Like most spinners when I first started spinning I was so proud of every skein and hank I made. And most of them were bad.
Okay not bad. Just not the level and quality I was looking for in my finished product.
But they were unbalanced with areas of over-spin and areas of under-spin. They had thick and thin areas. And I spun straight from the roving because this was before I knew what gradients and fractals were.
I would just divide my roving in half and go.
And even when you’re haphazard about your spinning, and unskilled you can still end up with a beautiful skein of fiber, and something you cherish… even though you can’t figure out what to do with it.
And that’s sometimes hard too. Because once you’re done, you have to make something, right?
But many times the patterns we love absolutely won’t work with handspun. Sometimes they don’t look good in the pattern of stitches. Or the whole thing goes to mud. That’s when you can’t really tell what’s going on any more.
So I am by no means a spinning pro, but I do what too share with you some of the things I’ve learned over the years of basically teaching myself to spin.
Don’t worry so much about getting the exact amounts on all your bobbins or spindles.
In the beginning those extra yards on one bobbin or spindle really upset me. In my mind they were a mark of my skill as a spinner. And there are some tricks to getting the amounts closer, but it’s not that important.
I’ll tell you why.
- If you plan to make something with your handspun, you can use those extra yards as your swatching material so you don’t over work the first several yards of your yarn trying to figure out what stitches or pattern looks good.
- If you plan to give the skein away or sell it, you have a keepsake of the work you did. You can wrap these little skeins up, and place them in plastic mini bags then label it with the name or colorway and the date so you can always see how far you’ve come.
Swatch swatch swatch
I hate swatching. If I’m honest. I never do it – unless I’m working with handspun. And depending on what I’m making, even then it may not be necessary. Examples would be where the yarn is fairly uniform in color throughout or has long gradients, or when gauge for your pattern isn’t necessary.
But in my opinion, if you have lots of colors in a relatively short span of space, lots of barber poling and the like, swatching is your friend.
Today, I’ve pulled one of the first skeins I crafted out of storage to share with you. Here are a couple of pictures of what the yarn looks like – hanked and caked.
Even for a beginner’s spin, I think it’s pretty. But as I started working with it I realized it was going to be difficult to make something pretty. Due to the way I spun it, it became very “muddy” very quickly.
Check out these stitch examples.
Crochet Moss Stitch
Triple / Treble Crochet
Play around with various stitches until you find one that looks good and you don’t hate working. LOL
Once you determine what you like, then it becomes easier to find a pattern that will look good with your hand spun yarn. If you want, at this point you can design your own pattern to specifically accentuate the qualities of your yarn you like the most.
Keep in mind it doesn’t HAVE to be a whole pattern. One of my favorite things to do is use my smaller amounts of hand spun yarn as accents in a larger piece. Think stripes in a beanie or bobbles in a scarf!
An open design or stitch pattern will show of the thick and thin qualities more, while close stitches will hide it a bit. Simple knit in stockinette or long crochet stitches will show off short color changes better.
It’s also important to think about the weight and drape of your yarn. Acrylics and synthetics tend to be “heavier” and often times have more drape than your beginning handspun, which may tend towards the light squishy end of the spectrum. So in order to get the flow you’re after, you may need larger needles or more space between stitches.
Check out some of my Pinterest boards for examples of great patterns that use handspun.
Christy R. Hall is the owner of Hand Cramp Crafts and fancies herself to be a String Wrangler, and an all-around fiber phreak. In her free time, she spins yarn (both literally spinning fiber into yarn, as well as, writing), crochets for charity, watches silly cat videos, looks at pictures of Corgis, and plays PC and console games. Her current (ongoing) favorites are Skyrim and Elder Scrolls Online.