Sunspun Fine Yarns


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Things to See & Make

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Source: Lamington Drive

To look and find

The walls at Lamington Drive have been transformed into pages from Beci Orpin’s latest book, Find Me a Castle. The look-and-find exhibition will be on until 5 September 2015, and looks to be great fun for kids small and not-so-small. At 101A Sackville Street, Collingwood.

To make (i)

Isabell Kraemer’s Reagan has to be the prettiest cardigan we’ve seen in a while, and best of all, it’s one of those that you can flip and wear upside-down. The pattern calls for a wool–cotton yarn, which makes the finished garment perfect for layering. Start now, and you can wear it on spring days and cool summer nights. Reagan

To make (ii)

Our interest in allover patterning continues, and Melanie Berg’s Threshold ticks all those sweater boxes: top town, seamless, boat neck, a subtle criss-cross design, drop-shoulder construction and a boxy cut. One to make if you look forward to many evenings of purely meditative knitting.

Threshold

To lift you up

Do you use moodboards? They are a particularly effective tool for when you’re looking to expand your colour and design horizons. Tanis Fiber Arts posts hers every Monday. Whether you’re looking for a lift, or a touch of simple beauty as you go about your day, there’s something to suit every, um, mood.

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Source: Tanis Fiber Arts

To hatalong

Fringe Hatalongs are becoming a bit of a thing now (Amy made the Hermaness Worsted), and the latest project is just up if you want to join in. This time, the project is based on colourwork. The pattern uses between 80 and 125 metres of a main colour and 14–20 metres of a contrast colour in worsted-weight wool. (Cascade would work well.)

To applaud

Debbie Bliss, well known internationally for her amazing yarns and designs has been awarded an MBE for her services in knitting and craft in the recent Queen’s birthday honours list. It is so inspiring to see knitting and the crafts make the headlines, and Debbie’s work thus acknowledged!

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Two Cultures

As someone who both knits and crochets, it’s been a little surprising to learn recently of the so-called ‘divide’ between those who knit and those who crochet. Who knew?

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When this grows up, it’ll be a rainbow blanket. Pattern based on the Ridge & Furrow Scarf

The two cultures question came up because my four-year-old niece asked me to make her a rainbow blanket. Easy, I thought, granny squares, here I come: it’s modular, I can tuck a square in here and there, and after a few hundred of them, we’ll be done.

Then I started planning, and realised that I may just have to … knit this blanket. Which led me to wonder, what considerations do people take into account when choosing to knit or crochet something?

If you are new to the needle arts, many people say crochet is easier to pick up, since it uses only a hook, and you have to manage one stitch/loop at any one time. Just know that crochet uses a bit more yarn than knitting in basic stocking or garter stitch. (Here’s a test that someone’s done, if these things interest you.)

Knitting can feel unwieldy until you get the hang of it, and therefore frustrating – who hasn’t encountered twisted and dropped stitches, wrong stitch counts, slippery yarn that won’t stay on, and so on. Plus, beyond knitting needles of the right size, you often need needles of the right length as well for the job at hand.

My decision to knit came about primarily because I wanted to use stash yarn, and there wasn’t enough of every rainbow-ish colour in 8 ply. I did have all the colours that made up the rainbow, but of different tones and hues.

The other consideration was weight: the granny-square blankets we have are quite heavy, compared to the knitted ones, and the fabric much sturdier. I wanted something softer that draped.

What I knit and crochet fall into very clear categories. I crochet in summer when it’s too hot to have a growing pile of something on my lap, and when I feel a need for instant gratification, so it’s mainly toys and homewares – not surprising, since sturdiness is a necessary and desired quality for all those items. And I always crochet for school-fete goods such as little bowls, brooches, jewellery, mandalas, small colourful items and Christmas snowflakes.

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A simple cuff crocheted in four rows of star stitch in a Japanese cotton yarn,
finished with an oversized mother-of-pearl button.

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The round mandalas are by Lucy at Attic24, and the scallop-edged ones are Barbara Smith’s Little Spring Mandala

But for garments and items like hats and mitts, knitting wins hands down – it’s all about the fabric for me, and knitted fabric has more give. (You can go up a crochet hook size for a looser fabric, but the drape is still not quite the same.)

At the end of the day, both are complementary skills that are portable, easy to execute and don’t require impossible machines. If you know one and want to learn the other, we run classes in both. Discover for yourself! And take inspiration from Japanese designer Setsuko Torii, whose work often combines both cultures to quite dramatic effect, as in this Patchwork Skirt.

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In store news, we have 22 shades of the Debbie Bliss Blue Faced Leicester instore. This lovely DK-weight yarn from a heritage breed produces soft wool with lovely drape and lustre, and the stitch definition is excellent. Each 50 g ball yields 108 metres, and is $11 per ball.

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Brooklyn Tweed’s Wool People 9 is just out too, and features some beautiful lacework and architectural pieces, perfect to chase away winter evenings with while you dream of spring.

koto_5_medium2 loden_2_medium2    gehry_2_medium2


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Things We Love

Well, winter certainly hit with a vengeance in Melbourne this week after the last few weeks of serenely mild autumn days! All the more reason to bunker down with a new project or to finish an existing one. With the focus turning a bit more homeward and inward, we thought we’d share some favourites with you: in this case, something to listen to, to read and to admire.

