Sunspun Fine Yarns


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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.


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Christmas gift guide 2

Christmas is getting closer (how is your gift crafting coming along?!) so here is this weeks list of our best gift ideas for you or the knitters and crocheters around you…   Stocking fillers for $15 and under:

  • A set of Clover Chibi needles, the best ever wool needles with curved tips for seaming your projects! 3 small needles or 2 large in a cute little tube case, $8-10.
  • Every knitter needs a wee sheep on their desk or coffee table! This little cardboard sweetie holds cards, pens, paperclips and other bits and bobs: Karton sheep $14
Karton sheep

Karton sheep

  • A set of 3 multipurpose tools for picking up dropped stitches, working cables and lots more: set of 3 ebony or bone, $13.
Ebony and bone tools

Ebony and bone tools

For $30 and under:

  • The Harmony Crochet Stitch Motifs stitch dictionary with a whopping 250 different designs: $30.
  • The wonderful Yarn Pyramid print from the Fringe Supply Co: $27 (unframed)
Fringe Supply Co's Yarn Pyramid print

Fringe Supply Co’s Yarn Pyramid print

  • A lovely knit-print knitting project pouch from Canadian outfit, Danica Entwine: $27
Entwine zip pouch

Entwine zip pouch

For $50 and over:

  • Yokes, the new book from Kate Davies! This is sure to become the definitive resource for yoked jumpers and cardigans from all traditions around the world, with essays on each and 11 accompanying designs: $50.
Yokes by Kate Davies

Yokes by Kate Davies

  • A beautiful set of interchangeable needles to cover every needle size and length you could ever need! We have sets KnitPro Nova Deluxe (nickel, $117), Symphonie Deluxe and Fine (laminated birch, $122 and $130) and Bamboo Deluxe (bamboo, $146).
  • For all your winding pleasure, a combo set of skein holder and umbrella swift- you’ll be winding everything you can find with these at your disposal! $110/ set

 


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Christmas gift guide 1

Each week until Christmas, we’ll be putting together a list of our most favourite things in the shop as a guide for you and those hunting for presents for you. We like to make it easy for you! So here is our first group…

 

Stocking fillers for $10 and under:

  • 20 coil-less stitch markers in a handy tin that is small enough to fit in your notions pouch but big enough to hold all your other little knitting bits and pieces: $8
Coil-less safety pins

Coil-less stitch markers

 

  • A sweet greeting card and envelope featuring a watercolour of Brooklyn Tweed’s designs: 5 designs, $5.
Brooklyn Tweed greeting cards

Brooklyn Tweed greeting cards

 

  • A ball of Waikiwi Sock, a lovely blend of New Zealand merino, alpaca, possum and nylon (ok, so you’ll need two balls to knit a pair of socks but 1 ball will get you a knitted toy, small accessory and the like!): $10/ 50gm

 

For $30 and under:

  • From the super-cool American label, Fringe Association, this canvas tote bag is plenty big and sturdy enough to carry a large garment project or two or three smaller WIP’s: 2 designs, $25
Fringe Association Tote

Fringe Association Tote

 

  • A shawl pin from Days of August (Adelaide) or Hornvarefabrikken (Denmark) to keep your hand knits snuggly around you: Days of August reclaimed US army pins in 16 colours, $25, Hornvarefabrikken horn pins in various sizes and designs, $24-$42.
Giant safety pin from Days of August

Giant safety pin from Days of August

 

 

  • A 150gm skein of Colinette Jitterbug, a hand-dyed 4ply merino yarn from rural Wales that knits into the most gorgeous, plump socks and garments: many colourways, $30/ 150gm.

 

For $50 and over:

  • The pattern and yarn to knit Onward, this large and very beautiful shawl from Journey by Shannon Cook and Jane Richmond. Knit in 10ply with just knit and purl stitches, Onward is a joy to knit and to wear. Book $36, price of yarn dependent on selection.
Onward

Onward Shawl

 

  • A deluxe set of Clover Amour crochet hooks, which contains 10 hooks with smooth, rounded rubber handles with a flattened section where the thumb can rest, allowing you to crochet for a longer period of time! Set of 10 hooks, $75.

