“Stressed-out consumers want to indulge in affordable luxuries and seek ways to reward themselves” — one of the 17 Trends from Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve.
What does this quote and a 70-plus-year-old business in Naenae have in common? Just pick up a ball of Zealana Air yarn and you will understand that pure luxury can come in a small package.
Woolyarns Limited on Eastern Hutt Road are now producing knitting yarns for the very top end of the market and consider themselves ‘yarn engineers’. Most is exported, but a number of local shops do stock some of the range, including Nancy’s Embroidery in Wellington and the Yarn Studio online.
Zealana Air is a mixture of cashmere, mulberry silk and brushtail possum down, and has exceptional thermal properties due to the hollow nature of the possum fibre. There are three different yarns: Air Lace, for a light, lacy scarf or wrap; Air Chunky, for a very soft, light version of the current bulky knitted look, glorious for that warm cowl you will live in all winter; and the newest addition to the range, Air Marle, which twists together three different-coloured strands of Air Lace yarn to create a multi-toned double knit yarn.
I recently had a week away from the shop, and took a ball of each of the Air Marle colours we have. I set myself the challenge to design something special that uses just one ball. The result was a soft cowl, that to quote one of my staff “feels like a kitten snuggled in”, and some long fingerless gloves that provide warmth without weight. The patterns for these are free with the purchase of the yarn, but as a taster here is the pattern for the cowl.
Air Marle Cowl
1 × 50g ball Zealana Air Marle
Pair of 5mm needles (if you wish, you can knit this on double-pointed needles or a circular needle)
k = knit, p = purl, psso = pass slipped stitch over, rem = remaining, sl = slip a stitch, st(s) = stitch(es), st st = stocking stitch, tbs = through back of stitch, tog = together, yo = wrap yarn over right needle
Cast on 92 sts and knit 1 row.
Row 2: k1, *k2, yo, **k1, yo, repeat from ** four more times, k2, repeat from * until 1 st rem, k1.
Row 3: Purl.
Row 4: k1, *sl 1, k1, psso, k11, k2 tog, repeat from * until 1 st rem, k1.
Row 5: p1, p2 tog, p9, p2 tog tbs, repeat from * until 1 st rem, k1.
Row 6: k1, *sl 1, k1, psso, k7, k2 tog, repeat from * until 1 st rem, k1.
Row 7: Purl.
Repeat rows 2–7 twice.
St st for 20 rows.
Starting with a k row, st st for 3 rows.
Sew in ends, then join into a loop.
Yes, the balls are expensive at $25 for the Air Lace and $59 for the Air Chunky and Air Marle… but go on, indulge yourself with something special. You will not be able to buy similar items in the same luxury fibres for less than twice the price and, of course, you get the pleasure of making something beautiful.
Notes for photo: Arna Horne, a Nancy’s staff member, modelling cowl and fingerless gloves.