Sunspun Fine Yarns


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July at Sunspun

July sees us right in the heart of an Aussie winter. Now we don’t have snow here in Melbourne (sadly some of us may think!!) but let’s just pretend, for the length of this newsletter, that we do! And if you are in the Dandenongs or some regional areas of Victoria then you most certainly just had a wee amount of snow.

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So settle in, read on and let us tell you more about what’s on in July at Sunspun.

Our regular Friday Sit & Yarn just keeps going from strength to strength. You can see the July dates in the table below. Don’t forget this free group is open to all, just remember we have had to cap the number each Friday to 10 to be able to accommodate everyone around the table. Some lovely friendships have already been made and new people are joining in!

Term 3 classes have started. We have some fabulous classes for you during July, including a new Knitting Clinic so you can get some help to finish off those projects that have been sitting in the ‘too hard’ basket just waiting for some loving attention. Don’t forget the ‘oldies but goodies’ on the calendar as well! To help you entertain your small people in the school holidays we have the second of our new kids knitting classes – Knitting Skills Extended – for those who are familiar with the basics. Adele is our teacher (you can read her bio here) and we would like to assure you that she has a current Working With Children Check. Just give us a call at the shop (9830 1609, Mon – Sat 10am-5pm) and we can answer any queries you may have as to class content and each one’s suitability for you or your children. Don’t forget our adult classes are now conducted on Tuesday nights. Children’s classes are on Thursday during the morning. Our private classes are proving to be very popular and allowing many customers to have personalised help with their knitting and crochet dilemmas. All the info is on our classes page.

As you know from a previous blog post, we now have a Product of the Month each and every month! The highlighted product for July is the very lovely Shilasdair yarn – Luxury 4ply. This beautiful Scottish yarn is from the Isle of Skye and has been a customer favourite for a ‘wee’ while. It is a 4ply (Fingering), 40% merino lambswool/40% angora/10% baby camel/10% cashmere yarn. Truly exotic!! It is hand dyed with beautiful natural dyes and comes with very generous meterage on the skein. It’s perfect for jumpers, cardigans and accessories – we have some samples knit up for you to see it ‘in action’. Our upcoming blog post will tell you more. A yarn that just cannot be ignored!!

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A lot of us may only get as close to snow as a pretty snow globe this winter!

This year we want to showcase the talents of some very skilled people in our community. Kirsten Johnstone joins us again in July for the launch of her new mini collection, Kei, for Woolfolk. The garments and accessories will be in the shop on Friday/Saturday 8th/9th July for you to see and Kirsten will be in the shop on Saturday 9th July from 11.30 – 3.30pm to chat and help. Come along and say hi. All the details are on the blog.

We are very fortunate to have the lovely Clare Devine as a staff member. Did you know that Clare is a very talented designer and has a very devoted worldwide fan base? Towards the end of July and running into August we are soooo looking forward to being able to share many of these designs with you in a Trunk Show. We will be following our usual trunk show format and having a Sunspun Members’ Meet, Greet and Nibbles Night (with fashion parade) on Friday 29th July (by invitation only) with Clare’s knitted samples in the shop throughout the following week. More info on this later in a separate newsletter and blog post. If you are a sock and hat lover be prepared to swoon!!!

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In our Ravelry group, Sunspun Fibre Folk, our new monthly discussion threads for you to participate in continue. The first is centred around garments – each month we feature a new garment and ask you to share past or current projects. The second is more general and talks about yarns, colours, shapes, etc. Lots for everyone! For July, our garment focus is sweaters and in the ‘other’ thread we will be chatting about the kinds of sweaters you like to make – pullovers, cardigans, vests, oversized, fitted, lightweight or thick and snuggly – so jump on in and tell us what you like! And don’t forget to share your show and tell by using the ‘Share with Group’ box on the project page for each of your projects. You will notice lots of folk have already been sharing with us. To show everyone how clever you are we will be posting a selection of these projects to our Facebook Page once a week (if you don’t want us to share your happy snaps just let us know in this ravelry thread).

So, that’s July. A month to learn, shop, share and dream about snow while Mother Nature sends us a lovely cold winter just right for our knitted woollies.

Happy ‘yarning’,
Karen.


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Kirsten Johnstone – Kei Collection Launch

As you know, at Sunspun we have a very soft spot and a great deal of affection for designer, Kirsten Johnstone, and her beautiful designs. Earlier this year we showcased many of those designs in our very first trunk show.

