Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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Things in between

I wanted to say firstly, thank you all so much for liking the Bark sock design!  I always find it nerve-racking to issue a sock pattern – to see it so well received is a massive relief and I am very grateful to all of you for your support! Thanks a million!!

Today I thought I’d talk about a couple of the other things that I have been busy with.

Soon after I finished Bark, I came across the Minecraft socks.  I was intrigued to see that they were very similar to the Bark stitch pattern (there is a difference though).  Anyway, Young Boy is a great fan of Minecraft, and I was rather missing knitting the Bark socks, so these are the result!

Minecraft socks

Minecraft socks

When I showed the pattern to Young Boy, he said “Why are you even asking if I want them?  The answer is yes, obviously!”  I pulled out several skeins of yarn that were possibilities for a match to the Minecraft world colour theme, and he chose this yarn.  He said it looked like the Minecraft world if you went up in a rocket and looked down on it.  Wins all around!

They were just as compulsive to knit as Bark, and Young Boy likes them.  I’ve been having fun playing with special effects in photos, so the colour is slightly different to what they are in reality, but you can get a sense of the blockiness of the stitch pattern here. The yarn is Knitsch 100% merino sock in South Pacific.  On a related note, I am delighted and ecstatic that Tash of Knitsch has started dyeing again as of 1 September!! Hurrah!!  I am looking forward to seeing what new colourways she brings out!

I am creeping through Lilli Pilli.  Although I have finished all 100 rows in the third section, the shawl is still far too short and does not sit nicely when I try it on.  It should be about 160cm (63 inches) at this stage, but it is only 140cm (55 inches).  It’s not going to block much larger, so I need to build in more length and add more stripes.  I find it quite difficult to knit for long periods because it seems that no matter how much I knit I can’t see progress.   It’s a great watching movies and knitting thing to do because then the rows fly by and you don’t notice the knitting time!

Lastly, I thought I’d give you a hint of the next design for the nature series!

IMG_0609 (800x532)

Rosemary

Daisies

Spring leaves

Spring is well and truly here.  Enjoy the rest of your week!


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The nature series: Bark

I love to make beautiful fabric.

Knitting

The feel of the yarn as it threads through fingers and around needles.

The enjoyment of seeing a beautiful thing coming out of what was once (very pretty) wool string.

Creating

The excitement of seeing a concept become reality!

Sock

I’ve been looking at a lot of texture in nature lately.  Bark and the things that grow on bark have been particularly fascinating.

BarkThey have inspired and motivated.

Bark socks

These are the first design in my nature series.

Bark socks 2

As you can expect, they are called Bark.  :-)

I have used Tanis Fibre Arts’ Blue Label (80% wool, 20% nylon) in the Tartan colourway.  It is, I think, perfectly matched to the inspiration, where you can see many colours that harmoniously blend on the bark of a tree.

This is an easy pattern, designed for knitters who want an interesting sock to knit without having to concentrate too much.  This pattern suits any standard weight sock yarn.  The stitch pattern is in multiples of four, which means that it can be easily adapted for non-standard sock yarn weights or other sizing by the addition or subtraction of stitches.  Sizing is provided for an adult small, medium or large size.  You need approximately 320m of yarn for the medium size.

I’m making the first of these designs free, in celebration of the free joy that nature gives us.  Download here.

I plan to release three designs in all.

Enjoy!

 

 


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COZI by name, Cosy by nature

Last week, a little package of sock yarn delight arrived in the mail courtesy of Zealana.  It made me extremely happy.

Zealana Cozi

Peppermint colourway

My fellow knitters, I am excited to introduce COZI, Zealana’s first sock yarn!

Cozi has been anxiously anticipated by me for what seems like at least a year, ever since I heard a little whisper that there was going to be a Zealana sock yarn. The wait has been torturous!!  I am not sure the yarn lasted an hour after arriving in my house before it was doing its thing on my eager needles!

Cozi is every bit as lovely as I hoped it would be.  Zealana’s aim is to make amazing yarn, and they have done it again with Cozi, producing one of the most interesting sock yarns to enter the market this year! Let’s have a closer look to see why!

Cozi is made from 58% merino, 15% New Zealand brushtail possum down, 5% baby alpaca and 22% nylon (2% of that is elastic nylon). This creates a yarn that feels luxuriously special, is very soft and yet durable.

The yarn had me smiling all over from the moment I cast on.  It is a beautifully plump, cohesive strand, with the most surprising spring and just the right amount of ‘squish’ factor.  Knitting with it, you quickly develop a smooth rhythm and even tension as the yarn slides easily over the needles and sits nicely in hand.

Construction

The tight twist and finely balanced combination of fibres has created a smooth strand that holds together very well.  I am very good at splitting yarn whilst knitting, yet I experienced only one incident of a strand not making it onto the loop with its siblings – a record for me, and a testament to the good construction of Cozi.  There is also no shedding of fibre as you knit.

