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Hand Spinning News

Soft and Cuddly, madaboutcolour

Have you mastered the longdraw draft? There are articles on the subject this month that will get you started if you need to get started, and tips to improve your technique if your technique needs improving.

Different articles have turned up independently on the subject of plying different singles together for a yarn that's more than the sum of its parts. In one case, for the properties of the different fibres. In another, to allow two different colours to play together. We also have an example of plying one batch of singles with a similar fibre to extend the yardage.

Because I'm a grump, I'd rather Halloween didn't occupy the entire month of October, but if your knitting is as slow as mine then you may be thinking about halloween projects already, so I've chosen to include a few ideas and patterns this time.

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

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

Photo right: Soft and cuddly jumper, madaboutcolour.



In the media

Wool Week 2021 - one month to go

Wool Week 2021 - one month to go

Last month I commented that the announced dates for Wool Week 2021 seemed more like a month, and Campaign for Wool has cleared that up in this press release. They give their reasons for extending WW to a month.

There's a little background here too if you're new to the Campaign's work and Wool Week.

Cosby Yarn Bomb 2021

Cosby Yarn Bomb 2021

An amazing selection of knitted and crocheted creations could be seen in Cosby, Leicestershire recently.

The village hosted 59 installations dotted around the village and a map was printed for visitors.

The Leicester Mercury has the story with a very good photo gallery, which is well worth fighting through the ads and popups .

There's also a short video here, made by Leigh984, which features some different installations.

Spinning tools recovered from 2,000-year-old grave in Poland

Spinning tools recovered from 2,000-year-old grave in Poland

Archaeologists have found two burials in a barrow in northeastern Poland belonging to the Wielbark culture.

A box contained hair pins and spinning and weaving tools, including the remains of two distaffs and a set of spindle whorls.


Handspun stories

A tale of two slippers

A tale of two slippers

You may be aware that a felted project requires you to knit giant-size because felting can shrink the fabric considerably.

Kate of Green Mountain Spinnery made these two pairs in different sizes before felting. The first pair took a lot more time to felt and were very fuzzy. The second were made to fit before felting, and spent less time in the washing machine. This may be called fulling rather than felting, but it used much less yarn and I think they look better.

GMS's tip is that "it can be hard to anticipate just how much your project will shrink, so vigilance during the agitation process is needed to catch the item from shrinking too much."

Tweaking my e-spinner for angora

Tweaking my e-spinner for angora

Terry Clemo describes the problems that she's had setting up her e-spinner for spinning angora.

She was looking for a very light take-up . She found the answer through experimenting with different materials for the brake cord. In order to be able to exchange these easily, she's come up with a method using lobster claws and crimp ends.

My lockdown marathon

My lockdown marathon

When the lockdown started, we didn't know how long the pandemic would last.

Lorna learned how to crochet a granny square and made the rash promise that she'd make one per day of lockdown. The finish line would come when a specific craft shop re-opened. She challenged her family to guess how many squares she would make. Can you guess?

Highlander sheep part two

Highlander sheep part two

Guzzisue's blog posts have been impressive, both in terms of the quantity of fleece that she prepares and spins, and her beautiful finished projects.

In a series of three posts, she receives a fleece from a new breed, evaluates it, prepares and spins it. These locks have an impressively long staple.

I'm linking to part one. There's a link to part two at the top of the page, and part three (containing pictures of beautiful finished yarn) is here.

I'm sorry, Dave. I can't knit that.

I'm sorry, Dave. I can't knit that.

You may already have come across Janelle Shane's work with AI and generating knitting patterns (see AI Weirdness). Early attempts were bizarre and funny. Knitters have been attempting to follow the patterns with varying degrees of success. Things have moved on, some of her neural-net patterns are more credible but the creativity of the technology still exceeds practicality.

In this podcast, Allison Korleski interviews Janelle and gives a very easy-to-digest explanation of the technology. The 25-minute programme is very entertaining and worth a listen.

