Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


Sustain the Sea: Gyre

Long time readers of this blog will be aware of the free pattern collection I developed to highlight the importance of looking after our oceans:  Sustain the Sea.

Sustain the sea square

I have been absolutely thrilled to be joined in this initiative by Kiwi designers Mary-Anne Mace (Biophilia – pictured above) and Sonya Newstead (Empty Nets – pictured above).

Today, I’m honoured that we are joined by a wonderfully talented young designer, Josiah Bain, who hails from the United States of America.  It is truly exciting that this is developing into an international statement about our oceans, and that there are so many designers who are like-minded!

Josiah wrote to me recently offering to donate a pair of socks to this initiative:  Gyre.

A gyre is a system of currents in the ocean that spirals around a central point.  The gyre that these socks are named after is the North Pacific Gyre, the largest ecosystem on Earth. As well as being home to different marine creatures, the North Pacific Gyre is home to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. He offers it here in the hopes that “awareness will be raised about the harmful practices and dreadful littering happening in our naturally splended oceans”.

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This is a beautiful pattern that harmonises completely with the theme behind the socks.  The socks are also very interestingly constructed. Please visit Josiah’s thoughtful blog post to read more about these socks, to download a free copy of the pattern and to find out about a very easy thing that all of us can do to contribute to the ocean’s health.

And who is his great model?

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Find that out too when you visit his blog!

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Thank you, Josiah, for this beautiful pattern, and importantly, for your own commitment to sustaining the sea!



I don’t always smile in delight when I have finished a project.  Biophilia is one that has me positively beaming in delight!

IMG_1673 (800x567).jpgMary-Anne Mace well deserves the title of The Lace Eater!  Thank you, Mary-Anne, for a truly inspired design that reflects the sea so well.

The next time we go to the beach, I will take Biophilia and do a proper photo shoot, but for now, I share these images.

If you are interested in the technical details, I used Knitsch 100% merino Sock in Rocky Shore, with the last three or four rows in Fly My Pretties, about 180gm/600m in total (Rocky Shore would equate to three full skeins, with about half a skein in Fly My Pretties).

The two colourways worked together so perfectly – I’m fairly sure the base colour for Fly My Pretties is the same as Rocky Shore.  I used some dark brown beads with a purply undertone (like seaweed) to give contrast but also harmonise with the overall colour design.

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The colours were like the sea to photograph.  In some lights, it’s a beautiful, rich colour like you see in the above photo, and in other lights, it’s more muted like the photos in the collage.  I quite like that.

The darker edging is to help with the watery effect.  I hope it conveys the sense that the shawl has been dipped in water.  The beads being the glistening drops of water.  I probably should have used a lighter colour bead to convey light reflecting off the water, but oh well, I still think this looks OK.

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This shawl would have to be one of the most technically challenging things I have ever knit.  As if lace wasn’t enough, Mary-Anne has added cables, nupps and beads into the mix!  I do not like nupps.  In the end, after struggling heroically with two rows of 7 stitch nupps, I reduced the size to 5 stitches, which was much more manageable and meant less dropped stitches. There is not a huge difference in effect, and it meant a much happier me!

The pattern is very well written, and very easy to follow.  It’s just that for this shawl to look good, it requires a level of precision of execution that had my brain cells almost popping!  I’ll definitely knit another Lace Eater design the next time I need a brain workout!  I’m sure experienced knitters of lace will be giggling at this.  I obviously need to knit more complex lace projects this year.

I haven’t blocked the shawl exactly the same as Mary-Anne’s original.  I didn’t go back and look at the pattern photo again when I was pinning out, but I think it still looks okay.

Thank you again, Mary-Anne, for this amazing contribution to Sustain the Sea.


Empty nets, the FO!

I finished Empty Nets this week.  To do the pattern justice, especially in view of the fact that the time and talent for this pattern was donated by Sonya Newstead to the Sustain the Sea initiative, I decided we needed to take a trip to the beach.  I picked the young man up after school and we drove to the Lake Ferry beach in South Wairarapa, which we haven’t been to before.

It is a rugged piece of beach.  Not really a swimming beach, but very beautiful and scenic.  On one side, Lake Onoke drains into Palliser Bay.

Lake Ferry

On the other side, is Palliser Bay.

Palliser Bay

It was a nice place to take photos.  The water was too cold for swimming, and the beach is not very safe for this activity, so the boy and I had wave races and dared each other to get our legs wet by the icy water!

On to Empty Nets – here it is, in its full glory!

Empty Nets

I’m very proud of this picture, because it was taken by the youngest child.  I think his photography skills are coming along nicely!

