Sunspun Fine Yarns


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Product of the Month – May 2016

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It is a pleasure to reveal May’s Product of the Month, a house favourite, Isager Alpaca 2. As with all POMs, we’re offering a 10% discount (20% for members) on this yarn throughout the month of May, so here’s your chance to try out the yarn if you haven’t before, or to stock up as needed.

Isager yarns are a mainstay of Denmark’s knitting world, and the Alpaca 2 is a fingering-weight yarn blend of 50 per cent merino and 50 per cent alpaca. It has a beautiful hand, and finished items carry a light halo from the alpaca. The yarn produces light yet warm garments, with the merino lending it some memory,  which makes it perfect for lacework that needs to be opened up. At a generous 247 metres per 50 g, a skein goes a long, long way. And then there’s the colour range, which is as wide as it is complementary. Truly, this is one yarn to add to your collection; we know that those who’ve used it come back to it time and again.

Here are some ideas on what to make with it.

Colourwork lovers can rejoice in Marianne Isager’s Summer in Tokyo from her book Japanese Inspired Collections – it means you do not have to confine yourself to knitting in just one colour.

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Source: Interweave Knits

The drape from the alpaca/merino blend lends itself well to this postive-ease Isabell Kramer Westbourne sweater. That it’s seamless and knit top-down means it’s easily customised to your preferences, and there’s minimal finishing.

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Source: Grasflecken

For versatility, little beats a simple, classic cardigan; this is Louise Light from Carrie Bostick Hoge.

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Source: Carrie Bostick Hoge

Marnie McLean’s Pas de Valse is a loose cardigan knit in one piece, and the light halo from the alpaca will make the finished piece seem all the more luxurious (not to mention fill out the fabric a little). As you can see below, it can be worn in many ways.

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Source: Marnie

Isager Alpaca 2 is pretty hard to pass up for stoles and shawls. Make them big and generous enough so you can be enveloped in the fabric, like this Vector from Tanis Lavallee, which is knit on the bias in garter stitch with a crisp, slipped-stitch edging.

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Source: Brooklyn Tweed

Karen made a stunning Moonraker as part of the Sunspun Shawl-a-Long using four colours of Isager.

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And if you are after something a little pretty with intricate patterning, the bud lacework in this Swallowtail Shawl is easy enough to memorise and blooms beautifully after blocking.

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Source: Interweave Knits


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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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Meet the Maker: Kirsten Johnstone, Assemblage

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Kirsten and her new pup Zali. She is wearing Namiki, a design with a treetops motif, knit in Woolfolk Tynd.

It is no secret that all of us at Sunspun are huge fans of knitwear designer and architect Kirsten Johnstone from Assemblage. Kirsten’s knits often feature simple, classic shapes with subtle, effective embellishment, and the finished pieces are timeless, to be dressed up or down as the occasion demands.

We admire Kirsten’s work so much that when it came time to refurbish our interiors in 2014, she was the logical choice, the one we thought who could understand the needs and workings of a yarn store, and how best to store and showcase yarn and finished objects.

We are pleased to have Kirsten coming instore on 9 March as a special guest teacher; she will be showing knitters how to make her Seven Circle neckpiece. Call or email us to book your place. In the meantime, make yourself a cuppa and meet the woman behind the knits.

Tell us a little about Assemblage: when it began, your ambitions for it, and how it has evolved.

Assemblage began soon after I discovered online blogging. It’s hard to imagine today, but there was a time when I didn’t know there was an online craft community! I had read an interview in The Age and they listed a website address. I opened the link, not really understanding what a blog was, and noticed all these extra links in the sidebar. Well, I was off and cruising my way through many of those key blogs from that first wave of online crafting. It was such a pivotal moment for me in terms of crafting.

I had always loved ‘making’ from a very young age and had stopped during my higher schooling and university years. The discovery of the online world of crafting was not only an encouragement but a relief – here was my tribe.

The knitting side of things really began with my discovery of Habu Textiles; their Kusha Kusha Felted Scarf was my first knit project in more than fifteen years, which reignited the tactile delight that knitting imparts and opened up a whole new world of yarn possibilities.

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Element, from Wool People 9 for Brooklyn Tweed. Pic by Jared Flood.

It’s been so gratifying watching your designs from Melbourne go out into the wider world, through your association with Brooklyn Tweed, Shibui, Amirisu, Quince and Co. and Blue Sky Alpacas. It must be satisfying seeing your design sensibility so warmly embraced, and so many iterations of Seven Circle, Rauin, Zumthor, Kozue and Hane out there. How did those associations start?

It is always exciting to have my designs published and seeing people’s finished projects.

