Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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Rabbit knitting

Hiya!  What are you doing there!?

Coal

Are these sticks good to eat?

Coal and sock

Will you play with me?

Inquisitive rabbit

Who’s that?

Cat and rabbit

He doesn’t look very friendly.  Why does he keep watching me?  Thank goodness he’s not in the garden too!

Roly

Too cosy under that stripy thing to play with me?

Coal resting

Well then, I’ll just clean my cute grey slippers…

Rabbit grooming

And have something nice to eat.

Minding the rabbit

See you next time!


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Puck for fast knitting

In the same way as we sometimes crave fast food, this week I craved fast knitting.

PuckIt probably had something to do with the fact that all my other projects are slow knitting – fine yarn or complex stitches – that require concentration and/or time.  I could see no FO satisfaction coming my way for a couple of weeks. Nor was I always in the right state of alertness in the evenings to be able to cope with the concentration required.

The yarn for Puck has been glaring accusing at me from the knitting table for quite some time, so I dived in and started knitting.

It’s funny that I had all the recommended colours for Puck in my stash.  It was a good way to use up those odd balls of Zealana Rimu DK that I had been collecting.  I used Riverbank (just over one ball), and one ball each of Kiwicrush and Dark Napo (I think? – I have lost the ball band – it’s a navy blue).  It is such a lovely yarn.  This photo particularly captures the softness and drape of this New Zealand brushtail possum yarn.

Zealana yarn in Puck

As written, the pattern makes for a scarf-sized project.  You could add another couple of repeats to get something closer to a shawl size.  I only had enough yarn for the original size.  They are not a very good night shots, but you get the idea… (I was trying to work out how many different ways I could wear it.)

Puck

Puck

It’s a crescent-shaped scarf.  I found that my cast-on edge could have been a bit looser.  Next time, I will remember to follow the advice of other knitters who put in a YO after the second stitch (and then drop it on the return row) to add more give.  Because this pattern requires you to make a stitch after the second stitch, I’d probably put the YO in the wrong side row which would have the bonus effect of giving me more yarn room to make the stitch on the right side row.  Now that makes me want to go and knit another Puck just to prove my theory right!

It is warm and soft and a nice pop of colour for my boring black work wardrobe.  Thanks for the refreshing interlude, Puck!

Fortunately, I have now finished the lace section of Lilli Pilli and am starting the next 100 rows of garter stripes.  They’ll do for mindless knitting this week!

Lilli Pilli


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Why she knits

A long time ago (maybe nine years ago), a certain person fell in love with knitting.  It wasn’t that she hadn’t knit before, but this time, after many years’ break, it was different.  Knitting became her constant companion. Consequently, there has hardly been a day when she hasn’t spent some time knitting (the days that did not involve knitting were due to flu days where nothing was possible except to lie in bed and sleep).

She loved knitting and everything associated with knitting.  The yarns.  The colours.  The stitches. The techniques.  The tools.  The history.  The people she met.  The animals.  The sheep that the yarn came from.  Especially the sheep.  Everything was so exciting and new and interesting!

Coloured sheep closeup

At first, she thought that she would only ever knit scarves.  That did not last long, as she branched into knitting clothes for her children and nieces.

A cheeky monkey in fingerless gloves

Eric's slippers

 

Woody sweater

She discovered New Zealand makers of knitting yarn – whom she realised did not have a high market presence (but totally deserved better).  Having a deep interest in sustainability, she wanted to support them and especially to support the wool industry in New Zealand, which appeared to be suffering a lack of appreciation.

Awakeri Woolcraft yarns

Zealana Heron

Anna Gratton Chili Chocolate

So she began to blog, and somehow, ended up designing small accessories to support the yarns she loved, and an even deeper element to knitting opened up.

Fair isle hat

Living and breathing all the aspects of knitting – the doing, the writing, the learning, the reading, the seeing, feeling, knowing, sharing – her appreciation of knitting and levels of happiness increased ten-fold.

Leighlinbridge Aran

After declaring that she’d never have the patience to knit socks, one day she decided to try.  She discovered that her earlier decision was a mistake.  It’s a neat trick to take a small amount of stitches, design it to fit a small part of the body, and turn it into a package of cuteness. There are limitless ways this can be done, and entire universe of knitting just in this one small garment!  Much enjoyment is now being had in knitting ALL the SOCKS!

Fire Flowers socks

Twisted Flower socks

After many troubled episodes of failure, she swore that she would never be able to understand how to knit lace.  One day, she got tired of looking on in envy at the stunningly beautiful things that others were making.  So she bothered to take time to learn, and found that she could indeed knit lace. It was a great moment of triumph.

