Colour therapy

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Wellington turned grey this week.  It has been cloudy and misty and not very nice.  It’s good though, we need the rain.  With the world turning grey, both figuratively (when will I ever get my life back from work?) and literally, I felt the need for some happy colour infusion into my life.

DSC00668 (640x480)This is the Momentum colourway from Stray Cat Socks, which I gleefully told you about a while ago when it arrived in my mailbox.  (My picture is a much more accurate colour representation than on the etsy site).  It’s done the trick!  So nice to see pretty, happy stripes appearing on my needles.  What this picture does not convey is the vibrancy of the colour.  It has an almost translucent quality to it, which to my mind translates into energy!

I have to say that now that I have finally got Stray Cat Socks yarn on my needles, I love it even more! It’s a very good base – the yarn is a tightly spun 75% wool, 25% nylon. The plies do not easily split or separate, and there’s a certain smoothness to the yarn that allows it to slip easily between the fingers and on to the needles.  It’s an excellent sock yarn.  The young boy has already claimed the remainder of the ball after I’ve finished the socks for his knitted bunny’s pompom tail.

I have also recently got hold of a beautiful wool that I have been very interested to try for a while:

Silver wool

There is no other way to describe it than to say it is exquisitely beautiful.  It’s a true silver colour – the actual colour of the fleece.  The drape and lustre of this 100% wool yarn is to be seen to be believed.  I need to collect my thoughts some more before I tell you about it properly though.  Stay tuned!

 

 

Three bags full, Wonders of Wool

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It was a most wonderful day yesterday.  The market was packed, the purchases fast and furious, and many, many crinkly paper bags full of wool went walking out the door, carried by very happy owners.

My own purchases amounted to three bags full.  I am still grinning with pleasure.

Spoils from the Wonders of Wool

Let me introduce these lovelies:

First up, Anna Gratton‘s Little Wool Co. yarns.

Midnight sky

These are two yummy 200g skeins of 100% pure NZ wool (Corriedale) yarn in the 4 ply weight, in a colourway called “Midnight Sky”.  I wanted it as soon as I saw it because it’s going to be my second attempt at the Southern Skies shawl.  I have realised that super twist yarn is perhaps not the best for this shawl when combined with my tension (my first attempt came out pitifully small), so I’m going to use this ‘normal spin’ instead, combined with bigger needles. Plus, I think the variegation of dark blue/purple, brown and green is going to make fantastic visual interest in this pi shawl, with the swirling colours going round and round.

Saffron

This is also Anna Gratton’s Little Wool Co. 100% pure wool, this time in Saffron.  It’s actually an even richer yellow than this photo suggests – more like an egg yolk colour.  I love it, and it is going to become the Rosebud shawl.  I love yellow roses, and I think this colour will be perfect for it.

Natural silver wool yarn

More 4 ply 100% pure wool from Anna Gratton, this is a natural colour wool, the Silver colourway.  There are no definite plans for it, but I think a shawl in natural colour would be perfect at some point.

Next up, Maniototo Wool!

Maniototo Wool's stall

You won’t believe how long I had to wait to get this photo!  Mary’s stall was crowded with enthusiastic shoppers – I have still managed to get someone’s hand of holding a skein in this pic… despite trying to respect people’s privacy by not taking pictures of them shopping.  It was quite funny to see a dozen arms reaching into those hanging display units the first time I went past.  It would have made an amazing picture.  I am just so happy that her yarn is being recognised.  It is really great stuff.  This picture was taken at around 11am, and already the stocks were looking low.

So what did I get from her?

Maniototo Wool in barn red

Mary has both aran weight and DK weight yarn.  This lot is DK weight, and after seeing the darling little sweater she had knitted in this barn red colourway, I have decided to do the same for my baby nephew.  I reckon he’ll look so cute in it! These are two 100g hanks (about 400m in total), so I think there will be enough yarn, as long as I knit it this winter! I think I need to emphasise here how light this yarn is – compared to many wool yarns, this wool is like meringue, it’s incredibly lofty, and very suitable for little ones due to its light weight and lack of scratch.

Talking some more to Mary, I realise just how much effort has gone into getting this yarn right.  She told me that the first spin she did of this wool was rejected because it did not reflect the quality of the wool – it was too dense and ropey.  So she turned to a boutique New Zealand mill, Wild Earth Yarns, with the request that she “wanted the wool to be spun so that the crimp of the fleece is matched by the twist of the spinning.” The deep experience of the mill owner really shows through in the resulting yarn.

I also had to get one of her aran weight variegated skeins…

Random dyed tussock wool yarn

This one is called Random Tussock.  Lush!

