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

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Yarning about yarn stuff

In September whilst surfing through Ravelry, I spotted a request by Rebecca from Augustbird who was looking for some test yarn knitters so I put my hand up to knit a pair of women’s socks and test their White Gum sock yarn.

Augustbird Socks 01

I used the Simple Skyp Socks pattern so I also received a complimentary copy of the gorgeous Cloudfall Cowl. For my efforts, Rebecca provided me with a $40 voucher to spend on her yarn.  I used the Simple Skyp pattern as I had previously knitted a pair of socks using this pattern and they turned out particularly comfortable. I was also asked to start a Ravelry project page which I did. These are the Skyp socks made using Augustbird’s yarn in the colourway ‘Ink’.

Augustbird Socks 5-10-14 01

This is an easy pattern to memorise and adds just a bit of interest rather than plain stockinette stitch.

Augustbird Socks 5-10-14 03

I sent off the completed socks to Rebecca and received my $40 voucher so I checked out Augustbird’s website but was disappointed as the October colourway called ‘Songbird’ had sold out. It was such a gorgeous display of colours. My luck changed, however, when I spotted a  FB post declaring there were a couple more skeins of Songbird to be had! I was as fast as a sprinter off the blocks to get those two skeins and here they are!

Augustbird songbird Multi 01

Augustbird songbird More Blue 01

This skein is White Gum Wool Sock which is an 80% ethical superfine merino / 20% nylon yarn and the colourway is Songbird More Blue.

Augustbird songbird More Blue 02

Augustbird songbird More Blue 03

Augustbird songbird More Blue 04

And this skein is White Gum Wool 4ply which is a 100% ethical superfine merino wool and the colourway is Songbird.

Augustbird songbird Multi 02

I got a bit carried away taking photos as the wool is just so incredibly gorgeous!

Augustbird songbird Multi 03

Augustbird songbird Multi 04

Each skein was $28 so I only had to pay the $16 difference plus postage. It was worth it as I now have two gorgeous skeins of yarn to stash until I find the right pattern. I really enjoyed the test knit as I was in the mood to knit another pair of socks.

A couple of weeks ago as I was looking through Ebay at spinning wheels for sale (something I do quite often and shouldn’t!), I found this rather unusual Australian wooden carving of a woman at a spinning wheel for sale. Well, I just had to have it so I clicked on ‘Add to Cart’ and voila! it was mine.

Carved spinning lady 05

It really is quite exquisite and is one more knick knack to add to my ever burgeoning collection of all things yarn, spinning and sheep!

Carved spinning lady 04

I also seem to spend a bit of time on Facebook catching up with friends and posting photos of my spinning wheel purchases and yarn projects. One page I have ‘liked’ is the Australian Lincraft page and last month they ran a competition for their I Love Yarn Day 2014 asking what was your favourite Lincraft yarn and why.

Lincraft competition

Last year I crocheted Mum a lovely throw using Lincraft Cosy wool and gave it her for Mother’s Day. She loves it!

Mums Throw 01

The colours were quite unusual and really matched Mum’s lounge room so I used this photo and similar words and posted them on the Lincraft competition page – see bottom right of the picture below.

Lincraft mel

What a lovely surprise to receive a comment under my photo letting me know that I’d won one of the yarn packs which arrived this week. The pack contains five balls of Lincraft Air which is a super bulky yarn made with 78% acrylic / 17% nylon (polyamide) / 5% wool. The yarn uses size 10mm needles.

Lincraft Air 01

I’ve decided I’ll knit the scarf and hat from the pattern I also won. Hopefully, I’ll have them made by next winter! Or maybe I should aim for March next year as I’m cruising around New Zealand in April and I’m sure it’ll be a bit nippy on board as well as on land where I aim to try and visit some yarn shops (surprise, surprise!).

Lincraft Air 03

And lastly, I found this cute little terracotta sheep near my Mum’s front door. She’d been doing a bit of re-arranging of her garden ornaments which is why I’ve never seen it before. “Is that a sheep Mum?” I asked. “Yes it is, would you like it?” she replied. Of course, you know what my answer was don’t you? It now resides near my back sliding door.

