Sunspun Fine Yarns


Leave a comment

Yarn in Focus: Shibui Baby Alpaca

Vital statistics

100% alpaca
100 g/233 metres
DK/8 ply
Gauge: 22 stitches = 10 cm on 4 mm needles
$26

d9476953b4d71f2379fc1d4083ecd9e5a0fdf2ef

What better way to welcome autumn than with Shibui Baby Alpaca, which is also our Product of the Month. Remember, we offer a 10% discount (20% for Sunspun members) on the chosen product of the month, and this yarn is seriously worth the investment.

The overall loveliness of Shibui yarns is well known, and Baby Alpaca is no less irresistible than the rest of their range. It is soft, soft, soft and silky in the hand, with a beautiful halo and the drape on finished items is heavenly to behold. The generous yardage also means that the yarn goes on and on and on.

IMG_1413 (1)The yarn is quite loosely plied (there are three strands), so you do have to watch that you don’t snag one of the strands when knitting. And don’t worry about any slight unevenness in your knitting: once soaked and dried, the stitches plump up beautifully and the swatch evens out with a gentle block. It is soft enough for next-to-the-skin wear, light and warm.

This is one of those 8 plies that’s almost like a sportweight/5 ply yarn, so you are likely able to use Baby Alpaca in patterns that call for sportweight yarn. Just swatch and see how the fabric knits up.

6987237725_ae057b3bf5_z

For a quick one-skein taster, how about Hinagiku Hat – this slouchy beanie has an allover daisy stitch pattern, is worked in the round and completely seamless. It’d make the perfect trans-seasonal hat.

One skein should be just enough to make the justly beloved Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief, a triangular shawl that can be made bigger or smaller depending on how much yarn you have – just add more garter eyelet and stocking stitch panels as needed.

Piega-rav-3_medium

Shibui yarns are made for plying with another yarn for different effects; this Piega cowl by Kristin Ford used a strand each of Shibui Silk Cloud and Baby Alpaca for a braided wonder that is fun to knit and will make a wonderful gift.

15439833162_7ff9e3897d_z

Heidi Kirrmaier’s Climb Every Mountain is a cape-like pullover worked from the top down, seamlessly and in the round, with short rows to shape the neckline. The drape from alpaca will make this truly luxurious.

DSC08757_medium2

Midnight Mix by Judy Brien is a simple and cosy classic sweater, its cable panel lending the piece some texture. There is minimal shaping so this piece, especially in alpaca with its drape, will skim. Because it’s knit top down, you can try it on as you go and adjust as necessary.

Resize_of_IMG_5861__e__medium2

Joji Locatelli’s True is like a knitted hug: a simple, generous cardigan that will be one of those pieces you return to again and again. It’s also convertible.

 

 

14209215014_b996a4c75f_z

As the Baby Alpaca is so light and warm, it’s ideal for kids’ clothes, perhaps My Honey, a sweet cardigan with a lacy yoke and puffed sleeves that will wear well. (Sample is knit in an alpaca yarn, though not the Shibui.)

2137807769_da42408232_z.jpg

Fans of stranded colourwork may want to try the luxurious lined Fiddlehead Mittens by Adrian Bizilia. Their warmth and your colour choice will chase away all winter blues. There are some stunning finished examples in Ravelry.

 


Leave a comment

March at Sunspun

It’s Autumn!! You know what that means – cooler weather is coming. The days are getting shorter, we are spending more time inside with our knitting and crochet warming our laps and keeping our hands extra busy and our spirits are soothed by the yarn running through our fingers.

autumn jumper pile

March is another busy month for us – lol, they all seem busy! We have our regular Friday Sit & Yarn – it is becoming sooooo popular and some wonderful friendships are being made. It is quite on the cards that we may even have our first baby born this month (the due date is early April but you know babies – their schedule is all their own!). Don’t forget this group is open to all. You can see the dates in the table below.

Wednesday nights sees more classes happening – including a class taught by our special guest teacher, Australian Designer extraordinaire, Kirsten Johnstone. Kirsten proudly flies the banner for Aussie designers internationally and has designed for some of the most popular yarn companies and magazines around today. We are absolutely thrilled to be able to have her garments in the shop for a Trunk Show. As well as teaching for us, Kirsten will participate in an (invitation only) Meet, Greet & Nibbles night for Sunspun Members and will also be in the shop to meet you all, answer questions and watch you try on her lovely garments! All the details can be found on our blog.