Golitha Falls Shawl 3

Nowadays, she takes great pleasure in creating the beauty of lace.

Lilli Pilli

Knitting has been long spoken of as a form of meditation.  The act of meditation quiets the brain, calms the heart, and stills the nerves.  The meditator focuses only on the act of meditation.  In the case of the knitter, this is her knitting.  It works.  It calms, soothes, relaxes (most of the time).  This is an extremely important need in our everyday busy lives and is a source of great comfort in times of stress.

The act of creating something beautiful acts as reassurance that something meaningful can come out of a life that is sometimes in disarray.  It also creates joy, and a sense of accomplishment and purpose.

Knitting provides so many opportunities to learn:  about everything associated with knitting! Each area can encompass years of learning before mastership:  techniques – cables, colourwork and lace, different knitting styles and finishing techniques; yarns – how the animal or plant is farmed, how the fibre is harvested, how its made into yarn, how different spin affects garment performance,  how different fibres are suitable for different purposes, how the treatment of the fibres affects garment performance; colour – dyeing; different garment construction and design, the list is virtually endless.  It’s a universe of learning and fulfilment that could fill one’s days to the end of time.

And so it does.  She wakes up thinking of knitting, spends the day knitting as much as possible, and falls asleep at night, gazing at her beautiful collection of yarns, dreaming about what she will make from them when the time comes… to knit.

 


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Thank goodness for wool

While people over in the Northern Hemisphere have been feeling overly warm, down here in New Zealand, we have got a little taste of Antarctica!  As fellow Kiwis will attest, in our latest polar blast, snow fell over a good proportion of both islands this week, which was very exciting (because it does not happen often) and also very cold.

Sadly, the weather was so bad that it was impossible to get nice pictures where I was, but I did get one of the snow as it fell at work…

Snowfall

Compared to some parts of New Zealand, we got off lightly, with the snow only settling on the mountain ranges.  It looked beautiful when the weather finally cleared long enough this weekend to see it.  Still did not get a chance to take photos though!!

Temperature wise, even though it was cold, I did not mind because it was a great excuse to wear my knitting. And with those lovely layers of wool and possum, I was very snug.  It seems a lot of other people felt that way too.  I don’t think I have ever seen so much knitting worn by the general population as this week! Some of it may not have been hand knitted, but it was still wool.  Thick sweaters, woollen coats, knitted hats, knitted scarves and mitts were all seen in the wild.

Instinctively, people reached for the warmest thing they knew when the temperatures dropped, and I was most amused to see that it was not synthetic fibre.

Of knitting news, not much has happened this week.  I am very pleased to show you the finished Yvanna socks though!

Yvanna socks

I learned a few lessons knitting these socks:

  1. Knots look best if you pull the yarn tight when making them.
  2. It is really important to select the right yarn.  Tightly spun yarn with little ‘squoosh’ is not the best choice.  See in comparison the first version I started knitting before I had to stop and look for a better yarn (shudder):

Reject socks3.  All that cabling also affects length.  Although the recipient has smaller feet than me, I ended up having to knit the socks the same length as I would normally knit for me.  I had a suspicion that the first sock I knitted may have been a bit short at the time I asked the recipient to try them on.  So I knitted the second sock about an inch longer.  My suspicion was correct.  The second sock was a much better fit.  I ripped out the first sock’s toe and reknitted it to match the length of the second. They look super cute on her, and I’m pleased to say that the knots really ‘pop’ when the socks are worn and look distinctly like little flower buds.

This is the heel view:

Yvanna heelThe yarn is Tanis Blue Label in the Pink Grapefruit colourway.  It is an amazingly soft yarn base – I can’t believe there is no cashmere in it, the socks are that soft.

You can’t half tell I’m pleased with the outcome, can you!? ;-)

Having finished these socks, my needles were immediately occupied again with another pattern:

Twisted Flower

These are Cookie A’s Twisted Flower socks.  I’ve lusted after them long enough… time to make them a reality!  This “being exhausted after work” lark is starting to get very tiresome though.  In short order I have, to my great chagrin:

  1. Started knitting from the top of the chart downwards, and seemed to think it was completely sensible until I realised things were not working out.
  2. Realised, after starting again from the right place in the chart that I had cast on only 70 stitches and not 72, and somehow did not notice until things were not working out (again).

A great heave of a sigh, utterances of very impolite words, and two froggings later, I think we are finally on the right track… (she hopes!)

The nice thing about Lilli Pilli is that for the moment, there is very little that can go wrong.