The Woolful podcast: the latest episode is now available here, on iTunes and Stitcher, and features a mother-and-daughter team who run Flying Fibers in Pennsylvania that preserves rare-breed Wensleydale, Leicester and Longwool sheep. Woolful have more than twenty podcasts ready for downloading, which showcase lots of artists, producers, makers and introduce many kinds of craft – perfect for listening to when you’re going about your day. (If you’re after a non-woolly podcast, try Meshel Laurie’s Nitty-Gritty Committee podcast, also available from iTunes.)

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Source: Woolful.com

Principles of Knitting by June Hiatt: if there is one knitting reference book you need in your life, this 736-page classic is it. It’s like having a good friend at your elbow for those times when you’re stuck or wondering at the merits of a particular technique over another. The new edition features updated instructions and information that beginners and experienced knitters alike will find useful. Hiatt explains the how, but also the why, which helps you make an informed choice, depending on the effect you want to achieve.

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Fringe Supply & Co: it’s no secret that we love Fringe Supply and stock quite a few of their tools and accessories – the brass stitch markers pictured below will last forever, and wear beautifully. They run a very fine blog, too.

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That knitters are particular about their tools, especially their needles, and loyal to them, is no great revelation. Finding just the right tool for the job makes the act of making that much more pleasurable. Here are some of our favourites this week.

Nicole loves her Knit Pro Symfonie interchangeable knitting needles, which she uses for almost every knitting project. She also picked up a Clover Amour crochet hook for the first time and ‘am most definitely falling in love’ – it’s ‘so comfortable to use’. Another thing she swears by are stitch markers and a good gauge ruler.

Like Nicole, I’m a Knit Pro interchangeable girl, but I must confess that, having used the Addi Turbo Lace needles to make a Robin, I’m starting to understand why they are so beloved. The sharp Addi tips are fabulous when you need to knit stitches through the back loop, and there is enough drag on the needles that the stitches don’t slip off.

Amy’s new favourite tool at the moment is this Sistema snack container that’s ‘the perfect size for carrying my tools on the go. It has a separate container inside that can hold stitch markers. When the lid is down I can also fit longer things like a pencil or needle gauge on top. I got it from the supermarket’.

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In store news, we have Arne & Carlos’ Regia sock yarns in stock. These Norwegian-accented colour combinations are justly popular, and Regia sock yarns wear very well. In our excitement to get the socks on the shelves, though, we didn’t realise till later that our stock is of 50 g instead of the more usual 100 g balls. If you bought the yarn in the last week or so and paid $14 each, please come back in for a refund. The 50 g balls (209 metres) are $7 each.

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There are also heaps of new books instore, including a Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran book for kids. (I wonder if I can upsize that cape …)

11203209_1412866669035050_576497587_nAnd how cute are these little tins for treasures?
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Drop by and say hello, and tell us what’s on your needles. Stay warm!


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Art & Fashion

A slight change of pace this week.

This year’s Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Program honours the work of Jenny Kee and her four-decade contribution to Australian fashion. Together with Linda Jackson at their shop Flamingo Park, Jenny and Linda presented a truly unique idea of Australian fashion that drew on our cultural and natural landscape, and elements of indigenous art. Their clothes were colourful, audacious and, most of all, fun.

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Source: Jenny Kee, Winter Knits

Jenny’s influence and aesthetic extends to the present day, most notably in her collaboration with local designers Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett from Romance Was Born.

For the exhibition ‘A New Beginning’ at Melbourne gallery Pieces of Eight, Jenny has created a limited edition capsule collection that references her iconic designs and motifs, including the Sturt pea, banksia and especially her beloved waratah.  As Jenny herself has said, ‘This collection represents a blend of Italian Baruffa wool, Chinese knitting technology with Australian design – my heritage in one!’

The exhibition goes until 28 March – you can’t miss the stunning installation by paper artist Benja Harney at the entrance, with Jenny’s trademark red glasses greeting you on approach.

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Source: photograph by Andrew Barcham, courtesy of Pieces of Eight Gallery

PO820150216_JennyKeeKateRhode_34  Source: photograph by Kim Wearne, courtesy of Pieces of Eight Gallery

You can knit a Jenny item of your own from her pattern books Winter Knits and Nature Knits (try eBay or secondhand shops).

WinterKnitsJenny’s work is very adaptable, and the character and mood of a piece alters altogether with even just a palette change. Her Peace sweater below, for instance, looks completely different when knit in black and white and in colour.

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The individual motifs from some patterns can be pulled out for different uses, for instance in this hand-knit scarf, which was made for Jenny herself. (Pic is of the unblocked scarf.)9543359231_22252c2dc4_o

The same motifs work beautifully in this limited-edition machine-knitted beanie, which is available for sale with the rest of her new collection at Pieces of Eight.

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In store news, sixteen wonderful shades of Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal have arrived. This 4 ply fine tweed yarn, a blend of wool and cashmere, is a good substitute for Brooklyn Tweed’s Loft. Each 100 g ball is 380 metres, so, depending on the pattern, four balls should more than suffice for an adult garment. As always, larger balls means fewer ends to deal with!

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Debbie Bliss patterns for this yarn include delicate shawls, cosy cowls and classic sweaters. We have the book instore, so please drop by and have a look.

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Easter trading: We are closed from Easter Friday, 3 April, until Easter Monday, 6 April, reopening on 7 April.

We are starting to plan and stock up for our own holiday projects. Come in and tell us yours!