Zen Yarn Garden Yarn

I have been purchasing Zen Yarn Garden Yarn for a couple of years now, ever since I discovered their Art Walk Yarn Series. The colours are always amazing and the yarn is incredibly beautiful and with the 15-20%% cashmere content, it’s always soft and luxurious.

These are my more recent acquisitions.

The nineteenth offering in the ART WALK Series features a painting by Pablo Picasso entitled “Cote d’Azure”. From one medium to the next, artists express their use of colour. Inspired by Picasso, Zen Yarn Garden’s dyer has successfully captured the excitement and complexity of the painting.

18 ZYG Cote dAsure 11Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973) was an artistic virtuoso who co-founded Cubism, and produced an astounding 20,000 paintings, prints, drawings and sculptures during his brilliant 70-year career. Picasso’s unparalleled body of work was so vast, and its phases so unique, that art historians have divided it into specific periods. A child prodigy, Picasso took advanced classes at the Royal Academy of Art in Barcelona when he was only 15. His revolutionary Cubist works, with their distorted shapes and fragmented forms, established art as a genre that does not need to literally represent reality. Zealously embracing every medium from primitive art to sketches to Surrealism, Picasso had an unrivaled influence upon 20th century art. [quoted from Art.com]

18 ZYG Cote dAsure 06Two skeins of Serenity 20 which is a 70% superwash merino / 20% cashmere / 10% nylon that contains 400 yds / 100g in a 4ply / fingering weight.

18 ZYG Cote dAsure 07I think this particular colourway is one of my absolute favourites. The beautiful blues, oranges and yellows definitely remind me of the the Riviera. I’m going to have to find a very special pattern for this yarn.

18 ZYG Cote dAsure 10This is the painting that inspired the colourway.

18 ZYG CotedAzure imageThe nineteenth offering in the ART WALK Series features a painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir entitled “Strawberries”. Inspired by Renoir, Zen Yarn Garden’s dyer has successfully captured the excitement and complexity of the painting.

19 ZYG Strawberries 03Living in the moment and indulging in life’s temporal pleasures were among Pierre-Auguste Renoir favorite themes, and he expressed them more than any other Impressionist. A renowned leader of the Impressionist movement, Renoir (1841 – 1919) enjoyed depicting his friends and lovers with expressive candor, conveying a youthful exuberance and intimate charm that suggests visions of an earthly paradise. By focusing on the ‘here and now’ of his time, these fleeting moments become relished nostalgic memories. Renoir’s portrayal of luminous color, skillfully varied brushstrokes, nuances of light and shadow all worked together to form a warm sensuality. [quoted from Art.com]

Two skeins of Serenity 20 which is a 70% superwash merino / 20% cashmere / 10% nylon that contains 400 yds / 100g in a 4ply / fingering weight.

This is the painting that inspired this colourway.

19 ZYG Strawberries imageThe twentieth offering in the ART WALK Series features a painting by Wassily Kandinsky entitled “Improvisation”. Inspired by Kandinsky, Zen Yarn Garden’s dyer has successfully captured the excitement and complexity of the painting.

20 YYG Improvisation 02Wassily Kandinsky (1886 – 1944) is considered to be the originator of abstract art, and believed that art could visually express musical compositions. Kandinsky, who was also an accomplished musician, saw color when he heard music, and associated a color’s tone with musical timbre, hue with pitch, and saturation with the volume of sound. Music influenced his art to such a degree that Kandinsky named his works after musical terms. Originally a lawyer in his native Russia, he was inspired to study art at age 30, after seeing Monet’s “Haystacks.” Kandinsky was gripped by a compulsion to relentlessly create, and believed that if this drive were pure, it would evoke a correspondingly powerful response in viewers of his work. [quoted from Art.com]

I 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 painting that inspired this colourway.

20 YYG Improvisation image As you can see I am starting to amass rather a large collection of these Art Walk Series’ yarns as I always buy two skeins of each release. To date I have made the Garrowby Hill Scarf (one skein), Starry Night Scarf (two skeins) and Oaklet Shawl. (one skein).

I really need to get my thinking cap on and start looking for some lovely patterns so I can use some of this yarn 🙂

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Day and received some lovely yarnie gifts. My son gave me this calendar which I absolutely adore. In fact, I drop hints every year for this gift.

2016 CalendarA couple more sheep joined the flock at my home too. I found this little one in K Mart.

KMart sheepI rather love this sheep I found at a local Opp shop. It’s rather large and has some attitude with that one arm permanently on its hip 🙂

Big SheepI think she wants to learn to spin!

Big Sheep 02That’s all my news for now. Here’s to a wonderful 2016 filled with health, happiness, good fortune and of course lots of yarnie goodness!