My first association was with Brooklyn Tweed, who contacted me with an invitation to submit a design for the inaugural Wool People series. I cannot tell you how exciting that was! Then I was invited by Shibui to submit a design for their Geometry Collection – I submitted three for them to choose from, and to my surprise and delight, they used all three. I love seeing a little bit of Melbourne being included in collections around the world.

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Fusuma is a cowl knit in Shibui Pebble.

When designing, are you led by the yarn you want to use or do you do your own thing? Or is it a combination of all that and other intangibles?

I suppose each designer has their own methodology and typically it depends on the scenario. If I am invited to submit a design, then the yarn is effectively already chosen so that becomes a given.

I try to maintain a sketchbook of ideas that I regularly refer back over. This is my primary design reference from which I draw ideas, perhaps annotate with a yarn and colourway, stitch pattern options, and thoughts on construction or design options for the piece.

The actual design is always something I want to wear. I decided at the very beginning that I didn’t want to design just for the sake of it; I wanted it to be enjoyable since it is my second job and therefore needed to be about joy in the process. They are always designs I love and wear, and hope others might too.

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The treetops motif in Kozue are also echoed in Namiki.

Your work is always so beautifully realised, the finishing impeccable, with details that lift a familiar silhouette into something more. What makes you tinker away at a hemline or a stitch pattern or revisit a beloved pattern of yours to give it a new twist?

Thank you. I have learnt so much since my first forays into knitwear design. The perfectionist in me seeks to ensure a quality fit, excellent construction and knitting technique. This has continued to develop along with my own understanding of knitwear design.

This is the beautiful thing about design in all its guises: each and every new project provides an opportunity to stretch myself as a designer, to grow, to develop, to try new things, to refine my process and outcomes.

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Rauin; pic by Tamara Erbacher.

And how do you know when you’ve got it with a piece of work? Is something ever finished for you, or do you keep working away at published patterns – or, at the very least, let the subconscious work on it for you?

Ah, yes! The eternal designer’s question: when is the design complete? There are definitely times when yes, I feel the design is exactly what it should be and I am supremely pleased with the end result.

Sankai|Woman is an example of this. This design was an extension of one of my very first designs, Paper Crane. I love Paper Crane for its simplicity and how it plays with the inherent properties of knitted fabric to roll, which I showcased by juxtaposing two grains of stocking stitch across the bust. I thought these two features could also be applied in a more fitted and somewhat traditional sweater with some serious short-row shaping for a more polished result with hidden cuff details and tailored back shaping.

Paper Crane (left) and Sankai (right) have a fraternal resemblance. Sankai pic by Tamara Erbacher.

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

If I am submitting a design to a company, I spend at least a month sketching, swatching, washing, blocking, photographing, drafting and then writing up my design proposal. I submit a PDF with all the relevant design information, which might include a sketch of the piece drawn to scale with dimensions (yes, ever the architect!) and possibly front and back views of the design, the design concept, yarn, gauge, needles, stitch pattern, design details and techniques.

Once the design is accepted, we agree on a date for the final knitted sample; it might be eight to twelve weeks later for a single piece, with a sized, graded and tech-edited pattern accompanying.

It might then take between four to six months for the yarn company release the pattern to the public. So, all up, somewhere between seven and twelve months.

For my self-published designs, the process is more organic. I have a small self-published collection coming out in Woolfolk Tynd soon. After initial sketches and swatches, I received the yarn and started work on the first design. Unfortunately at times the collection has been set aside for my work commitments but I am pleased to report I am now on the home straight. It has been two years in the making! Thankfully, not all my designs take this long – usually more like three to six months from start to pushing the ‘publish’ button.

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Zumthor.

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?

You can see from the above that my answer here is a definite no! For me, it is a process of countless hours of visualisation and contemplation, often in the early hours of the morning when I should be asleep.

I prefer to knit each design because I finetune the piece as I go. My sample knitter is fabulous, but I try to limit her potential frustration by providing designs that I have already worked through at least once. I trust her to point out any errors or ways I could phrase a particular technique or sequence to make it simpler or more readily understood by another knitter.

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Hane; pic by Tamara Erbacher.

We know you have another life as an award-winning architect. How do you reconcile both jobs? Do they play well together? It may be projection on my part, but it does seem like architectural elements find their way into your knits.

While I love designing knitwear, I work hard to ensure it stays fun and is a positive, creative outlet. At the end of each day, I love sitting on the couch with my knitting for a little bit of ‘me-time’. Being an architect is definitely my main role and not something I am willing to give up just yet.

I agree with you, my design aesthetic plays across both my architecture and my knitwear design: clean and minimal, highly functional and efficient, considered and refined. I also love sewing and photography, and have dabbled in ceramics and printmaking. I see a consistent design aesthetic across all these disciplines.

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The Fractal Cowl is a sliver of Melbourne for the world: the triangles in the body of the cowl are inspired by the architecture at Federation Square, designed by Lab Architecture Studio.