This year Easter has come early. We will have a display in the shop of some ‘Easter’ inspiration for you. The shop will be CLOSED from Good Friday through to Easter Monday and will OPEN again on Tuesday 29th March. We will remind you closer to the date.

As you know from a previous blog post, we now have a Product of the Month each and every month! The highlighted product for March is the exquisitely soft Baby Alpaca by Shibui Yarns. This beautiful yarn is an 8ply (DK), 100% baby alpaca yarn. It is so very soft – perfect for cowls, scarves and shawls. An upcoming blog post will tell you more and we have some items made up in the shop for you to see, touch and try on. A yarn that just cannot be ignored!!

Annnnnd ……. WE HAVE NEW YARNS!!!!

We will just give you the short version here because we will feature some of them in upcoming blog posts.

Zealana Rimu (8ply/DK) and Zealana Tui (12ply/Bulky) – both yarns are wool/possum blends
Shibui Maai (8ply/DK) alpaca/wool blend, chainette yarn
Woolfolk yarns – ALL of them!

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 7.50.20 AM

As always, our YouTube channel, Sunspun, has new videos to ‘teach’ you and our Ravelry group, Sunspun Fibre Folk, has new discussion threads for you to participate in.

Phew! Did you need a cuppa to get through all that?!?!? Well, save your energy for March because Sunspun will be ‘hopping’ (pun intended!!).

Happy ‘yarning’,
Karen.


1 Comment

Meet the Maker: Kirsten Johnstone, Assemblage

Namiki-red-165

Kirsten and her new pup Zali. She is wearing Namiki, a design with a treetops motif, knit in Woolfolk Tynd.

It is no secret that all of us at Sunspun are huge fans of knitwear designer and architect Kirsten Johnstone from Assemblage. Kirsten’s knits often feature simple, classic shapes with subtle, effective embellishment, and the finished pieces are timeless, to be dressed up or down as the occasion demands.

We admire Kirsten’s work so much that when it came time to refurbish our interiors in 2014, she was the logical choice, the one we thought who could understand the needs and workings of a yarn store, and how best to store and showcase yarn and finished objects.

We are pleased to have Kirsten coming instore on 9 March as a special guest teacher; she will be showing knitters how to make her Seven Circle neckpiece. Call or email us to book your place. In the meantime, make yourself a cuppa and meet the woman behind the knits.

Tell us a little about Assemblage: when it began, your ambitions for it, and how it has evolved.

Assemblage began soon after I discovered online blogging. It’s hard to imagine today, but there was a time when I didn’t know there was an online craft community! I had read an interview in The Age and they listed a website address. I opened the link, not really understanding what a blog was, and noticed all these extra links in the sidebar. Well, I was off and cruising my way through many of those key blogs from that first wave of online crafting. It was such a pivotal moment for me in terms of crafting.

I had always loved ‘making’ from a very young age and had stopped during my higher schooling and university years. The discovery of the online world of crafting was not only an encouragement but a relief – here was my tribe.

The knitting side of things really began with my discovery of Habu Textiles; their Kusha Kusha Felted Scarf was my first knit project in more than fifteen years, which reignited the tactile delight that knitting imparts and opened up a whole new world of yarn possibilities.

element_1_medium2

Element, from Wool People 9 for Brooklyn Tweed. Pic by Jared Flood.

It’s been so gratifying watching your designs from Melbourne go out into the wider world, through your association with Brooklyn Tweed, Shibui, Amirisu, Quince and Co. and Blue Sky Alpacas. It must be satisfying seeing your design sensibility so warmly embraced, and so many iterations of Seven Circle, Rauin, Zumthor, Kozue and Hane out there. How did those associations start?

It is always exciting to have my designs published and seeing people’s finished projects.

My first association was with Brooklyn Tweed, who contacted me with an invitation to submit a design for the inaugural Wool People series. I cannot tell you how exciting that was! Then I was invited by Shibui to submit a design for their Geometry Collection – I submitted three for them to choose from, and to my surprise and delight, they used all three. I love seeing a little bit of Melbourne being included in collections around the world.

