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Hand Spinning News

First Fall Spin, danaknitshere

One of the delights of this time of year is the autumnal and sometimes spooky colour palette. Nature yields some berries and plants that can be used for dyeing. This month's patterns are as usual appropriate for the season and include mitts, cowls and hats.

As I write, both Spin Together, an online spinning competition, and Shetland Wool Week (virtual) are taking place. If you haven't seen it, the 'Welcome' video is worth a look, and it's good to be looking forward to SWW being a real event once more next year.

Yarndale, Perth Festival of Yarn and Bakewell Wool Gathering have recently taken place as in-person events. There are more events to come this year and some dates for 2022 have been announced, and so I feel the time is right to reinstate the UK Events Calendar.

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

This free issue for October 2021 is brought to you in association with Audible. I'm a member and enjoy listening while I spin and knit. Download a free audiobook with your 30-day free trial.

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Photo right: First Fall Spin, danaknitshere . Cover photo: 1870 illustration from Routledge's Coloured Picture Book, Rumplestiltskin, licensed Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy



In the media

Sheep drive and livery fair, Southwark Bridge

Sheep drive and livery fair, Southwark Bridge

"Sheep are central to my life and this celebration of them will be a day to remember," said Amanda Owen, The Yorkshire Shepherdess after leading the Annual Sheep Drive on 26 September 2021.

The historic Southwark Bridge was traffic-free for the day and the ceremony follows an ancient right to drive sheep over the Thames and into the City.

This page contains a gallery and links to a "ewetube" video of the BBC news report.


Handspun stories

The secret spectrum of plant-based dyeing

The secret spectrum of plant-based dyeing

Whether or not you're new to natural dyeing, this video interview with Heather Thomas is very enjoyable and if you haven't tried using plants to dye yarn, this will be inspirational.

Many of the plants mentioned can be grown in the UK but if gardening is not your thing, there are many things that you can collect from the wild or even save in the kitchen.

Foraged elderberry

Foraged elderberry

As a perfect complement to the story above, Woolly Originals tweeted this picture of elderberry-dyed yarn. Some natural dyes are not very 'fast' and will fade, but you can still enjoy the colour while it lasts.

Yarndale 2021

Yarndale 2021

Recently, both Yarndale and Perth Festival of Yarn went ahead as in-person events.

I feel that it's time to bring back the UK Events Calendar and list the remaining 2021 dates and the 2022 dates that have been announced so far.

You can find the current Events listing lower down this issue and here's a link to the Yarndale Facebook group which contains many pictures from the 2021 event.

Inspirational fibre blending

Inspirational fibre blending

Online classes have come into their own since COVID, and here Debby writes about her experience and shares the results of the workshop that she attended virtually, Inspirational Blending, taught by Dia Robinson of Twisted Urban Fiber Arts.

This is just one of the colourways that Debby made using photograpgs for inspiration. There are also pictures of the spun yarn.

What is a gamp?

What is a gamp?

You may be aware that a gamp is a sampler, designed to show how each chosen colour interacts with every other colour.

Ewespecial has come across some old colour gamps in a box and says that they can be more than just samplers. They can be useful and "brighten up any room".

A pattern process

A pattern process

Designing a pattern for handspun yarn has challenges over and above designing for commercial yarn.

Josefin has developed her own set of rules for designing for handspun and here she outlines her process.

Varafeldur: an Icelandic Rya reconstruction

Varafeldur: an Icelandic Rya reconstruction

This is the story of three friends who set out to reconstruct a vararfeldur based on rules set out in ancient text.

It's an article from 2013, they refer to a forthcoming book and I think that this is the book, reviewed in 2017 by Wendy Sundquist.

I've lost track of how I found this story. I think that it may have been suggested by someone I follow, so apologies and thank you if it was you.

Fade to black: blending shades incrementally

Fade to black: blending shades incrementally

Film noir and its use of shadows and light was the inspiration for Jacqueline Harp's study. She blended black fibre with primary colours in small increments "to bring out richness and add depth to fibers that would otherwise be a bit plain and one-dimensional."


Colour inspiration

When little needs saying except 'beautiful colour'

Spooky Spin

Spooky Spin

This month, the colour inspiration must include some spooky colours. This is Amy's 'Spooky Spin'. Explore her recent pictures to see the fibre that she's using.

Autumn Equinox

Autumn Equinox

These skeins are called Autumn Equinox. giftofgracefiberarts has posted a number of pictures showing the dyed fibre as well as close-ups of the yarn. it's worth a closer look to see the variety of colours in the braid, which was dyed by The Artful Ewe.



First time at a fleece auction

First time at a fleece auction

Felicia Lo visited a fleece auction run by the Lower Mainland Sheep Producers Association.

There's a lot more to the day than you might imagine. The fleeces were judged, the judge gave a talk about her process and criteria. It seems to be an enjoyable day out and I recommend Felicia's video.

The event seems to be aimed at connecting small producers with anyone who may be interested. This takes place in British Columbia. Are there similar events in the UK and elsewhere? If you know, tell me.

Tips and tutorials



This wonderful texture is achieved by teasing locks very gently to make the fibre airy and more spinnable but without totally losing the lock structure.

Alexander Reynoso has written his instructions for the Schacht newsletter and made an accompanying video (look for the link in the middle of this article). As a bonus, there's a link at the bottom to a related article by Jillian Moreno.

Uncoiling the spiral of gimp yarns

Uncoiling the spiral of gimp yarns

The spiral effect in these samples happens naturally when plying dissimilar singles; a bulkier, fluffier single with a denser, thinner single.

