Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble.....

The Yarn Kitchen dye house conducting colour labs
I have blogged previously about where inspirations for colours come from.  Colour is all around us.  It envelopes us, bombards us, caresses us, teases us - you just need to know where to look.
A trend report for the 2015 season
We often turn to colour trends in fashion and pay attention to what the pundits say and release in their colour predictions a couple of times each year.  This is important, as these guru's can make or break a colour trend, not just for a season, but for years to come.  Just think of the transition between the popularity of black, to gray and now to indigo.

When you see where the inspiration comes from it all make so much sense.
Nature is also the other obviously place to look.  The colour combinations in plants and flowers, shore and sand, sky to sea. As colours appear in nature, that look comfortable and pleasing to our eyes, that comfort often translates when you replicate these colours in yarn or fabric - especially when it doesn't necessarily appear obvious. 

Glass Mountain - inspired by a Napier Winter Sunset
Last year we released a limited edition colour collection - one of those colours was called Glass Mountain.  It was a combination of two blues, a taupe and mustard yellow.  Not traditional bedfellows you might say, but that is where nature, colour and instinct can surprise you.  These colours directly reflected what you see during a cloudless Winter Sunset here in Napier.  As the sun dips down below the surrounding ranges filtering it last few rays across Hawkes Bay.

The finished garment in time for the Napier Winter to which inspired the yarn.
When you see all the elements together it makes sense, but to me that is the magic of what we do, hunting out those elements to give you that eureka colour moment which is the essence of 'The Yarn Kitchen'.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Where the Woolly Things Are

The Te Kowhai Cheviot's being bought down for shearing

When you are in your Skeinz shop fondling all the luscious yarns we have its easy to forget that it wasn't that long ago the fibre was running about a paddock on the back of a hooved animal of one kind or another.

My old Man - Ross with Tui - his 'wool truck' dog
We have relationships with some incredible wool brokers who help us source all the amazing fibre that make our yarns and one such man who helps us out is my old man, Ross.  I have mentioned in previous posts about being raised on a sheep and cattle station & my pop was a farmer from his late teens until giving up the high country for 'town' in the 90's.  But you can't pull the wool over an old farmers eyes and it wasn't long before he started working for local wool merchants in his home town of Gisborne (just 3 hours north of the Skeinz Mill in Napier).

Shearing time at Te Kowhai - the fibre from that sheep is spun into the Naked Cheviot here at Skeinz
If you have attended the Knit August Nights yarn retreat in Napier you most likely have met my dad, he loves the retreat and spends hours talking to "all those hard case girls" as he calls the KANnannites and last year he drove the Skeinz shuttle between the retreat and the shop.

It's a joy to spin - it was this Cheviot that got me back into hand spinning
What he doesn't know about wool and what farm grows what fibre and where on the East Coast is very little indeed & it was Ross who found the Cheviot flock on Te Kowhai Station where we source our Naked Cheviot from. It's wonderful for us to be able track the fibre from farm to yarn and it is just as satisfying for Ross and Art from Te Kowhai as well to know that his wool is being made into such a beautiful thing.

Skeinz Naked Cheviot - all spun and ready to go.

We have deliberately kept the spinning of the Naked Cheviot as close to 'hand spinning' as we can.  It's just a two fold twist and constructed as you would if you were spinning for the classical Aran jumper.  Cheviot is lively, strong and warm and has a beautiful pearl like lustre.  It also wears very well, so if you would like to take the yarn full circle and something that would be worn on the farm - then the Naked Cheviot is the yarn to knit it in!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Wonder of Wool

Images from today's action at The Yarn Kitchen - Design Spun

This month marks Wool Week here in NZ with the Campaign for Wool and also World Wide Knit In Public Day.
The Poplar Cowl by Julia Stanfield knitted in Silver Lining Clifton Stone
To help celebrate we want to see what you have been knitting in Skeinz wool - so join us on our Facebook Page or Ravelry Forum and post your image to go into the draw for some luscious Silver Lining Naturals yarn.

Have a look as some of the amazing entries so far...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Stash Busting or New Yarn - the Conundrum?

Two Jackets, the trims are made with a Stash Yarn and the body with new Orb

I'm not too proud to say it - I have an obscene stash.  Makes sense really.  I work for Skeinz, at a spinning mill.  I own and operate Knit August Nights, so I get hands on access to some of the countries top Indie producers, and for those who don't make KAN, I then go and stalk them at Unwind in Dunedin.  Yes, my stash is considerable.

The Random print is some Skeinz Original from 8 years ago with some Skeinz Alpaca
So like many with the passing of the new year and declarations of "Yarn Diets" and "Knit from Stash" regimes, I considered this... for a nano second.  But the reality of my stash, which has grown from a large cupboard, a two large basket overflow and now a collection of Jute shopping bags, I did concede that maybe a cull was in order.
The new Orb - I just can't get enough of this yarn
It was awful, it's like trying to decide which one of your children you liked best.  Needless to say the only yarns that made the cull pile were those who were orphans from previous projects, those unwanted who I'd already had my fun with their siblings and they no longer held my allure.  But I am a kind mistress, and they were all happily re-homed to other stashes.  Making space also meant I could start stashing some of the stunning new yarns that have now arrived at Skeinz.

The trim is a stray ball of Noro from the stash with the body in the Heritage Kid Mohair in porcelain.
That is when the light bulb appeared - I could do both.  Satisfy the urge to stash bust with the need to knit our new yarns.  The solution - knit projects that had to combine both elements.  Sounds simple enough.  Great too as I have so many single balls of quirky yarns purchased on overseas sojourns or received in international swaps.

This was a mix of Vintage Oilskin with scraps of Alpaca Boucle
I blogged previously about the baby cardigan I started after a few glasses of wine.  No, I am NOT going to write the pattern up because there are so many similar patterns on Ravelry which will do the trick.  I have now completed four of these sweet cardigans & I am now starting on a vest for my own son.  It has been a brilliant exercise to play with texture and colour & I am now looking at my stash with fresh eyes - especially those bags with not enough yarn for a project for me, but if I added some new Orb, Burlesque or Silver Lining.....

The completed Orb Cardigan - did I mention how much I loved this yarn?

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)