Kiwiyarns Knits


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Seadragons galore and Something Lovely

In a few days I’ll be asking you to help us vote for the best interpretation of dragon socks!   We’re approaching the final days of the Seadragonus KAL and I thought I’d show you some of the very elegant dragons that are appearing.  See this link to go to the page where everyone’s dragons are being posted and where the vote will be held.

I have really enjoyed this KAL.  It brings a happy smile to my face to see the socks being knitted, and most enjoyably, to interact with those who are participating.  I look forward to more KALs in future!  Thanks again to Alice for organising it in the first place!

My own second knit had completely unforseen results:

Seadragonus socks

They became the young boy’s socks!  He loves them so much that he has now worn them for approximately 24 hours, and refuses to take them off!  Looks like I now have another hand knit sock convert in the household. :-)

The socks also fit me, but they do have more negative ease than my first socks, and I believe this is due to the yarn I used being squishier.  It’s the second time I have knitted socks in a squishy yarn that has made the sock turn out smaller than the first pair.

I also finished another design this week, and I’m very pleased to give you a preview:

Something Lovely

This is Something Lovely (unless I can think of a different name before I publish it!).   It is designed specifically with Zealana yarns in mind – AIR Chunky, KAURI Worsted or HERON Worsted.  All three yarns have the same approximate gauge, and all have the same beautiful drape, warmth and softness that is so typical of a good New Zealand possum yarn.  Each yarn has slightly different properties.  This cowl uses about 380m in all three yarns.

Something Lovely features alternating panels of lace and double moss.  I have been craving a cowl that combines both texture and prettiness in a way that can be worn both casually and to work over one’s coat.  I am not fond of all over lace in a garment, so this design is my ideal of texture and lace combined.  I have broken up the panels so that it is possible to see both stitch patterns at any point of wear.

My first iteration was in AIR Chunky in the Gold colourway (L07):

AIR Chunky cowl

It is total luxury, with its cashmere, NZ brushtail possum and silk blend, and I love this colour so much!!  It is so light that I don’t even notice it around my neck, except for the extremely warm and cuddly feeling that has been keeping me very snug this week!  See the beautifully soft haze of the downy fibres used in this yarn, and pretty shimmer!

There were a couple of things I did not like about the design once I had finished it, so I fiddled a bit to come up with the next iteration in KAURI Worsted in Red Waina (K10 colourway):

Kauri Worsted

It is essentially the same, but I shortened it from its original length so that it sat better around the neck, and also changed the lace repeat so that it finished and ended in a satisfyingly balanced way.  KAURI is a blend of merino, NZ brushtail possum and silk.  It softens incredibly once it is washed, and a beautiful bloom develops.  With its wool content, this yarn has a bit more substance than AIR, although it is still a light, warm and soft choice.  I am wearing my sweater in this yarn today as we’re having a stormy Spring day and it is rather cold!!  But the warmth and softness of the possum is keeping me toasty and comfortable.  It is so soft that I can feel the softness and cuddliness even through my merino base layer! KAURI is also a more economical choice than AIR Chunky.  I used four and a bit balls of KAURI for this cowl, which I think is quite an approachable amount for a special gift or a treat for yourself!

I haven’t knit this design in HERON, but know it well enough to know it will use the same amount of yarn and come out at the same size. HERON is a blend of merino and possum.  Again, it blooms and softens and drapes in a magically lovely way once it is washed, and it would make a very good choice for this cowl as well, using only four balls.

This is some Heron that I have in my stash.  You can see it doesn’t look terribly fluffy in the ball, but once knitted and washed, it becomes the same as the sweater I have laid the balls on – my Affection, knitted in Heron.  With just merino and possum, it is one of the more traditional possum blends, although I particularly love it because of its single-spun, slightly heathered look – so special!

Zealana Heron

Something Lovely is a quick knit – I finished the second cowl in only two days.  A good choice for Christmas gift knitting!?

The pattern will be released as soon as I can get some nice photos taken by the eldest boy, hopefully by the end of this week.


