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Hand Spinning News

Many of the featured items this month involve using handspun together with commercial yarn. It's an opportunity to show off your handspun in a larger project without spinning a jumper-quantity or to contrast the unique texture and colours of your handspun against consistent and even millspun.

We know that making garments by hand is slow fashion but this month's gallery features a jumper that was six years in the making.

Read on for this month's round-up of news, views and reviews for spinners, knitters, crocheters, dyers and weavers.

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Photo right: a Mingo Asho Glasspins. Cover photo: spinning cotton from depositphotos.



In the media

Weaving cherry blossoms of hope

Weaving cherry blossoms of hope

A disaster that closes a business can trigger innovation.

In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, artisan weaver Ohazama Kenichi began drawing cherry blossoms and when he was able to return to his studio he began weaving a new type of fabric which appears embroidered.

With thanks to Fiber Sprite for sharing.


Handspun stories

Herdwick and Black Welsh Mountain - Breed School 2.0

Herdwick and Black Welsh Mountain - Breed School 2.0

Janelle has been taking part in Breed School 2.0 , a scheme which allows you to try and learn about sheep breeds that may be new to you.

In this post she writes about two breeds that were new to her, Herdiwick and Black Welsh Mountain. In each case she tried several draw methods and shares her results.

Irish spinning wheels, wool and more

Irish spinning wheels, wool and more

This post by the 1764 Sheperdess on the subject of Irish Spinning Wheels sent me searching for information about Irish wheels and what makes them distinctive.

I'm still not sure (maybe it's just a wheel that is made in Ireland) so please tell me if you know.

I enjoyed the Hands video on 1764's page and the short videos on this restoration project page that I'm linking to below.

The bottom of the basket

The bottom of the basket

Have you ever kept track of the time taken to prepare and spin fibre?

Josefin has done just that. She writes about her feelings after spending so long touching one particular fleece, and about the value of what she has gained in return for that time.

The dogs that grew wool and the people who love them

The dogs that grew wool and the people who love them

Back in October we saw a news report that researchers had been analysing the remains of the Woolly Dogs of British Columbia to learn more about the lives of those people and the dogs they raised for their wool.

In this new article, Virginia Morell gives us lots of details, including information from the new study.

If you prefer, there's a 25-minute audio version right there at the top of the page, just press play.

Wintry ways...

Wintry ways...

Sarah's very poetic blog post explains that she has been weaving one monosyllabic word at a time according to what happens to be inspiring her. She uses such materials as milkweed and indigo-dyed coffee filters

The Blackest Black

The Blackest Black

This little lovely is Ouessant and The Spinning Shepherd gives us some in-depth information about the breed's colours and genetics.

At birth all Ouessants are very black but over time they divide into two types, the less common type which remains an intense black as it doesn't sun-bleach and the more common type which becomes brownish-black.

Traditional Bedouin weaving

Traditional Bedouin weaving

This is Tracy's in-progress weaving project using yarn handspun from Navajo churro fibre. She shows photographs of the warping and weaving processes. I look forward to seeing the finished piece.

She links to an explanation and photographs of traditional Bedouin weaving which is well worth a visit.


Colour inspiration

When little needs saying except 'beautiful colour'

Shifting Shadows

Shifting Shadows

This colourway is called Shifting Shadows, dyed by Wee Chickadee. It looks metallic to me, the coppery tones stand out and the green reminds me of verdigris.



Icelandic movie Rams

Icelandic movie Rams

This movie suggestion comes from Kristin of Getting Stitched on the Farm.

I'm linking to the trailer. I was able to find copies on DVD and Blu-Ray but not for rent digitally.

The original (which relates to the trailer) is subtitled. There is an English-language remake starring Sam Neil which is available for rent. It has a different feel. Kristin says " I can't imagine it could be as poignant as the original version". So take your pick.

Tips and tutorials

Plying balls: how i ply on spindles

Plying balls: how I ply on spindles

If, like me, the title reminded you of plying from both ends of a centre-pull ball, don't look away yet, because Devin is actually writing here about a different technique.

They suggest winding two strands into a single ball. This allows you to position those strands against each other without kinks, and then use the spindle to add twist.

Why wool wash?

Why wool wash?

We're often instructed to soak our work using a gentle wool wash before blocking.

Why not soak with just water? Jillian Moreno compares similar swatches soaked in plain water and wool wash, looks at the differences and explains what's happening.


Fermented wool does not fade

Fermented wool does not fade

Why are the red, yellow, and blue colours used in the world's oldest knotted-pile carpet still so vivid and bright, even after almost two and a half thousand years?

Researchers have shown that the wool had been subject to fermentation, which increases the brilliance and longevity of the colour after dyeing.

the process has been known to have been used since the 17th century, but samples from the Pazyryk carpet show the same characteristics.

Huge potential for electronic textiles made with new cellulose thread

Huge potential for electronic textiles made with new cellulose thread

Wearable tech has so far relied on rare or toxic elements. There is a need for organic, renewable materials for use in electronic textiles.

Sozan Darabi has been working on this problem for several years, with a focus on silk. But now cellulose is showing potential. (deliberate pun for the electronics enthusiasts.)

The swatch pictured uses traditional silver thread and the new cellulose thread. They are sewn in such a way that a difference in heat (eg body heat on one side) generates a small amount of electricity.



Yvonne looks mad. She's going to take the kids away. Graham asks where, and we see a long shot of the field with a fence around it.

