Sunspun Fine Yarns


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Product of the Month – October

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Isager Highland is our October yarn of the month, which means you can buy the yarn all month at a 10% discount (20% for Sunspun members).

If you’ve been to the store, you’d know we love Isager yarns from Denmark. Highland is produced in Peru and this sportweight, pure wool yarn is all that you’ve come to expect from Isager – grown under strict environmental conditions and  minimally processed.

Each 50 g ball of the plied yarn yields 280 metres, which goes a long, long way. The yarn itself is light and strong, and the full range of colours is lightly heathered. Because of its weight, it can be stranded with other Isager yarns to create one-off fabrics.

Highland is good to work with. While not buttery soft, it feels good0 in the hand. The plies are tight enough that they don’t catch (I used Addis), and sticky enough to have some memory (very handy if you need to rip back). The Highland fabric blooms, transforms and relaxes into a garment or accessory with beautiful drape when blocked. Depending on gauge, it can also grow when blocked, so if the item looks small when you’re knitting, don’t fret too much. Be sure to swatch beforehand to check your gauge.

This is one of those enormously versatile yarns, yielding ethereally light lace on the one hand and blending beautifully for colourwork items.

The magic of blocking. The Daffodil cardigan in Highland: left shows the
back (blocked) and right is the unblocked sleeve.

Here are a few quick ideas that show off the yarn’s best features.

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Knit n Slide is a Stephen West semicircular shawl with a lacy border and beautiful scallops. There are some stunning examples on Ravelry, and colours can be as dramatic or complementary as you like.

Halligarth by Gudrun Johnston is a woodland shawl featuring a traditional lace motif. Two skeins should make a shawlette, and four will give you a large shawl.

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Finally, to return to first principles, two patterns created by Helga Isager: Vivi, a colourwork pattern, and the Daffodil cardigan. Daffodil cardigan is soon to be a sample instore, so drop by soon to have a look. Ours was knit in three balls.

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Product of the Month – September

It’s that time of the month when we roll out our Product of the Month, and September’s star is White Gum Wool (4 ply). As with all products of the month, you can buy them at 10% off (20% for Sunspun members).

White Gum Wool comes from 1600 Saxon merinos raised by the inspiring Nan Bray just south of Oatlands in Tasmania. A woman determined to do things in a different way, in a better way, Nan – a former marine physicist and an ex-city slicker to boot – combines generations-old shepherding and wool-raising skills with ground-breaking research to produce yarn that is unsurpassed in quality.

Nan keeps the sheep family groups together for their lifetimes, which means the mothers teach their babies how to graze on a wide range of native and exotic plants. Both animal and landscape are ethically cared for – that means no mules and no fertilisers, pesticides and fungicides. As a result, Nan gets more wool per animal per year, greater fleece strength and fewer interventions are needed with the sheep.

DSCN7008-e1389852362519You can catch up with Nan and stories from her farm through her blog, and do watch her story on Landline – it’s a cracker.

It would be an understatement to say knitters love and are loyal to this stunning yarn. Designers such as Tikki Knits, Sally Oakley and Evie and Essie have built patterns around White Gum yarns, and dyers such as Augustbird, Nunnaba and Gradient use White Gum as a base.

This merino is strong and really one of the softest you’ll find, which means you can wear it next to the skin. And as with all things wool, it’s comfortable in all but the most extreme of weather. Each ball of the 100 gram yarn has a generous 472 metres. And did we mention it comes in sixteen well-matched natural colours? Pictured below is the sedge colourway.

IMG_1481 (1).jpgWhite Gum 4 ply is light, oh so soft and buttery to knit with, and slips off the needles smoothly. It has the most beautiful hand – see that slight halo? Because it has lots of loft and elasticity,  you may need to block quite vigorously to open up lace projects. In stocking stitch and with smaller needles, the fabric is dense and almost velvety. (The ball band gives the tension at 28 stitches by 36 rows on 3.25 mm needles for a 10 cm square.)

