Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


The beauty of morning

There is something quite magical about the light in the Wairarapa.  It must be the plane of the earth in this part of New Zealand.  I don’t think I have ever experienced so many pretty sunrises as I have here.  It makes getting up early quite exciting!  The colours have been so particularly stunning on occasion that I have had to stop what I was doing and take photos!  They are not very good photos.  Too grainy, but they captured the light perfectly.

SunriseIt did not look real to me – the lurid imagination of a painter surely?  Such shades of blue and flamingo pink!

Purple morning

Violet sunrise – I have never seen this light before!

Purple sunriseCould they not be a skein of yarn from your favourite hand dyer?

And now, my favourite, a celebration of winter!

Cows on a frosty morning

A breathtakingly cold, clear morning, the frost lay thick like snow on the fields and in high, spiky tuffs on the fence and car.  Icy sparkles decorated the deck, shimmering like diamonds in the rays of the rising sun.

Icy deck

Slowly a mist rose, to veil the landscape in an exquisite, gauzy light.

Frosty morning

I rather did pity the cows their breakfast of ice.

If you are wondering, do not fear – I have knitting news to share.  I’ll be back later this weekend with an update.  🙂

A happy start to the weekend to you!








The country life

A while back, I discovered another New Zealand indie hand dyer.  Meraki Studios is very likely known to many of you already – I see she has a healthy following.  I had not quite got around to mentioning her here yet, but today is the perfect time.

Because I am in love with all things country, and I have actually been wanting a skein of sock yarn of this exact colouring (sun bleached grass seeds or driftwood, was what I had in my head), I was super excited to find Rolling in the Hay!  What a knack for giving the perfect name to colour!

Rolling in the Hay, meraki studiosDoesn’t it look just like its namesake?

BFL nylon sock yarn

The yarn is an imported base – 80% Blue Faced Leicester wool, 20% nylon.  I think it needs to be knitted into a cabled sock.  Perhaps something reminiscent of the grass seed heads that I adore.

Long country grass

This is the edge of a field that has been recently mown for hay.  You can see the long grass border with bountiful seed heads, of which I could not resist taking a photo!

My photos have a soft, hazy look at the moment because I’m spending much of the day at work and do not get home until dusk.  I absolutely love how this picture has turned out as it truly captures what I see.

Country fields

The moment I get home, I rush to go back outside, cup of tea in hand, to potter around and breathe in the country air, water the vegetables, pull up the weeds, examine the signs of bird activity in the garden (they are busy gobbling all the plums, but I do not mind), feel the breeze in my hair and gaze at this wondrous landscape.  Instead of a watercolour to admire on my wall, I have the real deal to look at and be in!!!

The cat impatiently waits at the door for me too, wishing I would hurry up so he can go out and race excitedly around with fluffed up tail, sniff everything and climb all the trees. He is still afraid of that big outdoor world though, and needs the security of my company at his side before he is willing to explore.

I just love the colours that I see at the moment.  It is the height of the dry summer, and everything is soft green/golden yellow toned, mixed in with the darker green of the evergreens and other trees, and splashes of flower colour.  It doesn’t take much for the grass to green up again though – once the late autumn rains come, there will be something new to look at!  And I cannot wait for the first time I see this field in full frost!

People who live up the road go by regularly, enjoying walks of their own.  Soon, I will do that too, and then I shall have more to show you!

First, it is time to go back outside and sit on the deck and wind down for the day with a bit of 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.


The pixie flower hat

I’m rather thinking this hat might be a FAIL from a design point of view.  Sorry kb!

Maybe it’s just because I’m not feeling too hot today.  I have a headache.  It’s also a bit warm to be wearing very cosy hats. 

When I first thought up this hat, I wanted something pretty, playful and windproof.  Something that reminded me of this flower:

I’ve always wanted a hat shaped like a flower for some reason…

And something that stays in place on freezing winter mornings when I walk Eric down to the school bus and a Southerly gale is blasting down the valley at 100km/h, knocking our hats and eyelashes off.

I think it will certainly fulfil all that criteria.

It’s very fitted.  It’s very chunky.  And the tension is very chunky too – to make it windproof (heavy enough not to be blown off and not let the wind through).  I used 5mm needles for a yarn that is normally knitted on 7mm needles.  I think I’ll wait until winter before passing final judgment though.  The original hat in red I’ve shown you before is better, but the yarn is different – very slightly finer, and you can’t get that yarn on the market – it’s a one-off.  To give you the pattern, I need to use a yarn that is readily available.

