Monday, September 15, 2014

The Knitographer interviews… Outlaw Yarn

I mentioned in an earlier post that a new and beautiful local yarn brand was launching - I chat with the Stitch Seekers, Deborah and Rhiannon, about their very special new venture, Outlaw Yarn.

Outlaw Yarn just launched online last week. How did it all begin?

Our own yarn brand was always in the long term plan - we really weren’t expecting it to happen so fast!  Sometimes opportunities present themselves and you just have to run with it.  The Outlaw name came about after a very long brainstorming session.  An outlaw is defined as a person who refuses to be governed by the established rules or practices of any group so a rebel or nonconformist. We feel it’s a good description of the way we work.  We like to do things our own way.  Our cheeky little magpie became part of the logo because we are collectors too - we love adding new and interesting yarn to our stash!

What makes Outlaw Yarn stand out from other yarns?

If you’re familiar with any of our work then you know that we are theme junkies.  We're not satisfied with luxury and quality alone.  We have infused our yarn with as much attitude as we bring to all our creative projects.  Telling visual stories is a core value of our brand so of course that has influenced Outlaw as well.  We won’t just give you soft yarn and pretty colours - we want to take you on an adventure!

Tell us a bit about your bases - are they local or international and what's the fibre content?

Our bases are all made in New Zealand and we are committed to keeping our production here.  It’s very important to us to support our local wool industry.  New Zealand is famous for the quality of the fibre we grow and it would be crazy not to take advantage of that. We may need to source some fibre (such as silk) from overseas but whenever possible the fibre we use will be homegrown.

The first base we have released is called Vanitas and it is 90% Alpaca and 10% Organic Merino in a DK weight.  The second base is in production at the moment and due to be released in early November.  I can’t give too much away yet but I can’t wait to get it on the needles!

The colours are stunning - where did you get your inspiration?

In the arts, Vanitas is a type of symbolic artwork especially associated with still life painting from the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Latin word means “vanity” and loosely translated corresponds to the meaninglessness of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits.  Anyone who knows us well knows that we are not the ‘fluffy bunnies’ type and we were totally inspired by these paintings of skulls and rotten fruit alongside butterflies and soap bubbles!

Did you do a lot of dyeing and colour testing before you finalised the range? How did you pick your final 10?

We wanted a ‘grown up’ colour range that would be directly related to our theme so the colours are sampled from Vanitas paintings.  An enormous amount of work goes into creating the colour stories for Outlaw yarn. Each range is meticulously planned so colours coordinate effortlessly with each other and offer the crafter a sophisticated palette from which to create their own masterpieces.   

Even though you're based in New Zealand, your prices are in US$ - is the international market a key market for you?

We are very grateful to the Kiwi crafting community for all the encouragement and support they give us but the simple fact is that our largest market is the US and Europe due to the sheer size of the population bases over there.  It makes sense to price in US$ since that’s what the largest segment of our customer base is familiar with.

You are also behind the amazing Stitch Seekers - how do the two complement each other?

We are so proud of Stitch Seekers and Men in Knitwear!  We’ve come a really long way in the last 12 months.  Stitch Seekers Edition Two is due to launch any minute now and we are well underway with the planning for Men in Knitwear 2015.  Also, the samples for Edition Three have started arriving on my doorstep already.  Outlaw Yarn is a natural progression of the Stitch Seekers brand and will allow us to design in our own yarn as well as promote yarn from other companies.  We have great relationships with yarnies who have supported us and our designs, and we look forward to paying that forward to other designers with our yarn.  

Find out more about Outlaw Yarn on its website and like its Facebook page!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Weekend reading + cool new stuff

If there's one thing I miss from my old journalism job, it's writing every day. But I am very grateful to be able to contribute regularly to a couple of awesome indie magazines and this week both Extra Curricular and Glory Days arrived!

I got to write a great feature about shared creative spaces and workshops for Extra Curricular. There are some amazing spaces open for people to go and learn, including the Sew Love Lounge (can't really rave about that one enough!) The Mint by Rust and Stardust, Studio Bomba's Skillsmithery and the beautiful green wonderland that is Loose Leaf in Melbourne.

Around all the reading, I've made some progress on my Amelie dress!

There is a lot of moss stitch here. Only 60-odd centimetres to go until the front is done...

And some cool knitting news - some of my favourite yarny people have new ranges out!

Spinning A Yarn has launched its Spring/Summer 2014/2015 colour range, the Lakeside collection. Get that yellow in my life!

And the amazing ladies at Stitch Seekers have launched their very own yarn range, and ohmygod it's to die for. Outlaw Yarn is the ultimate in luxury and the colour range in Vanitas DK is just beautiful. The colours are based on the vanitas art movement and I'm saving my pennies to buy a cardigan's-worth of the Bone. Or maybe the Ephemera. I just can't decide, they're all so good!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Vintage Textile Fair

Once a year, one of Auckland's convention centres is overrun by the country's best purveyors of vintage clothing and textiles. A couple of weekends back me and two girlfriends spend the afternoon searching through all the treasure. This year I was very restrained, only buying one top, but I came away with some great photos. 

It's a shame this event is only on once a year! I can't wait for the next Auckland Vintage Textile Fair.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Autumn Branches in time for spring

It's getting warm in the day, but the evenings still have a chill in the air. And that's a good thing, so I can wear my Autumn Branches hat for a little while yet!

This is a great little pattern, and a nice quick knit. I've looking forward to more adult patterns from Tiny Lovely! And the yarn, oh my! I need to be in much quicker for Red Riding Hood Yarn's stockings each week! This stuff is divine to knit with.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Summer, is that you? + My first skirt.

Holy moly, the weather is insane today! It's a good thing I spent most of yesterday at Sew Love Tea Do making my first (and very summery) skirt!
I'm not really known to wear crazy prints or pink, so this is a pretty out-there skirt for me, but I love it!
I found this fabric for a steal at Fabric-a-brac a couple of weeks ago, and there might be enough left for a crazy top.
Things I learnt yesterday:

Pattern matching - the floral stripes match all the way around - good thing there was a stack of fabric.
How to insert a zip. This is tricky, but I survived.
Darts are important. And not as hard as I thought they would be.
Ironing/pressing. I'm ashamed to say I don't own an ironing board. I will be purchasing one today because ohmygod pressing makes everything look awesome. 

I am so excited about this skirt. It will probably be worn every day for a week, with stockings for work and without at home as the weather gets warmer! Big thanks to Sarah at Sew Love for all the assistance and excellent New Look pattern from her stash!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Margot Pajamas - my first sewn garment

Check out these bad boys. Actually they are probably girls. They have a pink ribbon and are made from out wedding table cloth - quite girly I guess! My pjs are the first garment I've even sewn, and I am pretty much living in them. Thanks to Tilly and the Buttons for the pattern and Sarah at Sew Love Tea Do for all the help with making! Next project - a dress of some description.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

WATG Swag + cables!

The Amelie Dress kit has arrived! And as usual, Wool and the Gang have done a fab job with extremely quick delivery and cool presentation. The box even said "Hello Joanna" on it. 

Spring begins in two days, so a knitted cotton dress is just the thing to be knitting to see the summer in. 

And in my avoidance of the lace jumper, my cabled Autumn Branches beanie is progressing nicely. I am in love with the Red Riding Hood Yarns worsted yarn, so nice to work with! I've decided it will go perfectly with a dress I'm planning to make out of my white and blue striped fabric I got from Fabric-A-Brac last week. I'm thinking the Laurel Dress by Colette Patterns. I'm all about the stripes.