Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life

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Wait…

Oh gosh. Since when did it become December!? Christmas is just around the corner, and there is still so much to do!

Isn’t it funny how the end of a year provokes a whole range of thoughts around life, deadlines, accomplishments, wishes. In a way, it is a good thing because it gives us a sense of time. In another way, it can unintentionally create feelings of stress that shouldn’t be there. I do find it a great motivator to remember to ‘do’ something with my life.

In this post, I think it’s time I fronted up and explained a bit about my less-than-regular posts of late. Make a cup of tea and settle in… this is a bit of a wordy one!

Life has been quite distracted chez Kiwiyarns over the past couple of months. As of November, I began working in a permanent role, although I have been in a ‘caretaker’ role for that position for a few months now. It’s a senior job that is giving me a lot of satisfaction (and finally, some life certainty!) but is also draining my energy and ability to keep up the blog on a regular basis. I do apologise for this, as I value your interaction with me so much. My life over the past few years would not have been anywhere near as rich or as fulfilling had I not started this blog and pursued the path of knitting creativity. But none of that would have been nearly as good if it hadn’t been for the support and friendship I have received from you. I thank you for this from the bottom of my heart.

In my dream life, I would be a full-time knitting designer, fully immersed in the art of knitting and sharing that dream. However, from what I have seen and learned over the past few years, it takes a certain life circumstance for that to become a reality for most people.  Importantly, you need to have a financial backer (usually, one’s partner from one I can see!) to cover one’s life necessities while the business is growing into a going concern. This scenario is most likely never going to be mine, and I have to be realistic about ensuring some security around the rest of my life. Hence the pragmatic return to my former career.

This is by no means the end, and I do not regret for one moment, the risk I took to delve into knitting in a deeper way. Quite apart from the richness of human interaction (which is sadly lacking in a corporate environment), I also got to learn in an unfettered environment, I found freedom and the ability to create – independently of any rules or structure.  And I was able to live the life I wanted. It has been soul-restoring. This has been worth more to me than any money in the world. I also got to be closer to my son that I ever would have been otherwise, and that too, is worth more to me than any money in the world.

I am still knitting furiously in my free moments (another reason I am not writing as much) and would love to keep sharing bits of my life with you here. It just may not be as frequently as before. You’ll see I am reasonably good at keeping up on Instagram, mainly because it’s a very quick process to take a photo and say a few words – I would love to see you over on that forum too!

Now, what has happened with my knitting since I last wrote? There have been a few socks.

But as you can see, my usual output has been somewhat diminished.

I did make a start on the shawl I spoke about last time, but I am not in the mood for blue hands at the moment. The naturally dyed indigo based yarn I chose leaches blue on to your skin like nothing on earth, and perhaps in another head space I would be able to cope with it, but not right now. So today, I decided to frog it and use this instead:

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It is going to be beautiful. It’s Anna Gratton Wool/Silk/Mohair blend in Forest.

I am on a bit of a shawl bender to be honest. Once I have got my Christmas sock knitting out of the way, or maybe after I finish Regenerate (using Anna Gratton’s Forest colourway above), I already have the next shawl’s yarn all ready to go:
supplejack-yarns

I am fairly sure this will be Supplejack. I’m using Tanis Fibre Arts Blue Label in Lotus, Dark Harbour Yarn Port in Limey and Ruataniwha Dye Studio 100% merino in Spruce.

And maybe the one after that…

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This one is also Mary-Anne Mace‘s fault. That woman just cannot stop producing the most breathtakingly beautiful shawl patterns… this yarn is earmarked to be Spring Creek, or maybe the newest pattern that she has designed that is still in testing. There will be time to decide. The yarn is also Dark Harbour Yarn Port in the Fairwater colourway. The light grey is also Dark Harbour Yarn Port but I have lost the label and cannot remember what the colour was called.