Kirsten is a local Melbourne gal who has made a wonderful splash on the international knitting scene. She has designed for such influential companies as Brooklyn Tweed, Quince & Co, Woolfolk, Blue Sky Alpacas, amirisu and Shibui Knits.

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We are privileged to be able to share her new mini collection for Woolfolk with you. In Kirsten’s words, “the Kei Collection (Kei is Japanese for shape) comprises four designs in Woolfolk Tynd with a unifying Drawstring Element and named after a shape to help ‘tie’ the collection together (bad pun fully intended)”. How exciting! We will be one of the first to see them! There are both accessories and garments in the collection.

Have you been in the shop and felt the exquisite Woolfolk yarns? Truly a sensual experience! The softest 100% merino yarn we have ever had in our hands – with the additional desirable qualities of being ethically and sustainably produced. Tynd is a 4ply yarn with a tight twist that creates both an elegant and lightweight fabric. The colour palette is both sophisticated and understated. A perfectly lovely marriage for Kirsten’s designs that also embody both these qualities.

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And so to the nitty gritty details:

The Kei Collection will be in the shop for you to touch, feel and try on! Kirsten will also be present in the shop to answer all your questions. At the previous trunk show she soooo enjoyed meeting you all and being able to help you with pattern and yarn choices.

The Collection: in shop Friday 8th and Saturday 9th July
Kirsten: in the shop Saturday 9th July 11.30 – 3.30pm

Additionally, Kirsten’s patterns from the Kei Collection will be available for purchase with a 10% discount (Sunspun Members are entitled their usual discount as well) for the duration of the mini launch. Annnnd, Woolfolk Tynd will also be available for 10% off during the Friday and Saturday of the collection launch. Cleverly, two of the designs use only one skein of Tynd so it is the perfect time for you to try this truly superb yarn.

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So, we hope that you will come along and touch and feel and try on and chat and enjoy the wonderful creations in Kirsten Johnstone’s new Kei Collection!

Happy ‘yarning’,
Karen.


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Meet the Maker: Georgie Nicolson of Tikki Knits

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Gidday Baby

If there is a designer whose work is a go-to for kids with knitterly parents, Georgie Nicolson’s patterns are likely to win hands down. There might have been Gidday Baby cardigans for new babies, a Rainbow Dress for a toddler, an Olearia vest for kinder, Jane for summer cardigans and a Wallaby for a quick-sticks make in time for winter.

To date on Ravelry, there are about 10,500 Milos and over 1000 Granny’s Favourites floating around. And you can see why: if you’ve ever knit from a Tikki pattern, you know they knit up quickly; the sizing options are generous, often from babies to teens; they are easily adaptable; and being top down, they are easy to customise as you go. Plus, they are well tested, so you know there will be few surprises.

So, come and meet the woman behind these creations.

From childhood patterns for Barbie to everything from kids’ clothes, hats, adult cardigans and more – it has been quite a creative ride, Georgie. Tell us how Tikki Knits began and how it has evolved.

I published my first pattern quite by accident in the January 2008. I had purchased the most stunning 200 g ball of gradient yarn and was looking for something to do with it. This was back when gradient yarn really wasn’t readily available (I hadn’t seen it before) and there were no patterns. With some encouragement from knitting friends I set about designing a pattern, which became the Rainbow Dress.

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Rainbow Dress

It took me many, many years before I could call myself a designer; even now I feel a little uncomfortable with the tag. The knitting landscape was really different then, knitters didn’t really take the leap to designing as happens today.

Since then, my business has evolved significantly. It was my testers who convinced me that I should actually charge for Milo. I didn’t feel I had the design background or the experience to do so, but I am so glad they talked me around. I would have been happy to have sold fifty copies!

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Ideally, I would love Tikki to be a self-sustaining business. In the last few years I’ve started teaching, which was a natural progression given I was a secondary teacher before having children. I love the opportunity to engage with other knitters and share my knowledge and skills. It balances very well with my husband’s teaching career, and we travelled to New Zealand for Knit August Nights last year. I’ll go back again this year too.

Your work is beautifully realised and well constructed – your techniques for button bands and sleeves are so neat that I’ve stolen them for other knits, for instance. Tell us what makes you tinker away at a sleeve or ponder how to get a band that sits flat and looks wonderful on the wrong side.

I think at heart I’m what I would call a lazy perfectionist. I like things to be as finished and perfect as possible but at the same time I’m kind of lazy and just want the process to be over. I don’t like having to darn holes under arms (which seems completely counter-intuitive to the concept of seamless knitting) or spend too long finishing things.

