Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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Of knits and stuff

Alpaca is one of those fibres that really comes into its own when used in the right pattern. I chose it to knit Paris Toujours.  The yarn is from Skeinz and is called Alpaca Sterling.  It is 98% alpaca, with 2% silver accent that gives the yarn just the twinkliest hint of bling.  I used 300gm in total. It is very nice yarn, and I really enjoyed using it.  Some alpaca yarns are treated with a chemical of some kind that helps it to stick together during spinning. This chemical can create a yarn that has a horrible drag on the needles, making it a total pain in the A to knit.  I was very relieved that Alpaca Sterling had none of that drag.

The shawl has turned out to be the loveliest thing with gorgeous softness, drape and warmth.  I can see I will use it a lot come winter!

You can see more of the sparkle in this WIP photo:

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The pattern is as usual, well written by Isabell Kraemer.  It is one of those projects that you can knit and not think about too much once the pattern is established and you figure out unusual things like the slipped stitch edging.  You can see it in the photo above – it makes for a lovely neat edge to the shawl.  I like it and will use it again in future!

IMG_1705 (800x600)I am very, very, nearly finished on Two Hearts.  Just a quarter of the second sleeve to go and the sewing up, so you will see it soon!  I am very excited, as sometimes it has felt like I will never get to the end of it!

The finishing of these two projects leaves me with thoughts on what to do next.  I am very much in the mood to finish up other outstanding WIPs that I have had sitting around for a while, especially this one:IMG_1720 (800x800)

It’s the Leighlinbridge Aran by Melissa Leapman that has been stuck for lack of concentration time for a few months.  I realise I made one of the twisted cables just slightly larger than the others, but too bad, it will be fine.  I can live with it.  I’m using The Wool Company’s Possum Merino in a colourway that is very similar to the new Sea Foam.  That was a mistake looking up the colourways because now that I have seen the new season’s colours, I Want Them All!!!! They are absolutely gorgeous!

The new project that I’d like to start is my retry of Audry’s Southern Skies.  After my failure with the original yarn I chose (it came out far too small), I decided to use a yarn with less spring, and asked Anna Gratton if she’d custom dye me a night sky using her 4 ply 100% wool.  This is what came back, called Midnight Sky:IMG_1715 (800x705)

I got it out of storage this week and decided that it was just far too beautiful not to knit into a shawl. I can see it will be very reflective of the Milky Way when taken on long time exposure.  I love it!!

I’m going to knit it with 4mm needles as I want it to be nice and big, and I know that my gauge is much tighter than Audry’s.  More on this shawl soon!

I’ve now got at least seven designs sitting on my list of things to write up.  Somehow, I am lacking the motivation.  I think the realisation that pattern designing is not a viable income generator for me has me in a bit of a writing funk.  I keep coming up with designs because I keep knitting things from my head and thinking “someone would like to knit this too, I bet”.  I am grateful that many of you like my designs, but I need to accept that designing is just a hobby and do it for the love of designing and sharing rather than anything else. Still, it is a good exercise to keep my brain exercised during this hiatus from work.

Perhaps too, because I lack mental stimulation in other areas at the moment, that my mind has turned to wanting to learn new things, to stretch and grow.  So there is a bit of a fascination with all things lace and colourwork and complex cables going on…

Finally, I’d like to link to this uplifting video I came across this week.  It’s about emotional first aid.  Guy Winch made a very good point about how we look after ourselves really well physically, but how often do we do the same to our minds? He touches on things like loneliness and fear of failure and rejection, not the catch phrase depression that seems to be all the rage to talk about these days.  It’s a really good listen, and I got a lot out of it, so I am sharing it with you.

Wishing you all a good week!

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Weekend pottering

The year is drawing rapidly to a close, and I for one, am not sad to see it go.  It has been a very long year. It has been very busy.  The tree isn’t even up yet!  That will hopefully be remedied today, along with the long grass in the back garden and Christmas presents that still need to be sorted.

We did make time to see “The Battle of the Five Armies” yesterday. We decided to see it at the Roxy.  I like the cinema, with its art deco theme and very comfortable chairs.  It seemed fitting to see the last Hobbit movie there.

Gandalf

The cinema has been refitted by Weta Workshop with cool Lord of the Rings features, including a life-size sculpture of Gandalf outside.

The boy with Gandalf

We were delighted to find some Hobbit-movie features inside as well.

At the Roxy

This is one of the dwarves’ costumes.  If I remember right, it was Ori’s.  As you can imagine, I spent quite a bit of time examining the knitted scarf and gloves…

The movie was great.  I decided to forgive Peter Jackson and team for including the orc sub-story that had not been in the original book.

Now then, to knitting!

Knitting

There has not been a whole lot of knitting.  Usually at this time of year things are getting a bit quieter at work, and there is more time for knitting, but this year will be frantic right up to the bitter end.   My place of work breaks for the summer on 19 December (in New Zealand the vast majority of employers enforce a two – three week annual holiday at this time of year).  At least I will have a few days after that to focus on Christmas preparations, and do enjoyable things like knitting.

