Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life




Welcome to the beginning of Socktober festivities!

Today I am pleased to release two new sock patterns.

They are the large version of the Eriskay socks:

This pattern is the sock version of a modern take on the Eriskay gansey. Ganseys were knitted, functional sweaters worn by those who needed to be able to move freely in an age when garments were almost without exception heavy, stiff, tailored and restrictive. They originated with the sea folk of the British Isles – fishermen, sailors and the navy, who needed to wear garments that would be warm, wind and waterproof while allowing ease of movement. Typical patterning featured vertical or horizontal bands of knit and purl patterns and some cabling, inspired by the seascape and tools of their trade. The fancier ganseys were kept for ‘best’, with plainer, workday ganseys knitted with practicality and ease of repair in mind. The gansey from the island of Eriskay was known as the most ornately patterned gansey of the British Isles, and featured elaborate knit and purl patterns, cabling and lace.


Purchasers will get two patterns with this purchase – the large version shown above, and the existing medium size shown below. The large size version above was knitted using Vintage Purls Sock. It takes almost exactly 100g (360m) to knit a large-sized sock.

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The second new sock pattern is the Train Spotting socks.

Knitting on public transport is a somewhat specialised sport. You want to not infringe on other passengers’ personal space, and you also want to work on something interesting that doesn’t need frequent pattern checks or complicated stitch manoeuvres.  Socks are some of the most ideal travelling knits for that reason. I designed these socks to knit during my commute to work; interesting to knit but at the same time not require too much looking at a pattern or fiddly stitches.  It is called Train Spotting in honour of the reason behind this pattern and because I think the little windows in the pattern look like the flashing windows of a train going by.


These were knitted using Meraki Studios Sock. The pattern is easy to knit, and comes with instructions for three sizes:  small (6″ leg circumference), medium (7″ leg circumference) and large (8″ leg circumference).

And don’t forget the best bit:  All purchases of my sock patterns between now and 31 October 2016 qualify for a 40% discount with the coupon code SOCKtober2016 (sinply enter this code on checkout to obtain the discount).

Happy Knitting!




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 ( 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!


Mary, Mary, quite contrary

I am delighted, very happy, most relieved, to release the pattern for Mary, Mary today!

Mary, Mary socks

This is fun, feminine design inspired by the nursery rhyme “Mary Mary Quite Contrary”.  The main motif on this sock reflects “silver bells”, while delicate mock cabling along the sides are the “cockle shells”.  The use of softly coloured yarn from Circus Tonic Handmade contributes to the overall delicate look of this pattern.

This particular version uses the Western Whipbird colourway.  As you’ll know, I also knitted versions in the Galah colourway:

Galah colourway

and in Vintage Purls (I think it was called Whisper of Doubt, if I remember correctly):

Mary, Mary in Vintage Purls

I’m very happy with how these socks have ultimately turned out.

Mary, Mary socks

They are definitely one of my favourite designs!

Many thanks also to my test knitter for her feedback on the pattern.

I want to thank readers for your patience in having to wait so long for this pattern.  I am offering this pattern at 50% off for the next three days (until 20 April 2016) (regular price is going to be NZ$5).  You don’t need a code – the discount will apply automatically.  Download here.

There are also going to be opportunities to receive a free copy of this pattern.  Hang tight while I work out the details!


All about Mary

After an unexpectedly long gestation period, Mary, Mary, the sock pattern will be released this weekend!  My apologies to some of you whom I know have been waiting for it to be released!

It has been an interesting and educational exercise to design this sock. Before the pattern is released, I thought it would be a good idea to introduce some of the aspects of this sock’s construction, especially for cuff-down knitters like me who are generally leery of toe-up construction.

I know that there are many toe-up fans out there, but until now, I have definitely been in the cuff-down camp.  My primary reason for this is finding that cuff-down socks were so much more intuitive to knit. And as knitting is very much about stress-relief for me, I certainly didn’t want to have stressful experiences knitting my socks!

Mary, Mary

Mary, Mary in Circus Tonic Handmade in the Western Whipbird colourway

The things I observed with dislike about toe-up sock patterns in general were:

  1. Complicated and fiddly cast on instructions for the toe.
  2. Complicated and long instructions for the heel that caused my brain to melt and my eyeballs to roll into the back of my head just reading them.
  3. Often unattractive heel that doesn’t fit very well.
  4. Generally much fiddlier to get ‘right’.
  5. Not very pretty cast-off.

These factors all added up to Unhappy Knitting for me, causing me to shut the pattern and walk away.  Unhappy Knitting is not something you want in your life.  It’s the reason I have taken a very long time to even attempt to design Mary, Mary, which has to be knitted toe-up in order for the central motif to work.

Like most things, if you began sock knitting life as a toe-up knitter, you will probably be reading this and saying “but once you know how, it’s not an issue”.  And I agree.