Mary also makes a beautiful wool wash.  It has a refreshing eucalyptus scent (made with real essential oils, not synthetic chemical smell), and I was very happy to obtain another bottle from her.

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Then I spied Spinning A Yarn!

Spinning a YarnSome of you will already know that Jessicah has passed the Spinning a Yarn business to her equally talented sister.  Her sister (I rather rudely forgot to ask her name) has started a website for Spinning a Yarn and I have to say, it is very cool. LOVE the way she has displayed those yarns oh so temptingly! (The original etsy site contains the remainder of Jessicah’s work).  The idea is to have a new collection of colourways every season, so what you see above is this season’s offering – which will change again in a few months’ time.

I fell instantly in love with this golden merino/silk creation, Winter Sweet:

Winter Sweet, Spinning a Yarn

I couldn’t quite capture the colour correctly in this photo.  It truly is a gold.  The website pic is more accurate. These are two 100g skeins in the 4 ply weight (800m total), destined to become a beautiful shawl at some point.

Spinning a Yarn, like all the stalls at the market, was heaving with customers and I had to try to take photos in between hands… here’s one of my out-takes.  It made me smile to see so much enthusiasm.

Shopping at Spinning a Yarn

Of course, a visit to the Wonders of Wool market is never complete without a stop at Holland Road Yarn Co.’s stall.  I wanted to see the new season’s colours and replenish my stash of Knitsch:

Knitsch sock yarn

The orange is Easy as Stone, the greys are the “Isobar” kit (more about that in a minute) and the top pinks are more Gwyneth.  I seem to be incapable of not having that colourway in my stash…

I have to say that our yarnies are an incredibly talented lot when it comes to creative packaging and presentation.  Look at how the kit for Isobar came:

Isobar kit

Four 50g skeins of yarn were packaged in a cellophane bag, with pattern, and put into a small-sized blank pizza box.  Love it! There was plenty of this kit when I wandered over, and if you would like to have one, it is now available on the website.

By this time, this shopper’s energy levels were flagging just a bit.  All that colour and sensory stimulation had my poor little brain spazzing.  I was also conscious that one young boy was getting bored (although he was extremely good and did not complain the whole time I was there, which I was very grateful to him for).

I made one more stop.  This is Happy-go-knitty‘s colourful stall:

Happy-go-knitty

Helene did not disappoint, and I was extremely happy to come away with:

Happy-go-knitty

From left, a self-striping in blues alpaca/merino sock yarn, destined for the older boy.  Deep blue BFL random dyed, another merino/alpaca sock in soft raspberry/tangerine colours, a very lovely red semi-solid BFL and last but not least, the colourway I especially wanted to acquire - a self-striping grey and pink BFL.   Super excited I managed to get the last skein!!!

The deep blue and raspberry/tangerine yarns were not technically purchased – they are destined to become samples for one of Helene’s upcoming yarn clubs.  I feel very honoured that she has approached me to use my Orange Roughy fingerless gloves pattern for the next club.  The samples are being knitted to decide which yarn would be better for the club.  This is a very thoughtful approach I feel, from the viewpoint of a designer. Helene wants me to be comfortable that the yarn she uses for the club does show the pattern to its best potential – hence my involvement.

So that was about it for me.  I did also purchase some awesome DPN rosewood needles from 2 Minute Needles. I had a small discussion with them about where the wood came from.  The sisters who run 2 Minute Needles have gone to tremendous efforts to ascertain that the source of the wood for their needles is sustainable, and this made me feel comfortable about the purchase.

I was also very pleased that I did not exceed my budget for this market.  Having worked very hard for the past month, my bank account is healthy enough to sustain this purchase.  :-)  And I was very pleased to invest some of it into New Zealand’s knitting and wool industry.

There were other stalls at the market that I did not get time to visit, and also, I had run out of budget funds by this stage… a hand-spinning stall with some beautiful hanks of natural coloured yarn (some of it looked like black alpaca, and was very tempting), Robyn Egge Yarns (I think they must have come down from Auckland), Yarnz (ooh, that Noro looked so pretty…!), and several others.

The next market is in August.  Time to start saving for that, and in the meantime, knit some of this lovely yarn!

All in the detail

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A road I drive along daily is Tinakori Road, one of the first settlement areas in Wellington and part of the area that was once home to many of the upper-class, including famous New Zealand author Katherine Mansfield.  It’s still the official address for the Prime Minister of New Zealand.

It’s a busy, narrow street, and traffic rushes through without pause.  Unless you park your car and walk along it, one wouldn’t have much opportunity to notice its historical past or even observe some of the more interesting aspects of architecture in the buildings.

