Cute lambs, Peak District May 2010

Summer: strawberries and sport

Newsletter from for June 2010

Looking out of the Handspinner HQ front window, England has turned red and white and seems to have gained a syllable, and whether the high point of your year is the beautiful game or Wimbledon or the just the longest days and best weather, I hope you'll be enjoying a strawberry or two (it's one of your five-a-day) and spinning while you watch / listen to the sport, or doing the same in order to get away from it.

And to that end, for news, events, inspiration, giveaways and some silliness, read on...


Knit in Public Day / Week

June 12th to 20th. I don't usually buy into International Whatever Day, but love seeing / doing public knitting / spinning.

At the Knit in Public Day website you can find out more, find an event (there are some in the UK) or organise your own.

Will you be knitting / spinning in public? Make sure you get some snaps and add them here: Spinning and knitting in public - if you have a Flickr account, just click 'join'. If you aren't on Flickr, it's pretty easy to join.

Woolfest 2010

Friday 25 and Saturday 26 June 2010. Woolfest is an annual festival celebrating all aspects of natural fibres - their sources, uses and products. Spinning will be well-represented in the trade stands; events include a giant Spin-in and the bookable workshops include 'Spinning for lace knitting' with Galina Khmeleva.

Spinning, weaving and dyeing in the north Cotswolds since 1900

8 May to Sunday 27 June 2010. This exhibition tells the story of 20th-century textile crafts from Ethel Mairet at Broad Campden in the 1900s, through Mary Osborn at Stanton in the 1970s and 1980s, to craftspeople of the present day. And a chance to try hand-weaving yourself.

Court Barn Museum, North Gate Lodge, Church Street, Chipping Campden GL55 6JE or phone 01386 841 951
Event poster

Knit Nation Summer Expo 2010

29 - 31 July 2010, Imperial College in South Kensington, London

Learn, Shop, Knit, Spin! The best of independent designers, teachers, retailers, and distributors all in one place. You can see and buy products, learn new skills or improve existing ones, and meet new suppliers.

Imperial College is adjacent to the Victoria & Albert Museum, a stone's throw from the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Geographical Society and an easy five minute stroll to Kensington Gardens. A perfect summer destination.

Three days of dedicated teaching takes place over the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and the public Marketplace takes place over Friday and Saturday. You can visit our Shop and sign up for classes and buy Marketplace tickets, including our limited Exclusive Preview tickets for the Thursday night - advance viewing and shopping without the crowds!

News from around the web

Felted bowl free knitting pattern

Felted bowls - free pattern round-up

A great idea, quick to knit from left-overs and highly functional. Rebecca of Chemknits has done the leg-work of finding a long list of free patterns for us.

Read Chemknits' round-up

Tutorial: Mattress stitch

This excellent tutorial from the Knitting Daily blog takes us through that essential stitch for sewing up with a neat seam with good illustrations and top tips.

Read the tutorial.

Spinning books - graded full list

Knittyspin has published a comprehensive spinning blibliography and has rated each one from 1 spindle meaning 'no prior knowledge of spinning or books of interest to all spinners', to 5 spindles, meaning 'advanced spinners or those with a high level of interest in an obscure topic'.

Visit the spinners' bibliography

Many of these books are available on my spinning books page or occasionally on my secondhand items page

From the blogosphere

Tiny handspun handknit bag

Blogpick - From fluff to tiny bag

I've been watching eskimimi's blog since she learned to spin less than a week ago. Check out the cute hand-painted sheep on the spindle she was given.

In this post she has found a perfect pattern to use up some of the small quantities of handspun yarn that she's made. Her spinning is sooo neat, as is her knitting; the colours work out beautifully and this little bag looks a treat!

Read the original post.

Superwash merino dyed by Spinstar

Blogpick - Dyeing to be purple

Spinstar has taken the plunge (not literally, although the dog nearly did) into the world of dyeing, and the result really is beautiful and inspiring.

She did some research, used some experimentation and trial and error and shares her experiences, step-by-step instructions and top tips.

Read the full post.

The post inspired me to try acid dyeing for the first time, and I found it much easier than I expected.

Buy acid dyes and books

News and articles from

bicycle odometer

Counting yarn yardage

My usual advice for counting yards is a free and accurate method involving counting the winds around your skeiner or niddy noddy and some simple maths

After a conversation with Gigi about counting yards, she suggested this excellent blog post, in which Joyuna checks out a number of ideas and finds a very cheap and effective solution which removes the need for counting or maths!

Traditional wheel fitted with flexi drive band

How to fit a flexi (stretchy) drive band

An upgrade for the standard string drive band is a flexi-drive band; sometimes called poly-cord or stretchy drive band. More grip allows you to use less tension and makes for easier treadling. This article guides you through fitting one with some do's and don'ts

How to fit a flexi drive band.

Buy a flexi drive band.

Self-knitting powered by alternative energy

the textile industry has used wind and water energy in the past - windmills have been used for preparing hemp and flax, and fulling cloth. Spinning was done with a water powered spinning frame in the 18th century and in 1855, the first water-powered knitting frame was constructed in Loughborough.

Here are some beautiful and fascinating contemporary pieces which use what we now call 'alternative' or sustainable energy to power knitting.

Read the full article.

June giveaway

This month's giveaway is for you if you keep a blog or have a spinning / knitting related website. I'll draw a winner at the end of the month and for your trouble, I've upped the prize to a £30 voucher.

