Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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Warning… yarn p0rn follows

It is always a wonderful thing to come home on a Monday (don’t we all love it) to a squeal-worthy surprise in the mailbox.

I thought I’d brighten the beginning of your week with a little yarn appreciation, courtesy of some very gorgeous offerings that have just popped out of the bag from Doespins:

Doe Arnot hand dyesAren’t they fabulous!??  I feel like my head is going to explode with excitement at their sheer gorgeousness!! Shall I tell you what they are?

'Meridian' Hand dyed self striping Alpaca, Merino and Nylon sock 4ply

This is Doe Arnot’s Meridian colourway in 60% alpaca, 20% merino, 20% nylon.  It’s the Flagstaff Alpaca sock blend base, hand dyed by Doe Arnot, and sold under her own label:  Doespins.  I have taken this image from her website, because I can’t get my own to photograph properly up close and show off the sheer softness and squishiness of this pretty yarn (hope you don’t mind Doe!)  Best of all? It’s self-striping!  I can’t wait to start knitting this!!!

Hand-dyed sparkles

This is called Silverfish.  And yes, you see right – there is stellina sparkle in this sock yarn!!  It’s 75% merino, 20% nylon and 5% stellina.  It’s a base brought in from the UK especially by Doe. If you have been like me, and have been drooling over the stellina sparkle sock yarns that you’ve seen in international magazines, well, now we have our very own source of this yarn in New Zealand!!  I had to buy this immediately because I saw a sock pattern using this exact colour and yarn in one of the issues of The Knitter, and that is what it shall become!

Sundial

This one is the Sundial colourway in a 100% bluefaced leicester wool high-twist yarn suitable for socks (of course) and whatever else you fancy knitting it into. More yummy UK base goodness, dyed into beautiful want-me colours by Doe Arnot!  I love bluefaced leicester wool.  It was a no-brainer to get this, and in such a lovely colour!  Oh, be still, my beating heart!!

Sometimes you see a colour on a website, but when it pops out of the packet in your mailbox, there is slight disappointment in what you actually receive.  Doe however, goes to a huge amount of care to get the colours exactly right.  So what you see on her website is really the colour you will get.  Such a very, talented lady.

I am in heaven.  I still can’t quite believe these beauties are mine.

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Star light, star bright

It’s not blocked yet, but it’s raining.  And it has been raining for the past week or more.  I am not complaining (too much) as it’s better that we have rain that the awful drought of the past summer.  However, it means that it’s very bad blocking weather!

By the time the weather is dry enough to block this beautiful baby, I suspect I’ll have moved on to other things to post about, so without further ado, here is my Celestarium:

Celestarium

It’s a fiendishly hard project to photograph I discovered.  I think the camera couldn’t quite decide whether to focus on the beads or the shawl!  Still, you do see the very pleasing star-like twinkle of the beads, so I’m quite happy.

The bind-off took me ALL day.  5,000 stitches, I think?  I wasn’t feeling very well, which was the perfect excuse to sit still and knit.  Hehe.

It’s draped over the back of one of my chairs, and it looks for all the world like I have suddenly found a portal to the Northern sky.  It’s a different view to what I am used to, and now I can’t wait to start on the Southern Companion!

Pattern:  Celestarium by Audry Nicklin

Yarn:  3 skeins of Moontide (dyed by Doe Arnot) in 100% alpaca from Flagstaff Alpaca in 4 ply (fingering) weight.

Knitting notes are Raveled here.

Thanks Audry, for that fabulous pattern!


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Knitting Space

I finally got the needles I’ve been waiting for.  You know what this means?

I’ve started Celestarium!!

Celestarium

Audry is a genius knitter.

Celestarium is easy to knit, and so addictive it’s hard to put down!!  She’s done such a good job making the charts easy to follow.

You’ll probably notice I’ve made a modification.  My preference is to only have the beads and not worry about the yarn overs.  I prefer it this way – it looks more ‘spacey’ to me.

Moontide is proving to be the perfect colourway for this.  I truly feel like I’m looking deep into space knitting this shawl.  (The colourway, Moontide is by Doe Arnot, using Flagstaff Alpacas‘ beautifully soft 4 ply 100% alpaca.  Although she dyed this for me by special request, it is available as a repeatable colourway – drop her a line if you’d like some).

Can’t wait to have it around my shoulders!  I know I said I might gift this… given I’m going to knit the Southern companion as well.  Do you think it would be too greedy to have two Celestariums in my possession!?


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Celestarium in Moontide

When Audry released Celestarium I knew I had to knit it.  What an original concept, and what a clever design!

I love the night sky.  I love sitting out under the stars at night, looking for the constellations, allowing my mind to reach into space.  You appreciate a star-spangled sky so much more after years of not being able to see it over the big city lights.

