Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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Caretta Caretta and the shawl planning

A happy weekend to you!

This weekend hasn’t been the most wonderful. I am stressing about work and how much I still have to do, but sometimes we get so overwhelmed that the only thing to do is walk away and bury oneself in something else in order to reset the brain so it can function normally again. My colleague referred to it as having too many tabs open in the brain, and I think she is absolutely right! So I have shut all the tabs, and decided instead to open a fun, de-stress app called “knitting”.

A sock was finished this week. I am absolutely in love with this colourway. I think the Caretta Caretta pattern in Socktopus has teamed the Sokkusu O yarn perfectly. I love the vintage effect.

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It was meant to have beads, but I don’t like the idea of beads pressing into my feet, so omitted them. I think it still looks great without them. I also made some accidental mods – instead of 3 x 1 ribbing in the cuff, I made it 2 x 2.  By the time I realised my mistake, I decided that it was fine like that. I also went into automatic toe mode and made the toes stockinette as opposed to 3 x 1 rib, but again, I think they look fine as is so did not rip out and redo.

The other project that has been occupying my needles is the Braidsmaid.

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I am fascinated with the shaping aspects of this shawl. I will tell you more about it when it is finished – likely to be next weekend.

And then there was more shawl planning… so much fun! (If you click on the images you will be able to see larger versions if you are interested).

I am wanting to knit the 3 colour cashmere shawl and have been thinking a lot about colour options. Whatever I wear needs to fit in with my mostly neutral (corporate) wardrobe. I already have quite a few shawls featuring red, so went for something different. These two are in the lead at the moment:

These lovelies are (from left),  House Crow (Revelry Sock) by CircusTonichandmade; Stone (Purple Label) by Tanis Fiber Arts, and Mink (Tough Love Sock) by Sweet Georgia. The second colour option is Barn Owl (the white speckle) (Jubilee Sock) by CircusTonicHandmade; a yarn whose label I have lost, and Stone by Tanis Fiber Arts.

Decisions, decisions!!  One combination picks up the browns in all the yarns and the other combination picks up the purples. I suspect I will end up with the purples, as they work better with my colouring.  Plus I feel more excited about the finished product when I see those skeins together!

And finally, the next sock I have started:

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This is V Junkie, also from Socktopus. I’m using an older Knitsch colourway, Mandli. It’s a very fun knit.

I had better go now and sort myself for the launch of Socktober later in the week – watch out for two sock pattern releases from me on 15 September, and don’t forget the code SOCKtober2016 to get 40% off all sock patterns in my store from 15 September – 31 October 2016. Don’t forget to check out the Carolina Fiber Girls or their Ravelry Group for details of other exciting Socktober specials!

Have a wonderful start to the week, and Happy Knitting!


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A knitter’s Christmas

Christmas 2015

This post is a bit late due to various distractions and interruptions!  Christmas has been lovely.  My sister and family visited, and there was a lot of eating and talking and enjoying the company of family whom I had not seen in over a year.

In the end, I knitted and gifted four hats, two pairs of fingerless mittens, four pairs of socks and a couple of soft toys.  I think they were all well received.

The soft toys are Plants vs Zombie inspired – you can see them in the collage above.  Initially, I knitted only the Pea Shooter because I wasn’t sure if he would like it.  The boy loved it so much that I promptly got an order for the rest of the set! The Frozen Pea Shooter has been finished, and a Sunflower and Repeater remain to be done.  The pattern is free on Ravelry from Ginger Grant – linked to here in case you want to knit your own.  Be aware that there is a small omission in the pattern about when to place the eyes.  I used plastic soft toy eyes and put them in before completing the stuffing on the head.  I also added drinking straws to the stems to strengthen them, and added picot ice crystals on the Frozen Pea Shooter to make it more authentic.

For knitting, I have started a sparkly shawl (Paris Toujours in Skeinz Alpaca Sterling), most likely for me, and a pair of alpaca socks for winter.

Paris Toujours

This yarn was a lovely gift from The Sweaty Knitter, received earlier in the year.  This alpaca sock blend looks like handspun, but it has been commercially spun by a small mill in the United States – it is amazing that you can trace the fleece used in each yarn cake back to an individual alpaca!  The pattern is just a basic ribbed sock that comes from my head.

Alpaca sock

Some amazing gifts were received:

Christmas gifts

I am particularly besotted by the sweater lot of Wollmeise and the lovely bag it came in… 1,500m of pure deliciousness that will be perfect for a lacy cardigan. In addition was more beautiful British wool.  Also from another lovely friend was a very thoughtful gift of some crystals, incense and chocolate. I was thoroughly spoilt!