That’s the great thing about knitting. So much creative potential, so much to knit!  Just a pity there is so little time…

Wishing you a good run-up into the Christmas season. What are your plans? I for one, am much looking forward to my firm’s annual three week break over the Christmas and into 2017. It will be good to relax, enjoy family and friends, and knit, knit, knit!

 

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Unexpectedly

Hello!

I have been unexpectedly absent from the blog for a couple of weeks due to coming down with the flu, a family vacation and some very busy times at work. It’s good to be back chatting with you!

We had an all-siblings and family get together to celebrate my father’s 70th birthday. These photos are taken at Mount Maunganui (or looking across from Tauranga to Mount Maunganui) and are my teenage stomping grounds. It was lovely to be on the beach again, feeling the sand under my toes. It was a contrast to Wellington beaches which are mostly rocky, with their own kind of wild beauty. Very different in character to the gentle, soft sand beaches I grew up on.

You can see larger images of these pictures by clicking on them.

Some knitting has been done, but not much, sadly.

I was unusually sick with the flu for several days, which even affected my ability to knit. (Fortunately, I was able to recover enough to attend my family gathering). And work has also eaten significantly into my spare time recently.

These projects cover the last two weeks – the cardigan is a Drops pattern that I am modifying as I go. I do not fancy the extended garter lapel in the front, so I will keep it straight edged. The cardigan has enough width without me needing to any extra stitches. I also plan to knit plain sleeves so that the overall effect is not too lacy. The yarn is very special Madelinetosh Pashmina in Tart. A generous gift from a very loving knitting friend.

The socks on the top are the finished  V-Junkie socks, knit in Knitsch 100% merino sock, and the bottom pair are a plain vanilla pair worked in two colours. I used a now-discontinued indie dyer’s high twist merino sock yarn. They are the first contrasting toe/heel/cuff socks I have made, and I am quite pleased with how they have turned out! They are also an effective way to use up those partial balls of sock yarn that aren’t quite enough to knit a pair of socks out of. I used approx 30gm of contrast sock colour and 60gm of the main colour.

One of the unexpected delights of the new place I am living in is the profusion of flowers that bloom in spring. I leave you with a small montage of some of the prettiness I see every day. It gladdens my heart – I hope to share a small piece of that joy with you.

My father and I were having a discussion one day about plants, and gardens, and the simple pleasures of enjoying a piece of freshly picked fruit, or delight in a gorgeous bloom. He made the observation that the tree or plant you put in the ground is a gift to future generations, and that we are but temporary custodians of their fruit and beauty. Wise words indeed. Such a simple act of planting can so powerfully contribute to someone’s future quality of life. After all, if it wasn’t for the efforts of previous people who lived in this house, I would not have all this loveliness to enjoy now. I shall look after this garden, and add to it, so that others can continue to enjoy it long after we are gone.

A happy weekend to you, and Happy Knitting!


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Coming soon

Hello!! I hope you are enjoying a lovely weekend!

I’m popping in very briefly today.  This week has been one of those very busy weeks, and although there is a huge amount cooking away in the background, I can’t show much of it to you yet.

Inspiration:  I suspect that many of you already know about this show.  I found it, and binge watched it, and I think it has to be the singularly most inspiring thing I have ever seen in my knitting life.  The episode I have linked you to has English subtitles, but if you watch it and like it, you’ll find that the language of knitting is so strong that you don’t really need to know what they are saying in the other episodes… It has electrified me!

Please excuse the horrible lighting – daylight disappeared before I got around to taking a photo…

The green things

The socks are my current ‘take along’ plain vanilla sock. They have received the most love this weekend, because I’ve been doing a bit of running around with the boy.  It’s an Opal colourway – Buffalo Bill.

The shawl is Liliaceous, another gorgeous number by Mary-Anne Mace. I’m using Zealana Kiwi in the Fern colourway.  It is another thank you gift… better knit it nicely!

The ball in the corner is a current secret project in Circus Tonic Handmade in the Silvereye colourway, and the skein in the top right is about something that I’ll be telling you about in a couple of days!!

