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Hand Spinning News Magical midsummer Here we are at magical midsummer as the year continues apace. There are plenty of treats this year, I hope you enjoyed the Jubilee and some of the special events leading up to the Olympics. Maybe you combined them with knitting on Knit in Public Day (which lasted a week) or are taking part in Tour de Fleece (link requires free Ravelry account) I've had an unusually full month myself and find myself struggling to finish the issue. I don't want to go bi-monthly or miss a month, especially as there are some new products and a couple of events that I promised to pass on. So here's a slightly more brief than usual round-up of spinning stories scintillation and silliness...

Top Stories Great wheels

Horace becomes Horietta a 'great wheel' had a very large drive wheel and a quill spindle. Lee Juvan is smitten with hers and discusses the subject in the current KnittySpin

This is a bizarre story of a sexchanging ex-hermit sheep and an enormous fleece which you could own a part of. Read more

Read more

Contents News and articles from around the web Irish artisan yarn project, Great wheels, Horace.. now Horietta the ex-hermit sheep, This month's cover photo From the blogosphere Tess of the d'Urbervilles meets Jane Austen, Stick shuttles, Icelandic lambs, Dressing mixtures Gallery Showing off some of the best images I've found this month. Featured fibre artist and fluffy giveaway An interview with an independent dyer and an offer. Free patterns A selection of free patterns which will work well with handspun yarn. Events Some 2012 dates for your diary! Courses and tuition Where to go for a day, weekend or a week to learn or improve your skills

News and articles from around the web An apology I must correct a mistake in May's HSN in which I referred to Jenny of A'Nead Knitwear as a Shetland Knitter. Although Jenny uses Shetland yarn, she is on Eigg which is a long way from the Shetlands. The mention of 'locally produced wool' in connection with Jamieson & Smith yarn means that the wool is produced locally to J&S, not locally to Jenny. I'm told that Shetland's lace knitters are "elusive". I guess that true Shetland and Fair Isle products have their imitators and I'm happy to pass on a plea that we be aware of and support the real deal. The mistake was mine and I do apologise for the upset caused.

Irish Artisan Yarn Project Spinner Sara Breitenfeldt of Cork, Ireland is raising funds to to create artisan, handspun yarn made with Irish wool. She's using Kickstarter which is a funding platform for creative projects. You can pledge money and if the artist's target is reached then they get the money. In addition to the pleasure from helping, donors can get rewards from the startup business Sara has already exceeded her target but do still pledge if you're interested in helping and if you're reading this in time. Thank you to Rebecca for passing this on to me.

Great Wheels If you've not yet been asked how Sleeping Beauty managed to prick her finger on a spinning wheel, it will happen and here's the answer. She would have been using a 'great wheel' which had a very large drive wheel and a quill spindle. (If you fancy trying it, you can get a quill spindle to fit your Ashford Traditional, Traveller or Elizabeth. Lee Juvan says that she's smitten with hers and in the current KnittySpin she discusses the subject in a long but fascinating article.

Horace.. now Horietta the ex-hermit sheep Six or seven years as a hermit avoiding capture for shearing meant that Horace the black-faced merino cross was struggling to walk under his fleece, which had grown up to 12 inches long in places. The fleece was shorn at the end of last year at a charity event and Horace was discovered to be 'Horietta'. She had been assumed to be male because it's usually wether sheep that 'go hermit'. A ewe hermit could be a first, and a double first if she goes on to have lambs. The picture shows her with her new mate, a merino named Johnny Depp. Before the shearing she (then he) obviously had time on her hands and managed to set up her own facebook page with some pictures. New Zealand Spinner Bev Tilson has got in touch with HSN to say that the fibre is being sold for $nz 5.00 per 50 grams plus postage. She would love to offer this fibre for sale to fellow spinners throughout the world. If you would to grab some of this special fleece, contact Bev via her website, link below.

This month's cover photo many thanks to my friend Rog for this month's wonderful cover photo, taken on a recent trip to Tibet and Nepal. He photographed this cheerful yak man who spun wool using this home-made turkish spindle while resting and even while walking along.

