Waiting for spring

Josefin Waltin knitting outdoors

I long

Spring is taking its sweet time in Sweden this year. We’re almost at spring equinox and it was -8°C when I got up this morning. It does get warmer in the sun and the birds are singing very spring-like, but there is still snow and degrees below zero during a big part of the day. My whole being is waiting for spring to happen. I long to get out and craft. I have videos to shoot, outdoor knitting to be enjoyed, distaffs to carve and a whole allotment to cultivate. But it’s still too cold for the lanolin and my hands and I can’t put seeds in a frozen ground.

So I do what I can.

I make

I’m knitting away on my twined knitting mittens.  It is a slow and mindful knitting and I love how the whole range of greys are displayed in the fabric. I had my outdoor knitting premiere the other day (featured image), listening to the birds chirping and the dripping of melting snow from the roofs. It was quite lovely.

I finished spinning a fleece that had been waiting for over 18 months to be spun. It was a soft and beautiful Värmland fleece. But it had quite a lot of second cuts and vegetable matter. It was also very dark and difficult to see when preparing and spinning. All these things made me reluctant to spin the fleece. At the same time I felt guilty about not spinning it. But I finally gathered my energy to do it. It turned out to be quite a nice (wheel) spin, despite the dark colour, and I turned into four skeins of strong and lustrous warp yarn.

Three skeins of dark handspun yarn
The Värmland 2-ply warp yarn, 186 g and 306 m (four skeins), about 1600 m/kg.

I also finished an in-hand spinning yarn, the one I started in this video. It is the same fleece as in the twined knitting mittens, but I used the shorter staples and spun them woolen from hand-carded rolags. It came out quite differently compared to the twined knitting yarn.

A skein of grey handspun yarn
2-ply Värmland yarn, 45 g, 105 m, 2300 m/kg. Spun woolen on an in-hand-spindle from hand-carded rolags.

I found my way back to a rigid heddle weave I started before Christmas. It it yet another pillowcase (such a good practice project). This time in 3-shaft. The warp is 2-ply Leicester, worsted spun (wheel) from hand-combed tops and then dyed. The weft is Shetland singles, spun from hand-carded rolags on a Navajo spindle. It was lovely to weave in the spring sun in the kitchen, but I really wanted to be able to weave outdoors.

A rigid heddle weave with blue warp and dark grey weft
The beginning of a pillowcase

I plan

I am planning this season’s videos. There are lots of ideas in my head – more in-hand spinning of different kinds and in different environments, perhaps some flax spinning. I have promised a video on how I spin English long draw on a spinning wheel. I am also thinking something towards mindfulness and meditation.

I’m also planning to make online spinning courses. This is a bigger project and it has to take its time to get a good result. A lot of you are far away from me and my local courses and this is a way to solve the distance issue. If you are interested in taking an upcoming online course, please let me know what you would like and how.

There is still time for you to make requests for upcoming videos. What would you like to see learn, explore?

Happy spinning!

Do you like what I do? Then head over to my Patreon page and become a patron. If you become a patron I have lots of exclusive material in store for you. If you don’t I will still continue with the blog and make videos, just as I have before.

Patreon launch!

It’s finally here, my Patreon page!

A while ago I wrote a post on Patreon and why I’m launching my own Patreon page. Patreon is an online membership platform that allows fans to regularly provide financial support to creators. It also enables fans to get to know the creators better and get access to exclusive material. Here is a video that explains how Patreon works.

So don’t hesitate, become a patron today!

Wip series: Twined knitting mittens in progress

The twined knitting mittens are in progress! It’s a slow knit, but I knew that already. And the reward is a sturdy, strong and windproof textile, and, of course, a quiet moment of making.

Treasured notes

I read in my Ravelry notes from my last twined knitting project that it would be a good idea to overply the yarn, since the yarn is unplying a little when the yarns are twisted. So before I started casting on, I ran my balanced yarn through the spinning wheel and overplied it. Hopefully it’s enough.

How I do it

Casting on for twined knitting takes three yarn ends, one dark cast-on yarn and the two working yarns. After casting on there are four ends hanging – the ends from the two working yarns and the two ends from the cast-on yarn. The easiest way to weave these in is to make a braid out of them. This is  a pretty detail, as well as practical for hanging up the finished mittens.

To prevent the material from curling, it is a good idea to start with a couple of rows of crook stitch (alternating knit and purl stitches with the purl thread in front of the work). I did four rows and then I started an xo pattern and finished the cuff with another eight crook stitch rows. I’m planning a pattern stitch for the back of the hand and a plain palm side.

