Kiwiyarns Knits


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Things sock knitters say

Sock knitters say the funniest things sometimes.

I giggle in conspiratorial recognition, because I could hear myself saying quite a few of these things too.  So, on a day when I need a bit of cheering up, because the world has been a bit of an awful place lately, I thought I’d share some of the things that have made me guffaw or giggle with the writer when I read them, and hope that they give you as much of a smile as they did me.

On buying yarn:

“I am stash diving so I can buy more yarn.”

 Collage

 

“…evidently I order sock yarn in my sleep.   It is a darn good thing that socks wear out.”

Sock yarn...

On knitting socks:

I am making socks that are not necessarily in pairs…”

Not pairs

On socks for stress control:

“…  she never stops talking! I had to crawl away to knit this sock while she was here…”

Holiday sock

 

And one from me:

“This sock isn’t quite doing it for me.  I think I need to start a new one…”

Have a great day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Pilana, the yarn from the Pihepe sheep

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a private company informing me that they were starting a line of knitting yarn.  Obviously, the idea of new yarn on the market was a greatly exciting prospect, and I eagerly awaited the arrival of some sample yarn.

Pilana is a new yarn brand brought to us by New Zealand entrepreneur Roger Beattie under his company R&N Beattie Partnership.

Pilana

This is a yarn that has been developed to showcase the wool of Pihepe sheep.  It is an interesting woollen-spun 4 ply with very soft twist, and comes in its natural brown in three synergistic blends:  50% Pihepe, 25% merino and 25% cashmere,  possum or alpaca.

Pilana is an 100% New Zealand yarn – grown, processed and spun in New Zealand.  Even the cashmere has been sourced in New Zealand.  The company have gone to considerable effort to produce a yarn line that reflects the true qualities of Pihepe wool, which in among other interesting qualities, has very high crimp.

According to the Beattie website, Pihepe originate from the Pitt Island wild sheep flock.  This flock, in turn, originates from Saxony Merinos brought to the Chatham Islands by Baron von Alsdorf in 1841.  Recognising the important commercial value of Pitt Island Wild Sheep, Roger and his wife have been bringing flocks of these sheep from where they have been living in isolation for over 100 years, to their organic land at Lucas Bay in Canterbury.  The sheep, organically raised by the Beatties are known as “Pihepe”.  I encourage you to read more of their fascinating story here.

I was generously supplied with two samples – the possum and alpaca blends.

Pilana Alpaca blend

What is the yarn like?

It is a very softly woollen spun, 4 ply yarn.  It has about the same strand strength as that of J&S Shetland 2 ply or Kauni. True to its merino roots, this yarn is also very soft, especially so once washed.

The soft woollen spin has created a very lofty yarn, with a lot of bounce and what I’d describe as a spongy ‘squish’ factor.  I suspect that the fleece of the Pihepe also has a fairly short staple, given the look of the sheep in photos, and the fact that each sheep only produces 1kg of fleece.  This would also add to the loftiness of the yarn.

In terms of performance, I am not sure the yarn will be strong enough for socks, or for heavy duty garments.  As a sweater, shawl, hat, baby garment or blanket, I would say it is very suitable.

Is Pilana any different to what is already on the scene in New Zealand?  I think I would say yes.   There are few 4 ply or lightweight woollen spun yarns in the market (in fact, I’m struggling to recall a single brand that falls into this category apart from possum yarn). There are also very few yarns with this level of airy lightness (this is probably the “soft loft” the company refers to the label).  I find that quality particularly attractive as I’ve been looking for a yarn like this for a while.

Personally, I would love to see a 100% Pihepe wool yarn.  After reading about how great the wool of this sheep is, this wool lover is desperate to know how it performs on its own!  I find the addition of the alpaca or possum a bit of a distraction.  It is difficult to get a feel for the wool’s true characteristics, with the overlaid fuzz of the luxury fibres.

I was also a little disappointed that there was no nice sheepy scent to this yarn, especially with its minimal processing claims.  After enquiries, I was told that the mill required the lanolin to be scoured out as it would ‘gunk up the machines’.  They are looking to get a bit of the lanolin back into the yarn.  A good move, in my opinion.  I gather that the fleece was scoured organically, and there are also plans to try to have this yarn spun organically, to be as true to organic principles  as possible.

Despite the gauge recommendation on the label, I believe this yarn is what I would call heavy fingering/sport weight.  I got a very nice fabric using 3.75mm needles, with a gauge of 22 sts to 10cm/4″.

I suspected from the look of the yarn that it would bloom significantly once I washed it, and I was not disappointed.

washed swatches

Compare the look of the washed samples to the balls of yarn, and you can see the level of haze that develops in the fabric. The swatch on the left is the alpaca blend, and the swatch on the right is the possum blend.

I was keen to see how much stitch definition I’d get with the possum yarn, and so I knitted a small row of diamond pattern and eyelets into one section of the swatch.  As you can see in the image, it blooms so much that this yarn would not be suitable for projects with delicate stitch detail.   Here’s a closer look:

possum pilana swatch

I am having visions of a hat in this yarn, and once I get my current design finalised, I will most likely turn my attention to knitting one to test how it performs as a knitted garment.