Zealana Cozi sock yarn

Currant colourway

All Zealana yarns are constructed thoughtfully, and Cozi is no exception.  If  you have knitted with a possum sock yarn before, you are likely to have found it lacks much spring.  Cozi is different.  It is delightfully springy!  Jimad Khan, Marketing Manager at Zealana, tells me that using Zealana’s unique finishing technique, the 4 ply yarn was semi-felted around an ultra-fine texturised nylon filament (elastic nylon). This elastic nylon amplifies the spring from the twist by adding extra recovery to the fabric.  Add to this the qualities of possum down (softness and warmth and reduction of pilling) merino wool (body, spring and all of wool’s wonderful properties), baby alpaca (more softness and warmth) and nylon (for strength), and you get a super cushiony fabric which is soft, warm, light, comfortable to wear and adorably hugable – all trademark qualities of Zealana yarns.

High twist

Close-up of the high twist in Cozi.

I was initially concerned that the high nylon content would impact the feel of the yarn.  I’m not a fan of yarns where you can feel that nylon squeak.   My fears were at once pacified when I got hold of the yarn.  None of the beautiful feel of natural wool, alpaca and possum has been compromised at all.

I was very interested to see that the merino wool used in this yarn has not been superwash treated.  This aspect has also contributed to the spring and body in Cozi because the merino wool has lost none of its super springy characteristics.  I also like the implied environmental benefits of not using strong chemicals to treat the wool.  Jimad also told me that a higher micron merino wool was used, which should make it a more robust yarn.  The benefit gained in fabric texture and overall sock durability as a result far outweighs the traditional expectation of machine washability.  Given the nylon content, it is not likely that this yarn will shrink easily.  I am a reasonably careless washer of my hand knits and wash my possum garments (none of which are technically machine washable) on the handwash cycle using cold water. They always come out without mishap.  The same will apply to garments in this yarn.

Another side benefit of this beautifully textured yarn is that there is a bit more surface tension happening in the knitting than in most sock yarns.  If you happen to accidentally drop a stitch, you will find it sits meekly where you left it, waiting for you to pick it up, as opposed to naughtily running a couple of rows down like a few other sock yarns I know…

Gauge

Cozi has been made heavier (meaning, fatter) than most sock yarns.  At its recommended 28 sts/40 rows over 10cm/4 inches, (7 sts to 2.5cm/one inch) it sits on the outer edge of a typical sock yarn gauge.  Experienced socks knitters will recall that the standard sock gauge is usually closer to 32 sts/48 rows over 10cm/4 inches (8 sts to 2.5cm/one inch).  The heavier weight of the yarn has also influenced the meterage:  each 50g ball has only 170m (186y).  Many sock yarns are closer to 180m (200y) and above per 50g.  With 22% nylon and 15% possum down (both very light fibres) in the mix, you would expect more yardage in the ball – obviously, the extra weight has gone into a bulkier strand.

Because Cozi is a sock yarn on the heavier end of the spectrum, I strongly recommend experimenting with 2.5mm to 2.75mm needles when you first knit with this yarn to avoid extreme discomfort when knitting.  My own sock in Cozi is knitting at 32 sts over 10cm (8 sts to one inch) using 2.5mm needles, which I find is creating a very dense fabric and sits on the outer edge of my knitting comfort tolerance.  Even though the yarn itself may be comfortable to knit, if you create a fabric where the gauge is too tight, this can be very uncomfortable to knit as it becomes a struggle to manipulate the needles correctly.  I am surprised that despite using a larger needle than recommended, my gauge is still smaller than the indicated gauge, but this should mean that you will be able to get reasonably good results with most sock patterns that call for a yarn with average sock weight.  Zealana’s website recommendation for this yarn of 2.25 – 3.25mm is a good indicator of needle size range.

Bloom

The possum fibre in this yarn does not make itself fully known until after you start knitting, and creates just the gentlest haze over the fabric surface.  Zealana has cleverly used possum down in this yarn, the same possum down as used in their very coveted AIR range.  It creates a yarn with a very fine halo that is barely noticeable yet feels wonderfully soft to brush your fingers over it.

You never know how much a possum yarn will bloom until you wash it though.  Here is a comparison between a sock that has been soaked in warm water and a not-yet-washed sock.

Washed and unwashed sock

In reality, there is not much visual difference at all, apart from the washed sock (on the right) looking more ‘finished’ than the unwashed sock.  However, wet blocking (ie. washing) has brought the possum down to the surface, and the gentlest soft-focus haze covers the knitting.  My stitches have also evened out nicely.

I decided to tempt fate and used warm water to soak this sock (the ball band recommends cold washing).  It has not affected size at all.  However, if you were to put your socks in the handwash cycle of a machine, I would recommend sticking to the cold wash recommendation.