There may have been some new for-me yarn under the tree as well…
CircusTonicHandmade

Hannah of Circus Tonic Handmade is a hive of inspiration.  Every time I look at her etsy site, there are yet more mouth-watering shades of pretty yarn.  Maybe fortunately for my and your pocket, she is now on holiday until 22 January…

Doespins alpaca merino

The very long-awaited Flagstaff Alpaca’s merino/alpaca/nylon sock base finally arrived, and Doe has started to dye it and list it in her etsy shop.  Of course, I had to get some.  In fact, I need to get more of this lovely yarn when I can because this is the very last alpaca yarn that Andy of Flagstaff Alpacas is going to spin, from what I understand due to the closure of the mill where the yarn is made.  I am very sad about that.  There are some very beautiful, masterfully dyed colours in the Doe’s shop.

So that was my knitty Christmas in a nutshell!

I also need to tell you about Charles Gandy‘s visit, which I referred to in my last post.  Charles is a TKGA Master Knitter and fibre artist who amongst other things, knits amazing art socks.  He is author of The Embellished Sock, a book of socks that are knitted art for the foot.  This one is my particular favourites from the book, called Tiptoe Through the Tulip socks.

Tulips_small2

Charles told us about his upcoming exhibition “Beyond the Sock” featuring amazing art based around a sock form. None of the socks are meant to be worn, but they look absolutely amazing, and hearing about the process involved in creating the socks was very inspirational.  Those fortunate enough to see the exhibition when it opens at the Bascom later in 2016 will be amazed.  More details are in this link where you can also see a small peek of the exhibition socks and other examples of his work.

Charles showed us a couple of techniques (finger cords and the twist) that he uses one of his other books, commissioned by Regia.  We were lucky enough to be given a booklet each, personally signed by him.  I might just knit one of them for the sheer fun of it!

Charles Gandy socks

As 2016 begins, I want to wish you all a Happy New Year!  2015 was a real mixed bag for many of us.  Let’s hope that 2016 perhaps provides a bit of respite.  Let us look for opportunities to nurture our friends and family, show love and find peace.

I’ll be back soon with a small review of the favourite projects of 2015!

Happy Knitting!

 


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The week before Christmas

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It’s just a few days to go before Christmas, and it’s time to make lists so that things don’t slip between the cracks!

Between now and Wednesday, there are lawns to mow, decks to scrub, the house cleaning, baking, a Christmas grocery run and final Christmas knit to finish.

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Isn’t it a pretty colourway?  It’s Dream in Color Smooshy in Tea Party. There will be enough yarn from this skein to make two of these, and I think it’s very appropriate to make some for me, given my avid tea habit.  The name of the yarn is apt too.  It is quite Smooshy!  This 100% merino sock weight yarn has the perfect density (like my favourite high twist from Knitsch).  It is nicely twisted and not at all splitty.  The 3 ply also makes it durable.  It’s just right for this little project of mine.

On Wednesday, I will be in Wellington to meet Charles Gandy, a US designer who is in town.  The event has been kindly organised by James (kiwikiltedknitter), of Joy of Yarn indie sock fame (sadly he no longer dyes).  His itinerary is on this Ravelry forum if you’d like to join in!

And on Thursday, the guest room needs to be readied for my sister and her family who are arriving to share Christmas.  It will be most excellent to see them again as it has been a couple of years.

I hope all is well in your corner of the world, and that your own holiday plans are going well.

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Thought I’d share a couple of ‘other’ photos with you:  the cuddly cat decided yesterday that the best place in the world was on my lap and under the knitting.  It was quite a cold day – in fact, we have had SNOW on the hills this week!!  I almost lit the fire (but wait, it’s summer right!?)

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Look at that wee blissed-out face!  It was a bit gloomy – apologies for the bad lighting in the photo.

You may be wondering about the new background in my photos – this is my newly set-up headquarters for Kiwiyarns Knits/Wei S. Leong Designs. If I may say so myself, it’s the perfect knitting designer’s corner!

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And finally, saving the best for last:  a Knitting Event for the Wellington region!!  It will be some time in October – we have just been informed that the venue double-booked our preferred date, which means we need to do some rethinking of dates. Sigh.

