Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Knitographer Interviews… Spinning A Yarn

One of my favourite discoveries at Woolfest Auckland was Spinning a Yarn. Olive Riley is the lovely lady at the dye pots, dyeing merino and silk blends in new colours each season.
 I've fallen for the fingering weight. I think I've finally found the yarn for my first cardigan!

How did Spinning a Yarn begin?

My sister Jessicah (who is basically a fantasy of a woman, so lovely and creative!) started Spinning a Yarn to fund her growing fibre obsession and provide a creative outlet alongside her day job. Last year Jess decided to focus on family as Spinning a Yarn was growing too big to be a sideline and it was perfect timing for me to pick up where she left it.

Have you always been interested in fibre craft? What was the first fibre-crafty object you made?

My gorgeous mum has been teaching us fibre craft since before I can remember. One that sticks in my mind is some felted "slippers" that were made on a fibre weekend with family friends. They were huge and like mishapen maroon elf boots but naturally I wore them anyway. 

Your bases are all silk/merino blends. What is it about these fibres you like so much?

The soft handle and delicate drape makes my custom yarns lovely to fondle, knit with and wear. Its a very warm blend but breathable and light at the same time. I like a bit of silky sparkle too! 

You do seasonal colours which is very cool. What's your process for designing a colour collection each season? Are you already planning ahead for the next one?

Yeah, I have a fashion design degree so I think that training led to the collection based release of colours that changes seasonally. For the current collection, the inspiration came from being home on the farm and memories of childhood and family so the colours started from there and then I filled the colour gaps to have a range of shades. I am always seeing colours and thinking "I wanna knit that!" so I have a few ideas for the Spring/Summer collection which will be released at Knit August Nights in Napier in August.

Your products are quite different from other indie dyers - do you consider this a strength? 

I suppose it is a strength, its always exciting for people to find new products and part of the fun is working with the supplier to design new yarn bases! I love people's reaction to the softness of the yarn and seeing which colours grab their attention.

What kind of projects are your yarns most suited for?

Spinning a Yarn yarns are lovely in scarves and shawls, beautiful for baby wear and I have a few jumpers and dresses knitted up too, very snuggly and versatile! 

Where do you see Spinning A Yarn in one year?

I want to see Spinning a Yarn grow. I want to expand yarn bases and make some more patterns to go alongside the yarn/seasonal collection releases. It would be great to have my yarn in some retail stores as well!

Check out Spinning A Yarn on Facebook and on the website to order some of this yummy yarn.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Celebrating Wool Week

It's definitely apt that New Zealand Wool Week has fallen during our coldest week of the year so far. Yesterday morning we were waking up to a crisp 2degC in Auckland and I've been very grateful for my wool coats and the range of hand-knits currently on rotation!

On Monday (starting to get a bit cold) I noticed that two of my most basic, plain, go-with-everything cardigans had disappeared. I have a habit of losing cardies. I've probably left them somewhere, but given the change in temperature I thought it would be a wise investment to replace them. 

My last two cardies have been the super-cheap acrylic kind. In the spirit of Wool Week, I decided to go and make sure I got a wool one this time around. Pure wool cardigans aren't cheap if you want to get a nice one, so I headed to my favourite pre-loved clothing store and picked up a beautiful cropped grey merino cardigan with giant buttons and a navy boyfriend style wool cardigan for $50.

I am never buying an acrylic cardigan again. I am beyond warm.

New Zealand Wool Week is about celebrating our amazing wool, and we are so lucky to live in a country with an abundance of sheep to supply it.

The week is brought to you by Campaign for Wool New Zealand, which highlight's the fibre's great qualities. Check out the website to find out more.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A quick gift knit

A friend asked me if I could knit a hat for his sister's upcoming birthday. The birthday, I think, is next week. He asked me about it in January. Looks like I've finished it just in time!