Last month we had a couple of stories about combining different singles for yarn that's more than a sum of the parts, but I don't think gimp yarns had a mention.

Stefanie Johnson gives her thoughts and some tips in Spin Off magazine.



Spinning an even bulky yarn is not easy and Josefin admits that it's outside her comfort zone.

Nevertheless, she has spun this very impressive super bulky yarn for a pair of 'snow shovelling pants' and gives some very useful tips.



Any chance of a sandwich? I'm starved. Make it yourself, you sexist pig. I'll make you a sandwich. Im struggling to see who's the winner here.

Don't look for a moral of this story. I'm not taking sides, the idea just made me laugh.

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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Sometimes just a picture is enough

Hand spun Samoyed

Hand spun Samoyed

See the halo on these balls of Samoyed yarn. There are seven pictures in this group, showing a close-up of the fibre, singles and plied yarn.

Pokeberry pink

Pokeberry pink

Lea has labelled this hat an experiment. The handspun yarn is dyed with pokeberries, which is not lightfast and may fade. Time will tell.

First fall spin

First fall spin

This month's sexy spindle shot is suitably autumnal, in the yarn colours as well as the spindle designs. Check out that acorn.

Danaknitshere plans to experiment by spinning the same braid two different ways.This braid was spun end to end and will be chain plied. The other will be split and fractal spun. It'll be fascinating to see the comparison.


Free patterns and projects

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

Did someone say

Did someone say "pumpkins"?

A Zoom Loom or other pin loom is a fast and fun way to use yarn. As Sue Burton says, making a 3d object from 2d squares can be a challenge.

Here are some tips and a detailed pattern for a pumpkin, with a couple of variations.

Wild Fields by by Kaleidoscope Knits

Wild Fields by by Kaleidoscope Knits

This pattern can be used for a hat or head band. The band is thinner at the back than the front for comfort. The one shown here is made with a variegated yarn for the brim, and semi-solid for the body.

It will use around 200 yards altogether of a worsted-weight (9 wpi) yarn. Three sizes are given.


More pattern suggestions

Adventurist Hat by Alicia Plummer

Adventurist Hat by Alicia Plummer

Alicia designed this hat with handspun yarn in mind, so some of the test knits such as this one by Briocheandbrews are made in handspun yarn.

It calls for 350 - 450 yards of DK yarn and involves a slip stitch pattern.

Alicia warns: "Slip stitch patterns can heavily affect gauge, so please swatch!"

Briochepira Cowl  by Susanna Winter

Briochepira Cowl by Susanna Winter

Susanna says, "Briochepira Cowl is a great pattern for those special handspun skeins but commercially or hand-dyed yarns work equally well".

Pick two contrasting, yet coordinating colors that play off of each other.

She says that if you're familiar with regular brioche, double brioche is not so difficult, but do familiarise yourself with regular brioche before venturing onto double.

This is a With Wool suggestion.

Terrain Mitts by Marceline Smith

This pattern will only be good value if you like the other patterns in the Confident Knitting book or e-book.

However, these will be the perfect accompaniment to the Check Slouch by by Triona Murphy.

Both feature mosaic knitting, or slipped-stitch knitting which allows you to knit with (in this case) three colours while only knitting one colour per round. It's very easy and very effective.

As a bonus, here's a tutorial for a suggested cast-on for ribbing, the Alternating Cable Cast On and a tutorial on mosaic knitting.

Creel Cap, Cowl, and Mitts by Anne Hanson

This hat, cowl and mitt set are designed to be unisex but look great on a chap, particularly in these colours.

The examples shown here are made in handpsun yarn by Cheryl Newhouse . If you like the colours and want to spin your own, Cheryl also sells the same fibre for spinning.

The yarn you need is "DK/light worsted yarn with approximately 60 yards per ounce". Mitts: 100 (125, 150) yards,
cowl: 150 (200, 275) yards and hat: 150 (175, 225) yards.


But is it art...?


UK Events


The remaining events in 2021 are a mix of in-person and virtual

Kendal Wool Gathering

Kendal Wool Gathering

Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 October 2021, Virtual event

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.


Waltham Abbey Wool Show

Waltham Abbey Wool Show

Sunday 16 January 2022 10am-4pm, Marriott Hotel, Old Shire Lane, Waltham Abbey

Chosen charity since 2017 is Knit for Peace. Workshops range from beginner to intermediate.

50 exhibitors, a selection of crochet, knitting, spinning and other craft workshops at a variety of levels.

Norfolk Makers Festival

Norfolk Makers Festival

9 - 20 March 2022, The Forum, Norwich.

A wide variety of crafts including knittings, spinning, weaving, crochet.

Demonstrations, have-a-go tables, workshops and exhibitions include Norwich Castle tapestry, RBST, Nudiknits, Saori Shed, Drop Spindle for Beginners with Jenn Monahan and much more.

wonderewool wales

Wonderwool Wales

23-24 April 2022, Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells

First held in 2006 to promote the market for Welsh wool and add value to product for small wool & fibre producers in Wales, the festival celebrates the green credentials of Welsh wool and its versatility as a material for creative crafts, designer clothes, home furnishings and more

Wonderwool Wales has grown year on year. It covers everything from the start to the end of the creative process.

A list of accommodation and camping in the surrounding area is available on the Wonderwool website.

Southern Wool Show

Southern Wool Show

3 and 4 September 2022, Newbury Racecourse, Berkshire

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


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.

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

Happy spinning!

- Editor / curator

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