This post is part II of my discussion about interesting New Zealand yarns. Click here to see my first post.
So now we come to what I think is the super juicy stuff – the secret indie yarns, made and dyed in New Zealand, from New Zealand wool, that exist online and appear at craft shows and the like, but hardly ever in a store.
Just to also reiterate my definition of “interesting”, meaning natural fibre yarn that can be:
1. composed of an unusual fibre;
3. hand-dyed or
4. a different weight or spin to a normal 4 or 8 ply (we suffer from a lack of worsted and chunky weights in the NZ market, so this to me, rates as unusual).
I have to apologise for the lack of scrummy photos in this post. This is simply because some of these yarns are new to me too, or because I don’t knit socks (and a number of the below producers do specialise in sock yarns) I haven’t purchased any (yet). But that is about to change (ie. not having any of the yarn, not the knitting socks bit).
Once you’ve looked at the yarns contained in the website links I set out below, you will have had a very nice session of yarn therapy.
In alphabetical order now:
Wow! New Zealand really does have some amazing, arty types! Ginga Squid is handspun yarn art by artist Vicky T. Hunt. Her yarns are Art. Almost too good to knit really. They are just soooo cool and different!! Incorporating semi-precious stones, shells, applique, beads, sequins and so many other ingredients into the yarn, I’ve not seen anything like it before. She’s not just a yarn artist. She also makes the most amazing jewellery, and is a painter… I’m not really doing her justice. Check out her website here – for interest factor alone, it’s worth a visit.
You can find Ginga Squid on Ravelry.
Grrrl Shaped Yarns
Grrrl Shaped Yarns is the online yarn store of Wellington-based Brooklynne Michelle. This indie dyer’s business was born out of Brooklynne’s search for the perfect hand dyed yarn in New Zealand – she felt there was something missing and decided to do it herself! Her fingering weight yarns come in three bases:
– superwash merino (75% merino, 25% nylon);
– 50/50 merino silk and
– bamboo merino (40% bamboo, 40% merino, 20% nylon).
Another newbie to the yarn business, she’s actively developing her product offerings, and it’s worth following her site just to keep up with developments – in the last six months, she’s certainly been busy!
Her colours are beautiful, vibrantly energetic colourways, and sock/lace/small gauge knitters will find a yarn colourway to suit every taste in her varied palette (and if you don’t, she’ll dye one specially for you).
She has also recently started a yarn club. Find this yarn and more information at www.grrrlshapedyarns.com. Check out her Ravelry group (grrrl shaped yarns) too – where you’ll see more of her yarns as well as how others have used it.
Knitsch is the child of New Zealand’s equivalent of knitting royalty. The creation of Tash, the granddaughter of Margaret Stove (Artisan Lace – featured in my mainstream yarn post), it’s wonderful to see the yarnie love being passed from generation to generation.
Knitsch is also based in Wellington and available from its newly minted website. You can view the exquisitely dyed palette in pure New Zealand merino yarn there. It’s yarn that makes my heart beat extra ‘thumpety thump!’ when I see it. Very my taste, and so dangerous to the purse!
Inspiration from Margaret Stove’s colour schemes is clearly visible in a number of the colourways and Tash acknowledges that some of the recipes are her grandmother’s. At the moment, there is just sock/fingering weight (4 ply) yarn, but I’m personally hoping that other weights will be added too. The shades are extremely beautiful, and I am already plotting an acquisition. Hang the yarn diet! Who tells an art collector they have too much art?
Knitsch is also the new agent for Margaret Stove’s Artisan Lace and you’ll be able to buy those yarns online at the Knitsch website in due course.
Knitsch will be present at the next Craft 2.0 on 12 June at TheNewDowse, 45 Laings Rd, Lower Hutt, Wellington so you can check out the yarns in person there. She also has a group on Ravelry – look up Knitsch to see projects and some of her yarns in other stashes! I can imagine shawl and lace knitters will also be very interested in her yarns.
Little Wool Co.
If you are a regular reader of my blog, you’ll notice I talk a lot about Little Wool Co. (LWC). It’s right up there amongst my all-time favourite yarns. You can read my review of Anna Gratton’s yarns here. I like how she farms the sheep that make up her yarn, and then spins and dyes it herself. Some of the interesting yarns that I have not featured in my other page about this range would be:
It’s 10 ply, worsted weight yarn. 50% silk, 50% nylon. There’s this, and a 50% silk, 50% rayon line (which I haven’t seen yet). I think she calls this “raw silk” if you are looking for it on her catalogue list. Each dye batch is different, but the colours!
I have knitted some of this into a border for a project that needs to be frogged, sadly. I was trying to get silk to behave like wool. So it’s my fault. But the colours came out beautifully.