The page has some pictures and lots of links if you wish to explore the subject further.

Rare-Breed Tweed

Rare-Breed Tweed

This is knitted tweed. The yarn has dyed nepps carded into the fibre.

The nepps are a waste product, in this case from processing heritage-breed fleeces. Holly Callahan-Kasmala explains how to dye them and card them into fresh blended wool.

Miniature centre-pull ball of yarn

Miniature centre-pull ball of yarn

In two series of photos, megansyarncreations shows us a miniature skein of yarn, spun from her own sheep, which she then winds into this miniature centre-pull ball.

I'd like to know more about the spinning. It's clearly extremely fine. Is it plied?



We rarely see someone 'unplying' yarn. It may be a first for me.

Elly documented her process here in this Ravelry group. The reason is that the pattern required more yarn than the length that she had, She had a slightly different fibre that she could have plied it with, so she turned the plied yarn back to singles and plied it with the second fibre.

Her finished project, March of the Flamingos Cowl, is here. Elly comments that she would have had enough without the unplying shenanigans!

Cross-arm spindle winding-on

Cross-arm spindle winding-on

If you use a Turkish spindle, do you wind a slow, neat cop or a fast messy one?

Knit Knack Lara began with the classic 'over two, under one' technique. But a recent tragedy prompted her to buy some new spindles, which have their arms quite high on the shaft, and she has been experimenting with 'under two, over one' and a mix of the two.

Here are her musings on the subject.


Colour inspiration

When little needs saying except 'beautiful colour'

Idea Gallery: Bits and Pieces Plaid

Idea Gallery: Bits and Pieces Plaid

Daryl Lancaster has woven the fabric for this coat from leftovers. It now reminds her of past projects and friends.

There are some great pictures in this post of the journey, and many thoughts and considerations.

Sweater lot

Sweater lot

The deep-blue-fading-to-white attracted my eye to these turtles. It turns out that Rachel has spun around 30 of these using a small Turkish spindle.

Her challenge was to spin a sweater quantity using a spindle. There is 632 g here, pre-plying.



Tips and tutorials

Ready for the gymnastics

Ready for the gymnastics

If you've not yet twisted your mind around chain plying or Navajo plying, Knit/Wit has an explanation, using two different colours of commercial yarn to demonstrate.

She doesn't give a demonstration of the actual technique but when you do watch the process, you'll have a better understanding of what's going on.

Solace Spinning: A Sweet Scrap Sweater

Solace spinning: a sweet scrap sweater

I'm not sure whether I will take Kate Larson's advice to "pick your pattern later" because I prefer to spin with a project in mind.

Kate gives her reasons, and these tips are geared towards meeting the challenge of spinning a sweater-quantity.

Sample along: supported long draw

Sample along: supported long draw

In this 'woollen/worsted' series, we've previously seen Jillian deal with drafting from the fold. Here she reaches supported longdraw.

I'm a little surprised to see the accompanying video showing Jillian spinning from roving because I associate longdraw with rolags and punis. Having said that, in this series she has used two different fibre preps (red and blue) one being combed top and one being carded roving, and I think letting the twist enter the roving and letting the twist distribute over the draw length are the important things.


Sheep wool used to build walking trails in Co. Leitrim

Sheep wool used to build walking trails in Co. Leitrim

This is far from a new technology. Wool is being used here as foundation for a surfaced trail. It acts as a barrier between the soft peat and the stone surface.

It's eco-friendly, and as we know is in plentiful supply. It needs no treatment and is used straight from the sheep. It's an ancient technique but may be used here for the first time in Ireland.


Park run

Maureen: I do ten laps of the field before breakfast. Yvonne: I know that you have breakfast at 11:30. That is not that impressive

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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Book review: Keepers of the sheep by Irene Waggener

Book review: Keepers of the sheep by Irene Waggener

The full title is Keepers of the sheep - knitting in Morocco's High Atlas and beyond.

