Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life

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9 Comments

Wait…

Oh gosh. Since when did it become December!? Christmas is just around the corner, and there is still so much to do!

Isn’t it funny how the end of a year provokes a whole range of thoughts around life, deadlines, accomplishments, wishes. In a way, it is a good thing because it gives us a sense of time. In another way, it can unintentionally create feelings of stress that shouldn’t be there. I do find it a great motivator to remember to ‘do’ something with my life.

In this post, I think it’s time I fronted up and explained a bit about my less-than-regular posts of late. Make a cup of tea and settle in… this is a bit of a wordy one!

Life has been quite distracted chez Kiwiyarns over the past couple of months. As of November, I began working in a permanent role, although I have been in a ‘caretaker’ role for that position for a few months now. It’s a senior job that is giving me a lot of satisfaction (and finally, some life certainty!) but is also draining my energy and ability to keep up the blog on a regular basis. I do apologise for this, as I value your interaction with me so much. My life over the past few years would not have been anywhere near as rich or as fulfilling had I not started this blog and pursued the path of knitting creativity. But none of that would have been nearly as good if it hadn’t been for the support and friendship I have received from you. I thank you for this from the bottom of my heart.

In my dream life, I would be a full-time knitting designer, fully immersed in the art of knitting and sharing that dream. However, from what I have seen and learned over the past few years, it takes a certain life circumstance for that to become a reality for most people.  Importantly, you need to have a financial backer (usually, one’s partner from one I can see!) to cover one’s life necessities while the business is growing into a going concern. This scenario is most likely never going to be mine, and I have to be realistic about ensuring some security around the rest of my life. Hence the pragmatic return to my former career.

This is by no means the end, and I do not regret for one moment, the risk I took to delve into knitting in a deeper way. Quite apart from the richness of human interaction (which is sadly lacking in a corporate environment), I also got to learn in an unfettered environment, I found freedom and the ability to create – independently of any rules or structure.  And I was able to live the life I wanted. It has been soul-restoring. This has been worth more to me than any money in the world. I also got to be closer to my son that I ever would have been otherwise, and that too, is worth more to me than any money in the world.

I am still knitting furiously in my free moments (another reason I am not writing as much) and would love to keep sharing bits of my life with you here. It just may not be as frequently as before. You’ll see I am reasonably good at keeping up on Instagram, mainly because it’s a very quick process to take a photo and say a few words – I would love to see you over on that forum too!

Now, what has happened with my knitting since I last wrote? There have been a few socks.

But as you can see, my usual output has been somewhat diminished.

I did make a start on the shawl I spoke about last time, but I am not in the mood for blue hands at the moment. The naturally dyed indigo based yarn I chose leaches blue on to your skin like nothing on earth, and perhaps in another head space I would be able to cope with it, but not right now. So today, I decided to frog it and use this instead:

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It is going to be beautiful. It’s Anna Gratton Wool/Silk/Mohair blend in Forest.

I am on a bit of a shawl bender to be honest. Once I have got my Christmas sock knitting out of the way, or maybe after I finish Regenerate (using Anna Gratton’s Forest colourway above), I already have the next shawl’s yarn all ready to go:
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I am fairly sure this will be Supplejack. I’m using Tanis Fibre Arts Blue Label in Lotus, Dark Harbour Yarn Port in Limey and Ruataniwha Dye Studio 100% merino in Spruce.

And maybe the one after that…

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This one is also Mary-Anne Mace‘s fault. That woman just cannot stop producing the most breathtakingly beautiful shawl patterns… this yarn is earmarked to be Spring Creek, or maybe the newest pattern that she has designed that is still in testing. There will be time to decide. The yarn is also Dark Harbour Yarn Port in the Fairwater colourway. The light grey is also Dark Harbour Yarn Port but I have lost the label and cannot remember what the colour was called.

That’s the great thing about knitting. So much creative potential, so much to knit!  Just a pity there is so little time…

Wishing you a good run-up into the Christmas season. What are your plans? I for one, am much looking forward to my firm’s annual three week break over the Christmas and into 2017. It will be good to relax, enjoy family and friends, and knit, knit, knit!

 


9 Comments

A rocky night

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Thank you so much for the many messages of concern and support that lovely people have sent to me since last night’s 7.5 North Canterbury earthquake.

Just a short note to say that we are safe, and there has been no damage done to our house. I can’t say many of us slept at all well last night! Hopefully tonight will not be too bad on the aftershock front.

Wellington has suffered some damage, but we are fine. Thank goodness the quake struck late at night when most people were safely in bed. It could have been so much worse otherwise…

My thoughts are with the poor people of Kaikoura and North Canterbury generally. There is a big job ahead to rebuild the infrastructure and get things working again down there.

 


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Lacebark

Hello, and a Happy Weekend to you, in what has been another momentous week on the global stage.  I hope this post finds you well, and doing things that you love.

It is a rainy, rainy day today, perfect for staying home, curling up with knitting and doing not much else.

