Banner image

Hand Spinning News

This month's issue is something of a 'Spindle Special'.

Some people learn to spin at the wheel. It's a steeper learning curve, but more importantly, those taking that route are missing out on an experience. Using a spindle is somehow even more meditative than spinning at a wheel. The need to wind on makes the process a little less mechanical and somehow you feel that you have a little more control. A spindle is more portable than the smallest, lightest wheel and of course there's the joy of building a collection from some virtuosos spindle makers.

Among this month's articles there's advice on choosing the right spindle for the job, a lazy Kate designed for spindle users, outdoor spindling and a home-made kick spindle.

Perth Festival of Yarn is in its second year and the organisers have offered a pair of tickets to a HSN reader. Details below.

Read on for all this plus news, reviews, a feast of free patterns, finished projects and fibrey photos.

This is the free edited issue for June 2017.

Photo right: Oscillating wheel shared by marimbasticks. Cover photo Wonderwool Wales 2017, Editor's own.


In the news

An Open Letter to Shetland Islands Council

An open letter to Shetland Islands Council

I've learned about a change which will affect Shetland Wool Week via the KnitBritish website.

This is late news for this issue of HSN, I'm still digesting Louise's open letter and have some more research to do, but I'm passing this on so that you can read it too. There's a link at the bottom to a petition, along with a name and postal address for Shetland Islands Council.

Also see: this frank letter from Kate Davies along with similar petition link and contact information

Another giant charkha

Another giant charkha

There's no word on whether it's capable of spinning a super-bulky yarn, but this giant charkha has been installed at Connaught Place, Delhi as part of the inauguration of a charkha museum.

It is a link with the past as well as the future (tourism). It's a strong symbol of the masses who protested against imperial textile imports and for their self-reliance. On the same site will be a marble statue of 'Father of the Nation' Mahatma Gandhi, who encouraged all people to spend time each day spinning in support of the peaceful independence movement.

comment on any of this


Leeds Wool Festival

Leeds Wool Festival

Leeds Wool Festival

Ann Kingstone describes the festival. Her pictures don't show the festival itself but they do show her very special purchase, a copy of The Ladies' Handbook of Knitting, Netting & Crochet' (1842 H G Clarke)

We partook of cake

We partook of cake

Thanks to Louise of KnitBritish for her reports from the day. Her photographs of the machinery from the mill are fascinating.

If you're of the podcast persuasion, in her corresponding episode she talks about the history of the mill as well her day at the show. There are some pictures and text, as well as the audio, at the link below.

comment on any of this


From the Blogosphere

Tarndie - Home of the Polwarth

Tarndie - Home of the Polwarth

Polwarth is a super breed for spinning, it's soft with a long staple. It's said to be the first Australian breed.

In this podcast, our hosts interview Tom Dennis from Tarndwarncoort in south eastern Australia, a descendent of the

The story includes the origins of the breed and the reasons for the inclusion of various properties, several generations of the family, diversification to help survival through difficult times and the current work on developing the breed, tops and yarn.

Tom mentions the devastation to the land through chemicals and discusses current techniques for more natural land management and keeping the wool-miles down as the fleeces are scoured and spun.

The interview is long, maybe 45 minutes, if you want to skip to the start of the interview, it's around 30 mins in.

Many thanks to Rebecca of Needle and Spindle for the recommendation.

International Back to Back 2017

In the above story, Tom's mum was responsible for the worldwide Back to Back competition.

A team of eight people (including the shearer) shear, spin and knit the wool from a sheep's back to a finished adult jumper in the fastest time possible. It's an international competition, and with slightly more stringent rules, a Guinness world record event.

I think there may yet be more pictures and words from teams competing in this year's round of Back to Backs but this is the first that I've seen.

This picture is courtesy of Daphne Kirkpatrick, who took part with Team Shabby Sheep. They achieved a time of 13 hrs : 2 mins : 43 secs. I'm linking to Daphne's photos below, and there are some videos showing the washing and blocking of the finished jumper at Shabby Motley's Facebook page.

