I am one of those mad crazy knitters out there eats, drinks and breathes knitting in her spare time between work and family and all life’s other obligations.
In 2006, I moved back to Wellington, New Zealand after living the corporate life overseas for 20 years. My new life in New Zealand was like suddenly finding oneself in a grey zone – it was a very different life to the one I had left behind. The time was ripe to find a new interest in life.
One day, my sister asked me to teach her how to knit again. After my grandmother taught me as a teenager, I had taught her when she was a little girl, but she hadn’t picked up needles since. This required a visit to a yarn shop – like her, I had stopped knitting for many years. I had even given my needles away after all that time. Out of the phone book, we picked one of Wellington’s local yarn stores. Walking in the door, I was overcome – all that colour! All that texture! The sensory overload was too much! I was hooked! I too, bought some needles and yarn that day, and since then, barely a day has passed without knitting being a part of it.
As I got to know the yarns, and with a sharpened environmental conscience, I became particularly drawn to the natural yarns – wool, possum, alpaca, mohair. That special scent of sheepy goodness of yarn not over-processed.
Particularly, yarns made by our small New Zealand producers – the sheep’s back to shop floor operators; the indie dyers and spinners; all of whom who make such wonderful products and are contributing to our sustainability as a nation. Natural fibres, quality production. It’s all here. But not readily found.
This blog will hopefully share some of my knowledge of what’s here in New Zealand.
My contribution to the sustainability and diversity of the yarn industry in New Zealand is to help bring these yarns to the attention of the world. As this is a personal blog, I set out my own thoughts about these yarns purely for the love of sharing information about them.
If you’d like to drop me a personal line, you can contact me at wsleong AT hotmail DOT co DOT nz.
Looking forward to meeting you all online.
Thank you so much for posting the ‘yarn tour’ of NZ! I am about to visit and couldn’t find a lot of relevant info … especially laid out in such a thoughtful and concise manner. Thank you!!!
You’re very welcome. 🙂 I hope you have a great time here.
Hello! I found your guide upstairs at 260 Lambton Quay carrying Ashfords and Rare Yarns plus couple of other types. Only kiwi made from sheep to shop. 🙂 In the interests of full disclosure of course!
I have nominated you for a Kreativ Blogger award. I really enjoy your blog.
Aw, thanks!! I popped into your blog this afternoon and saw it there. It’s really sweet of you to nominate me.
Two of my closest friends – we taught together at universities – both told me that, following my blog, they hear a lightness and joy in my writing about fibers etc. that they never saw in my academic writing. 🙂 So I understand!
Love your e-mails and I too am a fan of Anna Gratton’s wools currently knitting some of her black liquorice I have spun also loved her dark paua years ago
Hi I’m a new visitor to your blog and have enjoyed reading your articles. I’m in Adelaide South Australia and I am going to the South Island in November. I was trying to look up some of the addresses of the yarn places you recommended visiting and seem to have a problem via the Yellow Pages, it wasn’t recognizing the businesses names. What am I doing wrong as I would dearly love to see them.
I suspect some of the links I put into that post have expired. If you send me a list of the yarn places you were particularly interested in, I can probably update you. Failing which, you could Google the names to see what you come up with. It’s probably time I did an update! One update I can think of is that Quality Yarns is now called Bruce Woollen Mill. I haven’t yet been able to find out if it still has a factory shop, but it’s on my list of things ‘to do’. If you are in the area (1 Edward St, Milton), you could stop by and have a look…
Flagstaff Alpacas & Clifton Wool’n’Things Dunedin, Omaru Textile Exchange with Doe Arnott, couldn’t bring up either Quality Yarns or Bruce Mill but will drive past 1 Edward St Milton, Thickthorne Llamas-love alpaca wool so though I would take a look at llama wool couldn’t find them… and you gave the address for the ‘Touch Yarn” showrooms so will try that one. And if you could maybe Ashford yarns in Ashburton…don’t know if I will be able to get my husband to stop for all of them but am definately going to try. Many thanks for getting back to me and helping me out with the addresses.
