Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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Autumn

Hello!  I hope this post finds you well and happy. It is a misty, wet day today, and we are expecting a bit of weather over the next few days. I hope it isn’t too bad – the storm caused quite a bit of damage in Australia, I understand.

My favourite season of the year approaches, and I am much looking forward to crisp, frosty mornings and toasty nights in front of a warm, crackling fire.

The awesome thing about having an established garden is discovering the hidden delights that reveal themselves with each passing season. Here are some of the new treasures that I have been enjoying.

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Hydrangeas are slowly deepening into autumnal shades.IMG_3306 (1024x575)IMG_3305 (1024x575)

These gorgeous flowers have popped up and gaily decorate the garden. Does anyone know what they are called?IMG_3288 (1024x575)

The wood pile has been replenished, in time for that first cold night.

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And now, on to this week’s news!

Just for you Steph, here’s the baking I did this week, an oaty caramel slice. 🙂

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I made it a bit more fancy by adding coconut to the base and also topped it with sliced almonds. It has gone down very well at home. I took some to work to share, as there is no way we can finish it all without it going stale. Everyone thought it was very nice. If there is interest, I can supply the recipe.

Knitting this week has been reasonably productive due to the fact I now take the train to work instead of driving. I have to say, I much prefer not being stuck in anxiety-inducing traffic jams every morning, and being able to get to work at an earlier hour to boot! It also is a way to make me leave the office by 6pm so that I get home in time to cook dinner and spend an hour with the boy before he goes to bed.

Last week, I finished the Spring Creek Shawl, another beauty of a pattern from The Lace Eater. Here it is, styled as I have worn it to work all week:

Spring creek shawl

I just love it! The border has a beaded lace design that Mary-Anne explains completely unintentionally looks like a dragonfly, but I think it actually fits the creek theme very well, given how dragonflies hover over streams. I used green beads, which I think gives the motif a more insect-like character.

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As usual with Mary-Anne’s patterns, she has provided a lot of knitting-interest-factor in this shawl, but none of the lace techniques are at all complicated.

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Some more details:

  • I used approx 180g of yarn (nearly one skein each of the two colours I chose – Tanis Fibre Art’s Dove colourway and Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock in Mink)
  • I skipped the first colour change to create a larger block of colour in the first section, and deliberately engineered the remaining colour changes so that the more detailed lace was knitted with the darker semi-solid, to show up the pattern.

The other thing I finished this week were my train knitting socks:

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These are to be a gift for a friend who has the same size feet as me. I used Stray Cat Socks self-striping yarn in the Denim & Dandelions colourway. It’s such a fun colour combination! There is a little bit of greedy piggy in me that says ‘I want them!’ but honestly, with a drawer literally bursting with handknit socks of my own, it is time I did some sharing with knit-worthy friends.

So what’s next?

I am currently working on another pair of socks. These are the Cranachan socks from Issue 96 of The Knitter.  The yarn is Whimzy Sokkusu O in Flower Power. Sokkusu O is definitely one of my favourite sock yarn bases. I like how springy it is, and how defined the stitches are. Did you know it is milled in Italy?  It’s a little bit of fancy, and I like that I am supporting a base made by a quality manufacturer.

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I have also been quite enchanted with the Find your Fade shawl creations that I have been seeing all over the internet, and have been playing with some ideas of my own.

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I still cannot decide which colour combination to use, but all the favourites have been bagged up together, and I think the best thing will just be to start with the colour I am convinced has to be part of the shawl, and just let the ‘fade’ happen as I knit.

Wishing you a wonderful start to your week.

Happy Knitting!


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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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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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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!