 

  • And, for the extremely generous giver, an Addi Express knitting machine that will enable you to crank out last minute knitted gifts like scarves, blankets, cushions and more! Lightweight, portable and easy to use, the Addi Express knits in the round and flat and comes in two sizes: $190 for standard, $248 for kingsize.
Addi Express

Addi Express

 

See you next week with our next groups of faves!


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WIPs and FOs

A couple of weeks ago, we recapped our spring samples for you. This time, we thought we’d show you our personal FOs and WIPs! We’re always knitting here at Sunspun. Well, not actually in the shop- although that’s what everyone always thinks when you tell them you work in a yarn shop!- but in all those spare moments in the day… during lunch, on the train to and from work, at the traffic lights- you know how it is. For us, it goes on year-round, despite the heat, and that’s the sure sign of a die-hard knitter!

So here’s a taster of a few things we’ve finished recently or are currently working on…

Amy just finished Paige from Rowan 52, a big fuzzy jumper for next winter. Designed to be knitted holding 3 strands of Rowan Kidsilk Haze together, it makes for a super quick and easy knit, with some nice details, such as the lower back and those beautiful colours… This will be perfect for cold winter days and nights.

 

Paige

Paige

Paige

Paige

 

Jackie, our style girl, is always on the hunt for interesting twists and details and her current project certainly reflects that; she used the Camomille Shawl from our Amimono Collection 2010 as a springboard for her first shawl, omitting the stripes and holding a strand of Alpaca 1 and Spinni together throughout. She’s planning to knit until it is large enough (or her yarn runs out!) and then those little balls of Spinni colour will be used for a very sweet twist at the end. You’ll have to wait to see what she’s planning!

 

Jackie's first shawl

Jackie’s first shawl

 

Having recently felted one of her most favourite cardigans in Rowan Felted Tweed, Kylie is putting all her love for this gorgeous yarn into another version of the same design, Peasy, but with a touch of stranded colourwork. She’s modified a chart from one of the independent designers that we carry, Tin Can Knits, (but this time a free pattern, the  Clayoquot Beanie from their latest collection, Road Trip) and is knitting it with Carbon, Clay and Mineral. We hope this will make you as happy as the last one, Kylie!

 

Jumper

Kylie’s colourwork jumper

 

And Jules is currently knitting Docklight from Brooklyn Tweed Fall 2104. In order to make a 10ply, she’s holding together 2 strands of our lovely naturally-dyed Shilasdair Luxury 4ply and is loving the squishy, warm fabric that it is making- hooray for fisherman’s rib! Like all of Julie Hoover’s designs, Docklight has some beautiful details, such as the neat tubular cast on, delicate lace motif and decreases that merge beautifully into the rib.

 

Docklight

Docklight

 

So that’s what is on our needles! How about you?!


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In focus: Working with hand-dyed yarns

We recently began carrying new yarns from two companies that specialise in hand-dyed yarns, Skein and Shilasdair, and, while we’ve carried hand-dyed yarns for a while, they are new to some of our customers- so we thought it might be useful to look at some of the joys and challenges of working with them! It’s definitely true that the things we love about hand-dyed yarns are often also the things that make them challenging to work with. Those beautiful shifts in colour that make us want to keep knitting just one more row just to see what happens next can sometimes overwhelm a stitch pattern, making it hard to see the lace or texture you’re so carefully working. And the fact that each skein is truly individual and one-of-a-kind means that colour variation between skeins can be difficult to manage, even within the same dye-lots.

So what do you need to think about when using hand-dyes yarns? Basically there are three issues- choosing the right pattern for the yarn, avoiding colour pooling and smooth transitions when changing balls.

