Handspun yarn

I have a number of designs published for use with handspun* some with Ennea, one with Knittyspin, and my own patterns as well.

But I understand that plenty of knitters are not spinners. Knitters who might not want to deal with the headache, and potential heart ache, of trying to substitute a commercial yarn for a handspun.
Especially since handspun is so unique and not all handspun is created equal even if you wanted to sub in someone else’s handspun. Add in that not everyone can afford the lovely handspun fibers available on places like etsy (check out The Spun Monkey for a delicious Vermonty example!) (and seriously, you should try handspun just so you know what it’s like!)

So I always make a point of suggesting commercial, readily made alternatives in my patterns. For instance, the Asters hat:


It’s knit out of an aran weight, woolen spun yarn with fibers including: mohair, romney wool, and alpaca. What does this all mean? It means the yarn is lofty, traps air well, has some halo, but still the sproingyness** of wool. You could go to your LYS and squeeze yarns until you find something that matches. But I’ve already done the extra work for you, and can say that Green Mountain Spinnery’s Mountain Mohair is an excellent substitution. It’s a single ply, lofty, slightly haloed, worsted weight yarn with wool and mohair. The difference between worsted and aran means you should swatch and check your gauge before starting (but then you’re supposed to do that anyway. Right? Right.)

I’ve done a similar comparison for my Hirta mitts:

in lap

The yarn here is a plied, smooth, pure wool, perfect for making cables pop. This is a much more simple swap. We can all name some good yarns for cables like Bartlett, Wool of the Andes, Quince and Co’s Lark… But for these mitts I’m recommending Peace Fleece worsted. In spite of the mohair this yarn is still very smooth, and the heathered colors make it A) gorgeous and B) a closer match to the subtle variation in the original handspun I used. So while it’s not as intuitive a substitution (and don’t get me wrong, any good cabling yarn will work wonderfully) I have put a lot of thought into what will give you: the non-spinning knitter, a similar result to my original intentions.

I’ll give another plug for Ennea Collective, they have a great section of their magazine discussing yarn substitutions. And of course some wonderful patterns designed for handspun yarns (where you can try out those substitutions, if you’re not a spinner)

I kinda fell off the bandwagon (or the bike?) back in July when I was trying to take part in the Tour de Fleece. But the lovely folks on the Ennea Collective team threw my name in the hat for their prizes anyway, and I WON! I got this lovely braid from Woolly Wonka Fibers:

wwf braid

It’s 4oz of superwash BFL and I love the mossy greens and pale blues. I especially love it for the variety it brings to my spinning stash. (most of my stash is either natural white or brown, or the brights that come from food dye colors) You should check out her roving, I love all the colors so much! If you’re not a spinner you should still check out her store, she’s got some really lovely yarns too.

I’m still spinning, slowly but surely, through my merino/silk blues which were supposed to be done before the end of July…

handspun blues

when I’m finally done and the two shades of blue are plied I think this yarn will need to be the yoke of a sweater. Maybe I’ll design something special!

and you can be sure I’ll make a substitution recommendation.

*all my patterns can be found any time you want through the links at the top of my blog.
**This should totally be a real word.


4 responses to “Handspun yarn

  1. I hope you can find something fun to do with the colorway. When I think of Vermont, I think of a lot of green (and of course the fall sugar maples, but then that makes me cry…..)!

  2. Sproingyness is totally a word if you say so. I know what you mean, so, there you go. I love that picture of the hat and the snow, and I know I’ve lived in the south my whole life, but that picture makes me want to move north asap. The spinning is amazing. I aim to spin someday, and that is pure inspiration.

    • The hat is great for showing off handspun because the individual strands are shown off against the fabric in the background. It’s good both for multicolor yarns and for multi-textured yarns (handspun is frequently both!) Also the yarn is thicker and thinner it’s a fairly stretchy hat so gauge changes aren’t the end of the world the way they might be in a sweater.

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