Thank you so much for your lovely, supportive comments about the finished cardigan I showed you last. I have to say, having now worn it for a couple of weeks, I am especially enamoured of the beautiful yarn – that cashmere blend is something else!

I managed to finish Lacebark this week!  I am so thrilled with how it turned out! As you can see by the million photographs I took…

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Mary-Anne Mace’s designs take my breath away every time.

So, what did I do for this shawl?

I used three different yarns, but all in the same high-twist merino base type, to give the shawl textural consistency.  I knew when I started it that I would not have enough of the main gradient yarn I used from Ozifarmer’s Market, so I scratched around in my stash and found a beautiful deeper purple colourway from another indie dyer (who sadly no longer makes pretty yarn), and a plain undyed yarn.

I worked the tip in white, and then added in the gradient, and when the gradient was done, I added in the deeper purple.

The pattern itself is interesting. You start out with very basic lace, and gradually move into more and more complex lace techniques as you progress. The final few charts with lace on every side were quite a brain workout, but the result is worth it, and I am sure the grey matter is working much better after that bit of exercise! I do like the progression of lace pattern –  it makes it quite interesting to wear.

In between lace knitting, I did plain vanilla sock knitting, and finished the cute colourway I got from Doespins a while ago, and started another pair (yarn from Happy-go-knitty). These are quite good to knit in the sleepy hours I resist going to bed in, helping me to wind down after a long day in the office, and getting in some ‘me’ time.img_3038-1024x575

It seems that not only must there always be a sock, but there must also always be a shawl on the needles. After much deliberation, I’ve picked the next project.

img_3040-1024x1024I can’t help myself – it’s another Lace Eater design, Regenerate, found in Knitty’s Spring/Summer 2014 patterns. I’m pairing it with Rosewood Wool’s natural dyed Romney wool.

Until next time, Happy Knitting!

 

 


15 Comments

Blocking be good (ish)

I hope you have had a lovely week, and are enjoying your weekend!

The last post I wrote was about the mods I made to the cardigan I was about to finish.

I thought I would show you the finished object today, which gives a stark illustration of how yarn can be affected by washing/blocking.

The image on the left is the finished cardigan before it was blocked. The middle and right side images are of the cardigan after it was blocked. Can you see how much it has grown with blocking? I did not stretch it out – this is just the size it became after the yarn was wet. (Click on the images if you’d like to see a larger-sized version).

I anticipated that the yarn would grow more than a non-superwash yarn, as experience from handling yarn over the years told me the feel of the superwash said “I will grow when you block me.” Still, I was hoping it wouldn’t grow quite so much – the cardigan isn’t as cute as I wanted it to be, but I think the once the weather gets warmer, it will look nice with a skirt and t-shirt or over a dress. Apart from not using this yarn, I don’t think there was much else I could have done to prevent it getting bigger except to knit it very small. The risk then would have been just how small to knit it?  Swatches do not always tell the truth… All in all, it is a very lovely yarn, and I am still pleased I chose to use it.

Thank you very much for all your lovely comments in that post about whether I should fix the dye before wearing the cardigan. In the end, I decided to see how much dye was going to get released from washing, and it wasn’t much at all. I always wash red clothing separately to other colours because any red does have the propensity to bleed, so I will do the same with this cardigan, and there should be no issues in future!

The exact quality of blocking a garment and being able to open up a pattern and stretch out a fabric will be most welcome in the next project I am about to finish:img_2994-800x449

This is one of the very talented Mary-Anne Mace’s beautiful shawl designs, Lacebark. It seems I must always have a Lace Eater Design on my needles! Knitting her designs is like reading a good book – compulsive, and hard to put down! img_2995-800x449

I used an Ozifarmer’s Market gradient for this shawl (Ozimerino in Dusk), and I love it. The only thing was that I knew I would run out of yarn before I ran out of pattern, but decided that this was the yarn for the pattern!  I wanted the wider end to be darker, and knew that I might have issues finding a yarn to match the colour. I hoping that the yarn I found in my stash will work.  It seems to be working out so far, but I’ll know properly once I finish it and view the final blocked result.

Most of Lacebark is an easy knit, but the final few charts do have a few mind-stretching exercises with lace on both the right and wrong sides. Sometimes, my work-weary brain found this a little hard to cope with, and when that happened, I retreated to the comfort of plain vanilla socks.

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This is one of Doespins’ pretty variegated yarns that I got from her a while ago. It’s a high twist Blue Faced Leicester yarn in the Wild Rice colourway.

Happy knitting!  I hope to be back soon to show you the finished Lacebark, which I am much looking forward to wearing!

 

 

 


19 Comments

The cardigan

In a world of knitter’s worst nightmares, the following scenario has to come close to top of the list:  spending hours knitting a garment, laboriously stitching it all together, and then trying it on only to find that it doesn’t fit like you wanted it to.

I was very conscious of this possibility when I set out to knit myself a lightweight cardigan to carry me through Spring and into the early summer months. When I selected the original pattern I didn’t quite notice it had an odd garter stitch panel in the front. Nor did I realise that the shaping wasn’t right for my own body proportions, especially the armhole depth.

