Sustainability story in a snuggly strand

Cotton / Possum / Wool

Performa Kiwi Fingering by Zealana

Controversial maybe, but beautiful definitely. The addition of fur to this yarn gives it an exquisite drape with a subtle softness while maintaining some structure. The unique use of possum in combination with cotton and merino is interesting to try. The possum fibre is fur, not wool, and the strand itself is hollow, filling with air when worn makes it 55% warmer than merino and 35% warmer than cashmere. For me the drape is its key feature. I wanted to make a shrug for work that would finish off my outfits with a polished, creative style. Zealana Kiwi delivered.

At first, I was hesitant to buy this yarn due to the fur content. However, I researched it and then felt comfortable. You will need to make up your own mind so here is some information to help. Non-native brushtail possums were introduced by fur traders into New Zealand in the 1900’s. Since then they have bred unchallenged by other predators to the point of becoming a huge environmental problem. Brushtail possums eat 21 metric tonnes of forest in New Zealand every 24 hours taking habitat away from native species. This use of brushtail possum fur is helping to responsibly reduce this problem. If you’re interested, Zealana have a lot of information about how they are helping sustain New Zealand wildlife.

When knitting

DSC02839 2Zealana Kiwi is pleasant on the needles, it glides and knits up quickly. Although listed as fingering weight on the label, I think it is a little heavier and have substituted it for 8 ply when making the ‘Linen Shawl Crocodile by Jen Giezen‘ photographed here. I wanted the stitches to be loose as I live in Australia and lighter is definitely better in our climate. The strand can occasionally split when knitting, so I recommend a sharp pointed tip needle to manage this. The addition of possum creates the slightest halo around the strand when you look closely, it is subtle and lovely. The colours are all pastels and there isn’t black in the range, which was something I was initially seeking for another garment. Instead I chose Granite, which has a deep charcoal tone. The balls are only 40 grams, so keep this in mind when ordering because this is smaller than usual.

When blocking

I found the fabric grew a needle size when steam blocked so a gauge square is key. The ribbed sections grew the most. Steam blocking my shrug was enough for the stitches to relax and fall into place.

When washing

Zealana describe this yarn as part of their Performa Series designed for creating super resilient garments that need to go the extra mile. I have worn my shrug many times without piling or stretching. I haven’t needed to wash it a lot, but have done so on a gentle machine wash in a laundry bag and the lace work has stayed in great condition. It is suitable for a cool iron and garments need to be dried lying flat.

When wearing

The possum adds extra warmth to this fingering weight yarn. The strand feels more substantial than its weight suggests. It is smooth on the skin and can be worn without irritation. It is suitable for Autumn and Spring garments or lighter winter jumpers. It is also a great choice for a beret.



This is a great yarn to choose for extra warmth in a light strand with good stitch definition. The two garments I’ve made with Zealana Kiwi have been perfect for work, giving me more polish than the rustic fibres I’m often drawn to. I am keen to try some of the other Zealana blends in the future because they have such a unique range.

Weight 4 ply – fingering weight
Length 124 metres / 135 yards
Unit Weight 40 grams / 1.41 ounces
Gauge 27 stitches per 10 cm / 4 inches
Needle 3.25mm / US 3
Composition and Origin 40% fine NZ merino, 30% brushtail possum, 30% organic cotton
Recommended handling Machine washable on a gentle program, cool iron, dry flat
Colour 19 colours with a pastel palate
Supplier Zealana
Project Ideas Reverse psychology by Mindy Ross
Rustling leaves beret by Alana Dakos
Linen shawl crocodile by Jen Giezen
Source of review yarn Purchased by me during a trip to Auckland
Average Retail Price $10 NZD currency

Wholesomeness in a strand

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Viscose / Wool

Felted Tweed by Rowan

This yarn is popular! A quick glance in Ravelry showed over 25,000 projects using it at last count.

It is great for colour work and has a beautiful rustic palate that allows your imagination to run through an array of choices before landing on cherry red and fiery ginger. The fibre is lightly pre-felted giving it a nice solid texture aiding the stitch definition. Many people use this yarn for Fair Isle patterns where it comes into its own.

