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Hand Spinning News

There is important news for you if you receive this publication each month as a free email. There is to be a change, my statement is here.

We're now well into 2023 and in-person events have returned to pre-pandemic proportions. This issue sees news and reviews from Wonderwool, a well-established show that has had its best year ever, and Cotswold Wool Weekend, a new show with bigger plans for next year.

As the weather warms up here in the northern hemisphere, three of our free pattern suggestions use crocheted lace or openwork for garments that are suitable for warmer weather

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

This free issue for May 2023 is brought to you in association with Audible. I'm a member and enjoy listening while I spin and knit. The new Audible gives you unlimited listening to thousands of titles.

Find out how to receive a longer, ad-free* version of Hand Spinning News earlier in the month.

Cover photo: Stephen West's Aurora Cabin Shawl, hand spun and knitted by woollyelly. Picture right: Lauren and Martha of John Arbon Textiles at Wonderwool Wales with the two special limited-edition Spring shades of Devonia tops



In the media

farmers take charge of exporting

Farmers take charge of exporting

Due to payment issues, farmers on the Isle of Man have obtained an export licence and are sending their wool to British Wool and are inviting other farmers on the island to join them.

Farmer Danny Creer said that British Wool sell the Manx wool as a separate lot "because apparently it's got a bit of a following".

Wonderful woolly pictures of the Cotswold Wool Weekend

Wonderful woolly pictures of the Cotswold Wool Weekend

This news article contains a gallery of 13 pictures of the recent Cirencester event, including an overhead shot of the bustle, some of the stalls and stallholders and the felting workshop.

Plans are already underway for next year's event.


Handspun stories

Kate and the Beanstalk

Kate and the beanstalk

If you knit, it's almost certain that a friend has found a pattern for a large project and asked you to knit it without expecting to pay for the time.

It's great to read this story of a non-knitter appreciating the value of real wool yarn and a knitter's time. They commissioned the knitter Kate through the UK Hand Knitting Association.

This is the heartwarming story of the meeting to hand over the finished project.

Southern California Fibershed: an unexpected place

Southern California Fibershed: an unexpected place

Susan Hector decided to create a garment inspired by the history of the Churro sheep and her region, San Diego.

She chose a rebozo which is a Mexican shawl that covers the head. It's 100% Churro, locally raised and processed. It's a breed introduced by the Spanish and associated with Navajo rugs and blankets.

For the win

For the win

In this post and the previous two here and here, Daryl takes us on a tour of 64 looms in her studio, and shows what's on them.

It's a fascinating tour with some particularly fascinating examples. The one in my thumbnail is only 4 inches wide with two shafts.

wool, paper, milkweed

Wool, paper, milkweed

Sarah spotted "perfect winter-retted milkweed" while on a run and took home a bundle.

She documents her process for stripping off the outer fibres and turning them into beautiful yarn.

Natural Dye for Handspun Speckles

Natural dye for handspun speckles

Kate used two different dyes to create a speckled yarn.

After the first dunk in logwood, she tied cotton resists around the skein before the second dip into Saxon blue. This gave purple speckles and also turned the blue a more indigo colour.


Tips and tutorials

How to reclaim yarn from a thrift store sweater

How to reclaim yarn from a thrift store sweater

Sandi Rosner says that the local thrift store (charity shop) can be a treasure chest of raw materials for the clever crafter. Second-hand sweaters are found in abundance.

She discusses finding the right sweater, undoing seams and preparing the yarn for reuse.

Judy's Magic Cast On

Judy's magic cast on

I have a special nostalgia for Judy's Magic Cast-On. One of my earliest knitting projects used it, and so ever since then I've felt that toe-up is the correct way to knit socks.

My reference (which I need every time) is this one and I hope that page never disappears.

It's great to see a video demonstration of the cast-on. Video is way better than images for demonstrating a knitting technique.

Techniques for texture: rya and soumak

Techniques for texture: rya and soumak

This page contains two short video demonstrations by Esther Rodgers. They are techniques for adding texture to your weaving; rya knots and soumak.

They stand alone but are extracts from her weaving course.

