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Hand Spinning News

According to one handspun yarn enthusiast, it's way too early for Christmas cards in the shops, but it's not too early to think about making your own decorations or planning an advent activity. Our gallery this month features wreaths, trees and an Advent fibre swop.

Also this time we have a back-in-time theme, with more medieval-style spindle-twiddling, a look at the textile trade of the time and some replica viking spindle whorls.

In case you hadn't noticed, we're approaching Halloween and so Yvonne is mixed up in a suitably spooky story.

Here's another mention for the UK Supplier List. (Permanent link in the header above.) This is still new and I'm still adding to the database. If you know anyone who should be listed, or if you are included and would like to update your details, please let me know.

Read on for this month's cunning curated collection of inspirational information and entertainment for spinners, knitters, crocheters, dyers and weavers. This is the full issue for October 2019.

Find out how to receive a longer, ad-free version of HSN earlier in the month.

Photo right: Done and good, Knit/Wit. The cover photo is the author's own, sheep by Rutland Water



In the media

Carbon negative jumper lets you adopt sheep that the wool came from

Carbon negative jumper lets you adopt sheep that the wool came from

Being carbon-neutral is becoming a virtue in the fashion industry.

London based company, Sheep Inc. are creating 'carbon-negative' jumpers. In return for the rather high price tag, you will get day-to-day updates on your adopted sheep's activities and whereabouts (probably not the actual sheep your jumper came from) as well as details about the carbon footprint of your jumper's manufacture.

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Handspun stories

Viking spindles

Viking spindles

These aren't genuine Viking spindle whorls but they are replicas made from stone from the same place that some original whorls were found, and they were made using the correct tools for the time.

Liz recently bought another one to go with some that she already had. Here's the story of how she met the man who made it.

Swedish spinning championships 2019

Swedish spinning championships 2019

Congratulations to Josefin for winning the 'people's choice' medal for her yarn at the 2019 fleece and spinning championships, Sweden.

The categories were demanding, the intermediate required a sock yarn from a primitive-breed fleece. For the advanced category spinners were asked to make yarn for a cape similar to that found on the Bocksten bog man.

The Bocksten man was found with the most complete men's outfit in Europe from his time (1290-1430). Josefin has included a picture of the outfit.

She has detailed how she prepared and spun her yarn for both categories.

As a bonus, in a follow-up post she takes us on a detailed tour of the Swedish fleece championships.


Domestic and imported woollen cloth

Let's take a trip back in time to the 14th and 15th centuries and across to the Malmö area (Sweden).

This essay by Viveka Hansen gives a picture of the textile trade at that time, where it was produced, how it was transported and traded. It refers to objects in the Malmö Museum. There are a number of illustrations including this delightful artistic impression of how the coastal town could have appeared in late Medieval time.

Slowly but surely

Slowly but surely

This is baby camel down, spun from punis using supported spindle.

Rachel has been documenting her progress in words and pictures in her Instagram feed. Click her spottedsheepstudio handle to view all pictures

The Norfolk horn blanket

The Norfolk horn blanket

Jenn believes that life in the past must have been more colourful than we might imagine, if her experiments with foraged local plants are anything to go by.

This amazing finished project is her Norfolk Horn blanket. It uses Norfolk fleece and dyeplants that she's gathered and also some which have local connections.

The darker background yarn was spun from lambs fleeces which she says were "Silky soft and buttery warm".



These two skeins are very complementary but one is a handspun blend of silk and linen and the
other is a commercial skein of silk gima.

They match because they were dyed at the same time. Joanne plans to use them together in a project.

Treadles, more or less. Single or double?

Treadles, more or less. Single or double?

Single or double-treadle? This is a question that has provoked some fierce debate and letters to magazines.

Spinners will vote with their feet. There are pros and cons and many are now moving to 'zero-treadle' electric spinners.

Prompted by this amusing picture of Barry Schacht pedalling his double-treadle wheel, Anne Merrow has written this article which appears on the new Spin-Off magazine website.

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Open Farm Sunday and medieval spinning demo

Open Farm Sunday and medieval spinning demo

Last month's video featuring Josefin spinning on an antique French spindle prompted some comments.

Elly suggested this video showing the same 'twiddling' technique being used at an Open Farm day. The spinner has some interesting comments and it's fascinating to watch her well-prepared fibre "drafting itself".

Recent and current events

Wool week described as 'phenomenal success'

Wool week described as 'phenomenal success'

Shetland Wool Week patron Oliver Henry called this year's event a "phenomenal success".

You can see the address that HRH the Prince of Wales made to the event.

There has been talk that the event is growing too large but Mr Henry has offered some suggestions including opening up more country halls, laying on busses and extending the event.

This earlier article reports on the massive turnout for the opening ceremony (with an amazing picture.)

Britspin 2019

Britspin 2019

BritSpin is an athletic-themed spinning event to raise money for a chosen UK charity, this time Alzheimer's Society and Alzheimer Scotland.

I'll be able to give the grand total raised next month because it's still 'winding down' as the full issue goes out. Yardages are still being counted and totals calculated.

Team members have been posting pictures of handspun yarn and spinning in groups or in public. View on Instagram here or the Facebook group. The picture and main link are HighlandHeffalump's progress.

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Tips and tutorials

Combo Draft vs. Combo Spin: What's the Difference?

Combo Draft vs. Combo Spin: What's the Difference?

You may have heard the terms combo draft and combo spin and like me assumed that they were one an the same thing.

Jiillian Moreno explains. The difference in the finished swatches is dramatic.

This article appears as the Knittyspin column in the first fall issue of


Using sheep wool as fertilizer

Using sheep wool as fertilizer

"waste wool" is the crumbly, short, coarse stuff sheared from a sheep's back end, legs and head.

