Introducing The Blue Rabbit House

The Blue Rabbit House is an illustrative business run by Eva Vercauteren in Belgium. She draws illustrations of animals and prints these lovable characters onto organic cotton fabric, recycled paper and other accessories. And if that wasn’t enough, she turns the fabrics into beautiful project bags and pouches, ideal for carrying your craft projects and tools. Talk about talent!

Sam is one of The Blue Rabbit House’s project bags. Available for PREORDER now. Photo by The Blue Rabbit House

Her illustrations are inspired by the beauty in nature and this go hand in hand with her quest to make her products as sustainable as possible. Eva believes even the smallest step to change our lifestyle will make a difference for our planet. Thus her contribution to the world is how she purposefully shares her art to be used, not displayed, whilst making them vegan and environmentally friendly.

Each animal illustrations tell a story. If you own one of these project bags, you will always have a little crafting mate with you and it will keep you company as you find solace in your craft.

The Blue Rabbit House projects bags are expertly handmade by Eva herself. They are special and made with a lot of care and love. We hope her projects bags are loved by conscientious crafters here at Ecoyarns and around the world.

For a very limited time, we are taking preorders for The Blue Rabbit House project bags. Preorders close this Friday, 20 September. We expect bags to arrive and ready to be shipped out in October. This might be your only chance to get one of these bags this year. Click below to get yours:

PREORDER BAGS NOW

Introducing Fairfield Finns

Fairfield Finns is a small family farm in Victoria, Australia and is ethically run by Gerry and Maureen Shepherd. They have been breeding Finnsheep, or Finn for short, for more than 20 years.

Finn Sheep on Fairfield Finns farm
The lush paddocks at Fairfield Finns farm. Photo by Fairfield Finns

In Finland, Finns are traditionally kept in sheds for almost 8 months of the year due to the weather. This practice of keeping the sheep indoors might have contributed to creating a calm temperament in the breed. Although the Shepherds’ flock live mostly in paddocks in sunny Australia, this calmness is still evident in their Finns. The Shepherds are also in love with the Finns’ friendly nature and acceptance of humans.

Ben, the bottle-fed Finn, who thinks he is human. Photo by Fairfield Finns

Their short tail and clean breech mean that Finns are naturally resistant to flystrike and breech strike. So they do not need tail docking or mulesing.

Finns are rare and a heritage breed sheep. Finn was recently added to the Rare Breeds Trust of Australia and is classed as critical because of their low numbers here.

The Shepherds are currently owned by 160 sheep and 2 alpacas on their Victorian farm with numbers growing quickly each Spring. At the moment the farm is a delight with many sets of triplets flourishing in the paddocks.

Photo by Fairfield Finns

The Finns are more labour intensive to look after than other sheep. They are multiple lambing sheep with triplets being the norm but can have up to 7 lambs in one birthing! The sheep only have two teats and can normally only raise triplets easily. So Gerry and Maureen have to bottle feed some of their lambs.

Maureen giving Lamboost to one of her new lambs to get them going. Photo by Fairfield Finns

For regular updates on their current lambing season, follow ‘Fairfield Finns’ on Facebook or @thefinnlady on Instagram.

The Shepherds started off with white Finns. But with patience and perseverance, they have successfully bred Finns with Bond Corriedale sheep to get the first coloured Finns in Australia. They believe these are the only black Finns available in Australia.

The fleece and tops from Finns are beautiful to hand spin. They are lustrous with excellent handle. Finn wool is also very soft and has a low prickle factor. You can wear it against your skin. In Finland, Finn wool is made into underwear to wear throughout winter.

Gerry and Maureen had a vision to produce yarns from their Finns. So the fleeces were saved over a few years and when they eventually had enough stored away, the fleeces were sent to Valerie in Braybook to be scoured. Then they were handed over to Cashmere Connections in Bacchus Marsh to be made into tops.