2_col_loose_1_medium2.jpg

Fusuma is a cowl knit in Shibui Pebble.

When designing, are you led by the yarn you want to use or do you do your own thing? Or is it a combination of all that and other intangibles?

I suppose each designer has their own methodology and typically it depends on the scenario. If I am invited to submit a design, then the yarn is effectively already chosen so that becomes a given.

I try to maintain a sketchbook of ideas that I regularly refer back over. This is my primary design reference from which I draw ideas, perhaps annotate with a yarn and colourway, stitch pattern options, and thoughts on construction or design options for the piece.

The actual design is always something I want to wear. I decided at the very beginning that I didn’t want to design just for the sake of it; I wanted it to be enjoyable since it is my second job and therefore needed to be about joy in the process. They are always designs I love and wear, and hope others might too.

6a_medium2

The treetops motif in Kozue are also echoed in Namiki.

Your work is always so beautifully realised, the finishing impeccable, with details that lift a familiar silhouette into something more. What makes you tinker away at a hemline or a stitch pattern or revisit a beloved pattern of yours to give it a new twist?

Thank you. I have learnt so much since my first forays into knitwear design. The perfectionist in me seeks to ensure a quality fit, excellent construction and knitting technique. This has continued to develop along with my own understanding of knitwear design.

This is the beautiful thing about design in all its guises: each and every new project provides an opportunity to stretch myself as a designer, to grow, to develop, to try new things, to refine my process and outcomes.

1_medium2

Rauin; pic by Tamara Erbacher.

And how do you know when you’ve got it with a piece of work? Is something ever finished for you, or do you keep working away at published patterns – or, at the very least, let the subconscious work on it for you?

Ah, yes! The eternal designer’s question: when is the design complete? There are definitely times when yes, I feel the design is exactly what it should be and I am supremely pleased with the end result.

Sankai|Woman is an example of this. This design was an extension of one of my very first designs, Paper Crane. I love Paper Crane for its simplicity and how it plays with the inherent properties of knitted fabric to roll, which I showcased by juxtaposing two grains of stocking stitch across the bust. I thought these two features could also be applied in a more fitted and somewhat traditional sweater with some serious short-row shaping for a more polished result with hidden cuff details and tailored back shaping.

Paper Crane (left) and Sankai (right) have a fraternal resemblance. Sankai pic by Tamara Erbacher.

On average, how long does a piece take from first swatch to publication/upload?

If I am submitting a design to a company, I spend at least a month sketching, swatching, washing, blocking, photographing, drafting and then writing up my design proposal. I submit a PDF with all the relevant design information, which might include a sketch of the piece drawn to scale with dimensions (yes, ever the architect!) and possibly front and back views of the design, the design concept, yarn, gauge, needles, stitch pattern, design details and techniques.

Once the design is accepted, we agree on a date for the final knitted sample; it might be eight to twelve weeks later for a single piece, with a sized, graded and tech-edited pattern accompanying.

It might then take between four to six months for the yarn company release the pattern to the public. So, all up, somewhere between seven and twelve months.

For my self-published designs, the process is more organic. I have a small self-published collection coming out in Woolfolk Tynd soon. After initial sketches and swatches, I received the yarn and started work on the first design. Unfortunately at times the collection has been set aside for my work commitments but I am pleased to report I am now on the home straight. It has been two years in the making! Thankfully, not all my designs take this long – usually more like three to six months from start to pushing the ‘publish’ button.

Zumthor_7_medium2

Zumthor.

Do your patterns come to you resolved or does the success of the piece lie in the countless hours of finetuning and working with test knitters?

You can see from the above that my answer here is a definite no! For me, it is a process of countless hours of visualisation and contemplation, often in the early hours of the morning when I should be asleep.

I prefer to knit each design because I finetune the piece as I go. My sample knitter is fabulous, but I try to limit her potential frustration by providing designs that I have already worked through at least once. I trust her to point out any errors or ways I could phrase a particular technique or sequence to make it simpler or more readily understood by another knitter.

4_20sq_medium

Hane; pic by Tamara Erbacher.

We know you have another life as an award-winning architect. How do you reconcile both jobs? Do they play well together? It may be projection on my part, but it does seem like architectural elements find their way into your knits.

