Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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A knitter’s Christmas

Christmas 2015

This post is a bit late due to various distractions and interruptions!  Christmas has been lovely.  My sister and family visited, and there was a lot of eating and talking and enjoying the company of family whom I had not seen in over a year.

In the end, I knitted and gifted four hats, two pairs of fingerless mittens, four pairs of socks and a couple of soft toys.  I think they were all well received.

The soft toys are Plants vs Zombie inspired – you can see them in the collage above.  Initially, I knitted only the Pea Shooter because I wasn’t sure if he would like it.  The boy loved it so much that I promptly got an order for the rest of the set! The Frozen Pea Shooter has been finished, and a Sunflower and Repeater remain to be done.  The pattern is free on Ravelry from Ginger Grant – linked to here in case you want to knit your own.  Be aware that there is a small omission in the pattern about when to place the eyes.  I used plastic soft toy eyes and put them in before completing the stuffing on the head.  I also added drinking straws to the stems to strengthen them, and added picot ice crystals on the Frozen Pea Shooter to make it more authentic.

For knitting, I have started a sparkly shawl (Paris Toujours in Skeinz Alpaca Sterling), most likely for me, and a pair of alpaca socks for winter.

Paris Toujours

This yarn was a lovely gift from The Sweaty Knitter, received earlier in the year.  This alpaca sock blend looks like handspun, but it has been commercially spun by a small mill in the United States – it is amazing that you can trace the fleece used in each yarn cake back to an individual alpaca!  The pattern is just a basic ribbed sock that comes from my head.

Alpaca sock

Some amazing gifts were received:

Christmas gifts

I am particularly besotted by the sweater lot of Wollmeise and the lovely bag it came in… 1,500m of pure deliciousness that will be perfect for a lacy cardigan. In addition was more beautiful British wool.  Also from another lovely friend was a very thoughtful gift of some crystals, incense and chocolate. I was thoroughly spoilt!

There may have been some new for-me yarn under the tree as well…
CircusTonicHandmade

Hannah of Circus Tonic Handmade is a hive of inspiration.  Every time I look at her etsy site, there are yet more mouth-watering shades of pretty yarn.  Maybe fortunately for my and your pocket, she is now on holiday until 22 January…

Doespins alpaca merino

The very long-awaited Flagstaff Alpaca’s merino/alpaca/nylon sock base finally arrived, and Doe has started to dye it and list it in her etsy shop.  Of course, I had to get some.  In fact, I need to get more of this lovely yarn when I can because this is the very last alpaca yarn that Andy of Flagstaff Alpacas is going to spin, from what I understand due to the closure of the mill where the yarn is made.  I am very sad about that.  There are some very beautiful, masterfully dyed colours in the Doe’s shop.

So that was my knitty Christmas in a nutshell!

I also need to tell you about Charles Gandy‘s visit, which I referred to in my last post.  Charles is a TKGA Master Knitter and fibre artist who amongst other things, knits amazing art socks.  He is author of The Embellished Sock, a book of socks that are knitted art for the foot.  This one is my particular favourites from the book, called Tiptoe Through the Tulip socks.

Tulips_small2

Charles told us about his upcoming exhibition “Beyond the Sock” featuring amazing art based around a sock form. None of the socks are meant to be worn, but they look absolutely amazing, and hearing about the process involved in creating the socks was very inspirational.  Those fortunate enough to see the exhibition when it opens at the Bascom later in 2016 will be amazed.  More details are in this link where you can also see a small peek of the exhibition socks and other examples of his work.

Charles showed us a couple of techniques (finger cords and the twist) that he uses one of his other books, commissioned by Regia.  We were lucky enough to be given a booklet each, personally signed by him.  I might just knit one of them for the sheer fun of it!

Charles Gandy socks

As 2016 begins, I want to wish you all a Happy New Year!  2015 was a real mixed bag for many of us.  Let’s hope that 2016 perhaps provides a bit of respite.  Let us look for opportunities to nurture our friends and family, show love and find peace.

I’ll be back soon with a small review of the favourite projects of 2015!

Happy Knitting!