From the blogosphere Blogpick: Wherein Tess of the d'Urbervilles meets Jane Austen. I found this post a joy to read. Fibre artist Kate Larson has had an article about Leicester sheep published in a new issue of Jane Austen Knits. As a Thomas Hardy fan she has a ewe called Tess. In the post Kate tells us about Tess and the development of the Leicester breeds.

Blogpick:Stick shuttles Dorothy (yes, the same that's responsible for Yarnmaker) tells us why she likes stick shuttles and why she winds her yarn in this figure-of-eight style.

Willington Weaver's tip of the month We're doing well for tips this month, here Willington Weaver gives us her tips for rejuvenating an old or secondhand wheel to get it running as good as new.

Icelandic lambs I think we're mostly done with this year's lambing pictures but here are some beautiful photographs of some Icelandic lambs. Sara of Knot My Day Job visited Iceland and saw lambs being born several times a day. She says that it was "loads of fun to watch the new lambs discover their legs." Sarah has the knack of pointing a camera and I'm sure you'll enjoy exploring some of her other posts from Iceland.

Dressing mixtures Last time I mentioned dressing mixtures and a traditional recipe for making your own. Thanks to anonymous for leaving this suggestion in the blog post's comments. "Try using 1 part hair conditioner to 3 parts water. I find it works well and washes out easily, leaving the yarn soft and smelling sweet. "

Gallery Sometimes I find pictures of lovely handspun or finished handspun projects with little or no additional information (with apologies to the owners of these pictures if you have blogged about them elsewhere, please let me know and I'll pass on the extra information in the next HSN)

Jewels There was no question about including this photo of dyed mohair "Golden sunrays and sky blue sapphire", it's gorgeous. Thanks to Mia who likes to find and give others inspiration online.

Large Pineapple Doily Bedspread I like seeing handspun socks and hats but I also like the interesting and unusual projects too. IndigoNightOwl has spun 840 yds to crochet the last four rounds of this huge doily.

Fibre giveaway Last month we met Tabs of Rosy Retro, who offered "big SSqQQuuOOshy fiber Braid". Thank you very much to all who entered. We have a winner but I've not been able to make contact yet, so I'll announce that name when I'm able. This month I have spoken to Carole Greaves of the shop Skeins, who you may have met at a show, her own studio or maybe seen her work online. Her handdyed fibres are available at How long have you been spinning / dyeing and what got you started? I am an 'indie' dyer and have owned my own studio 'Skeins' for the past 3 years although I originally started dyeing silk and velvet devore scarves about 6 years ago after my Aunt sent all the females in the family a scarf each. Through books and the internet I taught myself how to dye using acid and procion dyes. Having knitted from being quite small I soon found that the colours of yarn available was disappointing compared to the colours I could achieve on silk and started to learn about using the same processes on yarn and later fibre. Where / how do you sell your work? I sell my work at shows (Wonderwool Wales, Unravel etc) and various other shows, on my own website and through my shop on Folksy. I now open the studio up to 5 days a week and sell both my own yarns, fibres and also commercial yarns as there isn't a wool shop in the area - there is a real sense of achievement when I see a customer going away with a bag full of 'woolly' products and know they will be back for more! What aspect of your work do you enjoy most? I enjoy working with bright colours and love trying out different combinations and its always nice when people comment that they like what you have done. Carole would like to offer a 100g braid of fibre with the winner choosing a colour (ie reds/blues/ etc) to be hand dyed especially for them. To enter the draw, simply email me at with the subject line 'Skeins'. We'll make the draw just before the next HSN. Please state if you don't want to receive news from myself or Skeins in the future.

What's new? Super fine baby yak top For those who have been waiting for my yak fibre to come back into stock, I now have this baby yak top. This is not the same yak that I have been supplying for the last year or two, which is unavailable until later in the year. This is younger, softer, shorter fibre.

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

Cabled fingerless mitts Knittyspin has called this season's issue the 'first fall' issue - a season of their own invention, "It's about the transition between knitting for the heat of summer [which is what our Spring+Summer issue is about] to knitting in the heat of summer for cooler weather to come" Some heat would be welcome here in the UK, but the new KS contains this pattern which is designed to be made from handspun wool and gives all of the necessary details for spinning as well as the pattern for knitting. Click through to find out why they're called 'Political Process' mitts.