Time to talk about tines

Time to talk about tines

Thanks to Wingham's for this fascinating article about the tines of their combs. Who'd have thought that so much design and care has gone into the business end of these tools?

Want To See Around An Old Woollen Mill

Want to see around an old woollen mill?

In our occasional series of places to visit, thetwistedyarn reviews her trip around Trefriw Mill in Wales.

This mill isn't a museum but a working mill; they're producing traditional Welsh tapestry fabrics on machines that are half a century old and it's all water-powered!

There are many pictures of the process in this blog post, plus a fascinating video showing the spinning machine doing some kind of back-and-forth dance.

Members' exhibit - Oh WOW!

Members' exhibition - Oh WOW!

Cheryl aka ewespecial has attended the Contemporary Handweavers of Texas bi-annual conference and posted many pictures over several blog posts.

I'm linking to her post from the members' weaving exhibition but explore her blog for a few more inspirational posts which range from the fashion show and art to patchwork and weavers' scraps.

Lisa's list: the 11 steps of breaking up with a project

Lisa's list: the 11 steps of breaking up with a project

This is an entertaining read, and relatable. I was ticking off these stages as I read through Lisa Shroyer's list.

After starting a project you may start to become worried that the gauge isn't right, or the yarn isn't as gorgeous as you'd thought. You put the project to one side and it becomes a UFO - unfinished object.

Perhaps reading this will help you to reach that final terminal stage, which involves the ball winder.

Oscillating wheel

Oscillating wheel

Thanks to Instagrammer marimbasticks for re-posting this picture of a spinner using an oscillating wheel.

She gives us a few details (click the link below) but I can't find out very much more about these wheels, as marimbasticks says, there were only a few made. But it looks similar to the pendulum wheel in this worthwhile video.

It works in the same way as a great / walking wheel, but the spinner is able to stand or sits still while drafting a very long thread. The oscillating wheel may have been designed for someone with mobility problems, but according to the pendulum wheel videos, the wheels were also designed to increase production because more time is spent spinning up before winding on.

Twisters, tumbleweeds, & ancient oak

Twisters, tumbleweeds, & ancient oak

It's always fascinating to see the transformation of rolags or batts (or in this case, both) into finished yarn.

Knittingsarah fell in love with the batt but because it was pretty subtle and only 2oz, she found the rolags to pair it with. They're called Ancient Oak; more colourful but still very tasteful.

Click through for more details and the 2-plied yarn.

Handspun socks? I made it!

Handspun socks? I made it!

As the title suggests, these are Lena's first handspun socks. She feels that the lace pattern is a little lost in the busy colours in the yarn, but it added interest while knitting.

Yarn was 3-plied from a wool/nylon mix. The pattern is the classic Monkey by Cookie A.

More details are in Lena's post.

Handspun, knitted spencer

Handspun, knitted spencer

This is a follow-up post; Rebecca made an undergarment as part of her guild's certificate of spinning.

She considered the fibre, the preparation, the draw, and the stitch. Remarkably her materials cost less than a modern merino thermal top from Aldi. She aimed for a low-carbon-footprint project; she points out that although the Aldi garments claiming to be environmentally responsible, there was little information or evidence for this.

Rebecca has worn the garment for a couple of weeks to see how it works, and reports back in this post.

comment on any of this


Tips and tutorials

February on the Plant Dyes for All Seasons calendar was 'bark dyes'. Fran has returned to the topic with some freshly-stripped bark and achieved some long colour changes involving some impressively deep colours.

Click through for the details of the chemistry and shuffling the yarn between pots.

Happiness Is: Winding Yarn into Balls

Happiness is: winding yarn into balls

I must admit that I generally use a hand-cranked ball winder but always have a nostepinne knocking around.

