Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


Geeks that weren’t and were

I recently finished knitting a pair of Geek socks which are to be a present (seems like I am doing a bit of Christmas gift knitting after all!)  I took some pictures as I was knitting them to explain some of the technical aspects that are specific to afterthought heels and that sometimes catch people unawares.

One of the questions I got when the pattern was first released was how to measure the length of the foot when there is no heel to measure.  In the photo below, I am about to start shaping the toe of the Geek sock.  The part where the heel begins on the Geek is where the waste yarn (green line) goes through the blue section – see how I have aligned it to the inner edge of the heel flap?

Measuring foot length

From the green line, the measurement to the beginning of the toe shaping is the same as if you were measuring from the inner edge of the gusset/heel flap (as illustrated above).  This way of measuring has never been an issue with me because I learned to measure sock length using this method (the final measurement of the sock automatically includes the addition 2″/5cm of heel depth). However, I know that others do measure from the back of the heel, and this is probably why some had difficulty.

Next I went along merrily shaping the toe, and then I went back to work the afterthought heel.  I completed the heel and then did a test try-on of the sock.

Apologies for the poor quality of the next pic – it was taken with my phone camera to post to Instagram.

Geeks in a mess

Disaster!  Silly me did not check against what I had written in my own pattern, and I had not worked two plain rounds after picking up all the heel stitches from the waste yarn and before starting the heel shaping.  The sock was far too tight around the ankle as a result.

Now, by this stage I had also confidently woven in all the ends, and do you think I could find them all for the simple task of ripping the heel!??  I got madder and madder, then out came the scissors.  Snip! Snip! Snip!  Fine then!!  I shall reknit the foot and afterthought heel instead!  I have to say certain therapeutic value was gained from cutting up that sock…

Finished Geeks

They turned out well in the end. Those afterthought heels sure look odd compared to a normal heel, but they fit just as well (so long as one remembers those extra rounds before starting to shape the heel!)

I’m not a fan of blocking socks.  My take is that they block when you wear them, so why bother!  The only value that I see in sock blockers is that they make the sock look pretty if you’re going to photograph them unworn.  If you are giving the socks away, I guess they do give them a certain ‘finished’ look!

I’m fairly sure that most people instantly recognise this yarn, but if you are wondering, it’s Stray Cat Socks in the Aotearoa colourway.


Mischief Managed!

Earlier this week I met up with a couple of lovely knitters.

One of them was interested in my Two Hearts, so I proudly took the first completed piece to show her.  After a cursory glance over the project, she asked “Do you find you often mis-cross the cables?” (or something like that).

“Oh yeah, I’m always worried about that, but I meticulously check as I go, and often take a photo as it helps me spot mistakes that I might not otherwise!  I did mis-cross a couple on this one, but was able to spot them in time.” I proudly replied.  At the back of my mind, I was slightly concerned at the tone in her voice.

We chatted for a minute or two about how awful it was to see mis-crossed cables in other peoples’ work.

“Well, I’m sorry to tell you this, but you do have a mis-crossed cable here. I spotted it immediately.”  (Did I note a tone of impatient triumph in her voice!?) She pointed to the offending cable, and my heart sank all the way down into the toes of my dear hand knitted socks. [here the reader shall mentally picture me thinking a choice expletive.  I might have uttered it out aloud.  I don’t know.  I was in shock.]

Mis-crossed cable

Somehow, I had managed to miss-cross a cable and not notice.  For the first time ever.  I stared in dismay at this thing of horror. [insert more choice expletives].  I may babbled flippant remarks about people not noticing it, or covering it with a button, or something equally as witless.  The sort of thing you say when internally you are freaking out in a very major sort of way and trying desperately to cover one’s embarrassment.

Now, once an error has been pointed out, you can never NOT notice the mistake.  The stupid thing stuck out from my knitting like a great big glaring beacon.


I slunk home with my tail between my legs, both cursing and thanking the knitter for pointing out the stupid mistake.  Once I got home, I looked at the offending cable, and wondered how I was going to fix it and how I never managed to notice it! Despite my earlier nonsense about ignoring it, there was no question of it staying that way!  It was in far-too-prominent a location for that.

I did not care to rip back a week’s worth of knitting, nor was I was I going to drop the stitches from the cast-off point all the way down to the crossed cable!  And I really, really, did not want to try cutting the cable at the point of mistake and re-crossing it.

After some deliberation, in which I wondered if I could just ignore the mistake (no!), I decided that cutting at the point of mistake seemed to be the only option.  It was time to take a step-up challenge!!  I looked up fixing cables on the Internet.