Terracotta sheep 02

Terracotta sheep 03That’s enough yarning for now!

Until next time…

 

Melanie

 

The Delightful Dragon Light Demiluna Shawl

This is a delightfully easy pattern to knit. It sits beautifully and is a crescent shape. I must admit I’m getting quite partial to crescent shaped shawls as they sit neatly on your shoulders and don’t tend to move around too much.

Demiluna Shawl 01

The name of the pattern is Demiluna Shawl and is a free Ravelry knitting pattern. It’s based on Elizabeth Zimmermann’s classic Pi Shawl pattern and is finished with a garter stitch rib edging.

Demiluna Shawl 05

I love all the eyelet holes.

Demiluna Shawl 00

The yarn I used was particularly beautiful to knit with. It’s Augustbird’s Rich Sock yarn which is an 80% merino / 10% cashmere / 10% nylon. The colourway is ‘Dragon Light’.

Augustbird Dragon Light

This is not a colour I would usually use however I think it looks gorgeous and will match jeans perfectly.

Demiluna Shawl 07

The blocking certainly brought out the pattern.

Demiluna Shawl 10

This is one pattern I will probably revisit as it doesn’t require too much concentration and those are the patterns I like. That way I can knit and talk at the same time quite easily! I have just started knitting another one!

Demiluna Shawl 09

Some side view pictures of the shawl…

Demiluna Shawl 03

Demiluna Shawl 04

Not long ago I showed you the beautiful spinning wheel lamp that I found on Gumtree. Well I found another one about a week or so later and here it is.

Small Lamp 01

It’s not as large as my first lamp but I love it all the same.

Small Lamp 02

One of my friends has suggested I wrap variegated yarn around the lamp shade. She must have been reading my mind. The lampshade currently has little cherubs around it and I thought straight away that I’d like to make it more ‘fibery’.

Small Lamp 03

Who’d have thought I’d pick up two spinning wheel lamps in as many weeks!

Small Lamp 04

They do look quite lovely together don’t they?

Two Lamps 01

I do love lamps as they provide so much atmosphere, particularly in winter…

Two Lamps 02

This morning I spent a wonderful two hours with friends completing a yarn bombing project. Here’s a progress pic…

06 Yarning Chair 21-6-14

It’s coming along nicely and I can’t wait until it’s completely covered.

Until next time…

Melanie

 

Solace Scrolls Socks…….Pair # 25

I am having so much fun using Charlene Schurch’s book More Sensational Knitted Socks. There are so many stitch patterns to pick from. I’ll have enough socks for a centipede if I knit socks in every one of these patterns! ‘Scrolls’ is this particular pattern stitch and it’s an eight stitch repeat over 12 rows.

Solace Scrolls Socks 01

Solace Scrolls Socks 11

I used 2.75mm needles and cast on 64 stitches. Ideally 72 stitches would have been better for my wide foot (another eight stitch pattern repeat), however, as I’ve mentioned before, I hate knitting tension squares so have to suffer the consequences if my socks are a tad snug….at least they won’t slip off!

For each pair of socks I knit, I keep copious notes if they’re too snug or too loose so that the next time I decide to knit that particular pattern again, at least I can refer back to my notes for any changes to needle size or stitch cast on numbers. Although I can’t really see the likelihood of that happening in the near future as I have sooo many sock patterns lined up to complete and not enough hours in the day to knit them. No doubt this is probably the same dilemma for most knitters out there in knitting land.

Anyway, back to my Solace Scrolls Socks, I am sure you’ll agree with me….it is a lovely and eye catching pattern and the stitch definition is displayed exceptionally well with this particular yarn colourway.

DSC02061

The heel has a three stitch garter edging and the heel flap is plain knitting so it doesn’t detract from the scroll patterning on the leg and foot.

Solace Scrolls Socks 07

Solace Scrolls Socks 15

The toe section is simply decreased by four stitches every second round until 20 stitches remain; they are separated onto two needles and grafted together using Kitchener stitch.