The question of ‘which yarn’ to use for this amazing project quickly arose.  Nothing in my stash quite fit the bill.  In addition to the pattern’s yarn specifications, my requirements were:

  • It had to be night coloured, of the right shade to my mind’s eye.
  • It had to be New Zealand yarn (of course).
  • It had to be suitable for a shawl, which meant drape and softness.

I scoped out my favourite New Zealand yarns, and thought about colour ranges in those yarns.  I really wanted a hand-dye, I decided.  Something semi-solid, but with enough variegation to match the tones of the night sky.

As it happened, I had to opportunity to talk to Doe Arnot, who is Flagstaff Alpacas’ “partner in crime” in the yarn design and colour department.  I thought I’d take the chance to describe what I was looking for and asked if she might have something in stock that fit the bill (Doe often has hand-dyed colours in her store that are not on the Flagstaff Alpacas website).  To my surprise, she very kindly offered to dye the colour for me!

Doe went to quite a lot of care to get the colour just right.  She used several layers of dye, each a different shade of night, to achieve the shading I was after.

It arrived in my mailbox this week.  She’s aptly named it Moontide.

I wanted to see how this yarn compared to the real night sky.  The night was a very warm night, so I sat with the door open watching the sun set, and dusk slowly settle into a star-spangled night sky, while the moon tinged it the deepest velvety purple.

It’s perfect.

Moontide

The base is 100% New Zealand alpaca in fingering weight, from Flagstaff Alpacas.

Doe loved the colour herself too, so she’s decided to make it a repeatable dye lot.  If you want some too, you can order it from her here. Leave her a message about “Moontide” and she’ll get back to you.

So pretty!  I can’t stop looking at it.  It will be on my needles as soon as those jackets are done!


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The indie dyers of New Zealand

It’s been a while since I’ve done any yarn reviews.  And it also occurred to me recently that I haven’t given you a review of New Zealand indie dyers yet!  It seems that in the past couple of years New Zealand has experienced a huge surge in the number of indie dyers making their beautifully dyed yarn (or top) available for sale.

There’s something about New Zealand indie-dyed yarn. It’s somehow extra-super-luscious.   The colours sing.  The yarn is generally commercially spun, extremely good quality wool (including merino), merino/silk, alpaca or possum merino.  It’s bold, it’s adventurous and it’s just the kind of thing to give a knitter (or crocheter!) a head-rush from pure sensory overload.

So today, I thought we could have a drool over the pretty products from some of these talented New Zealanders. I’ve used the Urban Dictionary‘s definition of indie dyer for this exercise: “An independent dyer, i.e. someone who dyes yarn or fiber on a small scale.”

Before we plunge into colour heaven, I thought I’d mention a few points:

  • Some of the indie dyers I’m about to mention are ones I have spoken about before in previous posts, and in this post I can show you examples of their dyeing gorgeousness (some examples of which you see above).
  • Others are new to me in the sense that I haven’t purchased their yarn (yet), and here I’ll just share a link to their lovely, drool-worthy websites where you can see examples of their work.
  • I’m also going to mention Holland Road Yarn Company (HRYC) a fair bit. One reason is simply because this is the only place I have seen these yarns in a retail environment.  The other reason will become apparent as you read on.
  • Except where otherwise mentioned, these dyers use yarn that has been commercially spun in New Zealand (as far as I am aware).
  • I won’t be covering some of the more established brands that also hand-dye, such as Little Wool Company, and Touch Yarns – but you can read about them by accessing their page from the menu bar above if you like.

Starting with:

Red Riding Hood Yarns – Red Riding Hood Yarns is the brainchild of Hannah, who hails from Taranaki, New Zealand.  She dyes small lots of DK-weight, 100% merino superwash yarn, although I’m not sure if she dyes other weights or fibre as well.  I’ve come across her yarns at HRYC, and oh my gosh, the colour is delicious!!  It’s very similar in style to some of the more well-known hand-dye brands that I have seen from overseas.

Curiouser and curiouser – Sabine lives in Tangimoana, a small coastal town in the Manawatu region.  She dyes a huge range of hand-selected top and yarns in various weights and fibres, striving for unique colourings, not repeatability, nor predictability.

Like most of the other indie people mentioned in this post, Sabine also loves doing commissions.  She doesn’t charge extra for doing something special, i.e. the wool is the same price as it would be on the website. I like that her site tells you what she’s dyeing next (lace-weight angora!) and also shows examples of how her yarn knits up.  Alice recently knitted a pair of socks in Sabine’s yarn, and you can see it in her post about it here.

