Sunspun Fine Yarns

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Yarn in Focus: Shibui Twig

Vital statistics

46% linen, 42% recycled silk, 12% wool
50 g/174 metres
Gauge: 22 stitches = 10 cm on 3.5 mm needles
$24 per skein


Just in time for the warmer months is a new-to-us yarn from Shibui that combines linen, silk and wool. Not surprisingly, the resultant yarn combines the better qualities of those fibres: the linen producing a lightweight fabric with a hint of crispness that softens a bit more with each wash, and the silk a slight shimmer, making Twig ideal for trans-seasonal garments that you can layer.

IMG_3320The dominant linen and silk make-up also means that the yarn is less yielding in the hand when knitting, and can feel a little stringy and stiff, like most linen yarns can be. Unlike the Shibui Linen, which has a chainette structure and is therefore softer, Twig is made up of multiple individual plies, each of a single fibre. You may need to change metal or wooden needles depending on how tightly or loosely you knit to prevent the squeak and the work getting too tight.


Amy swatched in this yarn and found it tended to bias a little (see pic above). The swatch will probably relax when given a good bath and blocked, but it’s something to watch for. Also, again because of the linen, uneven tensioning and stitches do not always block out, so go slow until you get the hang and work out the tricks with handling this yarn!

With the linen and silk, perhaps consider garments that drape, have flowing lines, and simple shaping that does not rely overly much on yarn elasticity. Think Calvin Klein or Eileen Fisher garments; Shellie Anderson seems to have channelled those designers in her Slope Tank, which also includes a feature hem done in short rows. That says summer in a pic, doesn’t it?

Shibui-Collection-Slope-1_mediumOr Heidi Kirrmaier’s sleek and minimalist Fine Sand cardigan, which showcases the wabi-sabi qualities of the fabric. The top-down cardigan has simple, elegant lines, and a lightly shaped front section. This most wearable garment has wardrobe staple stamped all over it.

16659670353_f4301bc5cc_zIf you’re familiar with Shibui yarns, you’d know they are designed to be paired with other Shibui yarns to produce different fabrics and endless effects. The Trestle tee blends Twig with Pebble for a tunic-style tee that will wear well from late summer into autumn.


Kristin Ford’s Mix No. 3 is an ethereal-and-solid shawl that is very versatile and can be worn in so many different ways – as a shawl, or pulled together into a scarf. Those transparent stripes are such a lovely feature. The original pattern calls for Staccato and Silk Cloud, but you can substitute with Twig and Silk Cloud for a different but no less elegant effect.


If you cannot choose between the twelve different Twig colourways, perhaps Judy Brien’s Okapi is an option – you can play around with colour combinations as your heart desires! This top-down, seamless sweater has saddle shoulders. The pattern calls for a lace-weight yarn held double, so a single strand of Twig should work (you won’t get that marled look though), but swatch before you begin.

DSC06100_medium2Lace lovers need to check out the stunning allover lace that features in the Hitofude Cardigan, which will show off the yarn beautifully; we can imagine the linen and silk contributing to the cardigan’s overall drape. There are some stunning finished examples on Ravelry – look them up and be inspired!



Summer Yarn Tasting

What, I hear you say, is Yarn Tasting?  I’m so glad you asked!!  You know how the bread shop gives you little samples to try so you know what you really like?  Well, we are giving you little samples to try so you know what you really like!

Summer presents many opportunities for yarn lovers to expand their horizons and knit/crochet with a whole variety of things that they perhaps haven’t tried before.  We know we are all wool, cashmere and alpaca lovers but have you experienced the wonderful crunch of linen, the softness of cotton or the beautiful sheen of bamboo?


We have decided that you all need to try these intriguing and fabulous yarns and experience the different textured fabrics they produce.  In a country with the weather vagaries that Australia experiences it just makes sense to have some summer yarns and projects as part of your ‘yarny’ repertoire.  So details …….

When:              Saturday 5th December 2015     11am – 3pm

Where:            Sunspun Shop – 185 Canterbury Rd, Canterbury

What to bring:    Knitting needles/crochet hooks in sizes 3.25mm, 3.50mm, 4.00mm (note knitting needles/crochet hooks can’t be supplied)

Cost:                  Enthusiasm!

We will have small amounts of various yarns wound off for you to try.  You will be able to take home all the swatches you make for your swatch library (we know you all have one!!!).  We will have some samples made up for you to see how these yarns behave in ‘bigger than swatch size’ fabric and some patterns that would be suitable for them as well.


As a bonus and a ‘thank you for coming’, if you purchase any of the featured yarns or patterns on the day, you will receive a 10% discount.

Please let us know if you are coming to participate (you can email us or phone us 03 9830 1609) so we can make sure we have enough yarn prepared.

How exciting – yarn never ‘tasted’ so good!!

Happy ‘yarning’



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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.


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.


Source: Renee Rico

Linen stitch is another stitch that is easy to make, but produces a rich, woven-like fabric.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.)


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.


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.


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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Autumn Colour

Autumn’s here, and for more than a few of us, it’s time to start thinking about what we’ll wear over the next few cooler months. What yarns? What textures? Most importantly, what colours? The possibilities!

Janne Faulkner and Harley Anstee from Nexus Designs have put out the third edition of their singular book, Using Australian Colour. Their design practice has always drawn inspiration from the Australian landscape, be it urban and outback, and their method for drawing together palettes of complementary colour is easily applicable to any kind of work that involves colour.

Here’s a spread from their book that quickly shows how they ‘pull’ colour from an Australian landscape.

