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. This is the full issue for January 2021.
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.
These three students have won the BT Young Scientists and Technology award with their project called "Wool - Saviour of the Sea".
They investigated the effectiveness of wool blankets for mopping up oil spills at sea. They believe the natural waxy oil in the wool makes it good at absorbing crude oil and they investivated which wool breed, and in what form is best suited.
They plan to further their project by studying the effect of weaving, crocheting and knitting on the oil absorption.
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.
Humans have grown hemp for over 10,000 years, using it for everything from fabric to food, from rope and building supplies to medicines. In the US, hemp has a particularly long and twisty history. In 1619 farmers had to grow it by law.
Allison Korleski explores the fall and possible resurrection of this valuable fibre
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.
Despite being born near Norwich, I'm not keen on the green / yellow colour combintion. Janelle's small and portable blue-green cross-armed' spindle (she prefers the term to Turkish) really is attractive, though. It's a shame there's no picture here of the spindle with the finished yarn but the post contains many pictures of the spindle, the turtles of singles yarn and the finished plied yarn.
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.
Wet finishing is an important part of hand weaving, Handwoven doesn't recommend soap because calcium / magnesium stearate can cling to the fibres. Here is their list of detergents that they do recommend.
How to use stripes effectively when designing your weaving
This is a beautiful woven mug-rug. The interesting thing is that the design looks very different from the draft, and could have looked very different again depending on the choice of striping in he weft. Tien Chiu explains with some examples.
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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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.
This Storm Cloud Shawl appears to be still on the needles. I'm including it because the picture is beautiful, as are the words that Alexina writes. She says that at first, making handspun yarn can seem almost futile when there are so many beautiful yarns out there for purchase, but with perseverance, "the reward for our creativity is overwhelming".
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.
Very often when I see discount codes, they're only valid for a short time and have been and gone before the date of the next HSN.
In this case there's loads of time, particularly if you receive the full version of this issue. Woolly is having a January sale,
Pictured is Slable which features cables within cables, moss stitch and shaping that occurs within the stitch pattern. Slable, or the whole Twisted Woolly Toppers eBook or indeed any Woolly Wormhead digital pattern / eBook can be had for for 25% off until 23 January. More details and the code are in this Instagram post.
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.
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.
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