Kiwiyarns Knits


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A knitter’s midwinter

Hello!!!  I hope this post finds you well in your respective parts of the world, and looking forward to the start of the weekend.  Here in Wellington, we enjoyed a sprinkling of snow and a heap of hail today, and now it is a c-c-c-c-coooooold evening!!  Perfect weather to snuggle up next to the fire with one’s knitting!!  I hear that things are even better in the South Island with lots of snow… hope you are all staying warm!

This week has been such an exciting one in the knitting sense.  I managed to finish not one, but three(!) projects!

First up is Nurmilintu:  This is lovely little free pattern almost knits itself.  I am very happy with my yarn choice (alpaca/silk from Flagstaff Alpacas and Doespins) as it complements both the lace pattern and the drape beautifully.

NurmilintuIt sits around my neck as I type this, a lovely soft cloud of warmth to keep out the winter chill.

Last night, I finished the Noro Silk Garden socks that I have been knitting for a while.  They were my ‘waiting for the boy’ socks – knitted while waiting for him to come out of school and during his swimming lessons.

Noro socks

My sons do not like them, and made derogatory comments about how they look old (that’s the silk) and not very colour coordinated.  Too bad.  I think they are lovely, and deliberately made them non-identical.  It is a bit disconcerting to look down and see two differently coloured socks peeking out from under one’s jeans though! I knitted the socks with the yellow cuff first, and was disappointed when I got to the end and found the pretty pink and purple colour would be missed out.  So I started the next sock where the first one left off, and I rather like that colour combination better.  The heavier weight of this yarn has made them lovely and squooshy to wear too!  I might just have to knit more Noro socks…

And finally, and very excitingly, I have finished Seadragonus!

Seadragonus

Seadragonus will be released in the next week or so.  The pattern has been written, and I just have to make final edits.  I designed this pattern to give my brain a rest after another pattern that I have just finished (I’ll have to tell you about that one another time).  It’s an easy, playful pattern, designed to mimic the larger back scales and smaller belly scales typical in a reptile, and give the general impression of… a dragon!

This pattern marks the start of a couple of sea-themed patterns.  Shark week is coming up, and I aim to produce a sock pattern that highlights the issues surrounding the ocean’s sharks.  It will be part of my Sustain the Sea collection, and therefore a free pattern.  I’ve been silent on the subject of the sea for a while, and not because it is no dearer to my heart.  It’s just that the issues in fishing and the state of the sea became too painful to talk about, and I had to take a break.  Time to get a grip!

On a brighter note, have you seen soknitsome’s most recent post?  She talks about a very worthy cause that we can all participate in to raise funds for literacy.  It’s as simple as logging the number of pages you read every day.  I could not imagine a world without words, and yet there are still millions of people deprived of this simple right.  Go on – have a read! :-)

Wishing you a lovely weekend.


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For the love of Noro

When I lived in Hong Kong, I got to see many examples of Japanese art. Ranging from the elegant use of very minimal, distilled elements through to the richly textured and coloured, it never failed to leave me in a state of fascinated wonder.

In the knitting world, Noro ranks right up there as a master example of the Japanese use of colour and texture.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Eisaku Noro is a genius.  I love, love, love, love his yarns.

Although I have a few Noro scarves and mitts, after I saw the Noro wardrobe of an acquaintance of mine, I have lusted after a Noro garment of my very own!

The other day, I was perusing Ravelry and came across a very cute vest.  Sock yarn. Hmm.  Stripes.  Hmmm.  What about that  mouth-watering Noro Silk Garden Sock I have sitting in my wool collection begging to be used????

Bonus:  I might have enough to actually make a garment out of this!!

I was slightly worried though – the pattern called for 800m of yarn, and I had 600m of this particular Noro colourway (S245).  What to do?  Studying the various colours in the ball carefully, I realised that one of them perfectly matched some Rowan Fine Tweed I recently acquired in a swap.  Could I add a little Rowan into the mix to eke the yarn out?  The yarn weights and textures were reasonably similar.  I also noticed I had another Noro colourway that contained complementary colours that I could selectively use…

There are three yarns in this vest.  Two Noro colourways and some Rowan Fine Tweed.

