Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


Catch up

Hello there! Things are certainly going pear-shaped with my intentions to blog regularly!  I have managed to disappear yet again for quite a while. As well as being busy at work, I have also been sick. There is a bug going around that knocks you sideways – a nasty thing that masquerades as a cold, but then you find yourself sapped you of energy and strength for quite some time afterwards. I suspect a few of you may have had it too. In my case, I was down for three weeks, resulting in very unproductive weekends. It has not been fun at all. And I have really missed my interactions with all of you.

However, I have had some time to knit, so it wasn’t entirely unproductive.  It is another reason I have been silent here. Knitting is such great stress relief.

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This is my lastest project – the Spring Creek shawl. I love the moodiness of the two colours together – Tanis Fiber Arts’ cashmere blend in Dove and Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock in Mink.

Supplejack has been finished for a while, and I have been wearing it almost exclusively. I love it and am actually thinking of making another of this one – it is such a lovely design and a very fast knit. You’ll see there are a few ways to wear this shawl. In one of the photos you see me with a very special knitting friend. She lives in the UK, but she came over to visit her family, and we got to meet up!!! It was a most awesome weekend!

I used a combination of four yarns for Supplejack – Ruataniwha Dye Studio in NZ lambswool in the Spruce colourway (that’s the main lace panel), Dark Harbour Yarn Port in Limey and Pearls That Were His Eyes (bright green and grey) and Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label in Lotus (the variegated greens).

I have also been knitting socks.

These are a plain vanilla sock in Moods of Colours Softsock in a self-striping colourway.  The yarn was so pretty – I had to have me some!

These socks are ones I also finished a couple of weeks ago – Waving Lace Socks in Circus Tonic Handmade Revelry Sock in the Frilled Monarch colourway. Another very pretty colourway in one of my all-time favourite yarns!

I can’t believe it is autumn already. From this knitter’s point of view, the New Zealand summer has been rather marvellously cool, and I am glad of it.

The plums have come and gone, and now the apples are ripe, and making delicious apple pies and crumbles for one young man’s happy stomach. Homegrown produce is the best.

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend.

Happy Knitting!




For the love of Noro

When I lived in Hong Kong, I got to see many examples of Japanese art. Ranging from the elegant use of very minimal, distilled elements through to the richly textured and coloured, it never failed to leave me in a state of fascinated wonder.

In the knitting world, Noro ranks right up there as a master example of the Japanese use of colour and texture.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Eisaku Noro is a genius.  I love, love, love, love his yarns.

Although I have a few Noro scarves and mitts, after I saw the Noro wardrobe of an acquaintance of mine, I have lusted after a Noro garment of my very own!

The other day, I was perusing Ravelry and came across a very cute vest.  Sock yarn. Hmm.  Stripes.  Hmmm.  What about that  mouth-watering Noro Silk Garden Sock I have sitting in my wool collection begging to be used????

Bonus:  I might have enough to actually make a garment out of this!!

I was slightly worried though – the pattern called for 800m of yarn, and I had 600m of this particular Noro colourway (S245).  What to do?  Studying the various colours in the ball carefully, I realised that one of them perfectly matched some Rowan Fine Tweed I recently acquired in a swap.  Could I add a little Rowan into the mix to eke the yarn out?  The yarn weights and textures were reasonably similar.  I also noticed I had another Noro colourway that contained complementary colours that I could selectively use…

There are three yarns in this vest.  Two Noro colourways and some Rowan Fine Tweed.

I needn’t have worried though.  I’ve found that this vest can be knitted from two balls of Noro for a medium-sized person.  But better to feel safe than have that constant niggle at the back of the mind of “no more yarn!” while knitting.  Don’t you just hate that when it happens?

I think it’s turned out okay:

It looks good with a t-shirt too:

The back:

The pattern is okay, but if I had been a bit more clever about it, I would have made a number of adjustments to it, including the finishing around the armholes and neck.  If you’d like to read my project notes, I have Raveled it here.

What do I love so much about Noro?  For one, the colour of course.  Stunning colours that are harmonious blends or unexpected juxtapositions that surprise and delight – often all in one ball.  The photographs of this project display the seamless way the colours blend from one colour in the ball through to another by gentle blending during the carding process, but yet in other instances, you have distinct changes of colour.  I love the long repeats of colour too, so that you get a self-striping project, rather than the melange of colour that often occurs in multi-coloured yarn once it’s knitted.  There’s a purity to it that appeals to me.

The other facet is texture:  I adore the organic texture, the effect of the blend of the various fibres in the yarn.  The thick/thin spin makes it interesting to knit and produces a garment with textural interest.

For three:  it’s mostly natural fibre.

This all adds up to a superb artisan yarn.  Still primarily hand-crafted, Noro yarn is a stunning example of Japanese master craftsmanship.

It’s little wonder that Noro is a fixture in the Top 10 of stashed yarns on Ravelry.

I’ll leave you with more examples of the gorgeousness that is Noro:

Noro.  I love it.


A field guide to preserving a good relationship with your Knitter

It is a fact that there are relatively few enthusiastic obsessed knitters in this world. Most knitters moderate themselves to knitting in front of the television in the evening, or bring out the needles only at the advent of pregnancy, a new grandchild, or the birth of a friend’s child.

