Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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The Pirinoa Poncho

A few months ago, Mary Furness-Weir of Maniototo Wool, approached me to help her design a child’s poncho.

I was intrigued by the concept that she suggested, and thought it would be a nice challenge to design a garment for a change, so I said yes.

Today, after much swatching and discussion and test knitting (thanks Mary!), we are delighted to present The Pirinoa Poncho!

Pirinoa poncho

DK Pirinoa Poncho

The poncho has been designed to fit children aged 18 months – 4 years old.  There are two versions of the pattern – one in Maniototo Wool’s 100% wool DK and the other in Maniototo Wool’s 100% wool aran weight yarn. The little girl (2 yrs old) is wearing the DK version, and the little boy (3 yrs old) is wearing the aran weight version.

Aran weight Pirinoa Poncho

I am so in love with how the poncho has turned out, especially now I see it on the children it will fit.  These stunning photographs were taken by Emma Mehlhopt (said Mel-hop), a very talented photographer, who specialises in photographing children and family portraits (Cheekyart.co.nz). Hasn’t she done a super, super job!?  I am so grateful to Emma for these beautiful photographs. And to the models’ mums for allowing their adorable children to be photographed.

Pirinhoa Poncho

There is a backstory to this design:  Once upon a time, Mary’s grandchildren had a poncho a bit like this.  They wore it from the time they were two years old and right up until they went to school.  It was a family favourite, very handy for throwing on between car and house, particularly in the bitter coastal winters where they live in the Wairarapa (the area is called Pirinoa, hence the name of this poncho). Mary thought that perhaps there may be other children who would also love to have a poncho like this, and so the concept was born.

This design has a special place in my heart:  it was designed in the Wairarapa, inspired by a Wairarapa family, photographed in the Wairarapa on little models who also live there, and is named after a place in the Wairarapa. In a way, it encapsulates a lot of what I loved about living there.  Family, friendship, community, lifestyle.  Thank you Mary, for giving me the opportunity to work with you on this one.

The pattern can be obtained in several ways:

  • A single printed leaflet from the Maniototo wool website, or at any outlets that sell the yarns – Country Rumours, 11 Talbot St, Geraldine; The Woolroom, 52B Ribbonwood Road, Geraldine, or markets such as KAN (Napier) and WOOLFEAST (Christchurch);
  • Printed patterns are available at The Land Girl, Pirinoa Village, where it is available in a kit including enough wool to make the poncho in either Aran or DK weights and a circular bamboo knitting needle. The first kits to sell will include a set of beautiful handmade wooden buttons; and

Handmade buttons

  • In soft copy (PDF) from my Ravelry store. DK version here and Aran weight version here.

Each of the printed patterns (from any outlet) will contain a one-time use only code so that you can also download the pattern to your Ravelry library.

Pirinoa Poncho

Yarn for the pattern can be obtained from Maniototo Wool’s website, where you can choose your colours. There is plenty of lovely Aran wool available. Orders for the new season’s DK yarn will be placed on a waitlist (it is still at the mill).

Mary and I look forward to seeing your own versions of these cute ponchos pop up on your project pages soon!

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Two Hearts

My Ravelry notes for this project remind me that I started Two Hearts on 2 June 2015.  That was quite a long time ago!  After knitting half the front, I put it aside because I had no energy for concentration on complex cables at the time. However, now that I do have energy to do things that require a bit more brain power, I felt it was a good time to finish it in time for next winter!

And so here it is, all finished and ready for its bath!

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I’m quite pleased with this pic because it captures the creaminess of the Romney wool and the softness that will develop slowly but surely as I wear this sweater during winter.

There were a few things about this project that were very interesting.  The first is that I learned how to fix a mis-crossed cable many rows down without having to drop all the stitches back to the row I made the mistake on.  This was an excellent thing to learn!  It doesn’t work for all mis-crossed cables, but for this one, the fix was perfect.  You cannot see where the mistake was now, and even I cannot tell or remember.  The article explaining how to do that is here (I used Method 2).

One major mod I made was to make the back in plain stocking stitch.  The cables create a dense, heavy fabric, and I felt that if I were to knit the back in the same cable pattern, I’d feel like I was wearing armour.  I’m glad I made that call.  It took a few tries (despite calculations before hand) to get the number of stitches right as I had to decrease the amount of stitches knitted in order to match the front (cabling really pulls in fabric width and requires more stitches than stocking stitch for the same amount of width).

During the finishing process, I found that the bind off on the tops of my sleeves was way too tight – I could stretch the sleeve fabric to the length of the armhole, but not the bound off edge!  I figured this would not make for a pretty armhole/sleeve join, so I remedied that by ripping back and reknitting a stretchy bind off.  This allowed the fabric to stretch out properly and fit the armhole like it was meant to.  I hadn’t thought about using this method before but I shall definitely keep it in mind for future!

I posted a quick pic of the difference on Instagram at the time.  You can see how there is a significant difference in width from the same number of stitches obtained from using a different bind off method (the new bind off the sleeve underneath).