This is the go-to yarn for baby wear, and luxurious shawls and shawls that drape beautifully, so use the yarn with your favourite fingering-weight patterns. Here are a few that have caught our eye.

cowl1_medium2Evie & Essie’s Sparkles Snood is a deep and light textured cowl that intersperses lace with ribbing and slipped stitches. The yarns shows off the stitch details well, making this a piece to cherish for years to come.

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Daysfull made a stunning Enkei by Kirsten Johnstone in the everlasting colourway – it’s a pop of sunny happiness. The top-down cardigan is shaped with raglan increases, then knit back and forth, finishing with that peekaboo cutout at the back. (With yarn so soft, you can expect some pilling, so get yourself a good shaver while you’re at it …)

DSC_0477_medium2Rhiannon Owens’ Gwyn Minikins is a classic cropped child’s cardigan knit seamlessly from the top down with a lace yoke and a stockinette body. It will go beautifully over a favourite dress or jeans.image-16_copy_medium2.jpg

Françoise Danoy’s Tokerau shawl marries a subtle textured stockinette body with intricate lace, and just enough complexity to hold your interest as you’re knitting. The shawl would look as stunning in a single colour as it would in two contrasting colours.

And if you’re after a challenge, there is Jared Flood’s Girasole. Originally knit in worsted-weight yarn, knitter Pam Chiang has made hers using 450 g of White Gum, adding two repeats and a wide sawtooth border for the stunner pictured below. 20151208_094240_1__medium2.jpg

Source: Pam Chiang 


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Product of the month – August 2016

 

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For August, and hot on the heels of Clare Devine’s trunk show and the special price for her patterns, comes our product of the month, Lang Jawoll sock yarn. If you’ve never come across them before, August is the time to give them a whirl, when they are 10% off (20% for Sunspun members).

Sock knitters in the know have been saying ja to Lang Jawoll for socks for ages. The Italian superwash comes in a wide range of solid, heathered and tweed colours, and they are durable, reinforced with 25% nylon. Each skein also has a matching spool of nylon to carry along when knitting sock toes and heels for further reinforcement. The 50g skeins, comprising 45g of yarn and 5g of nylon, have a total meterage of 210m.

This soft and fine four-ply yarn knits and crochets well, so use it for socks, accessories such as shawls and hats, and lightweight sweaters – choose your favourite 4 ply or sock-weight patterns.

Besides Clare’s patterns, which carry a 10% discount (20% for Sunspun members) until 5th August, here are some other ideas for you, starting – not surprisingly – with some socks.

These Broken Seed Stitch Socks are so striking, and you only need to knit with one colour per round. The pattern seems to be at its most effective when a single colour is worked back with a highly variegated or contrasting yarn.

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My Cup of Tea socks have a crocus pattern that begins with a 64-stitch cast-on, and is easily modified to suit you.

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Source: Robin Lynn

Cookie A’s Clandestine socks is a dramatic story in lace and twisted stitches. Just divine.

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Source: Laura Kicey

Sock yarn makes very good, hard-wearing shawls. Here’s Daybreak by Stephen West, one of those endlessly adaptable shawls that is striped and arched, with slipped-stitch ‘ribs’ and a generous wingspan. The pattern comes in three sizes too.

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How can you not love these Grey Eyed mittens by Rebecca Tsai with the owls and olive trees?

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Chevrons bring a smart contemporary lift to any design. The Fixation hat by Ann Weaver is also a great way to use up leftovers. The four-colour hat takes about 55 metres of each colour, and a two-colour version takes about 110 metres of each.

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Source: WeaverKnits

Come in and look up Lang Jawoll – we’re more than happy to help with advice and suggestions should you need any.


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Product of the Month – July 2016

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It feels like we’re picking all our favourites for products of the month lately, and July is no exception. Please welcome Shilasdair Luxury, which can be purchased with a 10% discount (20% for Sunspun members) all month long. We are so pleased to be the only shop in Australia to carry these exquisite beauties and treasure our ongoing association with Shilasdair.

