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!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Season of Giving

Just a teaser of what is in the parcel.
I have had so much fun this last week scouring around the mill in this little hidden corners, dusty cupboards and in secret stashes for all sorts of fibrelicious goodies.  It's amazing what you can find.
What is the point of this exercise I hear you ask?
Our first yarn 'Teaser'

It is to put together an amazing prize bundle for a lucky Skeinz customer who shops with us between December 1st and January 18th.  To get into the draw for this prize, all you have to do is spend $50 at and you are automatically in the draw.  Easy.
This is a gem from the 'trial file' - never before been available.
I have tried to make sure that all the yarn in the parcel is enough to complete a small project all the way up to a garment lot for an adult.  There are all thicknesses, colours and fibres.  From the finest Merino, to lush alpaca and mohair.  Make sure you like our Facebook page to get teasers of what to expect in the parcel over the coming weeks.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Festive Prepping

Passion Flower in my garden - I just get so inspired by the colours!
It's a month until Christmas.  Sorry to remind you. Here in Napier, that means a month until we take a break, not only for Christmas, but a Summer holiday as well.  Many Kiwi's can't even think of picking up the needles over the Summer months, but for me it's a relaxing lazy time where I clean up UFO's, or get stuck into a project that needs a calm mind to complete.

Mohair brushed this past week - quite festive colours
I know many are in the thick of whipping up a few projects for gifts and loved ones.  There are some wonderful patterns out there for gifts.  For me my personal favourites are fingerless mitts & cowls.  Both a quick, easy and jolly useful for the recipient.

New Stirling - Pure alpaca with a whiff of Silver effect
To add a little sparkle to your festive knitting you should check out our new Alpaca yarn called Stirling.  It's a soft lush alpaca with just a whiff of silver accent yarn.  I tested this yarn months ago and have been anxiously waiting it's arrival.  As well as the added sparkle, it's a sport/light DK weight yarn.  On testing it knitted happily from 22 to 28sts per 10cm.  There are many patterns now out there for lighter weight cardigans and wraps at around 24sts per 10cm and Stirling would be perfect.

My sample knitted back in April - I have been itching for this yarn to arrive.
I test knitted a swatch in the stitch pattern from Martina Behm's Naiada (the project I was working on at the time) & it looked beautiful, but with 122m per ball, that would mean you could knit something like Louisa Hardings Victorian Mitts with just one ball (a personal fave of mine).

The most recent Ever After Cowl I have knitted in Silver Lining
The Ever After cowl I have posted on Ravelry for Free would look amazing in the Stirling and would only take two balls.  It's such a quick project, a great one for last minute gifts.  You could also match it up with the gauntlets to make a set if you so desired.

Ever After Gauntlets - the fastest gift knit
If you have babies to knit for, the yarn would make a good alternative in the DK patterns (especially the Peter Gregory or UKHKA leaflets) as the garments will knit to gauge, but not feel as 'weighty' as a  regular DK.  We also have the yarn in Powder Blue & Rosehip, Sorbet & Carmine for Unisex options.

Available now online - Skeinz Gift Vouchers
Remember we can post your yarn overseas - the deadlines are on the Skeinz home page.  If you are posting from NZ to abroad additional charges may apply.  We also have fresh stock of our popular Skeinz Gift Vouchers & if you are one of the lucky ones, there may be a few Skeinz Christmas Mystery packs left.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Contentious Lemon

The resurrection of Merino Soft Baby Lemon
You can never accuse us of not being a democratic society here at The Yarn Kitchen.  Part of my role is to compile the ranges and colour trends for future yarns & monitor the existing stable of colours.  It's a tough job because you are always swayed by personal preferences, colours and shades you love and those that you, well honestly, just loathe.

