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Hand Spinning News

I've chosen a sunny 'outside spinning' picture for the cover this month because we're promised some pleasant Spring weather this week.

It'll soon be shearing time once more, so we have some articles about scouring fleece, both small-scale and large commercial-scale.

Besides that, we have a reader offer and the usual mix of tips, pattern ideas, finished projects, reviews and fun.

This is the full unedited version of Hand Spinning News for March 2016.

Photo right: Understanding silk by Roving Crafter Jenn. Cover photo: At the Spinning Wheel, painting by Josephus Laurentius Dyckmans


In the News

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From the Blogosphere

Repeated Repetitive Strain

Repeated repetitive strain

As knitters and spinners we are at a high risk of repetitive strain injury, particularly if we spend time using a computer mouse as well.

Thanks to Corrie for this incredibly informative post on the subject. She covers symptoms, treatment, advice and exercises. A useful read for all crafters.

Wasted? Part two

Wasted? Part two

This is part two of a story we saw last month. Jenn of The Fibre Workshop prepped a 'bad' fleece, working with it rather than trying to achieve perfection.

This is a knitted sample after dyeing the fleece and carding in some silk nepps.

If you've never 'fulled' yarn after plying, there's a very good tutorial within.

Giddy Up Handspun

Giddy Up Handspun

We could call this Confession Corner. April admits two things. The first is that she sometimes buys fibre because she likes the look of it, without thinking about what the finished yarn will look like.

Maybe it's a good strategy, because she also says that she wouldn't have bought the resulting yarn if she'd seen it in a shop. Not because she does't like it but because she wouldn't have known what to make with it. However, now she's keenly swatching the Sport Weight Single ahead of deciding what to do with it.

Maybe it's good to be taken to places you wouldn't have chosen to go.



As part of research for her haps book, Kate Davies has had a wonderful week in Shetland meeting guild members and other knitters.

She shares some wonderful pictures and it's heartwarming that both history and innovation are both alive and kicking.

Visit to Haworth Scouring Mill

Visit to Haworth Scouring Mill

As a 'spin off' event from last year's Spinzilla, members of Team HSN UK were invited to Hawoth Scouring Mill for a tour.

I mention this, not just because I'm very grateful to Martin Curtis for his sponsorship of our Spinzilla team and the tour, but because the mill itself is doing some incredibly good work in a very environmentally-friendly way.

They are able to process up to a million tonnes of wool per week. Curtis Wools buys half of the British clip plus more from around the world. The process is very similar to the way we would scour a fleece at home, but on a much larger scale.

Thanks to jennmona2000 for her write-up and photos (bottom link and thumbnail) and also to babylonglegs. My own is here.

Spinning certificate day one

Spinning certificate day one

Rebecca is taking a spinning certificate which intends to encourage mindful and deliberate spinning. It allows the students to study and gain insights into techniques that they may have taken for granted.

In this first part she discusses her epiphany involving woollen spinning using a spindle.

Onion dyeing

Onion dyeing

This fiery orange was achieved using onion skins. It looks amazing although a little more muted when the locks are carded. This is inspiring because I've been saving skins for a very long time.

Click through to see Goldilox's comparison of regular and red onion skins.

A skirt on the rigid heddle loom

A skirt on the rigid heddle loom

Beth Smith and Jillian Moreno are friends and decided to each tackle a 'spin to weave' project concurrently.

Here on the Schacht Spindle blog is a collection of the blog posts following both projects.

There's a picture of Beth's skirt, but missing (as far as I can see) is a post about the sewing and the dyeing. Maybe that's to come.

Layers of Texture: Cable and Crepe Yarns

Layers of texture: cable and crepe yarns

When you need to ply something a little thicker with a more interesting texture than regular 3-ply or 4-ply, cable or crepe may fit the bill.

The latter is a new one on me. Cabled yarn is two 2-plies plied together (which is an interesting tongue-twister!) and crepe is a 2-ply plied with an extra single.

In this article appearing in the new Knitty magazine, Jillian Moreno gives all the necessary details

A leap forward

A leap forward

It's always great to see fibre, singles and plied yarn in the same post.

There are so many options with a braid of dyed fibre. This isn't just a gorgeous skein of finished yarn ready to be a special pair of socks, but a milestone for Sarah. As she says in her post, she's been aiming for more than 300 yards of 3-plied yarn from the 100g and she's sailed through that target (almost 400 yds). Not only that but she found herself in a very comfortable place while spinning. Click through to read more of her thoughts and comments.

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Tips and tutorials

Fibre Prep Tools

Fibre Prep Tools

I don't often link to video or audio podcasts, but it caught my eye that Rachel of Welfordpurls would be discussing her fibre prep tools.

If you're a little baffled by the various tools available - hand carders, combs, blending board, drum carder, then the 15 minutes that Rachel spends discussing and demonstrating these tools will be time well-spent.

If you'd like to get straight to that part, skip to 41:30


The Sweater Stone – a product review

The Sweater Stone - a product review

I've seen these stones but found it difficult to believe that they could remove fuzz as they claim.

Our handspun projects are very precious because of the investment in time, and they may also be prone to pilling depending on the fibre and technique.

Here's Roving Crafter Jenn's thorough review of the Sweater Stone, she tries it on six pilled projects and presents her results and conclusion.

For the love of icords!

For the love of icords!

We saw in December's HSN that i-cord can use up lots of yarn. You can stitch it very quickly to make projects from coasters to rugs.