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The only other ‘issue’ encountered when knitting this sweater was that I initially knitted the neck roll too long (pattern said between 5 – 10cm, so I took the medium road and knitted 8cm).  I discovered that an 8cm/3.25″ neck created quite a fat roll and did not look nice at all.  A quick rip out back to a 5cm length, and it looked a lot more balanced!

Two Hearts sweater

I’m still not entirely sure I am happy with the neck.  I realise that I accidentally used 4.5mm needles on the neck instead of 4mm, and it has made the roll more floppy than the sleeve and edge of the sweater.  I think I may still rip it out and do that bit again.

Finally, on the yarn I used.  This is a ‘non-commercial’ yarn, in the sense that it was spun in a boutique mill and I suspect, the wool even came from a single farm as it was labelled Romney Lambswool.  Unfortunately, the people I bought it from are not in business at the moment (Blackhalls).  The wool was only minimally processed before spinning, which meant that it was very greasy.  It took five washes, two with very warm wool wash, to get the rinse water clear… but it has turned out gorgeous!  Free of the lanolin weighing it down, the finished garment is much lighter, with a beautiful bloom and liveliness!

Close up of Two Hearts

I don’t think I’m going to get too many issues with pilling on this yarn.

I had major issues getting satisfactory modelled photos of the sweater today.  It is a cooler day than we have been having this week, but still far too warm to wear a woolly, cabled sweater.  I gave up!

Had to share one last pic  of my wee companion helping me with the knitting as I finished this project.  He is so adorable.  🙂With Cole


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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:

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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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Mischief Managed!

Earlier this week I met up with a couple of lovely knitters.

One of them was interested in my Two Hearts, so I proudly took the first completed piece to show her.  After a cursory glance over the project, she asked “Do you find you often mis-cross the cables?” (or something like that).

“Oh yeah, I’m always worried about that, but I meticulously check as I go, and often take a photo as it helps me spot mistakes that I might not otherwise!  I did mis-cross a couple on this one, but was able to spot them in time.” I proudly replied.  At the back of my mind, I was slightly concerned at the tone in her voice.

We chatted for a minute or two about how awful it was to see mis-crossed cables in other peoples’ work.

“Well, I’m sorry to tell you this, but you do have a mis-crossed cable here. I spotted it immediately.”  (Did I note a tone of impatient triumph in her voice!?) She pointed to the offending cable, and my heart sank all the way down into the toes of my dear hand knitted socks. [here the reader shall mentally picture me thinking a choice expletive.  I might have uttered it out aloud.  I don’t know.  I was in shock.]

Mis-crossed cable

Somehow, I had managed to miss-cross a cable and not notice.  For the first time ever.  I stared in dismay at this thing of horror. [insert more choice expletives].  I may babbled flippant remarks about people not noticing it, or covering it with a button, or something equally as witless.  The sort of thing you say when internally you are freaking out in a very major sort of way and trying desperately to cover one’s embarrassment.

Now, once an error has been pointed out, you can never NOT notice the mistake.  The stupid thing stuck out from my knitting like a great big glaring beacon.

Mistake!!

I slunk home with my tail between my legs, both cursing and thanking the knitter for pointing out the stupid mistake.  Once I got home, I looked at the offending cable, and wondered how I was going to fix it and how I never managed to notice it! Despite my earlier nonsense about ignoring it, there was no question of it staying that way!  It was in far-too-prominent a location for that.

I did not care to rip back a week’s worth of knitting, nor was I was I going to drop the stitches from the cast-off point all the way down to the crossed cable!  And I really, really, did not want to try cutting the cable at the point of mistake and re-crossing it.

After some deliberation, in which I wondered if I could just ignore the mistake (no!), I decided that cutting at the point of mistake seemed to be the only option.  It was time to take a step-up challenge!!  I looked up fixing cables on the Internet.

Thank bloody goodness, someone has been thinking laterally.  Here was my solution – set out in an issue of Twist Collective (I went for Method 2, the less scary one).

Fixing the mistake

Picking up the stitches.

Fixing mistake

Knitting extra stitches, then grafting (there may have been several goes at getting this right).

Mistake fixed.

Ta da!  Mischief Managed!!

Because of the properties of this yarn, the extra layer of stitches is not noticeable. You wouldn’t even know there was a mis-crossed cable there.  I shall never fear another mis-crossed cable ever again! What a genius solution!  I sighed a very large and happy sigh.

I think I have just about forgiven the knitter for pointing out my mistake.  After all, it would have been far more embarrassing to be seen wearing that mistake and not know about it!!


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Wovember 2015

This year, I am joining the Wovember WAL and NaKniSweMo, and thought that this would be a good time to finish my 100% wool sweater which has been on hold for no good reason (Two Hearts, a pattern by Lisa Lloyd).

WovemberWAL projects need to be 100% wool.  I have chosen to knit Two Hearts in 100% NZ Romney lambswool.  This felt to me to be probably similar in structure to the original handspun used by Lisa Lloyd, a handspun Bluefaced Leicester blended with Mohair (I bought it from Hallblacks, who appear to be on hiatus at the moment.)

