Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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Catch up

Hello there! Things are certainly going pear-shaped with my intentions to blog regularly!  I have managed to disappear yet again for quite a while. As well as being busy at work, I have also been sick. There is a bug going around that knocks you sideways – a nasty thing that masquerades as a cold, but then you find yourself sapped you of energy and strength for quite some time afterwards. I suspect a few of you may have had it too. In my case, I was down for three weeks, resulting in very unproductive weekends. It has not been fun at all. And I have really missed my interactions with all of you.

However, I have had some time to knit, so it wasn’t entirely unproductive.  It is another reason I have been silent here. Knitting is such great stress relief.

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This is my lastest project – the Spring Creek shawl. I love the moodiness of the two colours together – Tanis Fiber Arts’ cashmere blend in Dove and Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock in Mink.

Supplejack has been finished for a while, and I have been wearing it almost exclusively. I love it and am actually thinking of making another of this one – it is such a lovely design and a very fast knit. You’ll see there are a few ways to wear this shawl. In one of the photos you see me with a very special knitting friend. She lives in the UK, but she came over to visit her family, and we got to meet up!!! It was a most awesome weekend!

I used a combination of four yarns for Supplejack – Ruataniwha Dye Studio in NZ lambswool in the Spruce colourway (that’s the main lace panel), Dark Harbour Yarn Port in Limey and Pearls That Were His Eyes (bright green and grey) and Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label in Lotus (the variegated greens).

I have also been knitting socks.

These are a plain vanilla sock in Moods of Colours Softsock in a self-striping colourway.  The yarn was so pretty – I had to have me some!

These socks are ones I also finished a couple of weeks ago – Waving Lace Socks in Circus Tonic Handmade Revelry Sock in the Frilled Monarch colourway. Another very pretty colourway in one of my all-time favourite yarns!

I can’t believe it is autumn already. From this knitter’s point of view, the New Zealand summer has been rather marvellously cool, and I am glad of it.

The plums have come and gone, and now the apples are ripe, and making delicious apple pies and crumbles for one young man’s happy stomach. Homegrown produce is the best.

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend.

Happy Knitting!

 


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Regenerate

Oh my goodness. I did not mean to disappear for so long. A new year has begun, and we are already into the second month! Time seems to be flying faster and faster! I hope this post finds you well, and that your year has begun well!

In Wellington, we are experiencing the wettest/coolest summer in 30 years (described in the news as the fewest “beach days”). I have to say I am personally enjoying it. I wish I could say it has led to more knitting (and blogging) time, but that hasn’t really eventuated due to other life happenings.

You may have noticed my Instagram feed showing off the finished Regenerate. Here it is again (some of these pics haven’t made it to Instagram):

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It is large and I love it! And as usual with Mary-Anne Mace‘s designs, I enjoyed every minute of knitting this beautiful design.

Because I chose to use fingering-weight yarn and not lace-weight, and work one more repeat of Chart 3 to make it a larger shawl, I ran out of the 200g ball that I originally used, and had to find more (what’s new!) Fortunately, I had more Anna Gratton merino/mohair in my stash that matched perfectly and it adds to the wonderful woodland feel of this botanically inspired shawl .img_3143-800x800img_3147-800x600

It has been wonderful to cuddle under the shawl on our cooler days. It is yet another favourite piece of knitwear.

Friends of mine were admiring my shawls the other day and asked if I sold my work. I replied that it takes many, many hours to knit a shawl, and if I were to recoup my time costs, the figure involved would be viewed as unaffordable by most people. We went on to have a brief discussion about slow fashion and how making your own clothes does mean you can create them to your own specifications and in the colour/fabric you like. My friend remarked that it meant I had a unique wardrobe as a result, followed by cute addition from her husband of “well, it’s only unique because you won’t sell your work!” It was one of those maker’s moments. Clearly, my friend is now on the “knitworthy” list!

Since finishing Regenerate, I have begun work on Supplejack. This is a fast and fun project, and I am nearly finished!

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As usual, I am doing my own thing in some way, and in this instance it means I have used four colours and not three, and put in colours in the order that pleased me.

I’m using Dark Harbour Yarn in Jetsam in Limey and Port in Pearls That Were His Eyes; Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label in Lotus, and Ruataniwha Dye Studio 100% Merino in Spruce.

I’ll be able to show you the finished project soon!