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

There are many challenges. Architecturally speaking I always need to find new clients; the majority of my projects come via personal recommendation.

Also work–life balance and time management (24 hours are simply not enough!) are big challenges. While there are many benefits to running your own business there are most definitely times I wish I could simply clock off and leave it all behind at the office. For me, knitting is an excellent way to relax and switch off while still being creative.

What and who inspires you?

I am passionate about modern design in all its forms – architecture, art, ceramics, fashion, food, furniture, sculpture … the list is long. Japanese design and designers. I love the concept of simplicity – the process of paring back to the essentials to release an inherent beauty or key element.

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Amime; pic by Tamara Erbacher.

What is on the horizon for Assemblage?

2016 is going to be a great year for Assemblage! I have two design commissions to be released in the first half of 2016 along with new self-published designs, including two small collections in Woolfolk, two pieces in Habu and a re-release of a design in Shibui. I’m excited about the next chapter and I so love being a part of this crafting community.

Pebble_2_small2And a big thank you to Sunspun, who are avid supporters of my designs and my local yarn store. I look forward to meeting some of you at the class in March!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s been such a pleasure having Kirsten with us. Come and say hello to her on 9 March for the Seven Circles class, and knit one of her designs – we promise you won’t be disappointed!


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We’re Having a Trunk Show with Kirsten Johnstone!

Have you heard of a Trunk Show before?
No? Then read on! Yes? Then read on!

A Trunk Show is a selection of knitted samples from yarn companies or designers that a shop can borrow for a short period of time to allow its customers to see what patterns or yarns will look like when they are knitted up. It is a special event that allows folk to come and see items that are not normally on display. As wonderful an asset to our knitting world as the internet has become, opening up the works of all designers to all knitters around the globe, nothing appeals like touching and feeling the garments and accessories that have so cleverly been created. And often a Trunk Show will include a visit by the designer to meet and chat to customers in the shop.

And so, without out any further ado, let me introduce you to Kirsten Johnstone and give you the details of the forthcoming 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. In her ‘other’ life (you know, when she is not knitting!) Kirsten is an architect and her love of clean lines and structure can be seen in her knitting designs. As she describes her garments “designs with a distinctive urban edge yet elegantly wearable”.

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We are thrilled to be able to share Kirsten’s designs with you over the span of a week or so in March. We will have a selection of 16 garments and accessories in the shop for you to touch, feel and try on! Additionally, Kirsten’s patterns will be available for purchase with a 5% discount (15% for Sunspun Members) for the duration of the trunk show. Annnnd ……. Kirsten will be in the shop on Saturday morning to say hi, answer questions and sign patterns!

Kirsten has graciously agreed to teach a class for us as well! On Wednesday 9th March (6.15 – 9.15pm) we have scheduled her Sev[en]circles Neckpiece class. If you would like to book in now is the time as places are already filling. Just call us (9830 1609) and we can book you in and secure your spot.

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A special treat for Sunspun Members is a Meet, Greet and Nibbles night with Kirsten on Friday night. Oh …… and did I mention the Fashion Parade!!! For those of us who are ‘models’ – a very scary proposition!! Please make sure you RSVP by the required date (see your Invitation email) so we make sure to order sufficient nibbles.

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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 talent of Kirsten Johnstone – Aussie designer extraordinaire!

Happy ‘yarning’,
Amy, Karen and Nicole.                          Zenmon-2-650x650.jpg

 

Event details summarised below !

Trunk Show Details
Sat 5th March – Sat 12th March
Meet Kirsten Sat 5th March 11am-2pm
Discounted patterns during show

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Sunspun Member Event
(by invitation only)

Friday 4th March
Times: 6.30 – 8.30pm
Food provided; free event
Fashion Parade


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Take Heart

cover-360x500Pom Pom Quarterly first appeared in 2012, and right from the start, its meaningful curation of knitting, crochet, craft projects and thoughtful features has been warmly embraced. Take Heart is the first book from the founders and editors, Meghan Fernandes and Lydia Gluck, featuring the designs of Fiona Alice.

Fiona is originally from Nova Scotia, and after an exchange semester at the Glasgow School of Art, dreamt of ways to return to live in the UK. She wrote to some UK yarn companies, which led to a summer at the yarnmakers Toft, who produce alpaca yarns in their Warwickshire farm. That led to an internship at Pom Pom, and today, a designer’s life. She now travels between London and Halifax, Canada.

The book is a tactile beauty and handsomely produced; the intimate format sits nicely in the hand when you’re reading and is good to work from when you’re ready to pick up the needles. The uncoated paper shows off the images by Juju Vail well, and lend them a beguiling warmth. The patterns are clearly set out, and all charted patterns come with written instructions.

