Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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Super early or super late!?

A Happy Weekend to you! I for one am very pleased it is Saturday!

As predicted, I managed to finish Braidsmaid this week. I may be lucky and get a couple of wears out of it before the weather warms up too much more. At least it is ready for next Winter? Or am I super late for this Winter? It doesn’t matter much. It will still be worn. There’s no such thing as an expiry date when it comes to knitting!

I knitted Braidsmaid in a DK weight natural grey alpaca/polwarth mix that I got from the South Island a while ago.  I used exactly 250gms of yarn, or about 450m.  It drapes beautifully and is so warm and snuggly. I do love wearing alpaca.

The shawl is the perfect size to wear under a coat. Featuring a reversible cable and garter stitch, you don’t need to worry which side is the right side, because they both look the same.

It has a shaping that I don’t think I have used before – you start at one end with the braid only and gradually increase the garter edges out to a certain width. Then one side is decreased gradually while the other is knitted on to the braided edge as you go. Such a clever design!

I think the key thing to know about this shawl (in terms of sizing) is that the shawl will only be as wide and as long as you end on Body Pattern I.   The width of the shawl at this point determines how long the shawl will be – the remainder of the shawl is all about decreasing one side down.  If you want a larger shawl than noted in the pattern, you should work a couple more repeats in this section before starting the remaining sections. In my case, I simply worked the number of repeats noted in the pattern. If I was to knit it again, I would probably chose to work one more repeat to make the shawl slightly larger.

I did a bit of an all-night knit bender this week… I found yet another WIP at the bottom of my basket and proceeded to finish it during the quiet hours of the night.

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I lost interest in them last summer after I didn’t complete them in time for Christmas. They are now ready for this Christmas!

These are Stray Cat Socks‘ in Joyeux Noelle, a Christmas colourway, using my Geek socks pattern. I get a little thrill every time I look at the projects in this pattern – there are over 450 projects noted on Ravelry so far – it makes it so worthwhile to make the effort to design a special sock. Thanks so much to everyone who has knitted this pattern!

The current frenzy of knitting shows no signs of abating any time too soon. I have made good progress on the next pair of socks, the V Junkie socks from Socktopus.

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The winding party has begun for the 3 colour cashmere shawl. Part of me is worrying that I have chosen the right shawl to knit. The yarn I am using is so special and so pretty that I need to be sure that whatever I use it for is going to do it justice! I might consider that issue a bit more…

I hope you are enjoying a great start to your weekend.

Happy Knitting!

Two hearts detail


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Two Hearts

My Ravelry notes for this project remind me that I started Two Hearts on 2 June 2015.  That was quite a long time ago!  After knitting half the front, I put it aside because I had no energy for concentration on complex cables at the time. However, now that I do have energy to do things that require a bit more brain power, I felt it was a good time to finish it in time for next winter!

And so here it is, all finished and ready for its bath!

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I’m quite pleased with this pic because it captures the creaminess of the Romney wool and the softness that will develop slowly but surely as I wear this sweater during winter.

There were a few things about this project that were very interesting.  The first is that I learned how to fix a mis-crossed cable many rows down without having to drop all the stitches back to the row I made the mistake on.  This was an excellent thing to learn!  It doesn’t work for all mis-crossed cables, but for this one, the fix was perfect.  You cannot see where the mistake was now, and even I cannot tell or remember.  The article explaining how to do that is here (I used Method 2).

One major mod I made was to make the back in plain stocking stitch.  The cables create a dense, heavy fabric, and I felt that if I were to knit the back in the same cable pattern, I’d feel like I was wearing armour.  I’m glad I made that call.  It took a few tries (despite calculations before hand) to get the number of stitches right as I had to decrease the amount of stitches knitted in order to match the front (cabling really pulls in fabric width and requires more stitches than stocking stitch for the same amount of width).

During the finishing process, I found that the bind off on the tops of my sleeves was way too tight – I could stretch the sleeve fabric to the length of the armhole, but not the bound off edge!  I figured this would not make for a pretty armhole/sleeve join, so I remedied that by ripping back and reknitting a stretchy bind off.  This allowed the fabric to stretch out properly and fit the armhole like it was meant to.  I hadn’t thought about using this method before but I shall definitely keep it in mind for future!

I posted a quick pic of the difference on Instagram at the time.  You can see how there is a significant difference in width from the same number of stitches obtained from using a different bind off method (the new bind off the sleeve underneath).

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The only other ‘issue’ encountered when knitting this sweater was that I initially knitted the neck roll too long (pattern said between 5 – 10cm, so I took the medium road and knitted 8cm).  I discovered that an 8cm/3.25″ neck created quite a fat roll and did not look nice at all.  A quick rip out back to a 5cm length, and it looked a lot more balanced!

Two Hearts sweater

I’m still not entirely sure I am happy with the neck.  I realise that I accidentally used 4.5mm needles on the neck instead of 4mm, and it has made the roll more floppy than the sleeve and edge of the sweater.  I think I may still rip it out and do that bit again.

Finally, on the yarn I used.  This is a ‘non-commercial’ yarn, in the sense that it was spun in a boutique mill and I suspect, the wool even came from a single farm as it was labelled Romney Lambswool.  Unfortunately, the people I bought it from are not in business at the moment (Blackhalls).  The wool was only minimally processed before spinning, which meant that it was very greasy.  It took five washes, two with very warm wool wash, to get the rinse water clear… but it has turned out gorgeous!  Free of the lanolin weighing it down, the finished garment is much lighter, with a beautiful bloom and liveliness!

Close up of Two Hearts

I don’t think I’m going to get too many issues with pilling on this yarn.

I had major issues getting satisfactory modelled photos of the sweater today.  It is a cooler day than we have been having this week, but still far too warm to wear a woolly, cabled sweater.  I gave up!

Had to share one last pic  of my wee companion helping me with the knitting as I finished this project.  He is so adorable.  🙂With Cole

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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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Hug (again)

Hello and good morning!  It is the wonderful weekend again and I hope it is a good one for everyone!

I am pleased to tell you that I have released Hug on Ravelry.  The pattern is available for an introductory price of 50% off until midnight on 29 November (30 November for those in the Southern Hemisphere).

Socks made from Zealana Cozi give your feet a gentle hug, lending these socks their name.

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You may recall my earlier post where I showed you the prototype for this pattern.  On reflection, I decided to make it a simpler pattern.  The main design feature is the braided cable running down the outside of each leg and heel, positioned so that they are still comfortable to wear when wearing shoes.  A simple reverse stockinette toe gives the front of the foot some interest and structure.

Hug is designed specifically for Zealana Cozi sock yarn, which is slightly heavier than the average sock yarn weight.  Stitch counts on this sock differ from the average sock for this reason.

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This is a cuff down sock.  Both written and charted instructions are given.

To knit these socks in a yarn other than Cozi, either use a similar weight sock yarn or knit a size larger and using needles that are a size larger than you usually use (gauge for these socks is 7 sts x 11 rows to one inch/2.5cm).

You will need two balls of Zealana Cozi (I used the Currant colourway (CO5)), 2.5mm (US1.5) sock needles of your choice and a small cable needle.  Optional stitch markers will help you mark the front and back of each sock if you find this helpful.  (I used the magic loop method when knitting these socks which made that unnecessary.)

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The medium sized sock is shown with a 18cm/7” long leg and 23cm/9” long foot. Each sock required approx 40g of yarn, or 136m/148yd .  Extra large socks will require more yarn.

The pattern is available here.  I hope you enjoy knitting it!

Many thanks to the youngest boy for his photography skills.