When I saw the title of this post, I imagined that Kate Larson would be demonstrating a nostepinne. But no, this is a 'no-tools-required' technique.

Kate has posted this pretty impressive video on her own blog showing how she makes a very neat centre-pull ball using only her hands.

Lazy Kate... or clever Kate? A spinner's best friend

Lazy Kate... or clever Kate? A spinner's best friend

When I saw the title of this article I wondered how much there could be to write about our friend the lazy Kate.

Anne Merrow has found plenty; the pros and cons of a tensioned Kate, where to position it, Kates designed for drop-spindle or support-spindle plying and a DIY tensioned lazy Kate.

The sideways edge cast-on technique

The sideways edge cast-on technique

I'm really not a fan of picking up and it's good to hear Joni Coniglio saying the same thing.

So I'm intrigued to read about the sideways edge cast-on technique. This article is based on Lee Meredith's Galax Shawl. In this pattern, Lee uses the method which involves creating the cast-on stitches for the body as you knit the sideways edge. It gives a super-smooth join between the two.

In this Interweave article, Joni gives the technique in words and pictures. I'm sure it can be used in many other projects to avoid picking-up.

Carding Cloth: What tpi does the best job?

Carding cloth: What tpi does the best job?

If you're looking for your first pair of hand carders, you may have noticed a number of options; size, shape (curved or flat), different-shaped handles, angle of the handles and tpi.

(To be very picky, I think it should be 'tpsi' because it's the number of teeth per square inch). That measurement is sometimes just called 'points'.

Esther Rogers discusses tpi, which you'll choose according to the type of fibre you want to card, what state it's in and the result you want. This article will also be relevant if you're looking for a flick carder, drum carder or blending board.

This article happily pairs with two others from Kate Larson, What type of handcarders should I buy and Carding wool three ways

How to Pick the Right Spindle for the Job

How to Pick the Right Spindle for the Job

Interweave have published a number of useful articles this month.

In this one, Connie Kephart looks at spindles. Maybe you're new to spinning, or started at a wheel and are only starting to become curious about spindles.

Choosing a spindle for its looks and whether it'll look great with your fibre is a strategy but maybe not the best one. Connie considers choosing the best spindle for the job and lists 6 tips.


Mole pops up near Yvonne. Mole: Lost? No, I know exactly where we are. I'm just surprised to see you here in Tunisia.

"I have to admit, this does look like a remarkably fertile area of Tunisia."

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.

Keeping this wheel spinning

Your news here

Your news here

Are you a teacher, pattern designer, dyer, equipment manufacturer or supplier?

Would you like to reach the growing readership of thousands of hand spinners and at the same time help to support Hand Spinning News ?

Read more


Sometimes just a picture is enough

DIY kick spindle

This short video was made by nerdy_hooks whose husband made her the kick spindle in question. It demonstrates how efficient this type of spindle is; you can keep the spindle spinning with your foot continuously while drafting and winding on.

Dyed and spun shetland cowl

Dyed and spun shetland cowl

DJ Stefek likes to explore textures and stitch patterns. She made this cowl from superfine Shetland tops. "It just makes sense for me to simply dye it myself since I just walk down the street to purchase the top", she says.

Handspun double-woven pochette

Handspun double-woven pochette

Instagram user ka3me likes double-weaving with handspun and she's made this piece into a pochette bag.

Handspun silk scarf

Handspun silk scarf

The detail is lost in this thumbnail, please do click through to see the point twill diamond pattern in ninjabex's handspun silk scarf.

She played with variations in the treadling to vary the pattern. "I loved weaving this!" she says.

Explore her Instagram pictures for pictures of the warping and weaving.

Lucky 13 spindles

Lucky 13 spindles

Thanks to Nancy aka nbmnc for this month's sexy spindle shot.

One alternative to 'winding off' the yarn when the spindle gets full is to use your entire beautiful collection!

