Sunspun Fine Yarns


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February at Sunspun

Well, the heat is still with us – perfect for cool summer knitting projects!  The kidlets are back at school and the ‘real’ year is beginning.  We will be kicking things up a few notches this year and introducing some new activities and opportunities for you to have some fun with your yarny endeavours and to increase your knowledge of all things yarn.

To start us off, our Term 1 classes get underway.  We have some new classes, some  returning classes and some new and guest teachers for you – oh, and of course, our beloved ‘returning’ teachers!!  You can check out our Classes page to find out more.  We have added a Classes Board in the shop displaying some samples of what each class offers to help you decide what class/es is/are best for you.

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One of the exciting new ‘activities’ we are starting this year is our Product of the Month. Each month we will feature a different product – it could be a yarn, a book, a pattern or a tool – and we are offering a 10% discount (20% for Members) on the chosen item for the entire month!  Woohoo!  We will have a display set up in the shop so look for it when you come in. All the nitty gritty in an upcoming blog post.

February is the month of ‘amour’ – well at least Sunday 14th is!  Along with our Product of the Month display we will have a Valentine’s Day in shop display up and running from 1st – 13th February.  We have some patterns, samples and products all suitable for you to show your love and appreciation to significant others in your life.

Lovely Cowl

Shown above is one of our new samples for our Valentine’s Day display, Lovely Cowl by Ashley Solley knit in Shibui’s gorgeously soft Baby Alpaca.

Dates for your diary:

February at Sunspun

Date

Event/Location

Link

2 – 27 February

 Product of the Month – Revive by Rowan

Blog

Friday

5, 12, 19, 26th February

Sit and Yarn 11am – 1pm

Sunspun Shop

Blog

Monday-Saturday

1-13 February

Valentine’s Day Display

Blog

Wednesday

3 February

Finishing Your Knits Class

Class List

Wednesday

10 February

Top Down Socks Class

Class List

Wednesday

17 February

Beginners Crochet Class

Class List

Wednesday

24 February

Slipped Stitch & Mosaic Colourwork Class

Class List

We will be adding new content to our Youtube channel this month so keep an eye open for it.  And our Ravelry Group – Sunspun Fibre Folk – is growing steadily.  There is a new thread open for chatting – First Project on Your Needles/Hook in 2016.  Click on over and share, show and tell us all your first project for 2016.

Happy ‘yarning’
Amy, Karen and Nicole.


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And the Winners Are …..

Our first KAL/CAL has come to an end and those who participated will be wearing beautiful new shawls in the cooler weather.  We have had a lot of fun and it has been fabulous to be able to host all the merriment!  Thanks so much to all who participated and contributed their thoughts and progress shots in our Ravelry Group thread.  Sharing our knitting highs and lows adds a wonderful sense of extended community to what we do.

So let the drum roll begin ……

The ‘knit’ winner has made a beautiful Moonraker Shawl by Melanie Berg

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Knitter:   Deborah from Sydney, NSW
Yarns:  Mrs Crosby’s Hatbox

The ‘crochet’ winner has made a beautiful Sunday Shawl by Alia Bland

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Crocheter:   Mary from Melbourne, Vic
Yarn:  cleverly made with various leftovers from her stash!

Both Deborah and Mary have won a bottle the wonderful Soak wool wash and a shawl pin from Hornvarefabrikken.  The shawl pins are made from African Cow Horn and have a lovely provenance that you can read about on their website – what was once a waste product has been made into something useful and beautiful.

Congratulations to both our winners – your shawls are very, very lovely.

Happy ‘yarning’
Karen.


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Yarn in Focus: Trap-art Trapillo

Vital statistics
85% recycled cotton; 15% other recycled fibres
900 g
Super bulky
$25

IMG_6944Super bulky yarn is one of those things that crafters often have a love–hate relationship with. That they work up super fast is a huge, huge plus, and they satisfy instant gratification pangs like no other material. If you need a last-minute gift and have only minutes in which to pull it together, put the super bulky to work and it’ll produce a good result that often needs no blocking. Just cast off, and you’re done. And it’s the perfect yarn for hot summer days when wool can feel a bit sticky to the hand.

IMG_6943The less fun bit? Much depends on how you feel about working with large hooks and needles of 12 mm and above. Some find it hard going and unwieldy – but read on anyway if you do, because we found a work-around.

IMG_6854All of this is a slightly long-winded introduction to Trapillo, the new kid on the Sunspun block. The yarn comes in large balls (bales?) and a little goes a long way. We aren’t told the meterage on the band, but we made six of those bowls pictured above and still have heaps of yarn left over.

IMG_6938This swatch was knit in 12 mm needles in woven stitch. We cast on 17 stitches and it measures exactly 17 cm wide and its thickness comes in at about 1.5 cm. As expected, the fabric is sturdy with little give, which makes it ideal as placemats or pot coasters.