Solace Scrolls Socks 09

Solace Scrolls Socks 10

Now to the sumptuous yarn. I know I am constantly saying this about every yarn I purchase and knit with….but this yarn is simply gorgeous to work with. It is so soft and snuggly and very consistent. By consistent, I mean it does not get hugely thick in some areas and then painfully thin in others, like some commercial yarn I have used in the past.

Augustbird Solace

I simply love the colourway too. A very soothing shade of sandy cream with flecks of mocha throughout. In fact, it reminded me a bit of mocha/coffee cake icing. Yummo! In fact, it reminds me of all the following pictures….

Mocha cake-tile

The colourway is called ‘Solace’.

26 Solace-horz

The yarn is Augustbird’s Hearty Sock which is a soft, bouncy 100% superwash merino yarn with a tight pebbly twist. This yarn is wonderful worn next to the skin because of its softness. One skein made my pair of socks with enough left over to go towards another small project I have in mind….Frankie Brown’s Button Quilt! I am saving all my sock yarn leftovers for this project. It’s a free Ravelry knitting pattern too.

Each skein weighs 100g and contains 366 metres (400 yards) of yarn.

Augustbird is located in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia; here’s a link to the website if you want to drool over some beautiful yarns.

Well I’m off to work now and I’m hoping when I get home there will be a lovely package waiting for me…..some gorgeous wool rovings ready for me to spin. Will show you them soon.

Have a fantastic crafty weekend. Until next time….

Melanie

Barnwood Hat and Cowl

I discovered Ravelry in August 2011 and have found it to be an invaluable source of information for all my knitting needs, in particular sourcing patterns in general and patterns specific to certain yarns. Their databases are mind boggling! There are literally thousands of patterns to select from.

I have also joined a number of groups and share my projects with those groups. This was how I discovered Augustbird’s group and subsequently the KAL that closes on 30 April 2013. The requirement is to knit any Two Little Plums patterns using an Augustbird yarn. Now when I first read those instructions I read the word ‘Two’ as the number 2 and immediately thought I had to knit two items. So off I went to Augustbird’s website and purchased 2 x Two Little Plums knitting patterns and two skeins of Augustbird yarn.

The patterns I selected were the Barnwood Hat

Barnwood Hat original

and the Barnwood Cowl. (Oh, if only I looked as good as the model in these photos…sigh!)

Barnwood Cowl original

I used Augustbird’s Hearty DK in the colourway ‘This Earth’. After realising my faux pas, I was quite pleased I’d purchased both the hat and the cowl patterns as these garments complement each other nicely. I also love the rich green tones in this yarn.

Augustbird This Earth 2

Hearty DK is a 100% superwash merino and weighs 100g. The skein contains 231 yards / 211 metres. With the left over yarn from the hat I simply knitted the cowl a little longer.

Barnwood Hat 04

Barnwood Hat 07

I thought I’d have to rush to get both items knitted as I have so many other UFOs scattered throughout my home but lo and behold I finished both of them before the end of March !! As required, I published a comment and photo of each item on the Augustbird Group page and entered both items as projects on my Ravelry page.

Barnwood Cowl 04

I had so many problems trying to get a true picture of the colour of the cowl. The picture above shows the whole of the cowl although the colour is not quite correct. The picture below shows only a portion of the cowl however the colour is truer.

Barnwood Cowl 02

Now I am the proud owner of a lovely hat and cowl all ready for the cooler Brisbane weather that I hope arrives soon! Just need to wait and see who wins the KAL prize which is a pattern and a skein of Augusbird yarn. Fingers crossed J

Until next time…

Melanie

Sunday Yarn Bits and Pieces

I had to get out the wool winder and swift today as I received my lovely yarn from Skein last week. I’ve also joined Augustbird’s KAL and am ready to start my second item but you guessed it, I hadn’t wound the second skein into a ball.

