Where is Autumn?

autumn_evrgAutumn: a simple word but to me it heralds the end to a hot and humid Brisbane summer. It’s when I can think about gearing up for cooler weather and look forward to winter eventually arriving. Autumn means it’s more comfortable for knitting and spinning but having said that I try to knit 365 days a year and I spin throughout the year although I do more in winter.

It also means that it’s getting closer to when I can start wearing my knitted scarves and socks of which I have sooo many!!

But more importantly autumn means those gorgeous colours that I love so much…

Autumn image 1-tileThose explosions of stunningly beautiful golds, oranges, rusts, browns, reds and greens (and even pinks).

Autumn image 5-tileThey simply take my breath away…

Autumn image 10-tileNow you can see where some yarn dyers get their inspiration from…

Autumn image 14-tileAnd that’s why I tend to lean towards these autumn shades when I purchase my yarn…

Zen Yarn Garden Pumpkin Pie Spice 04Shorn Fibers Serengeti 07Shorn Fibres Autumn Leaves 3Autumn Cowl 01Autumn Citron 01Sunset Shawlette 01Moda Vera Harmony 02Moda Vera Hue 01Moda Vera Spinnler 02BWM Bloom Orange 03BWM Bloom Green 03I don’t think you can beat these colours when it comes to the range of different shades and their affinity to nature.

If you want to see a real display of autumn colour, you can’t really beat the autumns in Melbourne…

Melbourne autumn 1-tileSONY DSCWhat do you think? Doesn’t autumn offer such a wonderful palette of colours for yarn dyers?

So wonderful in fact, that Zen Yarn Garden created this gorgeous autumn inspired yarn combo of three skeins which I am going to use to make Melanie Berg’s Ashburn Shawl.

Zen Yarn Autumn Splendour 01Zen Inspiration Autumn 03And now back to the title of this post? Where is Autumn? We are now one third through Autumn in Brisbane and it is still summer!!! The last couple of days have been quite humid and yesterday we had a huge storm. I want it to start getting cooler!!! It certainly does not bode well for a cold winter does it?

If you’ve noticed that I haven’t posted any completed projects lately, it’s because I have a number of small ones on the go and one large project that I started in January that is taking quite a while to complete. But the good news is that I only have four more rows to go until it’s finished!

Only four rows you might say. But each row is taking me about an hour to do as I’m using beads and there’s more than 600 stitches in each row. Yes, it’s my first attempt at a real laceweight shawl. The pattern I’m knitting is Athanasia Andritsou’s Wavy Leaves and Butterflies Shawl. Once it’s finished I’m going to have to psych myself up to block it. I actually have two other projects that need blocking as well :-(

To me blocking is like ironing and emptying the dishwasher; I simply don’t enjoy it! In fact, I have to be in the mood to block a garment. I’m always so happy once the job is done as the garment looks wonderful after a good blocking but the process is too tedious for me.

What about you? Do you like blocking? I wish I could out-source it to someone who loves to block :-) Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Until next time…

Melanie

Pottery Yarn Bowls

Wellington is one of the cities that I’ll be spending a day in during my cruise around New Zealand in April. I am very fortunate as I’ll be met at the pier and taken to a local spinners guild to spend the day as well as some other sightseeing. One place that my hosts have mentioned is Pauaworld at Masterton. New Zealand has obviously replenished its supplies of paua sheel as I thought I’d bought it all in 2006 when I did a three week coach trip through both islands. :-) I absolutely adore the paua shell! How can you not love all those shades of blue and green.

Paua shell 1-tileThe two people who are so kindly driving me around Wellington are Mary and Fred. I first spoke to Mary (via the internet) a couple of years ago when I bought a Little Peggy spinning wheel. I was very much a novice and had no idea of wheels at all. Mary kindly answered all my questions and sent me some information leaflets which I have since loaded onto my site for all to see.

