All About Yarns in October!

All About Yarns with Jennifer Raymond

If you follow my blog, you know that one of my favorite classes to teach is Yarns 101.  Yarns 101 is normally a 3-hour class on why yarns behave the way they do: why some yarn substitutions work, why your alpaca sweater is super saggy, and how we can make more informed decisions about pairing yarns with projects.  I love teaching the class, and often one of the responses I get back on my evals is… “When will you teach a Yarns 201?”

So many people enjoy the class, and would love to delve even further into the material.

I’ve been thinking for a while about how to go about doing that, and in the spring I pitched a class to Interweave that was my answer.

All About Yarns is an online seminar I’ll be teaching with Interweave’s online learning platform, Craft University.  From October 3rd to October 21st, we’ll explore and learn the different factors that influence how yarn behaves: ply, weight & fiber.

How does this differ from Yarns 101?  Yarns 101 is 3 hours.  All About Yarns is 3 weeks.  We’ll be able to do things I wouldn’t be able to do in a workshop.  There will be further learning assignments, swatching and sampling, and the creating of yarn cards.

Take a look at some of the topics we’ll cover:

  • How to determine the weight and size of your yarn.
  • Discover how ply and yarn weight influence the final presentation of your colorwork or lace.
  • How to look at yarns to determine which ones is suited for which project.
  • Determine which yarns will be suited for high-wear items, and which yarns would be better for next-to-skin wearing.
  • Understand how fibers in yarns influence the final look, drape and sturdiness of your garment.
  • How to figure out what your “mystery yarns” are made of, and how best to use them in your projects.

I’d love to have you.  If you’re interested in the course, you can sign up for it here.  Come join me!

Spinning Resources for Children

Recently I’ve had a number of individuals get in touch with me about spinning supplies for their children.  It can be hard for parents or guardians to know what to get their children when they have no knowledge of the craft itself.  Says one parent,

My daughter took your class over the summer and I wanted to get her craft supplies for the wool felting and the other crafts (except for crochet). What do you recommend and where can I get them?

I’ve created a list of supplies, resources and tools to help you get your child on their way to spinning!

Generally children first learn how to spin on a drop spindle.  These are either made from wood or plastic and are a dowel with a weight around it to enable the drop spindle to spin.  Think of them like tops – they look very similar!

Camper using TurtleMade Turkish Drop Spindle

Camper using TurtleMade Turkish Drop Spindle

  • TurtleMade ($25): Hands down my very favorite drop spindles to use with children.  I’ve used their Turkish Spindles – the advantage being that, when used correctly, the spindle creates a ball of yarn when done.  It’s much easier to ply from when first working with spinning.  Get the Standard size spindle – sometimes the smaller sizes are harder to use for children, as there’s less to grab onto.  I love that TurtleMade has different colors, and does special holiday themed spindles – there’s some really cool halloween printed ones.  TurtleMade’s plastic spindles have never broken on me, and even if they do, they sell replacement parts.
  • Knit Picks ($14.99): Wooden Drop spindle, heavier than TurtleMade’s, and is a solid option.  I don’t find these as sturdy.
  • There are a variety of other spindles out there, mostly in wood.  They range in prices from $39 to $50, and are really only worth acquiring if your child really gets into spinning.  Same thing with spinning wheels (which range from $150-1,000) – only get one if your child is serious about the craft.

When children first learn how to spin there’s quite a bit of waste.  Normally it’s best to get a good amount of something affordable, and a little, “special” bit for when they’re further along.  A 4-8 oz amount of wool normally spins up to make something, depending on the thickness of the yarn.  Your child may be able to spin enough to make an accessory, such as gloves, a hat, or fingerless mitts.

  • Neutral colored wool ($1.49/oz):  Wool is generally a good fiber to begin spinning, as it tends to be the most cooperative for beginners.  Order anywhere from 4 – 8 oz to start – and don’t be surprised if your child goes through the amount quickly!  When you’re first learning, there’ll be a fair amount of waste.  If your child is interested in having colored yarn, after the yarn is spun you can experiment with food dyes.
  • After your child has mastered spinning, they may want to venture into other fibers or colors.  A few hints: DO not, until you know what you’re getting into, get anything called “Raw wool” – it’ll be tempting because it’s a lot cheaper, but that means the wool has not been cleaned (IE: has grass and oils from the sheep in it), and has not been carded.  Instead, look for words like, “Combed Top,” “Roving” or “Carded Batts.”

There are a number of resources for adults looking to spin, however, not all of these are particularly accessible to children, depending on the age.  The books/resources I’ve listed below are the best ones I’ve found for children, and contain lots of pictures!

  • Teach Yourself Visually Handspinning ($14.99): Plenty of pictures, this is one of the books that got me started.
  • Craftsy ($20 – $30): Craftsy has some great resources, if you don’t have access to local teachers.