Sunspun Fine Yarns


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Fashion

 

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Vibrant stripes on ultra-long scarves featured at Etro’s Fall/Winter 2015 collection in Milan.

Fashion! Turn to the left

With autumn well and truly kicking in – if not temperature-wise, then certainly in a calendrical sense – we thought we’d have a look at what’s happening on the runways for some ideas towards a winter wardrobe.

The recent Milan Fashion Week showed some interesting trends: vibrant stripes, exaggerated sleeves (including puffed sleeves and leg of mutton), and ultra-long scarves. All of which seem to come together in these Missoni creations: dramatic, bold and with a mod-ish colour sensibility that will brighten any overcast winter’s day.

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Missoni, Fall/Winter 2016.

Fashion! Turn to the right

There’s no reason why your home cannot take a leaf or two from the catwalk, with the addition of a cozy blanket or throw to snuggle under. Now’s the time to start thinking – and making – them before the cold seriously sets in. Australian Country Spinners have many terrific free patterns on their website, including this log-cabin Country Throw. Come in and put together your own palette for a one-off throw that will be treasured and likely handed down through the years. Knit in garter stitch, it’s perfect for the adventurous beginner and an ideal Easter holiday project too.

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Oooh, fashion!

There’s no way we can quote from the late, great David Bowie’s ‘Fashion’ and not include mention of Kansai Yamamoto’s iconic jumpsuit for Ziggy Stardust. Knitter extraordinaire Vicky Howell has charted the Fair Isle pattern, which would work beautifully as a jumpsuit – if you dare. For those who prefer a piece that may have slightly wider application, the pattern would work as well knitted as an ultra-long scarf à la Missoni. We reckon the Starman himself might have approved.

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At the shop, Karen is participating in a Mystery Knitalong run by Alana Dakos from Never Not Knitting through Ravelry.  The KAL is over, but Karen still hasn’t finished – and she’s not peeking either, so here’s where she’s at! The shawl is knitted in Rowan Kid Classic.

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Amy is making a Three Colour Cowl in Zealand Air Laceweight, a study in texture, lace and stripes.IMG_0172.jpeg

I am making a Hinagiku Hat for my daughter’s friend using Cleckheaton’s Superfine Merino in her favourite colour, turquoise. The stitch definition in this yarn is unbelievable.

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If you are looking for Easter makes, Anette from Lebenslustiger has come up with a cleverly seamed square that turns into a rabbit, with good step-by-step instructions. One softie, two yarn choices.

And speaking of Easter, we’ll be closed on the Friday, Saturday and Monday and will reopen at 10am as usual on Tuesday.

To finish, here’s a moving story about Canberra prosecutor Paul Sweeney who hands out trauma teddies to kids who need it. His mum Madelene has made thousands of them, which he passes onto children who are experiencing severe trauma. As he said, while a little boy’s world ‘dissolved in sirens and lights’ one night, that boy kept the bear safe – and took him home.

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Beep beep.


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Two Cultures

As someone who both knits and crochets, it’s been a little surprising to learn recently of the so-called ‘divide’ between those who knit and those who crochet. Who knew?

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When this grows up, it’ll be a rainbow blanket. Pattern based on the Ridge & Furrow Scarf

The two cultures question came up because my four-year-old niece asked me to make her a rainbow blanket. Easy, I thought, granny squares, here I come: it’s modular, I can tuck a square in here and there, and after a few hundred of them, we’ll be done.

Then I started planning, and realised that I may just have to … knit this blanket. Which led me to wonder, what considerations do people take into account when choosing to knit or crochet something?

If you are new to the needle arts, many people say crochet is easier to pick up, since it uses only a hook, and you have to manage one stitch/loop at any one time. Just know that crochet uses a bit more yarn than knitting in basic stocking or garter stitch. (Here’s a test that someone’s done, if these things interest you.)

Knitting can feel unwieldy until you get the hang of it, and therefore frustrating – who hasn’t encountered twisted and dropped stitches, wrong stitch counts, slippery yarn that won’t stay on, and so on. Plus, beyond knitting needles of the right size, you often need needles of the right length as well for the job at hand.