Make a large rectangle, fold in half and slip-stitch up two sides to make a clutch or computer slipcase. Nothing is going to slip out of that fabric, it is that strong.

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Source: Crate & Barrel

If you’ve ever admired the dramatic knitted poufs that can be found in department stores, here’s a chance to make your own; there are patterns to be found online.

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Source: Vogue Knitting, via Craftsy

The yarn would work well as an ottoman cover in seed stitch.

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Source: Ilse Devriendt

Baskets of any size are endlessly useful and make wonderful gifts; we think Ilse Devriendt’s crochet hanging basket is perfect for use inside and outside the home.

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Source: crochetincolor.blogspot.com.au

This ombre basket was crocheted in worsted weight wool, but would work as well in Trapillo.

And we came up with these little crochet fabric bowls that are utterly addictive to make, that do not involve using large hooks at all. What you do is make single crochets to encase the yarn, and stack the coils as you go. The principles of crocheting a coaster apply here.

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We used summer yarns from our yarn-tasting packs for these, and they all have quite different characteristics. Clockwise from top left: Shibui Twig, Rowan Summerspun, Isager Palet and Isager Bomulin.


Best of all, you can use leftover yarn to create different effects, and it’s perfect to showcase a loved yarn. Just know that the thicker the contrast yarn, the sturdier the bowl. We have the pattern instore and on Ravelry if you want to have a play.

We also have Finnish designer Molla MillsModern Crochet book, which is full of great projects – jewellery, accessories, rugs and homewares – that use this yarn. The sky’s the limit!

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Deck the Halls

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From the Old World to the New, the northern hemisphere to the south, Christmas is one festival that is still much celebrated in many parts of the world, and an integral part of the year-end holiday season. Whether you follow old world Eastern European traditions, celebrate your yule Nordic style or in a more colourful Latin American style (did you know the poinsettia came from Mexico, where it’s called the flor de noche buena?), even the most secular among us do pay some heed to Christmas customs and rituals, especially those from childhood.

Inevitably, if there are small children around, there is almost certainly a tree, perhaps stockings. Even here in the southern hemisphere, where temperatures around Christmas can be high, the goodies, decorations and food still carry a strong northern hemisphere influence.

If you are after Christmas craft ideas, and if you like making your own everything, from Christmas crackers to advent calendars, decorations and gingerbread, Martha Stewart seldom disappoints. For food ideas, try Nigella Lawson (her Ham in Coca Cola seems unorthodox, but trust her on this) or Donna Hay for quick, simple recipes that work.

In terms of things crafty – and I know we’re in the southern hemisphere – who doesn’t love a snowflake? Emily from the Loopy Stitch has provided a free crochet pattern for her Sunny Snowflake, complete with step-by-step pictures, as has Lucy from Attic 24. Work from the premise that no two snowflakes are alike and make a mixed jumble to hang on a tree, string into a garland, use as gift tags and just because.

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Source: The Loopy Stitch

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Source: Attic24

Then, once you’re well and truly hooked, you can work your way through Caitlin Sainio’s 100 Snowflakes to Crochet.

Our favourite Norwegian knitters Arne and Carlos have designed 24 Christmas balls that can be knitted as part of the countdown. This link takes you to a Julekuler designer that you can use to personalise your own Christmas ornaments.

Christmas ornaments

MillaMia have a free PDF download of all seven ornaments you can make using odds and ends of yarn, perfect for seasonal decorations or as a special gift topper.

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If you like granny squares and stars, here’s a pattern for one you can use to make a sweet garland.

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Source: The Royal Sisters Blog

And lovers of African flower motifs have to try this stunning creation by Daniela Herbetz.

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Source: Daniela Herbetz

Finally, just imagine the pleasure on the faces of little kids when they encounter these adorable mini softies by designer Rebecca Danger, including an elf, a snowman and assorted monsters. They are perfect for a Christmas tree, or as a little companion throughout the festive season.

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Come and have a Sit and Yarn!

For a while now we have wanted to start a group for those interested in coming into the shop and spending some time with like minded souls and having a natter and a knit/crochet.

And it is finally happening!

Commencing Friday 20th November 2015

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Every friday morning from 11am – 1pm (for the price of a smile!) we are having a sit and yarn around our big square table.  We would love to hear the happy chatter and click clack of needles and hooks of yarn lovers at work.

Bring your cuppa and your current project or maybe start a new one!  Tap into the combined knowledge and skills of the group and share and contribute your own.  Meet and greet those folk you know or get to know new folk.  We know yarn lovers are never happier than when talking yarn with those who ‘get’ them!

If you have any queries feel free to give us a call (03) 9830 1609 (mon-sat 10am-5pm) or email us at shop@sunspun.com.au.

Here’s to working with yarn while having a yarn amongst the yarn!

Happy ‘yarning’,

Karen.

