue Shimmer Cap as a pattern suggestion. There are a few handspun examples and it's great for colourwork junkies - the 'bohus' style has up to five colours per row.
mushinweaving's brown Blue Shimmer is made from spindle-spun handspun cotton. The scarab beetles are her addition.
She found that Yorkshire folk knitted stranded colourwork stars well over two centuries ago. This one has a festive feel.
The other nice feature of this hat are the corkscrew tassels. Use your favourite search engine to search for "knit corkscrew" to find lots of videos and written instructions.
In short, you cast on the number of stitches for the length of your tassel. For the next row, Increase two in every stitch. Finally bind off. Ann notes in this later post that her tassels are better if she casts on and off in purl, with only the increase row in knit. Hers certainly look neat.
I'm suggesting this scarf for two reasons. If you're new to colourwork, then this 'mosaic' or slipped-stitch technique is so easy that it doesn't feel like colourwork.
It's also great for handspun yarn, because even if you don't want to spin the 400+ yards of plain yarn for the background, you could use commercial yarn and show off ~100 yards of beautiful handspun yarn in the coloured sections.
Sadly I have no more details about skullrose13's Scrappy Gratitude Attitude shawl other than it's 'scrappy' which I assume means that it's made from yarn scraps.
The pattern appears to combine colours in a similar way to the Shift / NightShift (which is more obvious if you click through to the pattern page) and so I hope to see many colourful examples of this shawl featuring handspun yarn oddments.
The pattern is designed to "make the most of small, luxury skeins of yarn - particularly those wildly variegated, hand painted beauties that are gorgeous in the skein but pool unappealingly when knit up.
It's also an excellent project for using up leftovers - simply change out yarns after the gem box sections to create a striping effect - there is no limit to how many colours you can use!"
Adrienne Hagen will be giving a lecture on 25 Feb for University of Wisconsin-Madison.
It's called From Sheep to Shawl: Wool Working in Ancient Greece and Rome.
Dr. Hagen will use reproductions of ancient tools to demonstrate how Greeks and Romans processed wool from a raw fleece to a finished textile, including spinning thread with a drop spindle and weaving on a warp-weighted loom. Along the way, we will see how textile production featured in ancient mythology and philosophy and will explore the role of women's labor in society.
I have confirmation from the university that this will be available to the public. We don't yet have a link for the actual lecture. If I have it before February's full issue, I'll publish it then. Otherwise, email the department closer to the time.
I'm Shiela Dixon, I've beeing doing this for around ten years in order to promote and encourage the craft of spinning.
You can help to support this work with a regular contribution (pay what you like, no matter how small) and in return receive HSN earlier and receive a longer ad-free* version (approx half the number of stories again).
If you're reading this newsletter on the web and would like it delivered to your email inbox for free every month, just fill in your email address in the box somewhere below. If you've reading this in your inbox and would prefer not to receive any more, just use the Mailchimp 'unsubscribe' link at the foot of the email.