It's also known as "dirty wool" or "black wool" because It's filthy. Scouring it is expensive and water-intensive.

Will Stevens has run a trial comparing no fertilizer, a commonly-used one and a trial organic fertilizer made from wool.

The wool pellets, which contain nutrients as well as improving water retention, produced broccoli as large as the commonly-used fertilizer, and produced them faster.

Wearable, washable textile devices are possible with MXene-coated yarns

Wearable, washable textile devices are possible with MXene-coated yarns

The push towards wearable devices involves giving yarn properties such as energy storing, energy harvesting and touch sensitivity.

Researchers in Drexel University's College of Engineering and Center for Functional Fabrics feel that they have developed a new way to give yarn these properties while still remaining durable, washable and capable of being machine-knit.

The process involves impregnating and coating regular yarn with a 'two-dimensional' materila called MXene.


Don't Panic

Maureen: WOLF! Yvonne: Wait, no, that's Derek, this happens every full moon.

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

Jigsaw - online

Thank you very much if you've had a go at any of these on your computer or tablet.

I've set them up with 35 - 50 pieces- just the right number for a coffee-break challenge and you gradually reveal the cartoon.

But if you fancy more of a challenge (or less) you can customise the number of pieces before you start.

Keeping this wheel spinning

Your news here

Your news here

Are you a teacher, pattern designer, dyer, equipment manufacturer or supplier?

Would you like to reach the readership of thousands of hand spinners and at the same time help to support Hand Spinning News ?

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This Golden Fleece: A Journey Through Britain's Knitted History by Esther Rutter

This Golden Fleece: A Journey Through Britain's Knitted History by Esther Rutter

Over the course of a year, Esther Rutter - who grew up on a sheep farm in Suffolk, and learned to spin, weave and knit as a child - travels the length of the British Isles, to tell the story of wool's long history here.

This is Kathryn Hughes' review of the book which appears in The Guardian.

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Sometimes just a picture is enough

Done and Good

Done and good

Why stop at the end of the Tour de Fleece? Knit/Wit began a sweater spin which she's just finished

She hopes that this gorgeous yarn amounts to around 1200 yards and I'm looking forward to seeing how it looks knitted.

Christmas wreaths

Christmas wreaths

Here's a wonderful twist on the Christmas wreath from milancorinne. They're made from dyed Wensleydale locks.

Adding twist

Adding twist

This month's Sexy Spindle Shot is this extremely cute tiny Turk. It features pyrographed and coloured flowers and butterflies.

Even through Google Translate, the Swedish text is difficult to understand, but I gather that she's adding twist to a low-twist (or no-twist) yarn, because it comes apart so easily when knitting.

I've always loved this stained glass effect. Here knitshadows paired 'combospun' yarn with some local brown fleece

The coloured fibre is from Three Waters Farm and spun during Tour de Fleece 2019.

"Probably my favorite finished object to date", says knitshadows.

This could be the third rendition of the Fileuse Spinning Wheel Sweater that we've seen here. It's a popular and free pattern for handspun yarn.

The pink and green were both from a single fleece, 'dyed in the wool' before drum carding and spinning.

BoogerHollerFluff didn't want it super-tight and modified the pattern a little to fit her with 'neutral ease'.

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Free patterns

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

Essential Chunky Cardigan

Essential Cosy Cardigan by Penny Hill

Let's Knit promise that this chunky cardy "will become your wardrobe staple throughout autumn and winter"

Requires free sign-up with Let's Knit (originally published in issue 110, October 2016)

The suggested yarns are 7wpi. (gauge is 16stsx23rows=4"/10cm using rice stitch.)

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Not-so-free patterns

Alaska by Camille Descoteaux

Alaska by Camille Descoteaux

This hat works beautifully with handspun. Use a yarn with colour changes of your choice (109 yards). The dark colour could be handspun or a commercial solid dark colour (231 yards)

It's one-size. If your head size is above or below average, I guess you can adjust needle and/or yarn sizes.

For the adventurous, there is a matching sweater.

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But is it art...?

Kate Jenkins knits and crochets an entire bagel bar from wool

Kate Jenkins knits and crochets an entire bagel bar from wool

These bagels look good enough to eat.

They were made by Kate Jenkins to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Panzer's, known as London's "original Jewish deli".

on 12 November you'll be able to create a bespoke bagel by selecting from a choice of knit and crocheted elements such as knitted smoked salmon, sliced red onion and tomatoes.

Kate will be there 'serving' them on the night. When customers make their selection, she will take them back to her studio, stitch them onto mountboard, sign and frame them for the customer.

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2019 events

Kendal Wool Gathering

Kendal Wool Gathering

Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 October 2019, Kendal Leisure Centre

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

A large number of exhibitors will be bringing a huge variety of goods including yarns, dyes, crafts, art, accessories, tools, felting, crochet, patterns, carpets, looms, spinning wheels and more. Outside there will be livestock, where you can meet a variety of sheep and Llamas, whilst learning about the important Lake District sheep farming industry.

Our linen stories

Our linen stories

Scotland is more usually associated with tartan and tweed, but linen and flax are an important part of its history

This touring exhibition aims to combine stories from the past with new works from contemporary designers.

The towns in Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands that the tour visits have their own stories and this gives the opportunity to include local designers and stories.


A final word of thanks to everyone who blogs, writes articles or posts pictures on the subject of spinning, knitting, crochet or weaving. This newsletter wouldn't exist without people writing interesting and useful things.

If you enjoy Hand Spinning News, please don't keep it to yourself. Obviously the link to the full version is a benefit for paying subscribers, but 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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