Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life

Interesting New Zealand yarns: yarnie, online and boutique

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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;  

2.  hand-spun;  

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:  

Ginga Squid  

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  

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:  

LWS Raw Silk (50/50 silk nylon)

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.  

Colour effect when knitted

   

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.   

Another Mohair/Wool 12 ply colourway

   

Here’s more, just for pure yarn ‘porn’.  sigh.  I want it all!  

More Mohair wool boucle in LWC’s showroom

   

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!   

Needlefood  

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   

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!

The new Stansborough ewe’s wool

   

Vintage Purls  

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.  

Conclusion  

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.  

Happy knitting!  

   

 

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Author: kiwiyarns

Welcome to my blog where I talk about knitting in New Zealand and the beautiful yarns you can find here.

5 thoughts on “Interesting New Zealand yarns: yarnie, online and boutique

  1. Awesome round-up – thanks so much! 🙂

  2. I just discovered your website and, it seems, a kindred spirit.
    I thought i knew all the local suppliers but I had not discovered Stansborough or grrl.. HURRAH!

    I have worn a path to Nancy’s and Knitworld (Studio) and Joy of Yarn and stop in Utiku regularly.

    But it is online i really see what i WANT – handpainted sock yarn at Lush in Oz, Malabrigo everywhere else, Purl in NYC, SSK online, Spincycle Yarn in the US, Fleece Artist and so many more…

    The saddest thing for me is to see Knitworld limping along with squeaky acrylic and blends that I will NEVER EVER buy no matter the price. Such a shame they stopped selling Jo Sharp DK in its gorgeous colours and top quality. The John Q just can’t compare – tho i know its nz made.

    Thanks for keeping us up to date!

    • Thanks so much for your lovely comment! I’m so glad to have confirmation that there are others out there like me who want to find more than what you can get in the shops and looking for local at the same time. 🙂 Online is amazing – what access to such variety and talent – which otherwise might not be so easily found!

      Your reply raised so many thought-provoking points! So in a rather lengthy, and not very well thought-through reply:

      Speaking for the Wellington Knit World store, they do have acrylic and blends, but when I looked closer, I found that the majority of the yarn in there is surprisingly 100% wool or natural fibre blends. Although sadly (for me) quite a lot of it is Australian wool. The Jo Sharp thing is again a pity – I understand that it had to do with supply issues. I can see Studio is trying to cater to demand for overseas brands – have you tried Zara? It’s a guilty (not so secret anymore) favourite for me…

      Knit World is an interesting one. In my journey to find a path for myself in the yarn world, I have had the benefit of getting to understand more of the inner workings of a yarn store. I think the issue of supply and demand is a conundrum for some of them. If a product is successful, the volume that the stores need to meet demand far outstrips what a small producer can generally provide. Heart-warming on one level, as it shows that knitting is alive and well in New Zealand!

      I agree with you though, and think Knit World ought to be brave and give some of our smaller NZ talent a go. Studio would be a great place to launch them – limited stock, but a good way to find out what would go down well with the market. The right message around supply would just have to be given so customers’ expectations are managed.

      Another point, from my personal experience of talking to some of them, is that a lot of our smaller producers here just cannot afford to give the stores the margin they need in order to make it profitable to stock (otherwise, the stores have to compensate by putting such a mark-up on the product that it then makes it too expensive). Which is a shame, but I guess this is where the reality of NZ being a small country kicks in. From a positive point of view, online gives the smaller producers (like Treliske) an opportunity to offer goods at a price that the market might not otherwise get. I like their philosophy!

      This is one of the main reasons I created this blog – to try to give our smaller producers a wider market than they might not get otherwise. I want our NZ talent to succeed.

      I see Knit World as the place where I go for some of the yarns I like (Naturally, Touch, Ashford, Zealana for example). It’s good to have them because after all, if Knit World did not exist, there would be quite a lot less choice for us yarn lovers.

      But like you, online will always have a place in my heart!

  3. Thanks so much for the mention! I love your blog – it certainly has some fantastic meaty content to it (I love the comments by your teenager regarding your most recent post – can’t wait until mine get to that stage)!

    I’m going to come back here once my tribe have gone to bed, then I can read at my leisure and take in all this fantastic detail.