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Hand Spinning News

Once again, here is your monthly collection of news and stories from the tip to the toe of the UK, worldwide and online.

From India many articles have appeared about spinning with charkhas and Gandhi's principles, possibly related to the anniversary of Indian independence.

There's a real wealth of inspirational finished projects, patterns and tips to help you on your own journey, and some deliberation, much of it this month on the subject of the value of handmade items and teaching time.

I'd also like to mention that Spinzilla is almost upon us, and as I mail out the free version of this issue, there are still a few days left to sign up. It has really become a monster of a spinning competition in terms of the money raised and the yards spun. Team Hand Spinning News is full, but there are other teams with vacancies or you can spin 'rogue' and compete for prizes against other individual spinners. A little more information with useful links just below.

This is the free, edited issue first published September 2016. Scroll to the bottom to find out how to receive a longer version of HSN a couple of weeks earlier

Photo right: melitobiablue's Natural dyed pillow cover. Cover photo, Great wheel, Guild of Longdraw Spinners at Fibre East 2016.


News / Events

Fair Isle in Whalsay

Fair Isle in Whalsay

Kate Davies has visited the current exhibition of fair isle knitting on the wonderful island of Whalsay.

If you're at all interested in colourwork or knitting history, her review is a compelling and enticing read. She says that it's the "best exhibition of its kind I've seen - anywhere" which is a very strong recommendation.

Whalsay fair isle had a distinctive style in its patterns and colours. Kate's post has loads of information about this exhibition, and if you're inspired to visit during Shetland Wool Week then you can, and due to popular demand will remain for another year.

the 'lost' art of spinning charkhas

the 'lost' art of spinning charkhas

Spinners in Varanasi, India are running sessions for local people and visitors on spinning with the charkha, to promote awareness and help to revive the indigenous skill.

It's felt that spinning increases concentration and promotes calmness and well-being. The project also aims to help the revival of khadi, India's handspun and handwoven cloth, linked to Gandhi's protest against British textiles. as he said, "Charkha is the symbol of the nation's prosperity and therefore freedom".

Government regulation protects the name 'Kadhi' but some see those regulations as restrictive - more on that topic is here.

This story is worth a look because it features some really nice photographs of people using briefcase or book Charkhas. If you've never used one before, they'll make you want to try.

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From the Blogosphere

Spinzilla prep

Spinzilla prep

Spinzilla is just around the corner. This is now a worldwide event which challenges you to spin as much as you can in a week and is designed to "share the joy of hand spinning". A small entry fee helps to promote our craft to young people via the Needle Arts Mentoring Program.

Registration for spinners is open until 30 Sep. You can join a team (max 25 spinners per team) or spin 'rogue'. There are several prize categories (including photo categories) and teams may have their own prizes.

NinjaBex is a member of Team Hand Spinning News UK, Last year we came 7th out of 60-odd teams. This year the UK is even better-represented as there are three UK teams.

Spinzilla is all about the spinning, so you're allowed to prepare fibre beforehand. Bex has a number of different fibres to spin, "variety in spinning is better when you intend to spend a whole week spinning and doing very little else", she says. This picture shows some silk and some BFL that she's blending together into rolags using hand carders, in her blog post she explains how she ensures even amounts of fibre in the rolags.

From Sheep to Sweater

From sheep to sweater

If you're still new to the spinning craft, or maybe even if you're not, you'll find inspiration in this 'fleece to finished object' film.

Supporter of the Slow Fashion movement, Josefin has made this movie featuring Knitbug Valérie's 'Fileuse' or Saxony spinning wheel sweater.

I'm sure I've featured the design before but it's listed below under Free Patterns in case you're moved by Josefin's video to make one.

Ten things i do with a new spinning wheel

Ten things I do with a new spinning wheel

What can you tell from letting a friend spin on your new wheel?

The answer to this and other questions are within Jillian's list of ten things that she does with a new (or new to her) wheel. In this case she's getting to know her new Flatiron, a new design that's been getting a lot of attention online.

Five days, five spins: day 5

Five days, five spins: day 5

Congratulations to KnittingSarah who decided to take part in 'five days five spins' and posted the resulting skein each day. This is day five's spin.

