Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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Of knits and stuff

Alpaca is one of those fibres that really comes into its own when used in the right pattern. I chose it to knit Paris Toujours.  The yarn is from Skeinz and is called Alpaca Sterling.  It is 98% alpaca, with 2% silver accent that gives the yarn just the twinkliest hint of bling.  I used 300gm in total. It is very nice yarn, and I really enjoyed using it.  Some alpaca yarns are treated with a chemical of some kind that helps it to stick together during spinning. This chemical can create a yarn that has a horrible drag on the needles, making it a total pain in the A to knit.  I was very relieved that Alpaca Sterling had none of that drag.

The shawl has turned out to be the loveliest thing with gorgeous softness, drape and warmth.  I can see I will use it a lot come winter!

You can see more of the sparkle in this WIP photo:

IMG_1600 (800x600).jpg

The pattern is as usual, well written by Isabell Kraemer.  It is one of those projects that you can knit and not think about too much once the pattern is established and you figure out unusual things like the slipped stitch edging.  You can see it in the photo above – it makes for a lovely neat edge to the shawl.  I like it and will use it again in future!

IMG_1705 (800x600)I am very, very, nearly finished on Two Hearts.  Just a quarter of the second sleeve to go and the sewing up, so you will see it soon!  I am very excited, as sometimes it has felt like I will never get to the end of it!

The finishing of these two projects leaves me with thoughts on what to do next.  I am very much in the mood to finish up other outstanding WIPs that I have had sitting around for a while, especially this one:IMG_1720 (800x800)

It’s the Leighlinbridge Aran by Melissa Leapman that has been stuck for lack of concentration time for a few months.  I realise I made one of the twisted cables just slightly larger than the others, but too bad, it will be fine.  I can live with it.  I’m using The Wool Company’s Possum Merino in a colourway that is very similar to the new Sea Foam.  That was a mistake looking up the colourways because now that I have seen the new season’s colours, I Want Them All!!!! They are absolutely gorgeous!

The new project that I’d like to start is my retry of Audry’s Southern Skies.  After my failure with the original yarn I chose (it came out far too small), I decided to use a yarn with less spring, and asked Anna Gratton if she’d custom dye me a night sky using her 4 ply 100% wool.  This is what came back, called Midnight Sky:IMG_1715 (800x705)

I got it out of storage this week and decided that it was just far too beautiful not to knit into a shawl. I can see it will be very reflective of the Milky Way when taken on long time exposure.  I love it!!

I’m going to knit it with 4mm needles as I want it to be nice and big, and I know that my gauge is much tighter than Audry’s.  More on this shawl soon!

I’ve now got at least seven designs sitting on my list of things to write up.  Somehow, I am lacking the motivation.  I think the realisation that pattern designing is not a viable income generator for me has me in a bit of a writing funk.  I keep coming up with designs because I keep knitting things from my head and thinking “someone would like to knit this too, I bet”.  I am grateful that many of you like my designs, but I need to accept that designing is just a hobby and do it for the love of designing and sharing rather than anything else. Still, it is a good exercise to keep my brain exercised during this hiatus from work.

Perhaps too, because I lack mental stimulation in other areas at the moment, that my mind has turned to wanting to learn new things, to stretch and grow.  So there is a bit of a fascination with all things lace and colourwork and complex cables going on…

Finally, I’d like to link to this uplifting video I came across this week.  It’s about emotional first aid.  Guy Winch made a very good point about how we look after ourselves really well physically, but how often do we do the same to our minds? He touches on things like loneliness and fear of failure and rejection, not the catch phrase depression that seems to be all the rage to talk about these days.  It’s a really good listen, and I got a lot out of it, so I am sharing it with you.

Wishing you all a good week!


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Weekend pottering

The year is drawing rapidly to a close, and I for one, am not sad to see it go.  It has been a very long year. It has been very busy.  The tree isn’t even up yet!  That will hopefully be remedied today, along with the long grass in the back garden and Christmas presents that still need to be sorted.

We did make time to see “The Battle of the Five Armies” yesterday. We decided to see it at the Roxy.  I like the cinema, with its art deco theme and very comfortable chairs.  It seemed fitting to see the last Hobbit movie there.

Gandalf

The cinema has been refitted by Weta Workshop with cool Lord of the Rings features, including a life-size sculpture of Gandalf outside.

The boy with Gandalf

We were delighted to find some Hobbit-movie features inside as well.

At the Roxy

This is one of the dwarves’ costumes.  If I remember right, it was Ori’s.  As you can imagine, I spent quite a bit of time examining the knitted scarf and gloves…

The movie was great.  I decided to forgive Peter Jackson and team for including the orc sub-story that had not been in the original book.

Now then, to knitting!