Then the tops are spun into yarn at Wangaratta Mill. Not only are the yarns Australian, they are very much Victorian!

Commercially dyed 8ply Pure Finn yarn

Ecoyarns currently stock the fleeces, tops and also the 2ply and 8ply yarns. If you would like some 4ply or 5ply yarns, please let me know at support@ecoyarns.com.au. I would be happy to order some in for you.

2ply Pure Finn Wool. Great for weavers.
8ply Pure Finn Natural Wool. Great for hand dyers

So whatever your favourite craft might be — spinning, knitting, crocheting or hand dyeing — I hope you will enjoy making something wonderful with this Australian grown Finn wool.

Supporting Our New Community

We first heard of a neat event at the local university through ABC News and it was filled with just the right amount of warm fuzzy feeling that Ecoyarns had to jump on board. Australian National University (ANU) had called upon its staff and students to knit scarves for its newest students who will begin their university life in one of the coldest campuses in Australia at the moment. Over the last couple of months, knitters and crocheters throughout the campus had picked up their needles and hooks, some for the very first time, and worked tirelessly to make over 110 scarves! The Canberra community rallied around this unique initiative through yarn donation, including some of our Ecoyarns yarn. Some generously contributed their time to teach their craft to those eager to learn to make a scarf for a fellow student.

More than 110 scarves have been completed so far for Monday's event
More than 110 scarves were made for Monday’s event

The scarves will be on display at the Orientation Week Wellbeing Mini-Market Day this coming Monday and new students are encouraged to pick a scarf for themselves. Each scarf comes with a handwritten note from the maker to its new owner, with care instructions and a little personal welcome to ANU. How good is that for building new friendships?

Photo courtesy of ANU
Handwritten note to go with each scarf. Photo courtesy of ANU

As you can already imagine The Knit for New Students Initiative is not just about keeping these newbies warm. It is much, much more than that and that is why we chose this ANU project to be our first sponsorship.

Knitting and crocheting is not just a personal hobby. Normally it keeps us and our loved ones warm, and our homes looking groovy. Then a little event comes along and our sense of camaraderie kicks in and we knit for strangers, be it to wear or just for public viewing and appreciation (think yarn bombing). We sit around with friends and people we hardly know, physically or virtually, and our hands keep making while we chat and form new friendships. Our often mundane lives suddenly get a little pick me up and the warm fuzzy feeling puts a smile on our dial for most of the next day. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s good for our mental health and it’s food for our soul. Our lives are enriched because we care enough to spend the time to create for strangers.

A student common room transforms into a knitting hub. You can almost hear the clicking of the needles.
A student common room transforms into a knitting hub. You can almost hear the clinking of the busy needles.

Meeting up every week to knit together. Photo courtesy of ANU.
Meeting up every week to knit together. Photo courtesy of ANU

So thank you to all those who knitted and crocheted in earnest to create these scarves. We hope you enjoyed our yarn contribution and we will see you on Monday.

Ecoyarns will be posting photos of the event live through our Instagram. Follow along if you’re interested.

Have a warm, snuggly weekend. We’re praying for our first snow on Sunday! Fingers crossed.

Hello Canberra

Ecoyarns has seen several homes in its 9 years. It’s lived in Budgewoi on the Central Coast then up to Newcastle, and now it’s in chilly Canberra, rubbing shoulders with politicians. Well, not quite. But our former Prime Minister knits, so there is a super slim possibility that a politician might be wearing a scarf made from an Ecoyarns yarn! What a funny thought.

A winter morning by the lake
A winter morning by the Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra

It’s been a busy few months for us. Richard and I moved our young family to Canberra for personal reasons, and a week later we took over Ecoyarns officially. It was a lot to take on, unpacking our personal belongings and the shop stock simultaneously, while keeping the business running. There was a lot of “what was I thinking?!” kind of moments.