While I love designing knitwear, I work hard to ensure it stays fun and is a positive, creative outlet. At the end of each day, I love sitting on the couch with my knitting for a little bit of ‘me-time’. Being an architect is definitely my main role and not something I am willing to give up just yet.

I agree with you, my design aesthetic plays across both my architecture and my knitwear design: clean and minimal, highly functional and efficient, considered and refined. I also love sewing and photography, and have dabbled in ceramics and printmaking. I see a consistent design aesthetic across all these disciplines.

image_medium2.jpg

The Fractal Cowl is a sliver of Melbourne for the world: the triangles in the body of the cowl are inspired by the architecture at Federation Square, designed by Lab Architecture Studio.

What are the challenges to running your own business? How do you get the business and the creative aspects to mesh?

There are many challenges. Architecturally speaking I always need to find new clients; the majority of my projects come via personal recommendation.

Also work–life balance and time management (24 hours are simply not enough!) are big challenges. While there are many benefits to running your own business there are most definitely times I wish I could simply clock off and leave it all behind at the office. For me, knitting is an excellent way to relax and switch off while still being creative.

What and who inspires you?

I am passionate about modern design in all its forms – architecture, art, ceramics, fashion, food, furniture, sculpture … the list is long. Japanese design and designers. I love the concept of simplicity – the process of paring back to the essentials to release an inherent beauty or key element.

Amime_1_medium2

Amime; pic by Tamara Erbacher.

What is on the horizon for Assemblage?

2016 is going to be a great year for Assemblage! I have two design commissions to be released in the first half of 2016 along with new self-published designs, including two small collections in Woolfolk, two pieces in Habu and a re-release of a design in Shibui. I’m excited about the next chapter and I so love being a part of this crafting community.

Pebble_2_small2And a big thank you to Sunspun, who are avid supporters of my designs and my local yarn store. I look forward to meeting some of you at the class in March!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~

It’s been such a pleasure having Kirsten with us. Come and say hello to her on 9 March for the Seven Circles class, and knit one of her designs – we promise you won’t be disappointed!


Leave a comment

We’re Having a Trunk Show with Kirsten Johnstone!

Have you heard of a Trunk Show before?
No? Then read on! Yes? Then read on!

A Trunk Show is a selection of knitted samples from yarn companies or designers that a shop can borrow for a short period of time to allow its customers to see what patterns or yarns will look like when they are knitted up. It is a special event that allows folk to come and see items that are not normally on display. As wonderful an asset to our knitting world as the internet has become, opening up the works of all designers to all knitters around the globe, nothing appeals like touching and feeling the garments and accessories that have so cleverly been created. And often a Trunk Show will include a visit by the designer to meet and chat to customers in the shop.

And so, without out any further ado, let me introduce you to Kirsten Johnstone and give you the details of the forthcoming trunk show.

Kirsten is a local Melbourne gal who has made a wonderful splash on the international knitting scene. She has designed for such influential companies as Brooklyn Tweed, Quince & Co, Woolfolk, Blue Sky Alpacas, amirisu and Shibui Knits. In her ‘other’ life (you know, when she is not knitting!) Kirsten is an architect and her love of clean lines and structure can be seen in her knitting designs. As she describes her garments “designs with a distinctive urban edge yet elegantly wearable”.

Odaki-Long-17-20sq-1.jpg

We are thrilled to be able to share Kirsten’s designs with you over the span of a week or so in March. We will have a selection of 16 garments and accessories in the shop for you to touch, feel and try on! Additionally, Kirsten’s patterns will be available for purchase with a 5% discount (15% for Sunspun Members) for the duration of the trunk show. Annnnd ……. Kirsten will be in the shop on Saturday morning to say hi, answer questions and sign patterns!

Kirsten has graciously agreed to teach a class for us as well! On Wednesday 9th March (6.15 – 9.15pm) we have scheduled her Sev[en]circles Neckpiece class. If you would like to book in now is the time as places are already filling. Just call us (9830 1609) and we can book you in and secure your spot.

MillaMia_4_medium2.jpg

A special treat for Sunspun Members is a Meet, Greet and Nibbles night with Kirsten on Friday night. Oh …… and did I mention the Fashion Parade!!! For those of us who are ‘models’ – a very scary proposition!! Please make sure you RSVP by the required date (see your Invitation email) so we make sure to order sufficient nibbles.

