Thursday, August 4, 2011

Merino Madness!

As many of you will know, our beautiful Christchurch has inexplicably turned into Shakytown. One of the many issues the residents are facing is the cold. It's been snowing down there and snow below about 1000ft in New Zealand is a newsworthy event at the best of times. With peoples' homes being twisted and cracked from earthquake/s, it is hard to keep warm, resulting in increased power bills on top of the other hardships that insurance cannot compensate for. So unfair given everything else they have to deal with right now.
Last week, the Salvation Army put out a call for knitted wool singlets for babies, who are hard hit by this invasive cold snap. Now I do NOT knit - it's a left handed thing, it's my excuse and I am sticking to it! But I CAN sew, and so can the Embroidenator, and we have been mass producing merino wool undershirts and hats for babies.
An odd collection of colours, but the dark browns were such fabulous quality merino, I couldn't resist. The pixie hats are doubled, with red or yellow linings. Aren't they cute! I feel a bit like Snow White laying out clothes for the dwarfs!
Anyway this was the second shipment and I am all merino baby undershirted out. But I've used up nearly every offcut and scrap of merino that I have in my stash, which is wonderful! I did splash out for about 4m new, and between that and what I had I think we made about 20 vests and 12 hats. It is very, very nice to sew - we just used a slightly zigzagged straight stitch. No overlocking as it is a bit scratchy for baby skin, and I got construction time down to around 20 minutes per garment.
I'm quite looking forward now to making something bigger! Including a nice brown merino top I cut out so that I could use the scraps up. I hope I don't need any offcuts!
So tell me, is cosy, fine merino knit something you can buy in other parts of the world, or is it a kiwi thing? Most of what we can buy is NZ merino, some is Australian. Some is mixed with nylon which I avoid, but the pure stuff is around $30NZ a metre, which is about $25US or 15GBP. Most is 138cm or 150cm wide, and it is so fine and soft, and is very, very warm for its weight. Can you buy it in the fabric shops? I never saw any but then I was making a beeline for the silks most of my travels!


  1. Dear Mrs. C.,
    How neat is that!!
    Very best,

  2. So cute! I'm sad I missed the making party!

    I don't remember merino knit when I was in the US. I bet you can buy it, but it isn't a 'classic' fabric like it is here in NZ. And of course, most of the US has central heating, so the whole layering thing isn't quite as important.

    I actually love the chocolate brown - it's a nice break from the pink and blue that are usual. It would have been especially fabulous with motifs cut from your quilting fabric sewn on the front to give them a little colour and personality. Just in case you decide to sell them commercially. :-)

  3. Oh so do I, I love the brown! And I think the applique is a lovely idea, IF I can ever face making one again, I will remember that :)

  4. Felicity from Down UnderAugust 17, 2011 at 5:32 PM

    I happened upon your blog yesterday. I've never seen the merino in Australia, but that doesn't mean it's not here. They're beautiful little garments and I'm sure they'll be toasty warm.

  5. Hi Felicity! nice to see you. I notice that a fair pile of the merino knit on the table at my favourite fabric shop (Global Fabrics) is from Oz. And I know Steph has found some over there. It is well worth hunting down, it is a miraculous fabric - cool in summer and warm in winter. It washes and wears so well and looks so classy compared to cotton knit. Them babies are going to be so styley! ;-)

  6. Global Fabrics is amazing. 4 tables of beautiful merino knits. And they had 4 colours at only $10/metre yesterday!! Stashed up on bucketloads of material and getting my sewing hat on!