Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


#project vest: the conclusion

I went a bit more slowly finishing the second half of this vest.  It actually didn’t take very long because there is less fabric in the front!  If you count all the hours I spent knitting and finishing this vest, the result will equal about 24 hours. Maybe a bit less.


I’m a bit hot and bothered from mowing the lawns in this picture.  Do not worry – I didn’t wear my brand new vest doing the mowing!  Had to get that pic before the light went though!

I thought I’d show you how it looked before and after some blocking:

Prior to blocking

Here it is awaiting its bath.  Notice how the bands twisted and would not lie flat?  The fabric itself also felt quite stiff and a little oily for some reason.


Here it is in its bath with a small amount of wool wash added.  See how the water has made the fibres much more relaxed and even.

Blocked vest

Blocking has brought out the true qualities of the Stansborough Grey wool.  The fabric has become beautifully lofty, with a gorgeous fluidity, lustre and drape.

This yarn dries extremely quickly.  This wool seems to shake off moisture much more quickly than other fibres.  I put it on a rack to dry outside, and it was dry in two hours!  I think being non-washine washable has also helped to preserve the moisture-repellent properties of the wool.

It’s going to be a great work vest as soon as the weather decides to make wearing wool a good idea!

Yarn:  Stansborough Mithril

Pattern: V-neck or rounded sleeveless tunic

Amount used:  approx 325g (for size 40″) of DK weight yarn.

Last weekend, I also finished my Golden Hall socks.  Here they are!

Golden Hall socks

These socks were cast on with many more stitches that I would normally use, and I was convinced at one stage that they would be too big for me.  Those cables sure do eat yarn and suck in the width though… I finished this project with only 6″ of yarn to spare from an entire 100g skein!  That was close.  I used 30% more yarn than I normally need for a pair of socks.

The only mods I made for this sock were to decrease across the instep on the first row of the toe shaping so that all the cable endings were K2tog.  This also conveniently brought the stitch count back down to my the usual number I begin with:  64 stitches.  By doing so, I knew that the toe would be the right length for my foot.  I also decreased the sole down to 32 sts during the gusset shaping which helped with width issues (and yarn quantities!)

I didn’t find the intense amount of cabling on these socks particularly intuitive (some cable patterns hardly need looking at once you’ve done the first motif, but not this one).  This made it slow to knit because I was glued to the chart. I know others were much more comfortable with the pattern.

The yarn is more of my very favourite super twisted 100% merino sock yarn.  This colourway was dyed by the talented James of Fibre Alive, another sadly no longer indie dye business.  I cry a little every time I use one of his yarns because they are so lovely and I won’t be able to get any more!!

However, very pleased to now have another pair of yummy socks to add to my drawer!



The glimmer of Mythral

“Mr Baggins!” he cried. “Here is the first payment of your reward! Cast off your old coat and put on this!”

With that he put on Bilbo a small coat of mail, wrought for some young elf-prince long ago. It was of silver-steel, which the elves call mithril, and with it went a belt of pearls and crystals. – The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien

Thus we are first acquainted with that beautiful mail tunic that saved the lives of both Bilbo and later, Frodo.

Because of its qualities, Stansborough’s Mythral is named after the essence of mithril, and I can see why.

I was knitting with Stansborough Mythral today, and greatly admiring the glimmer and gleam of the yarn and wondering how I could illustrate this quality to my readers.  I decided that it might work if I took a picture of it next to other yarn, to show just how glittery it is.

In the photo below you can see from left, an 80% alpaca/20% merino yarn; a 50/50 merino silk blend, and finally, Mythral 100% Stansborough Grey wool.

I have not altered this image, it was taken in daylight, on a foggy, rainy day.  Yet, can you see how the Mythral outshines even the silk in the skein next to it?

Illustrating the lustre of Mythral

Here’s another picture, showing a pure Corriedale wool next to the Mythral along with the alpaca and silk/merino blends.

CompositionDSC09525 (1024x768)I think it’s a rather appropriate name, don’t you?


Mythral is back!!!

Today, I have the very immense pleasure of sharing with you that the new batch of Stansborough Mythral has finally arrived!!!!  You can imagine I was dying to get home and play with these!