To join the KAL you need to knit any of Two Little Plums’ patterns using Augustbird yarn. I’ve selected the Barnwood Cowl and Barnwood Hat for my two items. I decided to knit two as these make a complementary pair don’t you think? I can only hope my knitted items turn out as well as the ones in the pattern pictures.

Barnwood Cowl picture-horz

The yarn I am using is Augustbird’s Hearty DK in ‘This Earth’. I just love the earthy tones in this colourway. This is the skein…

Augustbird This Earth 2

and this is the ball of yarn…

Augustbird This Earth 3

I have almost finished the cowl and today I started the hat. Once I’ve completed the hat I’ll use the remaining yarn for the rest of the cowl. Not sure how long the cowl will be but I’ll be happy if I can wrap it around my neck twice for added warmth and snuggliness.

I also wound the following skeins of Top Draw Sock yarn I received from Skein last week. This is Skein Speakeasy in the skein form….

Skein Speakeasy 2

and wound into a ball….

Skein Speakeasy 3

This is Skein Green Tea in skein form…

Skein Green Tea 2

and wound into a ball…

Skein Green Tea 3

This is Skein Tuscany in a skein…

Skein Tuscany 2

and now wound into a ball…

Skein Tuscany 3

And finally this is Skein Rusty Rock in a skein…

Skein Rusty Rock 2

and now wound into a ball…

Skein Rusty Rock 3

That was rather warm work as it was quite hot and humid in Brisbane this weekend. Now, the big question is what will I knit with this yarn. I’m thinking maybe a shawl, scarf and of course some socks!

I haven’t forgotten to blog about my visit to Cleveland BUZZ on Saturday. I’m just getting all the photos together so I’ll probably post it within the next couple of days.

Hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend fully of crafty goodness.

Melanie

My Yarn Journey Musings

I can vaguely remember my Nanna teaching me how to knit when I was about 11 years old. It obviously didn’t leave a huge impression on me as I can’t remember what I knitted but I am assuming it was probably a garter stitch scarf, full of holes and long enough to wrap around the house a couple of times!! Isn’t that what most people learned to knit?

I didn’t continue to knit throughout my childhood years; it wasn’t until my early 20s that I picked up the needles again and started knitting jumpers (sweaters). Don’t ask me how I graduated from garter stitch scarves to jumpers. I do remember buying a pattern for a jumper and studying it as if the end result was going to be a PhD! I actually knitted quite a few jumpers and even embroidered pictures on them. Remember, back in the late 1970s and early 1980s there was no internet. You couldn’t just find a You Tube video for a certain stitch. None of my friends knitted either so the only way I could figure out something was to try and source a knitting book from my library; and they weren’t in plentiful supply either. It must have been sheer determination that helped me to understand a knitting pattern. I do remember a couple of instances of frogging a sleeve as I’d only decreased on the one side.

Here’s a picture of one of my first partly embroidered jumpers (right hand side). It was knitted in the 1980s and if I remember correctly only the kangaroos were embroidered on. This picture is from the pattern book. Unfortunately, I don’t know what has happened to the jumper 😦

Kangaroo Jumper

In those days the main yarn available that I can recall was Patons or Twilleys and if you were into acrylic it was Coles ‘Holiday’. Coles supported their Holiday yarn with many pattern books too. I managed to pick one up recently at a Lifeline Book Fest and it brought back fond memories. Back then I can only recall using straight metal knitting needles. Now I have some bamboo needles which I love as they are so light. I’ve also just bought my first set of Addi click needles.

Prior to my son’s birth on 4 July 1987 (yes, he shares a day celebrated in the USA) I knitted him bootees, bonnets and jackets in fine baby yarn.

Baby stuff-horz

The little knitted vest in the right hand side picture is the same as the one on the cover of this Paton’s pattern book. You can still pick this book up from Ebay. Good patterns never seem to go out of vogue.

Patons Baby Patterns

Of course every baby and little boy needs and bonnet and a beanie!