The classic 'Baby Triangle'- Baby Lemon, with Baby Pink and Baby Blue
When it comes to 4ply Merino baby yarn, the obvious choices of white, pink & blue have to be in the range, and our shades of these colours have altered subtly over the years to accurately reflect as closely as we can the shades available in mainstream baby clothing - you want your hand knits to match of course.  Other colours in the range are a mix of classic colours, like the nautical red and navy, black for "Silver Fern" babies and blush, gold, lime and babychinno for those wanting something a little more modern. So when the Skeinz Shop team of Em & Robynne came to me about baby reintroducing a baby lemon to the range, I started feeling green.
An example of the correct application of  'Lemon'
Baby Lemon has been and gone at three times in the years I have been here and after it's last quiet discontinuation, I was hoping to keep it confined to the yarn shade graveyard.  Em and Robynne had other ideas.  I am now only very sporadically in the shop, so couldn't discount their assertions that Skeinz Shop customers were demanding it - Really? Baby Lemon?  Are you sure?

See to my mind if you are going to have a yellow in a range you go for Gold!
So last week Baby Lemon was resurrected and found it's way back onto the shelf and online.  The gauntlet has been thrown - or the lemon squeezed - and  Em and Robynne are set to change my sour view of all things Lemon.  Now it's not yellow I am against - I love yellow & we have Merino Soft Gold in the range, because if you are going to have a yellow in a range, go for gold, I just purse my lips at the lemon.

So what do you think - have the girls thrown me a lemon, or do I need to suck it up and add some sugar and make some lemonade?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Knitting, Alive and Well.

My entries for this year - the most I have ever done.
The A&P Show season has started in this part of the world.  here in Hawkes bay, we have a Spring Show to coincide with our 4 day Anniversary weekend.  At Skeinz we have always been a supporter of the show, sponsoring two section in hand knitting and this year the overall prize in the Alpaca Handcraft section.

It was nice to see some new techniques - it's a pity you can't see the beading on the blue shawl, its stunning.
Previous years have seen entries in these areas slowly erode away.  I have entered for the last half dozen or so years to help show may support and also put in items that I would like to see.  As the traditional source of entries dwindles a new group of knitters have emerged entering garments and pieces displaying new techniques, new colours, new styles and fresh thinking.

Creative Cosies
It was wonderful to see Alpaca entries more than triple and general knitting entries up by about 25%.  I entered the most I have ever contributed and I loved being able to visit the display and see such wonderful work that continues to inspire me & hopefully other knitters to keep the needles busy over the warmer months.
A small display of some of Skeinz Alpaca yarns

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Going Ga-Ga for Grape

Just a selection of some of grape inspired yarns in our range yarns
 We all have favourite colours.  Those special colours that just make us drool, go weak at the knees and feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Colour is an indicator of our mood, how we express ourselves, how we want to world to see us.
This is the most popular colour in Texas
The Yarn Kitchen at Skeinz is always looking to find the right colours to reflect the dynamic consumers that love our yarns.  One colour that is most often requested, purchased, followed and has the most passionate advocates is purple or in our case grape.

By adding it to randoms you just get itchy to start casting on
It hit me as I was adding two new yarns to the site today, both variants of grape, how much this colour is adored.  We have a grape shape across at least nine different ranges, it is a common component within our random shade combinations - so what does this all mean.....?
Just loaded today - I can't see this lasting long!
According to Dr. Google...
This color relates to the imagination and spirituality. It stimulates the imagination and inspires high ideals. It is an introspective color, allowing us to get in touch with our deeper thoughts.
In the meaning of colors, purple and violet represent the future, the imagination and dreams, while spiritually calming the emotions. They inspire and enhance psychic ability and spiritual enlightenment, while, at the same time, keeping us grounded.
One of the most popular samples in the shop - Grape Baby Cardigan
What?!  This sort of sounds like a lot of knitters I know - does this mean we are destined to love the glamour of grape?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

KAN Krazy

Winner of the first KAN photo competition - Alice Best. 
It's been three weeks now since KAN 2014 wrapped up.  This year was epic.  Bigger numbers, more classes, more trading, simply a much bigger event.  I am not a professional event organiser.  I do KAN because I am passionate about yarn craft and I wish to see it not only survive, but thrive, so when you are thrown a massive snafu a week out from the event (the local council not allowing our venue to occupy their brand new function room - the one we had book), it was, too say the least, panic stations.
KAN sponsor & all round stunning woman - Tash from Holland Road
This is were people make all the difference.  People like the team at East Pier (our venue) who worked tirelessly with me to nut out solutions.  The Crown Hotel, where I had already booked teaching space, banding together to pull in all the resources we could muster in Ahuriri to make sure this event went ahead. And of course my amazing work mates at Skeinz, who all help keep me sane during the preparations.