It will be held at the Carterton Events Centre in Carterton, Wairarapa, which is only an hour’s drive from Wellington. It will be an all-day event, with selected, quality traders and a handmade lounge for social crafting (I hesitate to say knitting, because all fibre related people are welcome, eg. crocheters, spinners and weavers).

Registration will be free, and there will be a limited amount of pay-for classes for advanced/intermediate level knitting skills. We’ll be putting out the call for traders and teachers soon, but if you are interested, please do drop me a line.

More details will be forthcoming in the new year!


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Social time

This weekend, the stars aligned perfectly:  the Social Wool Fair was on, the eldest son needed a lift to Wellington airport so he could get a flight back to Auckland and the youngest son had a play date with his best friend in Wellington.  This meant that a) I would be in Wellington, and b) I got a few spare hours all to myself and could go to the Fair! Hurrah!!

Bunting outside the Social Wool Fair venue

Bunting outside the Social Wool Fair venue

After dropping the boys at their respective destinations, I arrived at about lunch time.  I had a quick bite to eat in the knit cafe, and then proceeded into the hall, where I found my tribe (somehow that picture didn’t end up focused very well…!)

At the social wool fair

I was making my way slowly around the stalls and enjoying catching up with Helen, James, Susan, Nikki, Denise and others when I noticed that everyone had started packing up!  No!!  What was this!?  I thought the event didn’t finish until 4pm!? My carefully timed schedule of visiting stalls and having time to chat was ruined! Turns out the ending time had been changed to 2pm.

I finished making the rounds as quickly as possible, but didn’t manage to catch everyone.  And I didn’t get to take any more pictures of pretty yarn displays!

Outlaw yarns

I’ll just have to show you what I did manage to acquire:

Fair purchases

That’s more Anna Gratton 4 ply 100% pure wool in natural and a hand-dyed number called Mango (I woke up inspired to knit a shawl that morning), my first Zauberball, a pretty colourway called “The Blessed William” in Port sock yarn (100% superwash merino) from Dark Harbour Yarns and a nice selection of Outlaw Yarns Bohemia Sport that I hope I can turn into a colourwork number of some kind (it was a bit hard to think when everything was being packed up around me). Everything else is self-explanatory.

Sadly, the social knitting time I had carefully planned did not eventuate, so instead I visited a food court where I had some afternoon tea and knit a tiny bit of sock before it was time to collect the young boy.

Rainbows in 100% BFL by Happy-go-knitty

This is Happy-go-knitty 100% BFL sock yarn in her rainbow colourway.

It was a good afternoon.  Thank you, Nanette and Co., for donating your time and energy to making this event for a good cause happen.

We were lucky that we did not encounter any flooding on the way home.  The weather in the lower half of the North Island has caused severe flooding in some parts – I hope everyone is okay!

Thanks so much for all your comments on my last post.  I thought I had better do some research to identify the little critter I photographed last week.  Turns out, she is indeed a species of stick insect (they eat plants and not other insects and are usually flightless).  This is one of New Zealand’s eight species of Variable Stick Insect (genus Acanthoxyla), distinguished by the appearance of black spikes on their heads and bodies.

Variable stick insect


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The finished things

Hello, and a happy weekend to you!

I’ve had a relatively productive week knitting-wise.  This is surprising because it is getting very hard to keep my eyes open past 10.30pm at night.  I must have learned to knit faster!

EternidadI’ve finally finished Eternidad.  You’ll notice that is has a much lacier look than the original.  This is because I used a yarn that was finer than recommended.  It’s no longer available, but something like Madelintosh Tosh Merino Light is very similar.  Very pleased with it.  I shall be wearing this quite a lot I think!

Fish isle

I finished and blocked my nephew’s Fish Isle last night.  It’s handy to have a nice warm fire to quickly dry one’s knitted items!

I am a little out of practice with knitting things for small people.  Although the gauge is as per the pattern, somehow the sleeves look quite narrow, and I’m not sure if the yoke will match the lower half.  I will find out when my sister puts it on her son!  Once I know it fits ok, I’ll make the second for his younger brother.  I knitted this in Anna Gratton’s machine washable 8 ply in the Paua colourway, and a loose skein of organic merino from Skeinz that I had floating around.

BFF socks

These are BFF socks, destined to be a gift.  These socks are a good lesson in how yarn weight affects gauge!  Because I have knit to many socks, I never do a swatch for socks these days as I think I have a good feel for how many stitches I should cast on to match size and yarn.  However, I tricked myself into thinking that this sport weight yarn was sock weight, and learned my lesson in first frogging the medium size (72 sts cast on), then the small size (64 sts) (pictured above) and now I’m on my third iteration with 56 stitches.  The socks will either now be too small or just right.  If that fails, I will tempt fate by using 2.5mm needles with 56 stitches, and if that fails, the ball will be wound up, put away, and I will find another yarn that has a much more accommodating nature.  This is why one uses sock weight yarn to knit socks!!

