Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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Because there is only so much time

It struck me this morning as I sat and played with a colourwork design that there is only so much time to knit.

I’ve commonly read that it takes 10,000 hours to become a master craftsperson.  That’s the equivalent of three hours’ practice a day for 10 years.  According to that theory, I’m still a few years away from become a master!

Knitting has so many dimensions.  Lace. Cables. “Gansey”.  Fair isle.  Then there are all the many stitches in ‘ordinary’ knitting that need understanding (all a combination of knit and purl).  Not to mention mastering the intricacies of tension, garment design and general theory relating to knitting, yarn and fibre characteristics.  To become a knitting master – to have mastery over all these facets is going to take me a lifetime.  I know it.

I decided at the beginning of the year that to advance my goal of becoming a master knitter, every project I do must teach me something new.  If I didn’t learn something new, it would be hours wasted.  Knitting for me is as much about intellectual stimulation as it is relaxation.  The learning part is just as thrilling to me as that of finishing a new project and wearing it or seeing it being appreciated by its recipient.

So what does this mean for the fair isle piece I was playing with?  It means that I realised pretty quickly that I still need to learn a lot about designing colourwork.  I need more practice in colour theory before I go there.

It also means that although I want “to knit all the things” I will have to choose my projects carefully if I want to maximise my learning opportunities.

The past few days have seen me agonising over what to knit next.  It feels like I haven’t been knitting at all.  Although I must have been, because I have sore, plastered fingers to show for it…

The reason for the agonising is because I know that next winter, we’re going to freeze if I don’t get more knits done for the kids and I.  So the planning has to start now because I only have two hands and only so much time, and there are so many considerations to take into account.  Learning.  Function.  Beauty.  Design.  Taste (some people in this household are fussy.)  What I have in my ‘stash’ that matches with what I want to knit…

On a related note, did you know about the Ravelry queue feature that allows you to print out your queue so that you can match a pattern to yarn?  (I’ve only just discovered its useful potential).  Now I have a list that I can use to browse my wool collection to see what I have that matches with what I want to knit.  It would be easier if I had all my ‘stash’ on Ravelry of course… Still, the feature is very handy!

I’m off to do some ‘stash diving’ now.

I’ll leave you with some photos that I took on a recent beach walk which have me thinking:

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Inspiration, or a fickle brain?

You know how you’re trucking along on a project, and all of a sudden, out of the blue, a wee voice pipes up inside your head that says “I’m bored… can we knit something else now?”

Most often, this happens when I’m knitting something that isn’t really firing my ‘love it’ box. It may be that I’ve simply been looking at my lovely wool collection for too long, and a little itch to start something new begins…

Or, I’ve seen something that has fired the imagination:

I am not a fan of having unfinished WIPs sitting around the house.  So I steel my self-will, and continue knitting, telling myself that ‘something new’ needs to wait. Sometimes though, the itch refuses to go away and becomes a raging rash of “find something else to knit NOW or else!!!!!”

When this happens, I do one of two things:

1.  I go to the screaming stash (if that’s what it is) and spend a few minutes cuddling and squishing yarn.  I select something that particularly speaks to me, and I put it on my ‘next on the list’ pile.  That soothes the itch for a bit.

2.  I go to Ravelry, and spend a few minutes drooling over patterns.  I might favourite or queue a few patterns for later, and that often helps too.

Then I go back to finish the project I’m working on.

With the current case of “Knit-me-Now-itis”, this strategy wasn’t working.  I have yarn queued.  Lots of it.  And for some unknown reason, nothing on Ravelry really appealed.

Then, this morning, I remembered Rowan.  It has probably got something to do with a box of rather beautiful Rowan Fine Tweed sitting on my bedside table…

This came in a swap with the lovely Colette and I already know what I’ll do with it.

I got rather distracted in Rowan’s free pattern section…

Droolworthy candidate no.1:  Bailey

Droolworthy candidate no.2:  Camelford

Both of these patterns are designed in Rowan’s Colourscape Chunky.  However, this yarn is sooooo expensive here that it’s just not possible to afford $200 for 5 skeins of Colourscape from the local yarn store.  I wish I could use Rowan, as I think it is beautiful yarn, and in the UK, it looks reasonably priced.  However, in this instance, I shall have to improvise.

Zealana’s Tui is the same weight as Colourscape [cheeky giggle].  I think I might just see something knitted in a bit of Tui coming up…

As for the other, I think I will use some of Anna Gratton’s Little Wool Company 12 ply naturals. Delicious, naturally coloured New Zealand Corriedale yarn.  It has a crisp texture and will give good stitch definition.

Given what I’ve come up with, I’m assuming that the bit of inspiration from this weekend has worked its naughty influence on my subconscious knitting choices…

The itch has finally been soothed for a bit, but when am I going to knit these beauties?  I have one more shop sample to knit, plus a number of smaller projects I have promised others.  Not to mention the designs I’m currently working on.  If I’m lucky, I’ll get to start them in a week or so.

It makes me wonder though.  When I get inspired to knit something new, am I being truly inspired?  Or is my brain doing a fickle number on me?  What do you do when you suddenly become inspired to knit something new?