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#3 Bagshot Row

I finished #3 Bagshot Row this week.  The sun came out today. It was lovely and warm and perfect for a bit of weeding and photography in the Hobbit’s garden in the afternoon after work…

#3 bagshot row sock

I adore the foot on these socks.  They are meant to symbolise rows of vegetation in the Gaffer’s garden, and indeed I think they do.

Claire Ellen design socks

The top of the sock has a pretty lace stitch that reminds me of flowers.

Lace top

There are twisted stitches galore, and not a cable needle in sight.

I did have to concentrate on these socks.  There was a fair amount of cursing and ripping when I failed to pay attention to the order of the decreases.  I knit the pattern as written, and although some people made mention that they would be worried the foot was too tight, mine fit me perfectly.  I like how Claire Ellen leaves it to you to decide on heel length – that is a wise move!  I knitted the heel to my usual length using 15 slips on this pattern.

Detail #3 Bagshot row

I love, love, love this design.  It is so intricate and beautiful.  And the yarn (Fibre Alive Merino Mania – 100% merino sock yarn)  is just perfect for this design.

In the garden

And now, I just have to wait a few more days, and hopefully there will be another pretty sock design from Claire Ellen to knit!


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Conundrum

I have been eyeing my stash with some annoyance lately.  Not because it is irritating me, but because I want to knit it, and there just never seems to be enough time!

I suppose if I put designing on the back burner that would help.  Pattern writing in itself is giving me a lot of joy and satisfaction though, so I guess I must be entering into a phase where I will have to be content splitting my time between designing and knitting.

The annoyance turned into both an educational and frustrating experience recently.

A while ago, I decided to do more “wool hunting” and acquired this:

Black Hills Wool

500g of gorgeous, 100% New Zealand wool from BlackHills.  It is naturally coloured, almost silver, and from what I can deduce of its feel, I believe it is Romney (although this is not a confirmed fact).

Then, I also acquired this:

Cheviot

This is 600g of Cheviot, a heritage yarn from Skeinz.

Both yarns sat in my stash, looking tempting, but without the right project to use them.

Then one day, I had a brainwave: I could combine both of these yarns into a blanket!  A lovely, Old Shale lace blanket!

100% New Zealand wool

The spin on both yarns looked similar – both two ply, with what looked like a similar amount of twist, and the weight was the same (ie both were 10 ply, or aran/worsted weight).  I could imagine a lovely striped, lacy blanket on my bed already!

I started to swatch. All went well, until I gave the swatch a bath, and the true nature of each of the yarns became apparent.

Old Shale swatch

Do you see it?  Let’s have a closer look:

Romney

The Romney-type yarn.

Cheviot

The Cheviot.

I plucked unhappily at the swatch. Why was each yarn so very different?  The Cheviot had bloomed from being a slightly ropey, stiff yarn in the hank into a beautiful fabric with great stitch definition.  The fabric was bouncy and airy, and quite soft!  In contrast, the Romney-type was dense, and heavy, and fluffy, and did not want to play with the Cheviot. You could almost say the difference was the same as if I had tried to marry cotton wool with wire.  Or as if the Cheviot was a dainty, prim lady, and the Romney a Wild Man of the woods!

Knitted, the Cheviot felt like a Shetland yarn in terms of its general squishiness and springy feel.  I wondered if it was the same type of wool.  I did a bit of research and discovered that Cheviot is a down-type wool (high crimp, fine wool, shortish staple of around 10cm/3 – 5 inches).  Have a look at this link for a picture of New Zealand Cheviot sheep and more about their wool.  It is also considered to be in the same category as Shetland wool, according to this website.

The New Zealand Romney, on the other hand, is a long wool, and also known as a strong wool, with an average staple length of 5 – 7 inches (12 – 18cm).  It’s the polar opposite to Cheviot.  I felt like a right fool.

The ends of the yarn give you a good idea of how each fibre looks and performs.  The Romney-type has very, very long strands that happily unravel.  The Cheviot is more demure, with fine fibres that stay together as a yarn strand.