Until next time…

Melanie

Down the Hourglass Socks

I was lurking in Ravelry’s Free Pattern Testers forum a while ago and was drawn to these socks as there was a cuff down option plus written instructions. I love starting a brand new pair of socks so I can watch the pattern emerge on the leg and these socks were no exception.

Down the Hourglass 01The pattern has lots of front/back crosses and front/back twist cabling which meant at times I was juggling six DPNs!

Down the Hourglass 12Down the Hourglass 09This pattern is better suited for solid or lightly tonal yarn to show off the detail of the pattern, which may get lost in a heavy variegated yarn. Ages ago I bought two skeins of sock yarn from Yarn Haus called Suzy Hausfrau Sock. It’s 80% merino / 10% cashmere / 10% nylon and really suits this pattern.

Suzy Hausfrau CamelThis was an enjoyable knit although I must confess for the first time ever I suffered a bit of second sock syndrome as I wasn’t looking forward to all those twisty cables again 🙂 The end result is so worth it.

Down the Hourglass 05Down the Hourglass 11The heel fits nice and snuggly…

Down the Hourglass 10Now I just need to wait until winter so I can wear them!

Down the Hourglass 07Down the Hourglass 08Down the Hourglass 04I have just finished spinning, plying and washing this beautiful Ixchel Bunny Cashmere Fling Top which is a blend of cashmere, tencel, bamboo and glitzy nylon. This colourway is Minions and it’s plied with blue rayon.

Ixchel Minions 07And these rather nifty tools arrived in the mail last week. Can’t wait to start using them…

ToolsPlus this pair of sock blockers.

Sock blockersThey’re all from Gympie in Queensland and can be purchased from Lumigrafika on Etsy. I love sourcing goodies from local suppliers. They’re all so talented!

Last week I received an email from a work friend who wanted me to drop into her office at lunch time as she had something for me 🙂

This gorgeous little tin which opens with a zip and features sheep on each side – of course 🙂 It seems my friends are on the look out for sheepy things for me 🙂

Sheep tinAnd lastly, this little sheep hopped into my arms as I was browsing in an Opp Shop at lunch time.

Opp shop sheepHow could I not take her home? She’s just too sweet 🙂

One more photo of those lovely socks…

Down the Hourglass 02That’s my news for now. I wish everyone of you a wonderful Christmas day. Please stay safe and here’s to a 2016 filled with fun, fibre, frivolity and of course yarning!!

Until next time…

Melanie

 

March Hare Scarf

The start and finish dates of this project are a record for me and that’s because I started with the unspun fibre which arrived on 16 November from Ixchel Angora Bunny and Funky Fibre Art. The scarf is made from one 100g Happy Tiger Bunny Tops which is a blend of Hemp, Suri, Silk, Eco Merino, Angora Bunny, Llama.

March Hare 11The fibre was spun, plied and ready to knit prior to 23 November as that is when I started my scarf.

March Hare 03I used the free Ravelry pattern The Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief as it shows off the colours so well as there’s limited intricate patterning involved. It’s a great social knit too as there’s no complicated pattern to follow.

March Hare 01The lovely glint you can see is the gold metallic thread that I used to ply with so my yarn would go further.

March Hare 05I love the beautiful rustic shades in this yarn.

March Hare 06I finished my scarf slightly different to the pattern. After an eyelet section I completed a few knit rows and then a picot bind off.

March Hare 10The finish date for this project was 3 December so that is less than a month to spin, ply, wash, niddy noddy, skein, wind into a ball and knit! That is amazing for me!

March Hare 08Of course, credit must go to Charly McCafferty who’s the person behind Ixchel Bunny. She does such an amazing job ‘inventing’ all these wonderful colourways.

March Hare 13March Hare 09March Hare 07It’s been slightly cooler in Brisbane this weekend and a bit rainy too so it’s perfect for spinning. Yesterday, I finished spinning another Ixchel Bunny top called Minions and today I will ply it.

Ixchel Minions 04I’ll probably ply this fibre with some blue rayon thread. And then I want to think about my next Inkle loom project. Oh! so much to do in so little time 🙂

Until next time…

Melanie

 

Ixchel and Inkle

Over the last few years I have managed to find quite a few Aussie artisan yarn dyers and some great online stores. However, since joining the Australian Handspinners and Knitters Facebook group I have discovered even more very talented artisans selling their wares either on this Facebook page or through their Etsy shops. One very clever person who attracted my attention was Ixchel Angora Bunny and Funky Fibre Art.

