Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life



In sailing terms, “becalmed” means the ship or boat becomes motionless for lack of wind.

I think that becalmed can also refer to individuals who suddenly find themselves without the energy or impetus for their usual activities due to a series of unfortunate happenings that ‘take the wind out of their sails’.

I thought a trip to see my family would help ease that becalmed feeling.  I took some knitting. A pair of socks; two cardigans that needed finishing; yarn for a vest for my niece. Yarn for more socks. More yarn for a scarf or cowl if I ran out of other projects. Just in case. It was for a week after all – and you never want to get caught out!

I finished the socks quickly:

The cardigan took a little longer. In fact, the cardigan might not have got done at all had I not forced myself to knit. It wasn’t that I had much else to do. It was rather wet:

The North Island of New Zealand got a bit of rain this week. This is what a portion of the town looked like. Fortunately, I was staying in a hilly part where it wasn’t flooded.

We went for a walk in beautiful New Zealand native forest.

It was especially healing to go into the bush. I could have stayed in there forever.  This particular forest is covenanted, which means it is protected for perpetuity. It will never again be harvested for timber, or grazed, or ‘developed’ for housing or commerce. With predators kept in check, it will continue to mature and develop and grow as a haven for New Zealand’s wildlife and as a soothing, uplifting retreat for people.

Yarn companies like Zealana and Supreme are helping the fight to keep forests like this intact through supporting the industry around possum eradication. Whilst I didn’t get any photos of them, this forest echoed with the calls of native birds like the tui and the fantail. Bellbirds and the New Zealand parrot, the kaka, are yet to become common, but I hear they’ve been sighted. Large, heavy kereru (native wood pigeons) hopped around the branches, feasting on berries. Chicken-sized wekas (they look like the kiwi but without the long beak) scurried around the edges of the bush, booming and calling to each other. The booming thing is incredible – they must have a throat organ of some kind that they can swell up and call through – it sounds almost bullfrog-like. And there’s its shrill ascending “weeeeeek” – at night, the forest valley came alive with weka calls. It was heart-warming to hear them as it indicates that their population is slowly rebuilding after decades of near extinction. Little New Zealand owls, the Morepork, added their mournful “mooore pork”. It made me think of what New Zealand must have sounded like when first the Maori and then the European settlers arrived, before the forests started to be cleared and the introduced predators made their mark on New Zealand’s delicate ecosystem.

We went to the beach. Here’s my brother with his baby daughter, wearing the jumper I knitted and gave to him:

I got home last night and looked at the house and decided it needs a jolly good clean. Lawns must be mowed if it ever stops raining, windows should be washed. Floors vacuumed, kitchen cleaned. Cupboards wiped down. The laundry monster wrestled into submission. Spiders made to live outside.  The car washed.

Somehow, I am feeling a little more energetic than I was.  It was nice to be away.



Free pattern: Evelyn, a simple eyelet lace cowl

I’m delighted to bring you Evelyn: Free pattern – Evelyn, a simple eyelet lace cowl (v2)

This cowl is knitted in the round, using 6mm needles and 200m of worsted-weight (10 ply) yarn. I used 2 balls of Zealana‘s gorgeous Heron (Lichen colourway) for my cowl, and I’d say it is best suited to a light, airy yarn such as this.  If you can’t get Zealana, and are looking for an alternative, I think it would also look lovely in an angora or mohair mix yarn.

Knitted up, the cowl measures 13″ (33cm) across and 12″ (30cm) tall and is a nice size for a medium – large-sized head.  Cast on a smaller number of stitches for a small-sized head (suggest 84) or knit another repeat of the single eyelet pattern for a longer neck/more fabric.

An alternative look for this cowl would be to do knit it at double its width (cast on 180 – 200 stitches instead of 90) and knit only half the width.  It would then be long enough to twist in half and wear as a very cuddly, deliciously soft cloud of warmth around your neck. I estimate you’ll need around 400m of worsted-weight yarn (10 ply) for this longer style.

If you have any questions or note any mistakes in the pattern, please do let me know!

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this quick, simple project.



Creative jags always hit when I’m feeling a little low.  Perhaps it’s the intensity of feeling that makes a creatively inclined person need to express in some way, the emotion of the moment.  It always makes me feel better to create something beautiful and spontaneous. Do you find that?

I buried myself in some of my lovely Zealana Heron yesterday, and came up with this:

It’s an eyelet lace cowl that I’ve called Evelyn.  I rather like it.

Heron, a beautiful, softly spun yarn has a gorgeous halo, softness and drape.  It’s 80% New Zealand merino and 20% possum.  Very warm and cuddly.  Look at the contrast of natural halo from the possum against leaves:

The pattern is written, and a lovely friend has volunteered to test it before I send it out into the world.  Stay tuned!

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My second pair of socks, in progress:

I’m using Vintage Purls‘ sock yarn, in a limited-edition colourway she called “Grown”.  It certainly has that foresty, leafy look.  Yum.

It’s a good colour to knit at the moment  – like the wet, green leaves on a grey and rainy day which is today.

The other day I also showed you a nice, woolly number.

Here’s a bit more of it:

This is the Gooseberry Cardigan, by Hannah Fettig.  It’s in the 2009 Interweave Knits Weekend issue.  It’s a top-down, mostly all-in-one construction, which I love.  Knitting the sleeves now.  Next the button bands and the collar, and I’m done!  The perfect, hardy, woolen cardigan to wear around the farm to keep me warm and not worry about snagging it somehow.  I started it a while ago, but put it aside to do Stomp.  But it’s time I finished it!

It’s the last day of school term today.  Where did the time go????


Happy wanderings

The little man and I went for a discovery ramble this weekend.

I thought I’d share some of our favourite findings with you.

Gorgeous New Zealand red and yellow admiral butterflies.

The last of the blackberries:

Ferns are another plant I find fascinating.  Those tiny tendrils, that delicate curl of the leaf, the feathery beauty of the frond:

Don’t you just love the textures you can find in nature?

We went by a marshy bit:

This is the flower of a New Zealand carnivorous plant.  It’s a wetland plant.  The Drosera (or sundew).  It releases just one flower a day, which lasts just one day.  (Confession:  this plant lives on my window sill. But it fits the theme, so I thought I’d include it here.)

And finally, a few more marvellous ‘shrooms:

Funny how this week’s knitting looks strangely familiar…

Happy sigh.  I just love living in the country.


First socks

Ta da!  My first socks!!!

That was an interesting and absorbing experience.  Everyone talks about the turning of the heel (a very geeky, joyful experience).  But the thing that gets me about socks is… Kitchener stitch.  Shiver.  That grafting thing was hard to get my head around.  I need more practice.

I used the Yarn Harlot’s (Stephanie Pearl-McPhee) basic sock recipe, found in her book  “Knitting Rules!”  The New Zealand yarn used is one that’s no longer on the market – Needlefood’s sock yarn, in Sweet Chilli.

Now I’ve knitted my first pair, and have figured out how my foot differs to the basic pattern, it’s time to knit a pair that fits perfectly! 🙂