Mary is also the administrator of the New Zealand spinning wheels website which is a detailed history of New Zealand wheels and their makers. Mary also looked after the Australian spinning wheels website but this has now been handed over to an Aussie to manage.

Now I’ve been trying to work out what to take as a token of my appreciation so I thought why not ask Mary if there’s anything she’d like me to bring from Brisbane. I’m so glad I did as she mentioned she’d love one of the pottery yarn bowls made by Kimberly from Earth & Stone Creations. I emailed Kimberly and discovered she didn’t live too far from my place. Kimberly has an Etsy shop too. So yesterday I drove to Kimberly’s home and picked up a yarn bowl for Mary and one for me too!

Yarn bowls 01Aren’t they so beautiful!! Mine is the green one.

Yarn bowls 04And I’ll give Mary the orange one. They sit on little padded feet so they won’t scratch your tiled floors.

Yarn bowls 02Another little gift I will give Mary is one of the Country Drawstring Bags that I’ve just made. I picked up this acrylic for only $2 a ball from Lincraft and it’s so perfect for this project. You don’t really want an expensive wool for a bag but rather an acrylic that can handle the rough wear and tear and washing.

Drawstring bag Autumn 01I love these little bags. In fact, I’m making another Autumn one for me too.

Drawstring bag Autumn 05I think this will be the perfect little holder for Mary’s yarn bowl don’t you?

Drawstring bag Autumn 03

Another bit of good news from this story is that while I was at Kimberly’s home I instantly thought how well her pottery and earrings would sell at our Open Day in June so I contacted our Convenor who has now contacted Kimberly. So it’s a win-win for everyone; Mary and I get our yarn bowls; Kimberly finds a new outlet to sell her wares; and the Redlands Spinners & Weavers Open Day Convenor finds another wonderful quality trader!!

It’s time for me to now have a cuppa, read the paper and do some knitting. I’ve been up since 6am washing the car before the sun came out. As it’s a new car I want to try and wash it regularly. I wonder how long the early morning rises on a weekend will last!!

Until next time…

Melanie

A Nifty Little Drawstring Bag

Every Christmas I ask my son to buy me the same present year after year. I think he’s secretly pleased as I even tell him where it’s being sold so he doesn’t have to do much thinking. It’s the yearly knitting calendar which I absolutely adore.

2015 CalendarIt’s exciting (well for me anyway :-) ) to turn to a new pattern every couple of days to see what will take my fancy.

This is one pattern that appealed to me straight away. A very simple knit called the Country Drawstring Bag.

Drawstring Brownn 01The pattern calls for DK yarn using two strands and 3.75mm needles. I used this Moda Vera Instinctive yarn which is quite a thick DK 100% acrylic yarn. For a bag I’d rather use acrylic as it’s cheaper and will be able to stand up to all the wear and tear (and washing).

Moda Vera Instinctive 01I actually ran out of yarn when I was making the handles so I’ve used some black yarn instead.

Drawstring Brownn 03The perplexing thing is I’m 100% positive I have more of this yarn but do you think I could find it in my stash? No, I couldn’t!! So when I eventually come across it, I’ll just unpick that black part of the I-cord and redo it using the correct yarn. I don’t really think it detracts from the bag though.

My hands got quite achy while making this bag as I was using size 5mm needles and with the two strands of yarn it was a bit of a battle at times but I persevered and I now have quite a large drawstring project bag.

It has a nice sized base to sit on.

Drawstring Brownn 04Once there are too many stitches on the dpns you change to circular needles. There were a maximum of 128 sts on the needles.

It is really sturdy and I am very happy with the completed bag.

The pattern writer is AnnVG on Ravelry so if you really want the pattern you could contact her.

Drawstring Brownn 05I’ve already started on another bag which will be made from another 100% acrylic DK in a colourway called ‘Autumn’. I’m using size 4.5mm needles as the yarn is not as thick as the Instinctive yarn. I’ll show it to you as soon as it’s finished.