Here’s a closer look at the washed sock:

Washed sock

And the yet-to-be washed sock:

Unwashed sock

Uses

Cozi produces superb stitch definition and would suit any pattern that uses gansey-style stitch patterning, knit/purl combinations or cables.  You could get a lace pattern with reasonable amounts of stockinette to work but I’d be cautious about using it for anything too intricate.

Cozi was so compulsive to knit that I finished one sock in a weekend.  Slipping it on, I discovered another little secret to the elasticated yarn:  it creates a sock that really hugs your foot!  It felt like a warm, gentle embrace and most definitely cosy!  I did not want to take it off!

Although designed specifically for socks, the yarn’s great stretch recovery means that it would make amazingly cosy gloves and hats as well, and I can even imagine stretchy baby garments in this yarn.

Pricing

Sitting in Zealana’s cost-effective Artisan range, Cozi retails at NZ$14.50 a ball.  Given that the yarn contains 15% possum down, I’d say this is pretty good value.  It compares very favourably against other possum sock yarns in the market.

Conclusion

I think it is safe to assume that Cozi will take its place as one of the ‘must haves’ in the stash of any hard-core sock knitter.  Will I personally be knitting with this yarn again?  You bet!!  In fact, I was so anxious about using up the balls I received from Zealana, that I promptly ordered more online from Mynx!  I am yet to see this yarn listed at any of my local yarn stores, but I doubt that will be the case for much longer.

I can see much knitting of Cozi socks (and gloves, and hats) in my future!

 

 

 

 


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Sockstration

I am less than pleased with the first complete Twisted Flower.

twisted flower sock (640x427)

It just doesn’t ‘have it’.

twisted flower and other (640x427)

It even makes my foot look fat in contrast to the socks I am wearing today (Mimer).  Now there’s a new one, huh?  Instead of “does this make my arse look fat”, a knitter will say “does this make my foot look fat?” :D

I’m not sure why Cookie A patterns and I don’t do well together.  This is the third pattern of hers that I have tried knitting that hasn’t worked.  I am quite sad, and it is very discouraging.

I think the main reason this one hasn’t worked is because I chose the wrong yarn.  I didn’t realise that even a small amount of variegation would affect the pattern showing up.  I went back and had another look at the 900+ other projects in this pattern on Ravelry, and I see that mine doesn’t look too different to others who have used similar semi-solid yarn.  You really need a solid colour, and a sock yarn with body to really make this pattern rock. SIGH. Why didn’t I notice that before I starting knitting?

Sometimes, I hate something I have just finished knitting, but then it grows on me.  Maybe this will be the case with these socks, but for the time being, sock no.2 is in time-out.

There is a silver lining to this.  Due to the massive frustrations of knitting the Twisted Flower, I got inspired to knit my own sock in a no-brainer pattern that is still interesting to wear and knit and fits with my limited energy reserves. I also found the perfect yarn.  It’s Tanis’ Blue Label in Tartan.  I LOVE that shade!!!!

Bark socks

I have enjoyed knitting it so much that the second sock is almost complete.  In fact, I got so inspired that I have three patterns lined up, all in a theme, which I will introduce over the next few weeks.  Happy days!

As a result, Lilli Pilli is receiving less attention than it has got, but the rows continue to grow, and soon it will be finished.

Lilli Pilli

It is going to be a lovely thing to wear when it is done!  I do have some observations around the knitting of this pattern, but I am going to wait until I am finished before I tell you about it.

And finally, I have a finished object to share!

Plain vanillas

These are knitted from an Opal yarn that I have had in my stash for a while (Masked Ball colourway).  Another pair made entirely during ‘waiting’ time.  These are going to my mother, because it is about time she got new socks.

 

 

 

 


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The beauty of morning

There is something quite magical about the light in the Wairarapa.  It must be the plane of the earth in this part of New Zealand.  I don’t think I have ever experienced so many pretty sunrises as I have here.  It makes getting up early quite exciting!  The colours have been so particularly stunning on occasion that I have had to stop what I was doing and take photos!  They are not very good photos.  Too grainy, but they captured the light perfectly.

SunriseIt did not look real to me – the lurid imagination of a painter surely?  Such shades of blue and flamingo pink!

Purple morning

Violet sunrise – I have never seen this light before!

Purple sunriseCould they not be a skein of yarn from your favourite hand dyer?

And now, my favourite, a celebration of winter!

Cows on a frosty morning

A breathtakingly cold, clear morning, the frost lay thick like snow on the fields and in high, spiky tuffs on the fence and car.  Icy sparkles decorated the deck, shimmering like diamonds in the rays of the rising sun.

Icy deck

Slowly a mist rose, to veil the landscape in an exquisite, gauzy light.

Frosty morning

I rather did pity the cows their breakfast of ice.

If you are wondering, do not fear – I have knitting news to share.  I’ll be back later this weekend with an update.  :-)

A happy start to the weekend to you!