Another yarn I haven’t featured yet is the chunky 12 ply wool/mohair. It knits on 6mm needles. It is a more loopy boucle than the boucle sweater kit. This is the big sister of the alpaca/wool boucle that I feature on the LWC page.
Here’s more, just for pure yarn ‘porn’. sigh. I want it all!
Anna does not sell this on her website as it’s ‘one-off’ dye batches that she feels she would have trouble explaining to people who want exactly what they see in a sample. Personally, I think she’s being over-cautious. None of the yarnies I mention in this post would be able to guarantee exact replicas of their colourways every time – that’s just not the way dye works. And most users of hand-dyed yarns know that these days. Even commercial dye batches are never the same – the only thing that makes them different is that they do huge amounts of yarn at one go.
Getting back to the boucle, it would be great as a bit of detail in a jumper, or as a little shawl. You can see this yarn at craft shows she participates in, and in her showroom. If you plead very nicely with her, she may perhaps agree to send you some in the mail.
Maude and Me
Maude is Tracee’s cat. Tracee is Me. Recently relocated to Wellington from Dunedin, Maude and Me is another(!) indie dyer who creates handspun yarns and rovings. She sells out of etsy – her link is here. She is also on Ravelry as maude & me. – where you’ll see more of her lovely creations.
Her yarns are very different, and very definitely handspun and arty and unique. I like it! Especially the ones that have different colours and yarn weights plied together. She’s probably the ‘smallest’ of all the yarnies I have covered here, and if you are into spinning, does she have nice stuff for you!
Michelle is a Christchurch-based indie dyer who understands that not everyone who likes hand-dyed yarn is a sock knitter. I hear that every package from Needlefood comes with a little bar of chocolate… her yarns are Delicious, and it’s quite appropriate that she’s named her brand “Needlefood” and some of her yarns after food… Watch the chatter on Ravelry about her yarns, and you’ll get the idea. Notoriously cost-conscious Kiwis parting hand over fist with hard-earned cash is quite an accomplishment!
Needlefood has been around for a bit longer than Knitsch and Grrrl Shaped Yarns. She is also stocked by The Loopy Ewe (www.theloopyewe.com).
Having seen all those beautiful lace shawls that people are knitting in the US and Europe particularly, I can see the light fingering weight 50/50 wool silk yarn she produces would be divine for those projects.
The worsted weight (which comes in 150g hanks) has been dyed perfectly for garment projects, and Michelle has knitted one recently, beautifully displayed in her blog. Now, this is yarn that I want and will knit, and will wear!
There is also sock yarn (80% merino, 20% nylon) in very lovely colourways, for which you can also join her sock club. And from which I shall now run away from quickly, as I really do not need any sock yarn, and the colours are making me feel that I should perhaps attempt socks again…
There is a fan group on Ravelry for Needlefood (needle foodies) too.
Stansborough’s new ewe’s wool, spun especially for knitters. Here it is. My review of this new yarn can be read here. I won’t go into much more depth as I have already said quite a lot about this yarn. When I first wrote this blog, I understood from market chatter that it is available for sale. Stansborough have just informed me that they did release some to a limited group, but it’s still not for sale commercially. 😦 We’ll just have to wait a teeny bit longer. In the meantime, there’s always the lambswool!
The thing that makes it different is that it is an unusual wool breed. The Eldridges have developed this sheep from an ancient breed, now a specific Registered Breed called Stansborough Grey. The yarn is soft, silky, and the natural grey colour of the wool is entrancing, as are the beautiful tones one gets in the overdyed yarn.
And of course, if you are a LOTR fan, it’s exciting to know you’re wearing the very same wool that was used to make those famous cloaks!
Based in Dunedin, Vintage Purls (Morag) is another sensible (my opinion) established indie yarn producer who offers DK/worsted weight yarn in addition to sock and lace weights.
Her colourways are so gorgeous and extremely wearable, and again, I will end up joining the very many happy purchasers of her yarn. She also stocks KnitPro needles. As with most of the others, there is a Ravelry group for her too – vintage purls.
She also teaches regularly, has a sock club, and has conducted sock classes at various crafty events.
We have so much lovely yarn in this country!!! 🙂 Amazingly, so much of this wonderful stuff is being made right on my own doorstep, in Wellington! I did have a conversation the other day with a lady who told me that the South Island has so much ‘indie yarn’ that it was almost too much. I’m not sure one can ever have too much great yarn… but, one of these days, I really will have to go on a yarn tour of the South Island!
It is therefore entirely possible that I have missed a few of our budding yarnie yarn producers. If you know any of others, I’ve love to hear about them.
In the meantime, I hope I have helped to bring your attention to some of New Zealand’s unique and very cool yarns.