Each ball contains a generous 180m.  This means that you can easily get a hat out of one ball, and two would give you a nice sized shawlette or a baby garment.  This makes it reasonably economical, although I am still wincing at price.  At $16.45+ postage for a 50g ball of  alpaca yarn, and $19 + postage for a 50g ball of possum or cashmere blend, it is not a yarn that the average person would want to rush out and buy a garment-lot of.  I guess the low fleece yield, combined with the slow processing time has added to the cost to produce this yarn.

I do hope that they continue to develop this yarn, and I’d love to see a 100% Pihepe yarn.  I wonder if there is also enough fleece colour variation to eventually produce different shades of natural yarn?

I love that New Zealand’s unique sheep breeds are being utilised, and kudos to the Beatties for their love of the sheep and their work with wool!  It’s a good thing to see.

 

 

 


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A bit of this and that

The past couple of weeks have been a bit strange.  I’ve started and discarded a number of posts.  There are things to talk about but I haven’t quite found the right words.  I think I’ve sunk into a bit of a reflective state of mind that hasn’t quite right for blogging.  So, I’ve decided that the best way to talk about what has been happening will be in snippets:

I’m working on another pattern that has me very excited, but that’s all I can tell you about at this stage.  It’s another ‘geek happy’ pattern.  I really wasn’t sure if others would understand the concept of this sock, but the secret advisers I’ve talked to have all been very supportive, so I think it’s going to fly.  I do hope that you’ll enjoy it as much as me when it is released.

In the meantime, I share a picture of pretty yarn from the very talented Helene of Happy-go-knitty.  Some of it may have been for my new design…

Yarn from Happy-go-knitty

The Ripe Raspberry pink at the end is the most heavenly soft yarn I have ever felt (truly!).  It’s 50% yak, 50% silk.  The yarn is a heavier lace weight, which I like because I am still not overly fond of knitting cobweb weight yarn.  I think it will become a lace shawl fairly quickly.  The stitch markers are adorable.  Each of them has a different word such as ‘love’, ‘create’ and ‘imagine’.

It has been school holidays, and I had another happy ‘mumcation’ which involved very little besides knitting, outside of working hours.  I had time and space to experiment with new techniques and stitches that I don’t usually have the concentration for.  It was very productive from that point of view! It’s wonderful when you have a sister whose kids are the same age as yours.  One day I will be able to repay the favour and my sister can have a ‘mumcation’ too!  I am enjoying having the boy home though.  Life will soon be back to normal when the older one returns from his holiday too.

I have discovered a couple of new-to-market yarns.  Post coming about them soon.

One of the reasons for not having much to say is because I’ve been also working on this very, um, tedious project:

Robin

Robin is a lovely design, and I really want a sweater like this, and I love, love, love the Zealana Kiwi fingering that I’m knitting it in.  The stocking stitch hell will be worth it, I tell myself through gritted teeth and sleepy, drooping eyelids.  I feel that this project is a test of perseverance.  It’s very hard to stay awake at the end of the day and knit hundreds of stitches in stocking stitch.

Why am I knitting a plain stocking stitch sweater in a design that can easily be got from the stores for a much cheaper price?  You’ve probably guessed:  It’s all about the perfect marriage of yarn and pattern! I’ve wanted another sweater in Kiwi ever since I finished my Autumnal Cardigan, and found that this yarn is just the best thing ever.  The yarn has not pilled or gone out of shape at all.  It has the most amazing drape, and it is soooo comfortable to wear!! After wearing this cardigan all summer and autumn, the cotton in the yarn has softened and weathered just enough to give my Autumnal that slightly faded denim look and feel that you get in a good pair of jeans after a period of wear.  It is really the perfect yarn for an autumnal garment.  And I think it will be amazing in this pattern.  Only eight more 500 stitch rows before I can separate the sleeves from the body.  I.can.do.it!!!

Those who know me well might shriek a little this next thing:  I am considering starting a Facebook page for Kiwiyarns Knits. You read that right.  The person with complete anathema towards Facebook is now thinking about using it.  Why?  Well, I want to make information about New Zealand yarns more accessible.  This blog is a great repository for information, but I do recognise that the use of social media has moved on a lot since I started Kiwiyarns Knits. I think that a Facebook page may be a more flexible way of sharing information in quick bite sizes.  It will sit along side this blog, which I am going to keep writing, but it will have a different angle to sharing information.  For example, through all my ‘likes’, you’ll be able to easily find the Facebook pages of other yarn companies in New Zealand.  I could share quick photos of interesting things I’ve seen but which don’t quite make a post.  People can use the page to share useful information about what they know of happenings in the New Zealand knitting scene.  I’d really love it if people posted pictures of their projects in New Zealand yarn, or of my designs.  The one thing that will not happen on that page is selling.  I really have an issue with buying on Facebook, and I’m not about to start that on my page. So what do you think?  Would you be interested in seeing a Kiwiyarns Knits Facebook page?  I’ve also considered Instagram and Pinterest and all those other social media tools, but I think that Facebook will serve my purposes best.  I’d be keen to know if there is interest in this.