Drawstring Brownn 02Drawstring Brownn 06

The great thing about this bag pattern is that tension really doesn’t matter and you could use any size yarn and needles and the result will be a different sized bag.

Until next time…

Melanie

A Riot of Yarn Colour

Okay, you must admit it’s been a while since I’ve shown you any yarn purchases hasn’t it? I’ve really tried to restrain myself and not buy any more yarn and I’ve been relatively successful but could not resist these beauties.

Five balls of this gorgeous Bendigo Woollen Mills Bloom which is a 100% plied DK wool. Each ball weighs 200g and was only AU$10!!

BWM Bloom Green 01This is a graduated changing yarn.

BWM Bloom Green 03And the same yarn in orange….of course…..you know how much I love this colour!

BWM Bloom Orange 01I thought I’d been sent one ball in apricot until a friend very kindly pointed out that it’s probably part of the graduated colour change and she was right.

BWM Bloom Orange 03 I bought these four skeins of Fleece Artist Aran yarn on Ebay a couple of weeks ago from my favourite Ebay yarn shop - A Chronic Yarnoholic. I’m not usually one to buy blues but I just couldn’t resist the combination of these blues, greens, purples, mauves and yellows. Simply stunning!

Fleece Artist Blues Aran 01How could you not love these colours!

Fleece Artist Blues Aran 06This yarn is 100% linen but I don’t know the manufacturer. They’re another Ebay purchase.

Linen Orange 01This is thirteenth offering in Zen Yarn Garden’s ART WALK Series which features a painting by Chin H. Shin entitled “Magical Night in New York “. Inspired by Shin, Zen Yarn Garden’s dyer has successfully captured the vibrancy of the colours of the painting.

Zen Yarn Magical Night 05Beautiful colours aren’t they?

Zen Yarn Magical Night 07Chin has been concentrating on New York cityscapes for the last two years after becoming inspired by the streets of Manhattan. The culture, history, music, and movies of New York serve as a guiding force for his paintings. Technique-wise, he has been influenced by Korean calligraphy and the wild brush strokes of Expressionism. All of these elements have influenced Chin’s work. His goal is to transform these street scenes of daily life into a form of visual poetry. Ultimately, he is looking for an extremely positive mental satisfaction found in his work. This can be broken down technically as light and color; light standing for hope for our future. Hopefully, viewers will understand the intended message Chin is trying to send through his paintings. Moreover, his painting is based on realism, but he believes that there is an unlimited possibility of variations. Whenever he starts a new painting, he paints with curiosity and childish dreams with enormous energy. His painting style uses bold lines and colorful brush strokes, and completes with unique texture. Psychologically, his painting is based on extreme optimism and humanism. [quoted from Chinhshin.com]

Zen Yarn Magical Night imagejpgI bought two skeins of this yarn – Serenity Silk Single which is a 75% superwash merino / 15% cashmere / 10% silk 4ply / fingering yarn and contains 430 yards / 100g in each skein.

This is the fourteenth offering in Zen Yarn Garden’s ART WALK Series which features a painting by Andy Warhol entitled “Stamped Lips “. From one medium to the next, artists express their use of colour. Inspired by Warhol, Zen Yarn Garden’s dyer has successfully captured the vividness of the colours of the painting.

I expect my yarn to arrive tomorrow in the post so I’m showing you a picture that I found on Zen Yarn Garden’s website. It’s really quite different isn’t it?

Zen Yarn Stamped Lips Warhol 03Andy Warhol’s art defined a decade and a culture. Warhol (1923 – 1987), the founder of Pop Art, was also a filmmaker, writer, actor, music video producer and celebrity. He depicted American mass-produced goods that he loved, revealing the beauty within mass culture. “Lips” embodies Warhol’s belief that popularity is beauty—the allure lies in its repetition. “Isn’t life a series of images that change as they repeat themselves?” – Andy Warhol  [quoted from Art.com]

Zen Yarn Stamped Lips Warhol imageAs usual, I bought two skeins of this Serenity Silk Single yarn.

