Sunday, May 10, 2015

We haven't gone AWOL - Promise!

A quick colour snapshot of Burlesque
I know it seems like an age since we last spoke, but things have been so busy here at the yarn kitchen!  As it is Autumn in our corner of paradise, that means that the mill is even busier than usual getting all the yarns spun and coloured for the Southern hemisphere Winter.

How can you resist the colour!  Balling at The Yarn Kitchen
Skeinz is no exception, three of the ranges I have been hotly anticipated have now arrived in store.  Burlesque - a shimmering blend of Silk and Merino, Orb - a high twist on twist Merino & Limbo - an uber chunky wool wrap yarn.

The One Hour Cowl! The Pattern is in store
I'm like a kid in a candy shop madly casting on and trying to get projected completed as I just love all these yarns so much.  Limbo was the obvious starter. being so lush and thick meant I could get a project cast on and completed in just an hour!  Limbo is the ultimate in self gratification knitting - honestly in just one episode of Game of Thrones I had knitted and entire cowl, and no one lost their head (well actually maybe one person lost theirs!)

Yes - it is me!  Look at the hat though - Just love it - Stax by Carina Spencer
I then moved onto Burlesque.  It has been so long since we have spun a silk blended yarn, this one uses Tussah silk, and the effect the silk gives to the yarn is an exotic shimmer that reflects off your stitches to add depth and interest to your work.  I knitted a lovely lacy slouch hat for the shop using the Bluestone grey.  The silk makes the hat drape and the slanting stitches makes the most of the silk qualities.  I am now on the hunt for my next project to make the most of the rich spicy colour palette we have in the range.

My Current WIP in the new Orb, other wise known at "The 'Frozen' Jumper" by my son!

Currently on the needles is Orb Merino.  This is a high twist on twist construction that I have just adored for years.  It makes stocking stitch looks slick and smooth & the twist hold the shape of textured stitches with ease.  The twist also means the wear is excellent - so a brilliant yarn for those garments which can be prone to pilling.  I have started a wee baby jacket with 3 of the contemporary colours in the range.  So far its knitting up a dream, I can now see other projects that will be started to take advantage of the complementary colours.

A woven swatch made up with Orb, Vintage and some Homespun

All these yarns are now online, but if you are in the neighbourhood, do call in.  We have shimmied the shop around and all the yarn looks great.  BTW registrations are now open for Knit August Nights, I'll be profiling some classes soon, but make sure you head over to the KAN website and see what's on offer.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Time to Retreat

Some of the yarns Skeinz had available at Unwind
As I compose this Tropical Cyclone Pam is bearing down on the east coast of NZ and here in Napier we are on the fringe of Pam's wrath.  Weather like this makes you want to retreat into your shell and wait the storm out, in my case with either knitting for spinning.  But no, I am at the 'The Yarn Kitchen' watching the weather rapidly deteriorate.

I was desperate to scan the QR code on this shawl at Unwind!
 It isn't all doom and gloom, I have been very lucky over the past two weeks to visit two fibre craft retreats.  Firstly Unwind in Dunedin and latterly this last week, the Creative Fibre Eastern region retreat.  As the creator of the Knit August Nights retreat I really value the importance of these events for those that a attend and the wider fibre craft community.

The stunning Sue Schreuder - She taught at Unwind and is also taking a class at KAN 2015
There is something very special about being able to gather together with like minded people, get inspired and energised.  Speak the same language - conversations that would be lost on a lay person are exciting and educational at the retreat.  That goes without mentioning all the other topics that get covered off... Like the knitwear in the Outlander TV series or what books we have been reading.

The efforts from my woven Crochet class - so much fun.
I love the fibre craft community as they are such a passionate bunch, they keep me coming to work week after week.  At Unwind I attended a class, the first I managed in years as I am always working within retreats to enjoy some class time.  It was brilliant.  I leaned a new technique marrying crochet and weaving together from Deb Moore at Stitch Seekers (Famous for the Men in Knitwear calendar and Outlaw yarn), something I am now itching to try out again on a project I had pegged using a more traditional for of crochet, this alone was worth attending the retreat for!