Hats-horz

After a little break I knitted him jumpers when he was around 5-9 years old, again embroidering pictures on some of them. I have kept them and here are some photos. I love the Bugs Bunny jumper (knitted with Patons Totem) and was quite proud of my efforts. Unfortunately, living in Queensland there wasn’t much call to wear pure wool jumpers as it doesn’t really get that cold here in our winters. Hence the jumper is in immaculate condition. This jumper would be great in really cold weather as Bugs’ face has been embroidered on; hence there is double yarn thickness in that area.

Bugs bunny-horz

A not too clear picture of a scanned old photo.

Richard Age 5I must have had an embroidering craze! Everyone in the neighbourhood knew when his birthday was!

Richard-horz

I love the striped jumper; again it was hardly worn.

Two jumpers-horz

After that burst of knitting, my interest waned. Until I found this little book called Knitted Mug Hugs in my local library which piqued my interest in 2011. I purchased the book and made a couple of the mug hugs. I subsequently visited The Book Depository and searched on mug hugs books and found the book (Mug Hugs by Alison Howard) which resulted in re-igniting my knitting interest. I have blogged about this previously; if you’re interested in reading my mug hug story it is here. Suffice it to say, I was hooked on knitting and looking for bigger and better things to knit.

I might add that throughout my life I also learned how to crochet. Again, I think my Nanna taught me as I can’t recall anyone else showing me. I also bought a very basic book about crocheting which is dated circa 1977 and I still refer to it to this day when crocheting.

I found these two pieces of flannelette, sewed them together and then crocheted the edges. This makes a great present for any new mum.

Blanket-horz

Throughout the years, I have made quite a few granny square blankets out of acrylic (haven’t we all?). I also recently found some great pattern books for knitted and crocheted towel tops from Crochet Australia and have made quite a few of them.

After my mug hug craze, I bought a few second hand knitting books at my twice yearly Lifeline Book Fest and started knitting baby garments as these were small and gave almost instant results.

I also started getting interested in using only pure wool so I started visiting Ebay quite a bit and bidding on bundles of wool…..this was the start of my uncontrollable stash obsession which I have also blogged about. You can read about it here.

I’ve got one thing to say about shopping on the internet and that is ‘dangerous’. It is so easy to keep clicking on ‘Add to Cart’ or ‘Bid Now’. And the payment process is just a breeze with PayPal isn’t it? Plus the anticipation when I get home each afternoon wondering whether there will be a parcel waiting for me!

In the 1970s most yarn was a solid colour….I don’t remember much in the way of variegated yarn. It wasn’t particularly soft wool either; in fact it could be quite scratchy and hard to wear against the skin. Even with a shirt on the wool fibres would penetrate and annoy me.

I remember visiting my local Spotlight and Lincraft stores about 18 months ago and managing to find some nice yarn, in particular some Moda Vera Noir sock yarn. Sock yarn! I thought….”I could never knit a pair of socks”. Just looking at a sock and studying its structure was confusing to me.

Despite that, I bought about three balls of the sock yarn as it was quite cheap. I had no idea then how much sock yarn can cost per skein.

I also managed to locate a few yarn shops in Brisbane that had some good websites with facilities to subscribe to their newsletters which I did.

So I kept knitting my baby garments until one day a newsletter popped in my in box advertising sock knitting classes at Threads and More at Sherwood (the shop has since moved to Indooroopilly). I instantly recalled the three balls of sock yarn that I bought previously and thought “Go on….why not register” so I emailed the shop and registered for three x two hour lessons over three consecutive Saturday afternoons.

Knitting with five dpns was initially quite a challenge and I thought to myself “there’s no way I’m going to be able to knit socks with these needles and watch any TV”. I find knitting and watching TV very relaxing. After my first lesson I’d progressed past the cuff and onto the leg. Homework was to finish the leg. I rushed home, took photos and uploaded the photos and a quick story on my Facebook page as I was so excited with my efforts; maybe this was the start of my ‘blogging’ desire.

I thoroughly enjoyed my second lesson and couldn’t wait to get to my third lesson. By that time, I’d already started the second sock as I had a spare set of dpns at home (bamboo ones bought on Ebay from China – I love them!). I was so proud of my first pair of socks I could literally burst. Here they are.