Take Heart’s eleven designs have in common a love of texture and classic stitches and techniques. Ribbing, slipped stitches and cables come together to create geometric patterns.

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The versatility of a large, rectangle wrap knows no bounds, and Three Cliffs is one of those pieces that promises to get lots of use in the cooler months. The slipped stitches in alternating columns are set out in a chevron pattern, and there’s enough that changes from row to row to make the knitting interesting, even for those with shortened attention spans. Use your favourite DK yarn for this.

cowl-2_medium2Martinique Beach, named for one of Fiona’s favourite places on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia, is a colourwork cowl is worked in the round, with a provisional cast-on grafted onto the end with Kitchener stitch. Pick four worsted weight colours in your choice of neutrals, darks or brights, and you’re away.

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Caswell Bay Hat and Fingerless Mitts are thoughtful studies in texture, from the twisted rib of the hat brim to the raised geometric pattern set against the reverse stocking-stitch background. Splash out on a merino and silk blend for this, and watch the finished piece come alive as you knit.

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Nothing connotes winter cosy better than handknit socks. Fiona’s Lunenburg Harbour socks, knit from the toe up with an afterthought heel and a sweet picot trim, would look beautiful in an alpaca yarn that blooms with use, such as the ones by Isager or Shibui.

shawl1_medium2A favourite piece is Ketch Harbour, a textured wrap with mesh and ribbing, worked seamlessly in short rows and finished in a whale-tail motif. Best of all, it’s seamless. This is another one to make in a luxurious wool and silk blend – and one that is going on my queue immediately!

Finally, the titular Take Heart toque. This is knit in the round and composed of cables that bloom into interlocking hearts to make a heavenly winter hat. Rowan Cocoon would be a good substitute, or Debbie Bliss’ Cashmerino Aran.

From an internship to published author, Take Heart shows what happens when you are brave enough to take the first step, and to allow yourself to be encouraged.

We have copies of the book instore for $33. Come and be inspired!
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Xmas Giving

While we all know there is much more to Christmas than the giving of gifts, we also know that those who take the time to create with their hands also love making gifts for those who are near and dear to them.  Or perhaps someone ‘near and dear’ to you is a creator and you would love to give them a gift that brings about a smile of excited ‘new project’ anticipation!

We have put together a few options for you that are appropriate for both those who like to ‘create’ and those who like to purchase for ‘creators’.

This year, for the first time, we have collated two gift packs, both beautifully boxed and presented.

Mitts Pack

Mitts pack

This pack contains everything required to make a beautiful pair of fingerless mitts and some yummy handmade chocolate to sweeten the journey just that little bit more!

Gift Pack Contents

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  • 1 ball of Zealana Air laceweight yarn – 40% possum, 40% cashmere, 20% silk; pattern to make Zealana Light As Air Mitts and a calico project bag
  • set 2.75mm Knitpro Symfonie DPNs
  • Clover cable needles and Chibi needles
  • Stitch markers
  • a small tin for all the bits and bobs
  • and Bahen chocolate

 

Knitter’s Care Pack

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This pack contains everything required to pamper and spoil the ‘creator’ in your life! Beautiful products to look after hands, calm the spirit, sweeten the disposition and a project to while away pleasant time!

Gift Pack Contents

  • 1 box of organic tea from Love Tea
  • Handcream from Castille de Fleur
  • 1 x bottle Soak wool wash
  • Goats milk and lavender soap from Queen Bee Handmade
  • Bahen chocolate
  • 1 x ball of fibranatura Cottonwood yarn (100% organic cotton) and our Grandmother’s Favourite Washcloth pattern; a calico project bag.

New Patterns

We have released two new Sunspun patterns just in time for xmas.  These projects are simple and easy and will suit all skill levels of knitters.  The patterns are free and don’t require a great deal of yarn.  You can find them in our Ravely shop for easy downloading.

Mesh Scarf – A simple knitted pattern using yarn overs to achieve an open and airy mesh like fabric. Made from a lovely cotton tape yarn, the created fabric has beautiful drape. Uses 3 x balls of Isager Palet tape yarn (100% cotton).

Textured Summer Cushion – A simple knitted pattern using garter stitch and slipped stitches to make a subtly textured and patterned fabric. Uses 4 x balls Isager Bomulin yarn (75%cotton/25%linen). Complemented by a cotton/linen blend fabric backing with button closure.  For your convenience we have put together a kit containing the pattern, yarn, backing fabric, buttons and cushion insert.

If you would like to order any of the gift packs, the cushion kit or any of the yarns, just give us a call on 03 9830 1609 (mon – sat, 10am-5pm) or email us at shop@sunspun.com.au.

Happy ‘yarning’,

Karen.


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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.

MillaMia

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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