Hi! Nominating you for the Reader Appreciation Award … my next post. 🙂
Have nominated you for a Leibster Award – you just sneak in! http://womaximum.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/the-delight-of-a-first-award/
Hiya, I recently started knitting again after 15 years of hiatus. Found your blog very helpful in NZ yarns selection, especially the Zealana introduction. I’m in love with that brand, but find the price quite steep.
Would love to see more of those indie dyer and backyard bred yarn 🙂
Much love to you 🙂
Hi Anna, welcome back to the happy land of knitting! I find it is not practical to write a page on indie dyers because most of them only have one or two lines of yarn. However, I have listed the ones I like on my sidebar – look for “NZ Yarn producers and indie dyers” and you can have a happy time checking them all out!
Hi, I am new to knitting and new to living in New Zealand. I really enjoy your web site. Thanks for giving me some places to look for yarn. I have joined a knitting circle in Raglan where I live here on the West Coast of the North Island. Cheers, Heidi
We are slowly making our way to NZ, for a change of place, wondrous landscapes and plenty of wool… Can’t wait to follow some of your links to farms and stores, then discover some on our own as well, thank you!
There are very many more places that you can find wool and fibre in New Zealand than I have listed. I am sure you will find plenty! Enjoy your time here, and thank you for your lovely comment.
I found your blog by accident but I am so happy I did. I’ll be visiting NZ in less than a month and look forward to finding all the yarn shops you’ve listed in your road trip posts.
Thank you so much for your fab website which I came across whilst searching for worsted weight wool. I stayed a while and read with great interest your reviews on the varieties of possum merino yarns. I like the sound of the wool company brand given that you considered it to be similar to worsted weight. With this in mind, as a keen fan of Aran and Celtic knits, I was looking to use this product for my next project. Would you consider this a suitable yarn?
Hi Anita, I’m glad you find the site interesting. Thank you for your comment! In relation to your question about worsted weight yarns, I use possum yarns in my cabled knits to great effect. Not all possum yarns are suitable. It depends on the gauge you’re trying to get, and also some are much ‘fluffier’ than others which can hide the crispness of cabled stitches. My pics for worsted weight yarns are Supreme Merino Possum (there is a soft halo, but it does not hide the stitch detail), The Wool Company (a light worsted), and Zealana’s Tui (chunky) and Heron (worsted). Zealana Kauri has quite a dense halo, so not really right for cables. The nice thing about possum yarns is that they are lighter than pure wool – a bonus when knitting cables. Hope that helps!
thank you so much for your helpful advice. We went on a wee road trip to the wool Co. Wow! I had in mind what I wanted, but as usual I was so distracted with the choice and colours. After a short while I came to my senses and purchased the possum and merino yarn in natural and have finally made a start on a Celtic Aran jumper. I am a good way up the back and so very pleased with result so far. It shows the cabling beautifully. Thank you once again. Happy knitting. X
I’m so pleased that was helpful, and that you had fun at the Wool Co! I’m sure you’ll love and get a lot of wear out of your cabled sweater when you’re finished knitting!
Hi, I found your blog when I cast on the Kate Davies design Shepherd Hoodie. I am using Australian wool for this project, but really like some of the NZ yarns I found when on holiday in the North Island 2 years ago. Thank you so much for a very interesting communication. My sock knitting is on hold while I finish the Shepherd!
I have no idea how I didn’t know about this blog before! I’m a Raveler and had looked for other NZ Ravelers, but hadn’t found this. I’m thrilled. 🙂
Nice to know I have another reader! 🙂 Welcome!
What a fabulous website. I think you are incredibly splendid and very talented. 🙂
I’ve nominated you for a Liebster Award because I love reading your blog. You can find out more here >>> http://homelealass.com/2014/06/21/blogging-liebster-awards/
Aw, thanks so much! Congratulations on your award too!
Hi, I really like your post on Supreme Possum Merino wool (https://kiwiyarns.wordpress.com/2011/01/02/possum-tales-a-supreme-fur/). Do you know what happened to them? I’ve been trying to reach them and buy some yarn but I can’t get anyone to answer. My mom made me a sweater from their yarn 8-ply and it’s the best sweater ever, my friends a jealous. Do you know if their yarn is available for sale, are there limited supplies? Thanks.