Empty Nets 2

I decided I wanted the shawl to be bigger than designed, so I knitted 20 repeats instead of 17.

Empty Nets - waves

I adore the wave edgings.

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The final edge is bound off using a ruffle, to represent the waves breaking on the beach.  I kept mine small and did not work the second set of increases.

It’s a funny shawl to knit because you think it cannot possibly become a triangle while knitting it – it looks like a slice of pizza!  When finished and blocked though, it magically transforms!  My notes are here if you want to know more details.

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Words cannot express my gratitude to Sonya for donating this shawl pattern.  I cherish the feeling of comfort that there are many people who do care about the planet and keeping life on it sustainable for future generations, as evidenced by so many of your comments while writing about this subject.

I think that if more people thought about contributing meaningfully to this life, and considered the impact of their actions on the environment around them (social and physical) the world would be in a much better place than it is today.  Let’s all keep on trying!


Zinging along

Hello!  Welcome to the weekend!

It has been a busy couple of weeks chez Kiwiyarns.  There have been jobs to apply for, and agents to see.  No news yet, but we’ll just keep working at it.

I am really appreciating not feeling exhausted all the time.  The first week after finishing work was spent in a state of comatose fatigue.  I think my body took the opportunity for rest and greedily decided that I could sleep for the whole week!!  I am now feeling a lot more refreshed and energetic, and able to knit for long periods of time without falling asleep!!

In between looking for that elusive day job, very happy times knitting all the things, planning future posts about New Zealand yarns and thinking about new designs have been had. If only this could be a full-time occupation!

Today, I want to tell you about KnitPro Zing needles.  I am not sure when these were introduced on to the market, but they are marked “new” so they must be very recent.  I discovered the circulars at Holland Road Yarn Company – their bright colours caught my eye at the counter.  As I am always eager to try new needles some had to come home!

The Zings seriously impressed.  So much that I had to get a double-pointed set to go with my circulars! I got these ones at Vintage Purls.

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Notice how mine are gold?  That’s because it’s the colour code for 2.25mm needles.  Every size in this range has its own colour – isn’t that neat!? No more squinting at the size printed on the needle or checking with the needle gauge – you can tell the size from looking at the colour.  Good thing I like gold.

The reason I love these needles so much is because KnitPro has finally got everything right:

  • It’s a lightweight needle made of a superior grade lightweight metal.  KnitPro doesn’t specify what metal is used, but it is light, and very strong.
  • It is extremely smooth, almost (but not) too smooth to the point that you have to be careful that your stitches don’t slip off the needles!
  • There is no join between the tip and the stem of the needle.  More plus factor on the smooth knitting front.
  • The handle of the circulars is long.  I have real trouble with short circular needles.  These are the perfect size for me. I wondered if I was imagining the stem as being longer, so I got out an assortment of needles (all sized 2.25mm) to compare their lengths.  Turns out, I wasn’t.

circular needles

  • If you are interested, the needles in the photo (from above) are Addi Lace, KnitPro Symfonie, KnitPro Zing and KnitPro Karbonz.
  • You can see that the Zing needles are clearly the longest needle in the lot, even though I haven’t been able to accurately align all the needles.
  • Best of all, I love the tips: They are pointy enough to pick up stitches neatly, yet not so pointy as to poke holes in one’s fingers.  The points are also short enough that minimal finger movement is required to wrap the yarn around the needle to create a new stitch.  Have a look at the photo below.  I refer to the “point” as the part where the tapering ends.  You can see that there is a much shorter point on the Zing compared to a Symfonie.

Needles comparison

I think that a lot of thought has gone into creating these wonder needles.  I discovered how much easier they made my knitting when I picked up a sock WIP on my usual wooden KnitPro Symfonies.  Oh dear.  Not as wonderful as the Zings!  That shorter point and smoother stem makes a massive difference to my knitting comfort.

Just to clarify, I haven’t been paid by any party to endorse these needles.  I’m just sharing my latest wonderful discovery.

Looking at the background project in the photos it reminds me that I may have forgotten to show you my progress on Empty Nets since I cast on.  I have shown it on Instagram, but have forgotten to talk about it here!  Tut, tut!

Empty Nets

This photo is much more colour accurate that the ones above with the needles.  I have already completed the 17 repeats required in the pattern, but I want to make this a nice big shawl so I’m going to go for a few more repeats until I’m happy with the size.  A couple more repeats should do it.  I have plenty of the Zealana Kiwi laceweight that I’m using which means I do not have to worry about running out of yarn.  Hopefully I can show you a finished object in a couple of days!

I’ll be back in a few days to tell you about the rest of my projects.  I think I have taken up enough of your time for one day!