Nancy says, "a shame to ply them.. would like to keep them as turtles."

She's gone to a surprising amount of trouble to arrange the spindles for this picture but the effect is very good.

Chunky textile yarn

Chunky textile yarn

This is a fascinating art yarn by Britishfibreart. She's used corespinning, with strips of wool tartan instead of fibre.

I'd love to see how this looks knit up. There are a few more details in the comments.

comment on any of this


Free patterns

A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.

This versatile Shoreline Shawl, along with the Feather and Fan shawl, appear in Lion Brand's list of 7 portable knitting patterns. It's useful to have portable projects at this time of travel and holidays.

This pattern is said to be repetitive, with enough going on to keep you interested. They suggest a cotton yarn, but I expect you can get creative with your choice of fibre and yarn type.

Pfeilraupe by Alpi Alpenrose

Pfeilraupe by Alpi Alpenrose

Wearing a shawl is often problematic; getting it to hang just right and then stay in place.

This shawl / scarf is self-fastening and there are a number of ways to wear it.

The pattern's web page and the ravelry page are in German but the pattern is available for free in a number of languages including English.

It calls for a sport-weight yarn. There are many handspun examples already, including this one by the designer herself.

With thanks to Knithacker for sharing.

Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung

Tablet weaving goes back thousands of years. It's often used to weave bands and straps. The cards can be used without a loom or with any other kind of loom. An inkle loom is ideal and makes the weaving very portable.

In this article, Schacht give an introduction to the craft, a pattern and instructions for this 'spring has sprung' belt. There are some helpful links, including a link to another free pattern.

Crochet Harbor Cowl by Chandi Agee

Crochet Harbor Cowl by Chandi Agee

Chandi makes the bold claim that this cowl can be made in an evening for a last-minute gift. However quickly you crochet, this looks great for a British Summer evenings or days like the ones we've had recently.

It's designed for Expression Fiber Arts yarn, so I'm sure it'll look just as good made in handspun yarn. The pattern calls for fingering weight held double, so I'm sure you could do the same thing using yarn of a similar weight, or one strand of something heavier.

comment on any of this


Not-so-free patterns

Maple Leaf knit / crochet Shawl by Natalia @ Elfmoda

Maple Leaf knit / crochet Shawl by Natalia @ Elfmoda

Canada day is July 1 and celebrates a step along the way to independence.

This shawl can be made in fingering weight, or lace weight for a very light shawl.

It looks amazing in autumnal colours, and great in 'not found in nature' colours too.

Below is the knit version, and the crochet version is here.

Summer in Provence by Tabetha Hedrick

Summer in Provence by Tabetha Hedrick

I think I'd like to add a little shaping but I love the lace at the top.

It has a simple construction, worked in two pieces. It's very Summery and could be worn dressed up or down.

The gauge appears fairly open; a light fingering yarn on 4mm needles.

comment on any of this


2017 events

Fibre East

Fibre East

29 / 30 July 2017, Redbourne Community College, Flitwick Road, Ampthill, Bedford MK45 2NU

The seventh Fibre East, giving those in the Eastern, Midlands and Southern Regions an opportunity to join in an event which aims to encourage and promote British wool and natural fibres.

The college now provides an indoor venue.

British Wool Show (formerly British Wool Weekend Show)

British Wool Show (formerly British Wool Weekend Show)

Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 July, Thirsk Rural Business Centre, Blakey Lane, Thirsk

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.

Perth Festival Of Yarn

Perth Festival Of Yarn

Sunday 10 September 2017, 11am to 5pm. 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.



23 and 24 September 2017, 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.

Happy spinning and don't be a stranger!

Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator

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.

A PeacockMedia publication

Don't miss out

Hand Spinning News as a free monthly email.

Twitter Button from

Be sociable

Please share HSN with your friends:

Find me (Shiela) on:


Previous issues are now archived here:

H S N archive

Brought to you in association with for spinning information and supplies