Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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The cardigan

In a world of knitter’s worst nightmares, the following scenario has to come close to top of the list:  spending hours knitting a garment, laboriously stitching it all together, and then trying it on only to find that it doesn’t fit like you wanted it to.

I was very conscious of this possibility when I set out to knit myself a lightweight cardigan to carry me through Spring and into the early summer months. When I selected the original pattern I didn’t quite notice it had an odd garter stitch panel in the front. Nor did I realise that the shaping wasn’t right for my own body proportions, especially the armhole depth.

The garter stitch panel was easy to adapt – I simply left it off, as the garment was wide enough not to need it. The armholes needed a bit of adaptation. I worked more decreases to make a narrower shoulder, and I increased the length. This was a bit tricky – I think I cast off and then added in more length a couple of times before I decided it was right! The next thing was to sew the shoulders together so I could try it on and make sure that the fit was correct.

Because I had adapted the arm holes, I also needed to work the sleeves a little differently to make sure that they were as deep as the armhole. I also didn’t want three quarter length sleeves, nor did I want lace on the sleeves. The solution was to keep working decreases all the way to the end of the sleeve cap – this seems to have worked.

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Fitting the first sleeve into the cardigan was a good way to work out if I had the proportions right.

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I am checking the length of the sleeve here – it sits just above my wrist, which is a better length for warmer weather.

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The length works well too. I’d like to be able to wear this cardigan with a dress, and I find that dresses need shorter cardigans to look good.

I am also conscious this is a superwash yarn (Madelinetosh Pashmina) and I know it will grow once blocked. It is slightly shorter to accommodate that eventuality as well.

Once the second sleeve is finished, the next step will be to work a neat finish to the neckline, and to add in loops for the buttonholes.  And once blocked, I will finally have a summer cardigan after a couple of years of talking about it!

I am concerned about the large amount of dye that is coming off on my fingers as I knit this garment. Has anyone knitted with this colourway before (Tart) and have you experienced a large amount of colour fade?  Should I be looking at fixing the colour in the first block?  I’d appreciate your advice!

My garden continues to delight in a riot of super strong colours. Whoever planted this garden was a person after my own heart! It is soul restoring to spend a couple of hours pulling weeds and admiring all the new beauties to see in the weekend.

I have no idea what the second plant is called, but the top image is the Aquilegia. I’m so happy to have this flower in my garden again!

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This little flower captured my attention with the leaves echoing the shade of the flower.img_2927-800x449

We also have a regular visitor at the moment – how cute is this kereru, warily watching me from the safety of the pine tree!?img_2934-800x533

I am itching to get back into shawl knitting for some reason. They have been a very useful addition to my wardrobe this winter – they looked nice under a coat and kept me extra warm on the way to the office, but could easily be removed (or put back on) once at work. I continue to ponder yarn and pattern options, although it amuses me to see that I have the exact colours of my garden in my stash…

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I hope you are enjoying your weekend, and finding plenty of time for soul-restoring and relaxing activities.

Happy Knitting!

 

 

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Discoveries and meet-ups

Before I start today’s post, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your caring and concerned comments on my car crash. I may not be able to respond to each and every one of you individually, but your thoughts and kind wishes mean a great deal. Thank you, so much.

This week has been a little hard. Bruised ribs and whiplash don’t go away very quickly, but I am on the mend, and the young boy appears to be completely recovered, which is a massive relief! The insurance company is still to pay out as they are waiting on the police report before doing so. Hopefully that will not be much longer. Being without a car is a major hindrance!

So let’s move on to happier things and talk about knitting!

I finished the edging on Southern Skies, and here is the finished shawl. I have to say, I love it very much. The swirls of colour through it remind me of the southern lights, and as someone said on my Instagram account, it also looks a bit like a galaxy! Thanks again, Audry, for a beautiful pattern, and thanks to Anna Gratton for such a lovely night sky colourway.

The yarn is Anna Gratton’s 4 ply 100% wool, and I made only one change to the pattern – instead of a garter border, I knitted on a Shetland lace Brand Iron edging. It has made the shawl larger and also a bit more feminine, which I like.

Having a lot of time to knit on the train on the way to work has meant that I have been giving socks a bit of attention this week. This is Dark Harbour Yarn‘s lovely Jetsam sock in Narwhal Hits the Disco. I see she has a very similar Rare and Exotic Beast in her shop at the moment which would be almost identical in my opinion. I am using my Bark sock pattern to liven the knitting up a bit.

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Before I start on yet another new shawl, I have decided I need to finish another long time WIP.

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This is my Ulva Lactuca shawl in laceweight, using Zealana Kiwi. At this weight, it has become more a summer shawl/scarf style, which will be nice to use when the weather warms up again.

Being a blogger and reader of blogs has given me lovely opportunities to meet some wonderful people.

Recently, I had the great pleasure of having coffee with Keiry Belton, co-author of Stitching up Paris – The Insider’s Guide to Parisian Knitting, Sewing, Notions and Needlecraft Stores.