 

 


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Weathering Winter

Have you noticed the days are starting to get just a little longer? The bulbs are popping, and more than a few magnolias around are budding too – oh, the promise and the anticipation! IMG_5765 But while it’s still cold enough, here are some quick ideas for items you can whip up and wear before the weather changes. If you’ve ever knitted an Olgajazzy pattern, you’d know they are impeccably thought through and well constructed. This textured Reimei cowl would be perfect in two high-contrast Cascade 220 colours. reimei1_medium2

Source: Olgajazzy

If you have a baby to knit for, here’s a wonderful little hoodie that will use up some of those DK leftovers hanging around. (Or make it in a solid, or colour-block it.) IMG_1991copy_medium2

Source: Undone57 on Ravelry

Have the bigger kids lost their winter hats again? Lucky Maria Carlander’s Little Scallops knits up in no time. (Make a few spares while you’re at it for gifts.) dsc_1270_medium

Source: Maria Carlander

This luxurious scarf/wrap, Simple Lines by Temple of Knit, would be divine in Shibui Pebble, and keep you warm as it grows too. simplelines-2

Source: Temple of Knit

Woolful have a new podcast up – perfect for when you’re driving around, knitting or waiting for the kids to finish their swim/football/dance class. Lovers of colour who live in Melbourne need to get themselves to Heide to admire the geometric vibrancy of Melinda Harper’s work. A surefire cure for any winter blues. xl-HARPERMNKNUNTITLED220132

Source: Heide. Melinda Harper, Untitled 2013, oil on canvas.

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In store news, we have new samples! Here’s Camilla Babe, knit with five balls of Heron in the lichen colourway. 20150729-DSC_0796 The Dotted Rays shawl took three balls of Cima and Silk Cloud in the jumpsuit colourway. 20150721-DSC_0787 It looks like the Cascade 220 has been a hit with many of you. We’re pleased to report that more is on the way, including new colours. Finally, our first Sunday workshop is on this weekend, 2 August, from 10.30pm to 3.30pm with Karen, on knitting in the round. Don’t forget that our Wednesday evening classes are ongoing – next week’s class covers knitting tips and tricks. We hope to see you soon.


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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.

cuff

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

mandalas

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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Classes

If you follow us on Instagram, you’d already know that we’ve just announced the next suite of classes for the second half of the year, which begin in July and take us up to November with a Christmas decorations class.

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What will you make today?

We are pleased to have our regular teachers Karen Prior and Sue Grandfield back. Jules is coming in for a one-night-only class, and Melissa Piesse is on board for a special Sunday workshop on tapestry weaving.

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Karen is our resident teacher, and runs many of our classes.
With forty years’ experience, she will be able to help with all aspects of knitting and crochet. 

There is so much wisdom to be gleaned in the three-hour Wednesday classes, which cover the spectrum of skill level from basic beginners’ crochet (12 August) to reading knitting patterns and schematics (22 July) plus finishing tips that will ensure a neat and professional knit (15 July).

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Karen’s finishing class on 28 October takes you beyond weaving in ends
to grafting, blocking techniques, seaming methods and much, much more.

Colour lovers cannot afford to miss Sue’s masterclass on slip stitches and mosaic knitting to create texture, woven effects and geometric shapes (29 July).

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Sue has created designs for international yarn houses including
Wollmeise, Black Trillium and Beautiful Silks. You can find her patterns here.

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Sue’s Pick and Mix Hat is knit in the round, and shows the infinite possibilities of colourwork. 

There are classes on modular knitting (26 August), getting the most out of Ravelry (14 October), and one on help for the unfinished objects in your life (9 September). Come along and let Karen encourage you over the hump!

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The Beekeeper’s Quilt: an example of modular knitting (not covered in the class).

Jules will run a session on knitting for speed and comfort, looking at different styles – English, Continental, Portuguese and Lever, explaining the pros and cons of each (2 September).

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Jules will be back from the UK and will run a class for us.

Besides these regular Wednesday-night classes, we also have Sunday yarn workshops, which run for longer and include more involved class projects.

If you are reasonably new to knitting, for instance, and always wondered at the finer points of knitting in the round, let Karen take you through the best way to join in the round, making jogless stripes and more (2 August).

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Amy is making the Hermaness hat in Cascade 220 as part of the Fringe Association #fringehatalong,
a perfect illustration of why the skills of knitting in the round and reading charts are invaluable. 

If you love the finished look of crochet but have always been a bit flummoxed by the language and terminology, conquer it once and for all in this workshop on 9 August, and take home a pair of fingerless mitts you’ll make on the day.

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Our Blossom kit: a simple, modular crochet project.
Make one yourself after one of Karen’s crochet classes.

We’re very pleased to have Melissa Piesse on board on 23 August for a one-day tapestry-weaving workshop (kit and all materials included in class fee of $150). You’ll learn how to warp a loom, weave shapes and lines, and explore colour, pattern and techniques.

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Melissa specialises in teaching textiles, weaving, embroidery and more.

More details on the classes can be found here. You can book by calling or emailing us.


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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.