The fibres

It had become blindingly obvious that the two yarns were not going to play well together.  I started to pull other yarns out of my stash to see if I could get a match for either of these yarns.  The living room floor became covered in balls of wool yarn…

Yarn candidates

Two hours later, no good.  None of my other natural yarns are the same weight, all either being DK or chunky.  My dreams of a lovely natural-coloured wool blanket for my bed began to fade.  :-(

Although frustrating, this has been a very educational experience in the very varying qualities of what we so generously throw into the generic term “wool”.

The easy option would be to go out and buy more yarn.  I really do not want to do that.  I might have a couple of dyed yarns that would match the Cheviot, but I am being unreasonably fussy and want only natural coloured wool for my blanket.  The idea of a brightly coloured spread on my bed is not appealing!  More ponderings required, but in the meantime, the bag of yarn sits in the corner of my living room, depressing me every time I look in its direction.

Perhaps I should go back to my original idea for the Black Hills yarn, which is to knit it into a wrap.  I did initially think of doing a cabled wrap.  You can see the swatch for that in the picture below.  It does make very nice cables… I got a bit put off because the yarn is extraordinarily heavy.  And I am not sure if even 500g would be enough to make something long enough to fit around the shoulders!  It’s also the main reason I don’t want to buy more of the same yarn to knit a blanket.  I could probably manage a cowl-style wrap with the amount I have.  And the final product would be quite stunning.  The Black Hills yarn has nice lustre, and is very drapey, and will be a very hard-wearing garment.  Not to mention that it is a very nice looking yarn.  Did I mention it also looks much nicer in cables than lace!?

The Cheviot, however, will probably make the perfect anything I choose to knit. As long as it fits into 900m. And looks good in cream.

DSC01237

 

 

 

 


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Seadragonus KAL and Bagshot Row

I’m really impressed about how many people have joined the Seadragonus KAL over on Ravelry.  Thank you so much for your support!

It is so inspiring to see the various Seadragonus socks taking shape!  I’m looking forward to everyone’s big reveal at the end of the month.

I was knitting the heel of my second pair of Seadragonus this weekend, and it occurred to me that if you are knitting the Seadragonus, you may appreciate some tips on the heel:

Seadragonus heel

  1. It helps to make the YO stitch as long as possible (stretch out the stitches when making the YO) so that you have plenty of “give” to pick up that stitch and pass it over the next two stitches to create the scale.
  2. The heel appears quite long when you are knitting it but the important thing are the slips on the side of the heel flap. Each slip is a stitch. So when you come to picking those stitches up to make the gusset, make sure you have the right number of stitches for the depth of heel you need.  If you have less stitches, the fabric will automatically condense down into a shorter heel to accommodate the gauge of the stitches you are using to knit the gusset.

This is one very relaxing sock knit, and it’s quite nice to just sit and knit comfortably without having to worry about instructions.  The yarn is a pretty colourway from the sadly no-longer Needlefood that has been sitting in my stash awaiting the perfect project.  I was showing it to Alice when she was down in Wellington recently, and she encouraged me to use it for Seadragonus.  I think she made a good recommendation!

I’m knitting Seadragonus alternatively with this gorgeous thing:

#3 bagshot row

This is #3 Bagshot Row, the first of the 2014/15 Claire Ellen sock club.  I seem to have a thing for Claire’s designs, and I liked the look of Bagshot Row, so I bought this year’s club.  Yay!!  A whole year of yummy Hobbit inspired socks!!  So excited!

I’m very pleased I’m knitting it with pointy tips.  This design needs them.  I’m sure that by the time I get through the second repeat of the leg, I will be able to knit this stitch in my sleep, but in the meantime, it is giving me come nice mental stretch.  :-)

The yarn is one of my most treasured skeins from Fibre Alive – it has such a beautiful, muted green/pink combination that it just eats me up!  I thought originally to turn it into a shawl, just so that I could keep the yarn perfect for a long time, but having decided to knit it into these socks, I think the combination of exquisite yarn and gorgeous pattern will be wonderful.  I might not wear them much though – maybe I’ll end up just sitting and staring at them, marvelling at how pretty they are!