I like shortcuts and hate doing what I consider to be unnecessary, which is why I like to puzzle over things I consider aren’t perfect. Ironically I’ll spend a lot of time looking for a solution that will save other knitters time!

Some of my favourite finishes or techniques are really just lazy options as well. When I was designing Ziggy I wanted the jumper to have a folded and sewn hemline and cuffs, but when it came to actually seaming the fold, I decided it looked better as a rolled hem. Some knitters think the round of purl was deliberately used to stop the hem/cuff from rolling too far. It’s really a happy coincidence that it performs that function because it was meant to be the fold line!

 

From the ebook bundle Deception, where the colourwork is much simpler than you
would think. In most cases, only one colour is ever worked in a round, with much
of the colourwork created by slipped stitches. 

And how do you know when you’ve got it? Is something ever finished for you, or do you still beaver away at published patterns?

Sometimes it’s really obvious, you get that a-ha moment that creatives love to talk about; others you’re never quite so sure. With Milo I really wasn’t sure, and when I finished the sample it took me a couple of weeks until I tried it on my wiggly baby. I was that unsure until I saw it on him. That really taught me to trust my instincts more.

Other patterns, you just know it sings even before you’ve finished knitting it. Bloom was definitely one of those patterns.

I like to treat a pattern as finished once it’s published. I’ll go back and correct errors or redo the layout but I rarely tinker with the pattern itself. You’ve got to step away and move forward. Your body of work says much about your journey as a designer, it’s testament to your own growth and development.

So many of us think the life of a knitwear designer is all about the knitting and dreaming up designs, and focus on that, even though we know it’s as much about numbers and troubleshooting and grading.

I had a friend drop over one day when I was grading, bits of paper spread everywhere as I tried to nail those last few figures. She’s a knitter but still had this weird idea that I spent my days sitting around knitting! She remarked, ‘Ah, so there’s quite a bit more to it than just the knitting?’ Ah, yeah!

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My work day doesn’t begin until 11 or 12. I ride to school with my kids, then it’s my daily bike ride and the usual household drudgery. I work from then until 3:05pm when I have to collect my kids from school. In this time period, I generally deal with emails, write and grade patterns, and anything else that pops up. Sometimes I get the chance to sit and design. Usually it’s not until the evenings when I take my knitting out. Sometimes I’ll work after dinner, and there are days when I don’t knit at all.

On average, how long does a piece take from first swatch to publication/upload?

I’m not sure I have an average timeframe – I tend to get too easily distracted by new and shiny ideas! Some patterns have taken two years from first sample to publication, others have only taken a couple of months. I have a ridiculous number of sample garments where the patterns haven’t been graded or photographed or quite finished because something else seemed more urgent. But I do actually perform better and apply myself to the one task if there’s an external deadline hanging over my head.

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Wallaby

Do your patterns come to you resolved or does the success of the piece lie in the countless hours of finetuning and working with test knitters?

I spend a lot of time finetuning in the design process: knitting, ripping and re-knitting, scribbling out notes and rethinking approaches. Before I even start knitting there’s a lot of scribbling and sketching and note-taking that goes on.

I don’t consider my initial concept to be the holy grail though. When knitting the sample it’s not unusual for me to change a design element dramatically; I’m very open to change through the entire process. But by the time the pattern gets to test knitters it is pretty much done and has been edited to within an inch of its life.

Working with tech editors really finetunes your pattern; they’ll make sure it is consistent throughout, all the numbers add up, check that your charts match the instructions, and that the instructions are clear, concise and will produce the garment in your photos. Tech editors are worth their weight in gold.

Test knitters really perform the function of testing the clarity of the pattern instructions: do they make sense when you actually knit them, and they may pick up minor things that have been missed, but that doesn’t happen all that often. They’re not responsible for any major changes to the pattern but are a beta-step, that last final test or a double clarification to make sure things actually work.

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Aire River

I love reading that you knit other people’s patterns, and your posts on Lila are so insightful. Whose work do you enjoy knitting? And do you knit them to the letter or finetune as you go?

I try to mix it up. Last year I knit two Lilas, a Vitamin D, quite a few pair of socks and even managed to crochet a couple of baskets. You learn so much more by actually doing – not just new techniques and little tricks, but the experience also helps clarify or reinforce your own work. I don’t really knit more than one design from a designer though.