Ixchel is an Australian Fibre Farm in the Yarra Valley in Victoria, breeding their own fluffy animals pesticide free and organic. Charly McCafferty (Ixchel Bunny) does all the spinning, dyeing, knitting and weaving and loving every second of it: Angora Rabbit, Cashmere, Mohair, Merino, Alpaca, Camel or even Yak. Paul McCafferty is constantly juggling work on the fibre farm and is the brain behind making all the animal housing and organising the farm harmoniously. Paul also makes wonderful handcrafted wooden spindles and other goodies. His wares can be found on his Facebook page Lair of the Bearded Dragon.

I bought this rather little nifty “Twist it Little Helper”  from Paul. It’s an orifice hook, WPI meter (gauge) and a spinning yarn parker. As well as an orifice hook and WPI meter you can with the grooves ‘park’ your yarn when you have to stop spinning and you don’t want your yarn to disappear back on the bobbin. Just hold your “Twist it Little Helper” over your yarn and twist around the grooves in the handle.. and there you have it! It’s parked. The handles are made from different types of timber. I bought the camphor.

Twist it Little HelpersI also bought this lovely drop spindle not long ago…

Drop Spindle 05Paul has just finished a small job for me which I will show you once I receive it next week.

I have digressed slightly; back to Ixchel. I am in the bad habit of checking my Facebook feed nearly every night and this is when I stumbled upon Ixchel’s beautiful fibre. Every Friday night Ixchel releases a blog post which features different blends. The photos of the fibre are preceded by a wonderful story of the sheep and various animals whose fibre is featured that particular week. Who said spinning wasn’t educational?? You can learn lots from reading these blog posts.

Now the secret is that you have to be very, very quick as there are only limited numbers of each colourway and they go FAST. As soon as you see something you like you need to immediately message Charly of your interest and then wait patiently until she gets back to you. I really don’t know how she manages with everyone either messaging or emailing her. I have missed out on a couple of my preferred colourways but I have also managed to snaffle some beautiful buys such as these..

These were my first two buys from the week Time For a Little Madness. Happy Tiger Bunny Tops are made from a blend of Hemp, Suri, Silk, Eco Merino, Angora Bunny and Llama. I  bought March Hare…

March Hare 11and Tweedledee…

Ixchel Tweedle Dee 01I think it was only the next week I stumbled upon Ixchel’s blog release called Don’t Blink and sucumbed to these lovely Cashmere Fling Tops which are a blend of cashmere, tencel, bamboo and glitzy nylon. I bought the colourways Minions…

Ixchel Bunny Cashmere Fling Minion 01and Absinthe Fairy…

Ixchel Bunny Cashmere Fling Absinthe Fairy 01Enough is enough I said to myself. This is getting into a habit!! So the next couple of weeks I avoided my phone but alas on Friday night I was back on it and I seem to pick the time when the Ixchel blog release is happening because I stumbled across last Friday’s post called Imagine and bought these GaGa Bunny Tops which are a blend of Blue Faced Leicester, Cashmere, angora bunny and Glitz in the colourways Peacock in a Pear Tree…

Peacock in a Pear Tree 01and Very Zen of You…

Very Zen of You 01Can you see how very addictive this could become?? The top I really wanted but it was sold out is called Imagine and here’s a picture…

Ixchel ImagineSigh…oh well you can’t get everyone you want can you?

By the way, Ixchel has has a Fibre Club, a Sock Yarn Club and a Funky Bunny Batt Club which all run from January until March 2016. Details are on the website. I must resist!! 🙂

You’ll be pleased to know that I have already spun March Hare and knitted a shawl. It’s been blocked and is awaiting a story to be written about it which will happen in the not too distant future. Here’s a sneak peak of the spun yarn which I plied with a gold metallic thread…

March Hare 03Remember the Schacht Inkle Loom I picked up for a bargain a couple of weeks ago? Well, last Tuesday one of my dear friends from my spinning group offered to each me and another spinner how to use the inkle loom. It was a lot of fun and I learned how long it takes to warp the loom and also what heddles are. The hardest part was keeping the edges tensioned correctly. Thank you Rona for spending around six hours teaching Vanessa and me 🙂

Yesterday, I sat down and actually did some more weaving and found it strangely meditative. I would do a bit,wander off and do something else and then back to the weaving.

First Inkle Weaving 03I actually warped it incorrectly as this is not how the pattern should be but my aim at this stage is just to get the hang of it, especially the edges but I think I am improving looking at these two photos.

First Inkle Weaving 01a-tileI’ve already ordered this book…

The Weavers Inkle Pattern DirectoryThat’s another hobby started 🙂 Next it will be looking at a little loom 🙂

I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend and I have whetted your appetite for some spinning or weaving.

And by the way, I have started a MelsNattyKnits Instagram account which I am quite enjoying. It’s a whole new way of interacting with other like-minded crafty people. There’s  an Instagram button the right hand side of my blog page 🙂

Until next time…

Melanie