Is the holiday season here and you just realized you haven't planned out your holiday gift knitting projects? Well I have you covered here as I share with you some of my favorite and quick to knit patterns - all hand spun yarn approved!
A lovely cowl with a unique design using worsted weight yarn.
Arbutus by Jane Richmond
Your basic warm wooly mittens that are perfect to knit with hand spun yarn.
Oma Lenis Chunky Mitts by Gralina Frie
Who doesn't love a good bag? I knit this up years ago and keep meaning to go back for more!
Booga Bag by Julie Anderson
My all-time favorite beanie, simple in design but so much room to play and the perfect fit!
Conversationalist by Plucky Knitter Design
This is the first project I used my own hand spun yarns with and it is my "go-to" winter cowl.
Bandana Cowl by Purl Soho
This shawlette can easily be done in different yarn weights and still have a simple delicate look.
Wendy's Favorite Shawlette
If you'd like to see these patterns knit up head to my YouTube channel, All About Wool, where I talk about and show examples of each of these patterns. Link to this episode
I would love to hear about some of your favorite quick to knit patterns and gift ideas so comment below!
Have you been watching others hand spin and been enamored with the calm and ease they seem to exude? Maybe this has got you thinking that learning to hand spin seems amazing but where do you start? Trust me I have been there. It seems like there are so many words, fibers, tools and that doesn't even touch on the spinning wheel or how it works. Well, I am here to help put you at ease! I believe that understanding your wheel, starting with the right fiber for beginners, and having a good teacher are all you need to have an easier transition to becoming a hand spinner. There will be a learning curve of course, but if you are willing to commit just 10 minutes a day to practice, you can get there!
I am hosting some live FREE webinars starting on October 24th 2023 to help you start to understand some of the basics as well as the simplicity of making yarn and the joys that come with it. You do need to sign up in advance so follow the link below to save your spot. I hope to see you there! Let's get you spinning!
Sign up for the free webinar here
When you first start hand spinning it seems like there are a lot of things going on that you need to manage. When learning to drop spindle handling the tool is one thing while trying to understand and learn to draft the fiber is a whole other component. Trying to do them both at once! Whoa! Park and draft is a technique used when learning that let's you focus on and practice your wool drafting.
Looking for a good beginner drop spindle? Check out the Ewethful Fiber website for great top whorl drop spindles and fiber for beginners.
Here's how it works:
1. While pinching the fiber so that no twist builds up, give your drop spindle a good twirl and let it go until it is about to stop spinning.
2. Now use your legs to "park" the spindle. Now that the spindle isn't moving you can focus on the fiber.
3. Draft a little fiber with one hand while still keeping the fiber pinched with your other hand.
4. Now release the pinch you have on the fiber and let the twist travel up the fiber. Pinch at the top of the fiber once the twist travel is just about done.
5. Rinse and repeat.
As you get more comfortable with drafting you can start to ease back into working your spindle and fiber at the same time. Remember to commit to practicing! 10 minutes a day and you will make quick progress.
Check out the Ewethful Fiber Mill website for online classes, drop spindles and easy to spin wool and fibers.
I just had to cast-on the Sophie Scarf by PetiteKnits this week and after deciding to change my needle size it got me to thinking about drape and how to get the drape of your dreams. We've all been there, worked up that project we thought we were going to love only to have the finished item not look quite like the pattern picture. Often times when we picked out our yarn we didn't take into account how that yarn would drape. So here are my 2 tips for dreamy drape:
Head to my website to join my email list for more great tips and to shop local yarns and hand spinning fibers.
Fun With Batts!
Wool batts that is! I've had a lot of handspinners over the years mention to me that they have never spun from a batt and are intimidated by them. So I thought I would do a little step-by-step for those of you who are interested but haven't taken the dive yet.
Step 1: Unroll/unfold your batt. Please note, not all batts are packaged the same, but I think the majority of batts you purchase will likely be rolled in some form for ease of packaging.
Step 2: Stripping Batts. I generally strip my batts as I go along so I don't have to hold a big old batt. This is simple! Just pull a chunk and "go with the grain" of the fiber as you pull. You can make this strip as thick or as thin as you want - and your strips do not all need to be the same thickness so do not worry too much as you strip. Depending on the density of the fiber you may want to pre-draft the strip a little for ease of spinning. Totally up to you!