The fibre was dyed by Dyeabolical, which is the best name for a dyer ever. Sarah was able to choose her fibre and colourway and have the braid dyed to order. She chose Fawn Shetland and "66 Sunset" colourway.

Sarah plans to knit this into the Yellow Dwarf Shawl, a very interesting pattern and I can't wait to see the result.

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Tips and tutorials

Buying the perfect fleece

Buying the perfect fleece

If you've been spinning for any length of time you'll have been given fleece and you may have bought fleece.

There are many pitfalls and for many of us, the way we discover and learn about some of these problems is by way of a bad experience.

Jenn of The Fibre Workshop says that she has "made just about every mistake there is."

In this article she lists the common problems and some questions to ask yourself when you look at a fleece.

Will I have enough yarn?

Will I have enough yarn?

Yarn chicken. That's when you're wondering whether you have enough yarn to finish your project. A state of affairs we touched on a couple of stories above. You begin to knit more quickly as if that will help. We've all been there.

Anniken has a method that you can use while you knit to work out how many rows you'll be able to knit before running out.

How Heathered Yarns Are Made

How heathered yarns are made

This is a good read even if you're an experienced spinner and are aware of what heathered yarn is.

Roving Crafter Jenn goes into the pros and cons (there are both) and demonstrates all of this by blending fibres for a heathered yarn using hand carders and knitting a swatch.

Knit Kon-Mari repurposed

Knit Kon-Mari repurposed

This is a custom-fit sweater that no longer custom-fits.

With handspun yarn being precious to us, and people having a tendency to change size & shape (in this case Kat has lost weight) repurposing in some way is a good idea.

Ripping out and knitting something else is an option, if that's possible. But here's a different idea. Kat is taking a panel from the front of her jumper and adding a scarf-style band-collar.

The Kon-Mari that Kat refers to is a Japanese method for de-cluttering. There's more about sorting her handknits in her previous post here.

Steeking is scary if you've not done it before. But Kat shows how easy it is, she's using instructions for making a crochet steek from an article in the autumn Interweave Knits (I can vouch for the article, having bought the issue for the Kathe Cardigan pattern, listed under patterns later on.)

The scourge of the heavy student spindle

The scourge of the heavy student spindle

If you're about to set out on your spinning journey, or if you're about to teach a friend, Heather has some very good advice about choosing a first spindle.

Student spindles are chunky, often on the heavier side, and plain.

Heather feels that something more beautiful or fun would be much more encouraging. She's also campaigning against the heavy student spindle and suggests finding something lighter.

This is a great post, full of advice, suggestions and links, not only to UK spindle makers, but some articles and videos about getting creative and making your own.

As a bonus, Kat follows up the heavy spindle post with another in which she discusses stick or lap spinning and gives her procedure for demonstrating stick spinning to new spinners. This is a condensed version of Abby Franquemont's demo of adding twist using a pencil.

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Mischievous Crow is talking to a ewe. Crow: Yvonne, have you heard what they're saying about Maureen...? -whisper- Sheep: First of all, that kind of gossip is despicable, you should be ashamed of yourself. Second, I saw you takling to Sally just now - you should have come to me first. Third - I'm not Yvonne, I'm Maureen...

You may notice we've just passed a milestone, there now being over 100 Yvonne cartoons. I celebrated by doing something unusual for #100 (and a follow-up to that with #103) with more of the usual silliness for #101 onwards. To find out more, click the image above to find her page, you can use the 'previous' link to explore the previous cartoons. You're also welcome to join the mailing list for a regular digest email.

Keeping this wheel spinning

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Your news here

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Sometimes just a picture is enough

So Not Over Over-Shot

So not over over-shot

This woven fabric using handspun yarn looks jewelled.

There are two versions of this fabric which Louise of Spin City plans to make into cushions. The yarn is thick and thin, Louise says that the pink version "looks very handspun". She has used a machine-knitting cone of Shetland wool for the warp.

Here are pictures of both fabrics and Louise gives her recipe and draft for each.