Knitting

There has not been a whole lot of knitting.  Usually at this time of year things are getting a bit quieter at work, and there is more time for knitting, but this year will be frantic right up to the bitter end.   My place of work breaks for the summer on 19 December (in New Zealand the vast majority of employers enforce a two – three week annual holiday at this time of year).  At least I will have a few days after that to focus on Christmas preparations, and do enjoyable things like knitting.

However, I am making reasonable progress on two sweaters (I’m preparing for next winter – no point in knitting when it’s cold and you need to be wearing it, not knitting it!) The first is the Mattingley Jumper.  If you haven’t already noticed the book it’s in, go and have a look.  I found several patterns in there that I should like to knit, and as I have a somewhat generous alpaca stash, this is a good opportunity to use it up!  I am knitting the Mattingley in a naturally coloured charcoal alpaca in 80% alpaca, 20% polwarth wool (no brand – it came from a small alpaca producer who does not make yarn any more).

The second sweater is the Leighlinbridge Aran, which you’ll remember from my last post.  I am very much enjoying knitting it in soft, snuggly possum yarn.  The only thing I need to remember to do is to pause and look at the cabling every now and again.  Sometimes I make a mistake, and it’s easier to fix when it’s not so far down the fabric.

I love those cables!!!  I had forgotten how physically demanding a heavily cabled garment can be to knit – it is good exercise for the arms.

Cables

The autumnal-looking lace item in the top photograph is a scarf I’m designing and snatching a row or two on whenever I have a quiet five minutes and I don’t feel like wrestling with cables or a sweater in my lap.  It’s actually my ‘restful knitting’ project at the moment!  It will look lovely when it is done.  It’s one of those projects where blocking is definitely an essential part of the finishing process!  I’m using Anna Gratton‘s hand-dyed, 4 ply 100% wool in her Desert colourway.  It reminds me of autumn leaves.

There are also several pairs of socks lurking on the needles in various stages of completion.  I’ll save those for another post.

And finally, a bit of eye candy to finish the weekend!

Happy-go-knitty Luxury - merino cashmere nylon

I was so excited when these two beauties arrived!  This is a new MCN yarn base from Happy-go-knitty,  a high-twist, merino, cashmere and nylon mix!  Love!!  The colourways above are fuschia blossom and mango calla.  Helene doesn’t seem to have made any listings for them yet, but I am sure if you pop her a line she will tell you what she has in stock behind the scenes.

Wishing you all a good week and a restful weekend!

 

 


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I see stripes

I’ve been trying very hard to be good and finish up projects before I start new ones.  It has been especially hard on the sock front, but reminding myself of the reward of that satisfying feeling of getting a few projects off the needles seems to be helping!

Finished and in-progress things from the last few days, which funnily enough, seem to be mostly stripy!

The young boy's sweater

Why is it that when you want people to look nice for the camera, they do the exact opposite?  Someone was quite put out at being asked to pose… but at least you can see the finished result (I can’t be bothered blocking it so it’s a little rumpled looking – matches the boy, I think).  As mentioned in a previous post, this is a sweater of collaboration between the young boy and me.  He chose the colours and the general concept, and I worked out how to knit it!

I knitted the body stripes in reverse stocking stitch to give the sweater a bit more texture.  I felt the stripes looked too flat otherwise, and it’s a nice echo of the garter stitch welt and cuff.  I kept the sleeve stripes stocking stitch though – they would have looked too much like flotation devices otherwise!

The sweater was knitted in the round up to the armholes, then I divided for the armholes, and knitted the front and back separately.  I added some short rows to the back as the young man has broad shoulders, but a bad habit of slumping, and that always produces an unattractive look with the back of the sweater riding up.  I think the short rows have done a good job of keeping the back hem line straight.

The sleeves were picked up after I joined the shoulders, and knitted in the round down to the cuff.   Finally, I added a couple of rows of garter stitch to the neckline.

I was reminded why I am not so fond of knitting stripes when I got to the sleeves.

Jog

That jog is oh-so-annoying!  I couldn’t be bothered to rip back on this one, as he’ll probably have outgrown the sweater by next winter, so I’m not too worried about making it perfect.  The colour change is on the inside of the arm, and no one is going to see.  However, with the next sleeve, I decided to review my notes on jogless stripes (this and this tutorial from TECHKnitting are very helpful).

The result is much better.  I suspect that once I get around to blocking the sweater, the stripes will even out even more.

jogless stripe

Unfortunately, the next design that the young man wants me to knit for him involves an entirely striped sweater… it’s enough to make the heart quail.  Ah well, nothing like a challenge!!

The sweater is knitted in The Wool Company 100% Corriedale – a very good workhorse yarn.

Then there are the socks:

Imp socks

The Imp’s socks in self-striping yarn from Stray Cat Socks in the Momentum colourway.  Very pretty, and happily perfectly identical.  I hope she fits them, or they might have to get sent back to me for ‘renovations’.