I really enjoy this knit. I love the yarn and the structure that develops. I can’t stop feeling the softness of the yarn and the magical texture of the fabric.

A glimpse of the making

I shot a short video of the knitting. I put the baking table in my lap as a background and a flexible knitting light wrapped around my head like a crown. My husband looked at me very quizzically. Still, the lighting arrangement did its job and was successful.

As you can see, it is a slow and a somewhat fidgety knit. Both yarn ends come from the same ball of yarn and every now and then I have to stop and untwist the ball. But I get into the rhythm and enjoy the moment.

Towards the end of the video I show you the wrong side of the work. The horizontal lines you see on the back of the knit rows is where the yarns are twined. This makes the fabric sturdy. If you hold up a regular knit fabric to the light, you see the light through the fabric. This does not happen with a twined knitting fabric, it is really dense – and I’m using 2 mm needles, which would indicate the density of the fabric.

I think it will be a while before I write the post on the finished mittens, I will enjoy the slow knitting and the feeling of the progress of wool yumminess in my hands.

Happy spinning!

Wip series: First z-ply skein finished

A skein of grey yarn rolled up into a bundle.

It’s micro snowing today! See the tiny snowflakes in the yarn on the featured image? Anyway, about a week ago the first s-spun single for my twined knitting mittens project was full. Today I present the first finished z-ply skein.

A skein of yarn in shades of grey.
A finished skein of z-plied yarn of Värmland wool. Fingering weight, 148 m, 61 g, 2443 m/kg.


The yarn is totally without bounce, which isn’t surprising, given the wavy, almost straight character of the staples. It is really silky and strong, which is a combination of the soft and silky undercoat and the long and strong outercoat. As you can see in the pictures, there are some guard hairs that are misbehaving, but I don’t see them as a problem. I really like the way the colour variations came out. I’m painting pictures in my head with the knitted fabric as the canvas in endless variations of grey. I think this will make a great yarn for my twined knitting mittens.


I spun the singles with my left hand as spinning hand. That way I could pull the spindle counter-clockwise. It was a really nice experience and felt light and right.

I used the same spindle for both singles, so each single was transfered onto an empty toilet paper roll when finished. That way I could start plying from the same end as I started spinning. I learned somewhere that the yarn will hold together better that way.

When it came to plying, I switched hands so that I plied clockwise with my right hand as the spinning hand, again pulling the spindle. I didn’t experience any pain in any hand. Well, to tell the truth, I did get a bit sore on the skin of the fingertip of my right index finger from two straight hours of plying, but that was just stupidity, don’t tell anyone.

A spindle full of grey yarn
A very full spindle – 60 grams of yarn on a 24 gram spindle (Malcolm Fielding).

Next step

Since I want to knit both mittens at the same time, I can’t start knitting until the second skein is finished. And I’ve already started spinning the third spindle. It’s a really nice project to work with. I comb a few locks, spin them, comb some more and so on.

Gotta go, I’ve got some more s to spin.

Happy spinning!

Article in Spin-off magazine

Josefin Waltin holding up a plaid woven shawl

I have written my first spinning article! It’s in the spring 2018 issue of Spin-off magazine and it’s out now.


I stumbled upon a call for submissions for the spring 2018 issue in may last year. The theme was spinning for weaving, which was a perfect match for the Slow fashion 2 – from sheep to shawl video I was making at the time. I sketched down a very rough proposal and after a while I got a positive response from the editor!

I wrote an article that I was very proud of, all the while I was making the last work on the shawl and the video. The shawl was finished in the end of June. I didn’t want to wear it since I was planning to take the article photos at our countryside vacation in the end of July. I wanted the shawl to look its best for the photo shoot. My husband took some beautiful photos that very well represented all the hard work I had put into the shawl and the video.

The value of handmade

In September I sent the shawl and some fiber and yarn samples to the Spin-off office as they wanted to take some photos of their own. It was horrifying to send my baby all alone across the pond. A problem arose when I was supposed to estimate the value of the shawl for shipping insurance. How do you set a price on something hand made? The cost of the material was under 10€, but how much is all the work, skill and experience worth? I remembered the video about the Lendbreen tunic, a 1700 year old garment found in a Norwegian melting glacier. The garment was reconstructed with the tools and techniques available at the Iron age. The worth of the garment was estimated to about 37000 €, counting in the hours it took to reconstruct the garment from start to finish and an hourly rate for a modern day crafter. My shawl didn’t take as long to make, but it really made me think of the value of it, especially in the light of the underestimation of the value of hand crafted items today. Finally I wrote 160€ and mailed it. I wouldn’t sell it for that (or at all), but I imagined someone would be willing to buy a similar item for 160€.

