A Lot of Handspun, and a Little Bit of Freeform

Yarn, yarn, everywhere, and WIPs and FOs all over the house.  As I practice all sorts of spinning techniques with lots of different fiber combinations, I find I really enjoy blending colors and plying with unusual threads:

A great help in learning different spinning techniques has been YouTube, where so many great spinners have posted excellent tutorials.  Also, Craftsy, which I mentioned in my last post, offers a number of classes on the craft of spinning, very reasonably priced.  I have recently been taking “Drafting From Worsted To Woolen”, with instructor Jacey Boggs Faulkner, and I can’t say enough good things about it.  My yarns improved in texture and consistency within the first day!

Check out Craftsy’s entire roster of classes here:

Craftsy Online Craft Classes

Of course, the more I spin, the more yarn I have, and added to my commercial yarn stash, it’s quite a lot.  I spent a couple of days this month organizing my yarns by color, with BG’s help, and became newly inspired by everything I have on hand.  Looking around on Ravelry and Craftsy, as well as through my collection of pattern books and magazines, led to several new creations, mostly hats and hand warmers, but also a few bags, felted and not, as well as some kitchen items like dishcloths and potholders.  I also developed a dishcloth pattern in crochet for my Craftsy shop, aimed at beginners who want to make something pretty and useful while learning to maintain straight edges in “back and forth” rows.

Sweet and Simple Crochet Dishcloth

As for the handspun, I am liking the way the “art yarns” work as a trim or embellishment to traditionally spun and commercial yarns in projects like scarves and cowls. Here’s an example from my Etsy shop, a pretty cowl knitted in Paton’s Cobbles and my own glittery handspun, a combination of dyed merino and Cotswold locks, plied with bamboo eyelash yarn from my stash:

Super chunky art yarn infinity scarf

Another fun way to use my handspun is in freeform projects.  For those who aren’t familiar with this method, it involves crocheting or knitting without a pattern, letting imagination and yarn dictate the shape of the finished creation, sometimes using add-in’s for embellishment or structure.  One of my favorites is this ruffled neckpiece, which I knitted onto and created a drawstring closure with scraps of trim from our very own, sadly missed, Scranton Lace factory.  After finishing the piece, I tea-dyed the whole thing, along with a pair of vintage ladies’ gloves I picked up at an estate sale in my neighborhood.  This piece is a little steam punk, a little early Downtown Abbey:

Loving traditional spinning fibers as I do, I naturally have to push the boundaries of what can be done, as well as search for ways to save money on what can become a very expensive habit.  This has led me to several experiments with acrylic chunky yarns, an idea I got from one of my lovely spinning groups on Facebook.  Some genius members discovered that the extra bulky yarns that are currently being sold at the big box craft stores are basically spinning fiber lightly plied with thread.  Snip the thread, pull it off, and viola-  something very similar to combed top, for roughly half the price!  Here’s what it looks like, prepped for spinning:


This is wonderful for practicing techniques like chain/Navajo plying, corespinning, and stacks and coils.  Combined with my efforts at recycling commercial yarns by deconstruction and respinning, this has opened up a new way of spinning.  Some spinners turn up their noses at commercial fibers, especially acrylic, but I think these materials have their place, as a learning tool, a way to reuse and recycle, and also in blends with other, more costly or delicate fibers. More on this in a later post.


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Filed under crochet, Knitting, My Original Patterns, Yarny goodness

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