We had an extra pair of hands to help with the move and he flew in from Singapore! Thank you to my brother, Hakiim, for his tireless effort.
We had an extra pair of hands to help with the move and he flew in from Singapore! Thank you to my brother, Hakiim, for his tireless effort.

Sorting yarn outside all day when it was 1 degrees celcius!
Sorting yarn outside all day when it was 1 degrees celcius

I’m happy to say we have overcome the dip and are settling in nicely in our new home and roles. We’re pretty dang proud of ourselves to say the least.

So what does it mean to our customers?

Firstly, we are now shipping orders in 1 to 2 business days. There is nothing stopping us from sending off these lovely yarn and fibres to their new homes pronto.

Office and packing room
Office and packing room

Secondly, most parcels are being dropped off at the Canberra GPO and that means you will get your fluff mail even quicker!

Lastly, we are fully focused on the business. We are going through everything with a fine tooth comb so as to improve your shopping experience. If you notice something not right on the website, email us at support@ecoyarns.com.au. Help us help you shop. We want your online shopping experience with us to be enjoyable.

Our in-house technical expert, Richard aka Mr Ecoyarns; From fixing web servers to setting up complicated ball winders, he's the man!
Our in-house technical expert, Richard aka Mr Ecoyarns; From fixing web servers to setting up complicated ball winders, he’s the man!

Happy crafting!

Fresh new Ecoyarns

We have a huge announcement here in Ecoyarns. Ecoyarns has changed owners. Vivian has sold the business to myself, Salihan, and my husband, Richard.

Vivian started Ecoyarns when she was desperately looking for organic and environmentally friendly yarn in Australia 10 years ago. When she couldn’t find any, she hunted the world and brought in some of the loveliest yarn and fibre to sell in her brand new shop. She even started her own line of yarn, EcoOrganic Cotton.

Fast forward to today, Vivian’s medical career has taken off and she needed to pass the baton of Ecoyarns to someone else, so she can focus on her family while managing the rigorous demands of being a doctor. We are more than thrilled to carry on her work at Ecoyarns and wish her the very best!

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Founder of Ecoyarns, Vivian Tng

Richard and I have worked with Vivian for a number of years, helping her with several different aspects of Ecoyarns. So we know a lot of the ins and outs of her business already. Handing over the reigns was much easier than anticipated with Vivian making herself available to any ongoing questions. Rest assured that it is business as usual at Ecoyarns.

We are determined to bring lots of energy and enthusiasm into this business. We have a big challenge ahead of us to bring Ecoyarns up to a high standard but we are eager to make Ecoyarns better than ever. It is a fresh new Ecoyarns.

September Spring and all the growing things

My garden is growing, it must be spring.

None of the carrot seeds came up but all the broad beans started to shoot. The peas are getting some help from the native bees and the slugs and snails are determined to stop me from growing zucchinis and cucumbers. We shall try again and put in more plants to the veggie patch. This year will be the second year for me to try planting some cotton, I just need to control those pests that eat the seedlings!!

IMG_1408 The yellow flowers are from the baby buk choy and the grass like greens in the right of the photo are leeks. I think the snails and slugs do not like these plants.

Back to knitting…….

I have a bad case of startitis.

You know, that feeling that you need to start something new…….. even though you made a promise to yourself that you would finish those 3 projects before starting another one? The feeling that almost makes you feel hungry at 11pm at night and you want to wind up a new skein of super luscious hand dyed yarn goodness, but the family has gone to bed and you cannot use the ball winder because it squeaks?

Yup, I see it, you know that feeling too. I have had it all week.

I finally succumbed and wound up a new skein of super soft hand dyed yarn that has been in my stash for over 2 years. Oh it finally is becoming SOMETHING.

I picked a shawlette pattern. This one actually : Prairie by Janel Laidman.

I really really hope it will keep my attention until the my next bout of startitis.

Or maybe I should go clean the linen cupboard instead?

