yarn

knit, yarnbombing

Yarnbombing

This weekend was my first experience in yarnbombing. I've never been much into it to be honest. Sometimes I just don't 'get' it. Like do tree branches really need extra warmth? 

But because my small home town was having a big community event, we started to knit. (Me, my mum and my sister.) And knit. And knit. And pom-pom. AND knit and pom-pom. For weeks until it was the night before... and then the rain came. Which was very unfortunate and a bit annoying because we live in 'the sunshine state'. Where there is sunshine approximately 350 days a year.

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Here's our top tips for first time yarnbombers from first time yarnbombers.

1. Knit everything slightly smaller than you think it should be. Wraps need to be firm to stay in place throughout whatever weather is thrown at them. 

2. Don't darn in or cut off the ends of your yarn at colour changes. The ends can come in handy to sew on large pieces using the colours you've already got which makes the join neater.

3. It's totally more fun to 'bomb' under the cover of darkness. Even if it means you have to be up before the sun. You'll also be able to tell if you'd make a good criminal* and how stealth you actually are. 

*Terrible. I was late and then forgot to bring the actual knitted piece to wrap around the street post. And also forgot scissors. So, yeah... no, not stealth nor would I make a good criminal. 

- Possums are made from a Australian Country Spinners Australian Animals pattern book. Chickens are made from a Jacqui Turner Designs pattern available for purchase at http://www.ravelry.com/stores/jacqui-turner-designs 

anita chew, textile holidays

Textile Adventures: Alaska Part 1

I’ve been thinking about holidays a lot this week. In amongst panicked thoughts of how much money I need to save for adventures at the end of the year, I’ve also been thinking I should finally write some posts about a few of the amazing trips I’ve taken. For me, a big part of the delight of discovering a new country is learning about its textile story. (And when I say learning, normally that actually means buying. Hence the need to save for holidays.)

I thought I’d start with Alaska because… well, it’s pretty special.

I’d done my textile research before we left so I knew there was one very very special thing in Alaska I wanted to find and that was musk ox yarn or qiviut (kiv-ee-yute).

Qiviut is considered the softest wool in the world, softer than cashmere, and is extremely warm. It’s also really rare and is one of the most expensive yarns in the world dubbed ‘the qolden fleece of the Arctic’. The musk oxen naturally shed their underdown fibre (qiviut) each spring, up to 2.5kgs per year, which is collected to produce yarn. 

The Itchy Little Musk Ox by Tricia Brown. Illustrated by Debra Dubac. 

The Itchy Little Musk Ox by Tricia Brown. Illustrated by Debra Dubac. 

While there are still wild animals, there are also a few musk ox farms around the state which you can visit at certain times of the year. Instead we visited the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Centre and while everyone else headed off to see the bears I excitedly went to visit the musk ox herd. In my head I thought they’d be a similar size to a bison, but they were so much smaller. I loved them.

Musk Ox - Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Centre

Musk Ox - Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Centre

And yes. I bought qiviut yarn. Of course I did. And yes, it cost a lot.

Stay tuned for more textile holiday adventures including more from Alaska. 

anita chew, knit, knitwear, queensland, yarn, knitting machine

tools of the trade 2

Yarn.

Without it, Betsy and I would be pretty useless.  

And by yarn, yes, I mean those balls of wool your mum or nana knit with. Except here’s the thing… it’s might not actually be wool which is why we call it yarn instead. It could be made from any type of fiber like acrylic or cotton or bamboo or yes, wool.  

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Just like the yarn that they use when knitting with two handheld needles, machine yarn comes in all varieties of fibers. What makes it slightly different is that machine yarn is generally a lighter weight or thinner yarn and is comes in larger quantities on cones rather than balls.

The cones make it easier for the yarn to be pulled off evenly without everything getting tangled. Betsy has a vertical yarn feeder that brings the yarn from the floor behind the machine up over the top via various hooks and eyes. This threading system allows you to adjust the tension of the yarn as it feeds into the machine.