Thank bloody goodness, someone has been thinking laterally.  Here was my solution – set out in an issue of Twist Collective (I went for Method 2, the less scary one).

Fixing the mistake

Picking up the stitches.

Fixing mistake

Knitting extra stitches, then grafting (there may have been several goes at getting this right).

Mistake fixed.

Ta da!  Mischief Managed!!

Because of the properties of this yarn, the extra layer of stitches is not noticeable. You wouldn’t even know there was a mis-crossed cable there.  I shall never fear another mis-crossed cable ever again! What a genius solution!  I sighed a very large and happy sigh.

I think I have just about forgiven the knitter for pointing out my mistake.  After all, it would have been far more embarrassing to be seen wearing that mistake and not know about it!!


Empty nets, the FO!

I finished Empty Nets this week.  To do the pattern justice, especially in view of the fact that the time and talent for this pattern was donated by Sonya Newstead to the Sustain the Sea initiative, I decided we needed to take a trip to the beach.  I picked the young man up after school and we drove to the Lake Ferry beach in South Wairarapa, which we haven’t been to before.

It is a rugged piece of beach.  Not really a swimming beach, but very beautiful and scenic.  On one side, Lake Onoke drains into Palliser Bay.

Lake Ferry

On the other side, is Palliser Bay.

Palliser Bay

It was a nice place to take photos.  The water was too cold for swimming, and the beach is not very safe for this activity, so the boy and I had wave races and dared each other to get our legs wet by the icy water!

On to Empty Nets – here it is, in its full glory!

Empty Nets

I’m very proud of this picture, because it was taken by the youngest child.  I think his photography skills are coming along nicely!

Empty Nets 2

I decided I wanted the shawl to be bigger than designed, so I knitted 20 repeats instead of 17.

Empty Nets - waves

I adore the wave edgings.

Empty Nets 3

The final edge is bound off using a ruffle, to represent the waves breaking on the beach.  I kept mine small and did not work the second set of increases.

It’s a funny shawl to knit because you think it cannot possibly become a triangle while knitting it – it looks like a slice of pizza!  When finished and blocked though, it magically transforms!  My notes are here if you want to know more details.

Empty Nets 4

Words cannot express my gratitude to Sonya for donating this shawl pattern.  I cherish the feeling of comfort that there are many people who do care about the planet and keeping life on it sustainable for future generations, as evidenced by so many of your comments while writing about this subject.

I think that if more people thought about contributing meaningfully to this life, and considered the impact of their actions on the environment around them (social and physical) the world would be in a much better place than it is today.  Let’s all keep on trying!



You may recall I was knitting a pair of socks as part of my review of Zealana’s first sock yarn, Cozi.

I knitted them using a pattern that I had in my head for a while – progress on these socks was fast, the yarn eager to become deliciously warm socks for my feet.  :-)

Illusion socks in Cozi

Did I mention that Cozi produces a sock that gently hugs the foot?  That elasticized yarn really does live up to its stretchy name!  I thought that quality would be nice as a name for these socks.

Illusion socks

I loved the cabling detail and how well the stitches showed up, despite the halo of the possum fibre – these socks were going to be an awesome pattern!
Illusion 5

This pair of socks weighed 80gm together (40g each) which is a total meterage of 272m (297y).  By way of reminder, each 50g ball of Cozi has a meterage of 170m/186yd. The meterage is interesting.  Cables usually eat yarn, and there are two panels of cabling on each sock, yet the meterage was still less than Bark which took 320m (350y) and are in a stitch pattern that is equivalent to stockinette.  The heavier strand does mean that you need less yarn to knit a pair of socks.  This should mean that even people with largish feet will get a simple pair of socks out of two balls. I used 2.5mm needles, which I mentioned previously creates a beautiful dense fabric and is a better match for this thicker sock yarn than the finer needles.

Although heavily cabled, these socks did not need more stitches to cast on than a plain vanilla sock in equivalent size.  This would mean that if you are planning to knit a plain vanilla sock, a good idea would be to cast on at least 4 to 6 stitches less than you normally would or the sock will be too big.

Coal and Hug

I was going to turn these socks into a pattern, but there is something about them that is not balanced enough.  The cable panels aren’t quite doing what I want them to do.  I think they are incredibly sweet (if I may say so myself!), but I am going to take these back to the drawing board and revise the pattern.  In the interim, I thought you might enjoy hearing a bit more about Zealana Cozi!


Zinging along

Hello!  Welcome to the weekend!

It has been a busy couple of weeks chez Kiwiyarns.  There have been jobs to apply for, and agents to see.  No news yet, but we’ll just keep working at it.