Shawlless fall

So, for most of the fall I was without my shawl and it was really scary. The postal service in Sweden hasn’t been working very well lately. I dreaded the thought of the shawl getting lost on the way back to me. In December I did get it back, though, safe and sound. Finally I can start wearing my shawl!

Happy reading!

I hope you like the article, and the video if you haven’t seen it already. And oh, if you are an Outlander fan, there is a connection to the series in the video. I wrote about it in this blog post.

Wip series: First spindle full

A spindle full of grey yarn

Earlier, I wrote about my new spinning project. I am spinning a yarn counter-clockwise to be able to knit myself a pair of twined knitted mittens.

One finished, three to go

The current status is that I have finished one spindle of s-spun singles, about 30 grams. According to the pattern book, I need 100–120 grams, so if I make another 3 30 gram singles I will end up with one 60 gram skein for each mitten. With twined knitting it is av very good idea to knit both mittens at the same time. This to make sure that the gauge turns out the same. I did not do this with my first pair.

A challenging spin

I have to say It is not the easiest spinning I have experienced. The fiber is impressingly smooth and silky, but there is a certain amount of tugging. I think it has to do with the preparation – I comb the locks as lightly as possible, just to separate the fibers. I guess they are still a little attached to each other, making the drafting a little challenging. But I get the effect I want, and I really enjoy spinning counter-clockwise with my left hand.

A close-up of a spindle with grey yarn
The many shades of beautiful grey

Beautiful greys

I love how the colour variation turned out. There is a spectrum from almost white, through silver and light grey to medium and even dark grey, and some strokes of golden brown. Spinning the locks one by one, I was hoping to catch as many of the shades in the fleece as possible. I would not have been able to achieve this effect had I combed the wool in the traditional way. Also, a yarn like this is not possible to machine spin. This will truly be a unique yarn, which warms my heart a little extra.

Happy spinning, both clockwise and counter-clockwise!

Coming up in March: My Patreon launch!

Josefin Waltin spinning on a supported spindle

For quite a while I have been thinking about creating my own Patreon page, and now I am finally on my way! I will launch my Patreon page in March.

What is Patreon?

Patreon is an online membership platform that allows fans to regularly provide financial support to creators. It also enables fans to get to know the creators better and get access to exclusive material. Here is a video that explains how Patreon works.

Why I am launching my Patreon page

I love blogging making videos and I love the response I get from you, which, in turn, helps me make better videos and articles. But I do all of this in my spare time. For one three minute video I have usually spent a whole day filming and another day editing, and, of course, pre and post production. All of my videos are shot outdoors in the summer months. To be able to make videos all year round I will need to invest in studio equipment. I would like to be able to spend more time with my family whilst making better content for you. If I could cut back on my day job, I would have a more balanced living and get food on the table. Above all, I would be able get some mental space to create more and better for you.

Rewards for you

The way Patreon works, is that the patrons – hopefully you – pledge to a monthly payment of their choice. I will in turn create reward tiers depending on how much my patrons pledge. These patron-exclusive rewards could include previews of new videos, behind-the-scenes-material from released videos, patrons’ names in the video credits, Q&As, patron-only polls etc.

Do you have any suggestions for these rewards? If you were a patron, is there anything you would like to receive as a reward? I will not be able to send stuff in the mail, though. The rewards are for you and this is your chance to influence them.

Happy spinning!

Wip series: Preparing for twined knitting

A spindle with light gray yarn

In this series I will write about preparing, spinning and knitting a pair of mittens in the old Swedish technique of twined knitting.

Rediscovering an old technique

Several years ago, long before I started spinning, I stumbled upon twined knitting, also known as two-end knitting (from the Swedish word tvåändsstickning). It is a very old Swedish knitting technique where you knit with two separate strands of yarn and twist them in between the stitches. This makes a very sturdy and windproof textile that will last very long. Because of the twisting, twined knitting takes a lot of time.

The technique was nearly forgotten, but recreated through a textile find in the 1970’s. A mitten was found, thought to originate from the 19th century, but later found to be from the late 16th century. At first there seemed to be nothing special about the mitten, since it looked like regular knitting from the right side. But when the mitten was turned inside out, it was obvious that this was something different. The inside of twined knitting is dense and ridged, due to the twisting of yarns.

