Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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Winding trails for Nepal

We’ve all heard the terrible news of the earthquake in Nepal.  The scenes of destruction are uncomfortably familiar, and heart-rending.  There is great need for help.

I have decided to do something on my part for the people of Nepal.

Winding trails

I finished the pattern for this cowl this week.  I am making it free, but in exchange, I encourage you to donate an appropriate amount to my chosen charity, Global Giving Foundation.  All funds received by Global Giving in this link will go to providing for survivors’ immediate needs for food, fuel, clean water, hygiene products, and shelter.  Even a small amount will go a long way towards helping provide for immediate needs.

Amended to add: I have since discovered that most aid agencies are taking minimum donations of $10. If this is above your budget level, but you would still like to donate, I suggest buying one of my other patterns – all proceeds from the sale of any of my patterns for the month of April and May will be donated to the Nepal earthquake relief efforts.

I found this article very useful in helping me decide who to choose for donations.

winding trails cowl

This cowl was already called Winding Trails, but somehow it’s even more appropriate, as it calls to mind the winding trails of the Himalayas, and the difficult road that lies ahead for Nepal’s recovery.

Download here.

About this cowl:  This is an advanced beginner level pattern.  It is knitted in the round, using a 12 round, 7 stitch repeat.

You need approx. 200m/218yds of DK/sport weight yarn.   I recommend a yarn with drape, a reasonably smooth texture and round body.  An alpaca/merino, alpaca/silk or merino/silk type will be ideal.  In this sample I have used Outlaw Yarns Vanitas, an alpaca blend, DK weight yarn (100g/200m per ball).

Suggested needle size:  4.5mm.

Finished measurements:  70cm/27.5″ around and 22cm/8.75″ tall.

 

 

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Kung Hei Fat Choy!

Hello, and “Kung Hei Fat Choy”, or Happy Chinese New Year!

It is the Year of the Sheep/Goat as of today, and in celebration of the year of our favourite animal, I am pleased to release my new sock pattern, Fire Flowers!

Fire Flowers socks

If you haven’t already, you can read a bit of the background to the design here.

Things you will want to know:

  1. These socks are free for the next 15 days (until 6 March 2015), to celebrate the Chinese New Year period.  In the spirit of “good luck money” (laisee), I am making them my gift to you.  Download here!  No code required.
  2. They are knit from the cuff down.
  3. Recommended user level is intermediate.
  4. Written pattern comes with charts.
  5. Sizing is for Medium (sock measures 19cm/7.5 inch foot circumference) or Large (sock measures 20cm/8 inch foot circumference).
  6. Sock as shown is knit in Bleating Art Sock.  Any fingering weight sock yarn will suit, although it will show to best effect in a solid or semi-solid yarn.  As mentioned in my previous post, a non-splitty yarn with lots of elasticity is best used for this pattern.

Fire Flowers

Enjoy! And may the Year of the Sheep bring peace, joy and happiness to you and yours!

 

 


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Will that be fins with your tuna?

If you are one of the lovely people who have been reading my blog for over a year, you will know that I have deep concerns about the sustainability of the ocean’s health, and with it, its inhabitants.

Today I’d like to talk about sharks.

Why does does the future of sharks concern me?  My main issue is that sharks are being killed mostly as bycatch.  Their lives are being wasted, the health of the ocean compromised simply because fishing companies have not come up with a better way to catch only the fish they are targeting.  So many sharks (and rays) are being killed as bycatch that today around 25% of all sharks and rays are threatened with extinction.   To ban shark finning is one thing, but if sharks continue to be caught as bycatch, have we done any good?

Sharks were not on my list to talk about at the time I was researching for my next post on Sustain the Sea.  They did not hit high on my radar because I did not know about the issues surrounding them.  I was going to talk about tuna,  until I stumbled across some very revealing information during my research that indicates a strong connection between sharks and tuna.

I figure that many people do know about the concerns around sharks and why fishing companies should be acting more responsibly in the way they harvest from the ocean.  If you do want a quick update, have a look at this info sheet from the New Zealand Shark Alliance.  It addresses New Zealand concerns around sharks in particular, but these issues are not just limited to New Zealand.  Some of you may be wondering why I’m addressing this issue when it seems the party is already over – lots of countries are banning shark finning, including New Zealand right?  Well… read on and find out more.

To rewind  to the point where my interest in sharks began:  I came across this short video.  It’s a fascinating presentation from a researcher for the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, an organisation that appears to be making very genuine efforts to introduce sustainable practices into the tuna fishing industry.

