Fibers and Yarns

Knitting with Handspun

Whether you are a handspinner using your own yarn or an experienced knitter, once you have tried knitting with handspun you may get spoiled. Personally, I find it much more satisfying to knit with handspun than the “perfect” commercial yarns.

Even for the novice knitter, using handspun isn’t difficult. The occasional irregularities of the yarn can hide the less than perfect tension that sometimes occurs.

I find it best to use a 2-ply handspun yarn for knitting. Whenever a yarn is spun as a singles, it has a tendency to try to unspin itself. If knit up as a singles, the yarn will still try to untwist and the garment may stretch or sag. If the yarn has been plyed with another singles (2 ply), the yarns will be untwisting on each other, creating a balanced yarn that should have less of a tendency to stretch out of shape.

Although handspun yarn has some bumps and irregularities, if well spun, it should be of a consistent weight throughout the skein. Knitting with this is similar to knitting with a commercially spun textured yarn.

When choosing a pattern for knitting handspun, it is really important to spin and knit a large test swatch to get an accurate gauge. The needle size or number of stitches may have to be adjusted in the pattern.

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For non-spinners who would like to order handspun, but the yarn is too thick or too fine for your project, ask the spinner if another weight is available. Perhaps they can spin a sample for you in 2 or 3 slightly different weights.

Handspun Yarns
If you would like to knit with handspun, but aren’t a spinner, our Subject Library lists some sources for handspun yarns.

Handspun Knitting Projects
A collection of project ideas for using your handspun.

Kool-aid Mittens
Here are some mittens that were dyed with kool-aid and then spun handspun.

Handspun Hats
A free pattern for knitted hats.

Felted Mittens
Try this free pattern with handspun yarns.

Spiral Socks
Knit some spiral socks – no heels to turn.

Knitware Design
This is one of my favourite programs for designing sweaters. It works great for handspun yarns. Just knit a test swatch, type in the gauge, and select the sweater design.

Handspinning Books
The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook: More Than 200 Fibers, from Animal to Spun Yarn
The Whole Craft of Spinning: From the Raw Material to the Finished Yarn
The Practical Spinner’s Guide – Cotton, Flax, Hemp (Practical Spinner’s Guides)
Spin Flax & Cotton: Traditional Techniques with Norman Kennedy
The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning: Being A Compendium of Information, Advice, and Opinions On the Noble Art & Craft
The Knitter’s Book of Wool: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding, Using, and Loving this Most Fabulous Fiber
The Intentional Spinner

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