Which leads me to say, come back on Monday, 16 May, because I have something brilliant to share with you.  (NZ/Aust readers please note this is US time, so it may not be until Tuesday, 17 May our time).  A wonderful designer has made a generous contribution to Sustain the Sea, and it is just beautiful.

I leave you with part of one of the photos minus the project… just a teaser!

Mystery pic

See you again soon!


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The knitted highlights of 2015, hopes and dreams for 2016

When I posted my goals of 2015, I certainly didn’t realise I would spend six months of the year working full-time and feeling exhausted for most of it.  I thought I was being conservative by setting a goal of 36 pairs of socks for 2015.  In the end, I only knitted 29 pairs, and a heap of other things.  All in all, 55 projects.  A couple of them are nearly-completed WIPs, and others are still in progress, but it’s not too bad a number considering.

These are some of my highlights:

Socks of 2015

These are the knitted socks from other designers that give me a little thrill every time I put them on (the blue ones were gifted, but I definitely want to knit my own pair!) Interestingly, these socks were the ones I also found most challenging!  Three of these pairs are Claire Ellen designs – Yavanna, The Falls of Rauros and In the Golden Hall.  The blue one is Embossed Leaves.

These are the non-socks that I knitted in 2015  that I was most happy with and have worn extensively since they were completed:

Garments of 2015

Hybrid Vigour, Empty Nets and Robin.

Favourite sock designs that I completed or released in 2015:

Sock designs 2015

The green sock design is still to be released, in case you are wondering why you don’t recognise that picture! Details of these designs and more are in my Ravelry store.  It seems it was my designing that suffered the most in 2015.  I only released nine patterns, and some of them feel like they were knitted a very long time ago.  I have so many more ideas in my head, but it takes a huge amount of energy to release a pattern, and it is mental energy that I just did not have. Hopefully I’ll have the time to release two others in late January that have been knitted, but just not formatted.

A summary of the projects of 2015 are:

2 x soft toys

2 x pairs fingerless gloves

7 x garments (3 of them are still in progress)

10 x shawl/scarf things (3 are still WIPs)

5 x hats

29 x pairs of socks (one of two may still need finishing)

Total meterage knitted is about 19,000m/20,800yd to date for 2015.  Now I know why I keep having to fill yarn holes in my stash.

I’m not sure if I managed to edge away much from my definite colour preferences, but I think we always reach for what we like/something to suit the mood, so I think that part is just not worth forcing!

The year ahead

2016 is going to be interesting.

I am part of a group of three organising a Wellington region yarn event to be held in the Wairarapa in October 2016.  Full details are still to be worked out, but we have had a heap of good comments back, and a lot of enthusiasm for it, which is most encouraging!  It is beginning to feel quite exciting!

I may have to make some very tough decisions about where I live and how I work.  Things will sort themselves out in the next month (I hope!!!)  The job/financial situation is becoming a bit dire.

On the knitting front, I don’t really know whether to set any particular goals. I still have that book’s worth of socks I want to design.  I think one main objective will be to decrease the size of my stash.  It is glorious, and I adore my stash, but I am starting to feel the need to de-clutter, and that means less yarn coming in than going out (notice I haven’t said “no buying yarn…” hehe).  However, if I do what I want to and knit a few more garments in 2016, that should quite easily take care of a lot of it.

I think I will still aim for 36 pairs of socks in 2016.  Socks are quite easily knit in a couple of days, and I love knitting them.  I am starting to run out of victims to gift socks to though… it may mean I have to start a second sock drawer!! Or maybe I should start knitting larger socks and knit more for the male members of the family.  That will mean buying more “man colour” yarn.  Oh dear!  😉

Man coloured yarn

This looks like a reasonable start though.  Perhaps I have more gender-neutral yarn in my stash than I imagined!

