Sunspun Fine Yarns

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Product of the Month – July 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

IMG_8601_medium2Source: Amy Christoffers

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


Source: Kate Davies Designs

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


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


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


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


In focus: Shilasdair Yarns

We’ve just received more of our eagerly-anticipated new yarns, this time from Shilasdair on the Isle of Skye, off the west coast of Scotland… Allow us to to introduce you to Shilasdair Luxury 4ply and DK! These beauties are naturally dyed with traditional dyestuffs and come in the most wonderful, rich and saturated range of colours:


Shilasdair Luxury 4ply and 8ply

Shilasdair Luxury 4ply and 8ply


After moving to Skye from London in the early 1970’s, Eva Lambert started dyeing with natural materials as a way of creating the colours she wanted to use in her work as a tapestry weaver. Lots of interest from other craftspeople and yarn shops meant that, before too long, Eva was dyeing full time and had opened Shilasdair, a small yarn shop and studio in Waternish, now a much-loved stop on the Skye tourist trail. She recently handed over the running of the studio and shop to others, allowing her to concentrate on dyeing large quantities to sell to yarn shops all over the work- like us! We are super excited to be the first shop in Australia to carry Eva’s beautiful yarns.

Eva combines locally-available dye plants, such as tansy and meadowsweet that she harvests herself, with exotic cultivated plants, such as madder and indigo, and this combination of everyday and rare plants allows her to create an range of 24 varied and subtle colours. Any given colour may be the result of 2, 3 or more turns in the dyepot, so the process is slow and full of magic. She has developed a system of dyeing 20kg of yarn at a time, so, although shades may be different from batch to batch, the dye lots are large enough to make knitting garments from Shilasdair easy, something that is quite uncommon in natural dyeing.


Reds, pinks and purples

Reds, pinks and purples






Some are solid colours, while others have more variegation:


Subtle colour variegation

Subtle colour variegation


And below, next to the yellows, is the undyed yarn, a lovely, soft fleecy colour that works beautifully with the dyed yarns. You can see more of the colours at Shilasdair and, of course, in the shop!


Natural and yellows

Natural and yellows


You can also see the lovely texture of the yarn base, a luxurious blend of merino, angora, camel and cashmere. This is the kind of yarn that blooms and softens the more you wear it; it’s plenty soft for childrens garments but is also durable enough to stand up to being an everyday garment. And the slight halo that lifts as you knit with and wash it makes it a perfect candidate for colourwork, ensuring that stitches and colours blend and merge in a wonderful way.

So, can you tell how excited we are about Shilasdair?! We hope you love it too.

(And, if you’re interested, you can see a bit more of Shilasdair, including the surrounding landscape, studio and more on Jules’ blog from her visit there in 2010!)


Ideal uses for Shilasdair Luxury:

Adults and children’s garments, baby blankets, colourwork knitting…


Vital stats for Shilasdair Luxury 4ply:

Yarn weight:  4ply or fingering

Tension:  24- 28st/ 10cm

Needle size:  3 to 3.5mm

Metrage:  200m per 50gm

Fibre composition: 40% merino, 40% angora, 10% cashmere, 10% baby camel

Price: $14 per 50gm skein


Vital stats for Shilasdair Luxury DK:

Yarn weight:  8ply

Tension:  22st/ 10cm

Needle size:  4mm

Metrage:  300m per 100gm

Fibre composition: 40% merino, 40% angora, 10% cashmere, 10% baby camel

Price: $25 per 100gm skein