Backstrap Rigid Heddle Basics

Backstrap rigid heddle basics

With backstrap weaving, you are part of the loom. "A beautiful thing", says Kate Larson.

Plain weave bands are super easy to learn to warp and weave and the loom is super-portable. You can use handpsun yarns for warp and weft, a tight twist is helpful.

In this article and video, Kate explains what you'll need and goes through the setup and weaving.

Plying with Jo Reeve

Plying with Jo Reeve

Jo Reeve says that the way we ply can be the difference between a good yarn and a fantastic yarn.

Jo goes into how to ply and how much twist is right. Then there's a thorough look at the differences between singles, 2-ply and 3-ply yarns with solid and variegated yarns.

If you are a beginner then this post will be very useful. Otherwise, a bit of back-to-basics can be refreshing.

Kate presents this article on the Ashford blog.

Products and Reviews

Spring Pastels - Limited Edition Devonia Tops

Spring pastels - limited edition Devonia tops

To celebrate the return to Wonderwool Wales, the JAT team created two special limited-edition Spring shades of Devonia tops called Primrose Drift and April Showers. The two shades pair well and are still available while stock lasts.

Handmade pewter spindle whorls

Handmade pewter spindle whorls

Aecwyrd's spindle whorls are cast in English pewter and come with a natural fibre drawstring pouch.

Just add a wooden dowel and start spinning wool in the manner of our ancestors.

Peter Collingwood's book Techniques of Sprang Plaiting on Stretched Threads

Techniques of Sprang Plaiting on Stretched Threads by Peter Collingwood

This book was first published in hardback in 1974 and later in paperback with a foreword.

An agreement with the author's family means that the book has been made available electronically. There are around 16 sample pages online and for $35 you get a pdf download.

Carol says, "this book is a must-have for anyone who wants to explore sprang. It is encyclopedic in scope".


Crochet Dance Dance Revolution mat

Crochet Dance Dance Revolution mat

TikTok user kims_threads has crocheted a mat which can control the game Dance Dance Revolution. She used conductive thread and an Arduino microcontroller. She followed a tutorial but "had to make lots of adjustments to suit my project".

UK 'knitted satellite' will see Earth day or night

UK 'knitted satellite' will see Earth day or night

Two British companies are to fly an innovative, low-cost radar satellite - part of which will be made on a knitting machine.

an 'almost invisible' gold-plated titanium mesh will be made on an industrial knitting machine. The fabric will be folded in such a way that it can spring into position when deployed.

The article I'm linking to is the one that best describes the knitted fabric and how the deployment works.


Sometimes just a picture is enough

Warrior coat

Warrior coat

Feral Fibres makes 'warrior coats' woven from handspun yarn and locks. This one is in dark brown and jet black alpaca. Before delivering it, she took it along to display at Wonderwool.

Juniper, Guillemot, Plover, and Myrtle

Juniper, Guillemot, Plover, and Myrtle

St Anne's Spindle used fleeces from moorithillfarm to create this lovely hat in natural colours. She credits Juniper, Guillemot, Plover, and Myrtle who I assume are the donors of the fleece.

Singles being plied

Singles being plied

This mont's sexy spindle shot shows some of spinneanne's collection of spindles from the Spindle Shop.

Coucou tout le monde

Coucou tout le monde

This beautiful shot shows detail of a shawl made using a triangular pin loom.

There is a bonus video here showing nona removing the shawl from the loom and modelling it.

She says that she wasn't expecting this result, but loves it.



This finished shawl uses colourful handspun for the stripes and squares with commercial yarn background.


Free patterns and projects

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

Halibut Crochet Pattern

Halibut Crochet Pattern by Hailey Burley

This pattern is provided by the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve (Alaska). It was designed by Hailey Burley who is a ranger at the park.

Over 200 species of fish call Glacier Bay home, including the iconic Pacific halibut.

The difficulty rating is easy - medium and for once you are encouraged to pick your hook to suit your yarn and keep the finished size a mystery!

It requires a light and dark natural colour. No yardages are given but it appears that you need equal quantities of each.

Easy crochet potholder

Easy crochet potholder

This crochet potholder pattern uses the dense thermal stitch to create a double thick hot pad that's stylish and extremely protective.