However, I am making reasonable progress on two sweaters (I’m preparing for next winter – no point in knitting when it’s cold and you need to be wearing it, not knitting it!) The first is the Mattingley Jumper.  If you haven’t already noticed the book it’s in, go and have a look.  I found several patterns in there that I should like to knit, and as I have a somewhat generous alpaca stash, this is a good opportunity to use it up!  I am knitting the Mattingley in a naturally coloured charcoal alpaca in 80% alpaca, 20% polwarth wool (no brand – it came from a small alpaca producer who does not make yarn any more).

The second sweater is the Leighlinbridge Aran, which you’ll remember from my last post.  I am very much enjoying knitting it in soft, snuggly possum yarn.  The only thing I need to remember to do is to pause and look at the cabling every now and again.  Sometimes I make a mistake, and it’s easier to fix when it’s not so far down the fabric.

I love those cables!!!  I had forgotten how physically demanding a heavily cabled garment can be to knit – it is good exercise for the arms.

Cables

The autumnal-looking lace item in the top photograph is a scarf I’m designing and snatching a row or two on whenever I have a quiet five minutes and I don’t feel like wrestling with cables or a sweater in my lap.  It’s actually my ‘restful knitting’ project at the moment!  It will look lovely when it is done.  It’s one of those projects where blocking is definitely an essential part of the finishing process!  I’m using Anna Gratton‘s hand-dyed, 4 ply 100% wool in her Desert colourway.  It reminds me of autumn leaves.

There are also several pairs of socks lurking on the needles in various stages of completion.  I’ll save those for another post.

And finally, a bit of eye candy to finish the weekend!

Happy-go-knitty Luxury - merino cashmere nylon

I was so excited when these two beauties arrived!  This is a new MCN yarn base from Happy-go-knitty,  a high-twist, merino, cashmere and nylon mix!  Love!!  The colourways above are fuschia blossom and mango calla.  Helene doesn’t seem to have made any listings for them yet, but I am sure if you pop her a line she will tell you what she has in stock behind the scenes.

Wishing you all a good week and a restful weekend!

 

 


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A knitter’s midwinter

Hello!!!  I hope this post finds you well in your respective parts of the world, and looking forward to the start of the weekend.  Here in Wellington, we enjoyed a sprinkling of snow and a heap of hail today, and now it is a c-c-c-c-coooooold evening!!  Perfect weather to snuggle up next to the fire with one’s knitting!!  I hear that things are even better in the South Island with lots of snow… hope you are all staying warm!

This week has been such an exciting one in the knitting sense.  I managed to finish not one, but three(!) projects!

First up is Nurmilintu:  This is lovely little free pattern almost knits itself.  I am very happy with my yarn choice (alpaca/silk from Flagstaff Alpacas and Doespins) as it complements both the lace pattern and the drape beautifully.

NurmilintuIt sits around my neck as I type this, a lovely soft cloud of warmth to keep out the winter chill.

Last night, I finished the Noro Silk Garden socks that I have been knitting for a while.  They were my ‘waiting for the boy’ socks – knitted while waiting for him to come out of school and during his swimming lessons.

Noro socks

My sons do not like them, and made derogatory comments about how they look old (that’s the silk) and not very colour coordinated.  Too bad.  I think they are lovely, and deliberately made them non-identical.  It is a bit disconcerting to look down and see two differently coloured socks peeking out from under one’s jeans though! I knitted the socks with the yellow cuff first, and was disappointed when I got to the end and found the pretty pink and purple colour would be missed out.  So I started the next sock where the first one left off, and I rather like that colour combination better.  The heavier weight of this yarn has made them lovely and squooshy to wear too!  I might just have to knit more Noro socks…

And finally, and very excitingly, I have finished Seadragonus!

Seadragonus

Seadragonus will be released in the next week or so.  The pattern has been written, and I just have to make final edits.  I designed this pattern to give my brain a rest after another pattern that I have just finished (I’ll have to tell you about that one another time).  It’s an easy, playful pattern, designed to mimic the larger back scales and smaller belly scales typical in a reptile, and give the general impression of… a dragon!

This pattern marks the start of a couple of sea-themed patterns.  Shark week is coming up, and I aim to produce a sock pattern that highlights the issues surrounding the ocean’s sharks.  It will be part of my Sustain the Sea collection, and therefore a free pattern.  I’ve been silent on the subject of the sea for a while, and not because it is no dearer to my heart.  It’s just that the issues in fishing and the state of the sea became too painful to talk about, and I had to take a break.  Time to get a grip!

On a brighter note, have you seen soknitsome’s most recent post?  She talks about a very worthy cause that we can all participate in to raise funds for literacy.  It’s as simple as logging the number of pages you read every day.  I could not imagine a world without words, and yet there are still millions of people deprived of this simple right.  Go on – have a read! 🙂

Wishing you a lovely weekend.