On the other hand, there are those who find this art their life’s calling, and view any spare moment in the day as an opportunity to enjoy creating something beautiful with their hands. Some even give up their day job for it. For the purposes of this post, this person is a Knitter.

It quickly becomes apparent to those who are fortunate enough to know a Knitter or have one in the family that beautifully crafted warm and comfortable knitted items flow continuously from this person, as such that can only be got from someone as enthusiastic for this art. There are however, a few behavioural idiosyncrasies that manifest themselves upon interaction with such a Knitter. This post is a hopefully humorous attempt to explain how to handle such quirks, and thereby preserve and enhance your relationship with your Knitter.

For example:

1.  You start a conversation with said Knitter, only to find that you are ignored. You wonder why this person is being completely and utterly unsociable. At this point, it’s a good idea to have a look at what the Knitter is doing. You will find that more often than not, the Knitter will be counting stitches. It is rude to talk to a Knitter when he/she is counting. It makes the counter lose concentration, which means he/she will have to count the row at least twice again. When the row involves more than 300 stitches, frayed tempers and unfortunate exchanges of words may result.

2.  You ask your Knitter what he/she is making, or are familiar enough with his/her work to say, for example, “Oh, you’re knitting a hat!” This kind of remark is viewed very favourably by the Knitter because it means you are taking an interest in his/her passion. However, do not, under any circumstances, follow this up by saying “it looks itchy”, followed by “it looks rather big/small”, or “that’s so not my colour.” These remarks are hurtful because the Knitter will already have spent a significant amount of time selecting the materials for the project in question and these remarks just mean you are being insensitive to his/her creativity.  All kudos gained from your initial expression of interest will be immediately revoked. The project in question, which was likely secretly intended to be a gift for you, will then be reassigned to someone else.

3.  Your Knitter excitedly informs you that he/she is making you a sweater/hat/scarf/pair of gloves/socks. Do not say that you would like him/her to knit you something else instead. See point 2 for reaction. Their enthusiasm for knitting for you having waned, said Knitter will also assign your request to the end of his/her queue, which is more likely than not, at least 50 projects long. You will receive your requested project, but it will be in two years’ time.

4.  When out in public, a Knitter may sometimes start knitting. This usually occurs during a period of inactivity.  He/she views this time as an occasion to Do Something Useful (or views the company as intelligent enough to know that it is possible to talk and knit at the same time). Do not show embarrassment or suggest that you move to a more discrete location. In the event that you are on a date, assume that the Knitter is either a) checking you out to ascertain your future tolerance for this activity (and therefore potential as a partner), or b) suggesting that the date is over. If you like your Knitter, expressing an interest in the knitting will be taken as a good sign and may salvage a potentially bad situation.

5.  You go shopping with your Knitter and voluntarily enter a yarn store with him/her. Although he/she may quickly find the item you entered the store for, the Knitter may then decide to wander around the store in a seemingly aimless fashion. At this point, it is not a good idea to hold your Knitter to the initial statement that he/she “just needs to pop in for five minutes”, by starting to fidget and suggesting it’s time to go. A good yarn store is a Knitter’s holiest of sanctuaries. This is a place where he or she refreshes his/her creative soul by immersing him/herself in the scrumptious array of colours and textures on display, enjoying the company of other Knitters there and discovering yarnie treasures not seen before.  Your behaviour will be badly received, and at best you’ll extricate your Knitter from the shop in a small huff. At worst, he/she won’t speak to you again for a full two hours. If you are bored, excuse yourself graciously and suggest you’ll wait for him/her in the nearest coffee shop. Don’t expect an animated reply – by now, the Knitter’s mind will be lost in the rapturous delights on display.

6.  As part of the act of knitting, a Knitter will engage in what is commonly called “stashing”. This is the acquisition and collection of yarn – the materials of their art. Depending on how long your Knitter has been a Knitter, the size of this stash will most often vary between a small basket discretely tucked into the corner of the living room and the contents of a small cupboard. Long-time Knitters are known to have their own Yarn Room. However, many Knitters are sadly afflicted with unnecessary guilt at the size of their stash (usually at the hands of husbands or family who Do Not Understand). It is a great honour to be shown this stash, because it means that the Knitter believes you capable and worthy of appreciating a carefully accumulated yarn collection. Don’t shatter the trust by making loud exclamations about excess or suggesting that the local school could benefit from a donation of yarn.

7.  Knitting is an absorbing activity. A Knitter will often make a cup of tea, and having left it to steep, remembers the now-cold cup of strong tea an hour or so later. Sometimes several cups of tea are left around the house in varying degrees of consumption. Bringing a fresh, hot cup of tea to the Knitter, while quietly and efficiently removing the unpalatable cold ones creates feelings of extreme gratitude towards you. Making aggravated remarks about “numerous cups of cold tea” left around the house produces the opposite reaction and may result in a mysterious severe delay to the completion of knitted goodness headed your way.

Finally, the moment arrives when you are presented with a carefully crafted project. Happy and grateful expressions of thanks will make your Knitter beam with happiness. Wearing your gift at every opportunity will endear you to the Knitter forever.  Making covetous remarks about projects still on the needles, but destined for others will ensure your name remains on the knitting list for all time.

I hope that this assists in the enhancement of your relationship with the Knitter in your life.