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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New Yarns – September

Are there nicer words than ‘new’ and ‘yarns’ side by side? We have had quite a few lovelies come in lately and thought we’d share the love.

roadtochina2You only have to look at the beautiful jewel tones of Road to China Lace to know why we’ve stocked this luxurious yarn, which captures all the qualities of its fibres: alpaca, silk, camel and cashmere. Whisper-light and warm, Road to China Lace drapes like a dream, and has the subtlest of sheens from the silk. This is one yarn that is as much a pleasure to knit with as it is to wear.

echo4_medium2Laceweight yarn so gorgeous immediately suggests lace. This Echo Flower Shawl by Jenny Johnson Johnen is inspired by Eastonian lace and has a blossom stitch body and an utterly exquisite border. (It’s also free.)

img_9496_medium2Source: Mintyfresh

Weight: Lace
Composition: 65% baby alpaca, 15% silk, 10% camel, 10% cashmere
Size: 100 g
Meterage: 600 m
Gauge: 32–40 stitches to 10cm on 2–2.75 mm needles
Care: Gentle hand wash, dry flat

Fans of Jo Sharp’s Alpaca Silk Georgette may have noticed it’s being phased out and replaced by Mulberry Silk Georgette. If you like the Alpaca Silk Georgette, this new yarn knits to a very similar tension. With wool in place of the alpaca, you will have a lighter and softer fabric.

This yarn produces the most beautiful fabric (the drape, the drape) and it’s a pleasure in the hand. As with all Jo Sharp yarns there is very good pattern support. This yarn can be used for anything your heart desires, it’s that versatile. It blocks beautifully, so if you’ve always wanted to make a cardigan like Vitamin D, here’s your chance.

5601281826_d7467c6ca6_zWeight: Sportweight/5 ply
Composition: 75% wool, 25% mulberry silk
Size: 50 g
Meterage: 165 m
Gauge: 25 stitches to 10cm on 3.25 mm needles
Care: Gentle hand wash, dry flat

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Prima Fine Kid Merino and Silk by Rosabella yarns is silk twisted with fine kid and merino. The composition yields a lofty yarn that is soft and smooth to the hand, with the most delightful halo. This yarn is not too far away from Rowan’s Kidsilk Haze, with the merino giving it just a bit more body, so it has wide application, from cardigans to hats, scarves and gloves.

Isabell Kraemer’s Jih, a raglan sweater that is worked seamlessly from the top down, will get a beautiful heathered dimension in this yarn. One of those sweaters that’s made for when you’re in the mood for miles of stocking stitch, and will get copious amounts of wear.

img_8371_medium2Weight: Sportweight/5 ply
Composition: 60% fine kid, 25% silk, 15% merino
Size: 25 g
Meterage: 72 m
Gauge: 22-24 stitches to 10cm on 3.5-3.75 mm needles
Care: Gentle hand wash, dry flat

 

 

 


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Meet the Maker – Hannah Ginn from Circus Tonic Handmade

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Here’s another first for us – a yarn trunk show! If you hang out on Instagram you may have encountered Circus Tonic Handmade’s beautiful stream, which features Hannah Ginn’s soft, delicately coloured, hand-dyed, handpainted and speckled yarns.

Hannah lives in Sydney, but on 1 September, from 10am to 1pm, she will be at the store for some seriously engrossing squish and tell. Do drop by and say hello, and to pick up some goodies for yourself. In the meantime, here’s Hannah!

Tell us a little about yourself, Hannah, and the Circus Tonic Handmade story.

IMG_0115I live in Sydney with my husband, three kids and Hector the hound. I actually grew up in many parts of Australia and in Dubai before it was the mega-city it is today. My mum is English, so we would go to the UK for holidays. I didn’t return to Australia until uni, and haven’t left since!

I trained as a molecular biologist and worked for years in a genomics centre at UNSW. With daycare fees spiralling ever upwards it became counterproductive for me to work. I decided to take a break in mid-2015, take all the kids out of care and start over. Knitting and craft was a salve or tonic for our everyday crazy, loud, circus-like household life … so Circus Tonic Handmade it was. And now, the yarn has taken over!

I was home only a few weeks when I saw I needed another major goal to keep my spirits up after such a huge life shift. I had learnt to knit in 2013 when I was expecting my first winter baby, and often spent many hours wondering how I could turn my love of all things fibre and textiles into a business. I had been a huge quilter and knitting absolutely transfixed me once I began. Once I found hand-dyed yarn I was smitten!

What were your earliest influences and yarn dreams?