Sue Schrueder one of the KAN tutors and Margaret Stove MBE
Also the people that attend KAN.  It was the Kanannites, especially those who have been coming for years, who share in my passion for yarn craft and have the vision to know how incredible KAN will be next year, you all made this event so very, very special - Thank you!

Vanitas was launched at KAN this year - Divine!
This mutual pulling together created an atmosphere that had such a buzz, one which filtered out to the locals that braved the rain to come out in droves to check out the event on the public market day on Sunday morning - quite overwhelming.

The Port View Room was one of the gems discovered after the snafu.
Now I have some perspective I am so excited about KAN 2015.  East Pier will have been completed and the venue, with vast trading and social spaces, all with uninterrupted sea views, will just be awesome.  The Crown Hotel are back on board this year with their beautifully appointed conference rooms and the technically pimped out Port View Room has also been booked again.  I'm in discussion with the tutors to create a class schedule that will have you all salivating & a new improved registration system will be in place to help getting yourself booked in a breeze.

Just a hint of socialising went on
If you want to get a feel for the KAN experience, pictures were uploaded to Twitter & Instagram using #knitaugustnights & make sure you join the Knit August Nights Facebook page.  East Pier will also have accommodation available next year, along with the excellent Crown Hotel, Navigate Seaside accommodation & Harbour View Motor Lodge - each of them seconds away from the venue.  I hope to see you next year!
Persian Poppies was one of the sold out classes this year.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Alpaca Adoration

The new very limited edition range of  Skeinz Alpaca Pure
Behind the closed doors at Skeinz, in the heart of the yarn kitchen we process a lot of Alpaca.  When I say a lot, I mean A LOT of Alpaca. It seems strange then that we don't do a range of Alpaca or Alpaca predominant yarns ourselves, until now.

My favourite from the new collection - it's just such an optimistic shade!
Especially to celebrate Knit August Nights & our sponsoring of the Alpaca hand crafts section of the Hawkes Bay A & P Show, we have produced a very small limited edition range of pure Alpaca yarns.  Pure Alpaca has a lightness, softness and warmth that is quite unique.  It doesn't have the energy & fibre memory as wool, but what it does have is a floaty drape that lends itself to light dreamy garments, wraps, shawls or feminine cardigans.  Because of it's smoothness and softness it is also a great option for children you need something very gentle next to their skins.

Damask Shawl
 A couple of patterns I think would look amazing in the Skeinz Pure Alpaca are the damask shawl by Kitman Figeuroa. Available in 3 sizes and in both written and charted format, it's feminine and would showcase the properties of Alpaca perfectly.

Beautiful Buttercup
The second is Buttercup by Heidi Kirrmaier.  Kirrmaier is famous for her free flowing style or easy to wear garments that flatter everyone.  She is one of my 'go to' designers if I am looking for something special to add to my pattern collection.
A bouquet of loveliness - Heritage Alpaca Merino

The other thing I love about Alpaca is how nicely it plays with other fibres.  if you blend it back with wool you have a yarn that takes on the best from both fibres:  Softness, drape with structure & style.  In our Heritage range we have introduced a new 50/50 blend of Alpaca with Organic Merino to produce a seriously squishy, lovable yarn.  Available currently in 4 shades from the Vintage palette: Merlot, Charcoal, Rosehip & Alpine with Pewter still to come, it's a range that begs to have colours mixed and mingled, blended, just as we have blended the two fibres together.