When knitting

DSC02804This yarn is wholesome. It’s like being in your favourite health food store and making sure you have enough fibre in your food. It just makes me feel good. It sheds a bit of the alpaca as you knit and after knitting for a while it occasionally looked like I owned a pet. However, the strands brushed straight off my clothes and were not annoying. The great thing I found was this settled once blocked and washed, which stabilised the fibres so they no longer shed. You can also find small bits of debris in the yarn that pull out quite easily. I have found the strand strong but have read of others having it break occasionally, but in my hands this hasn’t happened. Although this yarn is labelled as 8-ply I think it is closer to a sport weight making it a bit lighter than expected.

When blocking

I found that my gauge square grew 1cm in both directions when blocked so I chose a smaller needle size for my project. This relaxed the stitches and the fabric became beautifully uniform. The stitches have a haze around them from the long strands of alpaca and the fabric looks earthy. I used pins when blocking to develop nice straight edges where I wanted them.

When washing

Rowan says that you can use a cool machine wash for this yarn. I personally still hand wash it. I feel if I have spent weeks making a garment, a few more minutes’ hand washing is worth the effort. Do not tumble dry as the already lightly felted strands will felt further. I found the colours hold fast. Once washed the yarn softened slightly and I find it snuggly enough to wear directly against my skin. The dye lots are very consistent. I’ve gone back and bought a colour again and it has been the same. This is reassuring if you think you may end up needing more yarn.

When wearing

The knitted fabric feels textured but has a softness that for me is pleasant to wear. The drape holds some shape due to the 25% viscose component. It is warm and light to wear, which here in Australia makes it a good choice for a winter knit, but also makes it suitable for Autumn and Spring garments in colder climates. Wear after wear, I have found my garments are durable without pilling.



This is the type of yarn that can be a standard go-to yarn for lighter weight winter knits. It drapes beautifully, is light but warm and has a wholesome earthy feel. It is certainly a yarn I will go back to again.

Weight 8 ply – light, similar to a sport weight
Length 175 metres / 191 yards
Unit Weight 50 grams / 1.76 ounces
Gauge 24 stitches per 10 cm / 4 inches / 32 rows
Needle 4mm / US 6
Composition and Origin 50% merino wool, 25% alpaca, 25% viscose
Recommended handling Machine washable on a cool program, 30 degrees, do not tumble dry
Colour 31 rustic colours
Supplier Rowan owned by MEZ UK
Project Ideas Gullfoss by Stephen West
Slade by Michele Wang (shown in photo above)
Colour Affection by Veera Valimaki
Orkney by Marie Wallin
Source of review yarn Purchased by me
Average Retail Price $14.95 AUD currency

Sublime with a Danish flavour

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Cotton / Wool

Coast by Holst Garn

Coast is so gentle on the skin, babies and even the most sensitive can enjoy a delicate hand knit.

Holst Garn is a family business run by Helle Holst in Denmark. She has a passion for wool and after finding a gap in the market she created a wonderful selection of yarns, Coast being one of the standouts. Helle sources her fibres all over the world and produces unique blends. The use of merino lambswool has created a super soft fine yarn that can been worn next to the skin even on new-borns. It is also lovely when knit with two strands together to create a thicker thread. It drapes beautifully and seems to almost float and become weightless. Helle has an ethical conscience and all her fibres are from non mulesed sheep.

When knitting

DSC02246Coast is feather light and wonderful for summer knits or garments that are layered. The combination of 55% lambswool and 45% cotton is a lovely balance. The strand is textured and has small flecks of a paler shade of your chosen colour due to it being blended with the cotton, this gives the fabric you are creating a textured appearance. Air just passes through when knit loosely yet it can provide warmth when knit at a smaller gauge.

The strand is strong with a slight halo and although fine I didn’t experience any breakage. I have read about others who have on Ravelry but this hasn’t been my experience. My vintage knitting machine easily handles this yarn, which is a good test of the yarn’s strength so I am confident to say it is strong enough for normal knitting. Each 50 gram ball contains 350 meters of yarn. There are 88 colours in the range giving you a huge variety of options. With the current ‘Find your Fade’ trend this allows you to subtly graduate from one tone to the next. The pinkish coloured yarn featurd in this review’s photos is Coast Plum, while the other colours are other yarns.