I am doggedly persevering because I am fixated on knitting the recipient some nice, warm, possum socks (this yarn is John Q Earthware) that she can wear in her gumboots when out in the garden this winter.  Nothing else will do (until I give up in frustration and switch to alpaca instead..!)

Somehow, this yarn felt finer than the last time I knitted with it.  I did knit my eldest son (now very much man-sized) some socks using this yarn with a 64 sts cast on and 2.75mm needles, and they came out just right.  So I thought that because I am using 2.25mm needles this time, that 64 stitches would be fine for a woman’s medium/small size.  Well, the answer to that my friends, is that I was wrong!

There are a couple of other projects on the needles that are coming along swimmingly, but I shall tell you about them in another post, as I think I’ve captured enough of your attention in this post already.

One last thing!  If you are in Wellington on 20 June, don’t forget to pop into the Social Wool Fair!  The great thing about this event is its very social nature – you can take your knitting, sit and have coffee and cake in the adjacent chat room (without feeling like you have to clear off because the café needs the seats for other customers), and indulge in the yarn greatness that will be there!

I’m going to be on the look-out for some new needles, and I’d like to get more closely acquainted with this yummy yarn.  I’m sure there will be more to tempt me, as I see that Anna Gratton, Spinning a Yarn, Vintage Purls, Skeinz and more will be there!!!  Supporting this fair raises proceeds for hospice care, a very worthy cause.  It is a shame that other Wellington indie dyers aren’t going to be there, but I am guessing they must have been all-dyed-out from the other yarn events that have been happening recently. Boo for me!

 

 

 


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The Aster MKAL

October was/is Socktober in the knitting world.  All sorts of beautiful projects are created in this month dedicated to the art of knitting socks.

A while back, Denise of the Karori Flower Shop, and co-creator at Bleating Art, invited me to contribute a mystery sock pattern for the shop’s  “Soctober” month of events.  The idea of designing a flower-themed sock was very appealing, so off I went and buried my nose in books about flowers and plants, and started sketching and swatching and dreaming…

The sock was called Aster, after this inspiration.

Echinacea

This is echinacea, but it is part of the Aster genus.  The Aster (Asteraceae, or daisy) family of flowers is the second most numerous family of flowers with over 23,000 currently accepted species.  The word aster means “star” in Greek, referring to the appearance of some family members, as a “star” surrounded by “rays”.  It includes many lovely varieties that are used by florists, including dahlias, zinnias, chrysanthemums and sunflowers.  I thought it fitting to base the sock design on this genus for a florist’s sock pattern.

The pattern was broken down into two clues, so I made the socks a bit different to my usual style to keep things interesting and to provide surprises along the way.

The group has been working through the sock pattern this month.  Yesterday, an official unveiling of all the socks took place, so I thought I’d go along and see.

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Haven’t they all done such a lovely job?  Can you see the flowers, the leaves and the stem in the sock?  These socks were knitted by Susan, Shona, Sara, Maureen and Denise.  There is also a pair in there that are mine.

Let’s have a close look at the detail:

Susan's socks

This fresh green version was knitted by Susan.  The pink and purples below were from left to right, by Shona, Sara and Denise.

Aster

Here are the lovely ladies, and yes, your eyes do not deceive you, that is indeed Audry whom you see!

Aster socks

Audry was doing the lucky draw for the bag and goodies that you see on the left hand side of this picture.

Lucky winner

Shona was the lucky winner – it was a fantastic prize!

Karori Flower Shop knitters

It was a lovely afternoon out and a nice way to start the long weekend.  I was glad to be able to join them and also have the privilege of seeing all the finished socks.

There was some discussion about opening the sock pattern up to a wider audience for another MKAL, but I have decided on balance that I will adapt the pattern slightly (to take into account some of the comments about the socks) and I will release it as a regular pattern.  We may be holding a KAL for it over on the Kiwiyarns group on Ravelry though.  Stay tuned for more news on that subject.

I’m looking forward to having one more day off tomorrow (it’s Labour Weekend here).  It will be nice to have a rest as I have been working non-stop this month, and am feeling a little more than exhausted!

Hope you are having a great weekend!