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4 Tips for Using Hand Spun Yarn in a Project

I recently ventured into my basement. Scary, I know. I was looking for some inspiration for using my hand spun yarn. I was up to my elbows in bins of hand-spun yarn thinking, “What can I put in a project?”  This is what caught my eye. 

6.6 oz // 209 yards // 9WPI // 3-ply

Where did this hand spun come from?

This is a yarn with a little bit of a story. I got the fleece raw and processed it myself. It was almost to short to spin, but I decided to experiment with some kettle dyeing.  I dyed it yellow and blue and I let the two colors run together to make some green.  I wanted it to look bright and fun and cheerful—like a parrot—so that’s what I went for.

The fleece was short stapled and dirty, but I experimented anyway.


Spin Together

Last October when I participated in the Spin Together event, this was one of the things that I spun up. It was very inconsistent and a little frustrating to spin. It’s very rustic looking, I will say that, but I thought, “You know—let’s do a project with it and see what happens!” I think it came out great, and certainly better than I expected for such a less than ideal fleece!

I found a knitting pattern called “Leaves” for some fingerless gloves. The pattern is free from ValKnitting on Ravelry.

If you want to try working with your hand spun yarn, I have some tips to help you…

Tip #1:

If you are just starting out, try and match what is called for with the pattern to what your handspun. Some of the ways that you can check how it matches is to measure your yardage on a naughty.  Weigh the yarn (grams or ounces) and you can see if your yardage and weight is comparable to the commercial yarn called for.

Tip #2

Check your wraps per inch, because that will give you an idea of the weight of your yarn.  If you have more wraps per inch you’re working with a finer yarn—heading towards the lace territory—and if you have less wraps per inch, then you’re working with a bulkier yarn.  That can help give you an idea of whether your yarn is comparable to the commercial yarn called for in the project.

If you’re wondering how to find your yarn weight, check out this great tool called the EsZee Twist too at Paradise Fibers (affiliate). You can hang it on your spinning wheel and have a perfect reference to keep your yarn consistent while you spin.

Tip #3:

Make sure that you wet finish your yarn especially if it’s wool, because the yardage can actually shrink up a bit once your yarn is wet finished or it can even bloom and bulk up so your wraps per inch might change as well.  If you’re working with your own hand-spun yarn, make sure that you have wet finished that yarn.

The yarn on the left was wet finished, the same yarn on the right was not. You can see the difference in length and gauge.

Tip #4: 

Don’t be afraid to experiment and try your hand-spun yarn in different items.  Sometimes I’ve worked up a swatch with my hand-spun just to see what that fabric will look like with that gauge of needle or hook.  Then, I have frogged it to go back into the skein so that it could all be used in a final project.  That’s a great way to test your yarn without losing any yardage over a swatch!

Where to start?

If all this talk about gauge and yarn weight and bulky or not bulky is overwhelming to you, never fear!  There are some things you can do to get your feet wet so to speak and use your hand spun yarn in projects that are not as dependent on the yarn gauge or large lengths of yarn that you’re going to have to play yarn chicken to find out if you really do have enough.  Some of those projects include ungauged projects.

The Kromski Harp is an awesome loom and comes in several sizes.

Here’s an example of a gauge-less project. I spun the yarn bulky, wove it on my rigid heddle loom, and tied it off when I ran out of yarn.
  • Scarves are a great way to use hand-spun yarn in any length. 
    • If they end up short, then throw a button on there and make it a cowl. 
    • If it’s really long, you can wrap it around your neck twice.
  • You can make shawls with your hand-spun yarn.
  • There are a lot of creative ways that you can use pieces of fabric made from your hand spun yarn.  You can use small sample amounts as coasters or tea cozies if you enjoy tea.
  • Whether it’s woven, crocheted, or knit, you can also use it in other decorative projects like wall hangings.   
  • You can use it as a table runner.
This is a fun free form crochet wall hanging made from handspun alpaca, silk, and pieces of lace.

I would say the best way to figure out what you like to do with it and how it works up in a project is to just put it in a project!

What are your best tips or questions for working with your hand-spun yarn?  Leave a comment down below!

Also, check out the free pattern I made to match the fingerless gloves! I included special instructions to make it easy to swatch your hand spun yarn.

This is the ear warmer I made from the hand spun yarn I dug out of my stash.

4 thoughts on “4 Tips for Using Hand Spun Yarn in a Project

  1. EB Hawks

    First, I love your yarn. The colors are gorgeous. Second, you’ve blown my mind with all the terminology. Do you have a post for beginners that has a glossary and shows how to spin yarn? It’d be great to link to it here. I’m intrigued. Thanks for enlightening me this morning 🙂

    1. JillianEve

      I love your idea about defining all the terms. I think you just inspired me to create another project! Love it!

  2. Holly

    I am hopeless at spinning my own and overly critical of the results, but I love working with yarn someone else spun by hand. These are great tips for putting my own creations to use!

    1. JillianEve

      I used to feel the same about my own handspun too. Lots of practice has helped me tons! I’m glad you enjoyed the tips. I hope you have fun using your creations!

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