Patterns for handspun part 4: Modular knitting patterns

So far in this series, I’ve covered different ways to make the most out of small amounts of yarn, combining it with commercial yarn, or combining it with other handspun. In this final post, I wanted to focus on patterns which could particularly show off the awesomeness of handspun.

There are many great example of modular knitting patterns on Ravelry. Modular means the knitting is done in smaller parts or modules, usually by knitting a portion, then picking up stitches on a contrasting edge and knitting on. In a similar way, short row shaping will put variegated yarn at angles to itself, making the most of the colour changes.



  1. Aranami Shawl by Olga Buraya-Kefelian.
  2. Queen of Diamonds Scarf by Sybil R – freebie.
  3. Mandelbrot by Alex Tinsley – freebie.
  4. Short Row Scarf #70531AD by Lion Brand Yarn – freebie.


That concludes my round-up romp through my favourite handspun-friendly knitting patterns on Ravelry. If you have some ideas, I’d love to hear.

Related tutorials:

Best tutorial ever is Carol Feller’s free craftsy class on Short Row Shaping.

With modular knitting, you’ll need to do some picking up of the stitches.

Patterns for handspun part 3: Layering garments

The likelihood that you’ll reach your hand into the stash and come up with a sweater-weight of wool is highly unlikely. It’s more likely to find you have enough for a shawl or a cowl, and that would be a pretty clear solution. However, how many shawls can you wear? I’ve already rounded up some accessory patterns as well as using handspun as an accent yarn.

Another idea is smaller garments. (No, I don’t mean kid clothes.) It’s easy to find sleeveless vests, tanks, shrugs and boleros through Ravelry. There are also some examples using unique construction ideas and shapes. These smaller garments could be worn layered with other clothes.

This is my super favorite, L’Enveloppe by Sally Melville. She has made this work in a variety of gauges. Here’s a quote from the project page.

“Because I want everyone to knit this in whatever yarn they like, I offer this in 5 sizes, 4 gauges (13, 14, 15, and 16 stitches to 4” /10cm) and 2 stitch patterns (seed or the easier garter). AND, it is worth noting that I’ve seen swatches that combined yarns–from a shop or a stash: for eg, a light worsted + a lace yarn will give you gauge, a dk + a sock yarn will give you gauge. (You will need the full yardage for EACH of the yarns you combine.) Because of all these choices, the yarn amount (as shown above) is very inaccurate: the amount of yarn you use will depend upon a) your size, b) your gauge, c) your stitch pattern. All of this is clear in the pattern.”

It’s a funky layering garment, something different than a cowl or shawl. I love looking at the projects, people have taken different approaches to the length and size.


Here are some more interesting projects from my Ravelry faves. I tend to pick ones which use heavier weights because I’m not able to spin that thin yet myself. Handspun is more textural so it doesn’t need complicated knitting stitches, plain stockinette or a garter will do.


  1. VuxenVinkel by Yarn-Madness – freebie. Uses 350 – 580 yards (320 – 530 m) in Aran.
  2. Simplicity Cardigan by Mary Annarella
  3. Villeneuve by Espace Tricot – freebie
  4. Casablanca Side to Side Shrug by Cheryl Beckerich
  5. Verdant by Gina Bonomo. This is similar to the boleros, but without something that closes across the front.
  6. Alpinia by Claire Slade – There are many cap sleeve cardigans, I like this simple yoke pattern.
  7. All About The Yarn Jacket by Iris Schreier – This is only available in a pattern book purchase with yarn.
  8. Diagonal Shell by Laura Bryant – freebie

There’s some interesting ideas there!

Also see:

Patterns for handspun part 2: Contrasting yarn

I still can’t seem to spin anything lighter than Aran/Worsted weight. So the yardage I get from a 100g braid of fibre is going to be pretty low. As I mentioned in my first post on Patterns for Handspun, Part 1, the obvious thing to do is simply search for patterns are 150 yards or less. However that will ignore many projects which combine contrasting yarns.

Using handspun as the contrasting yarn means you can get a larger project by combining with commercial yarn. You could pick from many striped patterns and the many colorwork patterns, but I’ve tried to find ones which would make the most out of nubbly bumpy handspun and variegated colours, and not compete with the colourwork. Of course not *all* handspun is coloured! But that is the focus in this post.

Loop by Casapinka is a perfect example. This pattern does indicate 400-600 yards. But actually it only requires contrasting yarn 130 yards for the small version and 200 yards for the large in a 4ply/fingering/sock weight. I’ve just completed Casapinka’s Dot shawl which requires 225 yards of fingering weight for the contrast yarn, and this is a great example of a hand-spun loving pattern.


Selected contrasting colour work patterns to show off handspun

Colourwork is a gigantic category, there are some useful projects for “scrap yarn” too. However, I tried to think of how plain commercial yarn would work with a more textured and coloured handspun. These are some of my favourites.