Two hearts

Pure wool that is not Merino and that is not superwash treated can tend to initially feel ‘scratchy’ and a little bit stiff. This can be off-putting for the non-pure-wool initiated.   Indeed, it took me a while to get over that. I’ll tell you a little story about how that came about:

My experiences with pure (non-superwash) wool began when I took the plunge with a cardigan which I knitted out of Anna Gratton’s 100% pure Corriedale wool.  The wool was nice, but I never liked the design very much.  I was constantly tugging and yanking at it because it kept slipping off my shoulders – looking at this photo now, I can see that the shoulders as designed were far too wide for my frame.  I did not know enough at that point in my knitting life to think about measuring myself and comparing it with schematics.  Eventually, I stopped wearing it despite the fact that I did find the fabric itself very comfortable.

Gooseberry Cardigan

Then I knitted Bedford, which by now, you’ll probably be sick of hearing about because I cannot stop raving about it!

Bedford

It was also knitted in Anna Gratton’s 100% pure Corriedale wool (Oatmeal/Pumice colourway).  At first, it was a tiny bit scratchy.  It didn’t matter much because I mostly wore a merino underlayer with it.  It is now three years old, and has been washed (by hand) multiple times, and worn almost continually for the entire time.  The wonderful breathable properties of pure wool mean that I can wear it in almost all weathers, and still feel comfortable.

These days, it is soft, with a comforting ‘lived in’ feeling.  As you can see from the photo, there is no pilling at all, and it has not gone out of shape.  I may have picked off a few initial balls of fluff when it was first knitted, but the wool has now settled into a structure that will stay like this for the rest of its life.  I haven’t been kind to it – I wear it gardening, when cleaning out the animals’ enclosure, when chopping and carting wood, out walking, to the supermarket… It has suffered a lot of abuse, and I have managed to damage it, but I still have leftover yarn from this project, and have been able to repair the damage and keep wearing the sweater.  How many man-made fibres would you say continue to improve with age and just look and feel better the older they are?

I then knit another number, also in Anna Gratton 100% wool: my Shepherd’s Hoody:

The Shepherd Hoodie

It’s funny because this is one of the few garments that I wear which receives compliments from strangers.  It is extremely warm and makes a great coat!

And so, I knit my Romney lambswool sweater in the faith that it too, will turn into a well-loved favourite, still looking amazing and being worn in 10 years’ time.  I certainly need it.  Winter in the Wairarapa is quite a bit colder than in Wellington, and a few more woollen sweaters will not go amiss!


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Shawls can be addictive too

It appears that being addicted to knitting socks is not enough.
Lilli Pilli

I was feeling the loss of a shawl on my needles, and had to start this one because my other two WIPs are sometimes too mentally taxing to knit after a full day at work. Not normally a fan of garter stitch, I am finding the plain knitting of Lilli Pilli quite soothing at the moment.
Two hearts

Two Hearts is coming along nicely.  I have started the armhole shaping, which means that the first piece is nearly complete.  I do love how the Romney lambswool is looking in this sweater!  The spin of this yarn is an airy woollen spun, and the strand comprises a two ply.  It feels nice and light, even though it is heavily cabled.
Yvanna

Yvanna is nearly complete.  The second heel is now complete, and for me that signals a home run is in sight!  These socks easily rank as the most difficult pair I have ever knit.  Not overly technically challenging, it’s the large charts and shifting elements of each and every row that have had me cursing the day I ever agreed to knit these on quite a few occasions!  Not only am I having to mark each row as I complete it on the chart, but I also need a ruler under each row so that I can see straight!!  Again, not the easiest thing to knit after a taxing day at work. Difficult one to photograph nicely – they does look better in real life.

Yvanna has also challenged me in other ways – I have missed one or two knots, and looking back I can see the errors, but the thought of ripping back and reknitting all the knots to pick up one missing one is just too stressful to contemplate!  I shall just have to say that they are organic Yvannas – after all, when is one blossom branch exactly the same as another!?  😉  This approach doesn’t sit overly well with my perfectionist nature though.  There is probably a way I can create a knot embroidery style… I may look into that if I can’t bear the thought of handing them over the way they are.

Perhaps it is the effect of knitting two complex patterns at the same time, or the after effects of knitting that lovely Hybrid Vigour, but my mind is drifting back to lace and beads and shawls… and what to knit after Lilli Pilli.  Perhaps it is time to have another attempt at the Southern Skies, or perhaps I need to finally make a start on the Rosebud?

Scratching around for a trio of yarns to combine into Lilli Pilli, I also came across this lovely set:

Spinning a Yarn

In the end, I wanted a more dramatic Lilli Pilli (perhaps I’m just very boring and like the colour combination shown in the pattern…) but I decided not to go with this colour set.  Wouldn’t they make a beautiful Cameo or Bush Creek though?  The beautiful drape of the merino/silk does lend itself to very delicate lace though… perhaps something more like Versailles?  Or one of Boo Knits‘ hauntingly beautiful designs?  Decisions, decisions!

Wishing you all a great weekend and a lovely week ahead!