From the Isle of Skye off the west coast of Scotland, Shilasdair is one of those yarns that carries its provenance with every skein, with a yarn palette inspired by the colours of wild Scotland and the Scottish Highlands. Traditionally dyed by Eva Lambert from natural materials such as tansy, meadowsweet, madder and indigo, and with colours such as Wild Mushroom, Autumn Leaves, Hawthorn and Foxglove, is there a yarn with more romance?

The fingering-weight (4ply) Luxury is a blend of cashmere, baby camel, angora and lambswool. Each 50 g skein carries about 200 metres, and the fabric is at its best when knit on 3 to 3.5 mm needles. Swatch, wash and assess.

The yarn can shed a little when you knit with it, and some of the colour can rub off too. If you’re using it for colourwork, Karen, who loves Shilasdair, suggests adding a little vinegar to the blocking water to help set the colour. As with all hand-dyed yarns, buy enough for your project, because the colours are often totally different from dyelot to dyelot.

Given the cashmere and angora in the blend, you can imagine how warm the fabric is. This is a yarn that blooms and softens the more you wear it, with a slight halo, so use it for making items in timeless styles that will endure and can be passed on.

We have a much admired Carpino sample instore, a classic lace jumper in Tansy Gold.

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Karyn has also made a sweet Violet Bonnet by Melissa LaBarre in A Fleece Cloud colourway for Nicole’s baby.

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Frozen Silver Sweater by Suvi Simola is one of those timeless sweaters that you will reach for time and again, with a simple textured bodice front and back, and a choice of contrast ribbing for a bit of fun.

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The pine-cone lace in this Pomme de pin cardigan will bloom beautifully in Shilasdair, and the cardigan will be very warm too, because of the yarn blends.

IMG_8601_medium2Source: Amy Christoffers

The utterly complementary colours Shilasdair comes in make them a natural candidate for colour work, from their subtle heathers to gentle variegations. Kate Davies’ Ursula Cardigan calls for Jamieson & Smith yarns, but you can use Shilasdair in its place. This cardigan is knit in the round from the bottom up, and steeks are cut for the front and arm openings – perfect for those who are looking to extend their knitting chops.

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Source: Kate Davies Designs

Túngata Cowl by Stephen West is reversible and worked in the round using three colours. Both sides are geometric, graphic and the results can be as dramatic as you want, depending on how contrasting the colours you choose are.

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The original Soumak Scarf Wrap calls for Rowan Fine Tweed, but we can see this working with different colour stories using Shilasdair. The seamless scarf is large and versatile, and the slipped stitches and colours keep the knitting interesting. Extended, this would make a fabulous blanket too.

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Finally, we cannot let a Scottish yarn slip by without featuring a hap! Montbretia is a beauty knitted in short rows, bobbles and welts, and makes good use of dramatic colour. The pattern is from The Book of Haps, which features 13 patterns by Kate Davies, Jen Arnall-Culliford and other renowned designers, which has enough patterns in it for a few years’ worth of shawls and wraps.

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Do give Shilasdair a try in July and decide for yourself what the fuss has been about!


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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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Yarn in Focus: Zealana Tui

Yarn in Focus: Zealana Tui

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Vital statistics
70% merino, 15% cashmere, 15% brushtail possum
100 g/111 metres
Gauge: 16 stitches = 10 cm on 5.5 mm needles
$20

Meet Zealana Tui, one of the new yarns we took on last year, alongside Zealana Air and Heron.

Tui is June’s Product of the Month, so we’re offering a 10% discount (20% for Sunspun members) on this yarn all month.

All Zealana yarns have an interesting story. Since its introduction to New Zealand by fur traders in the late nineteenth century, the non-native brushtail possum has reached staggering proportions, with commensurate damage to NZ’s native flora and fauna. (There are 4.4 million NZ people to 70 million brushtails.) Zealana yarns use brushtail possum in their yarns, which are produced responsibly and sustainably.

Tui is a bulky yarn, and part of Zealana’s Artisan series. Soft and lofty, this merino and possum yarn with a touch of cashmere is hard-wearing, so it’s perfect for big cozy sweaters or superwarm hats, scarves and cowls. You can felt Tui too, allowing for about 10 per cent shrinkage, in 60°C water and tumble-drying. Otherwise, handwash only in cold water and dry flat.