I decided to be brave and tackle the job of finding solutions to those aspects of Unhappy Knitting because I really, really, wanted to make Mary, Mary.  In the process, I was relieved to find that toe-up socks do not have to be complicated or tricky to knit.

No socks should be difficult to knit.  And I feel strongly that instructions should be clear, to the point, and not intimidating. With this mind, I found ways to knit this sock without it being any harder to do than a cuff-down sock.  I am quite pleased if I may say so myself!

My work-arounds are not unique.  I have used existing cast on and heel instructions that have been used by many other sock designers, but it took a while to find the techniques that I wanted to use. I do need to stress that everyone has their own way of doing things (as is evidenced my the multitude methods of knitting!) and there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way of knitting something as long as you get the effect you were after in the first place.

Here I share the elements I used that work really well for me:

The toe:  I have used the Turkish cast on to begin the toe.  Have you tried it yet!?  It is by far, the easiest way to cast on.  So fun!  So simple!  So effective!!  Every time I cast on a toe using this method, I get a very geeky sense of knitterly joy.  It has almost got me hooked on toe-up socks simply because I love this way of casting on so much! I want to cast on all the things using the Turkish cast on!

If you aren’t familiar with this technique, here is a short tutorial from Rebecca Danger:

I have also specified a method of increasing in this pattern which I find helps me to keep track of increase rows by using a yarn over to increase a stitch.  You knit into the back of the loop on the return round, this closes the hole and creates a new stitch.  It also has the benefit of serving as a marker for whether you are on an increase or return round.

Backstory to the heel: My initial thoughts (as you’ll know from previous posts) were to introduce an afterthought heel, a very simple method of heel construction.  I noted that many people do have issues with the fit, and I myself wasn’t entirely satisfied with how it looked in this pattern.  I tried to introduce a slipped stitch into the design. While the modified heel worked for me, my tester did not find it at all satisfactory, so I decided to retire that idea for another day.

The heel:  In researching alternative heels, I came across a heel style used by Wendy Johnson that I have settled on for this sock.  I am not sure of its origins, or even if it has an official name (it is not the short row heel).  I chose it because I like its neatness, tidiness and good fit.  Best of all, the instructions are refreshingly short and there is no “wrapping and turning” required!

Sock heel

The heel turn uses the same concept as a normal cuff down flap heel.  My thanks and acknowledgements go to Wendy Johnson for using this style in some of her socks.  I’m not sure if she invented it, but it is awesome! I adapted the style to suit this design, and am very impressed with how well it fits the heel and ankle.

In the pattern, I also provide guidance on how to work out when to begin your heel turn, which is another source of anxiety for us die-hard cuff-down knitters.

The cuff:  My bind off is always on the tight side, and I have to consciously relax my grip when I do it.  Even then, I often end up with an edge that is less-than-ideal for projects that need stretch, like socks and fingerless gloves.  However, I also don’t like the frilly/flared look and feel of the stretchy bind off, which solves the tight bind off issue.  I have worked out a hybrid style that I have coined the “half-stretchy bind off” to solve my problem with edges. This method could well be used by others too, so I don’t think I should be taking credit for inventing it.

I have put together a demonstration of this method for you.  (Apologies about the bad lighting and not great camera angle.  My camera battery went flat and by the time it recharged it was night and rather than wait another week to have daylight recording time, and delay this post even more, I went ahead and made it anyway. I’ve not had a lot of time at home in the day lately.) For lace shawls, I do use the stretchy bind off, because you need that stretch to block out a beautiful edging.  But for socks and things like necklines on garments, this is what I do:

I hope you found that useful.  Thanks to these discoveries, another part of the sock knitting universe has opened up to me, and I find that very exciting!  I hope this post may encourage a few more knitters to try toe-up socks!


A yarny update

Hello!  Happy Weekend!

Well, it has been an interesting few weeks on the knitting front, and I thought it is about time we talked about happy knitting news!  In short order, the highlights have been as follows:

  • I started my contract (hooray! Not knitting, but I thought I’d mention it.  I’m really enjoying being there too).
  • I finally found a heel for Mary Mary that I like and importantly, that other knitters will like (currently feverishly knitting the 3rd sample of Mary Mary that includes the new heel).
  • Very excitingly, I received some Yarn!
  • Feedspot nominated Kiwiyarns Knits among the Top 100 Knitting Blogs for Knitters and Crocheters!  I was a bit leery when I received the news, thinking it was spam, but having checked it out, and seeing what good company I keep, I’m really happy about this nomination!  This is very much thanks to all of you who read my blog.  Thank you very much for reading!
  • Designing is finally happening again, to great happiness.

So let’s get into details.  First up, The Yarn!

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This is a glorious bundle of squish – New Zealand made yarns compliments of Naturally Yarns, sent to me for review. Lucky me!