I always link back to certain times and places when I’m daydreaming about yarn. I recently found out my grandmother made kilts and then remembered looking through tartan and knitted yoke samples as a kid.

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I started collecting fabrics on my travels when I was fourteen. I made scrunchies for pocket money and sold them to the cool kids at school in my lunch break!

My biggest can-do role model in terms of making is my mum. She used hand-making to survive motherhood, and made lead-light windows, sewed our clothes, grew our food, made our quilts and curtains, stencilled our rooms (eeeepppp! Lol) and has recently started a little residential upholstery school in the Southern Highlands of NSW.

Nothing is beyond her – and she actually trained as an opera singer! I remember standing under her skirt as she sang at a wedding, so it’s in the genes.

Tell us how you choose your yarn bases, and where you source them from.

I’m obsessed and I love all kinds, so my yarns are a mix of Australian and internationally sourced bases. I’m trying new ones all the time, depending on availability and even requests.

We love the bird names for your colourways, they are so inspired! How did they come about?

I’m always thinking about yarn, and while I pay attention to what’s on trend I really try to keep on my own path.

IMG_0095I based my current collection on Australian native birds as I thought that would give me a theme with plenty of scope. Some colourways are immediately recognisable while others take more artistic licence.

You have a lovely knitterly understanding of yarn and colour. How much does knitting experience inform your dyeing?

I love semi-solid tonals for garments especially as they were the types of yarns I first found as a knitter that I couldn’t resist.

IMG_0203I’m newer to speckled yarns but I love how they bring single-stitch pops to accessories. There are so many dyeing techniques to introduce speckles so it’s an ongoing education. From my former life as a scientist I’m used to taking very strict notes, experimenting and delayed gratification, so my dyeing will keep evolving.

How do you come up with the colours for an update/release? Do you work thematically, with a plan, or do you follow your nose and let serendipity take the lead?

I have sets of colourways that I feel go really well together so I tend to decide which ones will be the core of an update and then build around them. I try to come up with a couple of new colourways each update as customers love new yarn.

IMG_0255How important is social media to your business?

Instagram is centrally important to any indie dyer as it’s a great way to communicate what’s going on at HQ. I know the sorts of posts I enjoy looking at so I try to give my followers some lovely eye candy each day.

I don’t get a lot of time to knit these days and so showing my yarn knit up by talented and adventurous customers is really exciting and informative – I appreciate the sharing of project pics very much.

IMG_0279What does a day in your life look like? Do you manage to keep the kids and the dyeing business in neat compartments or does it all meld together in an organic fashion?

As business is picking up, Greg my husband is taking more and more of the weekend household and kid duties as I smash out several sixteen-hour days! As he does 55-hour weeks himself that is a huge commitment.

IMG_0084Each day I dye yarn, plot and plan, sew bags, visit my saintly post office, and do all the office jobs like photos, labels and packaging etc. We have two kids still at home during the day so we paint, ride scooters inside and generally hum along. They do watch a few too many movies, but I figure as long as I’m in the vicinity it’s OK!

IMG_0083Do you still knit a lot? And do you use other dyers’ yarns?

I love so many indie dyers! They are too numerous to mention, but in particular I love Skein, Miss Click Clack, The Uncommon Thread, Hedgehog Fibres, Baerenwolle, Madeline Tosh, The Wool Kitchen, Voolenvine Yarns, Knitsch, Spun Right Round and Skein Queen.

I am in awe of the colours available in Jamieson & Smith’s Shetland wool. I’m also a huge fan of Patons Dreamtime merino yarns and Bendigo Woollen Mills. I love them all!

IMG_0192What and which other designers, artists or creative people inspire you?

I have always been a huge fan of Gustav Klimt, and I find it amusing that I see quilting and speckles and swirls all through his paintings and portraits.

Knitwear designers I constantly find myself drawn to are Melanie Berg, Ambah O’Brian, Kristen Finlay, Wei Siew Leong and The Lace Eater, and Françoise Danoy. There are so many others – Ravelry is my oyster!

What can we look forward to in your trunk show at Sunspun?

My trunk show at Sunspun will be a lot of fun. Retailing online misses so much of the personal interaction with knitters, and I’ve never met a knitter I didn’t like!

I will bring a lot of speckled, handpainted and semi-solid tonal sock yarns. My travelling limits what I can bring, but I hope to offer something everyone will like and want to take home. My mum and I are sewing a big stack of very covetable project bags too so there should be lots of delicious items to see.

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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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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.

IMG_2209_medium2Source: The Yarnista

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.