Wishing you a good weekend.

Since writing this post, I logged onto the news to see the dreadful attack in Paris.  I hope you are all safe.  A terrible day for our world.



Today, Mary-Anne Mace, New Zealand lace designer extraordinaire, released Biophilia.
(photo copyright of Mary-Anne Mace)
I am so very, very touched that Mary-Anne has freely contributed this design to the Sustain the Sea initiative. She brought tears to my eyes when I saw what she had created, and read her message below.  Here are her words about Biophilia:
“Biophilia is a term first used by psychologist Erich Fromm, and developed by biologist E. O Wilson to describe a hypothetically innate human tendency to feel an emotional attachment to the natural world.

 Regardless of whether the tendency for biophilia exists or not, human dependence upon the natural world and its complex ecosystems is a fundamental truth.  The idea that human wellbeing is utterly dependent upon our positive interactions with the natural world and its biological diversity makes conservation of the planet’s ecological systems imperative. This decades old theory is even more relevant today as we continue to transform the planet in our quest for perpetual economic growth.

This shawl, Biophilia is a part of the Sustain the Sea collection. It is a free pattern, and yet it is not free. I ask that you consider your relationship with the natural world around you, and how your activities impact upon it. Is there something you can do to reverse environmental degradation from your home, in your community? I ask that you actively do something, and continue to do something that benefits the environment. To be effective, conservation and protection of the Earth’s resources and ecosystems must be adopted in the home, and then spread outwards through workplaces, schools, boardrooms, and government departments via policy makers, educators, parents, conservationists, writers, idealists, you and me. From the home to the sea – while environmental degradation may seem an insurmountable by-product of human activity – together we are many. Together we are so many, many people – ourselves a huge, diverse, and imaginative repository of information, solutions and actions that can benefit the environment, our relationship to it, and ultimately our own wellbeing.

Biophilia is a top-down crescent shaped shawl that represents my own connection to and affection for the natural environment. The motifs represent filament strands of entangled seaweed billowing in the ocean currents. Beads are worked at the edge and drip from each picot point.” – Mary-Anne Mace

Biophilia 2

(photo copyright of Mary-Anne Mace)

Thank you, Mary-Anne.

I’m sure you will agree that Biophilia is a stunningly beautiful shawl.  Mary-Anne has very eloquently expressed much of what I feel, and now I have a name to put to it:  Biophilia!

I’ll be casting on for this shawl very soon.  Join me!  Download the pattern on Ravelry – link here.


The loveliness of colour

I went into the garden this weekend and found a beautiful carpet of yellow leaves covering the ground. I have missed taking pictures of the beautiful autumn leaf colours I have been seeing – most of the trees have now dropped their leaves, or are past the blaze of colour that they were.

The carpet of leaves begged to be photographed before I raked them up, so I decided to have some fun and show you the blaze of Autumn in yarn instead.  🙂

autumn coloursI have finished the BFF socks, so they got some leaf footage as well.

BFF socksThey are lovely and fluffy and will be warm and cosy on the recipient.  I do not know what the white stuff is on the socks – it is certainly not there in real life.  I think the light must have been illuminating the fine possum fibres and showing them up as white.

Seems like autumn is a theme on the needles as well, if this other sock project is anything to go on.


I am not overly happy with how these socks are turning out. I think I am using the wrong yarn for the bobbles to show nicely.  Some frogging and restarting with new yarn may be in the works.  This is not a pleasant prospect given how involved this pattern is and the fact that I have now knit an entire leg.  Better to get it right than have an unhappy completion though.

A number of other projects are keeping me busy.  I’m also knitting Hybrid Vigour using a beautiful ball of Anna Gatton’s merino/mohair in the Lavender Fields colourway.  I do so love the loveliness of Anna’s colourways.  The construction of the pattern is very interesting and I am enjoying combining a New Zealand designer with New Zealand yarn!

Hybrid Vigour

I have also started my June project.  It is just how I hoped it would look! A medical emergency with the young boy today meant that I missed all the daylight hours to take photos, so you’ll have to wait until next week to see it.  🙂  The boy is fine after a couple of hours in hospital on a nebuliser (he has come down with bronchitis, which triggered an asthma attack.  The nebuliser delivers a high dosage of ventolin to relieve asthma).

And finally, I have a gorgeous pattern to show you today, a new release by another Kiwi designer, Sonya Newstead of StringHerder Designs.

empty nets

Sonya has very generously contributed Empty Nets as a free pattern for the Sustain the Sea initiative.  Thank you Sonya!  The pattern is superb!  Read her story and download the pattern here.

Have a good week everyone!