The pads go well with her easy crochet kitchen towel, shown in my thumbnail.

As usual with Jess' patterns, the information is all there on the page for free or you can buy an ad-free PDF.

A typeface for knitters

A typeface for knitters

Thanks to MDK for highlighting this 'knitted' font. You can download the fonts themselves (several variations) to install on your computer and 'type' your own knititng pattern. It won't give you an actual chart, but it's not too difficult to produce a chart from your typed text.

Rüdiger Schlömer has produced this sampler blanket pattern which does include charts for the letters, numbers and symbols from one of the variations.



This pattern is available for free for a limited time. It's aimed at the "adventurous beginner". You can use a laceweight for a light shawl or worsted-weight yarn for a more substantial accessory.

The pattern allows you to make a scarf, shawl or cowl.

Through the Portal  by Amy Gunderson

Through the Portal by Amy Gunderson

This surprise Knitty pattern makes sizes ranging from XS to 5XL.

It suggests a DK yarn in a plant fibre with no elasticity but wool or wool blends will also work.

Pattern and project suggestions

Birch mittens by Jenn Monahan

Birch mittens by Jenn Monahan

Jenn of fibreworkshop has revised her Birch mittens to use her own Norfolk Horn DK yarn.

You can buy the pattern by itself, or a kit which includes the Norfolk Horn yarn in natural and naturally-dyed green.


But is it art...?

Recycling in textile art: five artists

Recycling in textile art: five artists

This page showcases five artists who are using discarded materials in their work.

Zwia Lipkin is drawn to upcycled home décor textiles. Ruth Singer has a passion for vintage fabrics. Elnaz Yazdani is inspired by industrial materials, Vanessa Barragão transforms waste from the Portuguese textile industry, and Julie Peppito has a unique approach when it comes to old toys, litter and other found items.

Karen Turner's stitch journal

Karen Turner's stitch journal

A stitch journal functions like a diary, recording emotions and abstract thoughts. It has also given East Yorkshire-based artist Karen Turner mindfulness and ritual.

She has spent a year making daily stitches on a single 95-inch length of fabric.

the Living Room

the Living Room

coincidentally using wool and concrete is this 'Living Room'', a construction made using waste wool from the Lake District and other waste materials.

It's part of an exhibition called More with Less at the Farrell Centre, Newcastle University until September.

The fascinating video shows the construction.

In the round

In the round by Matt Taylor

Matt Taylor's recent videos feature yarn being formed into knitted stitches and pulled out again.

They're very soothing and in the comments knitters have said that it has helped them to understand how knit stitches are formed.

As I write this there are two similar videos in Matt's feed which are not to be missed.

Loewe turns classic stick chairs into

Loewe turns classic stick chairs into "sculptural objects"

Fashion brand Loewe has worked with artists worldwide to transform wooden chairs into something new.

The chairs are decorated with woven materials including foil, shearling and paper and were shown as part of Milan design week.


UK Events


Mill Open Weekend, John Arbon Textiles

Mill Open Weekend, John Arbon Textiles

Friday 16 - Sunday 18 June, 2023, John Arbon Textiles, Hacche Lane Business Park, South Molton

This legendary event returns. Includes mill tour and workshops, talks and even a few other vendors at the beautiful 18th century function rooms in South Molton Town Hall

Tickets for tours, talks and workshops are now available for booking.

Cumbrian Wool Gathering

Cumbrian Wool Gathering

24 and 25 June 2023, J36 Rural Auction Centre

A gathering of people with a love for wool and yarn, and the associated crafts. The first Cumbrian Wool Gathering is organised by the same team responsible for Bakewell Wool Gathering and Buxton Wool Gathering.



3 June - 9 July, actual events and venues tbc

A celebration of innovation in textiles across Kirklees

Summer Wool Festival

Summer Wool Festival

29 -30 July 2023 Redborne School, Ampthill, Bedfordshire, MK45 2NU

For all lovers of woolly crafts - spinning, knitting, weaving, crochet, feltmaking and dyeing.

Picks up from where Fibre East left off.

