Crafty Stories

I like to tell stories through the creative arts. I may be slightly obsessed with books, movies, TV shows, yarn and fiber. Wanna hang out?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: Knitting and Crocheting with Handspun Yarn

Happy Fiber Arts Friday! It's my favorite day of the week because I get to remind myself to sit down and write about something fibery and amazing. :)

Recently I've been knitting and crocheting with a lot of handspun yarn. Truth be told, I rarely use commercial yarns at all any more. There's absolutely nothing wrong with them, it's just that I enjoy using handspun so much that I don't get around to the non-handspun projects as frequently.

Awesome arm warmers I knit with gifted handspun.

I've been trying to figure out what it is that I find so amazing about knitting or crocheting with handspun. I think it comes down to the idea of the knitting and crocheting as an art form. When you knit or crochet, you put a little bit of yourself into the project; you weave your energy and emotion into every stitch (at least, I think you do). When you spin a yarn, I feel that you do the same thing. You create beauty and art with every yard you spin. So knitting with yarn that was created by an artist only adds to the beauty and wonder of the finished item.

Citron I knit for my grandmother using 2 handspun skeins.

Even if you feel like your handspun isn't "good enough," or you wouldn't ever consider yourself an artist just because you spin yarn or knit, let me tell you: it IS good enough - more than good enough! - and you ARE an artist. You are creating a little bit more beauty in the world every time you spin a yarn or knit/crochet an item, and I think that's amazing. If that's not art, I don't know what is.

Anyway, I know people who are knitters/crocheters who have never knit with handspun before. I used to be one of them! And I think that's sad. :( I feel like if everyone could knit or crochet just ONE thing with handspun, they'd be hooked for life! Sometimes I think people are just not sure what to do with handspun, either because the texture is so different from commercial yarns, or the yardage is low, or it seems "too pretty to mess up," or whatever. I'm here to tell you to just put all those doubts aside, pick up a skein and start knitting!

Neck Warmer I knit with only about 40-50 yards of bulky corespun.

Here are some tips for knitting with handspun yarn:
- Let the yarn determine the finished product. I believe handspun will "speak" to you and tell you what it wants to be. It may not happen right away, but eventually that right project will come along for every skein.
- Keep your stitches simple if the handspun yarn has a lot going on. Art yarns, in particular, look fabulous in a simple garter or stockinette stitch pattern because then the yarn gets to be the star of the show in the finished garment.
- Don't be afraid of thick and thin textures, add-ins or artsy effects. Just start knitting! These qualities will enhance the texture of your finished project and make it look amazing.
- If the yardage is low, never fear! Use a larger set of needles and an open stitch pattern and you'll get a lot further with that skein than you ever thought possible.

Here are some examples of things I knit with handspun yarn:

I knit this baby hat just recently, using a skein of single-ply thick n' thin (exaggerated, with some fairly thin parts and some big floofy parts) yarn. It was only a 2-oz skein to begin with, and it was over-twisted in parts. See?

I didn't let that worry me, though! I used a top-down pattern formula for a pixie hat (in case you run out of yarn, that way you can add a different yarn to the brim instead of the crown) and size 10.5 DPNs and went for it. I love the result:

I also had a gorgeous skein of corespun yarn in my stash. I got it in the handspun swap from Julieeeeee (Ravelry ID), and I fell in love with it! In this photo it's the skein on the far left. (Remember this photo, we'll be back to it later.)

I really wanted all that color and texture to show through in the finished project, so I knit it into a big, soft cowl. I just cast on until I figured it was wide/long enough for my liking, and I kept knitting until I had just enough yarn left for the bind-off. I used a plain stockinette stitch for the body with a few rounds of garter stitch at the beginning and ending, and I love it!

Using that same photo above, I crocheted the giant chunky skein in the middle into this hat - I only had 58 yards or so to begin with, and I got one heck of a hat out of it using a size US N hook:

Sometimes you just love the yarn so much you want to display it as it is. I did that recently, too! Go back to that photo above and check out the awesome skein of purple super-coiled handspun. It's a work of art in and of itself. I immediately draped it around my neck when I got it, and I loved how it looked that way so I wrapped a little yarn around one section to secure it and voila! I had a new accessory:

Anyway, I could go on and on, but you have things to do today I'm sure! I hope I've shown at least one person that knitting and crocheting with handspun is an adventure all to itself. As a special bonus, I'm offering a sale on the handspun sections in my Etsy and Artfire shops! Use code handspunisfun to save 20% off handspun yarns for one week only!

While you're at it, tomorrow is the last day to sign up for my Trick or Treat SAL/KAL! More information can be found in this blog post.

Thank you for visiting my little corner of the world! Head on over to Wonder Why Gal's blog and check out the rest of the Fiber Arts Friday fun!


  1. Awesome tips and beautiful projects!!!

  2. Great tips for handspun yarn knitters - and it's true, knitting with your own handspun is awesome! And it really doesn't take very much to make something unique and useable (like your armwarmers - which have some great striping going on!).

  3. I love this post - thank you! I am a spinner now too and once you have handspun in the stash, the attraction of buying commercial yarn definitely wanes. Finding patterns that show off the handspun has led me to knit things that I wouldn't have been as likely to make before, and that has been a lot of fun. There is something lovely about making a knitted piece from yarn that I made, too.

  4. Great tip! I love those fingerless mitts. Super Sassy! Yes, I am finding that I use my handspun more for knitting than ever before. start using it in my weaving.