My decision to knit came about primarily because I wanted to use stash yarn, and there wasn’t enough of every rainbow-ish colour in 8 ply. I did have all the colours that made up the rainbow, but of different tones and hues.

The other consideration was weight: the granny-square blankets we have are quite heavy, compared to the knitted ones, and the fabric much sturdier. I wanted something softer that draped.

What I knit and crochet fall into very clear categories. I crochet in summer when it’s too hot to have a growing pile of something on my lap, and when I feel a need for instant gratification, so it’s mainly toys and homewares – not surprising, since sturdiness is a necessary and desired quality for all those items. And I always crochet for school-fete goods such as little bowls, brooches, jewellery, mandalas, small colourful items and Christmas snowflakes.

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A simple cuff crocheted in four rows of star stitch in a Japanese cotton yarn,
finished with an oversized mother-of-pearl button.

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The round mandalas are by Lucy at Attic24, and the scallop-edged ones are Barbara Smith’s Little Spring Mandala

But for garments and items like hats and mitts, knitting wins hands down – it’s all about the fabric for me, and knitted fabric has more give. (You can go up a crochet hook size for a looser fabric, but the drape is still not quite the same.)

At the end of the day, both are complementary skills that are portable, easy to execute and don’t require impossible machines. If you know one and want to learn the other, we run classes in both. Discover for yourself! And take inspiration from Japanese designer Setsuko Torii, whose work often combines both cultures to quite dramatic effect, as in this Patchwork Skirt.

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In store news, we have 22 shades of the Debbie Bliss Blue Faced Leicester instore. This lovely DK-weight yarn from a heritage breed produces soft wool with lovely drape and lustre, and the stitch definition is excellent. Each 50 g ball yields 108 metres, and is $11 per ball.

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Brooklyn Tweed’s Wool People 9 is just out too, and features some beautiful lacework and architectural pieces, perfect to chase away winter evenings with while you dream of spring.

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Solstice Colour

The winter solstice this weekend brings with it the shortest day of the year in the southern hemisphere – and with it, thoughts of warmth, bonfires, hot chocolate and marshmallows, and as much woolly goodness as can be put on.

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While we love our monochromes in Melbourne especially, there’s nothing like putting colour to work to brighten these shorter days and longer nights. Should you be after a guide, Margaret Radcliffe’s Essential Guide to Color Knitting Techniques is an indispensable reference that will lead to years of happy knitting. The book covers everything from basic colour theory to fair isle (stranded) knitting, intarsia, entrelac, twined knitting stitches and more. There are detailed stitch guides, patterns, finishing techniques, all well illustrated with step-by-step colour photos.IMG_1395

color_knitting_techniques_2If you love multicoloured/variegated/speckled yarns in their skein but never quite know what to do with them (guilty …), this book shows how to best use the yarn, colour and design – with illustrations so you can see if the finished result is to your taste.

IMG_1398Slip-stitch patterns in coloured yarn are one of the easiest knitting techniques that produce amazing effects for very little effort. This hat from Renee Rico is a great stash-buster too.

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Source: Renee Rico

Linen stitch is another stitch that is easy to make, but produces a rich, woven-like fabric.

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Source: Shelly Sheehan

This Brioche Hat and Cowl set would look fabulous in a variegated or highly busy colour yarn worked back with a strong neutral.

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Jennifer Beaumont’s pixelated accessories collection includes patterns for a cowl, hat and mitts. She uses Madeline Tosh yarn in her designs, but they can be easily swapped for the Rowan, Cascade and Debbie Bliss yarns that we carry. Come in, and we’ll work with you to make the necessary swaps.

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Source: André Beaumont

Her pixelated contiguous sweater with set-in sleeves is completely seamless and knit in DK yarn from the top down, in the round. There are some striking finished pieces on Ravelry, and again, what fun it’ll be to put your own palette together.

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Little says colour and winter better than a blanket, and Georgie Hallam has beautiful finished examples on her blog. Her Memory Blanket, a mitred-square blanket knit in leftover DK yarn, has inspired many knitters to create their own. This is one of those pick-up-and-put-down projects that you chip away at, and the whole is much, much more – and meaningful – than the sum of its parts.

