Thursday, 15 March 2012

Spin Knitting

I don't usually write about my knitting projects until they are finished, because sometimes they don't work out.  Sometimes I have to unravel the whole lot and use the yarn for a different project entirely, and writing about that would be very disheartening.   So for instance,  I was knitting a cardigan for several months last year which has not gone well at all - I have knitted most of it twice and it looks like I shall have to abandon it.   I was following the pattern rather than tinkering with it as I usually do, so it is annoying that it hasn't worked.   And I don't want to write any more about it. 

But I think that maybe I should write more often about work in progress, when I am modifying a pattern or making it up as I go along.  So here's one I'm knitting now - though actually it's nearly finished and I'm confident that this one is going to work, because it's made top down and I can try it on as I go.

The yarn is some 1970s yarn, that we found at Lee Mills, called Twilleys Spin Knitting.  I had never heard of it until I was sorting the Twilleys pattern books, and found one for Spin Knitting which seemed intriguing.  Then the following week, I saw a pack of it in a pile of odd balls of unwanted yarn, and bought it. 

The pack contains 550g of yarn in a single length.  It is a single ply, and it gets twisted slightly as you knit it and that "completes the spinning process", it says, hence the name.  It's oiled wool (so makes your fingers soft but smelly) and a natural creamy colour. The pack label warns you to keep the plastic wrapper on, except for a hole in the top for the yarn to go through - otherwise there is a danger that the whole lot would fall out of the paper band into a horrendous tangle.  

The pack does not give the length of the yarn, except for saying that it is much longer than the same weight of other yarns of similar thickness, so it would have been difficult to estimate what I could knit with it, without the pattern book.  But there was a pattern for a long sleeved jumper in my size, that would use exactly one pack, so that's what I planned to make.

Diamond pattern jumper

Although the original plan was that I would knit something like the diamond pattern jumper in the pattern book, I wanted to knit it top down rather than bottom up (in case I ran out of yarn, which would be easier to cope with around the hem than around the neck) and in the round.  I based it on Barbara Walker's book Knitting from the Top, and followed her instructions for a raglan-sleeved pullover.  Except that she adds the neck band afterwards, by picking up stitches around the neck, and I do hate picking up stitches.  So I figured out a way to start with the neckband - tricky, because as well as doing short rows to make the front of the neck lower than the back, I had to decrease at the front after the neckband, because the front of the neckband is longer than the back.

That all worked fine, except that I had originally planned that the jumper would be in reverse stocking stitch, like the one in the pattern book, but then I decided that the knit side looked neater than the purl side, so I turned the whole thing inside out.  And then when I got to the diamond pattern, I thought that it would not show up so well against the knit background, so I switched back to reverse stocking stitch.

So far, the jumper has been knitted with a single continuous thread, although I shall have to break it to knit each sleeve.  And there will not be a single seam in the whole thing, yippee.  I guess it's a bit retro, really, though as I can remember the 1970s perfectly well it seems a bit strange to think of it that way. 

I don't think the Spin Knitting yarn can have been a great success - it's not very portable and not very economical either. If you wanted to knit a larger size of jumper, you would need to buy two packs of yarn and then have a lot left over - the pattern book is full of patterns for hats, scarves and mittens to use up the surplus.  But I think my jumper will turn out well - warm but light.  (I'm hoping that I can get rid of the oily smell when I wash it.)  I'll post about it again when it's finished.

By the way, someone has yarn-bombed Saltburn pier, with an Olympic-themed scarf, 50 yards long.  Do take a look - it's wonderful.


  1. I have about a dozen packs of this wool would you like some more? I will never get through all of it

    1. I'm not planning to knit any more things in the yarn, although it is very cosy (I'm wearing the jumper right now, as it happens). But I have a friend who makes felted bags and also dyes yarn in wonderful colours - she used some that I had left over from the jumper and might be interested in more if you want to find a home for it. email me at barbaraknitsagain at

    2. I have been on the hunt for any spin knitting wool if there's any available anywhere my email is thankyou

  2. I also would love to get some of this yarn. I knitted a lovely cable sweater for my brother. He loved it. Light and warm.

    1. I replied to the last comment by email, suggesting that she might try an alternative single ply yarn, like Lopi, if she can't find any Spin Knitting anywhere. I still have my own sweater in Spin Knitting - as you say, very light and warm


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