Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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A rocky night

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Thank you so much for the many messages of concern and support that lovely people have sent to me since last night’s 7.5 North Canterbury earthquake.

Just a short note to say that we are safe, and there has been no damage done to our house. I can’t say many of us slept at all well last night! Hopefully tonight will not be too bad on the aftershock front.

Wellington has suffered some damage, but we are fine. Thank goodness the quake struck late at night when most people were safely in bed. It could have been so much worse otherwise…

My thoughts are with the poor people of Kaikoura and North Canterbury generally. There is a big job ahead to rebuild the infrastructure and get things working again down there.

 


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Lacebark

Hello, and a Happy Weekend to you, in what has been another momentous week on the global stage.  I hope this post finds you well, and doing things that you love.

It is a rainy, rainy day today, perfect for staying home, curling up with knitting and doing not much else.

Thank you so much for your lovely, supportive comments about the finished cardigan I showed you last. I have to say, having now worn it for a couple of weeks, I am especially enamoured of the beautiful yarn – that cashmere blend is something else!

I managed to finish Lacebark this week!  I am so thrilled with how it turned out! As you can see by the million photographs I took…

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Mary-Anne Mace’s designs take my breath away every time.

So, what did I do for this shawl?

I used three different yarns, but all in the same high-twist merino base type, to give the shawl textural consistency.  I knew when I started it that I would not have enough of the main gradient yarn I used from Ozifarmer’s Market, so I scratched around in my stash and found a beautiful deeper purple colourway from another indie dyer (who sadly no longer makes pretty yarn), and a plain undyed yarn.

I worked the tip in white, and then added in the gradient, and when the gradient was done, I added in the deeper purple.

The pattern itself is interesting. You start out with very basic lace, and gradually move into more and more complex lace techniques as you progress. The final few charts with lace on every side were quite a brain workout, but the result is worth it, and I am sure the grey matter is working much better after that bit of exercise! I do like the progression of lace pattern –  it makes it quite interesting to wear.

In between lace knitting, I did plain vanilla sock knitting, and finished the cute colourway I got from Doespins a while ago, and started another pair (yarn from Happy-go-knitty). These are quite good to knit in the sleepy hours I resist going to bed in, helping me to wind down after a long day in the office, and getting in some ‘me’ time.img_3038-1024x575

It seems that not only must there always be a sock, but there must also always be a shawl on the needles. After much deliberation, I’ve picked the next project.

img_3040-1024x1024I can’t help myself – it’s another Lace Eater design, Regenerate, found in Knitty’s Spring/Summer 2014 patterns. I’m pairing it with Rosewood Wool’s natural dyed Romney wool.

Until next time, Happy Knitting!

 

 


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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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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!

 

 


8 Comments

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!


11 Comments

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!