Sunspun Fine Yarns


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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.


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Yarn in Focus: Cascade 220

Vital statistics

100% pure wool
100 g/200 metres
Worsted
Gauge: 18–20 stitches = 10 cm on 4.5–5.0 mm needles
Price: $14

We have Cascade 220 in the house!

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Cascade 220 bounty in beautiful Zillpa baskets: run, don’t walk …

Meet one of those yarns that ticks all boxes. Great to knit or crochet with: check. Generous meterage so fewer skeins are needed and minimal joins: check. Felts well: check. Colour range: check. Reasonably priced: check.

Cascade’s versatility means this yarn lends itself well to crochet and knitting patterns alike, and for all kinds of garments, accessories and homewares. It is ideal for hard-wearing sweaters, vests and hats, and the gauge means that it knits up satisfyingly quickly too. There are nearly 200,000 projects that used Cascade 220 on Ravelry, so you never need be short of inspiration!

The yarn is springy in the hank, with good elasticity, and is spun tightly enough to not be splitty when you’re knitting or crocheting. It knits up evenly, and finished items have crisp stitch definition even without blocking. Less than a hank will give you Brooklyn Tweed’s justly beloved Koolhaas hat, for instance.

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Source: Brooklyn Tweed

It also shows off cables beautifully, and would be perfect to use in this Honeycomb Aran sweater.

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Source: Yarnspirations

Cascade 220 is this-means-business sturdy, but warm without too much bulk. Perhaps wash it before the first wear to let it soften if you’re wearing it next to the skin since it’s not superwash soft.

This yarn felts exceptionally well: the colour delineations remain crisp with no halo.

And then there is the range of colours: at last count, Cascade 220 has a range of about 201 colours in solids and heathers, which makes it ideal for this crocheted ripple blanket or this knitted vintage-inspired Missoni blanket.

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Source: Churchmouse Yarns & Teas

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Source: Tangled Yarns

We are starting with about 50 colours, and hope to keep adding to them. (If there is something you particularly want that we do not stock, please let us know and we can order it in for you.)

If you are a new knitter, this is a very good yarn to start with.

And for durable babies’ and kids’ clothes, it really is hard to beat in terms of price and durability. Here are some sweet examples.

Camilla Babe: this comes in a generous range of sizes, with the newborn size using less than a skein.

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Source: Carrie Bostick Hoge

Milo: a vest that works for boys and girls. The pattern offers sizes from newborn to six years and knits up quickly.

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Source: Georgie Hallam

And, finally, Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket.

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Look up your favourite worsted and even DK/8 ply patterns and give Cascade 220 a go. We’re quietly confident you’ll join the fan club.


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Animal Spirits

Today heralds the start of a new year according to the Chinese zodiac, so gong xi fa cai (happy new year) to you! The Chinese calendar works to a twelve-year cycle, with each year related to an animal sign. As with astrology, it’s believed that the year you’re born in has bearing on your personality and attributes. (A simple online search can help you determine which animal you are.) 2015 is the year of the sheep – also known to the Chinese as the year of the goat – but for us (and clearly, there’s more than a little self-interest at play!), the sheep will do us just fine.

In honour of all things woolly (and yarny) and in the spirit of animal themes, we thought we’d feature some knitted or crocheted small animals. The Japanese have a word for it, amigurumi, with cuteness the most important characteristic. The directory Great Amigurumi has links to free patterns, including some for Hello Kitty dolls. You’ve been warned!

These owls below take their inspiration from amigurumi, and are crocheted from Noro Kureyon and Silk Garden leftovers. Small items such as these are really popular with younger kids at craft stalls and school fetes, and there are heaps of owl patterns floating around the Net and on Ravelry to inspire you.

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If you prefer marine life, how about this Crochet Seahorse by Jessica Polka? The pattern is free, and you can make your seahorse some friends from Jessica Polka’s 75 Fish, Shells, Coral & Marine Creatures to Knit & Crochet. We have a few copies of the book in-store.

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You never know, you may be inspired, like Christine Wertheim and Margaret Wertheim, to create a whole Crochet Coral Reef, their tribute to marine wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.

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Source: ‘Crochet Coral and Anemone Garden’ with sea slug by Marianne Midelburg; photo by Alyssa Gorelick

If knitting’s more your speed, perhaps have a look at Ysolda Teague’s Smith from Whimsical Little Whimsical Little Knits 2.

ysoldaMilo Armadillo is the star of Jan Fearnley’s picture book for the little ones, and comes with a pattern at the back so you can make your own Milo to cuddle.

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We all know that former Prime Minister Julia Gillard knits, and made a baby kangaroo for Kate and Will’s baby. If Australian marsupials and birds are your thing, check out the menagerie in Cleckheaton’s Aussie Animals. We have the books in-store.

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This fantastic little foxy friend comes from Jem Weston’s book Cute Little Knits.

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If you prefer a bear, how about Matthew?

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It seems apt to finish with a story about Alfred Date, who is, at 108, the oldest person in Australia. Date is a prolific knitter, and when he arrived at his aged-care home on the NSW Central Coast, the nurses put him to work to knit jumpers for the Penguin Foundation. The Foundation uses the jumpers to help with the penguins’ rehabilitation after an oil spill, and for fundraising and education programs. They have enough jumpers for now, but you can help out in other ways – just click through to their website for a lookYou can see Alfred’s story here. As for the penguins …

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Altogether now: awwwwwwww.


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Love Stories

With Valentine’s Day but a heartbeat away, we thought we’d indulge in all things love, hearts and devotion. And yarn, of course. Always yarn.

window displayOur Valentine’s windows by Raynor.