I purchase all my Zen Yarn Garden yarn through Australia’s sole distributor – Yarn Glorious Yarn in sunny Brisbane!

That’s not really too much yarn is it???

Until next time…

Melanie

 

 

 

The Anemone Pair

It’s been a very scary few days for those who live in Central Queensland with the arrival of Tropical Cyclone (TC) Marcia. While the cyclone was hitting the coast, here in Brisbane we were experiencing lots of rain from another weather effect and then as TC Marcia was downgraded and travelled down the coast we had even more rain yesterday. It’s been a great couple of days for knitting and spinning and I’ve done both.

Today the sun has come out so I’ve managed to take some photos of three completed projects.

I bought two of these rovings a while ago and have had the spun skeins sitting in my stash for a while now. So I thought I’d make another One Row Handspun Scarf as it’s an easy pattern and I’m planning on taking the scarf to New Zealand in April. Hopefully, I’ll get to wear it quite a bit.

Anemone 01The spun yarn came out a treat and I love all the colour changes.

Anemone 06I think the scarf looks fantastic!

Anemone Handspun Scarf 05Anemone Handspun Scarf 06I used size 5mm needles as the yarn lends itself to roughly a 10ply yarn.

Anemone Handspun Scarf 07As with my previous One Row Handspun Scarf, I added the tassels. There’s eleven on each end and each tassel contains 5 x 10 inch lengths of yarn doubled over.

Anemone Handspun Scarf 09With the leftover yarn I decided to make a hat. I had no idea whether I’d have enough yarn so I just started on this pattern which is distributed by Bendigo Woollen Mills.

Anemone Handspun Hat 01Anemone Handspun Hat 02I’m pretty pleased with the result. Do you know how many photos I had to take to get these half-decent ones? Heaps and heaps is all I can say. Thank goodness for digital cameras where you can just hit the delete button because I did that a few times. I felt like a bit of a dill standing with a woollen scarf around my neck and a hat on my head in this hot weather. But it’s worth it when I manage to get a few good photos to share with you :-)

As it’s a bit of a slouchy hat, I can fold the brim up to make it a snugger fit.

Anemone Handspun Hat 04Anemone Handspun Hat 06As you can see I did run out of yarn but was lucky enough to find this Bella Baby Alpaca Blend yarn in my stash.

Bella Baby Alpaca Blend Blue 02A cute little hat even if I say so myself.

Anemone Handspun Hat 11Anemone Handspun Hat 12I love the decreasing effect too.

Anemone Handspun Hat 13And just to finish off, I made this Ruffles Cowl a while ago. It’s a very quick knit.

Ruffles Cowl 04I can see me wearing this cowl when cruising around Milford Sound in New Zealand as that will probably be one of the coldest places I visit.

I made it with Sullivans Celtic which is a 10ply yarn.

Here’s a sneaky peek at my latest lot of spinning that I started yesterday. The colour is called ‘Outback’ and it’s one of the rovings I bought from Kathy’s Fibres.

Outback 01That’s all my news for now. I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend filled with lots of fibre and yarn.

Until next time…

Melanie

 

 

 

Lealt Socks – Pair # 35

Not long ago I felt the sudden desire to knit another pair of socks. I guess I was experiencing sock knitting withdrawal symptons! Who’d have thought that is actually a condition! I looked through my plethora of sock knitting patterns and suddenly remembered this little book that one of my spinning friends had given to me a couple of years ago. Thank you again Tricia :-)

Vogue SocksUpon reading the book I found a lovely pattern called Lealt Socks which was not too easy and not too hard. In fact, it was just right :-)

I actually had a similar coloured sock yarn in my stash to use. It’s Patons Patonyle and specifically made for socks.

