Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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Giving back.

Today, I am proud to announce the launch of a free pattern collection called “Sustain the Sea”.

Sustain the Sea

I have been thinking hard about how I can meaningfully support faster change in the direction of truly sustainable fishing.

You remember how I got very upset over reading the article on the state of the ocean?  

The level of upset has increased now that I have been doing a bit of reading to understand more.  It has motivated me to need to do more than just not buy seafood.

I spent ages writing and rewriting this post about the motivations behind this collection, but in the end, I decided that it would get too bogged down in detail and probably end up sounding  ‘preachy’ if I tried to explain too much in this one post.  How does one tell the story of the entire ocean in one post?  It’s not possible.

So I’m going to tell you one fact which I have learned now, and leave it at that for the time being:

85% of the world’s fisheries are over-fished or fished to full capacity

– The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.  Read the full report here.

And I’ll let the collection tell more of the story of the sea as I release the patterns over the next few weeks and months.

I could of course, have left things at financially supporting organisations such as Greenpeace, Forest & Bird, the World Wildlife Fund, Australian Marine Conservation Society and many other similar organisations who do good work in pointing out just how much is broken and encouraging change in the right direction.  I do actually already sponsor one of those organisations, just in case you are wondering.

However, I believe it’s no longer enough to pay some money, think you’ve done your bit, and continue life as normal.  I think the facts show that this is not enough.

This pattern collection is something tangible that I can do for the sea.  It’s a way of inviting knitters to join me:  by knitting the free patterns, and in so doing learning more about the health of our oceans, it may provide food for thought towards what an individual can do in a meaningful way to contribute to the health of the sea and truly sustainable ways of harvesting from it.

Why will my patterns be free?  This is a grassroots movement.  The patterns have been designed to aid to individual empowerment.  I do not wish to financially benefit from, nor necessarily align this campaign to any one organisation.  Asking for money also prevents those who might not/cannot pay for the pattern from using it and missing out on an opportunity for involvement.

By making my patterns free, the energy generated from this pattern will go to where it is meant to go – individuals doing something demonstrable to show support for responsible and sustainable fishing; encouraging individuals to think about and hopefully causing some personal action to begin pushing the fishing industry faster in the right direction through their informed shopping choices.  It’s not just about New Zealand, and I encourage you to find out more about fishing issues in your area.   It was heartening to read the comments from my last post about this issue, so my patterns are my gift to you to use as your personal tool for promoting change if you so wish.  

I hope that over time, by the process of contributing to enhanced awareness of the issues that are already being pointed out by experts, my gift to the Sea will be that more people care, and by caring, do something to sustain the sea, from which so much good comes.  More information about this will be provided in each pattern release.

I believe it’s up to all of us, every single one, to use the power of our wallets, minds and actions to promote change and actively demand sustainability and responsibility towards the sea.  Ultimately, it is the compounded effect of thousands of individual voices and actions that end up producing the most powerful result.

The first pattern from this collection will be launched tomorrow.  Watch out for the Orange Roughy Mitts!

Orange roughy mitts

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Last day for free: Cadeau

Just a quick reminder that today is the last day you can download Cadeau for free.

Pattern uses 200g of chunky weight (12 ply) yarn on 7mm needles.  Here I’ve used Zealana Tui, a warm, soft blend of merino, cashmere and possum fibres.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


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Free pattern: The basic man’s hat

I’m not sure about other countries, but I notice that in New Zealand, men still favour the basic watchman’s style hat when it comes to winter head gear.

I decided to knit one of these for my brother, as he hasn’t been back in the country long, and I suspected he probably didn’t have something to keep his head warm come winter.

I spent a very long time looking for the pattern I wanted.  Something at the back of my mind kept visualising one with a turned-up brim, and in chunky yarn.  There were several patterns that came close, but in the end, I decided it would be easier to do my own thing.  The result was very happily received.  Seems it’s just what he’s been wanting.

That’s my brother, giving me the thumbs-up.  😀  (Sorry bro, I only took one picture…)

The hat is knitted in a chunky (12 ply) merino/alpaca blend (it was one of those ‘one-off’ yarns).  It’s soft and warm, and comfortable to wear.

Today, I thought that I’d share the pattern.  It’s a bit late for Christmas, but you can call it my late gift to you. ;D

As I mention in the pattern, you can use any chunky weight (12 ply) yarn that suits you.  The hat only needs a maximum of 100g of yarn (unless it’s for a very large head), which makes it a great stash buster.  I highly recommend that your yarn contains at least 50% wool as the fibre content will help keep the hat stretchy, comfortable and snug around the head.