Step 3: Deciding how to spin - shorter or long color changes. Now you have options!
Spinning for long color changes. You could choose to spin directly across the batt and follow the colors as they change. The will give you 3 very long stretches of the colors in your yarn, For this batt you would go light green to olive green to the wine color (or you could of course start on the wine side). Spinning this batt in this style would give you long runs of each color.
Spinning for shorter color changes. Another option is to split the colors up and spin them back and forth - small strip of light green, then olive green, then wine and back to light green and so on. Spinning in this way will cause more frequent color changes throughout your yarn.
If you choose this route, you will want to split the batt into the three different colors and then pull strips from each as you go. You can come up with any combination you'd like! This is your yarn!
Again, depending on the density of the fiber you may want to pre-draft the strips a little for ease of spinning.
That is two fun ways to spin this batt. And of course there are different ways you could ply that would allow for all different types of color patterns in your finished yarn.
I hope this helped a few of you feel a new inspiration towards spinning batts! If you are looking for some lovely batts to spin be sure to check out my online shop for hand spinning fun. ewethfulfiberfarm.com
Have you ever been sitting in a knitting group stitching away when you notice someone clipping along and knitting in a very different style than you? This is how I first learned about continental knitting. A woman in a knit group was cruising through her project and she didn't even seem to be moving her hands. Turns out she was knitting continental style!
What's the difference? Continental knitting uses your left hand as the one that handles the working yarn. The forefinger holds the yarn very close to the needle and in essence you are picking up the stitch, knitting the stitch and then sliding the new stitch off the needle in one small smooth movement. This as opposed to English knitting, or "throwing" as I will refer to it moving forward, in which you are using your right hand to handle the working yarn and you are "throwing" the yarn over the needle before you even get to work the knit stitch.
Here are 5 great reasons to add continental knitting to your skillset:
1. Faster. This is a biggie! Continental knitting is significantly faster than throwing. The reason being that there is less action taking place. Continental is a quick pick up and slide whereas throwing takes a wrapping motion, then the stitch, then the removal of the stitch. Now most of us aren't trying to run a marathon with our knitting but it doesn't hurt to be a little faster - quicker to get to the next cast on!
2. Ergonomics. Being able to use both hands to knit allows you to reduce overuse by switching between hands with different projects. Please note that I say "different" projects. You always want to pick one way and stick with it through a project as your gauge will likely be very different with the different techniques. Tip: Write notes on each pattern to remind yourself which style you were knitting just in case you put it aside and forget.
3. Left handed. Continental knitting uses the left hand as the dominant hand so if you are naturally a left handed person this technique will be much more intuitive than "throwing" your yarn.
4. Colorwork. Being able to knit with both hands is a game changer for knitting stranded colorwork. If you are a thrower you have to keep putting your yarn down and to switch colors. If you are able to knit with both hands you can have a color in each hand and go back and forth without stopping for color changes!
5. More Consistent Tension and gauge. The idea with continental knitting is that there is very little space between your forefinger and the needle which not only makes knitting faster it also leads to a more consistent tension that is created more by the needle than it is by you and the yarn. If the needles are determining tension vs. you the human, you will undoubtedly get more consistent gauge.
There you have it! A little of the what and why's to knitting continental. Are you ready to learn?
I recently posted a video on Instagram of me conditioning some clean picked wool prior to starting to card the wool. This post garnered a lot of questions about why I do this and what the conditioner I use is. I thought I would dive in a little deeper here.
First the why? When processing wool static can start to build up between the fibers. This static will cause issues during carding (and spinning) and not allow the fibers to process as well. During the dry summer and winter days this becomes more of an issue. Conditioning the fiber is a way to combat that static. In addition it adds a little moisture back into the wool just like when we condition our own hair.
Now the what? At the mill I use a specific type of commercially processed conditioner. Have no fear, prior to owning the mill I did condition my fibers as need and wanted to let you know you can do this as well. I scoured (no pun intended) through all of my wool books and confirmed that the easiest at home recipe for carding oil is a 50/50 ratio of olive oil and water. Mix it up and add to a spray bottle so you have it on hand. Give it a good shake before you start to use it each time and be sure to have the nozzle set to mist.