North East Wool Show

North East Wool Show

12 - 13 August 2023, Newcastle Racecourse

70 amazing stalls plus a great range of workshops. Cafe, demonstrations.

Pop Up Wool Show

Pop Up Wool Show

19 August 2023, Hulme Hall, 23 Bolton Rd, Bebington, Wirral

A selection of vendors selling everything from hand dyed yarns and fibres to felting kits and needles

Entry £4 per person, available on the door or online.

Southern Wool Show

Southern Wool Show

2 and 3 September 2023, Newbury Racecourse, Berkshire

The perfect event for all lovers of knitting, crochet, feltmaking, weaving, spinning, dyeing, and all things woolly!

unravel... autumn

unravel... autumn

Fri 8 and Sat 9 September 2023

unravel... autumn is a celebration of all things yarn making from knitting and crochet to spinning and weaving

At the core of unravel... autumn is the curated marketplace which showcases independent producers, well established makers alongside first-time yarn show exhibitors from around the UK. In addition, on each day of the festival, there is an inspiring programme of bookable workshops.

Perth Festival Of Yarn

Perth Festival Of Yarn

9 & 10 September 2023. Dewars Centre, Glover St, Perth PH2 0TH

Scotland's contemporary yarn and fibre festival. Bringing together independent dyers, farmers, knitters, spinners, felters and weavers. In 2018 nominated for the best yarn festival in the UK. Vendors' gallery marketplace, over 80 vendors, keynote event, social events and classes run over the weekend.

Kernow YAFF

Kernow YAFF

Cornwall's Yarn and Fibre Festival - Sunday 17 September 2023, The Pavilion Centre, Royal Cornwall Showground

A new event in Cornwall showcasing the best of hand-dyed, hand-crafted and sustainable yarns, fibres and related products, all in an exciting market-style show with a vibrant festival feel.



23 and 24 September 2023, Skipton Auction Mart, North Yorkshire

over 180 makers, craft workers, retailers, and artisans in the picturesque market town of Skipton, North Yorkshire.

Shetland Wool Week

Shetland Wool Week

23 September - 1 October 2023

Shetland Wool Week is a world renowned celebration of Britain's most northerly native sheep, the Shetland textile industry and the rural farming community on these islands.

Includes classes, talks, drop-ins, art. See website for the full events listing.

Masham Sheep Fair

The Wool Event, Masham Sheep Fair

30 September and 1 Ocober 2023, 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.

West Wales Wool Show

West Wales Wool Show

Saturday 7 October 2023, Queen's Hall and Plas Hyfryd Hotel, Narberth, Pembrokeshire

A celebration of all things woolly. From beautifully hand crafted items, clothing and footwear to knitting wool, fleece and all the equipment needed to make at home. Demonstrations run throughout the day with stall holders sharing their skills and knowledge with visitors plus wool skill workshops such as felting.

Bakewell Wool Gathering

Bakewell Wool Gathering

14 - 15 October 2023 Bakewell Agricultural Centre

A wool festival dedicated to the best of yarn, knitting, and crochet, in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales.

There will be exhibitors, demonstrations of fibre crafts and a fleece stand selling plenty of local fleece.

Kelly House Woollyl Weekend

Kelly House Woollyl Weekend

14 - 15 October 2023, Kelly House, Lifton, Devon

Many exhibitors from around the South-West and further afield, producers of the finest woollen yarn to felt makers.

The Glasgow School of Yarn

The Glasgow School of Yarn

20 -22 October 2023, The Trades Hall, Glasgow

Scotland's longest running yarn festival, championing local and innovative makers since 2011.

GSoY has an abundance of beautiful yarns, fibres, and accessories for every crafter.

Kendal Wool Gathering

Kendal Wool Gathering

Last weekend of October 2023, Kendal Town Hall

Kendal Wool Gathering mixes demonstrations, fun activities and displays, all connected to the cloth on which the town's wealth was built.

All things woolly - exhibitions, patterns, demonstrations.

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.

Nor would it exist without your support, so thank you for that.

If you enjoy Hand Spinning News, please do share a link to by email or on social media with anyone who may be interested.

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

Happy spinning!

- Editor / curator

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