Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


The Pirinoa Poncho

A few months ago, Mary Furness-Weir of Maniototo Wool, approached me to help her design a child’s poncho.

I was intrigued by the concept that she suggested, and thought it would be a nice challenge to design a garment for a change, so I said yes.

Today, after much swatching and discussion and test knitting (thanks Mary!), we are delighted to present The Pirinoa Poncho!

Pirinoa poncho

DK Pirinoa Poncho

The poncho has been designed to fit children aged 18 months – 4 years old.  There are two versions of the pattern – one in Maniototo Wool’s 100% wool DK and the other in Maniototo Wool’s 100% wool aran weight yarn. The little girl (2 yrs old) is wearing the DK version, and the little boy (3 yrs old) is wearing the aran weight version.

Aran weight Pirinoa Poncho

I am so in love with how the poncho has turned out, especially now I see it on the children it will fit.  These stunning photographs were taken by Emma Mehlhopt (said Mel-hop), a very talented photographer, who specialises in photographing children and family portraits ( Hasn’t she done a super, super job!?  I am so grateful to Emma for these beautiful photographs. And to the models’ mums for allowing their adorable children to be photographed.

Pirinhoa Poncho

There is a backstory to this design:  Once upon a time, Mary’s grandchildren had a poncho a bit like this.  They wore it from the time they were two years old and right up until they went to school.  It was a family favourite, very handy for throwing on between car and house, particularly in the bitter coastal winters where they live in the Wairarapa (the area is called Pirinoa, hence the name of this poncho). Mary thought that perhaps there may be other children who would also love to have a poncho like this, and so the concept was born.

This design has a special place in my heart:  it was designed in the Wairarapa, inspired by a Wairarapa family, photographed in the Wairarapa on little models who also live there, and is named after a place in the Wairarapa. In a way, it encapsulates a lot of what I loved about living there.  Family, friendship, community, lifestyle.  Thank you Mary, for giving me the opportunity to work with you on this one.

The pattern can be obtained in several ways:

  • A single printed leaflet from the Maniototo wool website, or at any outlets that sell the yarns – Country Rumours, 11 Talbot St, Geraldine; The Woolroom, 52B Ribbonwood Road, Geraldine, or markets such as KAN (Napier) and WOOLFEAST (Christchurch);
  • Printed patterns are available at The Land Girl, Pirinoa Village, where it is available in a kit including enough wool to make the poncho in either Aran or DK weights and a circular bamboo knitting needle. The first kits to sell will include a set of beautiful handmade wooden buttons; and

Handmade buttons

  • In soft copy (PDF) from my Ravelry store. DK version here and Aran weight version here.

Each of the printed patterns (from any outlet) will contain a one-time use only code so that you can also download the pattern to your Ravelry library.

Pirinoa Poncho

Yarn for the pattern can be obtained from Maniototo Wool’s website, where you can choose your colours. There is plenty of lovely Aran wool available. Orders for the new season’s DK yarn will be placed on a waitlist (it is still at the mill).

Mary and I look forward to seeing your own versions of these cute ponchos pop up on your project pages soon!


A giveway – Rose Marlow – NZ indie maker

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by Meg of Rose Marlow, a New Zealand indie maker business.

Meg and Jen make beautiful things that knitters like.  Today, I’m hosting a giveaway for some of this lovely parcel of goodies that arrived on my doorstep!  Would you like to know more?

Rose Marlow

The yarn is mine for review, and I will be telling you more about it in due course. The stitch markers, project bag and pom pom are up for grabs.

The bag is very generously sized and big enough to hold a shawl project.  Here it is sitting next to one of my latest sock projects, for comparison purposes.  I have filled it with a 200g skein of shawl yarn and my small notions kit, and as you can see, there is still plenty of room for more in it.

Project bag comparison

It is made of double-lined Japanese fabric, and has a sturdy metal zip and handmade leather pull.

Project bag

The stitch markers are made of glass beads.

Stitch markers

They come in a handy handmade Japanese fabric bag.

And for those who like pompoms but dislike making them:


It will look nice atop a knitted hat!

If you would like to be the recipient of this parcel, please leave a comment sharing what features you would look for in a project bag if you were to buy one. I think mine would have to be one that is small enough to fit into my purse and the fabric is dense enough that my needles don’t poke through.

This giveaway is open to both New Zealand and overseas participants.

I will draw the winner next week, Sunday, 1 May. Good luck!



River walk


I promised some photos of the new environs once we got out and about.  Today, the eldest boy and I went for a walk by the Hutt River.  It was lovely.

Hutt River

The sound of the water rushing over the rocks was so restful.

Autumn on the river

The leaves are finally starting to change!

River walk

It was nice to be close to nature again.

I especially enjoyed looking at all the different colours and textures in the rocks.



We met some of the locals.


I was pleased to be able to get reasonably close to these spur-winged plovers.  Their little masks are so cute!

Spur-winged plover

It was a lovely interlude.