The interesting thing is that at a certain point of time (most commonly, around the 1st of a year for some reason) we stand still and make predictions about what we want to do or how we think events will unfold.  Quite a lot of the time, those predictions do not eventuate due to unforeseen circumstances (because no matter how much we try, we cannot predict the future).  Or they may take place in a different form to how we imagined.  So I am going to take life as it comes in 2016.  Important life principles will always happen (like making time for family).  There are certain things to work towards (eg. the yarn event) and certain things to accomplish (ie. find a decent job), but I am looking forward to being adaptable towards how those things happen.

I leave you with a photo of a balloon we saw in the early morning sky last week.  Just like that balloon, I hope your dreams carry you to amazing heights, that you are thrilled and delighted by your accomplishments, and that plenty of time happens in which to enjoy the company of friends and family.  Here’s to a Good 2016!

Balloon

Vintage Purls


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Knitting all the things

Hello!!

If you are like many in Knitting Land, the advent of December has suddenly induced the uncomfortable thought: “How much time left until Christmas!?”  I hope holiday and Christmas plans are going well!

The lack of a day job means that despite the end of year rush,  I am able to take as much advantage of the time while it is available to me to knit and especially to develop more of those designs that have been swimming around in my head for ages!

As a result, a lot is happening in my knitting world and there is a lot to show you!  So get yourself a nice drink to sip, make yourself comfortable and settle in for some eye candy!

I wanted to first say thank you for liking the Slipped Hat I designed for Zealana!  Had to show it one more time… so pleased with how it has been modelled and photographed! It is actually a quick knit, and if you do not choose to make a pompom, then you only need one ball of each colour for this pattern.  There are so many pretty colour combinations you could choose to knit this.  Another combination I thought of was Kale and Peppermint – dark teal and light mint together.  Yummy!  You could also go slightly off-grid and use Sugar and Deepwater – creamy silver and ocean blue variegated.  The combinations are many!

Image courtesy of Zealana

This year,  I have also taken it upon myself to do a limited amount of Christmas knitting. I’m choosing my recipients carefully.  I have recently been hearing “more socks!?” and “I have too many knitted things from you, it’s such a pain they take up so much space”, and to those family members, none they shall have! (I forgive them, because you have to be able to speak your mind when you are with family.  :-))

However, I do know for certain that there are a few people who should appreciate a knitted gift.  My son’s teacher will receive a hat.  From experience, teachers usually love to receive knitted things, so I hope he likes this thank you gift for being such an awesome teacher to my son this year…

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Compliant young man modelling said finished hat before it was washed and blocked.

It is knitted out of pure, naturally coloured New Zealand wool. The young man picked it out as he said his teacher would look good in it.  I’ve decided to be lazy and use a free pattern that seems to work well for many people.  Bonus points for being quick to knit!  I converted it to knitting in the round.  It works just as well, and then you don’t have a seam to sew afterwards.

I might also knit a similar hat for my brother, who spends a lot of time at sea, and likes my knitted things, and for my brother-in-law who works outdoors and is very knitworthy and makes my knitter’s heart burst with happiness at how he wears my knitted things into oblivion.  Better hurry though… time is ticking!

I’m also starting work on a new fingerless glove design that will also be a gift. More to come about that later.

Some socks have also been knitted as gifts.  You have seen most of them already.  One of them is a new design that I will introduce soon.

In addition to Christmas knitting for others, there has been some sock knitting happiness for me…

Joyeux Noelle

I have always fancied a Christmas sock, and Stray Cat Socks in Joyeux Noelle is just amazing!  The colours glow with a richness that isn’t properly captured by the camera.

Apart from gift and Christmas knitting, I want show you a new indie dyer from Australia, Circus Tonic Handmade. This is an indie dyer who is new on the market, and I rather like her approach to using Australian bird colours for inspiration.

Galah in Circus Tonic Handmade

This one is called Galah.  The yarn and I are having a difference of opinion at the moment.  It wants to be the design I’ve just drawn up.  I want it to be Melisandre. I have a feeling the yarn might win.  I’ve thought of another yarn that will look stunning as Melisandre, while Galah will be quite lovely in my new design (the yarn tells me I am being sensible).

