Hand Spinning News
Spring is just about here according to the calendar if not according to the weather. March came in like a lion but we're still waiting for the lamb part. Fortunately there are plenty of real lambs that have arrived that we can admire and who will eventually provide us with wool. They're not as stupid as some people think, says Kate Larson.
If you're interested in trying silk for the first time, there are many forms in which you can buy it. Two of our stories this month feature silk in nice bright spring colours. If you like the colour purple, it has an interesting history.
Read on for all of this and the rest of this month's collection of spinning-related news, views and reviews; patterns, inspiration and finished projects. This is the free edited issue for March 2018.
Find out how to receive a longer version of HSN a couple of weeks earlier.
Photo right: Spinnybuns, instructional video making coils in singles yarn. Cover photo A young girl is sitting at a spinning wheel. Engraving by Francis Holl after F.W. Topham, digital image made available by Wellcome Images
In the news
Could Mongolian yak wool be the new cashmere?
As spinners, we know that yak is a warm and soft fibre. But according to this article, the lack of global demand for the fibre is due to its ugly name.
Mongolia's goat population has multiplied many times due to the demand for cashmere. This is causing serious environmental damage.
The answer could lie in marketing the wool from a particular breed of yak which would help herders to switch from goats to yak which would suit their traditional lifestyle and be gentler on the Steppes.
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From the Blogosphere
Women and worsted
It's hard to imagine that at one time all textiles were spun by hand. And before the invention of the wheel it was all done using a spindle. Even after the invention of the great wheel, Worsted cloth still had to be made from spindle-spun yarn. And a number of spinners were required to keep a weaver going.
Jenn has been investigating Norfolk's textile history and in keeping with International Women's Day, presents some of her fascinating findings here.
Learning long draw
Also writing about worsted versus woollen yarn is knittingsarah. If you've been curious about trying longdraw spinning for an airier, bouncier yarn as well as faster spinning, take heart from Sarah's comment, "It took me about ten minute to go from 'What is happening?!?!?!?!' to 'I got this!'"
Autumn Leaves Ruana
Not seasonal at all; we're now as far away from Autumn as we can get. These colours were inspired by a photograph from last year's falling leaves.
This is Pamela's ruana. It's not handspun yarn but it is all hand-dyed. At one point she wasn't happy that the gradients weren't as even as she wanted. After fulling she says that she's "super pleased with the result ... the whole process was enjoyable and that I have a finished product that I know I'll enjoy".
She writes in detail about the process of picking the colours and the weaving and finishing.
So, I bought a loom
It's surprising how much more quickly your yarn turns into a finished woven project than knitting or crocheting with it.
If you're thinking of weaving for the first time, this article will help.
A rigid heddle loom is more flexible thank you might think, and has many advantages of its own.
Suzie discusses her choice.
Tuff Socks Naturally: Ryeland the sheep
This handsome creature is a Ryeland. Rebecca has been heading a collaborative project called Tuff Socks Naturally, which aims to find alternatives to superwash treatent or nylon for durable and difficult-to-felt socks.
Ryeland is an old breed but today's Ryelands have different properties to the medieval ones.
(By coincidence, Ryeland is the March breed in the 2018 British Wool Exploration. We shall see what spinners and knitters make of the breed).
The properties of today's Ryeland may make it very suitable for 'tuff socks'. Follow the main link for Rebecca's findings about the breed's history, and this link for her notes about preparing her Ryeland fleece.
Standing up for singles yarn
Deborah Held was "Miffed by a seasoned spinner's offhand comment that handspun singles yarns are unattractive".
It prompted her to weave this scarf from singles, both warp and weft. Besides being quicker, the colour from singles is stronger. Debbie was surprised by the lightness of the cloth. Her description will make you want to try weaving using singles.
If you want to spin silk then you have a number of options; cocoons cut or uncut, hankies or caps, lap, or just buying combed 'top'.
Goldilox covers these options in this article. She tried reeling the silk from cocoons but has more success with hankies. She dyes and spins and loves the way that the yarn turns out.
This is a short video showing how the Masterweaver loom works. It looks a little like tablet weaving at first glance. nebulae says that it's very fast to warp up, "It's like 8 shafts but can be warped in half an hour."
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Tips and tutorials
Glove in a cold climate
These are LBHandknits' 'bulletproof' gloves, along with an excellent pun. The recent Siberian weather had her reaching for them.
What makes them surprisingly warm is the tight gauge, they're aran-weight yarn on 2.5mm needles, making a dense fabric. "The epitome of elegance they are not" she says.
They're her own pattern, but at the bottom of her blog post are some links to free patterns that you can use if you take her suggestion to knit a pair in aran weight yarn.
How to clean stubborn fibre out of a drum carder
Thoroughly cleaning a drum carder is important and you'll want to try to remove every fibre if you're switching from something dark to something light or vice versa.
Have you found that the cleaning brush just doesn't get right down between the teeth? I end up sticking my doffer between the teeth which is probably terrible for the carding cloth.
April has made a great addition to her drum carder cleaning kit. It may be a little painstaking but will get those fibres out without risk to the teeth or cloth.
Is this how your handknit socks look after a little wear? The answer may be something that LBHandknits touched on earlier with her warm gloves - gauge.
How to spin a beehive coil in a singles yarn
Spinnybuns finds nothing sexier than a perfect coil like this. This yarn will become a skirt.
She likes to add just one or two coils as accents.
Who was this Victorian chemist?
You may have spotted the rather beautiful and purple Google doodle on Mon 12 March, which was in tribute to Henry Perkin's 180th birthday.
Previously, purple wasn't a colour widely seen. Because it had only been found in a rare source, it was a colour for the very rich.