Hutt River walk



Mary, Mary, quite contrary

I am delighted, very happy, most relieved, to release the pattern for Mary, Mary today!

Mary, Mary socks

This is fun, feminine design inspired by the nursery rhyme “Mary Mary Quite Contrary”.  The main motif on this sock reflects “silver bells”, while delicate mock cabling along the sides are the “cockle shells”.  The use of softly coloured yarn from Circus Tonic Handmade contributes to the overall delicate look of this pattern.

This particular version uses the Western Whipbird colourway.  As you’ll know, I also knitted versions in the Galah colourway:

Galah colourway

and in Vintage Purls (I think it was called Whisper of Doubt, if I remember correctly):

Mary, Mary in Vintage Purls

I’m very happy with how these socks have ultimately turned out.

Mary, Mary socks

They are definitely one of my favourite designs!

Many thanks also to my test knitter for her feedback on the pattern.

I want to thank readers for your patience in having to wait so long for this pattern.  I am offering this pattern at 50% off for the next three days (until 20 April 2016) (regular price is going to be NZ$5).  You don’t need a code – the discount will apply automatically.  Download here.

There are also going to be opportunities to receive a free copy of this pattern.  Hang tight while I work out the details!


All about Mary

After an unexpectedly long gestation period, Mary, Mary, the sock pattern will be released this weekend!  My apologies to some of you whom I know have been waiting for it to be released!

It has been an interesting and educational exercise to design this sock. Before the pattern is released, I thought it would be a good idea to introduce some of the aspects of this sock’s construction, especially for cuff-down knitters like me who are generally leery of toe-up construction.

I know that there are many toe-up fans out there, but until now, I have definitely been in the cuff-down camp.  My primary reason for this is finding that cuff-down socks were so much more intuitive to knit. And as knitting is very much about stress-relief for me, I certainly didn’t want to have stressful experiences knitting my socks!

Mary, Mary

Mary, Mary in Circus Tonic Handmade in the Western Whipbird colourway

The things I observed with dislike about toe-up sock patterns in general were:

  1. Complicated and fiddly cast on instructions for the toe.
  2. Complicated and long instructions for the heel that caused my brain to melt and my eyeballs to roll into the back of my head just reading them.
  3. Often unattractive heel that doesn’t fit very well.
  4. Generally much fiddlier to get ‘right’.
  5. Not very pretty cast-off.

These factors all added up to Unhappy Knitting for me, causing me to shut the pattern and walk away.  Unhappy Knitting is not something you want in your life.  It’s the reason I have taken a very long time to even attempt to design Mary, Mary, which has to be knitted toe-up in order for the central motif to work.

Like most things, if you began sock knitting life as a toe-up knitter, you will probably be reading this and saying “but once you know how, it’s not an issue”.  And I agree.

I decided to be brave and tackle the job of finding solutions to those aspects of Unhappy Knitting because I really, really, wanted to make Mary, Mary.  In the process, I was relieved to find that toe-up socks do not have to be complicated or tricky to knit.

No socks should be difficult to knit.  And I feel strongly that instructions should be clear, to the point, and not intimidating. With this mind, I found ways to knit this sock without it being any harder to do than a cuff-down sock.  I am quite pleased if I may say so myself!

My work-arounds are not unique.  I have used existing cast on and heel instructions that have been used by many other sock designers, but it took a while to find the techniques that I wanted to use. I do need to stress that everyone has their own way of doing things (as is evidenced my the multitude methods of knitting!) and there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way of knitting something as long as you get the effect you were after in the first place.

Here I share the elements I used that work really well for me:

The toe:  I have used the Turkish cast on to begin the toe.  Have you tried it yet!?  It is by far, the easiest way to cast on.  So fun!  So simple!  So effective!!  Every time I cast on a toe using this method, I get a very geeky sense of knitterly joy.  It has almost got me hooked on toe-up socks simply because I love this way of casting on so much! I want to cast on all the things using the Turkish cast on!

If you aren’t familiar with this technique, here is a short tutorial from Rebecca Danger:

I have also specified a method of increasing in this pattern which I find helps me to keep track of increase rows by using a yarn over to increase a stitch.  You knit into the back of the loop on the return round, this closes the hole and creates a new stitch.  It also has the benefit of serving as a marker for whether you are on an increase or return round.

Backstory to the heel: My initial thoughts (as you’ll know from previous posts) were to introduce an afterthought heel, a very simple method of heel construction.  I noted that many people do have issues with the fit, and I myself wasn’t entirely satisfied with how it looked in this pattern.  I tried to introduce a slipped stitch into the design. While the modified heel worked for me, my tester did not find it at all satisfactory, so I decided to retire that idea for another day.

The heel:  In researching alternative heels, I came across a heel style used by Wendy Johnson that I have settled on for this sock.  I am not sure of its origins, or even if it has an official name (it is not the short row heel).  I chose it because I like its neatness, tidiness and good fit.  Best of all, the instructions are refreshingly short and there is no “wrapping and turning” required!