I try really hard to knit them to the letter, as a mediative process, to get some of the zen/yoga feel that your normal knitter experiences, but often I can’t help myself. My brain finds it hard to switch off and not deconstruct. There have been a couple of instances when I’ve convinced myself that the designer’s way must be better, only to later regret it when the garment is finished!

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My Favourite

What are the challenges to running your own business? How do you reconcile the business and the creative aspects?

Balancing time and sometimes even finding time for my business is a massive challenge. One of the issues with working in a creative field on your own is that it’s too easy to prioritise other aspects of life over your working time. The hardest challenge has been finding a working schedule that works for me AND sticking to it. I’m easily distracted and working from home doesn’t make it easier. Everyday life rears its head, and work takes a back seat. I think when you’re working from home in a creative field it is hard to convince people that you are really working.

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I like to be deliberate about separating work knitting and pleasure knitting, which is why I knit other people’s patterns. Sunday is a no work-knitting day for me – I give myself time to knit whatever I like or work on my Memory Blanket. I also like to mix it up with other crafty pursuits, sewing, stitching or crochet. Keeping it fresh and mixing it up helps me keep it all in perspective and lessens the pressure.

How do you choose the yarn for your creations?

Traditionally, it’s been selected from my stash – yarn that I’ve purchased, quite often from indie dyers. I choose what best suits the design, what colour my kids will wear or looks good on them. Sometimes the yarn comes first and I’ve designed a garment to suit the yarn and its characteristics rather than the other way around. More recently, I’m consciously trying to select yarns that are more ethically and environmentally produced.

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Summer Festival

What and who inspires you?

Elizabeth Zimmermann and Barbara Walker are both great inspirations. While EZ’s approaches to construction and tips on everyday knitting are pure genius, I love Barbara’s book Knitting From the Top Down very much – so many lightbulb moments while reading that! I’m also inspired by the fabulous work of some of our local wool producers who are doing amazing things in the field of ethical sheep-raising and promoting Australian wool.

Nan from White Gum Wool is an absolute treasure and her approach to farming fills me with hope for the future of the Australian merino industry. People like Nan and the Dennises from Tarndie inspire me to work with local yarns and to support our industry. Yarn with a strong backstory and history really resonates with me, as I’m sure it does for many other knitters. That’s also why I love Shilasdair, which comes from the same isle as my paternal ancestors.

What can we expect from Tikki Knits in the future?

This year, I’m going to release more patterns, teach lots of people about the joys of knitting and maybe even learn a few new techniques myself. I’m hoping to publish at least twelve patterns and transfer all the existing ones to a new layout. I’m also hoping to work on special projects that celebrate the diversity and dedication of some of our smaller Australian yarn producers – there are great stories there that I’d love to share.

I’ve also been developing a range of patterns – gum leaves, native Australian wildflowers and wind turbines – for a community art textile project called WARM, one of the most enjoyable but challenging projects I’ve worked on. The project explores why the earth is warming and what we can do to make a positive change. It launches in mid-March and will be exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ballarat in September. Community knitters are knitting and contributing elements that will be used to construct a giant landscape created by artist Lars Stenberg.*

* You can participate and contribute to the work; just click on the WARM link above for more information.


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March at Sunspun

It’s Autumn!! You know what that means – cooler weather is coming. The days are getting shorter, we are spending more time inside with our knitting and crochet warming our laps and keeping our hands extra busy and our spirits are soothed by the yarn running through our fingers.

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March is another busy month for us – lol, they all seem busy! We have our regular Friday Sit & Yarn – it is becoming sooooo popular and some wonderful friendships are being made. It is quite on the cards that we may even have our first baby born this month (the due date is early April but you know babies – their schedule is all their own!). Don’t forget this group is open to all. You can see the dates in the table below.

Wednesday nights sees more classes happening – including a class taught by our special guest teacher, Australian Designer extraordinaire, Kirsten Johnstone. Kirsten proudly flies the banner for Aussie designers internationally and has designed for some of the most popular yarn companies and magazines around today. We are absolutely thrilled to be able to have her garments in the shop for a Trunk Show. As well as teaching for us, Kirsten will participate in an (invitation only) Meet, Greet & Nibbles night for Sunspun Members and will also be in the shop to meet you all, answer questions and watch you try on her lovely garments! All the details can be found on our blog.

This year Easter has come early. We will have a display in the shop of some ‘Easter’ inspiration for you. The shop will be CLOSED from Good Friday through to Easter Monday and will OPEN again on Tuesday 29th March. We will remind you closer to the date.