I haven’t yet had a chance to get into them properly, but I hope to have time to do that in the next couple of weeks. Here’s a very quick look at them for the time being:

Otira (40% NZ Merino/ 35% Tencel/ 25% Possum)

This new yarn was released in February.  Having read about the unenvironmentally-friendly manufacturing methods for bamboo and rayon fibre, I was concerned about the environmental friendliness of the Tencel content. However, this article from Ecomall has assured my fears that of any manmade fibre, Tencel is probably the best choice.

Tencel is the brand name for lyocell produced by Lenzing AG.  Lyocell is a fibre made from wood.  It is important to note that it’s the brand Tencel, manufactured by Lenzing AG that has been given this approval from environmental agencies, and not all lyocell.

Lenzing AG, which owns the Tencel brand, undertakes extremely careful manufacturing methods to prevent harmful chemicals from entering the environment in the manufacture of Tencel.  In addition, the wood it sources all comes from sustainable sources. Here’s another interesting article I read from if you would like to know more about Tencel and production processes surrounding this brand.

Amuri (75% Pure NZ Merino, 25% Possum)

I have not yet knitted with this possum blend yarn.  It is the most halo’y of all the possum blends I have come across and has an interesting single ply construction that looks like the wool was softly felted.  It will be interesting to see how it performs!

Waikiwi (55% NZ Merino, 20% Nylon, 15% Alpaca, 10% Possum)

Billed as a sock yarn, I haven’t yet knit a sock out of this yarn, so it will be interesting to do some intensive swatching!

Harmony 8 ply (100% New Zealand merino wool)

Again, a very interesting single-ply, felted construction.  This yarn is available in 8 ply and 10 ply natural shades (not completely naturally coloured, as the natural wool is colour adjusted with dye to keep it consistent from season to season), in colour, and in tweed.  It’s incredibly squishy and I have to admit, is the first of the yarns to be put on the swift to be balled ready for knitting!

Most of the colours shown above are from their range of new colours out this season.

Also, you will soon get a chance to win this beautiful skein on Circus Tonic Handmade Revelry Sock:

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Hannah and I have been talking bird colours.  I asked if she would be interested in doing an interview on Kiwiyarns Knits, and she very kindly said yes!  She is one of the most amazingly generous people I have met – she decided to also include a skein of a custom-dyed sock yarn as part of our interview.  This colourway is called Silvereye (also called White-Eye or Wax-Eye) – inspired by the adorable little bird that can be found in both Australia and New Zealand.  The image of a Silvereye below is taken from Ordinary Goodness’s delightful blog which features a lot of New Zealand birdlife.  I know the Lynley wouldn’t mind if I used her photo.  Thanks Lynley!

Watch out for our interview soon.  I’ll also be giving away a free copy of my new sock pattern, Mary Mary.

I have also been working with Mary at Maniototo Wool to design a child’s poncho.  Here’s a sneaky peek:

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I’m really glad that I got a chance to work with Mary on this design.  I’ll show it in full detail when the pattern is complete.  The DK yarn in particular is delightful to work with and I’m very excited to use more of it in future designs!

As you can see, there is quite a backlog of things to catch up on, so now that life is “somewhat” on a more even keel, there should be some interesting reads to be had in the near future!


Hug (again)

Hello and good morning!  It is the wonderful weekend again and I hope it is a good one for everyone!

I am pleased to tell you that I have released Hug on Ravelry.  The pattern is available for an introductory price of 50% off until midnight on 29 November (30 November for those in the Southern Hemisphere).

Socks made from Zealana Cozi give your feet a gentle hug, lending these socks their name.

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You may recall my earlier post where I showed you the prototype for this pattern.  On reflection, I decided to make it a simpler pattern.  The main design feature is the braided cable running down the outside of each leg and heel, positioned so that they are still comfortable to wear when wearing shoes.  A simple reverse stockinette toe gives the front of the foot some interest and structure.

Hug is designed specifically for Zealana Cozi sock yarn, which is slightly heavier than the average sock yarn weight.  Stitch counts on this sock differ from the average sock for this reason.

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This is a cuff down sock.  Both written and charted instructions are given.

To knit these socks in a yarn other than Cozi, either use a similar weight sock yarn or knit a size larger and using needles that are a size larger than you usually use (gauge for these socks is 7 sts x 11 rows to one inch/2.5cm).

You will need two balls of Zealana Cozi (I used the Currant colourway (CO5)), 2.5mm (US1.5) sock needles of your choice and a small cable needle.  Optional stitch markers will help you mark the front and back of each sock if you find this helpful.  (I used the magic loop method when knitting these socks which made that unnecessary.)

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The medium sized sock is shown with a 18cm/7” long leg and 23cm/9” long foot. Each sock required approx 40g of yarn, or 136m/148yd .  Extra large socks will require more yarn.

The pattern is available here.  I hope you enjoy knitting it!

Many thanks to the youngest boy for his photography skills.