What I did not know until I started this research is that certain species of fish love to aggregate under large floating objects. This includes tuna and some species of shark.  The fishing industry has capitalised on this trait and created Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs).  FADs assist in the capture of up to 40% of the world’s tuna take.  Unfortunately, not only are sharks taken by the nets that then come along to scoop up the tuna, but they are also ensnared in the netted structures that hold these FADs in place.  The conservative kill rate for accidental entanglement is estimated at between 500,000 to one million sharks in the Indian ocean alone (see link for more information).

This infographic from the ISS Foundation is a stark illustration of how many sharks are killed from tuna fishing around the world.

It’s not just FADs that catch sharks though.  The Shark Trust provides a comprehensive outline of how commercial fishing practices ensnare enormous amounts of bycatch, in which sharks are included.  It is estimated in a recent report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (a study involving the collaboration of over 300 experts from 64 nations) that over 100,000,000 sharks (that’s 100 million) are killed every year.  Because of this extensive slaughter,  25% of shark and ray species are now threatened with extinction due to overfishing.  Tuna fishing is strongly implicated as one of the main reasons why sharks are caught.

The question pounding in my head after reading the research I have linked to you was:  how do we stop the accidental capture of sharks?  Unfortunately due to the lucrative returns that can be obtained from the sale of shark fins, and from what I can see (and I hope I am wrong), no penalties exist for capturing sharks, this bycatch is not unwelcomed by fishing companies.  There is therefore not a lot of incentive not to catch sharks.   Preventing sharks from being finned alive at sea is one thing, but if we can prevent them from being captured at all, isn’t that a better solution?  It also occurs to me that banning the sale of fins is not going to prevent the sharks from being captured in the first place, and then dumped back into the ocean dead, or brought to shore as the case may be, unless more accurate methods of fishing are employed.

In addition to their fins, sharks are also used in other ways.  Have a look here and here to see how we use shark products in everyday life.

I used to think tuna with its “dolphin friendly” logo was a good thing, and it made me feel okay about buying it.  Not any more.  Perhaps we should be looking for tins of tuna with “shark friendly” on them as well?

The good news is that a lot of research is being made made to reduce bycatch.  Also have a good look at the ISS website in particular to find what resolutions have been made in relation to tuna fishing.  This link will take you to the Summary of Resolutions taken by participating companies.  Those fishing companies are to be applauded for joining the organisation and introducing these moves.  I notice only one New Zealand fishing company on that list.

Will I be eating tuna in future?  The answer is still no.  Not until I know for certain that tuna stocks are being managed sustainably, and that my serve of tuna does not come with a figurative side of shark.  And in addition to avoiding shark fin soup, I will also be looking more closely at things I buy for bywords for shark product.

In tribute to the shark, watch out for tomorrow’s free pattern release of my salute to the shark:  Selachimorpha.

Selachimorpha

Please note that the thoughts above are my personal “key” conclusions, and I have not attempted to comprehensively address the issues – it would take a much longer article than what I have written!

 


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The Anemone Socks

Today, I am excited to release the Anemone Socks pattern!

Anemone socks

The Anemone Socks feature a simple 8 stitch repeat that is easily memorised to make this sock an engaging but easy project for commuting knitting or while watching television.  A pretty eye of partridge heel gives a durable heel and complements the broderie anglaise stitch pattern.

Anemone socks

There are two size instructions – medium and large.

This stitch pattern does not have the same number of stitches per row – the stitch count reduces in the K2tog, SKPO row before being increasing back to 64 stitches when the long stitches are made.  This factor creates a sock with slightly less give than normal around the cuff, although the foot is not affected as the stocking stitch sole adds stretch.

The medium size as shown (7” cuff) weighs 85g using the specified yarn.  More yarn may be needed for larger sizes depending on length of cuff knitted.

The recommended yarn weight for the medium size is a standard super twist sock yarn like Knitsch 100% merino sock yarn. In terms of other New Zealand yarns, if you have any Bleating Art, Fibre Alive, Verandah Yarns Merino Sock, Vintage Purls or Double Helix from Soft Like Kittens lurking in your stash, those yarns are also perfect for this pattern.  Any of the sock yarns sold by Doespins or the alpaca sock from Happy-go-knitty are also fine.  (I used the sadly discontinued Fibre Alive Merino Mania sock yarn in the Douglas colourway to knit these socks.)

Examples of similar weight (fingering) international yarns would be Koigu KPPPM, MadTosh Sock, Sokkusu “O” and Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock (there are of course, many other alternatives!)  Standard commercial sock yarns like Opal, Patons and Regia will also be the right weight.

Click here to go through to the pattern page.  As I mentioned in a previous post, this pattern is free to readers (or those who are told the code!) until midnight 18 July 2014, New Zealand time.  Just enter the code “DANA” in the coupon code section at checkout.

It’s also a little thank you to everyone for reading this blog, as I reach my 500th follower.