Lealt Socks 03The socks came out a treat. You’ll have to excuse the colour variations in some of the photos which is due to the camera and taking photos outdoors I think.

Lealt Socks 08The heel is quite interesting too. Not sure how long you could wear these socks before the heel might start annoying you though.

Lealt Socks 11But you’d have to admit, it is very pretty.

Lealt Socks 13The Lealt pattern is quite exquisite too.

Lealt Socks 12This is the true colour of the yarn.

Lealt Socks 16Which is not too far removed from the colour of the yarn used in the pattern.

Lealt Socks 02Now I just need to wait patiently for winter to arrive so I can wear them!!

Lealt Socks 09Lealt Socks 07Lealt Socks 14To finish off I’d love to show you some little gifts I received on my birthday which was Friday the 13th. My friend Helen gave me this cute little sheep, a ball of bright orange 4ply cotton and she made the card too.

Helens presents 02And my friend Stephanie gave me a lovely fabric scarf with butterflies on it. Rather than using wrapping paper she used this gorgeous little orange basket and tied it with some orange ribbon. So clever and now I have this little basket that I can use.

Stephs present 01How lucky am I?

Until next time…

Melanie

Aussie Artisan Hand-Dyed Yarns

I live in an area where there are no LYS (local yarn shops) except for Lincraft and Spotlight. While both these shops carry a large range of yarn, they don’t carry much in the way of 4ply, 2ply or hand-dyed yarns. Over the last couple of years I’ve discovered quite a few fantastic Aussie artisan hand-dyers who produce the most gorgeous and delicious yarns plus the occasional ‘bricks and mortar’ shops in Brisbane.

Shorn Fibers is an online shop operating from Minden in SE Queensland, Australia.

Angela is an amazing artisan hand-dyer and for those of you who were at the Redlands Spinners & Weavers camp in September last year, you should remember Angela and the gorgeous array of yarns she displayed in her shop. Her prices are incredibly competitive as well. I have bought tons and tons of yarn from Angela. She knows my weakness for autumn shades and tends to dye exactly what I like. I can never resist purchasing a little bit more each time. I went crazy at camp last year!!

Here’s an array of just some of the yarn I’ve purchased from Shorn Fibers.

Shorn Fibers First Beach and Malarkey 02-tileDyed By Hand Yarns is an online shop located in Melbourne, Australia.

Julie Boydell has been open for business since June 2012 and has a fantastic array of gorgeous yarns in all plies and colours. There is also a yearly Sock Yarn Club which you can join. The theme for 2015 is Wild About Wildflowers – colours inspired by native wildflowers of Australia. This is a six month sock yarn only club. You will receive two skeins of sock yarn posted out in the last week in March, May and July. Yarns included will be one skein each of Tough Stocking, Mother’s Love, Big Blue Stocking, Silk Stocking, Blue Chip Stocking and introducing White Gum Wool 4ply.

Each skein of yarn will be dyed in a colour inspired by an Australian native wildflower. These colours will be exclusive to yarn club members for 12 months. Custom dyeing of these colours may be ordered by yarn club members for the duration of the club. The cost is $165 plus postage.

I have subscribed to the sock yarn club over the last two years and have picked up some stunning colourways.

Dyed By Hand Yarn Vegemite-tileDyed By Hand Yarn Spotted Gum-tileDyed by Hand Yarns Happy Wanderer 03-tileDyed by Hand True Blue-tileDyed by Hand Blue Opal 02-tileDyed by Hand Yarns Flame Tree 01-tileDBHY Surf Life Saving 06-tileDBHY Blue Ringed Octopus 03-tileDBHY Silk Stocking Gorgons Head Coral 02-tileDBHY Mothers Love Monkey Mia 04-tileDBHY Blue Chip Purple Sea Urchin 04-tileDBHY Blue Chip Bass Strait 02-tileAren’t they spectacular!! One of my other favourites from Dyed By Hand Yarns is this stunning Limelight colourway in Tough Stocking which I used to make these socks.