I haven’t been in touch with them for a while. The best thing would be try to contact Pam through their website http://www.merinopossum.co.nz/contact.htm That is how I have always contacted them. If you have already tried this, I am not sure what else to suggest. I hope they are still in business!
You are right – their yarn is soooo good!
Hello there, yes Supreme Possum Merino is still available. Please leave your contact details for Laurence (owner) on 0274 501 102 and he will get back to you immediately.
I’m replying on behalf of Laurence, owner of Supreme Possum Merino. The product is still available but not through Pam or the old website. Text or call 0274 501 102 and leave contact details so we can call you.
Thank you for that!
Hi kiwiyarns 🙂 Thanks for posting where our Knit World Wellington and Lower Hutt Shops are 🙂 Our Wellington Shop has moved to 185 Willis Street, Te Aro, Wellington. Their email and phone number is the same……… just wondering if you could update the address for Wellington. Our Lower Hutt Shop is 62 Queens Drive 🙂 not 52 Queens Road 😦
Sorry to be a nuisance asking to this to be changed. It seems people are still going to our OLD Wellington address. People are saying that they the address from our website………..which i know i have the correct information 🙂 So just asking where I can if people can update our Wellington Address on their blogs or website. Thanking you kindly in advance
Love your blog 🙂
Hi Karyn, I thought I had changed all the info, but I missed one. Sorry! Now changed. Hope it hasn’t inconvenienced your customers too much.
Thanks for updating 🙂
Hi Wei Siew, your sister Wei Li who picks and markets my avocados here in Opotiki, introduced me to your blog. I find it very interesting, and so pleased you enjoy your new home in the country. Country life is beautiful, very inspiring and peaceful for me.
I am a spinner and knitter ” from Hell ” ( which really means I am addicted to the craft) I was very thrilled to read in your blog about Stansboroughs ” Mythral” yarn. I am going to buy some Kokako to make a cardigan for my daughter Rachel who is a preschool teacher but before I do ,I wanted to check with you or your readers, when inserting a cable pattern into a standard pattern, how many stitches do you need to increase by,and how much extra yarn do you need. Also is it possible to convert an existing cabled pattern using Aran yarn, so D K ( in this case Kokako) can be used? I look forward to hearing from you.
If only I had read your blog a month ago! I am just wrapping up a six-week trip in New Zealand and have seen A LOT of sheep but have not put my hands on as much irresistible merino-possum yarn as I thought I would. I walked the streets of many small towns intending to just “come upon” a sweet shop filled with only yarn or see people knitting on every street corner! I did talk to a kind knitter at a farmer’s market in Nelson who directed me to Cruellas which soothed my knitting-addicted soul!
I will be in Auckland for just a day before flying home to British Columbia. If I only have one (or maybe two!) yarn stores that I can get to, which would you recommend? I am dreaming of knitting an afghan out of some combination of NZ merino-possum-alpaca in a DK or worsted weight. Any thoughts on the best place to find these yarn options in Auckland? Also, your favorite NZ yarn for this project? I so appreciate your time and insights. The good news about my missing all the small fiber artists here is that I now must come back again!
Oh, that would have been a source of some frustration to my knitting soul to not find those yarn stores! I am glad you got to Cruellas.
Here is an extract of my post about Auckland yarn stores from my post about a yarn tour of the North Island. It is current and up to date as I do try to keep the information as useful as possible:
Stores that sell a nice range of New Zealand yarns – Wild and Woolly Yarns (10 Victoria Road, Devonport, Tel: 09 445 3255). One of the larger yarn stores is Masco’s, which is in the Westfield Shopping Centre at the bottom of Queen St, in Auckland’s central business district. I haven’t been to Masco’s, so I don’t know what it’s like, but I hear it does stock some nice New Zealand yarn. Also in the CBD is New Zealand Fabrics and Yarn (Shop 28, Queens Arcade, 34 Queen St, Auckland Central. T: (09) 379-2415) open 10 am – 5 pm Monday – Saturday which appears to stock a very big range of New Zealand yarns. Knitnstitch is located 80 Taupaki Road, Taupaki – near Westgate and only 20 minutes from Downtown Auckland (non rush-hour). Open 10am to 5pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 810 9069 if you would like to visit at other times.
