How do you organize your stash? I've been through many systems throughout the years, depending on the amount of space (and stash!) available. Right now, I organize by fiber content, then weight. But there are two separate shelves just for handspun yarn. ;)
We've just listed a new "stashmarker" in the shop. It's completely customizable, so you can organize by fiber content, weight, or whatever makes sense to you.
These stash markers come in packs of 5 or 10. They're easy to assemble - no tools required! They sit right on your shelf, so there's no need to drill or nail any holes in your shelving, and best of all, you can move them around any time your stash changes!
There are as many ways to spin a gorgeous yarn as there are people who spin. Sometimes, getting a consistent yarn is really important - especially if we're spinning lots of yarn for a big project.
There are lots of ways to make sure you're spinning a consistent yarn. One of my favorite ways is to use the Spinner's Multitool. It helps me prepare fiber, and then check my yarn as I'm spinning to make sure I'm getting the yarn I want.
The Spinner's Multitool functions as a diz, WPI (wraps per inch) tool, and twist angle. The Ultimate Multitool also has a small 2" ruler that can help you determine twists per inch. These are all factors that can help you spin a consistent yarn. They're also helpful if you're trying to replicate another yarn in your stash.
In this post, I'll walk you through all the ways you can use the Spinner's Multitool. In this video, I'm using the Ultimate Multitool. but if you're into something a little different, we also have a Sheep Shaped Spinner's Multitool, an Alpaca, a Bunny, and the Original. If you still have questions after watching the video, I've added some more information and closeup images to help.
Using The Spinner's Multitool as a Diz
Each Spinner's Multitool has several different holes. These are designed so you can diz fiber from a drumcarder, hand cards, a blending board, or hand combs.
In this video, I share how to diz fiber from hand combs. Remember, the bigger the hole you use, the thicker your top will be (or roving, if using a carded prep). But you might be surprised - even though those holes seem pretty small, a lot of fiber fits through them!
Dizzing fiber is a great way to prepare fiber for spinning. I find that hand-dizzed fiber is a real pleasure to spin. It is light and fluffy and fun to work with!
Learning to diz fiber can take some practice. The key is to not try to get too much fiber through the diz at one time, or else you'll get stuck and frustrated. When this happens, back off a little bit, draft the fiber gently, and then keep going. And remember to be patient with yourself! The results are well worth it.
Checking the WPI (Wraps Per Inch)
To check the WPI, or wraps per inch, simply lay the yarn along the grooves, and move it around until you find a good match. Here, I've determined that the yarn is about 18 wraps per inch. Remember to not pull tightly, as this can distort your reading.
Checking Your Twist Angle
In the first image, you will see some unspun fiber. It literally has no twist! So I've laid it parallel to the "zero" angle.
Here you can see a yarn that is Z twist, at a 30 degree angle. I've added a red dash to show how the angle of the twist lines up with the 30 degree angle.
Checking TPI (Twists Per Inch)
TPI, or twists per inch, is a term used by the textile industry, but not as often by handspinners. Sometimes spinners might also talk about "bumps per inch." It refers to how tightly a yarn is spun or plied. This impacts durability, drape, and how your yarn behaves overall.
To calculate TPI, count the number of visible "bumps" in an inch of your yarn, then divide by the number of plies. The Ultimate Multitool has 2 inches to measure over, so if you use that full area, you will need to divide by two again to get your average.
In the sample above, I marked above a bump with a red curve. I counted 10 bumps across 2 inches. I'll divide that by 2 to get 5, then divide by 2 again for the number of plies, to come up with 2.5 bumps per inch.
It's easiest to see TPI in plied yarn, so that's what I've shared here. Jill Wolcott has an excellent tutorial with a deep dive on TPI.
Here are some key things to remember when you're using your Spinner's Multitool:
Lately, I've been working on a project that makes use of a gradient. This is to be a sweater quantity with most of the yarn in the darkest color. I started with several piles of color - most of it the mauve/magenta color shown at the top of the first photo. Then I blended it into a gradient, adding darker and and darker values on one end, until I got to the almost-black-purple, and lighter and lighter values on the other end, until I got to the pale lilac-pink.