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I finished a pair of socks last week : they are really simple and YUP thats my hand spun yarn. My deliciously warm toes are very happy.

Thanks to my completed socks, I am inspired to offer a special on Spinning Fibres. All customers who checkout with over $25.00 worth of spinning fibre, will receive an Organic Cotton tote bag worth $12.00. This deal is on from 20th September to 5th October.

THIS LINK takes you to the spinning fibres page.

And last, but not least, here is another picture of a beautiful Newcastle sunset.

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Winter evenings

Winter Evenings are truly beautiful here in Newcastle Australia.

Newcastle at dusk Winter 2014
Newcastle at dusk Winter 2014

 

Europe was wonderful. Except I had my handbag stolen in Torino, Italy. It caused all sorts of problems and those issues are just getting sorted now. ( 1 month after my return!) So, all the wonderful pictures on my camera, which I had not downloaded are now gone forever. Can you put a price on these intangible things like memories?

I thought I had an impressive collection of pictures of old doors and door knockers, amongst other photos of locations and people….. but its all gone. In a flash. POOF! No more. Its terribly sad.

Anyhow, I did take some photos while I was in Singapore.

Bamboo bicycles
Bamboo bicycles

Delicious Nonya special cakes and desserts from Bengawan Solo
Delicious Nonya special cakes and desserts from Bengawan Solo

Giant Trees found at the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, a spectacular architectural and ecological marvel.
Giant Trees found at the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, a spectacular architectural and ecological marvel.

 

Since our return from Europe I have completed 1 pair of socks, started on another 2 pairs and am working on a laceweight cardigan.

What projects have you done this winter?

 

 

 

 

 

May sale and Closure notice

How about a quick 1 week sale starting 26th April?
Use code MAYflower for 10% off all items with FREE SHIPPING for orders over $80 for this week of the sale.

Excludes all Ashford Items, which will be disabled temporarily for this week.

Our normal shipping rates are $10 per order or free shipping for all orders over $150.00.

Make the most of this week’s sale.

We are away from the 16th of May to the 13th of June. All orders placed during this time will be dispatched after our return. We will be available by email if there are any enquiries.

Blue Mountains in Autumn

We had a quick 3 day visit to the Blue Mountains this weekend. It never ceases to surprise me that so close to Sydney is such a wonderful place for great food, great examples of early architecture, incredible scenery, stunning vistas and an abundance of wildlife.

We visited Katoomba, Leura and went on a few bushwalks in the Blackheath area. see pictures below.

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I have a fondness for mushrooms.

Mountain Mushrooms
Mountain Mushrooms

 

Not to mention a definite nose for more wooly goodness.

The House of Wool at Blackheath.

Yarns purchased included Louisa Harding Grace Wool/Silk, Debbie Bliss Andes and Heirloom Easy Care. There were lots of hand dyed yarns by local dyers and spinning wheels and fibre available. Until I visited, I had forgotten that they carry out very own EcoOrganic Cotton, which they currently have on sale.

I am making Fingerless Gloves and a beret to match. More pictures in the next post.

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wow! its almost Christmas. It must be a sign of my age that I feel the years passing faster and faster.

Congratulations to Susan S who has won our November draw of one SOAK Box. She gets to pick her colour! Lucky 🙂

We will be posting  items up to this Friday, and all parcels after Wednesday are automatically upgraded to Express Post at no extra charge. We will be closed from the 21st December to the 6th January 2014. But will be operating over the December 2013 to January 2014 school holidays. We will post on non public holiday weekdays.

I will be trying to complete 2 pairs of socks in fingering weight on 2.25mm needles and trying to replicate Katniss Everdeen’s cowl in Super Bulky weight on 10 – 15mm needles. “Broomstick handles” I overheard by husband muttering.

Here is the lustworthy cowl I am trying to replicate. LINK

I think I will use the Herringbone stitch for the body of the cowl and will have to investigate how to make the collar stand up without too much weight.