I am really appreciating not feeling exhausted all the time.  The first week after finishing work was spent in a state of comatose fatigue.  I think my body took the opportunity for rest and greedily decided that I could sleep for the whole week!!  I am now feeling a lot more refreshed and energetic, and able to knit for long periods of time without falling asleep!!

In between looking for that elusive day job, very happy times knitting all the things, planning future posts about New Zealand yarns and thinking about new designs have been had. If only this could be a full-time occupation!

Today, I want to tell you about KnitPro Zing needles.  I am not sure when these were introduced on to the market, but they are marked “new” so they must be very recent.  I discovered the circulars at Holland Road Yarn Company – their bright colours caught my eye at the counter.  As I am always eager to try new needles some had to come home!

The Zings seriously impressed.  So much that I had to get a double-pointed set to go with my circulars! I got these ones at Vintage Purls.

IMG_1339 (1024x768)

Notice how mine are gold?  That’s because it’s the colour code for 2.25mm needles.  Every size in this range has its own colour – isn’t that neat!? No more squinting at the size printed on the needle or checking with the needle gauge – you can tell the size from looking at the colour.  Good thing I like gold.

The reason I love these needles so much is because KnitPro has finally got everything right:

  • It’s a lightweight needle made of a superior grade lightweight metal.  KnitPro doesn’t specify what metal is used, but it is light, and very strong.
  • It is extremely smooth, almost (but not) too smooth to the point that you have to be careful that your stitches don’t slip off the needles!
  • There is no join between the tip and the stem of the needle.  More plus factor on the smooth knitting front.
  • The handle of the circulars is long.  I have real trouble with short circular needles.  These are the perfect size for me. I wondered if I was imagining the stem as being longer, so I got out an assortment of needles (all sized 2.25mm) to compare their lengths.  Turns out, I wasn’t.

circular needles

  • If you are interested, the needles in the photo (from above) are Addi Lace, KnitPro Symfonie, KnitPro Zing and KnitPro Karbonz.
  • You can see that the Zing needles are clearly the longest needle in the lot, even though I haven’t been able to accurately align all the needles.
  • Best of all, I love the tips: They are pointy enough to pick up stitches neatly, yet not so pointy as to poke holes in one’s fingers.  The points are also short enough that minimal finger movement is required to wrap the yarn around the needle to create a new stitch.  Have a look at the photo below.  I refer to the “point” as the part where the tapering ends.  You can see that there is a much shorter point on the Zing compared to a Symfonie.

Needles comparison

I think that a lot of thought has gone into creating these wonder needles.  I discovered how much easier they made my knitting when I picked up a sock WIP on my usual wooden KnitPro Symfonies.  Oh dear.  Not as wonderful as the Zings!  That shorter point and smoother stem makes a massive difference to my knitting comfort.

Just to clarify, I haven’t been paid by any party to endorse these needles.  I’m just sharing my latest wonderful discovery.

Looking at the background project in the photos it reminds me that I may have forgotten to show you my progress on Empty Nets since I cast on.  I have shown it on Instagram, but have forgotten to talk about it here!  Tut, tut!

Empty Nets

This photo is much more colour accurate that the ones above with the needles.  I have already completed the 17 repeats required in the pattern, but I want to make this a nice big shawl so I’m going to go for a few more repeats until I’m happy with the size.  A couple more repeats should do it.  I have plenty of the Zealana Kiwi laceweight that I’m using which means I do not have to worry about running out of yarn.  Hopefully I can show you a finished object in a couple of days!

I’ll be back in a few days to tell you about the rest of my projects.  I think I have taken up enough of your time for one day!

Wishing you a good weekend.

Since writing this post, I logged onto the news to see the dreadful attack in Paris.  I hope you are all safe.  A terrible day for our world.


Wovember Words: The Shearer


I had to share this – absolutely classic!!

Originally posted on Wovember:

WOVEMBER are super excited to have discovered the talents of The Rapping Shearer AKA Adam McClure. Adam is a shearer in Western Victoria, Australia. He is available for work in June, July, August and you can download his amazing rap “The Shearer” from this website. For today’s WOVEMBER WORDS which commences the Harvesting Wool segment of WOVEMBER we thought we would elaborate on some of the specialist shearing words included in this informative hip-hop classic!

The Shearer

Wake up keen at 5:30 in the morning,
You’ve already got your dungers on,
Put on a pair of woollen socks,
You know you’ve lost it now…
You know you’re a shearer.

I’m a Wether-wrestler,
A cross-bred peeler,
I’m the duke of the Downtube:
A hand-piece steerer,
I’m the boss of the belly,
A shornie engineer,
They call me King of the Comb –
Or you can call me a shearer…


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