  1. Moonraker by Melanie Berg
  2. Cap Sleeve Lattice Top by Purl Soho – freebie. This would be cool with the handspun as the bodice, and a plain commercial yarn as the yoke.
  3. Loop by Casapinka – love this! It’s been outlined for fingering, but there are examples of heavier even worsted weights, you can stop whenever ya like.
  4. Pop Spots by Juju Vail. That looks like fun.
  5. Dot Shawl by Casapinka. I knit this and I can attest to the addictive nature of this pattern. I really miss working on it.
  6. West Desert Hood by Virginia Catherall – freebie.
  7. Pigment by Lee Meredith – Pigment can worked at any gauge in any weight yarn, which is a nice bonus!
  8. For the Love of Remnants by Kate Hiester – freebie. This was made specifically for remnants, but I think handspun would work for the yoke too.
  9. Fibonacci Twist by Ela Torrente
  10. Col Très Perso by Camille Coizy – freebie. How cool is this? A simple idea where the creative hand spun yarn with tortillons really makes this project special.


Patterns for handspun part 1: Small projects

As I’ve been sampling and building my stash of handspun, I keep an eye out for patterns which would show off handpsun very well. So I wanted to make a round-up post of some of my favorite patterns. I’m breaking this post up into parts so it’s slightly more digestible. I have a habit of super-long posts!

First: A note about using Ravelry

With Ravelry hitting 5 million members, I’m still surprised when I meet people who haven’t tapped into the rich ore of their pattern search tools. The pattern browser on Ravelry is super powerful. I have no idea of the mechanics behind the platform, but my guess is that it’s easier for them to optimize to logged in users, so you won’t be able to use the pattern browser unless you login. Even just checking the numbers of projects with < 600 yards, we’re taking about hundreds of thousands of patterns.

Best knitting patterns for handspun

In a blog post on working with handspun, Camilla Fiber Company says you can knit anything as long as you get gauge for a specific pattern. But there are some patterns that show off handspun better than others.  Depending on the handspun, even a plain stitch pattern would come out pretty exciting. In fact, more complicated stitches will compete with the yarn. I made the mistake of using a garter stitch on my first handspun knit, and I don’t think you could really see the yarn very well which had a special plying technique.

The main issue for me is the amount of yardage you can get.

  • Find projects with lower yardage. The obvious choice is the array of lovely cowls, hats and mitts.
  • Work in the round. I just learned that working in the round will take up less yarn than working flat. That makes sense, since you don’t need a selvedge.
  • Plain knit or garter stitches look super fine.
  • Modular knitting and short rows can contrast variegated yarns or stripes well.

Some of my favorite handspun-friendly knitting patterns




  1. Simple Chevron Stripe Scarf by Karin Martinez – freebie. This is set for fingering, but you could do it in any gauge and stop when you like.
  2. Bandana Cowl by Purl Soho – freebie
  3. Non-felted Slippers by Yuko Nakamura – freebie. This uses super-bulky yarn, 100 – 102 yards (91 – 93 m).
  4. Bulky Mobius Cowl by Haley Waxberg
  5. Luuk by Annis Jones
  6. toast by leslie friend – freebie
  7. Straightforward Cowl by Bethany Hendrickson – freebie
  8. Allways the same by Tuna 🙂– freebie. This is so cool because it would show off the variegated yarns really well. And it works for ANY gauge!
  9. Hoodie Cowl by Susan Sheby
  10. Best Friend Cowl by Ela Torrente


More info – 3 tips to get started knitting with handspun

The talented Mr. Thayer Syme of TravelKate

My theory on Lazy Kate is that Kate was sick and tired of making plying balls.  She thought of a way she could pop the bobbins down on her a contraption so she could spin away. And boom, the Lazy Kate was born. Her sister, Lazy Susan was impressed!

I went to the US in December last year mostly for work, but also got a chance to see my family. And even met a very talented craftsperson, Thayer Syme of Travel Kate.

When I contacted TravelKate about purchasing a lazy kate and having it posted, he said it would be cheaper for him to just drive over to meet me!

Thayer Syme of

Thayer Syme of

He brought an array of the woods he had available.


Each of the woods was beautiful on its own, but I especially liked the shimmer of the Tiger Maple. If he didn’t have that, then the Black Walnut would have been awesome too.

I was worried about the heaviness of the hickory, but now that I’ve used it, probably the weight is a good thing. Depends on how you travel!

“Tool Based” Solutions

Something interesting I read the other day. On a beginner spinner thread on Ravelry, Abby Franquemont mentioned that people in the US tend to focus on a “tool based solutions” and they get really geeked out on technical aspects of the tools they use.

I find that kind of fascinating if something like that is true.

What I do see in the US is lots of invention and small scale manufacturing. I think it owes to the accessibility of manufacturing and even just the tools required for wood crafting for example. Anyway, something interesting to think about!

 Many lovely woods available Visit:


Spin the bin 2015 – status update 1


I joined a group on Ravelry in the “Completely Twisted and Arbitrary Spinning Spin the Bin 2015” challenge. The idea with this challenge is to commit to spinning from your current stash. Plan future projects. Have intention and use what you have. I like it! To enter, you take a photo of your chosen stash in the place you store it. Here’s by bin.