Like many great discoveries, his synthetic dye came about by accident. It sounds as if he was a shrewd character and managed to capitalise on his process.
Don't miss the amusing (if environmentally-worrying) note about the Grand Hudson Canal.
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.
Jigsaw - online
Why not try an Yvonne jigsaw on your computer or tablet? I've set them up with 35 - 42 pieces, just the right number for a coffee-break challenge and you gradually reveal the cartoon.
Thanks so much to Amy King for the idea, she takes photographs of her own sheep and 'jigsaws' them. You can follow her blog or sign up for her newsletter.
Keeping this wheel spinning
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Royale interchangeable needles
josiekitten has reviewed these 'Royale' needles form Knitpro. Most of the length is wood, colour coded by size, with metal tips.
It reminded me that I have some of these sets left in the p2tog clearance sale. (This isn't really self-promotion because like everything left at p2tog, they're at 30% discount so this is about getting what's left to a good home rather than making any money). There are a couple of the midi sets as shown in josiekitten's review; 4 needle sizes and 3 cables, and a couple of the deluxe sets; 8 needle sizes and 4 cables.
This is also a good opportunity to telly you about JK's massive yarn giveaway in case you've not read about it already. She's raising money for British Heart Foundation. There's a huge list of prizes, all you have to do to be in it is to make a small donation to the charity. Read more here.
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Sometimes just a picture is enough
My sheep hear my voice and follow me
This fabulous hand-painted Kiwi is by artist Julie Smith Bergeron. It features a sheepy biblical quote.
Katherine of Lollipop Acres is the proud owner.
More colourful silk; this thumbnail is taken from a beautiful short slo-mo video that Katie has taken.
Earlier, Fran discussed the difficulty of dyeing silk a solid colour and Katie mentions the same thing. She's now stocking a range of solid tussah silk colours for spinning and has made this scarf from it.
A good Mum
I've been restrained with the cute lambing pictures this year but have to make an exception here. This Mum is an Icelandic and the ram is a Leicester Longwool.
Local Hampshire down socks
These socks are hand-processed pure wool, beautifully spun and knitted.
Team HSN's own NinjaBex says that they're a "little rustic" but that was intentional. They're going to a family friend who used to keep sheep.
This month's sexy spindle shot is by teatime.creations.uk. She doesn't have a specific project in mind for the yarn, but she does have a beautiful collection of supported spindles from thespindleshop.
Needle felted puppy
It's amazing to find that this is tori.morley's first attempt at needle felting. She worked from the book Adorable Felted Animals.
You can almost see its tail wagging.
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A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn.
Nakia's Infinity Scarf by Jeff Gillies
You may have caught this on social media, but just in case...
Movie costumer designer Ruth E Carter shared the yarns used in her knitted shawl design worn by Black Panther character Nakia. The attention prompted the pattern to be released on Ravelry.
It's an oversized wrap scarf with ends grafted to form an infinity Meobius loop.
It has a handspun look but the original turns out to be made from Noro, Malabrigo and Madelinetosh yarns.
Stash Buster Pillow Pair
The drafts and instructions for these two woven pillows are in this article which appeared in Schacht's e-newes. They're designed for rug warp and novelty yarn.
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Over the Willamette by Jenn Wolfe Kaiser
The first shawl pattern of the year is one for the crocheters.
The picture and link go to Fran's blog post in which she dyes some silk unintentionally semi-solid. If I understand her flight-of-fancy narrative, she was initially unhappy but has been persuaded that semi-solid looks very good.
She links to the pattern in her text. Over the Willamette can be made small (single-skein) or full-size.
Vintage Fairy Lights by Helen Stewart
In a way this is not the most seasonal pattern, but there seem to be several projects on the go and people are commenting that they're fun to make. Maybe you could imagine that the strings of fairy lights are ... or if you're as slow at knitting as me then the socks could be finished in time for next Christmas.
Be aware that the pattern is one-size, although you can obviously knit the foot length and leg length as long as you like.
The designer says "any sock yarn (especially with a bit of sparkle!) will be perfect".
Palestra by Sarah Jordan
These slippers / socks are super cute. If you're a little afraid of the colourwork, SJ says, "this is dead-easy colourwork...and it might look like there's more stranded work here than there actually is". "An added bonus is that the section of colourwork around the middle of the foot ends up being nice and squishy from the extra fabric created by the floats."
She also claims that they're really quick, and use surprisingly little yarn. One skein of yarn or less for the main colour and just small amounts for the contrast colour. This will depend on the size knitted of course, and the pattern contains five sizes, to cover all feet from small children to bigfoot adults. That's me sold. Pattern bought and printed.
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Stunning 3D fabric art
British artist Benjamin Shine spotted a crumpled piece of netting on his studio floor and realised that it could be deliberately arranged to create recognisable images. The results are stunning.
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28 - 29 April 2018, 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.
Fri 22 and Sat 23 June 2018, 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.
British Wool Show (formerly British Wool Weekend Show)
Friday 10 and Saturday 11 August, York Auction Centre, Murton Lane, Murton, York, YO19 5GF
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.
The Wool Event, Masham Sheep Fair
Saturday 29 Sep and Sunday 30 Sep 2018, Masham Town Hall
Craft market and fleece stalls, specialising in British wool to compliment the sheep-related events that fill the square of Masham over the weekend.
Perth Festival Of Yarn
8 and 9 September 2018. 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.
29 and 30 September 2018, 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.
Bakewell Wool Gathering
Bakewell Agricultural Centre Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 October
This year sees the sixth 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 and a fleece stand selling plenty of local fleece
Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator
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