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Evelyn, a correction

Last night, a kind Raveler wrote to me with a question:

Hi, I am working on your cowl.   Directions read:
Cast on 90 stitches Starting with a knit row, knit four rows of garter stitch, ending with a purl row.
(Next row K1, YO, K2tog, repeat from * to * to end of row”

Now if you have an even number 90 you can k2tog 45 times so by knitting one st at the beginning you can only k2tog 44 times leaving one st at the end of the row…

Am I missing something?”

I looked at the number of cast-on stitches and realised with horror that she was most likely right.  Was there something else I had forgotten that necessitated a K1 at the beginning of the row?  I did a quick reknit this morning and realised that I had indeed made a mistake in the pattern.

To those of you who have already knitted Evelyn, I hope this didn’t cause you too much trouble!!  My sincere apologies!  The corrected pattern is now loaded into the original post containing the free pattern, here.

Essentially, if you remove all the K1 or P1 instructions from the beginning of the eyelet rows, the pattern will be correct.

This is a rather embarrassing thing to have happened.  I did personally test-knit the pattern, but my head was obviously not in the right place at the time.  One pair of eyes is often not enough to ensure a pattern is mistake-free.

In any event, I’m very pleased she wrote to me, because I was able to correct the pattern so that future versions of Evelyn will be stress-free knitting!

Thank you Beth, for your observant eyes and clever thinking.


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Wooper

Many of you dear readers will know by now that my little boy is a great fan of knitted soft toys (plushies).  Especially ones that have anything to do with Pokémon.  So imagine my delight when researching Pokémon toys on Ravelry to stumble across the wonderful Alyssa, who creates amazing amigurumi knitting and crochet patterns!

And this is what Eric chose and asked me to knit at speed:

It’s a free pattern, and written in a very innovative way – you almost need to do no sewing up at all as it’s pretty much knitted in one.  I’ve been used to having to knit all the pieces and then sew them up one by one… it’s rather painstaking.  So this was a refreshing change!

I am afraid I did not do a perfect job with the duplicate stitch on the tummy, but he doesn’t seem to mind, and Wooper was duly taken to school today for a show-and-tell.

Knitted in The Wool Company‘s 100% Perendale 8 ply yarn in Aqua and Cyclamen.

Thanks once again, Alyssa!


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Adventures in yarn

I’ve had several very nice experiences with overseas yarn lately that I thought I should share with you.  Although I use New Zealand yarn for almost all my projects, it’s always interesting to see what else is out there.  After all, it’s nice to have a change now and again.  And getting little parcels of another country’s yarn is pretty much as close as you can get to a virtual holiday in knitting terms! 

First, a lovely Raveler from the US did a simple yarn swap with me.  I sent her a ball of Zealana Tui, and in return, I got this:

One very beautiful handspun, hand-dyed Cormo Alpaca blend from Strawberry Moon Fibres.  It’s gorgeous, and, I have to say, the softest yarn I’ve ever felt!  It’s even faintly scented with a delicious strawberry scent.  What an education in Cormo fibre!  Thank you, Megan!

Then, of course, my wonderful daughter visited the UK, and very generously and lovingly sent me this:

From a post in which I shared my correspondence with my daughter about this yarn, I got a sweet reply from a fellow Raveler, who offered to send me some Rowan Colourscape Chunky if I really wanted it.  Who could resist!? 

We agreed to do a swap, and in return for a selection of New Zealand yarns she’s like to try, I received this extremely exciting package in the mail yesterday:

What a happy day!! There was the most excited squeaking upon the opening of this parcel!  Kb very generously sent me:  three hanks of Rowan Colourscape Chunky, and as an added surprise, one ball of Rowan Cocoon and Lima from her stash, as well as some of her favourite knitting accessories.   So beautiful, this yarn looks like a painting!

Lima is fascinating.  I haven’t come across it before:

Notice its unusual construction – it’s braided!

I didn’t know that Rowan even has labels that one can put on a knitted garment:

So cool!! 

So, thank you again, Kb!  What a nice day of learning about British yarns!  I’ve just realised that the pretty Autumn colourway in the Colourscape will go very nicely with my recently knitted hat in Naturally’s Aran Tweed:

Super yay!

I’m really happy that I’ve been able to share some of the yummy New Zealand yarns that you can get, and at the same time, also indulge in a bit of learning about what’s out there overseas.  Thanks to the generosity and friendship of some very lovely people.


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Adorable kids fingerless gloves

You may have noticed that over these past couple of weeks travelling, I’ve had practically no access to the Internet.  As a consequence, I did get in some useful knitting time, creating these for my lovely nieces:

These came about because I bought some to-die-for Knitsch sock yarn, in the Cinque Terre colourway.  The candy-colours screamed “little girl knit” all over them, and in a moment of inspiration, I decided to knit fingerless gloves – both pairs have come from just one 50g hank of yarn. 

I think they’re very cute – especially when modelled by their recipients.

Click here: Adorable kids fingerless gloves for a PDF if you’d like it.

I’ll also load it on to Ravelry as a free pattern.  There are two sizes – 3-5 yrs and 6-8yrs.

Hope you enjoy knitting them as much as I did.