As you know from a previous blog post, we now have a Product of the Month each and every month! The highlighted product for March is the exquisitely soft Baby Alpaca by Shibui Yarns. This beautiful yarn is an 8ply (DK), 100% baby alpaca yarn. It is so very soft – perfect for cowls, scarves and shawls. An upcoming blog post will tell you more and we have some items made up in the shop for you to see, touch and try on. A yarn that just cannot be ignored!!

Annnnnd ……. WE HAVE NEW YARNS!!!!

We will just give you the short version here because we will feature some of them in upcoming blog posts.

Zealana Rimu (8ply/DK) and Zealana Tui (12ply/Bulky) – both yarns are wool/possum blends
Shibui Maai (8ply/DK) alpaca/wool blend, chainette yarn
Woolfolk yarns – ALL of them!

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As always, our YouTube channel, Sunspun, has new videos to ‘teach’ you and our Ravelry group, Sunspun Fibre Folk, has new discussion threads for you to participate in.

Phew! Did you need a cuppa to get through all that?!?!? Well, save your energy for March because Sunspun will be ‘hopping’ (pun intended!!).

Happy ‘yarning’,
Karen.


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Sunspun Membership

Fringe Association Tote

Did you know we have a Membership programme?

Well we do!!  It is designed to acknowledge the very valuable contribution  our regular customers make to our shop, how precious your feedback on our classes, patterns and yarns is to us and how much we love being able to ‘yarn’ with you on your visits to the shop and over email.

So how does it work?

There are a couple of different options:

  • The cost of membership is $35 for one year or $65 for two years.  We will also advise you when your renewal is due so you can take advantage of our additional early renewal discount
  • Members are issued a membership card
  • Current members’ benefits include:
    • 10% discount on all purchases in-store and mail order (excluding class fees).  This discount applies to all sale stock and our mega summer and winter sales, enabling members to benefit from additional savings on already discounted stock. Yippee!!!

This year will see the expansion of our membership programme to include various new benefits and exclusive members only events.  To date we have the following events planned for members in 2016:

  • Exclusive opening hours for a special shopping day with an increased discount.
  • We will have some in-store visits by Australian designers this year and members will be invited to ‘Meet, Greet and Nibbles’ events.
  • A members’ Xmas party.

And we are just getting started!  Our brains ‘runneth over’ with all manner of ideas to enrich your Sunspun experience!  Stay tuned.

If you would like to take out a sunspun membership or ask for clarification on any details, please email us (shop@sunspun.com.au) or call (03) 9830 1609.

Happy ‘yarning’
Karen.

 

 


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Things to See & Make

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Source: Lamington Drive

To look and find

The walls at Lamington Drive have been transformed into pages from Beci Orpin’s latest book, Find Me a Castle. The look-and-find exhibition will be on until 5 September 2015, and looks to be great fun for kids small and not-so-small. At 101A Sackville Street, Collingwood.

To make (i)

Isabell Kraemer’s Reagan has to be the prettiest cardigan we’ve seen in a while, and best of all, it’s one of those that you can flip and wear upside-down. The pattern calls for a wool–cotton yarn, which makes the finished garment perfect for layering. Start now, and you can wear it on spring days and cool summer nights. Reagan

To make (ii)

Our interest in allover patterning continues, and Melanie Berg’s Threshold ticks all those sweater boxes: top town, seamless, boat neck, a subtle criss-cross design, drop-shoulder construction and a boxy cut. One to make if you look forward to many evenings of purely meditative knitting.

Threshold

To lift you up

Do you use moodboards? They are a particularly effective tool for when you’re looking to expand your colour and design horizons. Tanis Fiber Arts posts hers every Monday. Whether you’re looking for a lift, or a touch of simple beauty as you go about your day, there’s something to suit every, um, mood.

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Source: Tanis Fiber Arts

To hatalong

Fringe Hatalongs are becoming a bit of a thing now (Amy made the Hermaness Worsted), and the latest project is just up if you want to join in. This time, the project is based on colourwork. The pattern uses between 80 and 125 metres of a main colour and 14–20 metres of a contrast colour in worsted-weight wool. (Cascade would work well.)

To applaud

Debbie Bliss, well known internationally for her amazing yarns and designs has been awarded an MBE for her services in knitting and craft in the recent Queen’s birthday honours list. It is so inspiring to see knitting and the crafts make the headlines, and Debbie’s work thus acknowledged!

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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.