Limelight 03Augustbird is an online shop located in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia. Rebecca Robinson produces some of the most exquisite colourways. If you follow Augustbird on Facebook, Rebecca will usually post a message regarding the current month’s colourways. You have the opportunity to order the colours you prefer and they are hand-dyed on request. I recently completed a test sock knit for Rebecca and received a yarn voucher. I purchased two skeins in a stunning colourway called Songbird which I have yet to knit up. I’m waiting for just the right pattern.

Augustbird songbird Multi 02Augustbird songbird More Blue 02Skein is a small, independent hand-dyed yarn company based in Australia. All Skein yarns and fibres 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 gently spun and hung out to dry under the Australian sun.

I have purchased quite a bit of yarn from Skein too and found it to be of exceptional quality. The colourways that are offered are quite mind-blowing too.

Skein Alpaca Merino Worsted Wise 02Skein Alpaca Merino Worsted Cardamon 02Skein SpeakeasySkein Green Tea 2Skein Speakeasy 2Now to a couple of fantastic online suppliers of wool rovings. Firstly, Kathy’s Fibres. Kathy has a wonderful range of hand-painted rovings at only $11 for 100g. The colour selection is stunning. I have bought a few and have made a gorgeous scarf in the Forest colourway.

Autumn roving 02-tileJumbuck Julie also dyes some incredibly appealing colourways and her selection is mind-blowing. There is just so much to pick from! I just looked at her Etsy shop and there were 273 colourways available!!! They’re $11.50 each.

These are some of the rovings I’ve purchased from Jumbuck Julie. I’m currently knitting a scarf in the Anemone colourway (top left and bottom right below).

Anemone 01-tileNow to some local Brisbane (and interstate) ‘bricks and mortar’ and online yarn shops.

Yarn Glorious Yarn is situated at Suite 11/180 Moggill Road, Taringa (0438 374 364). You can also purchase online. Shop hours are Wednesday – Friday 10am – 3pm and Saturday 10am – 4pm.

Sue Wheeler is the sole Aussie supplier of Zen Yarn Garden (ZYG) yarns which are made in Canada. ZYG has been producing an ART Walk Series of yarn, the colours of which are based on famous paintings. They are simply exquisite and I have purchased two skeins in each series. They’re currently up to Number 13 and can be found at Yarn Glorious Yarn. Cost per skein is generally between $32-$36 but well worth the value particularly when some of the yarn has a cashmere content. Sue does not charge for postage if you purchase over $50 worth of yarn, which is always the case with me! Sue also stocks many other brands of yarn. ZYG has just started another series called ‘Inspiration‘. Oh my goodness, the colours are gorgeous!

David Hockney Garrowby Hill 04-tilePurlwise is an online store as well as a bricks and mortar shop located at 4 Comboyne Street, Kendall, NSW. Opening hours are 10am – 4pm Thursday – Sunday. Purlwise is run by Mark who has been knitting for over 20 years. (02) 6559 0202. All purchases over $50 do NOT incur any postage. You will also receive discounts for purchases over $100, $150, etc. There is a huge range of yarn to select and some very bright and cheerful colourways too.

Yay! for Yarn is an online store operated from Brendale, north of Brisbane. Kiri carries a huge range of yarn and always has yarn and patterns on her Clearance Items page which is worth a visit. Kiri was previously a high school art teacher but in mid 2008 she decided to take her yarn hobby to the next level which is when Yay! for Yarn was started.

That should be enough to whet your appetite don’t you think? There are still more great yarn suppliers in Australia which I’ll cover in a future story.

If I can give you one tip it is to make sure you subscribe to any online newsletters that are offered by these stores to ensure you’re always informed of sales and new yarns. It’s what I do and that’s probably why my stash is enormous! I would also recommend you ‘like’ their Facebook pages and join their Ravelry groups.

Until next time…

Melanie