Stansborough MythralIf you’ve missed my posts about Stansborough’s Mythral in the past, I’ll just quickly introduce this unique and beautiful yarn.  It’s the wool that was made famous by those fantastic elven cloaks in Lord of the Rings.  Subsequently, knitter demand convinced the Eldridges (who own and breed the unique sheep behind this yarn, and who produce timelessly tasteful fabrics and accessories from the wool) to turn some of it into knitting yarn.  The wool has also been used in costumes for the Hobbit movies, and in due course there will be more knitterly joy in that department to share with you when it can be talked about!

Cheryl, the brains behind the designs and creative side of Stansborough, designed the colour to be overdyed on to the natural grey, turning something special into something even more special. It’s a naturally heathered effect, in very Middle Earth colours.

This yarn was first released as Mythral two years ago, and knitter (and crocheter) awareness of this very special yarn has gradually been increasing since.  Once you get over the fact that it is not your typical merino, you learn to appreciate its very special lustre, drape, resilience and unique look.  It softens every time you wash it, and it’s a yarn that you can wear to death, and it will still look fabulous year after year.  It is not scratchy.  It just has a certain strength to the strand that most people are not used to in this day and age of super soft yarn.  It means you can knit up cables that really ‘pop’, and use it in garments where you want flow and movement and the knowledge that your garment will not stretch out of shape.

This second batch features a new colour:  Raupo (the Maori word for bullrush).  If you remember the funny bottle-brush shaped flower stem of the bullrush, you’ll immediately recognise the rusty orange brown in the above picture.

Stansborough Mythral

So in the image above, from reader left, the Mythral colours this time are:  Kakariki (Maori word for green and also the name of a very cute, rare native New Zealand parrot).  Next to it is Rata, the rich, pretty red of the Rata tree flower.  Then comes Takahe, a steel blue, my personal favourite. Takahe is the name of another very rare New Zealand bird that needs to be seen to be described! Then comes the luscious Raupo. Finally, there is the natural colour of the Stansborough Grey sheep, given the name Kokako, (another endangered New Zealand bird with soft grey plumage and bright blue wattles).  

Such scrumptious colours, I can already see colourwork and stripes in my future!

If you want to know more about the namesakes of the colours for Mythral, have a look at the Department of Conservation’s website which has some very interesting information (and you can see nice pictures and even listen to the calls of the birds).

Now to the very important stuff:  how to get hold of some of this for yourself!

If you cannot wait, and must have some NOW, I suggest you email Cheryl at  The yarn will also be up on the website soon.

If you are in Wellington, you can also call into Stansborough’s gallery at 22 Sydney St, Petone to pick it up in person, and I am sure that it will soon be available at Holland Road Yarn Store and other New Zealand stockists.

Wholesale quantities will also be shortly winging their way to The Yarn Sisters (where you can order it through their Shopatron site) in the US and Lanamania in Europe.

I’ve had a broad smile on my face all day – it’s wonderful to have this fantastic yarn available to knitters again!


The dwarves wore knitting

We went to see The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey last night.  It was good.  You should go.  The audience actually clapped at the end.  I’m only bummed that I’m going to have to wait until 18 July 2014 to see the ending!

As you’ll probably have guessed, I was paying special attention to the costuming to see if I could see any knits in the movie.  I wasn’t disappointed!

If you haven’t already seen the movie, this is Ori, one of the dwarves.  He wears the most of any knitting that I saw.  Including this rather funny sort of knitted vest in the beginning scenes.  I guess in part it symbolises that he’s a “gentle” character.  At least two other dwarves wore knitted fingerless gloves, much like the ones Ori is wearing.

I did not notice this scarf in the movie.  Perhaps this scene is yet to come? However, my knitting brain is already set a-humming by its wonderful chunky texture!!

OriI’m sure you’ve already discovered the official website if you were looking for information about the movie, but if not, I’ve put in a link so you can have a look at some of the other amazing costumes.  The official Hobbit Blog also has other images to look at.

I also looked closely at Gandalf’s “magical” scarf (whether or not it is actually magical is not yet revealed).  The characteristically unique Stansborough weave in the scarf was very obvious, and the lustre of the wool provided a surprisingly strong contrast against the rest of Gandalf’s duller grey clothing.  I think the only thing I wasn’t so sure about in Gandalf’s costume were the fingerless gloves that he wore.  A little too ‘factory made look’ for authenticity I thought.