Maybe you have a link to already - if so, thank you very much, if not, just link to (no www) and to make sure that you are in the draw, please email me at to let me know that you have put your link in place. I'll be happy to reciprocate

Feel free to make your own link or button, but in case html isn't your thing here's some code for a simple text link (top) or button (bottom) that you can copy and paste into your page.

<a href = "" target="_blank">Information and supplies for hand spinning at</img></a>

<a href = "" target="_blank"><img src = "" alt = "Information and supplies for hand spinning at"></img></a>

May's prize draw

Thank you so much to everyone who has entered the May draw. And welcome if you're new to the mailing list as a result. The random number generator has done its stuff and our winners are Rosie and Artis-Anne.

New products

Selvedge Magazine - interior design and contemorary textile art

Selvedge Magazine - interior design and contemorary textile art

Selvedge magazine is a special and collectable magazine.

In this 'Romance' issue; Modern weddings, fascinators, fabric and fairytale footwear, fashion and needlework in Jane Austen, Bright Star, paper as textile, black and white, love bird pillows, words of wisdom for textile graduates, pets for inspiration, embroidered wedding blankets and so much more.

With 96 pages and outstanding photography, it feels more like a book than a magazine. You can buy the Spring 2010 issue (34) from me for £10 post free.

Read more and preview the current issue.

Angora super grade top

Amazingly soft and fluffy fibre for spinning. Spin on its own or blend with other fibres.

You can see photos of my first attempts at blending angora with other fibre here on Flickr

I was previously a little bit unconvinced about the packer brush but found it to be essential for carding with such flyaway fibre.

Read more / buy angora fibre.

I have also recently added tussah 'S' grade silk to my Silk page.

Getting started with needle felting

Have you tried creating 3D sculptures from your natural and dyed wool? You'll now find a needle-felting starter kit and the Ashford Book of Needle Felting at as well as the regular growing range of dyed and natural corriedale and merino. Also, coming soon at your request, 'surprise' packs of assorted colours perfect for felting.

Felting - read more / buy

Helen of My Heart Exposed has recently published this beautiful tutorial video:

And Knitting Daily has just published this lovely blog post about embellishing a felted bag with needle felting.

Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont

Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont - spin infinite yarns with one amazing tool

The perfect how-to book for any spinner with a spindle or a growing collection of spindles.

Often now regarded as a starting point before moving to a wheel, the spindle is an ancient tool that can produce yarn in quantity and quality and has been responsible for making cloth through history - Viking sails, Egyptian shrouds, Roman togas.

As well as the fascinating and inspiring history of the spindle, with step-by-step photography and detailed illustration, it gets you started on the spindle and takes you through to more specialised techniques and includes five simple projects.

216 x 228 mm, 128 pages

Read more about Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont

Just for Ewe

Jules of 'Always with a Heart' has made me three more designs featuring a textured sheep. That's four designs altogether, Made with very good quality card and complete with envelope.

2.95 is a very good price for a quality handmade card and such cute designs.

Handmade cards

A new design and some old favourites - yarn bowls hand thrown by Helen Dixon

These individually hand-crafted glazed ceramic bowls will hold your ball of wool as you knit, keeping it clean and in one place.

I've received new stock of bowls, hand-thrown by Helen Dixon, in some lovely new glazes in the original design aand this new gorgeous 'pot belly' design.

Currently available at in a selection of glazes.

Dear Auntie Shiela

Here I do my best to help slightly fictional spinners / knitters in distress.

In the postbag this month is a letter from a spinner with a teenager.

Dear Auntie Shiela

I think my teenage son is turning into a neanderthal. He slouches, communicates in grunts and only shows himself when he's hungry.

I don't mind that he keeps himself scarce, but he has exams coming up and my suggestions of getting his head into a book are met with a negative-style grunt.

A: Don't worry about the behaviour because this is normal. My suggestion for getting some reading done is to buy him an iPod and load it up with audiobooks from sites such as Audible or iTunes, or nab them for free at BooksShouldBeFree or AudiobooksForFree.

OK. I know he's going to dump the audiobooks and load it with his own music just as quickly as he can hook it to his computer. But you get to keep the audiobooks for hours of enjoyable listening while you're knitting

Plus, when he discards it because something newer and better has come along, or perhaps because he has something he prefers already, it will become yours and you get to knit a cosy for it.

Here's a round-up of iPod patterns in various sizes and styles:
iPod Touch sock
iPod Armband
iPod Cosy
iPod Cosy
iPod Cosy
iPod Cosy
iPod hoodie
another iPod hoodie
iPod sock
iPod (nano) Case
iTardis - iPod Tardis

Kind regards, Shiela

Coming soon...

Natural washed fleece ready to card or spin from the locks, more furniture restoration products.

As usual, if you know anything spinning-related, please let me know.

Happy spinning!


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Addictive substances: wool, silk, cashmere and angora ready to spin. Also colour bundles and original mixes

Spinning wheels

A range of Ashford Spinning Wheels, either delivered quickly to your door, or assembled and waxed for free. I usually have some second hand spinning wheels too.

Magazines and cards

Why not add one or two to your order? These designs, hand made by Jules of 'Always with a Heart' feature a textured sheep. Perfect for your friends or for the spinner / knitter in your life. Read more. I now stock Selvedge magazine