AB_1_20sq_medium2.jpg

So, we hope that you will come along and touch and feel and try on and chat and enjoy the wonderful talent of Kirsten Johnstone – Aussie designer extraordinaire!

Happy ‘yarning’,
Amy, Karen and Nicole.                          Zenmon-2-650x650.jpg

 

Event details summarised below !

Trunk Show Details
Sat 5th March – Sat 12th March
Meet Kirsten Sat 5th March 11am-2pm
Discounted patterns during show

orange_hero_large_1_medium2.jpg
Sunspun Member Event
(by invitation only)

Friday 4th March
Times: 6.30 – 8.30pm
Food provided; free event
Fashion Parade


Leave a comment

Xmas and 2015 in Review

Can you believe it is Xmas time already?!?!?

shutterstock_340247306

2015 has been a big year here at Sunspun

  • We farewelled Jules and Jackie and welcomed Karen and Nicole.
  • We welcomed Sue and Melinda as visiting teachers.
  • A past member of our Sunspun Family, Kylie, released the first patterns for her label, Whisky Bay Woollens.
  • We had our first off site stall at The Craft Sessions.
  • Our huge Spring Clean Sale saw so much yarn heading home with many happy yarn folk!
  • Cascade 220, a much loved yarn around the world, was added to our yarn range and it has been mega popular.
  • We introduced several new yarns into our range – yarns from Zealana containing possum fibres – Heron and Air, Trapillo from Trap Art and Twig from Shibui just to name a few. Mmmm …..
  • We had some interesting and entertaining blog posts – for example Craft on Film, Slow Craft, Knitting in Scotland and crafting in Paris – ooh la la!!
  • We introduced our Magazine Subscription Service to ensure you always have the magazines you love.
  • We held our first Summer Yarn Tasting – it was a full house with those eager to try some summer weight yarns. This may be the first of many ‘yarn tasting’ events. Shhh don’t tell anyone – it’s a secret!!
  • Our new Sit & Yarn group has started. Feel free to join in on Friday mornings from 11am-1pm.
  • We launched our very own youtube channel – Sunspun. Keep watch for more and more tutorials to be added.
  • We held our first KAL/CAL – a shawl along – in fact, it is still going and you can still join in. Details in our ravelry group thread.
  • We expanded our pattern range by releasing three new free patterns just in time for xmas – Mesh Scarf, Textured Summer Cushion and Grandmother’s Favourite Face Washer. For your convenience, we have included all the bits and bobs – fabric, buttons and cushion insert – in a kit for the Textured Summer Cushion. Expect more new patterns next year.
  • We have assembled two beautiful gift packs – a Knitter’s Care Pack and a Mitts Pack. We love these!

     

    Both our ravelry group – Sunspun Fibre Folk – and Facebook page have been re-invigorated so feel free to follow our shenanigans in these places. You may even find something you would like to join in…..

     

    Phew – as you can see – a busy, busy year …… but what fun we had!!

     

    Our last day of trading for 2015 is Christmas Eve – Thursday 24th December. We will be open till our usual closing time – 5pm. We will be having a small break between Christmas and New Year and will re-open 10am Tuesday 5th January 2016. We will remind you, via Instagram and Facebook, closer to the date so you have a chance to grab any last minute things you may need to carry you over our ‘re-charge the batteries’ break!

     

    Happy ‘yarning’,
    The Sunspun Team
    Amy, Karen and Nicole

     


Leave a comment

Yarn in Focus: Shibui Twig

Vital statistics

46% linen, 42% recycled silk, 12% wool
50 g/174 metres
Sportweight
Gauge: 22 stitches = 10 cm on 3.5 mm needles
$24 per skein

IMG_3294

Just in time for the warmer months is a new-to-us yarn from Shibui that combines linen, silk and wool. Not surprisingly, the resultant yarn combines the better qualities of those fibres: the linen producing a lightweight fabric with a hint of crispness that softens a bit more with each wash, and the silk a slight shimmer, making Twig ideal for trans-seasonal garments that you can layer.

IMG_3320The dominant linen and silk make-up also means that the yarn is less yielding in the hand when knitting, and can feel a little stringy and stiff, like most linen yarns can be. Unlike the Shibui Linen, which has a chainette structure and is therefore softer, Twig is made up of multiple individual plies, each of a single fibre. You may need to change metal or wooden needles depending on how tightly or loosely you knit to prevent the squeak and the work getting too tight.