#1 Love

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a crafty woman in possession of a sound mind must be in want of a yarn shop.

One day Amy was browsing and chatting in the shop when she found out it was up for sale. And so the former customer decided to take the plunge made her dreams – and every knitter’s – come true.

#2 Hearts

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Trust the inimitable and mischievous Elizabeth Zimmerman to think of wearing your heart on your sleeve … This heart-motif bonnet started out as a heart-shaped elbow patch. Knitted in garter stitch, the heart is made by picking up the edge stitches and the hat finished with an i-cord border and ties.

You can find the ingenious Heart Hat from Knitting Workshop on Ravelry. Ours was knitted in cream Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran and the heart is in Rowan Pure Wool Aran.

#3 Devotion

One of the loveliest things about knitting and crochet is the company we keep. Do you know that the Ravelry knitting and crochet website now has more than 5 million members worldwide?

If you haven’t signed up and hopped on, do go and have a look. This is one of the most useful, user-driven sites you can find online, and it’s free.

Ravelry is indispensable if you want to know more about yarn, tools and patterns, but it’s in a league of its own when you want to hear about others’ experiences with a pattern you plan to make. Just knowing, for instance, that the sleeves on a particular cardigan run long, or that a hat knits up tight no matter what yarn/needles you use can help you plan and learn from others’ experiences. You also get a chance to look at garments on real bodies as opposed to models, check out yarn substitutions and connect with like-minded souls in the forums.

And if you need a skein or 10 metres of yarn in a particular dye-lot to finish your project, odds are you’ll find a kind soul who can help.

So bravo Jessica, Carey, Mary-Heather, Sarah and Christina, for keeping the Ravelry show on the road.

#4 Inspiration

And we couldn’t do a post on love and hearts without mentioning some patterns on the theme. If you get started now, you’ll make it in time for 14 February. Here are two ideas by Martin Storey for Rowan Yarns:

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And a trio of cushions from Millamia, which are also available as print-outs in-store.

Spread_group_medium2If you prefer something small, Lucy from Attic24’s crochet hearts are very sweet. They can be used to embellish a gift or handmade card, turned into brooches or hair slides for the little ones, or make heaps and string them up into a bunting.

heartIn store news, a reminder that the Blossom Scarf kits are available. Post your pics on Instagram and tag us: @sunspunyarns. We’d love to see how you’re going!

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And here’s Jackie’s finished the warm, light and squishy Simple Sprinkle, which used five colours from the Tailored Strands Alpaca range.

Love and flowers to you!

 

 


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Wishing & Hoping & Planning & Dreaming

When the sun is shining, the air warm and the sky blue, it can be hard to think of working with wool. Mercifully, there is such a good selection of lighter weight yarns and non-woolly options such as linen, silk and cotton to play with that knitters and crocheters do not need to sit with their hands idle.

Midsummer is also when many of us start planning our cooler-weather knits, taking heed of trends and styles playing out in the northern hemisphere (hot tip: brioche stitch), and adapting them to our lifestyle and use. And asking tough questions such as, will I really, really wear this It Pattern? Does it go with the rest of my wardrobe and what I usually wear? Or, what the hell, I’m ready to try something new!

One of our favourite sources of inspiration is Brooklyn Tweed, whose latest collection for Winter 2015 is just out. As ever, it has us wanting to queue everything. Brooklyn Tweed’s collections are always wearable yet stylish, fashionable yet timeless, and their instructions are impeccable. This season features designs by Michele Wang, Véronik Avery, Norah Gaughan, Jared Flood and Julie Hoover.

We like Julie’s la-di-da nod to Annie Hall with a woven-stitch turtleneck pullover with bell sleeves, appropriately named Keaton. We don’t carry BT yarns because they can barely meet their domestic demand, but we can see Keaton working in our Shilasdair or Isager yarns.

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Source: Brooklyn Tweed

Another delightful Hoover pattern is Harper, a stretchy slouch cap in a striped twisted rib. It’s a very tidy toque that doesn’t take much yarn, and you’ll have fun selecting two contrasting or tonal colours for this project. We can see this working beautifully with Shibui or any luxurious fingering-weight one-skeins you have.

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Source: Julie Hoover

Jared Flood’s dramatic Carpeaux shows off its architectural form through cables, ribs and brioche stitch. As with other Jared projects, the finish is polished and well realised. Any strong worsted or 10 ply yarn will produce a handsome result.

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Source: Brooklyn Tweed

We carry some printed BT patterns in-store, but they are readily available for download through their website or Ravelry. (And just for a bit of fun, here’s Julie shooting Jared when they spent their day at the New York Met seeking inspiration.)

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Source: Julie Hoover

In Store News, back by popular demand is the buttery, super-soft Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Lace. Each 100 g hank is a generous 795 metres, perfect for an ethereally light shawl or a whisper-soft cardigan.

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We know it’s a bit daggy to get excited about needles, but these ones by Hiroshima are so beautiful to behold, we want to tell everyone about them! We stock the sharps and blunt-tipped tapestry needles, which come in a little cork-tipped acrylic test tube. Such a good idea!

HiroshimaNeedlesWe’ve also just restocked the Tasmanian Art Viva needles, which come in 4 mm, 5 mm and 6mm. These distinctive handcrafted needles make every project a pleasure, and are perfect for new junior knitters.

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Clover crochet kits have also been replenished, and come in a nifty zippered pouch of ten hooks.

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Finally, if you’re tired of getting jabbed while seaming, give these wonder clips a go. They hold the pieces together while you work.

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What are you planning to make for autumn and winter this year? Drop us a line and let us know.