Source: Nexus Designs

As you can see from the colour swatches it’s a very effective way of finding complementary colours and tones – and you can always count on nature to get it right.

We’ve used one of Jules‘ shots from her latest blog post, featuring the most divine collection of mosses, and the above method to pull out some colours that we thought would work together beautifully for a jumper, scarf, cowl, rug or whatever your heart desires. In a nod to the season, it’s appropriately autumnal.


Source: Woollenflower

In Shibui Cima, we picked out, top row, from top left: Graphite, Ivory, Caffeine, Clay, Grounds, Fields, Ash, Lime, Rust.

CGraphite CIvory CCaffeine CClay CGrounds CFields CAsh CLime Crust

In Pebble, we found these, from left: Brownstone, Sidewalk, Spore, Hedge, Grounds, Brick.

PBrownstone PSidewalk PSpore PHedge PGrounds PBrick

While you can never be absolutely sure until you swatch and see with colourwork, mixing and matching the options among the field of nine Cima presents lots of permutations. Interestingly, whether they be of two, three or five colours, the combinations seem harmonious and work together – even that lime green doesn’t really take over like you’d expect it to. It’s an interesting exercise, and you may surprise yourself with combinations you never thought would work together.

And … no sooner than we thought we were done talking about mixing Shibui yarns, their Spring/Summer Look Book lobs in. Here are some beauties too good not to share.

An Etch top, knitted in Linen and Cima.


Look at that texture in the bodice! Linen is a chain-plied yarn, so if you are wary of knitting with linen because it can be a little unyielding and the finished garment droop rather than drape, the chain ply overcomes those qualities. The fabric presents with crisp, neat and well-defined stitches, yet is supple, as you can see in this top.

Another beauty is Square, knit in Linen and Pebble.


Or this Cima cardigan, with its tidy i-cord piping.


In store news, we have new books:

latvian mitteneds menagerie

how to knit

The latest Amirisu is always worth a read with a cup of tea:


We’re unpacking boxes of Cleckheaton’s Superfine Merino and project leaflets:

Superfine MerinoSuperfine Merino Patterns

Trying to choose between these delicious new self-striping Yarn Vs Zombies colours:

Yarn Vs Zombies Welcoming back an old favourite, Rowan’s Original Denim, a cotton yarn that fades like denim:

original denim

And admiring these buttons of wood and shell, and flowery little beauties that are perfect for children’s clothes:

new buttons 2new buttons 1So much is going on. Have a good week!

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One Plus One

Here’s a story of yarns that are each wonderful in their own way, but teamed together, become more than the sum of their parts, producing quite different and satisfying fabrics. This is where Shibui yarns really come into their own: the company produces suites of yarns with colourways that cross over. Let’s start with three, from top left below, the Cima, Staccato and Silk Cloud, in the colour Jumpsuit. Shibui_trio Cima is a tightly plied fine baby alpaca and merino lace-weight yarn that knits up to a crisp but soft fabric with excellent stitch definition. Staccato is a merino and silk blend, and accordingly has drape, sheen and a touch of luxe that will make any knit that little bit special. Silk Cloud is a dreamy mohair and silk yarn that marries mohair’s gorgeous halo and with a silky sheen. On their own, the three yarns produce beautiful fabrics. But blend them together, and something quite stunning happens. Shibui_swatchThe pic above shows a swatch of Cima (top left), Silk Cloud (top right) and the largest swatch is of both yarns combined. The Silk Cloud adds warp and weft to the Cima: those silky flecks catch the light and give the fabric dimension, and the mohair lends a halo to the finish. The overall fabric is softer than a solo Cima, and has more structure than a Silk Cloud used by itself, plus the most beautiful drape.

Lori Versaci’s Veer combines the Cima and Silk Cloud to great effect for a long-line, body-skimming sweater. Shibui-Form-Veer-4_medium Shibui-Geometry-Parabola-8_medium2This racerback tank top has two separate layers connected along the neckline: the smooth underlayer is in Staccato and the top layer is in Silk Cloud for a floaty contrast. Some knitters have chosen to not join the layers, and use the Silk Cloud layer as a separate cowl. Shibui_stripedThe Staccato and Silk Cloud can also be knit into a simple scarf of solid and airy stripes.

Add another yarn in the form of Pebble, and the options expand yet again. Pebble is a sumptuous blend of cashmere, merino and silk which comes together in a tweedy finish. The yarn knits up as deliciously well you’d expect those three fibres to; some of the complementary colours are shown off to full effect in this parallelogram scarf by Stephen West. parallelogram Shibui-Monochrome-Blur-1_small2This Blur jumper by Kirsten Johnstone uses contrasting offset blocks of Pebble and Silk Cloud to give the finished garment interest and a sophisticated polish. Shibui-Mix-Multigrain-2Multigrain is a simple seed (moss) stitch scarf that lets two alternating strands of Pebble, Silk Cloud and Cima do the talking. Strata (below) is a variation on the theme, knit in twisted stockinette stitch. Both are studies in texture. Shibui-Mix-Strata-3_small2In store news, we’ve just received a favourite of Kylie‘s: the super-hardwearing Jawoll sock yarn, in 22 solid and marle colours. Hmmmm, toasty feet … The superwash wool is reinforced with a touch of acrylic and comes with a spool of nylon for reinforcing the heels and toes. Love it when manufacturers think of extending the durability of hand knits.

10986218_335524909990310_1631279518_nSo, what will you make today? Let us know in the comments below or post your WiP or finished item on Instagram and tag us @sunspunyarns.