If you have not heard of her yet, Keiry has just returned from a period living in Paris as an expatriate. I enjoyed following the blog she wrote about her adventures while there.  While she was there, she also co-wrote Stitching up Paris with Barbara Cattoni, another expatriate living in Paris, who runs personal walking tours of Parisian stitching stores at http://www.stitchingupparis.com.

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Stitching up Paris is the ideal companion for any needlecraft fan. The contents are organised very neatly into both genre (knitting/fabrics/embroidery/haberdashery/vintage and shabby chic) and by also by area. This makes it easy to find the information you are after.

Well written, and filled with beautiful photography, I  especially loved reading the little stories about the stores/areas that accompanied the reviews.  If I ever get a chance to visit Paris, this book will be coming with me!

The book is available to purchase here and if you live in New Zealand, I understand that the book can also be purchased from Minerva.

I leave you today with a new indie yarnie discovery:

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This is Artist’s Palette Yarn, a UK indie dyer. With the exchange rate happily a bit friendlier at the moment, I took the opportunity to indulge in some pretty colourways. Her palette is very much to my taste – one of those sites where you could happily tick ‘one of everything please!’

Hope you are having a marvellous weekend!

 

 


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The tale of the swatches

I think one of the biggest benefits of being a knitter is being able to make garments to suit yourself. It is wonderful to be able to adapt garments to your own liking, by choosing pattern, materials and colour to your taste.

It is also good to be able to experiment a little before jumping in, because sometimes one’s first choice isn’t quite the right choice, and some pre-thought helps to save much angst later. The luxury of time to consider is often not available when shopping for a ready made garment.

Today I shall tell you about the Tale of The Swatches, which illustrates my point quite well.

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These swatches were all made in my decision making process around which yarn to use to knit Gwyneth, pictured below.  It is from Issue No. 95 of The Knitter.
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The first swatch I made is in Cleckheaton Country Naturals. I chose it because it has a similar tweedy look to the original yarn used in the pattern.

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The original yarn (Artesano Nebula) is composed of 33.5% alpaca, 50% wool and 16.5% viscose.  This would give the fabric a lighter quality to what I would get with the above 85% superwash wool/ 10% acrylic/ 5% viscose mix. I thought that the fibre mix would be reasonably similar, but the swatch feels heavy. I think I didn’t realise just how much I’m not fond of the superwash feel either. I wasn’t sure it would feel comfortable with this yarn in a cardigan.

So I knitted another swatch.

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This is pure wool.  It is Stansborough’s Mithril, a beautiful overdyed grey from the Stansborough Grey sheep, which gives that same tweedy look, but it is a much lighter yarn, as you can see.  Looking at it, I’m not sure I want a large, red cardigan, and it is perhaps too light and may not give the garment the structure I am looking for.

Then I noticed that the original yarn was a single, roving style.  So I picked up the long-overdue-for-a-swatch Naturally Harmony, a felted single ply, 100% New Zealand Merino yarn, and made one more.

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Well, I have to say that I just LOVE the fabric that this yarn produces.  It is very soft and lofty. Look at that lovely crisp stitch definition, and the beautiful, demure evenness of the fabric… it would make a beautiful sweater or shawl or hat. You could just cuddle up in it and feel enveloped in warmth and snuggliness… I have bookmarked it firmly for further investigation in that area.  Sadly, it produces a fabric that is too tidy to be suitable for the look I am aiming for in this cardigan though. I notice that the yarn is available in a tweed, and am very tempted to purchase a skein for investigation.

However, conscious of the size of my stash, I decided to be good and turn my attention to it one last time.  A yarn I initially looked at but rejected on the basis of colour looked suitable. It is also Cleckheaton, a mix of merino, angora and silk. It has a tweed fleck, and it is a single ply roving style yarn.

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The fabric has good stitch definition.  It is just the right weight.  It will be warm without being heavy, and has the right about of structure to give the garment a good shape.

I think we have finally found it!  I am still not sure that the colour will go well with jeans, but there are other things in my wardrobe that it will match.  Why else would I have bought a sweater quantity of this yarn otherwise!?

Making one’s own knitwear is the best!


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From my stash to yours

 

Have you ever wondered what certain New Zealand yarns would be like to knit?

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How warm and soft is a possum yarn really?

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Compare a beautifully crafted pure New Zealand wool yarn from a boutique mill to one from a commercial mill?

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Investigate how a colourful New Zealand indie dyer’s yarn might work up into a shawl or socks?

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Now is a chance to find out!

It’s time to pay rent, and I need to make a withdrawal from my yarn bank.  This means I’m going to have to release some very treasured yarns that I have been collecting back into the market.  All my yarns are stored carefully in plastic to avoid the threat of moth attack, and out of direct sunshine. They are in mint condition, and certainly, if I wasn’t in this situation, would happily remain in my stash until I was ready to use them.

However, a girl must feed her family, and there are only so many yarns one can knit (and I do have a few). So it is time to be pragmatic and offer some to you for your enjoyment.

