Janet Major

 sustainable styling, sustainable textiles


back to start              blog







more about Janet
knitting (designer)
felt making
body profile
advanced colour
wardrobe re-vamp
contact me





 This is a big part of why I learnt to spin you can start with fleece from a sheep (that you may even know) and make a yarn inspired by something special to you. More details of this yarn design.

I learnt to spin in the best place in the world for spinning - Shetland! That was in 2000 and I have recently returned to those marvellous islands for some advanced fine spinning tuition. Spinning appeals to many as you can spin virtually any yarn you wish for- ultra fine to very chunky, plain through a whole range of fancy yarns and of course a whole variety of fibres, both natural and synthetic.

There are many advantages to knitting with your own hand spun wool, I will give my 5 top ones:
Traceability of the fibre
Sustainability when using natural fibres
Yarn and Garment will be unique
Pleasure and creativity of producing the yarn and the garment
Ability to start with fleece from a particular sheep and move through to the garment or item

If you mainly hand knit your yarns into garments then do take a look at the Knitting (designer) page for some hints that might increase your love of your product.

I enjoy spinning with both a drop spindle and a wheel. Both allow you make single yarn and then ply this. Yarn from both can be used for knitting and weaving.

A favourite top whorl spindle which I use by rolling up my leg. Fine Shetland yarn on the spindle soon to be added to by hand dyed cochineal.

If you want to have a go at spinning you can do so by making a drop spindle - a CD and piece of dowelling or even a potato and a knitting needle. Look on you tube for some ways of doing it. If you get in OK you might like to try a wheel and note several people who spin with a wheel find it difficult or spin with a drop spindle.

A wheel certainly makes it easier to spin ( in my opinion) and if you are interested in trying a wheel before buying one it would be a good idea to contact your local guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers.(1) Using a wheel makes it easier to do many of the fancy or art yarns if that is your main interest.

I spin three main sorts of yarn- very fine, fancy and yarn to dye with. I have added  examples here.

Fine spinning

Alpaca bookmark - chosen for the National Exhibition of WSD in 2015. Spun singles and hand knitted. The alpaca is from Southern Cumbria where my husband went on holiday as a child.


Part of a large cobweb lace stole spun from Shetland fleece and Crookabeck Angora - goes through a wedding ring. My first handspun shawl and I now spin even finer lace yarn.

More fine spinning here

Fancy spinning is here

Spinning for dyeing

This is called my pansy jacket as it used most of the fleece from a Jacob sheep called Pansy. I separated the fleece colours to give this effect. The deep pink is dyed with cochineal and the lighter pink was dyed in the exhaust.

If you want to know how to wash fleece I have a version of the fermented suint method which I find works remarkably well ( blog of 1 Sept13 and 8 Feb 14)

My most treasured spinning aid : A WPI ( wraps per inch ) yarn gauge measure and a similar one on my iPod - for verification of yarn gauge

My best tip : keep a record of what you spin, how it was prepared, what you use if for etc. Once you have spun a yarn it should be completely reproducible - even if it many years between the two!

I am still adding more information here  and I regularly blog about current projects.

Individual or group teaching; demonstrations, talks, presentations and workshops available.

(1)  www.wsd.org.uk  will give you a list of all the guilds, by locality and for many their programme as well as contact details. I belong to both Diss Guild and the Online Guild. Diss Guild has its own website. www.dissweaversspinnersanddyers.co.uk



janet major carleton rode norfolk 07990 702223     info@janetmajorimage.co.uk