DSC01194

What these sock knitting lessons did was to instil and create such an obsessive passion for knitting and yarn that has taken control of me and simply will not let go.

I also discovered Ravelry….OMG what a fantastic website for knitters and crocheters. So many yarns in their database, so many free patterns for everything imaginable, so many groups you can join, so many other knitters whose projects you can follow. Ravelry has more than three million members and it’s free to join. I also learned about KALs (Knit-A-Longs). Have just joined one with Augustbird.

I also started trawling the internet and learned so much about yarn. I fell in love with hand painted variegated yarn and couldn’t believe there was so much sock yarn out there. But more importantly I discovered some fantastic online yarn suppliers in Australia.

Not only the yarn suppliers that have a shop front that provide gorgeous yarns sourced from around the world and provide excellent service….like Yarn Glorious Yarn, Yay for Yarn, K2TOG but I also found suppliers who dyed their own yarn in exquisite colours…both solid colours and variegated colours. I discovered beautiful soft, stretchy sock yarns that feel luxurious against the skin. I found suppliers who respond incredibly quickly to their customers’ needs and requests. Suppliers who don’t have the big store names but provide knitters with yarns that the big stores just do not (and probably won’t ever) provide.

My three favourite hand-dyed yarn suppliers are Skein, Dyed By Hand Yarns and Augustbird. I have no affiliation with any of these suppliers. I am just so impressed with their products, their service and their obvious passion in producing such luscious and beautiful hand-dyed yarns. Whenever I receive a package of yarn in the mail (and believe me this happens an awful lot; my local parcel delivery man waves to me every morning as I walk to work!), I stroke the yarn; I smell it and inhale its beautiful aroma and absorb its journey from the sheep (or alpaca) on the land, to the shearer, to the spinner, to the dyer and eventually to me. It is such an incredibly tactile experience. If you know of any other quality hand dyed yarn suppliers in Australia, please let me know.

Since my first pair of socks in August 2012, I have completed 25 pairs and in between socks, I have knitted a couple of blankets and shawls. I also have a couple of UFOs (unfinished objects….a vest is one of them). I have a plethora of knitting patterns sourced from Ravelry plus a library full of knitting books sourced from the Lifeline Book Fest and The Book Depository. A lot of them are recommendations I’ve gleaned from other knitters’ blogs. I have enough yarn to open my own store and I am now getting more adventurous with my socks by mixing and matching patterns with what I like. I now understand the structure of the sock. But believe me I still have a lot to learn….how to knit socks on a circular needle toe-up; how to knit two socks at a time on two circular needles toe-up. How to knit Cat Bordhi’s tomato heel. I also want to learn about how to knit a moebius…I have a pattern and the yarn and needles but just need to find the time to sit down and watch Cat Bordhi’s You Tube video instructions on how to cast on a meobius.

Which brings me to blogs. I’m always so excited when I finish a project and just want to show everyone so I thought why not blog about it. I am no seasoned writer but I believe when you write about something you’re passionate about the words just flow and there is no such thing as writer’s block. If anything, I can tend to ramble as I am no doubt doing in this blog! So that’s how MelsNattyKnits was born. The name came to me pretty quickly and I thought it sounded quite catchy.

The only problem I have now is finding the time to work full time, knit my garments and blog about them.

So thank you to all you wonderful knitters and crafty people who have elected to follow my blog. I do so appreciate it and it gives me so much encouragement to keep writing my posts. I hope you enjoy reading them and I would love you to leave comments. I get a thrill every time I visit my statistics page and see that I have another follower J

And thank you to all the lovely online yarn stores who have showcased such wonderful yarns (and had some great sales) and helped to deplete my bank balance J

And finally, thank you to the dedicated artisans who hand dye their beautiful yarns so that I can knit such beautiful and treasured garments.

Until next time…..keep knitting, crocheting, spinning and doing whatever craft makes you happy.

Melanie