I needn’t have worried though.  I’ve found that this vest can be knitted from two balls of Noro for a medium-sized person.  But better to feel safe than have that constant niggle at the back of the mind of “no more yarn!” while knitting.  Don’t you just hate that when it happens?

I think it’s turned out okay:

It looks good with a t-shirt too:

The back:

The pattern is okay, but if I had been a bit more clever about it, I would have made a number of adjustments to it, including the finishing around the armholes and neck.  If you’d like to read my project notes, I have Raveled it here.

What do I love so much about Noro?  For one, the colour of course.  Stunning colours that are harmonious blends or unexpected juxtapositions that surprise and delight – often all in one ball.  The photographs of this project display the seamless way the colours blend from one colour in the ball through to another by gentle blending during the carding process, but yet in other instances, you have distinct changes of colour.  I love the long repeats of colour too, so that you get a self-striping project, rather than the melange of colour that often occurs in multi-coloured yarn once it’s knitted.  There’s a purity to it that appeals to me.

The other facet is texture:  I adore the organic texture, the effect of the blend of the various fibres in the yarn.  The thick/thin spin makes it interesting to knit and produces a garment with textural interest.

For three:  it’s mostly natural fibre.

This all adds up to a superb artisan yarn.  Still primarily hand-crafted, Noro yarn is a stunning example of Japanese master craftsmanship.

It’s little wonder that Noro is a fixture in the Top 10 of stashed yarns on Ravelry.

I’ll leave you with more examples of the gorgeousness that is Noro:

Noro.  I love it.


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Freeform

I was knitting Stomp dutifully, but truth be told, the body of this tunic wasn’t gripping me.  I don’t really know why.  I love the yarn.  The pattern is cute, but I think it’s the reverse stocking stitch that is getting me.  Somewhere in my one-track knitting brain, something was saying “That should be the back of your knitting, you’re doing it wrong!!”  Weird.

Anyway, I gritted my teeth and finally finished the grey section, and started on the fair isle bodice.  And wham!  It got done in a couple of hours.  Lovely, lovely, fair isle… oh how I love you.

And then something happened.  I’m not sure what, but not only did I finish the back of Stomp, but I fell victim to another attack of NORO, and look what fell off the needles!

I think the sudden injection of excitement at having knitted a cool piece of fair isle got my creative juices flowing, and I just had to knit something exciting, NOW! A piece of instant gratification that could be knitted without looking at patterns or giving it much thought.  Noro will give you that.

Here I mixed a ball of Blossom with one and a half balls of Cash Iroha.  It’s been sitting in my yarn collection for a while, awaiting the right moment.

I took my scarf for a little walk this morning.

We went right to the top of one of the hills around my house.

It’s peaceful up there.  I did a bit of knitting…

I spotted fungi.

I enjoyed the scarf.

The scarf is organic looking, it’s not “perfect” because I’ve used up to three different combinations of the yarn, making it a little lumpy, but I love it.

There’s nothing like a little freeform knitting to refresh your knitting mojo!


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The comforting Noro cowl

Thank you so much for all your lovely, sympathetic comments about my felting disaster with Jet.  I really appreciate that you took the time to send me your good wishes.  They were very comforting. :-)

Well, here she is, all done:

My lovely Noro cowl. :-)

After the disastrous disappointments with Jet, it was delicious to knit this art yarn, to see all the lovely colours and textures appear.

Some people dislike the irregularity of the colour changes, but to me, this is one of the highlights of Noro – you don’t get pooling, and you never know what colour is going to pop out of the ball next!

So now I feel better, and Francis Revisited v. 2 has begun.  Let’s hope this one works out better than the last!!!!

If you’d like to replicate this cowl yourself, here is the basic pattern:

7mm circular needles
2 x balls Noro silk garden (I used Col 84)
1 x ball Noro iro (I used Col 9)

Cast on 216 stitches.  Join in the round, knit 7 rows silk garden in K2 P2 rib.  Change to Iro.  Knit four rows.  Alternate yarns as set, carrying the unused yarn up with each row. Finish with 7 rows silk garden.  Cast off (bind off) loosely, weave in ends, and wear!

If you look like you might run out of silk garden, just decrease a row and knit 6 rows instead of 7.  I just prefer the look of 7 rows of silk garden and the resulting width.