 

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Geekery

I love self-striping yarn as much as the next person, but sometimes just the joy of seeing the next colour coming through is not quite enough to get through knitting in plain stockinette.  Of course, I could always knit an allover pattern into my sock, but the idea has never appealed.  An idea came to me one day as I was browsing a stitch dictionary and came across an intriguing colourwork chart: What if I could use the stripes to work with me to create a colourwork pattern instead?

I played around with a sample, and was delighted with what I discovered.  I thought:  “This would be a really cool pattern to submit to Knitty!”  Very happily, and much to my super excitement and terror, they did choose to publish my pattern!  Thanks so much Amy and team!

This has been a long while under my hat – if you are a long time follower, you’ll notice the pics were taken around my former place of residence.

Geek socks

I am very pleased to show you the “Geek” socks that are out in Knitty today!  So named because they really “geek” me out!

I had a lot of fun playing with colours. The above socks are knitted in Happy-go-knitty 100% BFL self-striping sock yarn.  They are the original version in which I anticipated having to use only stripes with an even repetition of rows and a certain width.  However, I discovered that you do not have to have even stripes, as can be seen by the next version…

More geek socksThese ones are from Doespins, in 80% merino, 20% nylon sock yarn, and called Limestone.  The stripe is thick/thin, and it still works!  You can see the way the stripes look without the patterning in the cuff, heel and toe.

Finally, I had to try some in Stray Cat Socks.  The super zany colours from this indie dyer just cry out to be played with! Again, the width of the stripe is different, but it works just the same!

Stray Cat Socks Geeks

Now I have a hard time not knitting my self-striping socks in this style.  It just makes it so much more interesting!   It is also a very easy repeat, and the most ‘difficult’ thing about this pattern would be to be brave enough to try a new style of heel.

I used an after-thought heel because I could not think of a way in which I could still maintain the patterning when knitting a plain heel flap.  Normal heel flap gusset shaping does not allow the pattern to flow and would totally ruin the look of the sock.  It may be possible to use a short-row heel to shape the heel and not have the stripe disrupted.  I have not tried it.  Kb, who test knitted the pattern beautifully, used an alternative version of the after-thought heel that also looks good.  This is her version in rainbow self-striping yarn.  I think she’s done an amazing job!

rainbow geek socks

The socks are knit cuff down, but you could very easily reverse engineer the pattern to knit it toe up if you prefer knitting in this style.

Finally, to give you more of an idea of what the pattern does to self-striping yarn, Amy got me to send some swatch pictures, so I thought I’d share some of these with you too:

Geek swatch

 

Geek II swatch

Thanks again to the Knitty team for publishing (and editing) my pattern, my wonderful son Tim, for photography, Kb for being such a wonderful test knitter, and the interesting discussions I had with Karen Berthine about the design during the writing phase.  I have learned a lot from Kate Atherley (Knitty’s Managing Technical Editor) about writing clearer patterns too.

I do hope you enjoy knitting these socks!

 


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Peeks

I feel like I’m only getting to peek at my knitting these days.  I’m trying not to get frustrated.  Work is only going to be busy for so long, and then I should be able to have quality time back again.  In the meantime, my yarn looks at me accusingly.

I have been a very lucky girl.

Doespins yarn

Housewarming present.  Naturally dyed yarn!!!!!  Drool!!! The colours are much more vibrant that my camera has allowed me to show.  I am much looking forward to turning them into pretty socks (or maybe a shawl).  I was particularly excited by the far right skein – it is dyed with indigo.  I love, love, love, the semi-solid look of this colour. It’s a bit like faded jeans.  Doe will be bringing these to the market soon.  I’m looking forward to seeing all the other pretty colours she has produced!

Maniototo Wool

And another housewarming present!  So spoilt!  Can you tell from just looking at it that it is Maniototo Wool? It’s that gorgeous bounce and soft ‘touch me’ look to the wool that gives it away. This season’s yarn includes a DK weight. There is more twist to this yarn than last year’s DK spin.  I foresee some happy knitting times coming up.  If I can be a good girl and finish the sweaters I have in my WIP basket, I would like to knit a sweater in this yarn.

