Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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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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Knitting a bat

While we were in the shop picking up some Halloween decorations last week, the young boy spotted a ‘make your own kit’.

The kit“Ooh, mum!, can we get this!?” he asked excitedly.

” Yes, as long as you do it yourself – it’s your kit, OK?”

“OK!”

We got home.  The kit instructions proved completely indecipherable.   Even I could not make head or tail out of them.  Undeterred, I looked up YouTube, and found a great tutorial on loom knitting.

I got him started, and he was off!

He knits!The next day, he’d finished!  Here he is, binding off…

At this point, I got a bit jealous.  Someone in the house was knitting, and it wasn’t me! 😦  There was housework to be done, and all I could do was watch from the sidelines!

Sewing upSewing up the looped rope into a coil.

StickingSticking all the bat bits on to the coil.

Et voila!Et voilà!  It is done!  He was very possessive over this and refused to let me help at all.  (I was secretly quite proud).

In fact, he was so happy with his efforts that he prompted started an orange coil to make a pumpkin.   The pumpkin is finished, and now he’s on to a multicolour coil.

It’s quite funny having a knitting companion on the house…


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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.


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The beauty of lace

I had to work today so my daughter kindly took these photographs of the two lace scarves I finished this week.  She’s done a fabulous job!

This is Andy.  My own design, using Flagstaff Alpaca’s DK weight 100% alpaca:

It’s called Andy in honour of Andy Nailard, the owner of Flagstaff Alpacas.

It’s knitted in the Lavender Prism colourway, on 4.5mm needles.  I’ll release the free pattern soon – just have to write it up.

Also, I finished version two of the Garden City Scarf:

Don’t you think the DK weight yarn makes the lace that much more defined?

There’s something quite magical about lace.  It makes my heart leap.  One of the great things about this pattern is that it’s so simple and quick to knit.

Yarn:  Treliske Organic DK/8 ply, 100% merino in natural cream.

Tomorrow, I bring you news of a new New Zealand yarn that has just been released… it’s very, very exciting.  Shhhhh!


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The sock myth explained

I might have mentioned that my daughter is extremely sensitive to itch.  Super sensitive. It’s something of a problem when it comes to finding yarn to knit things for her.

When she arrived at the airport yesterday I gave her a welcome hug, and she recoiled instantly!  “You’re itchy!!!” she exclaimed in horror.  Her cheek had brushed against my knitted vest (which to most people is not itchy at all) and it was so irritating to her that she wouldn’t come near me until I changed into something super soft when we got home.  Sigh.

After we got home, I proudly (and hopefully) presented her with her first pair of hand-knitted socks.  “Ohhh!  These are pretty… thank you!”  She slips them on.  There’s a contemplative silence.  She said, sounding vaguely surprised “They feel cool!  They’re not hot and sticky!  They’re so comfy… I like them!”

Later on that evening… “Why don’t we just forget that cardigan you’re thinking of knitting me, and just knit me more socks?” This suggestion was accompanied by an extremely wide grin at the word “socks”.  There may have been a hint of greedy, reverential sock-lust in the tone.   And then, (the tone rising to a happy squeak) “I really like these socks.  I want a pair to wear every day!”

These are knitted in Opal sock yarn, the Antonia aus Tirol range, colourway 2802.

So there you have it.  People who hate knitted things will fall at your feet in worshipful gratitude the minute you present them with a pair of hand-knitted socks that fit their feet perfectly, are the world’s most comfortable things to put on, and are so awesomely pretty that they don’t want to put them into shoes when they go out.  Instead, they carry them around in their pockets, pulling them out to surreptitiously admire their super-prettiness from time to time…

I think there’s another reason hand-knitted socks become objects of cultish desire.  Adult hand-knitted socks are the only thing that you cannot readily buy.  Machine knitted socks are just not in the same class of comfort or prettiness.   Sock myth explained!!

It looks like my sock yarn basket is going to get a serious work-out for the next few months.  Not that I need any encouragement!


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Wooper

Many of you dear readers will know by now that my little boy is a great fan of knitted soft toys (plushies).  Especially ones that have anything to do with Pokémon.  So imagine my delight when researching Pokémon toys on Ravelry to stumble across the wonderful Alyssa, who creates amazing amigurumi knitting and crochet patterns!

And this is what Eric chose and asked me to knit at speed:

It’s a free pattern, and written in a very innovative way – you almost need to do no sewing up at all as it’s pretty much knitted in one.  I’ve been used to having to knit all the pieces and then sew them up one by one… it’s rather painstaking.  So this was a refreshing change!

I am afraid I did not do a perfect job with the duplicate stitch on the tummy, but he doesn’t seem to mind, and Wooper was duly taken to school today for a show-and-tell.

Knitted in The Wool Company‘s 100% Perendale 8 ply yarn in Aqua and Cyclamen.

Thanks once again, Alyssa!