Thanks for bearing with this unusual post.  I’m sure I’ll get out of my current state of mind soon.


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Touched

The reaction to the Anemone socks has been incredible.  I have been feeling quite overwhelmed by how much you like them… I never expected the pattern to achieve the no.1 “hot now” spot on Ravelry!!  Thank you so much for downloading the pattern, and all your super lovely comments about the socks.

Sometimes it is hard to know if a chosen design direction is the right way to go.  To receive your affirmation is very reassuring.

I realise that winter is the time when my brain kicks into creative mode, and I have so many ideas for patterns at the moment that my note books are getting quite full!   Let us see how many of them reach the light of day!

In the meantime, I thought I’d show you my version of Alice’s Mitts.

Alice's Mitts

 

Do not worry, the car was parked when I took these pictures.  I just thought it might be nice to show the mitts in action!

Alice's Mitts

I used a similar yarn base to Vintage Purls’ sock yarn, a base that was dyed by Alice in the inaugural dye lot for Bleating Art.  I love it so much! Such a beautiful gun metal grey with wonderfully even variegation.  It seemed fitting to use her yarn for the pattern that she inspired.

Alice's Mitts

I knitted these one repeat longer than shown in the original pattern as I like my mitts to go fully up the sleeve for wind insulation (the cuff is only just out of the picture under my sleeve).  I also finished the mitts with slightly less ribbing than I suggested in the pattern.  The ribbing measures about 1cm, or half an inch in this version.

It has been coooold this week, and I fully appreciated the bit of warmth around my hands this morning.  I also liked how for once, I had a coordinating accessory to go with my clothes!

I leave you with a picture of the latest yummy yarn to arrive in my mailbox to fill the hole in my stash from using the yarn above… (terrible, aren’t I!?)

Doespins 100% supertwist BFL

This is one skein of high twist 100% BFL yarn in the Wild Rice colourway from Doespins.  Nom, nom, I wonder how long it will be before I find myself needing to cast on with it!

 

 

 


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The Anemone Socks

Today, I am excited to release the Anemone Socks pattern!

Anemone socks

The Anemone Socks feature a simple 8 stitch repeat that is easily memorised to make this sock an engaging but easy project for commuting knitting or while watching television.  A pretty eye of partridge heel gives a durable heel and complements the broderie anglaise stitch pattern.

Anemone socks

There are two size instructions – medium and large.

This stitch pattern does not have the same number of stitches per row – the stitch count reduces in the K2tog, SKPO row before being increasing back to 64 stitches when the long stitches are made.  This factor creates a sock with slightly less give than normal around the cuff, although the foot is not affected as the stocking stitch sole adds stretch.

The medium size as shown (7” cuff) weighs 85g using the specified yarn.  More yarn may be needed for larger sizes depending on length of cuff knitted.

The recommended yarn weight for the medium size is a standard super twist sock yarn like Knitsch 100% merino sock yarn. In terms of other New Zealand yarns, if you have any Bleating Art, Fibre Alive, Verandah Yarns Merino Sock, Vintage Purls or Double Helix from Soft Like Kittens lurking in your stash, those yarns are also perfect for this pattern.  Any of the sock yarns sold by Doespins or the alpaca sock from Happy-go-knitty are also fine.  (I used the sadly discontinued Fibre Alive Merino Mania sock yarn in the Douglas colourway to knit these socks.)

Examples of similar weight (fingering) international yarns would be Koigu KPPPM, MadTosh Sock, Sokkusu “O” and Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock (there are of course, many other alternatives!)  Standard commercial sock yarns like Opal, Patons and Regia will also be the right weight.

Click here to go through to the pattern page.  As I mentioned in a previous post, this pattern is free to readers (or those who are told the code!) until midnight 18 July 2014, New Zealand time.  Just enter the code “DANA” in the coupon code section at checkout.

It’s also a little thank you to everyone for reading this blog, as I reach my 500th follower.

Happy Knitting!

Anemone socks

 


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Alice’s Mitts

Hello!!

Just dropping in to let you know that Alice’s Mitts are now live on Ravelry.  This link will take you through to the pattern if you’d like to make a pair of your own!

Alice's mitts

These fingerless mitts are knit in the round using 2.5mm DPN needles and feature alternate slanting cables for each hand to give the mitts a balanced look. Knit the cuff/arm to the length you want before beginning the thumb gusset.

Size to fit the average medium sized woman’s hand, approximately 21cm/8” at widest point excluding thumb.

Measurement of pictured mitts is approx. 19cm/7½” long and used approx 55g of Ashford Mackenzie 4 ply 100% merino wool.

Sizing can be easily adjusted for fit by using 2.25mm/US 1 needles for smaller or 2.75mm/US 2 needles for larger hands.

Use whatever fingering weight (4 ply) yarn you fancy to knit these mitts! For luxury, why not try a squishy possum, alpaca or cashmere yarn!

Alice's mitts again

On this side of the planet, we’re about to experience our first week of proper winter weather, with snow forecast for the mountains and chilly temps for the rest.  I’m looking forward to rugging up in my winter woollens at last!