"Our relationship just felt too confined"

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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Women's Work, the first 20,000 yars  by Elizabeth Wayland Barber

Women's Work, the first 20,000 yars by Elizabeth Wayland Barber

I'm writing this on International Women's Day 2021, so Sukrita Mahon's review of this book seems pertinent.

This book was first published 27 years ago but is "still considered essential reading for contemporary textile artists", says Sukrita Mahon.


Sometimes just a picture is enough

Improvisational hand-knitted handspun legwarmers

Improvisational hand-knitted handspun legwarmers

These very colourful legwarmers include yarn made from various fibres, dyed naturally in small batches in the kitchen.

Ice-dyed seamless jumper

Ice-dyed seamless jumper

This really is slow fashion. This jumper was six years in the making.

The yarn is merino/silk/bamboo blend, spun three ply and Ice dyed. Knit top down in the round in a seamless construction.

Another shift

Another shift

This is another lovely example of the most popular pattern for handspun yarn, the Shift / Nightshift.

Two of the skeins used are millspun with the third handspun Falkland wool.

moonbeammonkey loves the pattern.

Mingo Asho

Mingo Asho

This month's sexy spindle shot is a short video clip. It's a Glasspins made by Mingo Asho. The glass part is hand blown, the wooden part is hand turned and the pyrography is beautiful.

Leaping Hares

Leaping Hares

homespuncouture knits her jumpers from handspun yarn on her knitting machine.

In this case it's a leaping hare design, which crosses the seams from front to sleeve to back to sleeve.

Skull Fairisle cowl

Skull Fairisle cowl

This is a test knit for a designer and is made using handspun yarn for the colour and commercial yarn for the neutral background.

Swipe through the pictures to see a 'half and half' picture of poodleydooknits' braid of fibre and spun yarn.

She says that the pattern will be an "excellent choice if you're new to colorwork"

 Pi Shawl

Pi shawl

Here's a nod to Pi Day (March 14 in the Americanised date format).

This is a Pi shawl made by pepperknitz with a peacock design in the centre. I strongly urge you to click through and view the peacock motif, which is from a doily pattern.


Free patterns and projects

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

Inklette Pouch

Inklette Pouch

"If you have never tried to use an inkle band for making a bigger piece, this is the perfect project for you" says Blanca De La Sotilla.

This purse is made from one full length of woven band and 'minimal sewing'.


Not-so-free patterns

Op Tiki Scarf by Lavish Craft

Op Tiki Scarf by Lavish Craft

This is a slip-stitch pattern, "one of those things that looks hard, but really it isn't" says Quite a Yarn.

She used Black Welsh Mountain and the Clun Forest yarns under the Shave 'Em to Save 'Em project.

I'm linking to QaY's blog post, she links to the pattern.

D'aeki Wrap by Stephanie Alford

D'aeki Wrap by Stephanie Alford

It occurs to me that this pattern could be perfect for use as a temperature blanket, or a breed study blanket, both of which we've read about in the last couple of months.

It involves no seaming / sewing up but does involve picking-up instead. The blocks are simple garter stitch.

Kiki Mariko by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne

Kiki Mariko by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne

This pattern is a large knitted tube, which you transform in the washing machine into a much smaller felted tube which you can cut to turn it into a rug.

The page I'm linking to below shows a lot of people having a lot of fun knitting (and climbing inside) this big tube. There's a link to the pattern high up the page.

Codroy Valley by Jennifer Beale

Codroy Valley by Jennifer Beale

Pictured is snugfibreknits' Codroy Valley . She has used indie-dyed yarn for the main body with her own handspun for the contrast section.

This may be a good way to use handspun in a jumper without spinning a jumper quantity.

The pattern calls for 1001 - 2176 yards altogether, in worsted-weight (9 wpi). It gives 33" - 74" bust sizes.

Corralled by  Hunter Hammersen

Corralled by Hunter Hammersen

When I saw early teaser pictures of this pattern I imagined the little containers as being quite tiny.

So my thumbnail here shows the pots with some other items including a book for scale.

This is a very functional pattern. Suggested uses include keeping jewellery, holding notions such as stitch markers when you knit, and even as a dice tray for board games!

They will look quite different according to the yarn you use and I assume gauge isn't important at all.

Cascades Cowl - Infinity by Jamie Lomax

Cascades Cowl - Infinity by Jamie Lomax

Once again this is a test knit for a designer and once again it uses handspun yarn for the colours and texture and commercial yarn for the dark background.

loopsnbounds tested the pattern for Jamie Lomax.

The pattern uses a mix of colorwork, Latvian braids and corrugated ribbing.

You will need up to 650 yards of DK-weight yarn in two contrasting colours.

Lucy Westenra's Wrap by Susanna IC

Lucy Westenra's Wrap by Susanna IC

I'm attracted to this by the connection with gothic cathedrals and the Dracula story.

The deep red in the one shown gives it a sophisticated look and dare I say that the (optional) beads might resemble drops of blood?

It requires just short of 800 yards of fingering-weight yarn.

The pattern is on sale as I write this.



But is it art...?

Recycled Woollen Island

Recycled Woollen Island

Patricia Urquiola's installation for the Triennial of National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne, Australia) starts with the idea of dropped woollen socks.

The gigantic socks are made from recycled wool and invite you to lay back and look up.


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.

If you enjoy Hand Spinning News, please do share a link to by email or on social media with anyone who may be interested. Obviously this full version is a benefit to you as a paying subscriber. An edited version of this particular issue will be mailed to free subscribers and visible at towards the end of the month.

It's always good to hear from readers for any reason (or no reason!)

Happy spinning!

- Editor / curator

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