Suitable masculine-style yarn suggestions include:  Zealana Tui; Zealana Willow Chunky Weight; Little Wool Co. pure wool in 12 ply (not uber soft, but very hard wearing); Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds Chunky; Rowan Cocoon; Cascade 128; Manos del Uruguay Wool Clasica and Berroco Cuzco.  There are so many more – these are just some quality yarn suggestions to get you started.

The pattern also comes with sizing tips on how to ensure your yarn fits the head measurement you’re knitting to.

Free pattern – Basic man’s hat

Enjoy!


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Two beautiful things

No.1  Sunsets

I loved the sunset last night. It was just like a grand painting in the sky.

I watched the sun sink lower and lower, until finally, we got this:

It was awesome and mesmerizing.  That three-dimensional effect of light on the various layers of cloud was stunning.

No.2 Cables

Beautiful sunsets aside, I had an interesting email exchange this morning with a lovely reader who was asking about knitting cables.

The outcome for me was that it got me dangerously sidetracked into finding new and glorious patterns to add to my queue:

Cabled Three Quarter Sleeve Sweater

Image courtesy of Rowan.  This is a free pattern from Rowan, designed by Lisa Richardson.   Nom, nom!!  Love those cables!!  Add to queue.  Start intense ‘thinkings’ about what to knit this sweater with.  (If you’re not a member of this site, you’ll need to sign up (it’s free) to download the pattern).

And how about this cute number?

Wonky Sweater

Another free pattern from Rowan.  It has a cute name too – the Wonky Sweater.  I think I’d knit it a tad longer in the waist because I hate feeling drafts around my mid-section.  However, I love the cable detail to an otherwise simple pullover.  Very nice!  Add to queue.

If you are like me, and starting to think about what you’d like to knit for yourself over the holidays, I hope these two sweaters might provide a bit of inspiration.

In the meantime, may all your Christmas knitting be progressing well!


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Looking for Zealana patterns?

Recently, I’ve had a bit of fun observing knitters.  When it comes to buying yarn, it seems that the world is divided into two camps:  the Stashers and the Project Knitters.  

A lot of New Zealanders seem to be Project Knitters.  In other words, they need to have a project in  mind, and a pattern, before they purchase yarn.  In fact, observing them at my LYS, a lot of people seem to spend more time looking for a pattern than thinking about the yarn.  That’s not my idea of Fun.  But then, it takes all sorts to make the world go round!  

I thought about this the other day as I fondled enjoyed looking at some extremely enticing Zealana yarn.  There’s this lovely Zealana, but guess what?  No pattern books.   A couple of leaflet patterns, but that’s about it.  Not very helpful to a Project Knitter who starts first at the pattern book section.  I saw a couple of ladies look quite excited to find the yarn, but once they’d seen the few patterns available, walked away looking disappointed.  Oh dear.  

These yarns are all standard weight – it’s quite easy to find a pattern from somewhere else to suit the yarn gauge, but I know this doesn’t help some.  Especially if one is already stressing about how to find the pattern for that project you have in mind.  Let alone then worrying whether an alternate yarn you like will indeed work out at the tension you’re supposed to get.  

I’ve noticed that there are actually a few pattterns for Zealana floating around, especially in the Vogue Knitting/Designer Knitting magazines.  So I thought I’d talk about them.  Here are some I’ve seen in recent publications:  

1.  Designer Knitting (also VK), Winter 2009/10.  Pattern no. 25.  Edna Hart’s long-sleeved buttoned cardigan.  In Zealana’s Aspire Tui.   

#25 Wide Rib Cardigan in Zealana's Aspire Tui

2.  Man’s cabled vest in Tui by Lisa Ellis in Knit Simple Spring/Summer 2010.  I’ve seen it modeled by a woman on Ravelry, and it looks rather nice!  http://www.knitsimplemag.com/node/183  (It’s under The Outdoor Life – the grey v-neck).  

3.  Feather and fan scarf by Jill Gutman Schoenfuss.  Pattern no. 31 in Vogue Knitting and Designer Knitting’s Spring/Summer 2010 issue.  Using Kiwi in Fingering weight.  Here’s a link to the picture on Ravelry.  

Here are some others:  

Designer Knitting (also VK), Fall 2009. Pattern no. 9, Cathy Carron’s eyelet cap. In Zealana’s Rimu yarn. It’s a popular pattern. According to Ravelry stats, over 280 people have knitted it already. If you don’t have the Fall edition of either Vogue Knitting or Designer Knitting, I’m not sure how you can get this pattern aside from buying a back issue, or borrowing a copy from a friend. I couldn’t find it for sale in the pattern section of Vogue Knitting’s website. Sadly. I have knitted this cap, and it is very lovely too!

Hat in Rimu

#9 Eyelet Cap in Designer/Vogue Knitting, Fall 2009 in Zealana's Rimu

Vogue Knitting website – cables and lace handbag.  You will be able to see it by clicking on the link, but you need to register (free) to download the free pattern.  

