August 3, 2006

MagKnits: now with handspun!

The new issue of Magknits is up and there is plenty of handspun to ooh and ahh over. The photo of Chance, by Ann McMeekin is such a fabulous shot! How inspiring. It makes me want to run off and spin right now, but I can’t. Stupid deadlines. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, though.

There’s an interesting comment thread going on about handspun yarn as it relates to the new MagKnits issue (and in general) here. Kerrie, the editor of MagKnits, pointed it out on the magazine blog.

What I find really interesting, though, is that some people say they don’t like knitting with handspun because they can’t easily match it to other, commercially available yarns. If you’re not ready to crank out 1000+ yards of handspun yourself for a sweater, I understand. It can get crazy boring after those first few bobbins. This is why I usually spin a bobbin, knit it up, spin another, knit that one up… even though They say you shouldn’t. (You know — They. The mystery people who dictate how we’re supposed to do things. To which I say: “You’re not the boss of me, They!”)

So, if you know you lose interest easily, try this: buy (or track down in your stash) almost enough yarn for a sweater in a light color such as undyed, off-white, etc. (KnitPicks has reasonably-priced dye your own if you’re on a budget). If you’re planning on a hot pink colorway, light pink would be ok, if you’re doing shades of blue, light blue would be ok. You get the picture. When you dye your spinning fiber, dye the stash yarn at the same time. Same dyelot, same dyes. It’ll match your handspun perfectly, but you don’t have to spin 1000 yards yourself.

Or, do what I did in Spin To Knit — the pattern Chillicothe uses a thrift store sweater with handspun knit on as trim. While that sweater was white, I could have dyed it alongside the fiber for spinning if I’d wanted to make them match.

If you don’t dye your own, ask the handspinner whose yarn you want to use to do custom work for you. Natasha of Luxe Fibre told me she’d be happy to do this, and I bet Pippi would, too. So if you spot a handspun yarn you like on a spinner’s website, ask! Natasha will dye your stash yarn for you, or you can buy the commercial yarn weight you want from her — she’ll dye it alongside the fiber destined to be handspun funky yarn either way.

Support independent artists and local shops, and don’t give up on handspun just because you can’t match it perfectly! It has a special life to it that commercial yarn will never be able to duplicate, which will shine through in your finished items.

(Dyeing yarn to make a bag? Don’t forget to throw the liner fabric into the dyebath, too… presuming you’re using something that can be dyed).

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  • pippi

    i am so thrilled a WHOLE issue was devoted to handspun!
    i am terribly disappointed in some members of the knitting community. (not the post you are linking to, but there was another… ) it seems that people don\’t realize that their harsh words can make things go away.
    anyway, what a wonderful and thankless thing kerrie does with magknits; and she gets a big round of apple-sause from me.

    Reply to pippi
  • natasha

    handspun in the hizzy! woot woot! and really, when you are taking the time to knit a frakking sweater…you are spending some time and energy on this thing. and if it is a small project, then you can really get away not spending a lot at all. and, as a bad person who never uses my own handspun for projects, i was getting a bunch of crocheted and knitted samples done for a wholesale order and realized how incredibly fun it is to work with. big time fun. fun fun. like doing drugs fun. did i say that out loud? oops. but really…no fancy stitches and it looks amazing. the yarn does the work for you. and as usual, thanks for the shoutout, shan.

    Reply to natasha

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