There’s an amazing the amount of clarity and detail captured in the 48-frames-per-second format.  You can see so much more than in a “normal” movie!  I liked it!  For me, the difference was most apparent in character close-ups.  It felt like I went right up to the character and was able study their look in great detail!

I won’t tell you any more about the actual movie as it will spoil the experience if you are planning to see it and haven’t already.  However, fans of The Lord of the Rings trilogy will not be disappointed – it is definitely slanted towards explaining more of the history of what went on before Frodo Baggins appeared on the scene.  Peter Jackson & co. have done well.


Free pattern: Strong Heart mittens

The wait is over!!  At long last, here it is:  Free pattern – Strong Heart.

Available in long and short versions, as mittens or as fingerless gloves.

I experimented using a softer yarn in the below version using Zealana’s Rimu, and they’ve come out beautifully.

These gloves feature cabled hearts travelling up the back of the hand.  A smaller cable echoes the hearts over the thumb.  The rest of the glove is in stretchy double rib, which allows a reasonable range of hand sizes to fit them.

Gauge:  22 sts x 28 rows in stocking stitch on 3.75mm (US 5) needles.

You need:

60 – 80g DK yarn for the shorter versions (pictured above in Stansborough  Mythral – Kokako Grey and Zealana Rimu – Riverbank)

100 – 120g DK yarn for the long version (pictured above in Stansborough Mythral in Rata Red)

1 set 3.75mm DPN needles

2 stitch markers

1 cable needle

I think they’ll make lovely gifts for Christmas, but perhaps you’ll enjoy a cabled treat for yourself too!??

If you’re interested in the back story, it’s here.

And finally, as hinted at in my last post, because I’d love to share the experience of knitting with these gorgeous New Zealand yarns:  A small giveaway competition.

  • Be in for the chance to win two balls of Zealana’s Rimu in the Riverbank* colourway shown above by posting a comment about why you want to knit with possum yarn.  You must mention either “Zealana” or “possum” in your comment so I know your comment is for this prize.
  • Be in for the chance to win two balls of Stansborough’s Mythral in Kokako Grey* by posting a comment on which movies you know Stansborough Grey wool has featured in.  You must mention “Stansborough” in your comment so I know your comment is for this prize.

How I’ll decide:

  • I’ll draw a winner for each category by random number draw, and assuming your answers are correctly provided.
  • I’ll be sorting the comments for the draw per brand – so if you want to be in the draw for both Zealana and Stansborough, you’ll need to leave two comments, one for each brand.

Comments will close at midnight, Sunday, 2 September NZ time.

The competition is open to all, and I am happy to post anywhere within New Zealand or internationally.

Good luck!

* these yarns are from my own stash, and there is no choice of alternate colour.


Strong heart

Today, dear readers, I introduce Strong Heart.

Originally conceptualised many months ago, after I’d been reading quite a few blog posts about life’s challenges, I thought it would be nice to knit something as a reminder of the nicer things in life, and as my gift to my knitting sisters, who find life a struggle on occasion.

These gloves are dedicated to my dear friend, Kb, who is going through some tremendous changes in her life right now.

It feels nice to finally have wrapped around my arms what I’ve had in my head for so long.  The cabled motif is a continuous string of hearts.  As I knitted them, I reflected on how much you could read into the hearts – a love of knitting; a love for the person you might be knitting the gloves for; a love for all things cabled – the list goes on!  In this case, the hearts represent “heart”.  The ability to take strength; to take heart, and go on, to take on the good and the bad, opportunity and disappointment, and continue to enjoy all that life has to offer.  Hence the name “Strong Heart”.

But wait, there’s more! This is the mitten version.

I’ve used the wonderful Stansborough Mythral yarn, (DK weight, 100% New Zealand Stansborough Grey wool), in the Rata colourway for the long, fingerless version.  The mittens are in Kokako Grey – the natural colour of the sheep.

The pattern is of course, free and it will be released in about a week.  (I have some major work on at the moment that will prevent me from writing the pattern up too quickly).  Thanks to my son Tim, for the great pics today.

I hope you are having a marvellous, relaxing weekend.  🙂