Sunspun Fine Yarns


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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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April at Sunspun

Well knitting weather is certainly here and you have been visiting the shop to restock – or add to – your stash (you know which category you fit into!!).  It is lovely say “hello again” or “welcome back” and help you plan your next project.  New patterns and books are arriving in the shop as we gear up to make sure we have all the necessary supplies to see you through the cooler and colder months to come.  So grab your yarn and needles/hooks and a ‘beverage of choice’ and find out what we have for you in April.

 

Our regular Friday Sit & Yarn has become sooooo popular and some wonderful friendships have been made.  You can see the April dates in the table below.  Don’t forget this free group is open to all – however, we have decided to cap the number of attendees each week to ten.  Our table just can’t accommodate any more people comfortably and still leave room for staff and customers to move around the shop.  Since we don’t want to lock you into a regular commitment we aren’t taking names for each Friday – just rock up and grab a chair till all ten are full. We have some flyers from our local Booroondara Council detailing knitting groups that are held in the Libraries in our area.  Feel free to ask us for one – you may find a group that suits your availability to a tee!  Additionally, check out your own local council – most areas have knitting groups already established.

Term 2 classes swing into action in April.  We have some fabulous new classes for you as well as some oldies but goodies!  We are eager to help you expand your knitting and crochet skills and have a good selection of techniques for you to try.  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 your suitability for each one.  In the past, our classes have been run on Wednesday nights.  Term 2 sees them moved to Tuesday nights.  We hope this doesn’t cause too much inconvenience and that it allows additional customers access to educational opportunities.

The shop will be CLOSED on Monday 25th April for Anzac Day. We will OPEN again on Tuesday 26th April at 10am.

As you know from a previous blog post, we now have a Product of the Month each and every month!  The highlighted product for April is the very lovely Milla Mia 5ply.  This beautiful yarn is a 5ply (Sport), 100% merino wool yarn.  It is so very soft – perfect for cowls, scarves, shawls, baby garments and all those ‘wear next to your skin’ projects.  An upcoming blog post will tell you more and we have some items made up in the shop for you to see this lovely yarn ‘in action’.  Sadly, Milla Mia will no longer be available to us wholesale (you will be only able to get it through an international online shop) so what we have left is all we can get!  If you love this yarn, and we know many of you do, now is your opportunity to grab some at a reduced price.  A yarn that just cannot be ignored!!

Annnnnd ……. WE HAVE MORE NEW YARNS!!!!  We will just give you the short version here because we will feature some of them in upcoming blog posts.

  • White Gum Wool – a gorgeously soft Australian yarn – we have the entire range of 4ply colours.  We knitted one ball into a sample for you to feel and it just went on forever!!
  • Orkney Angora – it has to be felt to be believed – an 8ply yarn, 80% angora/20% wool (angora from ethically and humanely treated rabbits) in many colours from the Orkney Islands.  Mmmmm…..

You will notice some new faces behind the counter over the coming weeks.  Karyn (not to be confused with Karen – lol, we still haven’t been able to figure out an appropriate way to stop them both answering ‘yes’ at the same time!!!) has been one of our extraordinary sample knitters for quite a while – you will notice her work all around the shop.  She has great technical ability and isn’t afraid to tweak a pattern!  Adele is particularly adept at colour work and is also joining the teaching crew – she will be introducing Kids Holiday Knitting Classes for us during this term. You can find out more about them on the Classes page on the website. Bex has been a customer for quite some time and always has a project or two on her needles.

As always, our YouTube channel, Sunspun, has new videos to ‘teach’ you – this month is ‘garter stitch’ month.  Learn how to graft (Kitchener Stitch) in garter stitch and how to use a double ended crochet hook (available in the shop) to easily and quickly pick up those dropped garter stitches.

In our Ravelry group, Sunspun Fibre Folk, we are starting a couple of new monthly discussion threads for you to participate in.  The first is centred around garments – each month we will feature a new garment and ask you to share past or current projects.  The second will be more general and talk about yarns, colours, shapes, etc.  Lots for everyone!  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.  Click on the pics and see some really lovely items.

                       

Wow!  Did your ‘beverage of choice’ last through all that? No – then grab another and start knitting/crocheting those ‘yarny’ projects that warm us both inside and out.

Happy ‘yarning’,
Karen.


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Australian Story

Wool lovers know that Australian merino is among the finest yarns in the world, usually exported, and seldom made available for hand-knitting.

greenmill

Australian Country Spinners, owners of Cleckheaton, are changing the local hand-knitting game with their new yarn, Australian Superfine Merino, from sheep raised in a sustainable way.