When blocking

Pin out your item, particularly delicate lace, to make the most of all your hard work. I found items grew slightly, so to achieve gauge I went down half a needle size.


When washing

Garments can go in the washing machine on a cold cycle but definitely don’t use warm water or put it in the dryer because it may shrink, particularly due to the cotton fibres. Coast has a little spinning oil on the strands and this comes out in the first wash. I chose to wash my garment by hand and lay it flat in the shade to dry. I handled the fabric gently to maintain the garments shape when I washed it and didn’t experience any colour run. The fabric became even softer after washing it.

When wearing

Coast is extremely soft and can be worn directly next to the skin and is suitable for new-borns. When knit the fabric has strength even though the strands feel delicate. I have not experienced any pilling with my garments.

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Coast has a very large range of colours making it a great choice for many projects. It drapes softly and is a great choice for items that are worn against the skin. If you want something heavier simply knit it with two strands held together giving you a nice sport weight. The stitch definition is good and clearly shows up lace work. It is a yarn I will come back to again and again.

Weight 2 ply – light fingering weight
Length 350 metres / 383 yards
Unit Weight 50 grams / 1.76 ounces
Gauge 26 stitches per 10 cm / 4 inches
Needle 2.5mm / US 2
Composition and Origin 55% merino lambswool, 45% cotton
Recommended handling Machine washable on a cold program
Colour A huge range – 88 at last count!
Supplier Holst Garn – Denmark
Project Ideas …a hint of summer by Isabell Kraemer
Fadient shawl by Xandy Peters
SpliTTop by La Maison Rililie
Clapo-Ktus by UniqueCreazioni  
Source of review yarn Purchased by me on a recent trip to Stockholm
Average Retail Price $11.00 AUD currency

Drapes beautifully providing the effortless elegance of linen without the crush factor

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Cotton / Linen / Viscose

Natura Linen by DMC Creative World

Linen is wonderful to wear. It’s cool and always looks so fabulous in magazines with people walking relaxed along the beach.

Natura Linen is a blend of linen, cotton and viscose that takes the wonderful properties that I love about linen and softens them, reducing the crush factor while keeping a level of structure and shape. The thread is not as sharply defined as other linen threads due to the addition of viscose and cotton. This makes it durable and more inclined to hold its shape. It also occasionally has some slightly irregular sections that make it interesting and wonderful to give an item a creative edge.

When knitting

DSC01880The yarn doesn’t have a lot of give as the thread is strong and it holds its shape. If you need stretch, consider a long tail cast-on and Jeny’s Super Stretchy Bind-off when casting-off. The yarn doesn’t feel as firm as a pure linen and was pleasant in my hands to knit. It has a softness from the cotton that is nice on the skin.

The thread is interesting because the two strands twisted together are different fibre combinations and slightly irregular. This results in slightly different shades of the same colour, a matte finish and a pastel tone. You may come across the occasional small slub, which I really like.

I have used this for homewares and would also select it for a loose cardigan or a summery top with a soft drape. For a summer top, I like to knit this yarn loosely allowing air to pass through the stitches.

When blocking

The yarn relaxed quite a bit and the stitch definition became more defined. Definitely complete a gauge square for garments. I had to pin block my placemat heavily to make the most of the lace design and to make it perfectly round. It was definitely worth the effort as it has held its shape beautifully.


When washing

Do it by hand and lie your item flat in the shade if you can. I didn’t experience any colour run when I washed my items. I handled the fabric gently.

When wearing

It is soft on the skin similar to cotton. I haven’t seen any pilling. If you want the sharp thread definition of 100% linen you may prefer a different yarn. What it does offer is a softness that is lovely to wear and the advantage of the garment holding its shape without crumpling like 100% linen. It is a great option for cool garments, which I love because I live in Australia.


Natura Linen offers a nice alternative to 100% linen especially if you’re not a fan of the crushed look. It gives that effortless elegance that you only get from linen, but with the advantage of holding the garment’s shape. It makes me feel like going to Noosa (a wonderful Australian beach town where people tend to wear lots of white linen!!). I love the natural colours especially the charcoal and stone.