FullSizeRender

Amy swatched in this yarn and found it tended to bias a little (see pic above). The swatch will probably relax when given a good bath and blocked, but it’s something to watch for. Also, again because of the linen, uneven tensioning and stitches do not always block out, so go slow until you get the hang and work out the tricks with handling this yarn!

With the linen and silk, perhaps consider garments that drape, have flowing lines, and simple shaping that does not rely overly much on yarn elasticity. Think Calvin Klein or Eileen Fisher garments; Shellie Anderson seems to have channelled those designers in her Slope Tank, which also includes a feature hem done in short rows. That says summer in a pic, doesn’t it?

Shibui-Collection-Slope-1_mediumOr Heidi Kirrmaier’s sleek and minimalist Fine Sand cardigan, which showcases the wabi-sabi qualities of the fabric. The top-down cardigan has simple, elegant lines, and a lightly shaped front section. This most wearable garment has wardrobe staple stamped all over it.

16659670353_f4301bc5cc_zIf you’re familiar with Shibui yarns, you’d know they are designed to be paired with other Shibui yarns to produce different fabrics and endless effects. The Trestle tee blends Twig with Pebble for a tunic-style tee that will wear well from late summer into autumn.

High_Trestle_Tee_1_medium2-1

Kristin Ford’s Mix No. 3 is an ethereal-and-solid shawl that is very versatile and can be worn in so many different ways – as a shawl, or pulled together into a scarf. Those transparent stripes are such a lovely feature. The original pattern calls for Staccato and Silk Cloud, but you can substitute with Twig and Silk Cloud for a different but no less elegant effect.

Shibui-Mix-3-4_medium

If you cannot choose between the twelve different Twig colourways, perhaps Judy Brien’s Okapi is an option – you can play around with colour combinations as your heart desires! This top-down, seamless sweater has saddle shoulders. The pattern calls for a lace-weight yarn held double, so a single strand of Twig should work (you won’t get that marled look though), but swatch before you begin.

DSC06100_medium2Lace lovers need to check out the stunning allover lace that features in the Hitofude Cardigan, which will show off the yarn beautifully; we can imagine the linen and silk contributing to the cardigan’s overall drape. There are some stunning finished examples on Ravelry – look them up and be inspired!

9679091926_3d4c0fa20a_n

Summer Yarn Tasting Feature Image


2 Comments

Summer Yarn Tasting

What, I hear you say, is Yarn Tasting?  I’m so glad you asked!!  You know how the bread shop gives you little samples to try so you know what you really like?  Well, we are giving you little samples to try so you know what you really like!

Summer presents many opportunities for yarn lovers to expand their horizons and knit/crochet with a whole variety of things that they perhaps haven’t tried before.  We know we are all wool, cashmere and alpaca lovers but have you experienced the wonderful crunch of linen, the softness of cotton or the beautiful sheen of bamboo?

FullSizeRender

We have decided that you all need to try these intriguing and fabulous yarns and experience the different textured fabrics they produce.  In a country with the weather vagaries that Australia experiences it just makes sense to have some summer yarns and projects as part of your ‘yarny’ repertoire.  So details …….

When:              Saturday 5th December 2015     11am – 3pm

Where:            Sunspun Shop – 185 Canterbury Rd, Canterbury

What to bring:    Knitting needles/crochet hooks in sizes 3.25mm, 3.50mm, 4.00mm (note knitting needles/crochet hooks can’t be supplied)

Cost:                  Enthusiasm!

We will have small amounts of various yarns wound off for you to try.  You will be able to take home all the swatches you make for your swatch library (we know you all have one!!!).  We will have some samples made up for you to see how these yarns behave in ‘bigger than swatch size’ fabric and some patterns that would be suitable for them as well.

IMG_3294.JPG

As a bonus and a ‘thank you for coming’, if you purchase any of the featured yarns or patterns on the day, you will receive a 10% discount.

Please let us know if you are coming to participate (you can email shop@sunspun.com.au us or phone us 03 9830 1609) so we can make sure we have enough yarn prepared.

How exciting – yarn never ‘tasted’ so good!!

Happy ‘yarning’

Karen.