 

 

 

 


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The Bleating Art sea collection

Hello, and welcome to Spring!  I’ve been having  a bit of fun this week!

Earlier this week, lovely Alice came over with a sampling of the latest batch of Bleating Art, and asked on behalf of her mum Denise, if I would name them in honour of the Sustain the Sea initiative.  Would I!?  What a privilege!  Thanks Bleating Art ladies!

Here are most of the colours all together – the Sea Collection.  Such pretty colours!  Alice has definitely got a knack for dyeing.

Bleating Art yarn

Now as you would guess, it is virtually unheard of for yarn to come into my house and actually find its way out again.  I have been extremely disciplined and not helped myself to any of these lovelies, although I am not quite sure how long the restraint is going to last… so I shall be delivering them to the Karori Flower Shop as soon as possible, before I lose all vestiges of self-control!

Let’s have a closer look shall we?  Names and inspiration are listed in order.

Pink Dolphin

Pink Dolphin.  These beautiful creatures really are pink, often with grey spots.  Here’s more information about two types of pink dolphins – Amazon River Dolphin and the Chinese White Dolphin (which is actually pearly pink – I’ve seen it with my own eyes!)

Anemone

Anemone.  No further explanation required, I think?

Nori

Cephalopod ink.  This beautiful deep grey with purply undertones reminds me of squid ink.  Did you know that squid are sometimes referred to as ink fish?

Driftwood

Driftwood.  There are some very interesting facts about driftwood on Wikipedia, including that it is a source of food and shelter for marine life while it is still at sea.

Conch

Conch shell:  It was hard to think of a colour of the sea that looked like this vibrant gold mustard.  But the conch (pronounced ‘konk’) is exactly like it!

Leafy sea dragon

Leafy sea dragon:  So cool that there was a colour for a real sea dragon in this collection!  The Leafy Sea Dragon is such a beautiful creature.  When I first saw one I didn’t think it was for real!

Ulva Lactuca

Ulva Lactuca:  Surely you didn’t think I’d pass up this chance to name a yarn after my shawl’s namesake, sea lettuce!? ;-)

Blue ParrotfishBlue Parrotfish:  When I saw this skein, it reminded me of the pretty blue parrotfish that live on coral reefs.  With their bright blue colour and cute toothy grins, they are worthy of a skein named in their honour!  I found the fact that they can change gender repeatedly throughout their lives fascinating.

Ocean on a Cloudy Day

Ocean on a Cloudy Day:  Just because this colour looks just like a slice of the sea on one of those days when you have sunshine and clouds.

Basking Shark

Basking shark:  The basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) is a huge filter feeding shark which grows to be up to about 33 feet (10 m) long. It is the second-largest shark (after the whale shark). The basking shark is also called the sunfish, the bone shark, the elephant shark, the sailfish shark, and the big mouth shark. Basking sharks are filter feeders that sieve small animals from the water. As the basking shark swims with its mouth open, masses of water filled with prey flow through its mouth. The prey includes plankton, baby fish, and fish eggs.  Basking sharks are not aggressive and are generally harmless to people.

So there you have it.  A preview of some of the loveliness that came out of the dye pot this time at Bleating Art.   Check out the link to the Facebook page for more views of some of the colours… so pretty!!!!


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Selachimorpha, the Shark Sock

Selachimorpha is the scientific name for the modern shark.  This sock is dedicated to the shark and has been designed to highlight another of the reasons why we need to care about how our fish is harvested from the ocean.

Selachimorpha socks

Shark fins are represented by the lace and solid triangles that swim across the surface of your sock.

An Eye of Partridge heel suggests rough shark skin.

Selachimorpha socks

Knitted top down, this pattern comes with instructions for small, medium and large size.  Both written and charted  instructions are included.  Because this is a lace pattern, strategic selection needle size and yarn weight is suggested as the most effective method for change in sizing.  I have also included instructions for heel length and where to stop for the foot length on each size.

The fitting for this sock is generous, with a 20cm/8″ circumference in the leg, unstretched, in the medium size.

Download your free pattern here!

Happy Knitting!