Spinning News Hand
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. This is the full issue for March 2021.
a Mingo Asho Glasspins. Cover photo: spinning cotton from depositphotos.
In the media
Wool sock snow running, cherry blossoms of hope, biodegradable face masks
Herdwick, Black Welsh Mountain, Ouessant, Bedouin weaving, Irish spinning wheels and metalwork spindles
Career-Limiting Move, Icelandic movie Rams
Tips and tutorials
Steeking, thrumming, half hitching, plying balls, wool wash, making it fit
Fermented wool does not fade, nanotube yarn, conductive cellulose yarn
Women's Work, the first 20,000 yars by Elizabeth Wayland Barber
Showcasing some of the best spinning images I've seen this month
A selection of free seasonal patterns which will work well with handspun yarn
But is is art...?
Patricia Urquiola's Recycled Woollen Island
In the media
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.
Biodegradable face masks made from rice paper can be planted
The sight of discarded face masks is disappointing and one study says that each minute of the day, three million masks are thrown away.
Marianne de Groot-Pons has started a biodegradable face mask company. The masks are made from biodegradable materials, including handspun wool for the cords. Each one incorporates wild flower seeds which will germinate when the mask is buried.
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
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 fear of making mistakes can be paralysing but we need to make mistakes to learn and grow.
Elisabeth Hill answers the question "What did you make today?" with "Mistakes". She shares a lot of her mistakes on this page. Some are difficult to spot. Some are more obvious. Some needed to be fixed, others were easier to live with.
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.
For better blending, accessorise!
Emily Wohlscheid mentions several interesting tools but her article is short on pictures, so be prepared to go Googling terms such as "clemes lock pop" or "drum carder burnishing brush".
What was the big deal?
Have you been in a fibre club?
It's easy to accumulate fibre, particularly if you value the club fibre so highly that you're afraid to spin it, as Knit/Wit found with her Southern Cross Fibre membership. She writes about her journey towards becoming a more confident spinner and she knows that she won't regret spinning a particular fibre, except maybe that she might have spun it a different way.
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
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
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.
On frogging finished sweaters
We put a lot of time and love into our projects and it can be disappointing when it doesn't work out.
Ashley Little says that this is nothing to feel guilty about and she advocates turning the project into something that you will love more.
When little needs saying except 'beautiful colour'
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.
I feel that I can include Anna Mantzaris' videos here thanks to her use of needle-felted characters in her remarkable stop-motion work.
Her humour is distinctive. In this case it comes with a message linked to the recent International Women's Day.
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
(Half) hitch in your drop spindle technique? try two methods
Low-whorl spindles often have a simple shaft without a hook.
It's necessary to use a half-hitch to secure the yarn. Kate Larson demonstrates two methods.
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?
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.
Focus on fit
Our bodies are unique and even if you feel confident about gauge and the size you've chosen and taken relative ease into account, sometimes a pattern won't fit the way you'd like it to.
This article on Interweave Knits gives tips for customising a pattern for the perfect fit for you.
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.
Nanotube yarn makes strong bionic muscles
This yarn is around the thickness of a human hair and is capable of being made into artificial muscles which have ten times the strength of human muscle.
There's no information about how the yarn is made, except for the fact that the material is carbon nanotubes coated with polymer. It appears to be spun and then coiled into a helix shape.
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.
Scientists develop message display fabric
As the title suggests, this fabric could eventually be used as a flexible or wearable display.
The text and images describes woven cotton fabric which incorporates threads that carry current and light up. At present it appears that the whole fabric lights up, I've not seen evidence of a message or image being displayed.
"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
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
Saori Scarves- Rock Pool Inspired
This is one of two scarves that Sue has woven from one warp on her Saori loom, with hand spun and hand dyed yarn inspired by the theme of rock pools.
Stephen West's patterns have a habit of grabbing my attention. This is
Slipstravaganza. anestofgentlemakers took five months and says that it is "one of the things I have knitted that I am most proud of". Once again this project shows that you can feature smaller amounts of handspun yarn with commercial yarn. This shawl includes some Hebridean hand spun.
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
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.
This is the Homestead shawl made by grassyhillhandmade in Handspun Wensleydale with Alpaca accents, which she describes as "so warm and comforting".
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.
whoopsydaisyfarm wasn't sure how she'd feel about the hole in the hat but finds that she loves it.
The pattern is a new one from Casey Dowell
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.
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
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"
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.
"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'.
Basic Beanie by Mirella Moments
So this is the most basic bobble hat. But sometimes that's just what you need for a quick project or to show off your fabulous handspun yarn.
The pattern is free on this page but you will have to scroll past quite a few ads.
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
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.
ADVENTuresome Wrap by Ambah O'Brien
This wrap isn't handspun yarn but yours could be. Highland Heffalump says that it "could easily be made using sock yarn scraps instead".
In her case the Advent box was a gift, the yarn is hand-dyed in colours named after toys. The pattern contains some stitches that may be new but soon becomes memorable. I'm linking to Highland Heffalump's page, she links to the pattern.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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