Choosing stitch patterns

It’s important to choose a design with a stitch pattern that is going to play to the strengths of your yarn. Textured stitch patterns, such as those made of slipstitch, knit-and-purl and brioche, are a great way to break up the colours in variegated yarns (these are yarns that contains more that one colour), allowing little blips of colour to stand out.  The Supernova socks are a great example of a slip-stitch pattern that highlights the various colours in this yarn by bringing a knit stitch the the front of a background of purl stitches.

 

Supernova by Chrissy Gardiner

Supernova by Chrissy Gardiner

 

The undulations of lace and chevron patterns can work well to highlight the colour shifts in semi-solid yarns (those that are made up of different shade of one colour) but can get a bit lost if used with too busy a yarn.

 

Nami by Chrissy Gardiner

Nami by Chrissy Gardiner

 

Avoiding pooling

“Pooling” is where a colour occurs in a similar place in successive rows, creating a blob or vertical/diagonal line of colour that stands out in a very obvious way. If you have a yarn with long stretches of colour, you won’t get this effect, as your yarn will form subtle stripes- it’s the variegated yard with short runs of colour that are likely to pool. Some people love it and spend a lot of time deliberately engineering pooling in their work- there’s even a group for it on Ravelry!- but, if you’re not going for that look, you need to know how to get around it.

Pairing hand-dyed yarns with a solid color, or even another hand dyed yarn, to work Fair Isle, slip-stitch or even plain stripes not only breaks up pooling but creates impressive-looking colour patterns. In these Broken Seed Stitch Socks, the combination of pairing a solid colour with a hand-dyed yarn and the use of a textured stitch really makes the the pooling recede into the background.

 

 

But what about for a large project, such as a garment, where you don’t want to use texture or a second colour to avoid pooling?  For simple stitch patterns such as stocking and garter, the best way to avoid pooling is to alternate between two balls of yarn. For working in the round, knit one round and then change yarns. For working flat, knit two rows and then change. You’ll need to start the second ball at a different colour from the second so that they can’t pool. And if you only have one skein? You just wind it into two smaller balls.

You don’t need to cut your yarn at the end of each row/ round; assuming you’re changing every one or two rows, you can just carry the unused yarn up the side and pick it up two rows later. Keeping the balls in separate project bags prevents the strands from getting tangled, as does placing one ball to your left and the other to your right as you work. If you are making a cardigan and will be adding a button band later, just change yarns at the edge so that the little strands created through this process are hidden by the button band. If the button bands are worked as you go, change at the inside edge of the button band.

(Incidentally, alternating balls works equally well if you have to work with two different dye-lots in commercially-dyed yarns!)

Holding yarn doubled is another great way to avoid pooling, as long as you are careful to ensure that your two strands of yarn begin at different points in the colour repeat.

Ensuring a smooth transition when changing balls

Even yarns dyed in the same pot can end up different in the ball, which means that even if you choose your skeins very carefully and they all look the same, you may end up with an abrupt colour change when swapping from one ball to the next. To avoid this, you can alternate yarns as indicated for avoiding pooling for 6-10 rows. You’ll need to make sure you leave enough of your old ball to alternate with the new one- 12-20 times the width of your knitting should be plenty.

 

So… we hope that these tips are useful for you! We certainly don’t want to make knitting with hand-dyed yarns seem like hard work and plenty of people do it without worrying about any or all of these things… we just want you to be happy with your end product! Do let us know if any of it is useful or if you need some advice. We’d also love to hear any tips you might have on working with hand-dyed yarns!


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Perfect pairing

Since we received the new winter colours in Noro Kureyon yesterday, we’ve been dreaming about the best projects to make out of this fantastical yarn, with its deeply saturated colours and bouncy, hardwearing texture…

Kureyon

Kureyon

Here are some of the perfect pairings we came up with:

2 or 3 balls: Ronbiais Cowl by Elisabeth Brassard

© Elizabeth Brassard

10 balls: Mans Ribbed Sweater by Kenny Chua

20 balls: The Lizard Ridge Blanket by Laura Aylor

What about you? What would you make out of Kureyon?