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

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Friday

5, 12, 19, 26th February

Sit and Yarn 11am – 1pm

Sunspun Shop

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Monday-Saturday

1-13 February

Valentine’s Day Display

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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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