Speaking of sock planning, here’s a peek at some gorgeous lovelies from Vintage Purls that I was playing with last week.  One of them is destined to become a sock design very soon. I hope!

Vintage Purls

I do not think I have told you yet that I have started Biophilia.  I am on the third lace set, which ends in nupps. Such a pretty, pretty, shawl!  I only allow myself to work on this on weekends, which is now my official ‘me’ knitting time – the rest of the week is designated to designing and knitting things on deadline, looking for a day job and doing parent stuff. It is very hard to keep my paws off it! Roll on Saturday!

Biophilia

Biophilia is being knitted in Knitsch 100% merino Sock in a colourway called Rocky Shore. It is very ‘oceany’ and lends itself well to the theme of the design!

I have been feeling the need for a summery cardigan, and after much looking at patterns on Ravelry, have whittled my choice down to Drops 95-21 Cardigan in Lace Pattern. I like how it looks on others, so I am confident it will look as good as it appears in the pattern.  Mostly importantly, there are not acres of dreaded stocking stitch to knit! I’m going to knit it in this super lovely Madelintosh Pashmina in Tart that was very generously gifted to me by a special friend:

Madelinetosh

Whether I get the time to do this before Christmas, in addition to starting on several gorgeous shawl patterns I have acquired (will show you next post) is highly unlikely!

You may be wondering what happened to Two Hearts.  The back has been ripped out three times as I have adjusted stitch count for a non-cabled back (too much cabling for my taste to have it on both the front and the back of the sweater, so I have modified).   Now that I have finally got the right number of stitches to suit my gauge and match the size of the front, it is progressing nicely!  It is not finished in time for the end of Wovember, but I shall have it in time for next winter! I won’t show you a picture of the back.  Stocking stitch is not the most interesting thing to photograph.

Speaking of Two Hearts, the knitter mentioned in my last post about this was mortified about reader reactions to her pointing out the mis-crossed cable.  She said, “Well I certainly didn’t mean it like that! I guess if it was me, I’d be much happier that someone had pointed it out when I had a chance to fix it – which is what happened. And what a brilliant job, and a new knitting skill picked up! At the start of the conversation, I guess I was fishing about to see if it was something I could mention – therefore giving the opportunity to fix, or whether I’d just get thumped. I may have done it inelegantly, but I credited WS with making phenomenal garments, and figured she’d probably want to know – while it was still a very easy fix. I would definitely want to know, and have dropped down around 100 rows to fix a miss-crossed cable.” (And knowing her, yes, she certainly would have done that!)

I am glad that she pointed out the error, and have expressed my thanks, because I learned so much in the process, and as she said, I did want to know while it was still an easy fix!  Some mistakes can be left, but that one was just too much over the line for my tolerance levels!

There is so much more to talk about, but I’m going to stop here and save it for another post.  Thanks for staying with me, and thank you for sticking with me over this year.  I really enjoy reading your comments.  You often make me laugh or smile in delight at what you say.  You have been good company!

A bit of non-knitting to finish.  The hay makers came last week.  It was nearly dark by the time they got to the field next to the house, which is why the photograph looks like this:

Hay making

This is the field now:

Afterwards

You can see how long the grass was by the fact that it nearly hides the calves grazing the edges!

Calves in field

I’m rather enjoying seeing all the different looks to this field over the year.


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Daisy

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It appears that patterns have a life of their own in my head.  I start with a general idea of what I want to do, get a semblance of a pattern together, and start knitting.  And sometimes, the pattern just develops a life of its own, and I knit as if on auto-pilot, the stitches tumbling off my needles, as if in a desperate hurry to be born into a project.  It’s an effort to keep up with the notes when this happens.

Daisy 2

I’ve been treasuring this special colourway from Knitsch (it’s called Green Thumb?) for a wee while, awaiting the perfect project, and now I have it.

I really ought to be finalising the patterns for the last two socks I have just completed the designs for, but this sock baby is in a hurry to come into the world too.

It’s going to be a rockin’ Socktober!  It feels wonderful to be creating again!