So start your Alpaca adoration today.  Skeinz Pure Limited Edition Alpaca $4.95 50gm for a very limited time & Heritage Alpaca Organic Merino $6.50 50gm

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

In the thick of it.

A couple of the development yarns we are playing around with at the moment.
 The best thing about working on yarn development is you get to try almost every style of yarn, colour, weight & thickness.  Recent years have seen the rise of very thick, lofty yarns for garments & home wares.  We make our Texas yarn which is such a perennial favourite for fashion conscience knitters and the perfect yarn for teaching beginners.  A Ravelry search in Super Bulky yarns reveals a multitude of patterns that all knit up in a matter of hours.

These Cushions are so easy to do
Use either Texas or by double/triple stranding a DK yarn.
We have also been working of yarns that are even thicker.  Fiddling around with a cable yarn construction for a yarn ideal for arm knitting or "Bag Smith" style Tunisian crochet.  However one of the easiest and thickest of all the 'yarns' we have isn't yarn at all - it's our Skeinz Slivers.  These are carded and gilled to create an untwisted rope of sliver, which can be knitted.

The Giganto Blanket made from unspun roving
Now this isn't a 'pop out & buy' a super thick set of needles type yarn.  Start scouring your hardware store for drainage piping, broomsticks or thick dowling.  These unspun slivers are knitted on "needles" with diameters of 30, 40, 50mm or more.  Patterns are even available for these blankets - the Giganto Blanket on Ravelry is a great place to start, also hit Pinterest & see what others have been checking out to get ideas.

Double stranding Texas would achieve this look.
Much of the fun is letting your imagination go wild.  Check out our rovings - they are in 4 natural shades which complement most homes.  If you want to inject some colour - then multi-strand a variety of yarns, especially of they have fuzz or loft to them.  So, go on, get into the tick of it!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Team Talk

Em and Robynne - the lovely ladies at the end of the phone & the emails
When you call of email & inquiry to Skeinz, it's more than likely it will be answered by one of these two special ladies.  Em & Robynne are the familiar faces, voices & names behind the retail Skeinz store.

Em is our 'Bookend' lady, working in the shop on Mondays & Fridays & for another part of our parent company the rest of the week.  An Aussie implant, we have now totally 'kiwi-fied' Em & she now know more about yarn than she ever thought possible - pretty impressive considering she isn't a knitter!  When Em isn't with us, she's kept extremely busy with two very active sporty children, we often joke that we come to work to take a break!

Robynne has been the linchpin of the Skeinz store for almost 3 years now & she is the smiling calm influence that we all love so much here.  If you've dealt with Robynne you'll know she has a ferocious knowledge around yarn craft & she has knitted many of the beautiful samples featured in the store.  Robynne gave up teaching to indulge her passion for yarn craft & when she's not with us she's indulging in her two delicious grandchildren who live locally or taking time off to visit those who live farther away.

For the next team profile, I will shed light on the inner workings of what Peter & I get up to behind closed doors.....

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Going Retro.

Battlestar in it's first incarnation
Galactica - The yarn inspired by the TV Series
When I was in my 20's "Going Retro" mean getting in touch with your inner beatnik & channeling the 60's, today the 80's is considered retro & I saw someone trying to pass something from the 90's off into the same retro genre - I think I am having one of those "you know when you're getting older moments..."
Who remembers these guy? NKTOB
New Kids on the Block yarn - Acid Wash jeans all the way!
However having a little experience under your belt isn't exactly a bad thing when it comes to designing new colours & yarns.  Peter & I have been tinkering away with a new "Acid Wash" look technique, inspired very much by the 80's fashion, look & culture.
I just LOVED this show in the 80's!  Johnny Depp's first big role.
The range is part way through development, but we have just released a limited number of the prototype yarns into the store to share with all of you.  I have been working a project in the colour way 21 Jump Street & have loved the graduating effects of the base colour with the "graffiti" layer of colour over the top.  Check the colours out now & if you are feeling nostalgic, snap them up whilst you can, colours are very limited.

Jump Street the yarn - a little bit acid wash with some graffiti attitude.