A pink mitten turned inside-out
The reverse side of twined knitting looks different than regular knitting.

The responsibility of saving a textile treasure

In my woolly heart of 2009, I wanted to take responsibility to help saving this technique. Since the technique involves twisting, the best result is given when you knit with a z-plied yarn. I bought a skein of z-plied yarn and knitted myself a pair of twined knitting half-mitts. I loved them dearly, and one sad day I lost them together with a knit beret on the subway.

A person wearing a pair of red half-mitts
First twined knitting project: Half-mitts, sadly lost on the subway. If you look closely, you can see that the right mitten is more felted than the left. That’s what happens when you knit one mitten after the other and end up with different sized mittens. Photo by Dan Waltin

A few years later, as a beginner spinner, I spun a skein of z-plied yarn and made myself another pair of twined knitting mittens. The yarn – one of my first handspun ones – was way underspun, but I solved that by felting the finished mittens. These are my go-to mittens that I have worn practically every day for the last five winters.

Two mittened hands on the back of a sheep.
First handspun twined knitting mittens (same as the reversed mitten above). Wool from my favourite Swedish finewool sheep Pia-Lotta, modeling in the picture. Photo by Dan Waltin


Now there is a hole in the thumb. I have mended the hole, but I still want to make another pair, for several reasons. In a recent episode of the Fruity knitting podcast, there was an interview with Karin Kahnlund, master twined knitter, and I got inspired to twine knit again. Another reason is my analysis of spinning direction, where I have looked closely at the hand movements when spinning in different directions with different hands (for more posts in the series, look here and here). As a leftie, this is a perfect opportunity for me to spin counter-clockwise  with my left hand (pulling the spindle). A third reason is about just getting a second chance at spinning a z-plied yarn.

A new project

For this project, I will use the prize winning Värmland fleece I purchased at the auction at the 2017 Swedish fleece championships.

A lock of Värmland wool
A prize winning Värmland lamb fleece

It’s a beautiful, grey lamb fleece with a long staple, soft and almost silky. It is the same fleece I used in my short video of medieval spinning, but in the video I used the shorter staples, carded. For this project I will use the longer staples . This Värmland fleece has a double coat with longer and shorter fibers (the over coat fibers are roughly 22 cm, the under coat fibers about 14 cm).

Close-up of a lock of Värmland wool
The pretty lamb curl

I am combing each individual staple and spin on a supported spindle from the cut end to catch all the fiber lengths in the yarn (for a closer look at the technique, see my video where I spin with the sheep in the pasture).

Close-up of a spindle with light gray yarn
S-spun Värmland yarn. Look at the colour variations!

I will post every now and then to let you know how the project is going.

Happy spinning!

Spinning direction part 3: Historical spinning direction

An archaeological textile find

So far in the series of spinning direction we have looked at the hand movements and the physiology of spindle spinning. We have also looked at the results of a spinning poll. In this post, we will look back in time at how spun yarn has been used in textiles historically to find a clue to spinning habits today.

Archaeological finds

When it comes to archaeological finds of spinning there are tons of metal, clay or stone spindle whorls to look at. But when it comes to organic materials like wood  and textile fibers, most of them have disintegrated through time. But there are still some finds. With a quick Google search, it seems like most textile finds before medieval times were woven with a z/clockwise spun warp and weft. From the medievals most finds were woven with clockwise warp and counter-clockwise weft (sources here and here). In some of the sources there are also a connection between handedness and spinning direction (here and here). This is also confirmed by Maria Neijman, craft consultant in Stockholm and co-founder of Historical textiles.

A closeup of an archaeological textile find.
An archaeological textile find from Uppsala, Sweden around 1300–1490. The find can be seen at the Swedish history museum. Photo by Maria Neijman.

Looking at a textile find

Looking a bit closer at the featured photo (by Maria Neijman), we see that it is a twill weave with a z-spun warp and s-spun weft. The warp is quite tightly spun, with an angle at about 60–70°. The weft is looser, around 40–50°. The weft is also more unevenly spun with both thick and thin spots. For the weave to hold in the loom, the warp needs to be strong. The weft, on the other hand, can be more loosely spun.

What can we derive from the textile history?

If spinning direction in the medievals has a connection to handedness, can it be the case that spinners (of whom around 80–90 % were and are righthanded) have spun most of the yarn clockwise (pulling) because it was more ergonomic for the spinner? The quality of the weft is not as important as the warp when it comes to strength. Is it possible that the counter-clockwise spun weft was looser and more unevenly spun because it was less natural for the righthanded spinner to spin counter-clockwise (pushing)?

