Picking a Pattern for Handspun Yarn


My polwarth spinning project is progressing. I have a few finished skeins to show off and, while I’m not done with the spinning, I’m far enough along that I’m thinking about patterns. Any pattern I use for a handspun yarn has to be flexible, workable in any weight of yarn, and easy to modify to suit the amount of yarn I actually have. Here are some patterns that have what I’m looking for.

Four Patterns That Will Work For Handspun Yarn

Clapotis by Kate Gilbert

I love this pattern. About 20,000 other knitters love this pattern too. You can grab your copy (its a freebie) at the link above from kitty.com.

Clapotis is a drop stitch wrap. Those dropped stitches are perfect for showing off the beauty of a handcrafted yarn. I’ve made three of these myself and helped plenty of others with theirs. You can make these in virtually any size with any type of yarn. Here is how:

  • The wrap is made in 5 sections, each with its own set of instructions.
  • Sections 1 and 2 are the increase sections. You work those until your wrap is wide enough. Then measure (by weight) how much yarn you’ve used up. That’s how much you set aside for the decrease sections. (I tack on an extra 10% just to be sure.)
  • Work Section 3 until you’ve used up all your yarn…. except what what you have set aside to decrease with. This gives you the length of the wrap.
  • Finish off with Sections 4 and 5 (the decrease sections).

Ta da! If you follow this method you’ll use up practically every foot of your gorgeous handspun. Because this pattern is so popular, there is plenty of help out there on how to make it, like this handy tip sheet that was posted to Craftster.

Viajante by Martina Behm

You know Martina Behm. If you’ve spent any time on ravelry browsing patterns (when you should be knitting), you know her uber popular Hitchhiker pattern. She is a very talented shawl designer and I’ve been eyebaling her Viajante.

Martina has also uploaded this graphic to ravelry which shows you just how its constructed. Seems to me that it would work in any size yarn. As long as your gauge is big enough to get the small end over your head and around your neck, you’d be good to go knit. Then you work the stockinette part until you have … oh say a third of your yarn left? Then make the mesh section until you’re out of yarn.

Yes. I do think that pattern would work just beautifully.

Now for my hookers. You didn’t think I wasn’t looking at crochet did you? Oh no. Crochet does use up the yarn faster and that’s why I normally go with a knit for my handspun but…. I ever commit to a pattern too soon!

Dawn in the Woods Shawl by Elaine Phillips

I haven’t made this shawl abut I’ve made numerous others with this method of construction. They are a sure sucess when you have a one-of-a-kind, I’ll-never-get-any-more yarn. This shawl starts with a small cast-on at wrist, increases in a triangle shape as you work towards the center of the back and then decreases it way to the opposite wrist. If you work increases until you are halfway through your yarn, you’ll have the perfect amout to do the decrease half with! Shawls like this take the guess work out of sizing. And this version is gorgeous! I just love that bottom border. Its a freebie so you should go grab a copy.

Make a Big Granny Square and Turn it into a Shrug

Umm… That’s really all there is to these garments. You make a granny square. Use any version of granny square you like. Make it big. Make it until you are out of yarn. Then sew the corners together.

From memaw9 project gallery (click the picture to go to her project!)

You can put an edging on the arm openings or around the center. Or not! It works with a raw edge too. There are lots of versions of this pattern. Moses Ramos offers a free one with his Granny Square Shrug.

That’s what I’m thinking about for my polwarth handspun. This is the fiber I’ve been spinning in my Cowgirl Boots videos. I have about 300 yards finished so far.

Its been inspected and tested by Feline Overlord…

Polwarth handspun wool and The Feline Overlord

and weighed…

Polwarth hansdspun wool measured for weight
(The bowl is exactly 4 ounces, btw, so I have 4 ounces of yarn here.)

…. and measured…

Polwarth handspun wool measured for wraps per inch

…and knitted up in a sample.

Polwarth handspun wool knitted up into a sample

But I am jumping the gun. I’m not ready to start a project with it because I still have all this left to spin!

Polwarth wool being spun

That doesn’t stop me from wasting time on ravelry browsing for patterns though. Nope.

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12 Comments on "Picking a Pattern for Handspun Yarn"

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That is some lovely spinning, there! And when a swatch looks that good, I have a hard time not casting on for a project. ANY project, just to be knitting. Which seldom ends well. You are clearly a smart and disciplined spinner!


HA! If I was so disciplined I’d be spinning instead of wasting time on Ravelry.

The yarn is nice. That polwarth makes a NICE yarn. And it seems to bloom a little after washing so I’m thinking it would make lovely, puffy cables….


The Clapotis and Dawn in the Woods are my favorites…

Here’s a question that might also be jumping the gun: Do you decide what color you want your yarn to be before or after you decide on a pattern for it?


I almost never dye my fiber or my yarns. I don’t have the space to make that kind of a mess! So whatever color the fiber is when I get it is the color it will be.

When it comes to a pattern, I try to pick something with solid stockinette if the yarn has a lot of color changes (like variegated). If the yarn is a solid color, I’ll consider lace and/or cables.


Lol, forgive me, I wasn’t thinking. I can see you trying to dye your yarn, with FO “helping”, and probably giving your carpet/sheets/furniture a paw-print theme in the process!


OMG it makes me shutter to even imagine.

I have a very good friend who hobby dyes. She is currently trying to take care of herself, her job, and her family while turning that hobby into a handdyed yarn business. If she ever manages to get any free time (big if) I’m gonna talk her into dying some of my roving. That way the mess is all over at her house!


All good choices. With such pretty yard anything you choose will be great.


Thanks! I think the polwarth is looking very nice.


Thanks for the tips, I didn’t even consider the Viajante! Mainly because I can’t spin fine yet, & it just didn’t occur to me to try a bigger gauged yarn,
My go-to for handspun has been the Instant Love hat, it even makes *my handspun look good!. It’s here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/instant-love-hat


Also, sorry for the punctuation mistakes. My allergies are kicking my butt today


Same here. I have a drippy nose and swollen up eyeballs. It ain’t pretty I tell ya.


That is a nice hat. Very simple and very elegant. I’ll have to add that one to my favorites. Thanks!