When I took the photo above, I realized there were a couple of places where I wanted to to smooth out the gradient, specifically at the lightest and darkest ends of the spectrum. So there are a couple more values in the gradient now! The fiber is mostly organic Polwarth, with a little bit of Merino and CVM in there too.
I used the diz in the Spinner's Ultimate Multitool to pull the roving off the drum carder. Now I'm using the WPI gauge to make sure I spin to about 28 wraps per inch. I'm doing this as a short forward draw, which is a little bit outside my comfort zone, so I make sure to check pretty frequently!
I'm starting with the darkest color. There's about 20 ounces of this, and then between 2-4 ounces of each of the other colors, so there should be plenty for the sweater I have in mind!
In my last post, I shared how to modify the size of a stranded colorwork motif. In this post, I'll share how to use it in a repeat with a simple mitten design.
In this pattern, the dark gray/black square represent no stitch. There are decreases in the pattern to form the mitten top which are not noted in the chart - this is to give clarity in the colors.
The set of five stitches at the left and right edges of the pattern form a border at the sides of the hand. They do not change, but as the decreases shape the top of the hand, they will slope inward.
The first step in setting up a pattern repeat is to simply repeat the pattern. Here, I'm using a variation on the pattern I shared in my last post.
Stacking the pattern on top of itself, we get two repeats of the rose. The outer corners at the top of the rose are cut off. This is fine, as long as the rose itself fits fully into the pattern. (If it didn't we'd need to go back and adjust.)
It seems like the white of the rose petals falls off the edge of the pattern. However, because the borders are edged in the background color, there will be a purple border around them.
Usually, when you repeat a large motif, there are places that end up with very long floats. The next step is to create new, smaller motifs to prevent these floats. Here, I've added a small cross and two dots between the motifs to prevent long floats. At the top, there is a lozenge shape to fill in the space. Your options at this step are limited only by the number of stitches you have and your imagination.
And that's really all there is to it!
Have you ever fallen in love with a stitch pattern, but it's not quite the right size? In this post, I shared how to resize a cable pattern. Today, I'll share one approach to modifying the size and design of a stranded colorwork pattern.
This is a great technique to use if you're using handspun yarn that doesn't exactly match the gauge of a pattern, or if you need to substitute yarn. In this example, I'm sizing down, but it would be just as easy to make the stitch pattern larger with these same ideas.
In this example, I started with a 29-stitch-square repeat of a traditional Norwegian 8-petal rose. I liked this pattern, but needed a stitch pattern that would fit into a 25-stitch square.
The easiest, and most obvious choice in my situation was to remove the border of solid color stitches, which took me down to 27 stitches. I still needed to reduce 2 stitches on each side, and chose to start with the petals.
By drawing a petal that has one less row and one less column, I've reduced the size of the pattern. Expanded over the entire repeat, this will get me to the right number of rows and stitches.
At this point, it would be totally fine to draw out the rest of the pattern by hand. However, a little bit of copy/paste/rotate action saves a lot of work. This also helps to make sure that any inconsistencies get repeated (which is how patterns are made).
The next step is to fill in the outer petals. You'll notice that in the image on the left, the petals touch the outer edges. This isn't a problem if they touch a border that is the same color as the background. However, to make sure the pattern is clear, you can make the outer petals thinner, as in the image on the right.
Now it's time to fill in the corner patterns. Because there are fewer stitches to work with than in the original, this pattern must also be adjusted. There are lots of options - I've placed a different pattern in each corner to show the possibilities. Normally you will choose one pattern and repeat it in each corner.
At this point, the pattern is fully resized and you're free to use it in your pattern, or you can continue to play around with modifications.
Here I've updated all the corner patterns with my favorite design, modified the center of the rose to be a little less busy, and added dots at the center of each petal.
It's easy to play all day with modifying stitch patterns on graph paper or on the computer, but nothing beats a swatch! Because a knit stitch isn't exactly square, it's important to check your pattern in a swatch to make sure it will turn out the way you want it to.
After that, the next step is to place your new design into the pattern you want to use, which will be the topic of the next post.
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