Josefin bought the book for herself and so presents an honest review. To prepare for the review she interviewed Irene.

The book consists of stories and portraits of the people and landscape that she encountered on her journey in Morocco's High Atlas.


Sometimes just a picture is enough

Pick your side by Agata A. Piasecka

Pick your side by Agata A. Piasecka

utlindeswollbefinden says that she had fun modelling this dress, which she has made from handspun yarn. The photo session involved turning the dress inside out, because it's designed to be worn either way, with each side having the colours reversed.

The pattern, Pick your side by Agata A. Piasecka, is flattering, it's knit top-down in one piece and uses Polish brioche knitting. The difficulty rating shows that it's suited to experienced knitters.

Depending on size, it requires 1400 - 3440 yards of yarn, which is obviously more than a sweater quantity, but at least it's not all in a single colour.



I'm so impressed by Hunter's neat and delicate work. This image is absolutely delightful. It's worth clicking through to see the full-size picture.

The owl's belly is duplicate stitch in a fuzzy yarn.

The little hat was a one-off project but an enthusiastic social media response encouraged her to write up the pattern. It isn't out yet as I write this, but will be soon, check Hunter Hammersen's designer page.

Swifter and Gotland

This unusual design (check out the crown) is made by Carla van Doorn from Swifter and Gotland wool. They look great together in this houndstooth pattern.

soft and cuddly jumper

Soft and cuddly

This is Joanne who is mad about colour. She designed and knitted the jumper using handspun yarn from her friend Sue.

She says that it's "very soft, comfy and cuddly - it is going to get a lot of wear and care".

Velaris - Woven Wall Hanging

Velaris - Woven Wall Hanging

Sometimes I find handmade items that I like and would like to share, but I've always been hesitant to include commercial products.

Perhaps it's fair to include one or two such items in the free version of HSN, with affiliate link and full disclosure. Let's see how it goes.

This is Colleen's interpretation of Velaris from the beloved series 'A Court of Thorns and Roses' by Sarah J Maas. She has used "tons of hand spun art yarn (sky yarns all self-made), naturally dyed silk ribbon, silk velvet, lots of sparkle and real pieces of pyrite as the 3 stars of the Night Court".


Free patterns and projects

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

3D weaving on a rigid heddle loom

3D weaving on a rigid heddle loom

Kate's speedy stop-motion vides are a very handy way to get an overview of an entire process.

This one, for me, contains a "wait! What did you just do?!" moment when the project opens out from 2D to 3D.

There are detailed instructions with pictures on the page.


More pattern suggestions

Cemetery Drive Cowl by Emily Haver

Cemetery Drive Cowl by Emily Haver

This cemetery-themed cowl is made in stranded colourwork. The pattern suggests lace yarn held double, but choose your yarn and needle size for fit.

The contrast colour is only 100 yards in total, so this may be an opportunity to use a single skein of handspun yarn with a commercial yarn background. I'll also give a mention to Quite a Yarn who has made the cowl using a colour called Ectoplasm and says that "people have done a lot of different things with the colors for this pattern, and it pretty much always looks great."

Square Cubed

Square Cubed

Woolly Wormhead's hats are legendary. Her latest release is geometric in nature, leading to a 'kaleidoscope' effect at the crown.

it also has a mix and match element; you can adjust the look by mixing up the sequence for the squares. The pattern includes notes on this and on the techniques needed.

It uses 240 yards of sock yarn, solid, semi solid or variegated.

Batmouse in da house

Batmouse in da house

This is Clarence the Bat as crocheted by cora_me7 using handspun yarn.

If you don't find Clarence himself very scary, Cora says that the written instructions for the wings are scary. If you feel up to the challenge, or want to make up your own wings as Cora did, then the pattern is from Edward's Menagerie by Kerry Lord.


But is it art...?



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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