Whether you are a handspinner using your own yarn or an experienced knitter, once you have tried knitting with handspun you may get spoiled. Personally, I find it much more satisfying to knit with handspun than the “perfect” commercial yarns.
Even for the novice knitter, using handspun isn’t difficult. The occasional irregularities of the yarn can hide the less than perfect tension that sometimes occurs.
I find it best to use a 2-ply handspun yarn for knitting. Whenever a yarn is spun as a singles, it has a tendency to try to unspin itself. If knit up as a singles, the yarn will still try to untwist and the garment may stretch or sag. If the yarn has been plyed with another singles (2 ply), the yarns will be untwisting on each other, creating a balanced yarn that should have less of a tendency to stretch out of shape.
Although handspun yarn has some bumps and irregularities, if well spun, it should be of a consistent weight throughout the skein. Knitting with this is similar to knitting with a commercially spun textured yarn.
When choosing a pattern for knitting handspun, it is really important to spin and knit a large test swatch to get an accurate gauge. The needle size or number of stitches may have to be adjusted in the pattern.
For non-spinners who would like to order handspun, but the yarn is too thick or too fine for your project, ask the spinner if another weight is available. Perhaps they can spin a sample for you in 2 or 3 slightly different weights.
If you would like to knit with handspun, but aren’t a spinner, our Subject Library lists some sources for handspun yarns.
Handspun Knitting Projects
A collection of project ideas for using your handspun.
Here are some mittens that were dyed with kool-aid and then spun handspun.
A free pattern for knitted hats.
Try this free pattern with handspun yarns.
Knit some spiral socks – no heels to turn.
This is one of my favourite programs for designing sweaters. It works great for handspun yarns. Just knit a test swatch, type in the gauge, and select the sweater design.
The Whole Craft of Spinning: From the Raw Material to the Finished Yarn
Everything you need to know from set-up to finished product in order to create distinctive yarns for use in knitting, weaving, crocheting, needlepoint, embroidery, and macrame.
UK: Whole Craft of Spinning
In Sheep’s Clothing
A comprehensive look at the characteristics of wool of 100 breeds of sheep, this guide gives special attention to fleece characteristics, methods of preparation and spinning, and best end use.
UK: In Sheep’s Clothing
The Knitter’s Book of Wool: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding, Using, and Loving this Most Fabulous Fiber
The vast world of sheep and their wool into the language and context of knitting.
UK: Knitters Book of Wool