I also have a heap of something delicious piled up next to me that I want to swatch and tell you about.

The Fire Flower sock pattern is done, but I’m fussing over it.  It will be out very, very, soon.  Promise!

And then I need to write up Dancing with Leaves.  I managed to lose the draft in the move (it had not got to typed stage yet, darn!) but it is a simple pattern, so I don’t think it will take me too long.

So much to do, so little time to do it in!  As the young boy remarked recently, “Time in the Wairarapa flies!”  It can do me a favour and slow down a bit please!

And as if the above wasn’t enough yarn, this was my housewarming present to me:

Mango

Anna Gratton 4 ply 50/50 merino/mohair in the Mango colourway.  The merino/mohair base takes colour beautifully – it really does look like a mango in my opinion!

I couldn’t help myself, and also added some Chilli Chocolate (this one is a 400g skein) to the collection.

Anna Gratton Chili Chocolate

If there is no time to knit, there is definitely time to buy! (erk!)

 

 


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Surprises

The last couple of weeks have been very uneventful on the knitting front, but this week has made up for it.

I knitted a sum total of one sock in the last ten days.

Just. One. sock.  Damn that day job!

At least it made a pair from knitting from weeks past.

Sock self-portrait

I think the boy is pleased with them.  This is his sock portrait.  That’s me looking at how they fit.  It was an amusing situation.  🙂

Now I can sneakily get rid of the old, most-unattractive ones that have been worn to death… (which funnily enough still don’t have holes in them!)

The yarn for the new pair is from Happy-go-knitty.  It’s a self-striping colourway in the alpaca/merino/nylon blend.  One of my favourites!

Now that the major work project is over, there has been more time for knitting, and I finished this pair today:

Silver socks

Sparkly silver yarn.  They makes me feel so very special when I put them on!  The toe section is a little shorter than I usually make it due to the smaller number of stitches in the pattern.  Not sure I like that part, it seems to make the sock not so balanced looking, but never mind!  If I knitted these again in future, I would do a section of plain stocking stitch before binding off for the toe to increase the size of the toe section.

The pattern is the Swanky School Socks, and I used Doespins’ beautiful silver sparkly yarn in the Silverfish colourway.  It’s a merino/nylon/stellina yarn base, and was perfect for these socks. In fact, I got the yarn with the intention of knitting this pattern, and am amazed that I followed through!  Most unlike me…

I love the detail.  I was quite surprised I was able to finish them this week – after the mega work project, I didn’t think I’d be able to!

swanky school socks

Finally, and most excitingly, I am very pleased to give you a preview of a new pattern, Alice’s Mitts:

Alice's Mitts

 

This pattern is a collaboration.  Alice (my lovely friend from Bleating Art) decided she wanted some cabled mittens. She described what she wanted to me and asked if I’d be able to design some for her.  Of course, I said yes, and after a bit of swatching of samples and discussions with Alice, came up with the pattern.  Her super mum, Denise, was very kind to do a test knit – the version here are her work.  I’m really pleased to see how they turned out.  Hasn’t she done a super job!?

It’s a strange one for me – normally I test knit the pattern first, but I have not had the time to do that, and sent the pattern to Alice as is. Fortunately, it worked!  It has been a bit of a confidence booster actually.  To write a pattern and have it come out fine without me testing it first.  Of course if helps that Denise is a very talented knitter, and was able to use her experience to offer constructive advice on certain aspects of the design.

Denise used Ashford Mackenzie 4 ply 100% NZ merino yarn to knit this sample.  They’re as warm and snuggly as the photo suggests.

Alice's Mitts

Alice is knitting her own version as well, which I’m sure you’ll see soon on the Bleating Art facebook page.

Thank you Alice, for the great pattern idea, and Denise for the great knitting!

Surprisingly, I have a small backlog of patterns to finish editing and laying out at the moment.  The layout for these mitts is one of those patterns.

I am very much looking forward to a weekend of no work and lots and lots of knitting (and pattern writing)!!!!

Happy weekend!