Weight 8 ply
Length 150 metres / 164 yards
Unit Weight 50 grams / 1.76 ounces
Gauge 22 stitches per 10 cm / 4 inches / 28 rows
Needle 3.5mm / US 4
Composition and Origin 58% linen, 26% viscose, 16% cotton
Recommended handling Hand wash
Colour 12 natural pastel based colours
Supplier DMC
Project Ideas Pearls by Yumiko Alexander, Circular place mat from the book “The Knitted Home” by Ruth Cross, Liesl by Ysolda Teague
Source of review yarn Purchased by me on a recent trip to Helsinki
Average Retail Price $9.00 AUD currency

Puffs of colour in a sea of softness

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Pompom by Australian Alpaca Barn

Pompom is a wonderful adventure to knit. It allows you to produce what looks like a complicated construction with straight forward designs.

The strand is constructed with the finest alpaca thread knitted into a tube and every 20 centimetres or so changes colour and increase weight to insert a small pom. When knit the pom bunches up and a glorious pompom is created. I have found that this looks even more wonderful when knit in reverse stocking net. I knit the wonderful Levenwick by Gudrun Johnston (which in my world doubles as my pseudo denim jacket!) and the pompoms bring it to life. I can’t count the number of compliments I have had on this garment.

The Australian Alpaca Barn specialises in quality products made from alpaca fibre grown in Australia and manufactured in either, Australia, New Zealand or Peru. My mother in law discovered this yarn on a trip to the Hunter Valley in Australia and brought it back for me. I instantly fell in love and had to order more to complete the Levenwick Cardigan.

I think Pompom is a great yarn for beginners as it knits up quickly and give a result that looks far more intricate and complicated than it really is. Great for wowing friends with your newly acquired knitting skills!

When knitting

DSC01845If you happen to be a new knitter be careful to put your needle cleanly between each stitch. It doesn’t happen often but you can get your needle caught in the knitted strand and you don’t want it to catch creating a small pull in the fabric. I like to use lace tip Addi Click needles and I’ve found Pompom a breeze to knit.

The yarn is very soft and beautiful against the skin. Being alpaca, it is very warm and makes a wonderful coat or jumper. The colours are really fun and I adore the colour Ocean that I have used. I’m tempted to get some of the Desert colourway too. When I was knitting with this the wattle was in flower and it made me think this may have inspired the yarn designer when thinking of an Australian theme for the yarn with the pompoms reminding me of beautiful wattle flowers. Some may be tempted to categorise this as a novelty yarn however I think due to its quality and beauty it is far from the frivolity of the types of yarns I would put in that category.

When blocking

The yarn flattens out and you can move the pompoms through to the side of the garment you would prefer them on. The object will increase in size slightly as the thick strand relaxes into shape. Definitely complete a gauge square to see how the yarn reacts in your hands. I found I could simply lay the item flat to dry without the need to pin block into shape. The lovely old shale pattern in the collar of my garment was lost a little compared to when I made the same garment from Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, so this is important to consider when selecting a pattern. The stitches blend together rather than being perfectly defined, depending on which stitch you choose.  Stocking Stitch still has lovely stitch definition while Reverse Stocking Stitch resembles a woven fabric giving you different options.


When washing

The recommendation is to wash in tepid water which I did. I didn’t experience any colour run and the already soft yarn became even softer but held its shape well. I have found my cardigan durable and it has not pilled.


Pompom is a lovely unique yarn that knits up quickly to give some instant gratification that is a welcome treat compared to the slow burn of a delicate lace weight yarn. It is soft and warm and the colours are elegantly put together for a lovely result. If you happen to be in the Hunter Valley it is definitely worth seeking out as it is unlikely that you will come across this special yarn in your local yarn store.

Weight 10 ply – approximately
Length 200 metres / 218 yards
Unit Weight 100 grams / 3.5 ounces
Gauge 18 stitches per 10 cm / 4 inches / 24 rows
Needle 6mm / US 10
Composition and Origin 100% Australian baby alpaca made in Peru
Recommended handling Hand wash or dry clean. Wash in tepid water using a mild soap. Do not twist. Shape and dry flat on a towel.
Colour 7 different colour ways with various combinations of strand to pom-poms colours
Supplier Australian Alpaca Barn
Project Ideas Levenwick by Gudrun Johnston, Rosa’s Caponcho by Emma Fassio, Snowcloud by Hilary Smith Callis
Source of review yarn Received as a gift from my mother in law and additional yarn purchased by me.
Average Retail Price $19.95 AUD currency / 10 cents per meter

Yarn with a conscience. Fair trade and ethically sourced.

