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Location: Mt Keira, New South Wales, Australia

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Having a big whinge!

13 Feb 2005

On Friday I decided to start a Clapotis project to be ready in time for winter. Hopefully my friend Lisa's baby doesn't come early because I haven't even started the blanket. I feel a bit guilty because I hardly ever make anything for myself.

On Saturday I thought I'd have a look for an appropriate yarn deserving of such a gorgeous garment. Has to have some silk in it, has to be haindpainted or variegated, and must have red in it (because half of it is going to my secret pal and she loves red). LYS is a challenge of fun fur and feathers, so I went online.

I looked carefully at the Lion & Lamb by Lorna's laces and noticed it is 50/50 wool and silk. Yum yum, Bittersweet and Lorikeet, Flames, Baltic Sea, Aslan (not all red but I liked them anyway). Also had a look at Schaefer's Anne (60% woll, 25% mohair, 15% nylon) gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous. Both American yarns, both are going to cost me a fortune factoring in our weak currency and the high cost of postage. That is if they're in stock. Some suppliers say 8-10 weeks for Lion & Lamb and Anne looks hard to come by too.

Now I live in Australia. I love Australia. WE 'INVENTED' THE MERINO SHEEP! Wool is one of our main natural exports. We were taught in history at school that Australia 'lived off the sheeps back'.

If that's the case then we should have the best merino hand knitting yarn in the world. But we don't. We get the dregs from the big yarn companies' last seasons crap (we are a season behind after all) and it gets stacked high and sold cheap. We export the lot so overseas companies can make the finest handknitted wool in the world from our sheep. Even our cottage industries are a little too 'cottagey' and lacking somewhat in vision. What is wrong with us??

Do you think that I can find a SINGLE outlet on the web selling 50/50 wool/silk blend coloured yarn? No. I can get some natural undyed stuff from ebay (which by the way looks gorgeous and I think I might have some) and I can get some 80/20 alpaca/silk in solid colours (it's nice too but the whole point of the Clapotis is in the pattern made by the variegated yarn).
The rare yarns company in Victoria have a gorgeous 'cocoon' yarn - a 70% merino (yay the Aussie merino - nice to see you at home for once!), 15% alpaca (I love alpacas too), 7.5% silk (I'm sorry silkworm), and 7.5% mohair (ooh mohair (put on Homer Simpson voice)). But it is solid colour - albeit about 360 to choose from - but still not variegated.

Even Virginia Farm Woolworks (a New Zealand company only five hours away on a plane) have only one outlet in Australia! Their artisan lace looks luscious (and I think I have to have some of that too) but that elusive silk which I know is going to give my Clapotis the great hand whilst making it and the lovely drape whilst wearing it is missing.
I realise that there aren't many people here, 18 million in a country the size of the USA is pretty sparse population. Proportionately there aren't that many people who knit or crochet or whatever. The market is not huge. And I know that over half the country never gets below 20 degrees C so not much of a need for a handknit Aran sweater. But I bet that if someone made some of that gorgeous 50/50 silk/merino blend and handpainted it like jewels that the knitters of Australia would buy it, and if they put it on the web then they might find some overseas supporters as well.

There is only one thing for it. I am either going to have to start dyeing yarn (and we don't have koolaid over here - I was going to use what we call 'cordial' until I realised the koolaid used for dye is the 'no sugar' stuff - does that mean it is the diet variety?) or I am going to start petitioning the cottage yarn industry over here to pull it's socks up. Oh look I made a knitting joke. Socks. Heh heh heh.

Now I really am determined to make Clapotis.

Phew. Glad I got that off my chest. It has been bugging me since forever. Now I have put it in words and I feel a little better. I love a good rant.

But right right now dear diary, I need to hit the beach with my kids. There are some serious rays to catch. Smellya later dude.

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