Happy Knitting!

Anemone socks

 


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Geek

I have long been fascinated with the look of broderie anglaise.  There is something very sweet about this lace embroidery, which is characterized by patterns composed of round or oval holes which are cut out of the fabric, called eyelets, then bound with buttonhole stitches.  As a young girl, I wore a blouse made out of a fabric featuring little broderie anglaise flowers all over it, and ever since then, I have retained a fondness for fabric featuring this technique (although I no longer wear it).

Recently, I found a knitting stitch by that name! I was terribly excited and immediately had to do some swatching!

Anemone socks

I particularly love it because you create the broderie anglaise look using a very simple but interesting technique, which fills my geeky need to try new things and find joy in new discoveries!

As you can see, the swatch very quickly became socks…

DSC00978 (640x480)

The set-up for the stitch is created by first knitting a K2tog and a SKPO, which creates a very tiny gap between the stitches.  After the ‘rest’ row (one row of straight knit stitch), you insert the needle two rows below into that gap to create the long “broderie” stitch.  This completes the effect of both eyelet and lace stitch, and yet there is no yarn over involved, and look is very neat.  It’s very simple, and effective!

Also interesting to my knitting brain was that I got to be ambidextrous – the original instructions simply said to insert the needle back in between the gap after knitting two stitches to create the second long stitch, but I found this very hard as twisting my hand to get the needle backwards over two stitches made my wrist sore. It was almost impossible to execute!  I instinctively wanted to use the left needle to make the second stitch, so I decided to try it, and was delighted to find it the perfect technique!  (The resulting stitch is then transferred to the right needle).  It made for a very happy, geeky moment to discover this easy solution!

Initially, I thought to call the socks “Geek” because there was so much ‘geeking out’ designing this pattern, but I showed a picture of the socks to Alice, and she thought they looked like anemones.  I think she’s right, and so the “Anemone” socks they are!  Thanks Alice!

Anemone socks

The pattern and technical details will be released within the next few days.

In the spirit of ‘dana’, I am making this pattern free for one week after release  to readers of this blog with the code “DANA”.  Simply put in the code on checkout, and the pattern will be free.  Do try them!

(‘Dana’ is a Sanskrit and Pali word that means “generosity” or “giving.” It refers specifically to taking delight in giving – that is, getting in touch with the natural generosity and wish to share inside of us. The mind of generosity is a joyful mind; it does not suffer from regret or a feeling of poverty. Rather, the act of giving itself is pleasurable and seeing others’ using our offering is an extra bonus.” (basicbuddhism.org))

It was such a lovely day today, so still, and warm and sunny.  A brilliant winter’s day!  Look who joined me on the balcony.

The Cat

Actually, I think he was a bit annoyed that he was required to share his normally private spot with my socks.  🙂

Socks again

Hope you are having a brilliant weekend!  Watch out for the pattern release soon!

 

 


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Valentine

When I read of others knitting Valentine socks for February, I was at first enthusiastic to do the same, and then embarrassed for myself.  I mean, I do not have a Valentine, why would I knit Valentine socks for a day that has no meaning for me?

Then I got to thinking about the wider context in which Valentine’s Day is celebrated these days (encompassing all love, not just the traditional romantic love) and I decided to knit some pretty Valentine socks for my daughter.

Elementary Watson socks

The love heart thing was a bit mushy, so instead of knitting hearts, I picked up the colours of Valentine in this gorgeous 100% merino sock yarn from Knitsch in “The 9th Rose”.

The pattern is Elementary Watson, inspired by the cabled pullover that Dr. John Watson wears in the BBC’s Sherlock (2010).  Only, I knitted mine cuff down, because I had to make a few mods to fit my daughter’s feet, and it was easier for me to go cuff-down to do so, it being my favoured method of knitting socks.  You’ll also notice I changed the heel…  You can see my mods here if you’re interested.

My daughter is a huge Sherlock fan, so I thought that this pattern would make a suitable expression of a mother’s love for her daughter.

Elementary socks again

I had to knit them in January so that I could post them in time for her to get the package by Valentine’s Day.  Now that she has safely received them (and loves them, phew!), I can show you!Elementary Watson Socks

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

I thought I’d finish this post by sharing a Pinterest ‘love’ with you today:  SweetP Designs.  Gabriella has done a good job of bringing together a lot of New Zealand yarns, designers, stores, and so much more.  If you’re interested in the New Zealand knitting scene, she’s a good one to follow.

And finally, if you want to get some of The 9th Rose for yourself, it is a current colourway at Knitsch.  Tash told me she just doesn’t have it on the website because it’s such a fiendishly difficult colour to photograph (she is right there – it must have taken me 100 tries to get these colour-accurate pics).