Sock heel

The heel turn uses the same concept as a normal cuff down flap heel.  My thanks and acknowledgements go to Wendy Johnson for using this style in some of her socks.  I’m not sure if she invented it, but it is awesome! I adapted the style to suit this design, and am very impressed with how well it fits the heel and ankle.

In the pattern, I also provide guidance on how to work out when to begin your heel turn, which is another source of anxiety for us die-hard cuff-down knitters.

The cuff:  My bind off is always on the tight side, and I have to consciously relax my grip when I do it.  Even then, I often end up with an edge that is less-than-ideal for projects that need stretch, like socks and fingerless gloves.  However, I also don’t like the frilly/flared look and feel of the stretchy bind off, which solves the tight bind off issue.  I have worked out a hybrid style that I have coined the “half-stretchy bind off” to solve my problem with edges. This method could well be used by others too, so I don’t think I should be taking credit for inventing it.

I have put together a demonstration of this method for you.  (Apologies about the bad lighting and not great camera angle.  My camera battery went flat and by the time it recharged it was night and rather than wait another week to have daylight recording time, and delay this post even more, I went ahead and made it anyway. I’ve not had a lot of time at home in the day lately.) For lace shawls, I do use the stretchy bind off, because you need that stretch to block out a beautiful edging.  But for socks and things like necklines on garments, this is what I do:

I hope you found that useful.  Thanks to these discoveries, another part of the sock knitting universe has opened up to me, and I find that very exciting!  I hope this post may encourage a few more knitters to try toe-up socks!



I feel like it has been simply ages since I last made a post!  I moved house and as you will know, it takes a while to get one’s life back together again after such a tumultuous event.  I hope you are all well, and enjoying life!

The new house is very different.  It was probably built in about the 1950’s, without the beautiful high ceilings that I loved so much in the other house, nor the gorgeous wooden floors.  Complaining aside, it will be a fine house to live in, and I am especially happy to hear plenty of native birdlife outside my window, including tuis, bellbirds and morepork!  I managed to unpack a lot of boxes today, but there is still a way to go before the house is looking homely.  I will show you photos of my surrounds as soon as I get to go and see them myself.  I’m very excited to go exploring – we are living close to the Hutt River, and I think it’s going to be rather awesome!

Much knitting has happened, because during this time, I also took two flights up to Auckland, giving me a total of four hours to knit!!!  What a lovely luxury.  Many things got finished!

This shawl was the one I was working on prior to the move.  It had to be finished to get on the plane to go as a gift.  I was pleased I made the deadline.  It is a quick knit – I finished it in 11 days, and was able to work at it at a leisurely pace.

Here it is, catching the early morning sun:

High Country Crescent

High Country Crescent

HIgh Country Crescent

The shawl is called High Country Crescent, and I knitted it in Spinning a Yarn‘s 4 ply merino silk. It is another stunning design from Mary-Anne Mace.  Mary-Anne has generously offered to give one free copy to a lucky reader.  If you’d like to go into the draw, please leave a comment about what yarn you would knit this shawl in.  I’ll draw the winner next Sunday, 17 April.  Good luck!

Skies above Auckland

It was a lovely day to fly, and we got window seats!  Doesn’t the coastline look beautiful?

The young boy is now on an epic trip overseas to visit his grandfather and father in turn, which means that I am officially on ‘mumcation’!!  Before you say ‘hurrah, knitting time!’, my employer has offered me a lot more hours for the next couple of weeks, which means that the ‘mumcation’ has turned into full-time work ++.  Oh well, at least I’m getting paid!

The second trip was for work.

On the plane trips, I was able to finish two pairs of socks:

Anemone socks toe up

These are the toe-up version of my Anemone socks. I am planning to amend my original pattern and add the instructions for this version as an update (the pattern will have both toe up and cuff down instructions).  If you have bought the pattern, the update will show in your Ravelry library at some point (I am terribly, terribly, behind with pattern writing at the moment).  I knitted this pair in Knitsch 100% merino sock in the Arronax colourway.  Once I update the pattern, I will be raising the price to reflect the additional effort and to begin to bring my patterns in line with market prices.  You can save money by buying the pattern now, and wait for the update if you’d like this version!

Plain vanilla socks

These are a pair that I started back on Christmas Day(!) as a pair of ‘waiting socks’, meaning I knit them only when I’m hanging around waiting for something (such as on a plane trip).  I’m very pleased I have finally got them off the needles.  The socks are knitted in an Opal colourway called the Fireman – this colourway was from a series devoted to representing occupations.  I think they did well representing fire and smoke!  They are just a plain vanilla cuff down pattern.

I have quite a few things lined up to show you in the next few weeks:  a number of patterns are in final/almost final stages, I have drafted a couple of tutorial type posts on socks, and of course, that review on the Naturally yarns needs to be written, in amongst others.

Stay tuned, and thank you for reading!