It's my latest take on the Skyping Beanie. I took a couple of inches out of it to lessen the slouch and knitted the ribbing band made a pompom in a contrasting colour (great way to use up some leftovers! Here I've used two shades of Skeinz Vintage DK)

I've seen a lot of maroon/grey combinations being worn this winter, so hopefully it's right on trend. more importantly though - I really hope she likes it!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

My first Stephen West project

We all know Stephen West is pretty much a god when it comes to shawl and scarf patterns. They feature so often in the popular and most-knit lists on Ravelry that I'm actually surprised it's taken me until now to use one for a project. I've cast on a Pogona shawl with my Soft Like Kittens yarn I brought  at Woolfest Auckland last weekend. 

And I'm loving it. A really clearly written pattern (no wonder so many people love them), simple enough to knit it without thinking too hard, but the increase sections give plenty of variation. The yarn is just beautiful and I don't seem to have having any pooling issues! These aren't colours I'd usually wear, so this is quite an exciting project for me. 

And I just had to show off these prints I got at the Crafternoon-Tea market today. These cuties are by Bird in a Bunny Suit and the bandit cat is my favourite. Now on the hunt for a double frame to put them in!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Woolfest Auckland - kind of a big deal

A little while back I heard Auckland was getting a wool festival. And to be honest, until last week when a friend who was attending reminded me about it, it completely fell off my radar.
Auckland's knitting scene sometimes feels quite fragmented. There are lots of amazing indie-dyers and designers, but aside from Ravelry, there's not much around the city to bring everyone together in one place. We don't have many knitting shops, and as far as I know, we don't have a cinema that hosts knit-friendly evenings with the lights on like Wellington does. All of the craft markets in Auckland tend to focus on pre-made gifts, not necessarily on supplies to make your own things with. 

I was expecting Woolfest Auckland to be a bit of the same - lots of pre-knitted baby things - but I was very surprised. It surpassed all expectations, and if I'd known how awesome it was going to be, I would've saved up more pocket money! Mum came with me (we included brunch as a Mother's Day outing) and we were both very impressed.

One of the sheds at Corban Estate Arts Centre was packed with traders selling yarn, fibre, notions, spinning supplies - it was like a giant KAN market without the classes.

The spaces in the middle of the shed were set up for people to catch up and knit or spin, and so many people were taking the time to hang out, browse, buy stuff, and browse some more. 

Lots of my favourite dyers were there; Happy Go Knitty, Soft Like Kittens, Fibre2Go and Meraki Studio to name a few. I also made some great new discoveries, including Spinning A Yarn. Her merino/silk blends are beautiful.

Spinning A Yarn's table.
Soft Like Kittens' scrummy sock yarn

 I was quite restrained with my purchasing today - I had not budgeted for this so I tried to be good. I got myself some very yummy Soft Like Kittens Double Helix Sock in Midnight Revels. This will become a shawl very soon. 

And always someone who likes to test out new yarns, I got a Spinning A Yarn Triplet pack of fingering weight yarn. This will either become a scarf or a super amazing hat. Will think on this some more.

Big congratulations to the organisers of Auckland's first Woolfest! I can't wait for the next one! 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Slow Sundays are for reading

I had planned on catching up on some work today. But then I went out dancing last night and got home at 3am. I'm two coffees into the day, for some reason it's already 2.30pm and the sun is too warm to think about all the stuff I need to do tomorrow. I'll go in early, maybe stay late, just so I can enjoy this May sunshine - who knows how long it will last?

I've decided the day is better spent catching up on magazines than working. I'm very excited to tell you I've started contributing to Glory Days Magazine. It's a vintage lifestyle magazine that has recently started a print edition, and my first feature is all about one of my passions, Crown Lynn china. 
Check it out if you love anything to do with vintage - it's amazing.

The latest issue of Extra Curricular Magazine is also out and I was very excited to interview Kelly Gibney from the amazing food blog, Bonnie Delicious. Writing the article made me so hungry! There are some great stories in this issue - illustrators to tattooists to ukulele makers - I'm always blown away by the creativity of the people featured.

And for good Sunday-reading measure, I'm catching up on the previous issue of Selvedge Magazine. If there's one thing I love about this magazine, it's the feature articles. It's not often you find an arts and crafts magazine that has long-form writing, but this one is the one I turn to if I want a well written, in-depth read. Sunday is set. Maybe an episode of Sherlock and a bit of knitting later for good measure.