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Marina by Manos del Uruguay

Every now and then you can have the best of both worlds. Marina by Manos del Uruguay is a luxurious yarn that knits up beautifully and makes the world a better place at the same time.

Marina is made by the Manos Cooperative, which is a not-for-profit organisation that was started in 1968 by five women whose ambition was to develop economic opportunities for women in Uruguay. There was little opportunity to have a job or economic independence then. Over the last 40 years they have grown to 17 cooperatives employing 350 artisans who produce the most fabulous yarns. When you buy a skein of Marina it will be individually signed by the artist that dyed your yarn and they will write the name of the village it came from. If you need more than one skein try to get them signed by the same person.

When knitting

The yarn is wonderfully soft to touch. It is a single ply and superwash. It feels strong on the needles and even though it is lace weight can be knit without much thought to its strength. I have ripped back items and re-knit with the same yarn and it has remained in the same lovely condition as when I started. The yarn has a very slight halo. The colours are vibrant and come in a range of either tonal variations or space-dyed versions that are achieved by as many as 6 separate dye baths. One skein is enough for a small shawl or a scarf. If you do have two or more skeins consider alternating balls every second row to give a more uniform result that will counter for any dying differences.

When blocking

I have found Marina tends to grow a little more in length than width in my hands so completing a swatch is essential. Blocking allows the yarn to flatten and the stitches become more refined. Lace work shows up beautifully. Depending on how intricate a pattern you choose, you may need to pin the lacework when blocking.


When washing

Marina is superwash and can either be machine or hand washed in cold water. I personally still hand wash these items (as I do all my hand knit) but the good news is you don’t need to worry about accidentally felting an item and you can machine wash items if you choose. The colour stayed fast when I blocked and washed my items. Dry your project lying flat to maintain the shape.

When wearing

This yarn is super soft to wear and is great close to the skin. It would be a good choice for making light garments that you layer such as Hannah Fettig’s Featherweight cardigan which is what I am making currently with my Marina. Marina hasn’t pilled when I have worn it. The fabric drops slightly when blocked and forms a light and delicate cloth with defined stitches. The 100% merino is warm and breathable. The fabric is durable due to the superwash treatment.


Marina is a light and lovely yarn that is a highlight in any delicate shawl or light garment. It is moderately priced and is worth investing in for quality projects. The lightness of the fabric makes it great for layering under other garments in spring or autumn. The colours are vibrant and in some cases almost luminous giving them a real wow factor that make you just want to have it. It definitely his high on the desirability scale for me.

Weight Lace with a single strand construction
Length 800 metres / 874 yards
Unit Weight 100 grams / 3.5 ounces
Gauge 32 stitches per 10 cm / 4 inches
Needle 2.75 mm / #2 US
Composition and Origin 100% merino super wash
Recommended handling Machine Washable, hand wash in cool water. Dry lying flat
Colour Hand Dyed – space dyed and tonal.
Every skein is different so be sure to buy enough for your project and get skeins that are as similar as possible – ask or look for the same yarn artist on the tag as they individual sign them.
Supplier Manos del Uruguay
Project Ideas Featherweight by Hannah Fettig, Smooth Sailor by Martina Behm or Falling by Joji Locatelli
Source of review yarn Purchased by me
Average Retail Price $39.50 AUD = 5 cents per metre

Light as a feather with a rustic feel


Loft by Brooklyn Tweed

Sometimes you want a garment that’s warm but not heavy. Jared Flood and the team at Brooklyn Tweed have created just this. Loft is different to your average fingering wool. It has an artisan style, feather light weight and rustic feel. Made from Targhee-Columbia sheep wool, with beautiful crimp and spring, its woollen-spun 2-ply construction make it delicate, light and bouncy. It seems to capture pillows of air within the strands.

It should be handled gently when knitting and winding. The fibres aren’t over combed, giving it a light and slightly rough texture. Occasionally you may find a little hay in the yarn as it isn’t carbonised with chemicals to remove impurities. The hay will come out when you block it. With fleece from Wyoming, dyed in Philadelphia and spun in New Hampshire, this is an all-American yarn.