I hope this proves useful to you finding some nice New Zealand possum yarns to come home with!
The only merino/possum/alpaca blends I am currently aware of are in sock weight. There is a lovely range of DK/worsted by Zealana in several fibre combinations. If you haven’t tried Zealana’s yarns, I would highly recommend that you do. They are really beautiful. If you are lucky enough to come across Supreme Merino Possum, I also recommend their yarn.
Do be aware that some possum yarns may not appear too soft or fluffy in the ball, but once you wash them, they change character immediately and become very soft and cuddly. The exception is Zealana Kiwi, which is designed to be more like a wool cotton yarn in character.
Good luck, and Happy Knitting!
Thank you so much! I now may be able to go home with an afghan project – yes! As I haven’t worked with any possum blend yarns, I appreciate knowing its softening qualities. Can’t wait to get started!
You are welcome!! Enjoy. 🙂
I’m so very glad I found this blog. I am heading to NZ in October 2016. One of my fantasies has been to purchase a sweater’s-worth of yarn (to knit as a souvenir for myself!) while there. We’ll be on South Island. This blog will help me, I think, to find what I want with the least amount of annoyance to my husband! 😉
You are welcome! This post written by another blogger will also come in handy: http://www.tikkiknits.com/blog/a-yarn-tour-of-new-zealands-south-island
Excellent blog by tikkiknits! Thanks again so much.
Hi, I’m from Switzerland (Europe) an I will visit next Year your beautiful New Zealand for the second Time. I’m a crazy Knitter – thank you for your Super-Blog! I think, it will be also a Yarn-Trip next Year (my poor Husband!).
Thanks so much and Greetings from Switzerland!
Hi, I Love your blog. It is fresh and different. I wonder if you can help me. I’m looking for merino 19 micron wool (super chunky). I know that wool is made in New Zealand but I’m looking on the internet and I can’t find it. Do you know a retailer or a manufacturer who sells? Thanks in advance for your help. It’s very appreciated. Marie-Lyne from Canada.
Hi Marie-Lyne, thanks for writing in. I am glad you are enjoying the blog. 🙂 Although I am unsure if any of it is super-fine merino, super chunky yarn is sold by several places. Here are some links to currently available super-chunky yarn:
I hope that helps!
I love the pattern in your banner. What is the name of the circular shawl or blanket?
Thanks Mary Koster
Hi Mary, it is the Southern Skies Shawl by Audry Nicklin. You can find the pattern on Ravelry.
Hi, I´m a new follower and I live in Sweden. Here we have good and fine produced wool as well. It´s very interesting to read about your country´s production of yarn.
I love to knit and specially with beautiful and “homemade ” yarn.
Looking forward to follow you here.
Best wishes, Carina Hallén
Thank you – I love your dedication to New Zealand wool. Our farmers are having a rough go of it and they need our support. I am a fairly new hand dyer to the Kiwi scene (Prosper Yarn) and am passionate about ethical, traceable, New Zealand bases on which to dye. I also work with a very cool company called MAKE GIVE LIVE. It would be so awesome if you contacted them and did an interview so your readers could be introduced to them. They help so many people through knitting! cheers, Les.
Hi Lester, thanks so much for your lovely note. I am looking forward to becoming acquainted with your yarn!
Dear kiwiyarns – my daughter recently introduced me to your blog and I love it. It is wonderful to go to a blog and find someone who is so into wool and yarns. I look forward to reading more of your blog and hearing more of your knitting journey. Thank you for running such a wonderful blog. Winter is such a great time for knitting. I hope you share any 2018 winter projects you are doing on your blog. Meantime, best wishes – Elisabetta
Hi Elisabetta, thanks for your lovely comment! I do intend to write again soon – thanks so much for following. 🙂
I love your free patterns, thankyou for sharing.
I work for Arthritis New Zealand we are a charitable trust and have just put together a fundraising project to create awareness of keeping our joints warm and active over the winter months-
Project Knit well.
People donate knitted items and then we sell their items for a donation.
Can I please share your site for people to access patterns?
Hi Tory, that is no problem at all. All the best for your fundraising project!