The yarn is milled at the Wangaratta Woollen Mills in regional Victoria, and reboots an established and much loved brand. Cleckheaton have really gone to town to show how special this yarn is: in place of the more usual paper band is a letter-pressed swing tag with a ribbon that can be sewn as a label on your finished garment.

swingtag

There are 30 jewel-like colours in DK merino to choose from, and each ball is 65 g (more meterage means fewer joins, yay!). The yarn’s tightly plied structure gives terrific stitch definition, and it’s beautifully soft. More than a few customers who bought the yarn last week have said how much it reminds them of Zara yarns.

ASMcolours

We have kits of the booties and beanies at the shop, in different colour options, which come in their own project bags.

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And it’s great to see good pattern support too, with a wide selection of hard-copy pattern leaflets (also available as downloads) for accessories, and garments for babies, men, women and children.

1374788_724557857618908_8327889246741183549_n asm8_L404_B1__45009.1402137986.1280.1280 401_front__57771.1403057756.1280.1280408_front__64622.1403063704.1280.1280  422_front__32222.1415579778.1280.1280 402_front__16081.1403060306.1280.1280

As the weather cools down by the day, it’s been lovely catching up with some of you when you drop by to stock up for autumn/winter knitting. We’re here to help with ideas and suggestions, so please do not hesitate to ask.

In store news, here are two recently finished one-skein projects: an utterly divine Hitchhiker, knit in Colinette Jitterbug.

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And a Dangling Conversation, a quick knit that uses just one skein of Shibui Linen.

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Tell us what’s on your needles, and share your finished projects with us on Instagram, @sunspunyarns.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Shibui-Collection-Square-3_medium

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

Shibui-Collection-Lineal-2_medium

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:

amirisu

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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Yarn in Focus: Isager ÅLJ

Isager01

 Vital statistics
100% pure wool
100 g/250 metres
Gauge: 20 stitches = 10 cm/4 inches on 4 mm needles

Every yarn has a story.

One of the new lines that we took on last year was Isager, which is a mainstay of Denmark’s knitting world. Designer, weaver and textile printer Marianne Isager, for whom yarn production and pattern design go hand in hand, took over the company in the late 1970s after the death of her friend and mentor, the knit designer Åase Lund Jensen. Their work draws from the Danish crafts tradition and is also influenced by the knitting styles of Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

Today, Marianne continues manufacturing Jensen’s yarns alongside her own. The Spinni, Tvinni and ÅLJ yarns are produced at Henrichsen’s Spinning Mill, a family-owned operation since 1885, with the fifth generation at the helm of what is possibly the last spinning mill in Denmark today. They source wool from other European countries, New Zealand and Australia, and their production methods take heed of environmental concerns and animal welfare.

We are proud to be the exclusive carriers of Isager yarns in Australia, and have been thrilled at how warmly they’ve been embraced by knitters.

swatch1a

Isager yarns are delicate but strong, and most lines come in a reasonably fine gauge, from lace to light sportweight. The one featured today is one of the few exceptions: the ÅLJ, sometimes known as Jensen.

ÅLJ is a heathered yarn that comes in 18 colours. This slightly rustic yarn is not the softest in the hank, but after a wash the swatch above softened beautifully and bloomed. Your garments will wear well for a long, long time. The inherent strength of the yarn makes it ideal for cables, and its crispness shows off stitches well. Each hank has generous meterage too.

What to make? A first port of call could be Marianne and her daughter Helga’s designs, published under the Amimono collection, which we stock.

Helga Isager’s Siberia Anorak with hidden pockets, a magnificent collar and her trademark geometric motif plies the ÅLJ with a mohair; while we don’t stock the Isager mohair, the Shibui Silk Cloud or Rowan Kidsilk Haze would work well.

Siberia-anorak     Source: Amimono

Here are some other ideas. For a simple cardigan, it’s hard to go past Eunny Jang’s Tangled Yoke Cardigan; the cables would pop and sit beautifully.

tanlged_yoke2     Source: Interweave Knits

Kirsten Johnstone’s Rauin is an elegant top-down cardigan with a ribbed neckband that flows down to wrap around the body.

rauinSource: Kirsten Johnstone; photographer Tamara Erbacher

For serious cable love, imagine being enveloped in Joji Locatelli’s aptly named Adventurous

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Or how about this beret of Pressed Leaves by Alana Dakos? The pattern is from her beautiful book Botanical Knits, which is full of woodland-themed patterns.

pressed_leaves0Source: Never Not Knitting

Another clever pattern is Georgie Hallam’s Lavender Hat, a simple slouchy that is knit inside out so there’s no purling and has a little mock cable worked without a cable needle.

lavender

Source: Tikki Knits

The traditional Shetland Hap shawl is a thing of great beauty, makes a perfect gift or for snuggling under in the winter months. Gudrun Johnston from The Shetland Trader’s Hansel can be easily adapted to make a larger shawl depending on how much yarn you have; Brooklyn Tweed’s Kelpie uses a non-traditional construction and is triangular. Both are exquisite.