Creative Fibre HB Retreat - I so wanted to abscond with this wheel!
So if you have ever considered going to a retreat, but have never been brave enough - do it!  We have two amazing independent retreats in Unwind in Dunedin (March 5th - 7th 2016) and Knit August Nights right here in Napier (August 28th - 30th 2015), plus Creative Fibre frequently have retreats in their regions - contact your local delegate for more information.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Green Machine

The new Orb Merino with Vintage Filigree Pistachio
I have talked about colour preferences before, especially when it comes to our own tendencies towards certain colours.  Peter here at The Yarn Kitchen will always tell you that when I go to compile a colour collection ultimately I would have selected at least 2 greens.  I am that predictable!

Fresh, vibrant & verdant!  Fresh from the dye house this morning.
What pleased me greatly today was when I was on one of my sojourns around the mill I came across three dye house tubs, all filled with three shades of vibrant verdant green.  None of these yarns were for Skeinz, so it proved that I am not the only one with green fingers.

Heritage Organic Merino in Maju Green - the ultimate in 'Green' yarns
We also take 'green yarns' to an entire new level.  Here at The Yarn Kitchen (Design Spun) we are the only mill in Australasia that is BioGro certified, processing organic fibres into delicious hand knitting yarns.  At Skeinz we have our Heritage Organic Merino sport.  The most dreamy two fold yarn in five gelato colours - obviously including a green!

This cosy knitted years ago in a vibrant Olive shade has reappeared this year in Orb
One of the beauties of green is that is is a secondary colour made up of yellow & Blue.  You may think this doesn't mean much, but you would be mistaken.  This means the variety of green combinations you can produce is almost limitless.  Unlike a primary colour, green can slip and slide up and down the blue/yellow spectrum giving you so much variety.  From the most oceanic Teal through to jade all the way across to the most citrus Lime, green can off so much & will always remain a favourite here at The Yarn Kitchen. (pictured below Southlander Java Oatmeal & Gypsy Oatmeal)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Spin Cycle.

Voluptuous Clouds of Lovliness
Along with the increased popularity of knitting, spinning too has received a resurgence of popularity.  Wheels are being snapped up in garage sales, on Trade Me & Ebay and more and more yarn lovers are having a go at spinning their own yarns.
Chasing Rainbows - Available last year
I learnt to spin after my first son was born, but I had to put it on hiatus when he started to get mobile, the temptation to jam little fingers into moving parts was just too much for my wee man.  So my wheel went away until I attended the Unwind Fibrecraft retreat in Dunedin a couple of years ago.  Spinners there travelled with their wheels & I got to see what could be done with some of the amazing hand painted slivers now available.

My Chasing Rainbows & Clifton Stone homespun skeins
This got me inspired to make sure that we have some slivers available from for all those that love to spin or, like me, were getting back to their wheels & starting for the very first time.  We always have some good kiwi crossbred sliver available.  This is mid micron and draws very easily - making it easier to refine your technique if you are learning.  It spins up easily & quickly and is perfect for the classic farm style homespun projects.

Starting to knit up my Chasing Rainbows
In recent months I have been skulking about the mill looking for other gems to entice spinners.  At the end of last year we did a colour trial for a new yarn (coming soon) and I was able to snaffle some deliciously vibrant fibre, called Chasing Rainbows, which sold out in record time.   I was one of the lucky ones who had this fibre and I have been s pinning it up across the Summer break, I also have been knitting some of the Silver Lining Sliver from our popular DK range which I rescued from the blending bins.  
The new Arapawa Slivers
This year I have pounced on the gill ends of the new batch of this yarn before it was reblended.  There are four natural shades of 19 micron rare breed Arapawa Merino (in this case, last batch was mostly Stewart Island Merino with Arapawa) and it is simply TO DIE FOR!  It is so soft and spins like a dream.  If you are wanting some special sliver for an heirloom project - this is the sliver for you.  Make sure you check it out before it all spins itself out he door!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

In the most unlikely of places...

Doesn't Shohug look gorgeous! He LOVES the Bangladesh Cricket team and is very proud of his jumper in team colours.
Last week I received the loveliest of messages via our Facebook page from Susan it read
"Hello, I thought you would like to see the photo of the little boy in Bangladesh. I bought the wool from you and the lovely lady at the desk printed out the Bangladesh cricket uniform for me so we could get the colours just right. My 80 year old mother knitted this. These children have nothing, their father is my brothers rickshaw wallah.  I will be coming for more wool for sure.  He is very proud of his jersey"

I remember this very well as luck would have it, I was in the shop covering that particular day - Susan is often in purchasing yarn for her mother and another knitting group.  I remember it so vividly as I would have thought that Bangladesh would be the last place that warm woollies would be worn, but the northern part of the country gets very cold and at each end of the day and an extra layer is most certainly required, but often not available. After receiving this photograph I quizzed her a little farther and asked what is it that they do with the yarn?