Events 2012 Woolfest Friday 22 and Saturday 23 June, Cockermouth, Cumbria A celebration of natural fibres, especially all aspects of wool, wool products and wool crafts. From fleecy animals and rare breeds, through fleece, tops, craft equipment and materials, to finished clothing, accessories and unique hand-crafted woollen goods. Also workshops and masterclasses.

Northants Rare Breeds Survival Trust fleece and poultry sale Sunday 1 July from 10.00am until 2.00pm at Elm Tree Farm, Evenley, Brackley, Northants, NN13 5RX An annual event to raise funds for the Northants Rare Breeds Survival Trust. As well as rare and not so rare coloured and white fleeces there is also a poultry sale (we got some very pretty black silkies there last year) a cake stall and a plant stall plus the RBST stand with bits for sale and, of course, cakes and refreshments to help you get over the excitement of securing a lovely fleece.

The Wool Experience Saturday 7th July, 10am - 4pm at Blaze Farm, Wildboarclough, Cheshire, SK11 0BL More information and a full exhibitor list is available at

Fibre East 14 & 15 July 2012, Thurleigh, Bedfordshire It's great to see that the Fibre East festival will be held again in 2012 following the success of the first one last year. It gives those in the Eastern, Midlands and Southern Regions an opportunity to join in an event which aims to encourage and promote natural fibres. Fibre-East has its own Ravelry group: and Twitter stream: (tweets for the 2012 event yet to appear) (New website under construction)

Wool Week 15 - 21 October 2012, multiple activities throughout Britain Run by the campaign for wool with patron HRH The Prince of Wales. Wool Week 2012 will begin in the United Kingdom on October 15th, with lots of events around the UK.

Courses and tuition Please let me know if you are or you know a tutor with a calendar of events. Cornwall: Audrey Durrant is heavily involved with the Cornwall Guild and works with the Rare Breed Survival Trust. She teaches spinning, basic weaving, is a hand dyer and gives talks and demonstrations. Find out more at Derbyshire: See listing above of spinning, dyeing and weaving holidays with Alison Daykin (external link to Skylark Holidays' programme and prices). Five-day or weekend breaks. Alison also has a less formal 'Monday night group': Dumfries and Galloway: Sue Macniven offers Residential Courses or one to one workshops in Twynholm or at your own venue Hampshire: Spinning and wool workshops at The Old Dairy, Westover Farm, Nr Andover. Wool - qualities, uses and preparation 15th July. Hand spinning for beginners 21st July. For more details go to or call Nichola 07905167922 Lancashire: Spinning workshops at Knit-Wise. 2012 dates: March 17, April 14, May 12, June 16, July 14. All materials included for £40, contact Cathy (lazykate) on 01695 580590 Manchester:Spinning courses with Dee Sayce. also sewing, felt making, weaving, dyeing, batik and silk painting (external link to beetlefelt) Nottinghamshire: Spinning courses with Juliet Hill (external link to Juliet Hill Handspinning) Norfolk: Single-day spinning courses link to Norfolk Yarn website) Sheffield: Tuition and Demonstrations by Diane Fisher, the Murmuring Wheel (external link to Diane Fisher's calendar) South Lincs: Single-day one-to-one spinning courses with all equipment supplied. link to AlpacaThingz website)

Spinning and weaving holidays If the listing below does not display properly, please view it on the web at with Skylark holidays and Alison Daykin. Introduction to Spinning Derbyshire Learn to Spin, have a dabble at spinning

Make the Most of Rigid Heddle Derbyshire Weaving – making the most of your loom

Start Weaving Derbyshire Peak District Learn to Weave



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As usual, if you know anything spinning-related, please let me know. Happy spinning and don't be a stranger! Shiela If you're reading this newsletter on the web and would like it delivered to your email inbox every month, just fill in your email address in the box somewhere up there on the right. If you've reading this in your inbox and would prefer not to receive any more, just use the Mailchimp 'unsubscribe' link at the foot of the email.

Hand Spinning News for June 2012  

News for the HandSpinner. This month's round-up of spinning news, reviews, blogs and some siliness.