In the meantime, I think I’ll sit on the pattern and tinker a bit more.  I think I’d like slightly more frill at the brim (like the original) and more point at the crown (a new thought).  I’m not quite happy with it yet. 

On the subject of hats, I’ll spend tomorrow writing tags for my 20+ hats (and toys, of which there are not so many) and organising myself.  Sunday is the day!

After which, I have a host of posts planned, on subjects nothing to do with hats (do I hear a sigh of relief?) 😉  I thought I’d talk a bit about the community cause I’m contributing to from the proceeds of my stall, as well as continue my review of possum yarns.  There’s also an update on New Zealand wool industry happenings.  And of course, a few more hat patterns.

On a completely different subject, I did some dyeing for the first time today.  I’ve been reading The New Zealand Woolcraft Book by Constance Jackson and Judith Plowman and got totally inspired.  So yesterday, I gathered two separate kinds of lichens that grow around the garden, and brewed them up… and this morning, I added the yarn.

It’s gorgeous, and looks absolutely stunning against my purple sweaters that are hanging up to dry with it (that is a navy colour you see in the background in case you are wondering).  One colour is almost orange, and the other is a beautiful pale greeny yellow/brown.  The yarn is a New Zealand eco merino from Woolrae Studios, which I’ve mentioned before in a previous post.  I had about 40g left over from one of the hat projects, so decided to have fun with experimentation.

I know it’s a bit naughty to use lichens given they’re so rare these days.  But they were growing all over the letterbox, so I’m hoping that’s a good-enough excuse.  You don’t need to mordant the wool beforehand to dye with lichens, so it’s chemical-free and eco-friendly.  I’m not sure how colourfast it will be – I guess time will tell!  It will be a lovely addition to a colourwork hat at some point.  Just can’t get those hats off the brain!

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And a hat for me!

Although this hat knitting enterprise is decidedly requiring the same discipline, stamina and mental skills that you need for a marathon, I am very perversely enjoying it.

Perhaps it’s all those satisfying hat patterns I’ve developed.  It’s not deliberate… I start trying to knit an existing pattern, but by the time I’ve cast on, it has morphed into something else in my head.

Like this cabled hat that I’ve just completed.  It’s the red one on the top of the pile:

I haven’t modeled it for you as the red is extremely difficult to photograph and refuses to show its true beauty.  It’s an amazing fiery chilli shade in a chunky felted merino, dyed by the talented fibre artist, Tracy White.  Little white mouse is doing a good job of pointing it out to you instead.

After several false starts (the first time I’ve ever twisted my circular cast-on!), and many expletives, I gave up and went to bed at some early hour this morning.  But I managed to get the hat to form today.  I love this pattern so much that I’m going to do a version for me in Rowan Colourscape Chunky.  Kb, I’ve finally found the project for that beautiful yarn you sent me!

I’ll be knitting it in the blue/green/pink colourway (SH 433) you see in the foreground.  That will photograph well, and I’ll post the pattern once it’s done.

Now, can I exercise enough self-control to wait until I’ve knitted the remaining 14 hats or so that still need to be done!?


One thing leads to another

I’ve had a sweater-quantity of beautiful fingering-weight (4 ply) raspberry coloured New  Zealand merino from The Wool Company in my yarn collection for a while now.  The colour captivated me when I saw it, and I decided it would be perfect for a cardigan for me.  But I haven’t quite got around to knitting it yet.

As you’ll have gathered, I’m an avid supporter of New Zealand yarns.  And my recent purchase of some Australian-brand Shepherd had my conscience having unnecessarily niggly conversations with me.  “Why did you buy that?”  “Because it’s the right colour, it will wear exceptionally well, and it’s light!”  “But you could have substituted it with some New Zealand yarn…”  “BUT THERE WASN’T ANY IN THE RIGHT COLOUR!!!” “Well, you could have chosen an alternative colour…!?” “But I wanted to make it exactly the way it is meant to be!”  and so it went, around and around.  It was most discomforting.

Anyway, when I was in the shop buying the yarn for my daughter, I also spied and considered Naturally’s (NZ brand) fingering-weight merino yarn and I’d have loved to have used that for her project, but the colours weren’t quite right. 

The other morning, I was looking at my lovely raspberry yarn, and it whispered “fair isle… … Naturally merino colours…perfect match…” And so… this had to come home with me today. 

It helped to soothe the guilty conscience.  And I have to admit to a bit of a fascination with fair isle at the moment.  Those colours would make the perfect cute rose motif on a plain raspberry cardigan… I can see it in my mind’s eye now…

We can make all sorts of excuses can’t we?