There are many ways to make the cord; I'm sure we all used a cotton-reel with 4 nails when we were small. You can also use dpns, or a hand-cranked braider / knitting mill.

Here, Sarah reviews the Prym Mini Knitting Mill which gobbles up yarn to make lots of versatile i-cord.

Woolly Wales

Woolly Wales

Another museum, this time in the UK, the National Wool Museum in Wales.

Woolwinding has written two posts following her visit. I'm linking here to the second, look for the link on the page to Part the First.

It's difficult to choose a thumbnail, I've gone for the intriguing image of the 'teasel gig' which contains 3000 prickly seed heads. Not as you might assume, for carding, but for raising the nap of woven cloth. This strange meeting of old and new technologies, according to the comments, is still in use today in some places.

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Myrtle the oldest ewe is saying Back when I was a lamb the grass was so much greener, you could leave the gate open all night, there were no foxes...

Keeping this wheel spinning

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Sometimes just a picture is enough

This hat wanted to be a tea cozy

This hat wanted to be a tea cozy

The baa-ble hat is one of the most popular patterns of recent times, but this one apparently wanted to be a tea cosy.

I don't think that this one is handspun yarn, but I present it as an idea for any hat that doesn't seem quite right on the head. Kim has used crocheted steeks for the spout and handle and gives a couple of tips.

Light Waves shawl

Light Waves

This is another example of the 'butterfly effect' achieved by using black or dark outlines with solid areas of colour, in this case N-plied DK weight Falkland Corriedale.

Ravelry user DesireeRoss says "This is a very quick knit ... I'm delighted how this has turned out"

The pattern is LightWaves by Susan Ashcroft which is reasonably-priced and allegedly addictive,

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Free patterns

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

Skyesong by Rachel Brown

Skyesong by Rachel Brown

Rachel Brown was inspired by the Outlander series. This shawl uses traditional techniques and is a heavy enough lace to give some warmth in UK weather. The pattern appears in the latest Knitty magazine in their 'Knittyspin' section.

Rachel's is made from wool/flax top, spun 14-18 WPI, 2-ply.

The lace pattern is true knitted lace with things happening on both sides, and the edge is knitted sideways and attaches to the body every other row.

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Not-so-free patterns

Graphium by Rachel Henry

Graphium Shawl by Rachel Henry

This is another butterfly-inspired shawl (see also Nymphalidea)

The truly beautiful purple-spotted swallowtail has a pastel colour with black outlines. An effect that works very well in wool.

Unfortunately the publication of the discount code mentioned in this article and its expiry have both fallen between HSN issues, but the pattern is reasonably-priced.

Passerine Hat by Erica Heusser

Passerine Hat by Erica Heusser

If you're ready to take your stranded colourwork to another level, this beautiful but unusual design looks good in contrasting solid or semi-solid colours, maybe undyed colours. Three Ravelry users have made the hat using handspun yarn. Newer spinners with smaller amounts of yarn could mix handspun and commercial.

Thank you to knittingsarah who says that because of the longer floats, it's an intermediate colourwork pattern. Picture is AkkanandEllie's handspun project

May Cardigan by Bristol Ivy

May Cardigan by Bristol Ivy

Ready for when the weather's warmer, this light summer cardigan has texture and an interesting structure with minimal shaping.

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2016 events

Edinburgh Yarn Festival

Edinburgh Yarn Festival

18-19 March 2016, Edinburgh Corn Exchange 10.00-18.00

(Classes 17-20 March)

A celebration of all things related to yarn, wool, knitting, crochet, spinning, weaving and felting. A fantastic market place with around 100 selected vendors, great workshops and a host of other attractions

wonderewool wales

Wonderwool Wales

23 & 24 April, Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells

Promoting wool and natural fibre production and its use.

Exhibitors and trade stands covering all aspects of felting, knitting, weaving, spinning, crochet and textile art with raw materials, equipment, books and finished products for sale. Competitions and a range of hands-on workshops.

A list of accommodation and camping in the surrounding area is available on the Wonderwool website.

Woolly Worstead

Woolly Worstead

18 & 19 June, 10am - 4pm, Village Hall, The Street, Dilham, Norfolk

The Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers of historic Worstead have asked me to list their family fun day (note the slightly different spelling of Worstead village and the worsted yarn; I'm assured that the one is named after the other.)



Friday 24 June and Saturday 25 June, Cockermouth, Cumbria

Woolfest was founded to provide a showcase and a celebration of the best of wool and wool crafts.

The event is all about creativity and design with beautiful quality, amazing colours and skilled craftsmanship.

Fibre East

Fibre East

30 and 31 July 2016, Redbourne Community College, Flitwick Road, Ampthill, Bedford MK45 2NU

The sixth 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)

Friday 5 and Saturday 5 August, York Auction Mart

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.



24 and 25 September 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

Shetland Wool Week

Shetland Wool Week

24 September - 2 October 2016

A busy weekend dedicated to celebrating Shetland wool and textile heritage.

Events programme to be announced in April.

Bakewell Wool Gathering

Bakewell Wool Gathering

Bakewell Agricultural Centre Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 October

This year sees the fouth year of the Bakewell Wool Gathering, an event for wool lovers in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales.

There will be exhibitors, demonstrations of fibre crafts, workshops plus a knitting and crochet help desk to help novice and expert alike.

Happy spinning and don't be a stranger!

Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator

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