Zealana has also now got one free pattern on its site – the feather and fan shawl as shown in Vogue Knitting’s Spring/Summer 2010 issue.

Cute baby jacket turtles by Claudia Pacheco on Ravelry.  This is a pay-for pattern, but very reasonable, and very cute!  

There are a few more patterns available on Ravelry – simply search “Zealana” under Patterns, and you’ll find them.  There is one free pattern.  I think the rest are pay-for.  

There have been other very lovely patterns made up in Zealana yarn.  You can have a drool over them on The Yarn Sisters’ website (www.theyarnsisters.com).  However, as the distributor of the yarn, I suppose you might have to find one of their stockists who has the pattern – Knitting Today stocks quite a few.  Search “Zealana” and you’ll find them.  

One hopes that more of these patterns will be available as online downloads at some point.  But for the time being, there is a fair amount of choice around. 🙂


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Where to find free patterns

So you want to knit a project out of some of your gorgeous stash.  But you don’t have a pattern, you aren’t yet in the league of a designer and you don’t really want to have to buy one if you can help it.  Welcome to my world!  

I do have a nice “little” pile of magazines and knitting books to hand, but sometimes it’s a real drag to have to go through them all (even if you are like me, and have tabbed your favourites, and cross-referenced them in a notebook so you can find them again later).  And then there’s the pain of trying to figure out whether the yarn you have to hand will match the gauge of the project that you like the look of (even if, again, the yarn is already all neatly catalogued and cross-matched to your patterns).  Sometimes I am my own worst customer.  I want something fresh, or sometimes, simply a bit of inspiration for something I haven’t thought about knitting before.  

So many patterns...

So where to go for “instant” help?   

Ravelry  

Most knitters these days know about Ravelry, the bestest free resource in the world for knitters.  If you don’t, check it out now and create an account!! www.ravelry.com.  The last time I looked, there were 416 pages of free patterns on Ravelry.  Simply look up “patterns” and choose the option for free patterns.   

Don’t feel like you are cheating anyone by using them – most of them are put up by budding designers who want to create a name for themselves.  They are for private use only.  Your downloading and then documenting the project in your notebook on Ravelry will give them kudos with publishers and valuable feedback to help them improve their designs so that they can start making money from their talent.  So you are actually helping them out by validating their designs.   

You can filter the patterns by yarn, pattern, gauge, needles and designer, among other things.  It’s Very Easy to use.  

And if you do come across a pattern that you like, and it is a pay-for pattern, you’ll usually find that it is very reasonable.  At the end of 2009,  Ravelry announced that 191,000 patterns had been purchased on Ravelry for a total of US$1,250,000.  98.7% of the money from these sales went to the designers.  Not a bad way of supporting the knitting community!  Even more impressively, 4 patterns a minute are bought on Ravelry, and there are about 50 new patterns loaded every month.  We are so lucky to have such an outpouring of creativity!  And even luckier to have a place like Ravelry to find it all in.  

Yarn brand websites  

If I don’t find what I like on Ravelry, the next place I look is the website of my yarn brand (if I’m using a big brand name).  Sometimes they do have lovely free patterns.   

Rowan’s website www.knitrowan.com has some beauties.  Very useful if you are using Rowan and don’t quite know what to do with the yarn.   

Lion Brand is a fantastic place for free patterns.  www.lionbrand.com.   

I also just love the Garnstudio/Drops designs (32,000 patterns and counting), which are stylish and so great to knit.  They are meant to support their yarns, so I do feel a bit guilty using them with my stash.  But it’s so hard to get their yarn here!  The cost of shipping is prohibitive, even though the yarn is priced very attractively. www.garnstudio.com.  Having said that, I do support them when possible as it’s good to give back something in return for the significant investment they are making.  

WEBS (www.yarn.com) also has a selection of free patterns that support their own Valley Yarns brand.  The pay-for Valley Yarn patterns are at a very reasonable price (approx US$1.99 ea) which makes them an affordable option when you only want one pattern and not a whole book.  

Experiment, and look up the websites of the yarns you use – you might find some treasures.   

Magazine sites  

I also often find really nice things on magazine sites, such as Interweave Knits (www.knittingdaily.com) and the Knitting Institute (http://www.nationalknittingweek.co.uk/free_patterns.asp).   

Other knitting sites  

One other place I look is another knitting site, such as The Daily Knitter (www.dailyknitter.com).  With 1,500 free patterns on their database, it’s another place to support to budding designers.  Knitty is another very popular place the look (www.knitty.com) although I haven’t used them much, having got put off by the very complicated construction of a simple pair of gloves that I wanted to knit once.  However, lots of people use it and like it, so I should try again.  

Such a lot of choice!  Isn’t it great!?