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The Yarn Addict

Oh lovely stash of mine

Forgive me, for I have sinned (again)

Lead me from temptation for

I looked and saw, and my heart did desire

 

A bad day at work, a sad situation

Comfort of the squishy kind I needed

Eyes strayed from your loyal presence

Sitting, trusting by my side, do not show your ire

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See the evidence of shame before me

Gleefully pulled from the mailbox

Unwrapped in haste, caressed, sheepy essence inhaled

A happy sigh exhaled

The Acquisitions

Projects plotted and planned

The heart gladdened, of woolly goodness

Wool

Alpaca cuddles

Alpaca

Silky promises of socks to come…

Merino/silk

A pop of colour, oh fun and joy!

Self-striping stray cat socks

All these I add to you, oh stash

Beautiful skeins from past acquisitions

Some of the haul

You say: Pick me! knit, me!

Hurry, yarn I no longer want to be!

And yes, through fingers wound

With sticks and time

 

On the sofa with you I shall sit

Creating a garment your beauty will fit

All in good time, my pretties

All in good time.

 


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I see stripes

I’ve been trying very hard to be good and finish up projects before I start new ones.  It has been especially hard on the sock front, but reminding myself of the reward of that satisfying feeling of getting a few projects off the needles seems to be helping!

Finished and in-progress things from the last few days, which funnily enough, seem to be mostly stripy!

The young boy's sweater

Why is it that when you want people to look nice for the camera, they do the exact opposite?  Someone was quite put out at being asked to pose… but at least you can see the finished result (I can’t be bothered blocking it so it’s a little rumpled looking – matches the boy, I think).  As mentioned in a previous post, this is a sweater of collaboration between the young boy and me.  He chose the colours and the general concept, and I worked out how to knit it!

I knitted the body stripes in reverse stocking stitch to give the sweater a bit more texture.  I felt the stripes looked too flat otherwise, and it’s a nice echo of the garter stitch welt and cuff.  I kept the sleeve stripes stocking stitch though – they would have looked too much like flotation devices otherwise!

The sweater was knitted in the round up to the armholes, then I divided for the armholes, and knitted the front and back separately.  I added some short rows to the back as the young man has broad shoulders, but a bad habit of slumping, and that always produces an unattractive look with the back of the sweater riding up.  I think the short rows have done a good job of keeping the back hem line straight.

The sleeves were picked up after I joined the shoulders, and knitted in the round down to the cuff.   Finally, I added a couple of rows of garter stitch to the neckline.

I was reminded why I am not so fond of knitting stripes when I got to the sleeves.

Jog

That jog is oh-so-annoying!  I couldn’t be bothered to rip back on this one, as he’ll probably have outgrown the sweater by next winter, so I’m not too worried about making it perfect.  The colour change is on the inside of the arm, and no one is going to see.  However, with the next sleeve, I decided to review my notes on jogless stripes (this and this tutorial from TECHKnitting are very helpful).

The result is much better.  I suspect that once I get around to blocking the sweater, the stripes will even out even more.

jogless stripe

Unfortunately, the next design that the young man wants me to knit for him involves an entirely striped sweater… it’s enough to make the heart quail.  Ah well, nothing like a challenge!!

The sweater is knitted in The Wool Company 100% Corriedale – a very good workhorse yarn.

Then there are the socks:

Imp socks

The Imp’s socks in self-striping yarn from Stray Cat Socks in the Momentum colourway.  Very pretty, and happily perfectly identical.  I hope she fits them, or they might have to get sent back to me for ‘renovations’.

Of course, one cannot knit a pair of socks for one sister without the other getting a pair too.

Regia self-striping yarn

These are knitted in a Regia Jazz self-striping colourway (6451).

And finally, an almost pair that isn’t stripy:

Crenate socks

The alpaca/merino/nylon sock yarn in the Embers colourway from Doe Arnot.  Very cosy, and looking nice in Crenate.

I am looking forward to this weekend.  Lucky me!  I have a knitting date with the lovely Alice of Bleating Art Yarn! (And if you haven’t already noticed, an update of gorgeous new colourful yarn has recently been put up…)

I also want to say thank you to all you very amazing people who bought my Latticework Cowl pattern.  I really appreciate your support of my endeavours!  🙂

Wishing you a lovely weekend.

 


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Fresh, stripy socks

A freshly minted pair of hand-knit socks is always welcome in my sock drawer.

Self-striping socks

They’re finished!

I LOVE them!!!  Hand-dyed self-striping yarn is lovely.  It has such a nice “coloured-in” look to it, like someone drew a pair of socks with crayon on a piece of paper, and then somehow the picture magically materialised into real socks!

The yarn is pretty special too.  Super soft alpaca sock yarn.

Yarn:  Doepins alpaca/merino/nylon sock yarn in the Meridian colourway.