And finally the how?
My best advice is to play with the conditioning oil as needed. If it is a dry season you may want to automatically condition the wool prior to starting to card or comb it. You can do this by having your squirt bottle on the mist setting and lightly misting the wool. I generally fluff the wool a bit after spraying to disperse the oil. Then let is sit for an hour or so to absorb. The wool will absorb the oil! Then resume processing.
You can also lightly mist as you go along. The only issue with that is that the wool may feel a little damp.
My best advice is make the mix up and do some experimenting to see what will work well in your climate!
Chain plying is a way of using the hand spun yarn on a single bobbin to create a finished 3-ply yarn. You are plying this singles yarn on itself similar to how you make a crochet chain. It is a fun and efficient way to ply!
So why chain ply you may ask? Here are my top reasons for using this technique of plying.
Saturday nights are my nights for relaxation in my craft room. After dinner I head upstairs, turn on the Hallmark channel (I know I know) and settle in with my favorite cocktail surrounded by all my crafts. On a recent Saturday I wove for a bit and then decided it was time to spin, but I did something I never do, and picked up my drop spindle. There was literally yarn I had spun on it from 2 years ago - the only yarn I had spun on it I should add. So I spun more! Then pulled that yarn off and spun more. It was so relaxing, rhythmic and I felt so connected to the fiber as I continually wound the freshly spun yarn onto the spindle. Does this sound joyful to you? If you need just a bit more temptation here are my top 5 reasons you should pick up a drop spindle.
1. You'll be making yarn! And making yarn is the best. Whether you are a knitter, crocheter, weaver or have no other yarn hobby, you can make yarn!
2. Budget friendly. It doesn't cost much to get into this craft. You can easily find a drop spindle for around $15 and with a $20 purchase in wool roving you are ready to go! Of course you can spend more on both spindles and fibers but the initial cost to get in the game and make lovely yarns is low.
3. Portability. Drop spindles are small and can easily go anywhere with you. The can go straight into your project bag, purse or easily fit in your suitcase so you can make yarn on the go.
4. Relaxing. Handspinning is easily the most relaxing craft I do. There is something about the flow of it, the feel of the fiber running through your hands and the slow rhythm that accompanies spinning. It is a surefire way to lower your heart rate and your stress level.
5. Variety. There are so many varieties of drop spindles! Top whorl, bottom whorl, Turkish. Light or heavy. Handmade gems, 3D printed or a vintage find you can never get bored experimenting. Plus a collection makes for a great display!
I hope this inspires a few of you to pick up that drop spindle that has been sitting on the shelf or maybe do some searching on Etsy for a drop spindle to get you going. Have fun and make yarn!
Here is a link to a great little Etsy shop I have bought beginner drop spindles from before...
If you have ever tried to dye yarn red you may know that it is not as easy as it looks. It is pretty easy to get a pink yarn, but getting a luscious deep red is not as easy. For my yarn club I did a lot of red dyeing over the 2021 holiday season and I wanted to share my top tips for getting the red yarn of your dreams. Please note for this red yarn I was dyeing wool/alpaca blend yarn using Dharma's Oxblood Red acid dye. I soaked the yarns in water with a drop of Dawn dish soap for at least 30 minutes prior to dyeing.
1. Saturate. Use a lot of dye. If you are generally conservative with your dyes scrap that and go heavy with the red. This is definitely where you can read the manufacturers labels and go there to get that full color. You can always pull back in the future.
2. Use a good amount of mordant. Whether you use citric acid or vinegar use a bit more than usual to help the yarn take up as much dye as it can.
3. Heat. And cooling for that matter! Definitely bring your yarn slowly up to a good high temperature while it is sitting in the dye. I like to get to about 180 degrees. The best uptake happens at that high temperature. Equally important with red is letting it come back to room temperature naturally. I leave the lid on my red dye pots to allow for a slow cool down that generally pulls up any last remaining color in the pot.
It is all about trial and error with dyes and yarn, but hopefully these tips can help you skip a couple of the errors and get straight to the color you want! Have fun!
I am Kim Biegler, the owner and operator of Ewethful Fiber Farm & Mill. I create hand spinning fibers from locally sourced wool and teach others online how to hand spin their own yarn.