Sabine also sells at specific craft events.  The next ones where she’ll be present are “Spinal Craft” in Palmerston North in September, and at the great craft market at Pataka Museum in Porirua (Greater Wellington) on 8 October.

Maude & Me – If you visit the etsy site I’ve linked to, you won’t see much going on.  But check out this post from Tash of HRYC, and you will see some of the heart-stopping colour that is Wellington-based Tracee’s work.  Maude is Tracee’s cat, and she is a very pretty girl indeed.  Tracee dyes a range of wool top – Merino, Romney and Polwarth are just some of the examples I’ve seen.

She also spins her yarn and sells it in hanks so that people like me who don’t spin can still enjoy her work. Here’s an example of a hank of Polwarth wool that I purchased from her a while ago. It’s so pretty that I haven’t had the heart to knit it yet.  So I look at it and stroke it and think about what I could knit with it, but for now, I’m happy to just have it in my collection:

As well as being stocked by HRYC, you can find Tracee with her yarn and top at craft events around Wellington and the region (you’ll have to contact her to find out where she’ll be next).

You may also remember this photo of Maude & Me’s stall at the Wellington Underground Market’s “Wonders of Wool” day:

I’m rather regretting I didn’t buy more that day!

Wabisabifibres – Matt is another Wellingtonian, and the creator of Wabisabi.  There’s not much happening on his etsy site either at the moment, but he’s another indie dyer whom you can luckily find at HRYC, and if you have a look at the link in the Maude & Me entry above, you’ll also see some of his work.  Matt only sells dyed top, and spinners I know just adore his work.

Knitsch – What can I say here that I haven’t already said?  I love Knitsch 100% merino sock yarn.  It’s gorgeous, and I’m developing a very healthy little collection of some of Tash’s glorious colours because every time I go into HRYC, she’s gone and added more delectable goodness to her range of colourways!  Somehow, one or two little skeins always manage to find their way into a brown paper bag to come home with me…

Although my Knitsch yarn getting knitted a little faster than I’d like, I can take comfort in knowing I can always pop down the road to get more…  I do like how Tash dyes not only multi-colours, but also semi-solids which are more to my taste.  Have a look at her range (this is not my stash, just to clarify!  It’s a picture of the yarn in her shop!):

I’ve knitted socks and mittens in her yarn, including this popular kids fingerless glove pattern, and have plenty more projects lined up for the next few months.  It is completely machine washable, and continues to look fresh even after extended wear.

Creative Outlet – Creative Outlet is a yarn store in Tauranga, Bay of Plenty.  In addition to other yarns, its owner also sells her own hand-dyed, 100% wool yarn in a range of weights. The last time I was in Tauranga, I ducked into the shop, and these 100% NZ wool pretties just had to come home with me:

It hasn’t become anything yet.  I’m still enjoying just having it in my collection.

Fibre Alive.  I have such admiration for James of Joy of Yarn.  He started his own range with super-twisted 100% merino sock yarn, and has recently expanded his hand-dyed offerings to include alpaca sock yarn, and two DK weights – possum merino and 100% merino.  I’m finding the Awesome Alpaca sock yarn particularly droolworthy (check out Jungle and Celebrate), and I can see all sorts of cute things knitted in the Delicious DK 100% merino (Slate..!)  It’s Joy of Yarn’s 3rd birthday this month, and James is offering a 30% discount on all purchases…

Here’s a picture of his yarn from the “Wonders of Wool” focus market I’ve spoken about above:

It’s interesting to me that everyone has their own unique treatment of colour, so that no matter how many yarns from separate indie dyers you see, you will never see the same colourway twice.  James has a very good eye for subtle colour, whether it’s elegant, or pretty, or manly, or contemporary modern.  He’s another one from whom I am finding it easy to collect a large quantity of yarn!  It’s particularly easy to do so as several times a year he makes his scrumptious yarn available at the Wellington Underground Market, as well as various knitting-related events around New Zealand.  However, I’ve also ordered from him online, and found his service extremely efficient and quick.  Someone else in the family was very happy to see a parcel from him as it came with the bonus of a small sweet edible…

You may remember my Knotty or Knice socks in his Fibre Alive yarn:

Happy Go Knitty.  Based in Auckland, the creator of Happy Go Knitty is the sister of the amazing MiA.  Such a crafty, talented family!  I do not personally know their story, but it is obvious there is a strong creative gene in that family!  A selection of Happy Go Knitty yarn is stocked by HRYC.  Check out the link I’ve provided to Happy Go Knitty’s felt site (NZ equivalent of etsy) where you can see some breathtaking work in merino possum and merino yarn.  I particularly love the soft pink/mauve of the last lot on the page.  She’s also another yarnie who attends craft events so that knitters and crocheters can “squish and caress” before purchase.  Have a look at her blog for information about where she’ll next be.