 


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A New Year

Hello! It is the eve of another new year! I wish I could say the time has gone fast, but so much has happened, that I think it has been a very full year. It has been an eventful year on many, many, counts. I hope this year has treated you kindly on a personal level. My own has certainly been one of those roller coasters – terrible lows and also incredible highs. I am interested to see what the next 365 days bring!

I don’t have a finished object to show you as knitting time has been a little limited lately. But there are a few nice projects accompanying me into the new year:

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This is Regenerate. It should be nearly finished by now, but I made a major rookie mistake knitting this! There are two charts per row for this shawl, and for some reason, I knitted them in the wrong order. I wondered why I had so much trouble getting the pattern to look right and was getting quite frustrated with my knitting skills when I realised, into the third repeat of the second and third charts that I was doing it the wrong way round!!! Major durrh moment, and major sulking occurred as I ripped out the shawl to start all over again.

I re-ordered the printed charts and after a couple of days spent gathering my wits, started again. I am pleased that this time, the shawl is looking like it is meant to. The added bonus is that it is much easier to knit – for some ‘strange’ reason!

I am using Anna Gratton‘s gorgeous silk/mohair/wool blend in the Forest colourway. I really like how it is turning out.

I also have a couple of obligatory socks on the go.

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These pretty things are the Waving Lace Socks. I am knitting them in Circus Tonic Handmade’s Revelry sock in the Frilled Monarch colourway. Here’s a closer look:

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The other sock is some gorgeous Stray Cat Socks merino/cashmere/nylon blend:

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These are for the youngest boy, who is now taller than me. I knitted him some socks earlier in the year, and found to my horror that his feet had grown while I finished them. This time, they are man-sized socks!  Let’s hope they last a little while…

As the new year begins to roll in around the globe, I wish you Happy New Year!

May 2017 be a good year for you.


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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:
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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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Blocking be good (ish)

I hope you have had a lovely week, and are enjoying your weekend!

The last post I wrote was about the mods I made to the cardigan I was about to finish.

I thought I would show you the finished object today, which gives a stark illustration of how yarn can be affected by washing/blocking.

The image on the left is the finished cardigan before it was blocked. The middle and right side images are of the cardigan after it was blocked. Can you see how much it has grown with blocking? I did not stretch it out – this is just the size it became after the yarn was wet. (Click on the images if you’d like to see a larger-sized version).

I anticipated that the yarn would grow more than a non-superwash yarn, as experience from handling yarn over the years told me the feel of the superwash said “I will grow when you block me.” Still, I was hoping it wouldn’t grow quite so much – the cardigan isn’t as cute as I wanted it to be, but I think the once the weather gets warmer, it will look nice with a skirt and t-shirt or over a dress. Apart from not using this yarn, I don’t think there was much else I could have done to prevent it getting bigger except to knit it very small. The risk then would have been just how small to knit it?  Swatches do not always tell the truth… All in all, it is a very lovely yarn, and I am still pleased I chose to use it.

Thank you very much for all your lovely comments in that post about whether I should fix the dye before wearing the cardigan. In the end, I decided to see how much dye was going to get released from washing, and it wasn’t much at all. I always wash red clothing separately to other colours because any red does have the propensity to bleed, so I will do the same with this cardigan, and there should be no issues in future!

The exact quality of blocking a garment and being able to open up a pattern and stretch out a fabric will be most welcome in the next project I am about to finish:img_2994-800x449

This is one of the very talented Mary-Anne Mace’s beautiful shawl designs, Lacebark. It seems I must always have a Lace Eater Design on my needles! Knitting her designs is like reading a good book – compulsive, and hard to put down! img_2995-800x449

I used an Ozifarmer’s Market gradient for this shawl (Ozimerino in Dusk), and I love it. The only thing was that I knew I would run out of yarn before I ran out of pattern, but decided that this was the yarn for the pattern!  I wanted the wider end to be darker, and knew that I might have issues finding a yarn to match the colour. I hoping that the yarn I found in my stash will work.  It seems to be working out so far, but I’ll know properly once I finish it and view the final blocked result.

Most of Lacebark is an easy knit, but the final few charts do have a few mind-stretching exercises with lace on both the right and wrong sides. Sometimes, my work-weary brain found this a little hard to cope with, and when that happened, I retreated to the comfort of plain vanilla socks.

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This is one of Doespins’ pretty variegated yarns that I got from her a while ago. It’s a high twist Blue Faced Leicester yarn in the Wild Rice colourway.

Happy knitting!  I hope to be back soon to show you the finished Lacebark, which I am much looking forward to wearing!

 

 

 


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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!