Finished cowl will be about 9 1/2″ (24cm) wide and 60″ (156cm) round.


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Jettisoned

In the spirit of not mincing words, yesterday was diabolical.

It started off well enough. I had a productive meeting with my boss, and came home to finish Francis Revisited. It’s a lovely pattern, and I’ll definitely be knitting one of these for me! But this particular one is for a friend.

Then bad news struck: the job was cancelled. The Canterbury earthquake has affected all sorts of activities in New Zealand, and my job was one of them. It was a bit depressing to lose the first job I’d been able to find in months, even though I fully support and understand the rationale behind the stoppage.

It wasn’t so much about the money, as I understand I will get paid for the job anyway. But it just felt soooo good and fulfilling to be back in the land of productivity, teamwork and a form of self-reliance.  Not to mention that it’s very healthy for one’s confidence and self-esteem levels.

No matter. The sweater got finished, and it was beautiful. I was so proud – it would fit my friend perfectly, and looked exactly how she wanted it. I gave it a quick soak in lukewarm water and put it in the machine for a short, gentle spin, like I always do with my finished projects.

When the cycle finished, I took the project out of the bag, and my blood ran cold. My beautiful Francis had felted.  The alpaca fibres in the yarn had somehow managed to fluff out of the wool and grab on to each other, felting it. In a short, nine minute spin. It was fine when it went into the machine.  I’d done this with other alpaca I’d knitted.  I could not understand how this could have happened.  I tugged and pulled at it in vain.  Hot tears sprung up. What a ‘great’ way to end the day. Patons Jet, I will never knit with you again.

Here it is, being dried anyway. Although I felt like cutting it up into tiny little pieces last night.

My mind was in turmoil. Failure and frustration at every turn, I needed to calm down. I grabbed a couple of balls of Noro Silk Garden that I had been saving to knit for a little bit of a luxury treat. After a few rows, my breathing slowed and my heart wasn’t quite as ‘bumpity bumpity’. The pure beauty of the yarn, the texture and colours were soothing to the soul.

In fact, I started to have a little fun with it – I had a treasured ball of Iro in my collection too, and decided that as the colours looked identical, I’d make a textural piece:

I think this is going to be a lovely cowl. Except for the slight variation in texture, you can’t actually see I’ve used two different Noro yarns in this.

But back to my problem: How was I going to explain this to my friend? She’d paid over $100 for the yarn. And now, it was completely, and utterly ruined. Not to mention all the work and care I’d put into knitting it. This friend is not a knitter. I wasn’t sure how she’d take the news that $100 had just flushed down the toilet. Nor might she understand how a yarn could just felt in a heartbeat like that (neither can I, for that matter).

I’d gone to great trouble to select the yarn for her.  It had to contain alpaca to match the qualities of the yarn used in the pattern so that the effect would be the same, and there isn’t a lot of worsted weight alpaca in New Zealand.  I had not knitted a garment in Jet before, but one does not think that a mass-market yarn like Patons would be a bad punt. Needless to say, I dreamed about felted garments all night.

This morning, I went to see my LYS owner and cried on her shoulder.  She has kindly offered to seek compensation from the manufacturer.  I hope the money can be refunded.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to knit her another Francis in a safe yarn and show her the felted failure as an explanation of why I switched yarns. I’ve picked Naturally’s Naturelle 100% pure New Zealand wool in Aran 10 ply.

The tension is the same, and I know this one will not felt when treated to a short spin. It’s a close-enough match to the colour of the original yarn. There’s no alpaca in the yarn, but the way I’m feeling, I don’t think I want to risk it. Hopefully she’ll like it. And if she doesn’t, I’ll just have to gift it to someone else I guess. She’s a size smaller than me, so I won’t be able to wear it. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it!

If I had a real choice of yarn, I’d love to use Zealana’s Kauri in worsted weight. I had the lucky opportunity of seeing some of the worsted-weight (10 ply) up close recently, and now I fantasize about knitting a Francis in it.  Available in a drool-worthy range of colours, it is snugly, drapey, light and warm – a knitter’s dream. It would be the perfect choice. But you can’t buy it in New Zealand because none of the yarn stores here stock that weight. Damn.