Fractal Danger

Fractal Danger

Threadbender's Fractal Danger is made from Merino/Tencel dyed by Blue Moon. The fibre & yarn has a silky sheen, and is neatly-spun to a light fingering weight.

The shawl is triangluar, resembling "an alien battle instrument" according to designer Martina Behm but will "behave peacefully, warm and beautifully when wrapped around your neck".

Threadbender found this project "potato chip knitting. Could not stop." Paid pattern is here.



"Who gets so excited about their first handspun sweater that they have to put it on on a summer morning and take a snapshot before it's even blocked?" asks Instagram user clothwright.

"All of us!" Is the answer to that I think.

I have no more information about the fibre or spinning but there are some 'in progress' shots if you explore her pictures.

Natural dyed pillow cover

Natural dyed pillow cover

The harmonious medley of shades in this cushion cover are natural dyes. Flickr user melitobiablue has created an album called "Do Natural Dyes Last".

This picture is a recent one, but the question posed in the album title is answered by another picture within the album of a natually-dyed jumper made before 1986.

Drowning in yarn

Drowning in yarn

This child's cardy features seahorses and waves, although they're a little difficult to see because of the low contrast between the colours.

But it's an effect I like; I'm more for subtle effects than 'in yer face'.

The colourway is called Jungle Night, but lilirious felt that it also had a deep sea look and thus perfect for this pattern. She has disliked barberpoling but tried fractal spinning here for the first time. This is a way of splitting a braid of fibre so as to achieve some interesting colour mixing. She says, "fractal spinning has totally opened my eyes to all sorts of new possibilities".

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Free patterns

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

Uberib by Destiny

Uberib by Destiny

From the new Knitty, I couldn't resist including these slippers.

I've made a pair of Mary Janes from handspun, and I can tell you that just grabbing a number of strands of mismatched handspun yarn and knitting them together, works really well. You can make a big gauge and the way that different colours blend can be pleasing too.

This pattern offers a chance to learn brioche stitch, to boot!

Eisern by General Hogbuffer

Eisern by General Hogbuffer

After admiring littlemarchhare's handspun Eisern socks, I was surprised to find that the pattern is available as a free Ravelry download (It was originally part of a mystery sock knit-a-long).

How cosy must colourwork around the toes be? littlemarchhare's project is testament to the fact that the pattern works extremely well with handspun yarn.

The link goes to Chris's project, from where you can follow the link to the pattern.

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Not-so-free patterns

Baile by Amanda B Collins

Baile by Amanda B Collins

We've seen OwlPrintPanda Amanda's spinning and spin/knit projects here over the years and here is one of her patterns. Baile looks very seasonal in these autumnal colours and the falling leaves in the lace pattern.

I particularly like the scoopy neck.

Suggested as an autumnal pattern by Nadia of Abso-knitting-lutely.

Kathe Cardigan by Linda Marveng

Kathe Cardigan by Linda Marveng

Another gorgeous autumnal pattern is Linda Marveng's Kathe Cardigan. It looks very practical to me; warm but easy to slip off when necessary. Interweave say "this comfortable knit can be worn with a skirt and heels to the office or dressed down for the weekend".

It uses a 12wpi (sport-weight) yarn. I haven't found a handspun example yet but I'm sure it would look great in a natural or neutral shades. I will be making one shortly.

You can buy the pattern alone or the autumn issue of Interweave Knits on paper or digitally. I'm linking to Linda Marveng's Kathe's own blog post. She sounds suitably delighted about her pattern being published and she provides links to the pattern on Ravelry as well as the Interweave Knits options.

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2016 events

Shetland Wool Week

Shetland Wool Week

24 September - 2 October 2016

A busy weekend dedicated to celebrating Shetland wool and textile heritage.

Events programme to be announced in April.

Bakewell Wool Gathering

Bakewell Wool Gathering

Bakewell Agricultural Centre Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 October

This year sees the fouth year of the Bakewell Wool Gathering, an event for wool lovers in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales.

There will be exhibitors, demonstrations of fibre crafts, workshops plus a knitting and crochet help desk to help novice and expert alike.

Happy spinning and don't be a stranger!

Shiela Dixon - Editor / curator

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