Of course, one cannot knit a pair of socks for one sister without the other getting a pair too.

Regia self-striping yarn

These are knitted in a Regia Jazz self-striping colourway (6451).

And finally, an almost pair that isn’t stripy:

Crenate socks

The alpaca/merino/nylon sock yarn in the Embers colourway from Doe Arnot.  Very cosy, and looking nice in Crenate.

I am looking forward to this weekend.  Lucky me!  I have a knitting date with the lovely Alice of Bleating Art Yarn! (And if you haven’t already noticed, an update of gorgeous new colourful yarn has recently been put up…)

I also want to say thank you to all you very amazing people who bought my Latticework Cowl pattern.  I really appreciate your support of my endeavours!  🙂

Wishing you a lovely weekend.

 


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Fresh, stripy socks

A freshly minted pair of hand-knit socks is always welcome in my sock drawer.

Self-striping socks

They’re finished!

I LOVE them!!!  Hand-dyed self-striping yarn is lovely.  It has such a nice “coloured-in” look to it, like someone drew a pair of socks with crayon on a piece of paper, and then somehow the picture magically materialised into real socks!

The yarn is pretty special too.  Super soft alpaca sock yarn.

Yarn:  Doepins alpaca/merino/nylon sock yarn in the Meridian colourway.


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The Lamplight shawl

This has easily got to be one of the most beautiful things I have knitted to date.

Lamplight shawlI finished the Lamplight Shawl today.

As I mentioned in my last post about this shawl, I knitted it in fingering weight alpaca silk because I wanted a larger shawl.  It’s a soft, warm hug around my shoulders.

DetailSee how the alpaca fibres have filled out the spaces between the YO holes?  Extra warmth!!

I talked to Andy at Flagstaff Alpacas about the yarn as it is different to the usual alpaca/silk blends you find on the market these days.  Most alpaca/silk blends that I have come across have a predominance of silk in them, but as the aim of Flagstaff Alpacas is to highlight the beautiful alpaca fibre, Andy deliberately kept the alpaca dominant in this blend, with only 20% silk content.

The silk content is enough to give the yarn more lustre than a straight alpaca, and there is a certain body and buttery quality to the strand that you don’t get with pure alpaca.   It’s rather scrumptious.

I was impatient to show it to you, so this is it unblocked.  It’s now spread all over my bed, drying.

Lamplight 2

Hurry up and dry already so I can wear you!!!

In other news, watch out for a post from me on Wednesday.  I will be releasing a new design!!  It has something to do with the image you see below.

Window droplets and lichenHope you are all enjoying your weekend.

Keep calm and carry yarn!

 

 


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A different kind of knitting

There is something about knitting lace that I find incredibly soothing.

Now that I actually understand the harmony of stitches hidden between the YOs and K2togs, SSK and PSSOs, the rhythm of lace is relaxing, enchanting even.  That period of formal study of lace has really paid off.

You hold the needles differently when knitting lace, the strand of yarn slips between your fingers, held gently, not gripped.  One’s tension is relaxed, and as a result, the mind relaxes too.  I find my breathing slows down, the furrows between the eyebrows ease, the tension from my shoulders disappears.  This is an extremely agreeable discovery that has added much to my enjoyment of knitting lace.

I have found to my surprise, that I can now read lace charts.  I no longer approach a lace pattern with trepidation and anxiety, but rather a strange excitement fills my heart as I realise that I can knit this!!

My eyes linger over lace patterns as I dissect the stitches and figure out their construction.  I want to knit all the lace things now!!!

Triangle shawlThis is the Lamplight shawl, a pattern from Shetland Wool Brokers, specifying their beautiful 2 ply laceweight wool.  I, however, decided it was meant to be in alpaca silk.

I’m nearly done – there is still a whole half of the knitted-on edging to be done yet, but I have other projects that are sadly keeping me away from finishing this shawl for a few more days.  It’s a basic pattern – it’s what I needed to finally wash away the fear of knitting lace, and replace it was a new confidence that I am madly hoping will stay!  I have even watched TV and carried on a conversation while knitting this!!

The drape of the yarn is excellent, the beautiful qualities of alpaca enhanced by a touch of silk.  It’s a new yarn from Flagstaff Alpacas – 20% silk, 80% alpaca.  A fingering weight, 720m/787yds per 200g hank.  Because my shawl is so large, I got two hanks, and will be left with enough meterage for something else as well.  Want some in colour?  Have a look at Doe Arnot’s felt shop!

Learning a new skill is always good for the soul.  If you’ve been reading my blog for some time, you’ll have read of my struggles with lace knitting.  However, I think it’s finally over now.  And a whole new world of pretty new patterns has just opened up to me!!

And last, but not least, thank you all for your very kind words of greeting to my last post.  It’s good to be able to ‘talk’ to you again!