IMG_1432The yarn is robust and individual strands feel already a little felted in the skein. It skims nicely over needles (I used wooden ones), with no catches or snags.

The fabric produced is stable: the swatch evened out ever so slightly after a wash and block, but didn’t grow at all. Oh, and there’s a delicious halo on the swatch that is so beautiful. Being a lofty yarn, you can make big garments that nevertheless do not feel bulky.

This Argo cardigan has it all: a garter yoke, half-moon pockets and is knit in one piece, so there’s minimal finishing.

argo2_034__911x1024__medium2Source: Tweedysheep

The Yarnista made a most handsome, swinging version of Michele Wang’s Cabled Swing Poncho out of Tui, which shows off the cables and ribs beautifully. If you are interested in making this, do read Yarnista’s project notes, which are full of valuable, hard-won information. Her pointers on twill tape have wide application too, and will prolong the shape and life of the garment.

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For warm heads, this reversible, adaptable Man Hat by Haven Ashley is a must for any knitted hat collection. The yarn will seriously show off the stitches.

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Do drop in and have a look at Tui, and take advantage of the POM to buy some to take home.

Happy winter’s knitting to you!

 


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June at Sunspun

June is a very exciting month!  Why?  Because Winter is here!!  All that wonderful, head clearing cold air!!  And firesides, and knitting, and hot soups, and knitting, and hot chocolates, and knitting ……..
So, grab a hot beverage, read on and let us tell you more about what’s on in June at Sunspun.

Our regular Friday Sit & Yarn just keeps going from strength to strength.  You can see the June 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!

Term 2 classes have started.  We have some fabulous classes for you during June, including a new one for all the crocheters – How to Join Crocheted Motifs – so you will know how to put all those granny squares and other shapes together.  Don’t forget the ‘oldies but goodies’ on the calendar as well! Towards the end of the month school holidays start.  To help you entertain your small people we have scheduled two kids knitting classes – Learn How to Knit for complete beginners and 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.  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 June is the very lovely Zealana yarn – Tui.  This wonderful yarn is a 12ply (Bulky), 75% merino/15% cashmere/15% possum yarn.  It is very warm with a slight halo – perfect for jumpers, cardigans and scarves – and comes in some lovely colours.  A great chance to try some possum yarn – so warm and toasty. Our upcoming blog post will tell you more.  A yarn that just cannot be ignored!!

As you know, we have a Sunspun Members loyalty programme that allows Members to receive discounts on all their purchases.  In a previous blog post we explained how it all works and let you know that we would be including some special members events this year.  Well, it’s time for another one!  We would like to invite all members to the shop for a special members only shopping day – Sunday 5th June.  As we have many members in country Victoria and interstate, special consideration will be given for you as well!  All the details have been sent out to members in a separate email.  If you  are a member and haven’t received your email invitation to this fabulous event just let us know.

As always, our YouTube channel, Sunspun, has new videos to ‘teach’ you. We know it is not possible for you all to attend classes in the shop and so the YouTube channel is our way of making our knowledge accessible to all our customers. This month we have a couple of buttonhole techniques for you – an eyelet buttonhole and a one row horizontal buttonhole. Great timing as we move into cardigan knitting weather!  Jump over to our channel every now and then to check out our video offerings.

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 June, our garment focus is shawls and in the ‘other’ thread we will be chatting about the shapes of shawls you like to make – asymmetric, crescent, triangular or rectangular, etc, 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).

Saturday 18th June is World Wide Knit in Public Day. It began in 2005 and has been an annual event ever since.  Knit in Public Day is really about showing the general public that knitting can be a community activity in a very distinct way.  Later in the month we will publish a blog post to tell you more about it.  How will you spend this fun day????

And lastly, but importantly, we will be closed Monday 13th June for the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.  We will re-open on Tuesday 14th June as usual.

So, that’s June.  A month to learn, shop, share and snuggle inside with your yarn while Mother Nature sends us a lovely cold winter.

Happy ‘yarning’,
Karen.