Doe ArnotFlagstaff Alpacas.  Doe Arnot is behind the design of the colour gorgeousness that is Flagstaff Alpacas.  She’s a fibre artist who lives in Oamaru, a small town near Dunedin in the South Island, and she works with Andy of Flagstaff to dye the NZ alpaca yarn he has had commercially spun.  Have a look at the Flagstaff link – the latest range of colours to come out has me all a-flutter!  Windsong and Waterfall look most extremely appealing.  Soon to appear is a new range of yarn in 10ply alpaca/wool mix.  I can’t wait to get my sticky fingers on some of it!!

Here are my socks that I knitted in the alpaca sock blend, using the Stipple colourway. They are so cosy and were my favourite socks ever.  Except that I put them in the washing machine on a hot wash once too many times (naughty me for not following washing instructions) and now they fit my 7-year-old son.  Sigh.

And of course, you’ll remember Annabella, and the Aviator, and the Blue Danube, all done in Flagstaff Alpacas yarn.

More pretty Flagstaff Alpacas yarn:

Stashable.  A reader recently wrote to me and asked if I’d come across this website before. I hadn’t!  Pixie has had an 80% wool, 20% nylon sock yarn spun to her specifications.  This yarn she has dyed into a huge array of colours which are truly “stashable!”  There are colour combinations to suit all tastes and ages, and I certainly will be acquiring something from her soon.  She also has examples of how the yarn looks when knitted, which is very helpful when deciding what to buy!

Stringing a Yarn – Based in Auckland, Jessicah specialises in hand-dyed merino top and merino/silk lace weight yarn.  Her colours are subtle, and beautifully appropriate for shawls and other projects requiring a drapey, fine yarn.  Over at HRYC, Tash shows us more of this yarn in one of her latest posts.

Yarnz – Two sisters, Nanette and Rayne, are behind Yarnz, another Wellington-based online yarn store.  Mostly, they stock imported yarn, but they do also have available a limited range of yarn that they have hand-dyed.

Fibre2go – Wool, silk and alpaca make this girl tick.  She’s an indie dyer who specialises in top for spinning.  I came across her site from a visit to the lovely Alice’s blog.

Vintage Purls.  Last but not least is the estimable Morag, based in Dunedin.  She’s the NZ equivalent of Wollemeise.  Her range includes a 100% pure merino lace weight, and “sock” and “Max” weights in 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon.  Her yarn is snapped up online the minute it is loaded, making it an object of cultish desire.  Fortunately Knitting Pretty, one of the local Wellington yarn stores I frequent stocks her yarn.  Here is a colourway from Vintage Purls that I treated myself to at Christmas (bought from Knitting Pretty):

I’ve washed and worn the socks in this yarn many times now, and both the colour and yarn continue to look as fresh as the day it was knitted.

So much choice!  So many pretty colours!  And so ends our little sojourn in the world of New Zealand indie dyers.  I hope you enjoyed the trip!


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Blue Gum and Marmalade

Dear friends 

Meet my new playmates – Blue Gum and Marmalade! 

Blue Gum and Marmalade, Flagstaff Alpacas

 

Marmalade, 4 ply 100% alpaca, 480m to 100g

 

A playful trio of lime, olive and golden tones.  It’s pretty, and cheerful and reminds me of the tones in the grass just as it’s turning to autumn.  Marmalade tells me she wants to become a shawl.  

Blue Gum, 8 ply 100% alpaca, 190m to 100g

 

I can see why this is called Blue Gum.  Gorgeous tones of brown, teal, olive green, grey, chestnut – just like the bark and leaves of the blue gum tree.  Doe Arnot does amazing things with colour.  

I already know what I’m going to do with Blue Gum: 

Next project - Garden Jumper, Knitting mag, May 2010

 

A pretty edging for a pretty project, no?  It combines very nicely with a light fawn alpaca I have in my stash from a small alpaca producer.  

And in the meantime, until I finish up that last little seam on my current project, it shall adorn the flat, along with Iris, as an arrangement to inspire.  Instead of flowers, I have hand-dyed yarn. 

An arrangement of alpaca to delight the visual senses

 

The postman was very kind today. In addition to these gorgeous, wonderful 100% alpaca creations from Flagstaff Alpacas, I also received Interweave Knits’ Summer issue! 

I don’t know what to do first – read the magazine? Knit my most pretty yarns? I’m the cat who got the salmon… ALL TO HERSELF! Hahahahahhaa!!! 

I’m so lucky to have access to so many beautiful New Zealand yarns to play with. 

Whoopee! It’s nice to have happy days like this.