Now to stick with it. That involves spinning daily.

#Spin15in15 to win the spin the bin challenge

I’ve had an Instagram account for a while, but I wasn’t in the practice of using it daily. So this year, I decided to do the #photo365 project, a photo a day. And while I was there I discovered another hashtag #spin15in15, which simply states: Spin 15 mins a day. Just do it! The organiser, @Baabonnybelle comes up with themes and challenges to keep it interesting, though the prompt alone is ensuring I get in some practice daily.

Here, Baabonnybelle has summarised some progress from #spin15in15 so far.

AND she is giving away lovely yarn tags, which would be so nice for gift-spinning.

I should say, we had a very sad run of events here, someone very dear to my husband passed away recently and it’s meant some travel and busy work catch-up. So there have been a few days I haven’t “spin 15”, but I just jump right back in an keep going. Overall, it’s been a helpful prompt, and sometimes I just squeeze in a quick session of spinning. I certainly don’t try to put it all away and clean up my spinning every day, so I have a nice fibrey corner in the living room now 🙂

Tally of progress spin the bin progress

Since my stash was just building, my bin selection included most of my complete batches of dyed wool. I didn’t include the raw fleece or odd bits and leftovers I’m saving for another go on the drum carder.

My Spin the Bin 2015 project on Ravelry.

  • One month completed
  • Completed 220g spun of 1300g = 16.9% spun! (Doesn’t count any sample spinning, or spinning on my fleece, etc)

Finished handspun

  • Manos Merino. My first attempt at a 3 ply, semi-failed. (Spun one of the bobbins the wrong way.) Came out as Aran weight.
    • Planned for Mmmbrot hat, but ended up making a cowl for hubs.
  • Hedgehog Fibres – Polwarth Combed top. I had to do this as a three ply since my first attempt don’t come out very well.
    • Still not sure what to use it on!
      IMG_1874polwarth IMG_1941

Sampling and planning

  • Corriedale fleece: My fleece doesn’t count for #ctaspinthebin2015 because I didn’t put it in the bin. But fibre prep does count for #spin15in15. Sample spinning and trying to get it clean before I decide what to do with it. Learning to spin from the lock with it. SO nice!
    2015-01-07 11.30.41 Clean Fleece
  • Fondant Fibre mystery batt: Planning on making a lofty woollen spun from this “mystery batt” by Fondant Fibres. I’m combining it with 100g of southdown (by World of Wool), which wasn’t in the bin, but I wanted to make a really lightly coloured wool, and I wanted to stretch what coloured wools I have.
    • It would be cool to make some more and some less combined with white so it could be knit in a fade.. Knit what? I have no idea!

 Completed knitted projects from handspun

I didn’t really use the yarn to its potential in this patter, but it’s exactly what my husband needed and I also had some similar weight yarn. I don’t think I did a good job of picking up the garter edge. If it wasn’t striped I don’t think it would show so bad. He seems to like it!








Opposing ply yarn

I was my FIRST TIME ever attempting a 3 ply. I weighed and divided up the braid of dyed wool. I spun one bobbin full and another. By the time I got to the 3rd bobbin, I spun for a while and realized that I had spun the 2nd bobbin the wrong way! I sought advice on Ravelry to unwinding and re-winding the singles. It seemed like an impossible task. Perhaps I’d just chain ply it, and forget the jumbled colour effect I was going for.

I went to my guild meeting, and told them my sad story. Immediately several people said: “Go ahead and ply it!” Apparently, sometimes people do this *on purpose*.

Yes, and it’s called Opposing Ply yarn. The singles twist in yarns generally relax when you ply them. If you have an opposing ply, then it gets added twist when you ply it. I’ve made a diagram to illustrate.

Opposing Ply Yarn Diagram - the ply twist adds energy to the opposing ply. Cool!

When I plied it, I could see indeed, the opposing ply was pulled tighter, and the two others sort of popped out.

Shows the opposing ply


Benefits of opposing ply yarn

In “The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs“, Sarah Anderson devoted a whole chapter to the technique. In her tests, the opposing ply added strength to sock yarn. The opposing ply added strength and durability and the two relaxed plies ensured the sock fabric was still soft and cushy. WOW! You can also use the technique to add elasticity to yarn because this opposing ply get “buried” in the finished yarn. This ply added energy into the yarn. She goes into way more detail of other ways you can use this technique. Pure genius.

The results

Before washing, I don’t think I could tell what the difference was.

2015-01-10 00.52.54

As soon as I added it to water it SPROING up into wee little curls.

2015-01-10 00.57.13

I didn’t add weight to it when I dried it.

2015-01-10 01.00.32

But it settled into a nice soft yarn with an interesting texture. I ended up using it in a garter stitch project, so I don’t think I really showed the yarn off to its potential. However, it’s always amazing to learn that something you thought was a mistake actually is a practiced and well known technique. 🙂

Nubbly yarn

Also for more Sarah Anderson awesomeness, I recommend the video Building Blocks of Spinning on Interweave.