142-200x300Source: The Shetland Trader

kelpie-1

Source: Brooklyn Tweed

If you want something super simple, try this endlessly adaptable reversible cowl. Make a long, light loop with a single strand of yarn, or knit two (or three or more!) strands together for a chunky finish.
cowl2

This sample (not made in ÅLJ) is knit in the round over an even number of stitches, so first make a swatch (sorry). Work out how long and wide you’d like the loop. As a rough guide, for a cowl measuring about 120 cm/48 inches around and 15 cm/6 inches wide, you need to cast on 180 stitches.

Cast on an even number of stitches and join to work in the round.

Round 1: Knit.

Round 2: K1, P1, repeat to end.

Repeat rounds 1 and 2 until the desired width, and bind off.

Isager02

In store news, we have some neon Zara in-store. Now’s your chance to work up Stephen West’s Syncopation Adoration hat or a Bundled in Brioche scarf to brighten up winter days.

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Make your own happy socks with these self-striping yarns from Yarn vs Zombies! The yarn is lofty and luxuriously soft, the wool coming from Tasmanian Midlands sheep raised on sustainable farms. Each ball is hand-dyed and hand-wound, and stripe thickness varies depending on your gauge. Its generous yardage (about 470 metres per 100 g) means you should get a pair of socks from each ball.

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Finally, to carry all your projects around, we have some specially made project bags for the store. These beauties will hold a jumper-sized project, and the close-weaved linen/cotton blend means your needles won’t poke through or go AWOL.

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Until next time, happy knitting.


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In focus: Skein Yarns

Those of you who follow us on Instagram will already have seen the latest yarn to hit the Sunspun shelves but, for everyone else, may we introduce Skein Yarn…

Merino Silk Lace

Merino Silk Lace

Skein is a small, independent, hand-dyed yarn and fibre company based in the beautiful north coast of NSW, known for glorious colour and unique hand-dyed colour ways on high-quality yarns and fibres. We are so pleased to be able to carry Kristen’s yarns, mostly just because they are so beautiful and dyed with such care and detail but also because she is local and we are very keen to carry as much Australian yarn as we can! Kristen uses yarns made of high-quality, natural fibres (with the exception of some of her sock yarns, which have added nylon for strength and durability) and are kettle dyed using professional, acid-based dyes.  These dyes are permanently set by the use of a vinegar mordant and heat.  Once the dyes have been fully absorbed and the kettle water is clear, the yarns and fibre are removed, rinsed and washed with a light, phosphate-free wool wash, and then spun and hung out to dry under the Australian sun. Kristen produces semi-solid and variegated colourways with short, random colour repeats that minimise the ‘pooling’ common to hand-dyed yarns and results in a sometimes-subtle, sometimes lively, patterning. Speckles and spots of colour may be present, which, when knitted up, add depth and life to your knitting.  Yarns are dyed in batches of 500gm and dye-lots do vary between batches.

We currently have 3 Skein yarns:

Merino Silk Lace is a wonderfully soft, light and lustrous yarn that produces a fine, lightweight fabric with a wonderful drape and metallic sheen, making it ideal for lace projects, shawls and wraps. 

50% Merino, 50% silk

2ply weight in 6 colours

700 meters/ 100gm skein

Gentle hand wash in warm water

$32/ 100gm

Lace 4

Merino Silk Lace

 

Top Draw Sock is smooth, soft and durable, making it perfect for socks. It is soft enough to wear next to the skin, which means it is also a great choice for baby clothing and blankets and adult garments too. One skein will make an adult pair of socks.

85% superwash Merino, 15% nylon

4ply weight in 12 colours

400 meters in 95g

Gentle machine wash in cold water

$28/ 100gm

Top Draw Sock

Top Draw Sock

 

Merino Silk Sport is beautifully soft with the trademark lustre of silk. This yarn will produce a smooth, silky fabric with wonderful drape, making it perfect for cardigans, tops, jumpers and any garment worn next to the skin, as well as shawls and other accessories.
50% Merino, 50% silk
6ply weight in 27 colours
332 meters/ 95g skein
Gentle hand wash in warm water
$30/ 100gm
Merino Silk Sport

Merino Silk Sport

Sport 1

Sport 1

swatch

Swatching with Merino Silk Sport

 

We’ll be back next week with some tips on knitting with (and choosing patterns for) hand-dyed yarns!