Lilli Pilli

Except perhaps falling asleep in the middle of a row and waking up to find you’ve lost half your stitches off the needle.  At which point one tries very hard not to swear and throw one’s knitting across the room (because after all, it’s not the knitting’s fault) and goes to bed, feeling a bit tearful.

I was almost convinced that I must no longer be capable of knitting more than two rows before feeling sleepy.  Except that on Friday, I took a day off (it’s the school holidays) and the young boy and I took the train to Wellington (the road over the Rimutakas being closed on account on snow) so that we could pick up his best friend for a sleepover. The feeling of being able to knit for an entire hour without feeling anywhere near sleepy was close to ecstasy.

 


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Shawls can be addictive too

It appears that being addicted to knitting socks is not enough.
Lilli Pilli

I was feeling the loss of a shawl on my needles, and had to start this one because my other two WIPs are sometimes too mentally taxing to knit after a full day at work. Not normally a fan of garter stitch, I am finding the plain knitting of Lilli Pilli quite soothing at the moment.
Two hearts

Two Hearts is coming along nicely.  I have started the armhole shaping, which means that the first piece is nearly complete.  I do love how the Romney lambswool is looking in this sweater!  The spin of this yarn is an airy woollen spun, and the strand comprises a two ply.  It feels nice and light, even though it is heavily cabled.
Yvanna

Yvanna is nearly complete.  The second heel is now complete, and for me that signals a home run is in sight!  These socks easily rank as the most difficult pair I have ever knit.  Not overly technically challenging, it’s the large charts and shifting elements of each and every row that have had me cursing the day I ever agreed to knit these on quite a few occasions!  Not only am I having to mark each row as I complete it on the chart, but I also need a ruler under each row so that I can see straight!!  Again, not the easiest thing to knit after a taxing day at work. Difficult one to photograph nicely – they does look better in real life.

Yvanna has also challenged me in other ways – I have missed one or two knots, and looking back I can see the errors, but the thought of ripping back and reknitting all the knots to pick up one missing one is just too stressful to contemplate!  I shall just have to say that they are organic Yvannas – after all, when is one blossom branch exactly the same as another!?  ;-)  This approach doesn’t sit overly well with my perfectionist nature though.  There is probably a way I can create a knot embroidery style… I may look into that if I can’t bear the thought of handing them over the way they are.

Perhaps it is the effect of knitting two complex patterns at the same time, or the after effects of knitting that lovely Hybrid Vigour, but my mind is drifting back to lace and beads and shawls… and what to knit after Lilli Pilli.  Perhaps it is time to have another attempt at the Southern Skies, or perhaps I need to finally make a start on the Rosebud?

Scratching around for a trio of yarns to combine into Lilli Pilli, I also came across this lovely set:

Spinning a Yarn

In the end, I wanted a more dramatic Lilli Pilli (perhaps I’m just very boring and like the colour combination shown in the pattern…) but I decided not to go with this colour set.  Wouldn’t they make a beautiful Cameo or Bush Creek though?  The beautiful drape of the merino/silk does lend itself to very delicate lace though… perhaps something more like Versailles?  Or one of Boo Knits‘ hauntingly beautiful designs?  Decisions, decisions!

Wishing you all a great weekend and a lovely week ahead!

 

 


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Hybrid Vigour

I finished it.

Hybrid Vigour shawl

It’s one of the most beautiful pieces of lace I have knit yet, in my opinion!

It fits very nicely, and I can see that I will get a lot more use out of this when the weather warms up again.

Hybrid Vigour shawl

The ‘shawlcho’ concept is genius – no more worrying about the shawl slipping off!  Mary-Anne Mace has done a brilliant job of Hybrid Vigour.

The beads were fixed with a crochet hook.  I have to say that I do like this method of affixing beads – it means I don’t have the weight of the beads on my yarn as I am knitting, and they also sit much more nicely in the knitting that the other way.  I used a mix of glass beads that came pre-mixed – I bought them years ago, when I was into beading, and am very pleased that I can use them again and appreciate their beauty.  Their colour tones well with the yarn.

Beads in knittingThe yarn is Anna Gratton 4 ply merino/mohair in Lavender Fields.  I used 140gms, which is less than one skein. I was pleasantly surprised at how well this yarn knits as lace.  It shows a good level of definition!

Shawl

It’s the perfect wrap for a cool summer evening, or indeed a warmer winter day.

It’s such a wonderful feeling to finish a project, and be happy with it, and know that I have accomplished something.

Design by Mary-Anne Mace

It’s so pretty that I might even knit another one!