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Source: Georgie Hallam

It would be derelict to not mention Noro when talking about colour, so here’s a high contrast Pop Art-inspired blanket that really shows off the Noro palette to sumptuous effect. (And while you’re at it, check out the graphic Fly Away blanket too: stunning.)

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Source: Tin Can Knits

Sarah London’s Ravelry page is heaven for those who think too much colour is never enough; her Wool Eater Blanket is crocheted in the round from the centre out.

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Source: crochet86

Whether your taste runs to honeycomb motifs, Catherine wheels, modern damask or argyle, we hope these fresh takes on colourwork brighten a few of your winter evenings.

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Source: Michelle Mooney

PS: If you’re at a loose end and in Melbourne, the Collingwood Children’s Farm is holding a bonfire today with a children’s lantern parade, drummers and fire twirlers and a bonfire. More information here.


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Slow Craft

If you are here, it’s very likely because you like to make things. You know that the rewards of working with the hands are inestimable, and satisfying in a way that the other job – the desk job, the cubicle job, the production-line job, the housekeeping job – cannot quite match, critical though they may be for keeping the wolf from the door. So, this week, we look at those who make, and who make … it … slow. Gridjunky is a master of slow craft. An upcycler, he goes through the trouble of collecting old jumpers with good yarn, patiently unravelling, then washing and skeining them again for reuse in his knitting projects. His slow sewing projects with thrifted jeans and fabric are also quite something to behold, featuring sashiko techniques and hand-stitched hems that give the work an unparalleled finish. 150423Tote01

Source: Gridjunky

Jules has a wonderful post on Woollenflower about the romance of the long-haul project, in this case an Isager jumper in Spinni. (She also has a new lot of tweed pouches ready for sale. Please hurry, so we don’t buy them all.)

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Thrifted/vintage tweed, some of them Harris.

If you are a blanket or quilt maker, you may have encountered Chawne from Completely Cauchy in your travels. Her work is so fresh, bright and painstaking, and her eye for colour is unmatched. Awe-inspiring. 6797856935_143c6cdf2a16828850216_dcc2cb5e55

Source: Completely Cauchy

Crochet lovers already probably know of Cypress Textiles. If you don’t, have the crochet hook and yarn ready first, because this site will get your brain whirling. Lots of patterns, lots of step-by-steps, lots of ideas. cypress

Source: Hexagon love at Cypress Textiles

Victoria Pemberton is a one-woman show in Melbourne who runs Bind | Fold, which offers plant-dyed textiles and yarn and indigo shibori. One of our favourite designers is Hannah Fettig, whose book Coastal Knits is instore. She is the creator of the much loved Featherweight Cardigan, and we can’t wait to see her new book, Home & Away, soon. How lovely is that jumper on the cover? 1430416265962 Have you seen Swedish artist Camilla Engman’s work? Her blog shows the extraordinary in the everyday, and also her whimsical, insightful and more than a little humorous illustrations. For book lovers, the Penguin Threads are a must. These special editions of classics such as Little Women feature cover art by Jillian Tamaki and Rachell Sumpter. The illustrations are hand-stitched in needle and thread, and the finished books are embossed for a tactile finish. And guess what’s on the inside of those covers? 9780143106654littlewomen

The reverse side of the cover gatefold.

Another series worth noting are the keepsake editions, designed by Allison Colpoys, of the Penguin’s Australian Children’s Classics, which include treasures such as Seven Little Australians and I Can Jump Puddles.     9314994088809And finally, a reminder that the Hand Knitters Guild will be holding their annual yarn and craft market at the Coburg Town Hall, 90 Bell Street, on Saturday, 23 May from 10 am to 3 pm. See, touch and purchase yarns from small suppliers around Victoria, including Ixchel Angora Fibres & YarnsNanny’s Spin on ThingsDyed By Hands Yarns; Cat & Sparrow; Lara Downs; Spin Addict (Fibres of the Yarra Valley) and more plus assorted Guild member’s stalls. Entry is free.