Loft is beautiful for accessories and homewares and depending on how vigorous the wearer, a good choice for light yet warm garments.

When knitting

Handle with care. Don’t pull the strand too hard or tightly as it may break. Adding additional twist to the yarn when completing a cable or knitting tights stitches can help prevent this. If it does happen to break felt-splice the ends together by wetting and gently rubbing back into one piece. I have needed to do this when doing colour work once as I split the yarn when pulling back a mistake. It held nicely when felt spliced back together

When winding take your time and put light tension with one hand on the yarn between the swift and the ball winder. This allows you to feel any stands catching and you can stop quickly to loosen it as required. I have never experienced breakage when treating the yarn this way when hand winding.


When completing a gauge square people who knit more tightly say the gauge stays true. I knit more loosely and have found it grows.  I have gone down a garment size in most items I’ve made to get the right result. A swatch is necessary to check your how Loft reacts to your own knitting style. If you don’t like making a swatch start with a sleeve and block it first to ensure you are on the right track.

I used a long tail cast-on to give a little extra stretch and bound off with needles a few sizes bigger to provide additional give to the hem. Consider sewing up garments with a similar weight more sturdy yarn to give garments additional strength. This can help avoid threads breaking when you put the garment on and off.

The 37 colours are stunning, deep and vibrant. With names like Button Jar, Tartan and Long Johns who can resist! Definitely grab a shade card if you order online so you can experience the full range for yourself. It will mix with Shelter if you want to blend different weights. I’ve occasionally used two strands of Loft resulting in a yarn weight almost identical to Shelter.

I have found it great for homewares. I’ve made a number of cushion covers with Loft and the results have been stunning. When constructing cushions, I’ve found balancing out the front yarn panel with a fabric linen back a great way to create a polished finish.

Loft can also be felted gently if you want a denser result.

When blocking

I have found Loft tends to grow in both length and width so completing a swatch is essential. Blocking allows the yarn to bloom and become a little fuller and sturdier. You will find the blocked fabric is quite different to what is on your needles as you knit. Lace work shows up beautifully, the strands hold their shape allowing stitch definition is enhanced.


When washing

Hand wash and dry flat. When washed in cool water, no dye ran from my items. Use hair conditioner to make the fibres softer. The colours are vibrant so dye run is something to keep an eye out for however I haven’t experienced this.

When wearing

Loft is soft for a woollen-spun it is not smooth. The fabric does become softer with washing so don’t judge the feel until blocked. I can wear it against my skin and wouldn’t say it is itchy, just textured.

The fabric won’t be as durable as some yarns and needs to be worn thoughtfully. I have a few friends who have needed to make repairs to their garments due to breakages in hems or collars. The delicacy of the fabric is important to consider when deciding what to make or who to make it for. The fabric can pill especially anywhere that the fabric is rubbed together. I found it pilled where my handbag touched my jumper when walking. I simply pulled the pills off leaving the strand nicely intact.



Treat Loft with love and you will be rewarded for your efforts. It produces a fabric that’s delicate, light and warm. Somehow Loft floats on your needles. It needs to be handled with respect. The fabric you create will have a rustic, earthy feel and lovely stitch definition.

Weight Fingering with a 2ply construction
Length 251 metres / 275 yards
Unit Weight 50 grams / 1.76 ounces
Gauge 24-32 stitched per 10 cm / 4 inches
Needle 2-3.5mm / US 0-4
Composition and Origin 100% Wool – Targhee-Columbia, Wyoming United States
Ravelry Star Rating 4.2 from 1895 votes – 26/5/17
Recommended handling Dry Flat, Hand Wash, Wind slowly, be gentle, loose cast on and bind off. May pill lightly – pull them off it usually settles.
Colour 37 colours in the range, Heather
Supplier Brooklyn Tweed
Average retail price $14.75 USD – 6 cents per meter
Source of review yarn Purchased by author online directly from Brooklyn Tweed
Project Ideas Aranami Shawl by Olga Buraya-Kefelian, Broadwalk by Heidi Kirrmaier or Dresden by Kirsten Johnstone