What about the lefties?

I am a leftie, and I know that many lefties have had to do things awkwardly. In the crafts lessons at school I wasn’t taught how to crochet since the teacher didn’t know how to teach me. Many leftie friends have had the same experience. With this background, one side of me is a bit annoyed at this biased righthanded history of spinning. But another, much bigger side of me is fascinated at how much we can learn about spinning from looking at textile finds. I am also grateful that I know more now about possible reasons for my spinning cramp and the fact that I can change hands or spinning directions.

Is this true?

We do not know if any of this is true, we can only make more or less qualified guesswork. But somehow it seems logical, and it gives me a peace of mind to know that it may be true. Most commercial yarns today are z-spun and s-plied. Can this be a remnant from the spinning habits of medieval spindle spinners? This thought is thrilling and gives me goosebumps.

This was the last post in this first blog post series. I hope you have enjoyed it!

Spinning direction part 2: Poll results and physiology

A hand distaff dressed with wool and a medieval style spindle.

In an earlier post, I started to investigate spinning direction by looking at my own spinning with my left (dominant) and right hand. The thought came up after I had had to switch hands due to a cramp in my left thumb base while learning to spin in-hand style. In this post, we take a look at poll results and the physiology of spindle spinning.

Spinning poll

I wanted more than my own experience, so last week I made a spinning poll. I want to thank all of you who answered it. I got 155 answers and quite an interesting result.

I wanted to know with which hand you spin clockwise on any kind of spindle. Here are some spinning poll results:

  • About 80 % of the spinners are righthanded. That goes roughly hand in hand with handedness in the world.
  • Of the righthanded, about three quarters spin clockwise with their right hand and one quarter with their left hand.
  • About 7 % of are lefthanded.
  • About two thirds of the lefthanded spinners spin clockwise with their left hand and one third with their right hand.
  • About 15 % answered something else. These answers were mostly about different spinning hands for different kinds of spinning and ambidexterity. Some of the answers were about spinning counter-clockwise. I had asked for spinning hand for clockwise spinning, meaning when you spin clockwise, but I wasn’t clear enough on this. I’ll be more specific next time.

The basics: Pushing and pulling

So far, we have established this:

  1. Spinning clockwise with your right hand means that the fingers pull the spindle into your hand.
  2. Spinning clockwise with your left hand means that the fingers push the spindle out of your hand.

The spinning poll results showed that

  1. three quarters of the righthanded and one third of the lefthanded spinners pull the spindle and
  2. one quarter of the righthanded and two thirds of the lefthanded spinners push the spindle.

The physiology

I used to spin clockwise with my left (dominant) hand. Lately, I have started to learn to spin with my right hand because I experienced a cramp when pushing the spindle clockwise with my left hand. I wanted to know why I got this pain.

I talked to Åsa, an occupational therapist who is also a spinner. I asked her what it is that gives me a cramp at the base of my thumb when I spin clockwise with my left hand. She explained that we have more muscles governing the movements pulling inward than pushing outward. More muscles means that the strain on each individual muscle is less than if there are fewer muscles. Evolutionarily we need more muscles to grab than to let go. This phenomenon even seems to overcome the fact that I am a leftie and probably stronger in my left hand. Let’s look at it from above:

My left hand thumb seems to move slightly more than my right hand thumb. The first and second fingers also seem to be working more – pushing – with my left hand. It looks more strained, and perhaps the movement is a bit bigger than with my right hand. Spinning with my right hand – pulling –  looks easier, despite the fact that it is my weaker hand.

What does this mean for spinning?

62 % of the spinnes who answered the poll seem to be pulling the spindle, which from a physiological perspective seems to be better for the hand than pushing. At the same time, there are different amounts of strain on the hand in different types of spinning, as I have been looking at earlier. When spinning in-hand style there is quite a lot of strain on your hand since the spinner is holding the spindle and twirling it almost all the time. In the other end of the spectrum, there is suspended spindle spinning when you need to wait quite a while between twirls, and oftentimes you roll the spindle shaft up or down your thigh instead of twirling it with your fingers.

If you do experience pain, take a look at how you are spinning. Are you pushing or pulling? Is it time to make a change of hands or spinning direction? Either way, make sure you feel comfortable when you spin.

Does this make sense to you? Have you experienced pain when you spin? If so, have you been pushing or pulling? Have you tried to change spinning hands or spinning direction? Share your thoughts in the comments section!