The kids proudly modelling their hats & headbands
Her brother works in Bangladesh and friends of his run a school, through a church group they have been knitting hats, headbands, scarves and slippers for the children.  It gets surprisingly cold where they are and whilst most of the children are barefoot to school, the cold concrete floors are made more bearable by the slippers and the kids are kept cosy with the rest.

The slippers help keep feet warm on the very cold concrete floors
It has been a real joy to see our yarn being utilised in such a way that makes a real difference in peoples lives.  Whilst I knit for my pure pleasure and to make items for my family, it fills my heart with joy to see the smiles on the faces of these children as they have received knitted garments from our yarn and from Kiwi knitters.

A smile to make the heart sing
If you knit for charity and would like to share some of the joy you have shared through yarn please contact me either through or Facebook page or at & if you would like to help these beautiful children in Bangladesh, just let me know and I will put you in touch with the group offering support.  Thank you Susan for sharing this wonderful initiative.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Greetings and Salutations for the Festive Season

A glimpse into the shop - you can even see into the mill
Things are well and truly winding up at The Yarn Kitchen.  The mill is busy with the last day of processing today before clean up tomorrow & our own festive staff function tomorrow evening.

It has been an exciting year with wonderful growth at Skeinz, so thank you to all those who have purchased from us over the past year.  It has seen four new yarns launched, with double that already imminent for the new year.  All processed here, in our Napier mill, something we are very proud of.  In the face of a barrage of cheap imports we try very, very hard to purchase as much as we can from New Zealand sources first to spin and process here at home.
Our Penguin mascot are still popular this season.
Skeinz & our mill are very much a family - we have three couples that work here, a mother and son and frequently other family members get roped in during the peak times of year.  Over half the staff have been with us for more than a decade ( in fact we have many who have hit the 20+ and 30+ year mark) and even though it feels like yesterday since I started, I will be entering my 8th year next year.

So from our Skeinz & Yarn Kitchen family to yours.  Have a very festive, happy & safe holiday season.  We looking forward to seeing you all in the new year.

This is the closest we come to a snow drift at the Yarn Kitchen

Skeinz Shop Hours: I have posted these on the home page of the web (in the ‘Blog & News’ section), but just to remind you that the last day for the Skeinz Shop here is Napier is this Monday the 22nd, I am in there in the morning & Suzanne will be manning the afternoon until 3pm. We reopen again Wednesday the 7th of January.
Just 5 minutes away from the Yarn Kitchen is the beach - Merry Christmas
Last dispatches for before Christmas will be that Monday (assuming your payments have processed and cleared.) You can make orders whilst the shop is closed and these will be checked and dispatched in two batches across the festive break. If you are going to be away, be sure you let us know in the comment section, as we can hold your order and wait to dispatch it upon your return to ensure safe delivery.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Twinkle Twinkle....

The two projects knitted by Robynne - Newborn & 6 month sizes.
I arrived this morning and Robynne, one of our amazing Skeinz Shop marvels, had just completed a little cardigan in the new Stirling Alpaca yarn.  It was seriously swoon worthy.  I made sure I quickly snapped it up and photographed to be able to share it with you all.

The Stirling Range - from soft to dramatic

I know I have blogged about this yarn already but I am seriously smitten with it. Stirling is an Alpaca yarn with just the merest whiff of silver thread, adding a slight twinkle to the finished fabric.  The Alpaca has a soft halo when knitted so the overall effect is soft, warm and very, very beautiful.  The yarn is also somewhat of an all rounder.  It is spun as a sport weight (5ply), but because of that Alpaca halo in testing Stirling has performed in patterns ranging from fingerling (4ply) weight all the way through to Light Worsted (DK/8ply).

Stirling Carmine - my personal favourite.
Robynne's samples are made for babies as it is soft and special enough to be worn by infants, but I could also see this yarn is a lightweight cardigans and boleros or knit your favorite wrap/shawl & left the silver add extra luxury to your finished project.  the colours have been designed to suit the very small, soft and subtle to the more dramatic evening options.  I especially love the Carmine & Charcoal - they both really make the silver thread pop & well... Twinkle!