Knitting and Dying

No, not dyeing.

I’ve changed the name of the blog to “Knitting and Dying”, because it seems like that’s what I’m doing. I’m keeping related posts semi-hidden. The password is my ravelry username, or just ask if you know me in person.


How much yarn do I have?

I bought a LOT of yarn when I was in Japan this March. It was a wonderful adventure, but now I have a bunch of unlabelled skeins as well as some sort-of-labelled but partially uninterpretable cones and balls. In Japan, they sell yarn by weight. Patterns give weight per ball and numbers of balls. So I know that I have 300g of this and 150g of that – but I’m unclear on the meterage.

What to do? I read Knitty, and so when I saw this article on measuring homespun I was intrigued. I googled the McMorran Yarn Balance, discovered that it was out of production, and found a replacement version for sale at the Woolery. This is an on-line US store, so I thought I’d look for a local version. But I had no luck. Figuring in postage, I would expect to pay about $AU 50-60 to get it a $US 39 item from the US shop. A bit steep, perhaps.

Then I read on more carefully and realised that all this is, is a dead simple fixed beam balance. You cut off a bit of yarn, hang it over the beam, and trim with scissors until you get to the desired weight. But if you’re cutting off a bit to measure, then any old scale will do as long as it measures to the appropriate precision. What precision? I figure that 1% should do it well enough. A metre of yarn normally weighs… well, let’s look at some ball bands and find out! I rarely use anything lighter than fingering, which runs at about 400m/100g or 0.25g/meter.  To get a 1% precision with 1m of yarn, you’d need a balance that measures to the nearest .0025g.

That’s tiny. It’s 2.5mg; less than the average drop of water. But there are lots of people who measure things in those sorts of quantities, so I started looking for lab scales. Pricy. But here’s my pro-tip: hop onto ebay and search for “digital scales 0.001”. Suddenly there’s heaps of them, quite a few under the $25 mark, and a crucial clue: look for the jeweller’s scales, not the analytical chemistry scales. And if you’re prepared to go to 10mg precision – 4% accuracy in 1m fingering, or 1% if you don’t mind using 4m – then you can find quite a lot under $10.

Have a browse and you’ll see some have little cups and some have flat plates, and some have built in calculators, and some are shaped like iphones, and some are mislabelled as .001 when they’re only 0.01 – caveat emptor. I think the flat plates would be easier to weigh a little bundle of yarn, and 0.01g seemed good enough to me, so that’s the kind I bought. $8.75 including delivery? SOLD!


Shopping for Online Yarn in Australia


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I only started this blog to get a wordpress ID, but since I’m using the nym kuiperbelter on ravelry and pinterest, I may as well use this blog for craft-related things. I’ve been thinking of creating a list of Australian yarn stores, so here goes. Incomplete to start with, of course.

Suzy Hausfrau:
Based in Canberra, online shopping only. Suzy stocks a small but lovely selection of high quality imported items such as Shibui, Madeline Tosh, Quince & co, Millamia etc. Join her mailing list to use her pre-order service for Madeline Tosh. Also there’s some notions, needles, magazines and books. Nice swift. Suzy does free shipping on everything in Australia.

The Woolshed at Manuka:
In Manuka, this shop is best visited in person, as only a limited selection is available online and you have to call to discuss what you want for any order except kits. Stocks Australian and New Zealand as well as imported yarns such as Noro and Jo Sharp. Plus a good range of needles & notions & magazines.

The shop is somewhere on the NSW mid-north coast. Australian shipping free for orders over $50, and small discounts apply for larger orders. Stocks Hiyahiya needles and notions, and a large range of Cascade in many weights and a huge rainbow of colours. Smaller ranges in a few other luxury yarns such as Lorna’s Laces and Malabrigo.

Morris & Sons:
Shopfronts in Sydney & Melbourne. A very large range of yarns, needles and accessories. Stocks Australian including the more routine Patons, Cleckheaton & Shepherd, as well as their own custom range. Imports include Noro, Schoppel, Grignasco, Amy Blatt. Website is a little clunky and the shipping tends to be a little pricy (they use certified mail which is a few dollars over the usual parcel rate) but the range here is probably the biggest in Australian online.

Yarn About Yarn:
Web shop only; based in Ballina. Run by a friendly Ravelry user; she let me visit when I was holidaying nearby. Stocks some fabulous luxury yarns like Purple Fleece and Be Sweet, and most notably the ArtYarns silk and cashmere range. Also some odd organics and recycled silks and such. It’s not a huge range, but changes often and she has good sales on low stock items. Normal Australian Post parcel shipping costs.

A Chronic Yarnoholic:
An ebay store with an exceptional range, run from Queensland. Lots of needles and notions as well as the yarns. Mostly imports, including brands not seen so much elsewhere like Fyberspates, Aslan Trends, Handmaiden, and Dark Horse. Shipping is usual Australia Post, made clear upfront for single items, but as with all ebay you may need to message the seller to get rates for combined orders.

Wool and Yarn:
Your basic Aussie selection of Patons, Cleckheaton, Shepherd, Panda, with Pony accessories. Nothing special, but a good range of the basics – some very nice wool as well as ridiculous novelties. I haven’t ordered anything from here and their shipping rates aren’t immediately visible.

Tangled Yarns:
Based in Brisbane, this shop has a nice online range including Noro, Cascade, Schoppel, Jo Sharp and The Fibre Company. You can’t search by weight,only brand and name, so it helps to know what you’re looking for. Also some fancy stitch markers (named gems and jewels),  and a nice collection of needles and other items. Standard Australia Post shipping; free for orders over $100.

More to come…

If you stumble on this and know of another one, please leave a comment!