While the road is not a major shopping destination, it is tourist destination for those who are interested in seeing Katherine Mansfield’s birthplace and home.  There are also a couple of historical pubs, some galleries, a couple of antique shops, a hairdresser or two, but nothing to give me an excuse to go there.  For me, it’s just the road I drive down to get to and from work.  I’m usually too busy concentrating on staying in my lane, avoiding oncoming traffic, watching out for pedestrians who seem to enjoy gambling their lives away by stepping out in front of moving cars, or people who have parked and open their doors just as you are driving past…

Until the other day, when I was stuck in a stand-still rush hour traffic jam.  Then it dawned on me that here was the perfect the opportunity to take in a more leisurely view of the street front (as I tried not to be too concerned about the time ticking ever nearer to the young boy’s after school care centre close time…)

I particularly enjoyed seeing these:

Filigree balcony

Corner decoration

Historical buildings in wellington

Fencing

Tinakori Rd

They are quick snapshots that I took so I could look at the things that interested me at leisure.  It’s a funny thing, but newer buildings do not feature interesting enclosures or decorative detailing any more.  It’s a feature that I appreciate in older buildings.  There’s something very graceful about them, and a lot of it has to do with the beauty added by the decorative (and often functional) features.  Perhaps that’s what I quite like about knitting too – being able to add beauty to a functional item of clothing.

My knitter’s brain starting whirring from all that inspiration I was looking at…

Meet my new as yet un-named pattern:

Latticework cowl

I don’t think I will get enough time to write the pattern and photograph it properly for release at the Wonders of Wool market on Saturday, but it will be out soon as it’s an easy pattern, and I have (I hope!) a small window of head space coming up to give me time to write it and test it.

It takes just under one skein of Maniototo Wool‘s gorgeous worsted-weight yarn to knit this (you’ll need about 90g, or 180m/200yd).  Get your skein at the Wonders of Wool market on Saturday if you’re in Wellington! Alternatively, it is the perfect stash buster for that lone 100g skein of worsted-weight yarn floating around…

The pattern will be free with purchase of yarn from Maniototo Wool (leave your email address with her and I’ll give her a code for you to get it free on Ravelry, or it will be emailed to you as a PDF).

I’m very happy with it.  It’s so soft and buttery feeling, cushiony and warm.  I’m betting it’s going to be a nice insulation against those chill winter winds too.  It’s going to be my everyday-wear cowl this winter!

Cowl detail

Just in time

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It has taken me two weeks to finish these pretty babies.

Hiya Hiya Arrow Lace SocksIn the land of ferocious knitting, that’s a very long time.  Especially as this is pretty much the only project I’ve worked on since I cast them on.  Work is a full-on at the moment, and is annoyingly eating into my personal and family time.

Close up of socksThe pattern name is rather a mouthful: Hiya Hiya Arrow Lace Socks I (Cuff Down) 72 sts

They part of a KAL that finishes on Monday – so I have completed them just in time!

The yarn is a combination of a gorgeous Happy-go-knitty dye job using a BFL base gifted to me some time ago by my lovely knitting buddy KB.  I shall be happily topping up with more Happy-go-knitty at the Wellington Underground Market Wonders of Wool theme market next Saturday, 5 April!!!

I normally cast on 64 stitches for socks as this number works best for my sizing, so I was slightly worried they’d be a bit big on me.  You can see that the leg is looser than my usual sock fit.  The pattern did say to use 2mm needles, but I find that size painful to knit with – it takes foreeeveerrrr to finish something in that size!  So I used my thinnest yarn, and went to 2.25mm needles, and it has worked out fine.  I would have got a slimmer sock if I had used the thinner needles, but I don’t mind.  I quite like the ruched look of the leg.

I noticed that my arrow shaping started quite late on the foot, and this is because I made the heel quite deep and slightly longer than noted in the pattern. By the time I had reduced the stitches back to the cast-on number to begin the shaping, I was already quite a way down the foot.  I think if I knit this pattern again, I would keep the heel to pattern length, so that I could have the arrow a little further up the foot.  Not that it looks bad now, but I did like the look on some of the other versions of this sock that I have seen where there is more stocking stitch before the toes.  I also made the leg longer than suggested, which I like.

I’ve been eyeing all my sock patterns and knitting books longingly… hopefully I’ll get more knitting time soon!  I miss my family, my life and proper knitting time.

In the meantime, to cheer myself up, I had to indulge in some very pretty skeins I saw on this week’s Soft Like Kittens update:

Soft Like Kittens yarn

Such lovely, lovely colours.  Don’t they just make your heart sing!?

Hope you’re having a great weekend.