The garter stitch panel was easy to adapt – I simply left it off, as the garment was wide enough not to need it. The armholes needed a bit of adaptation. I worked more decreases to make a narrower shoulder, and I increased the length. This was a bit tricky – I think I cast off and then added in more length a couple of times before I decided it was right! The next thing was to sew the shoulders together so I could try it on and make sure that the fit was correct.

Because I had adapted the arm holes, I also needed to work the sleeves a little differently to make sure that they were as deep as the armhole. I also didn’t want three quarter length sleeves, nor did I want lace on the sleeves. The solution was to keep working decreases all the way to the end of the sleeve cap – this seems to have worked.

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Fitting the first sleeve into the cardigan was a good way to work out if I had the proportions right.

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I am checking the length of the sleeve here – it sits just above my wrist, which is a better length for warmer weather.

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The length works well too. I’d like to be able to wear this cardigan with a dress, and I find that dresses need shorter cardigans to look good.

I am also conscious this is a superwash yarn (Madelinetosh Pashmina) and I know it will grow once blocked. It is slightly shorter to accommodate that eventuality as well.

Once the second sleeve is finished, the next step will be to work a neat finish to the neckline, and to add in loops for the buttonholes.  And once blocked, I will finally have a summer cardigan after a couple of years of talking about it!

I am concerned about the large amount of dye that is coming off on my fingers as I knit this garment. Has anyone knitted with this colourway before (Tart) and have you experienced a large amount of colour fade?  Should I be looking at fixing the colour in the first block?  I’d appreciate your advice!

My garden continues to delight in a riot of super strong colours. Whoever planted this garden was a person after my own heart! It is soul restoring to spend a couple of hours pulling weeds and admiring all the new beauties to see in the weekend.

I have no idea what the second plant is called, but the top image is the Aquilegia. I’m so happy to have this flower in my garden again!

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This little flower captured my attention with the leaves echoing the shade of the flower.img_2927-800x449

We also have a regular visitor at the moment – how cute is this kereru, warily watching me from the safety of the pine tree!?img_2934-800x533

I am itching to get back into shawl knitting for some reason. They have been a very useful addition to my wardrobe this winter – they looked nice under a coat and kept me extra warm on the way to the office, but could easily be removed (or put back on) once at work. I continue to ponder yarn and pattern options, although it amuses me to see that I have the exact colours of my garden in my stash…

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I hope you are enjoying your weekend, and finding plenty of time for soul-restoring and relaxing activities.

Happy Knitting!

 

 

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8 Comments

Unexpectedly

Hello!

I have been unexpectedly absent from the blog for a couple of weeks due to coming down with the flu, a family vacation and some very busy times at work. It’s good to be back chatting with you!

We had an all-siblings and family get together to celebrate my father’s 70th birthday. These photos are taken at Mount Maunganui (or looking across from Tauranga to Mount Maunganui) and are my teenage stomping grounds. It was lovely to be on the beach again, feeling the sand under my toes. It was a contrast to Wellington beaches which are mostly rocky, with their own kind of wild beauty. Very different in character to the gentle, soft sand beaches I grew up on.

You can see larger images of these pictures by clicking on them.

Some knitting has been done, but not much, sadly.

I was unusually sick with the flu for several days, which even affected my ability to knit. (Fortunately, I was able to recover enough to attend my family gathering). And work has also eaten significantly into my spare time recently.

These projects cover the last two weeks – the cardigan is a Drops pattern that I am modifying as I go. I do not fancy the extended garter lapel in the front, so I will keep it straight edged. The cardigan has enough width without me needing to any extra stitches. I also plan to knit plain sleeves so that the overall effect is not too lacy. The yarn is very special Madelinetosh Pashmina in Tart. A generous gift from a very loving knitting friend.

The socks on the top are the finished  V-Junkie socks, knit in Knitsch 100% merino sock, and the bottom pair are a plain vanilla pair worked in two colours. I used a now-discontinued indie dyer’s high twist merino sock yarn. They are the first contrasting toe/heel/cuff socks I have made, and I am quite pleased with how they have turned out! They are also an effective way to use up those partial balls of sock yarn that aren’t quite enough to knit a pair of socks out of. I used approx 30gm of contrast sock colour and 60gm of the main colour.

One of the unexpected delights of the new place I am living in is the profusion of flowers that bloom in spring. I leave you with a small montage of some of the prettiness I see every day. It gladdens my heart – I hope to share a small piece of that joy with you.

My father and I were having a discussion one day about plants, and gardens, and the simple pleasures of enjoying a piece of freshly picked fruit, or delight in a gorgeous bloom. He made the observation that the tree or plant you put in the ground is a gift to future generations, and that we are but temporary custodians of their fruit and beauty. Wise words indeed. Such a simple act of planting can so powerfully contribute to someone’s future quality of life. After all, if it wasn’t for the efforts of previous people who lived in this house, I would not have all this loveliness to enjoy now. I shall look after this garden, and add to it, so that others can continue to enjoy it long after we are gone.

A happy weekend to you, and Happy Knitting!