This is a one-time-only offer.  Once the yarn is gone, it is gone.  Have a look in on my Ravelry trade tab to see the yarns I am pulling for sale, and pm me if you are interested. I’m going to be asking for slightly under the current purchasing price plus postage.

Hopefully something interests you.  🙂


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Seriously Pretty

For a long time, I have hankered after a pretty, feminine yarn, with the barest hint of blush.  Something that reminded me of the palest cherry blossom scattered over clean white sheets.  I never was able to find that colourway, until Circus Tonic Handmade appeared on the scene.

When I saw Hannah’s Galah colourway, that beautifully muted pink and grey, I knew it had to be mine.  And then I started knitting it, and the pattern I have had in my head for a long time (but wasn’t able to find the right colour yarn for it) sprang up and shouted “Me, me, me, me!!!”

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After much swatching and ripping, I realised the pattern had to be toe-up, which threw me a bit as I dislike the backwards (to me) way of knitting heels.  Then I remembered that I could always do an afterthought heel, and all was well with the world again!

This merino/nylon blend yarn (Revelry Sock) is the softest sock yarn I have ever laid my hands on.  The merino wool used to make this yarn is of very high quality. It is so soft, I was scared that it would be weak, but it is not.  It is very well spun, with a non-splitty, springy twist that is perfect for socks or anything else you want to knit it in. I like it very much.

I think there is definitely a place in the world for pretty, feminine colours.  Ones that aren’t super saturated, but not washed out either.  It’s my new favourite style of colourway!

I bet you want to see that design I spoke of?

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This is a sneaky peek of Mary, Mary.  All going well, I’ll be releasing the pattern towards the end of next week (dependent on testing time).  Mary, Mary, was inspired by the nursery rhyme, “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?  With silver bells and cockle shells, and little maids all in a row.”  It is a feminine design to match a feminine yarn, and I am very pleased with how it turned out in the end.  (The sock hasn’t been blocked yet, which is why it’s still a bit wonky looking).

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Can you see the silver bells and cockle shells?  I took the bell reference to be flowers like the Lily of the Valley which have little bells, and the cockle shells are run up the sides, like little borders on the flower beds.

The pattern is not hard to knit.  I will give you links to the Turkish cast on that I used (it is so simple, it is my favourite method for double-sided cast ons) and how to work out the length of the foot before commencing the heel.  The heel will also have a surprise.  I worked out how to knit a cushioned afterthought heel that fits well.  I am very pleased with it and for me, it will help very much with the holes that always develop first on the bottom of my heels!

On a final note, speaking of pretty, I saw some truly amazing and exciting New Zealand produced yarn this weekend.  Mary Furness-Weir of Maniototo Wool has produced a special new yarn this season – it is called Luxury Lambswool (from the wool of ram lambs). It is a worsted-spun, DK weight yarn.  I have never felt anything so beautiful.  It has drape, sheen, it is incredibly smooth (due to the worsted spin) and it is soft.  Oh so soft (22 micron).  It is quite tightly spun, which makes it even more different to the usual DK weight wool yarns.  It makes my head burst.  I want it ALL.  I don’t have photos (Mary only had two skeins for her own use on her when she showed them to me and I stupidly forgot to take a photo… I was too busy coveting).  I have regrammed one of her posts showing the yarn – have a look at the Instagram photo on my sidebar (visible if you are reading this post on a PC), and you’ll see the yarn.  Or if you follow me on Instagram (Kiwiyarns), you’ll see it in my feed.

If you hurry, you’ll find some on the indie shelf at Holland Road Yarn Company this month.  Mary will be in store at lunch time tomorrow (Monday), in case you are in Wellington and have time to meet her.

I had better get cracking and produce more patterns so I can afford to buy some before it is all gone!


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Hybrid Vigour

I finished it.

Hybrid Vigour shawl

It’s one of the most beautiful pieces of lace I have knit yet, in my opinion!

It fits very nicely, and I can see that I will get a lot more use out of this when the weather warms up again.

Hybrid Vigour shawl

The ‘shawlcho’ concept is genius – no more worrying about the shawl slipping off!  Mary-Anne Mace has done a brilliant job of Hybrid Vigour.

The beads were fixed with a crochet hook.  I have to say that I do like this method of affixing beads – it means I don’t have the weight of the beads on my yarn as I am knitting, and they also sit much more nicely in the knitting that the other way.  I used a mix of glass beads that came pre-mixed – I bought them years ago, when I was into beading, and am very pleased that I can use them again and appreciate their beauty.  Their colour tones well with the yarn.

Beads in knittingThe yarn is Anna Gratton 4 ply merino/mohair in Lavender Fields.  I used 140gms, which is less than one skein. I was pleasantly surprised at how well this yarn knits as lace.  It shows a good level of definition!

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It’s the perfect wrap for a cool summer evening, or indeed a warmer winter day.

It’s such a wonderful feeling to finish a project, and be happy with it, and know that I have accomplished something.

Design by Mary-Anne Mace

It’s so pretty that I might even knit another one!