Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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New beginnings

Today was my last day at work.  I feel happy, sad, angry.  A bit achey where my heart is, and sometimes a little bit weepy. Redundancy, and the stress surrounding a restructuring is a very, very horrible experience to go through.

On an objective level, this exercise was just a ‘numbers game’, and not about performance.  The human cost that comes with this sort of process is very high though, and I do believe there must be better ways of achieving business objectives than this.  I am not the only one to go, and not the only one who has been affected.  My friends and now ex-colleagues will also feel the loss for quite some time.

I’m also feeling it for others whom I know who are also facing the same thing at their work places.  It seems to be catching, this restructuring business.

The silver lining is that I am now free to look into doing something new, and creating a life that is suited to what I need, and if I am very honest, in having a period of rest.

Let’s turn to happier topics!

On Wednesday, it was Pet Day at the young boy’s school and he chose to take Coal, the Adorable Bunny.  Thanks to the adorable bunny and a young man’s curiosity about how to care for his beloved pet, the duo won the red ribbon (First) in the small mammal category!

Winner!

Not just that, the young man then won the Cup for Best Knowledge and Care of Small Mammals!

Cup winner

It was an awesome day!  I was a very proud mama, and he was a very happy boy!

Happy Boy

The season is marching along quickly, and new delights have been found in the garden.

Plums

Blossoms have now turned into the promise of tasty plums.

Wild pansie

The cutest wild pansy growing in the grass.

Spring sky

A glorious sky seen through the newest spring leaves.

All these things bring joy and peace to the mind and heart.

Knitting progress is coming along nicely, but it’s mostly secret knitting.  I’ll be back later in the weekend with things to show on that front!

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A new chapter

Moving day

Happy New Year folks!!  Today, I should like to tell you about a very exciting thing that has been happening in the background, that I can now reveal.  I am about to embark on the next chapter of my life:

Long time readers of my blog will remember that once upon a time, I lived for a while in the country.  I haven’t got any of those pictures on my current laptop, but the below picture is from one of my designs, and you can see it there.  It was a heavenly place to live, and the young boy and I liked it very much.

There were chickens to play with, sheep and cows and horses to look at, and lovely bracing walks to go on.  The weather was wild, and the landscape inspiring (especially when it came to designing!)  The seasons became intimate markers of time, and observation of and interactions with animals and plants truly connected us to the natural world.  I felt like I had finally found my place.

Country lifeWe had to move back into the city, the main reason being that the eldest son, who joined me while I was living there, could get to school on time.   So for the past three years, my view has been this:

City view

It’s a nice view.  We look on to the country, but are not in the country.  It has been a bit torturous to look out at those hills, wishing I was in them, and not looking at them.  However, the move was for a good reason, and I do not resent it.

Plans have been brewing for a while to get back to country living. Now that the eldest boy has left school and is about to begin his own new chapter with a new life at university, those plans could be put into action.

We move very soon, and the house is increasingly looking like this:

Packing!!

As each day passes, my spirits lift with excitement just a little bit more!  Each day brings us closer and closer to the new home!!!!

It is good that I found a house in time so that I could move during my annual holidays.  This means that the moving process has been more leisurely than if I had to cram it into just two or three days.  So there has still been time for a little bit of this:

Imagine When

and a little bit of that (these will be a full toe version, not the yoga version):

Withywindle

They make nice rest breaks.  And there has still been time to do some fun things with the boy, including his 11th birthday party, trips to the movies and the beach and play dates with friends.

A day at the beach

However, I must get my A into G a bit more as the Big Day rushes ever closer, and there are still a million things to do.  It’s the sorting out of old things and the “do I keep this?” that are most time consuming.  It is a good time to get rid of clutter though!

I am incredibly excited that the thing that the young boy and I have wished for the most in the past three years is finally about to become a reality.  I could not say it would happen until only recently, as I wasn’t sure where the best place to go was, and once the place was chosen, accommodation was hard to find.

This is just the beginning, and I hope that other things I aspire to accomplish in 2015 and onwards will also happen.  I won’t say what they are here because I don’t know if they will eventuate yet, but at least we start the year with great optimism and hope!

So again, I wish you all a Happy New Year, and I wish you every success with your own endeavours and plans for the year!

 

 

 


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What now, 2015?

I realised as I looked at the socks I have knitted this year, that I have a very definite preference for sock colours.  Mostly blue, green and purply tones.  Nothing too bright or shouty, nothing too unusual.

Is that me being very, very boring?  Most likely.

Maybe I just wanted the socks to tone with my grey and blue shoes (but then how do you explain the berry shades…?)

Perhaps it’s because they tone with my clothes (but then, how many colours don’t go with my usual uniform of blue jeans?)

That made me think that perhaps I could do something different with my sock goals for 2015.  Maybe I could do something about expanding my colour choices…

I had a shuffle in the stash, and brought out a few possible candidates.  How about this nice selection of New Zealand and overseas yarns for starters?

2015 socks?

This lot looks nice and pretty and varied!  Not too much green and blue, with a few more oranges and yellows thrown in there?

Let’s do a reality check.

Reality check

Aw man!  This is weird.  Have I just gone and done a ‘same old’?

“Mum, you are boring” said the youngest, so very candidly, over my shoulder.  “But then, you have knitted so many colours – maybe it’s hard to find anything different?” he continued, rapidly saving himself.

This is a concern!  I chose those colours because I knew I would knit them.  I do have other colours in the stash, but I know I would have an issue knitting some of them.  You know the colours that you look at and say “oh, that’s different!  Maybe I should break out of my usual colour preferences and be adventurous for a change?” The one that you then invariably end up frogging, because the more you look at it as you knit it, the more offensive it proves to the eye?  I’m going to have to be strategic with how I use them up.

I think the answer lies in knitting for others.  For in choosing a yarn and style for someone else, one does not reflect one’s own preferences, but that of the recipient (or, one hopes!) That will also be one way to keep knitting socks but not have an exploding sock drawer, or feel too greedy about one’s sock collection…

So, let’s try this one again, and start with…

Socks for others

Ah!  Better!  Each of these colours have been picked out with a person in mind.  Except perhaps for the one on the far right… that happens to be for me (see what I mean about blue, green and purply tones!?)

Therefore the goals:

  • Knit for others in 2015.
  • I will not be limiting myself to which patterns I knit because I know that the moment I say I will knit a or b, along comes c, d and e, all of which look so much prettier or more tempting!
  • Most of all, knitting must be enjoyable, because it’s what we do to feel good and to show our love for others.

How many socks to do I intend to knit?  I liked having a goal last year.  It made me focus on what I was knitting, so I think I will do the same for this year.

  • If I can knit 36 pairs socks of in 2015 as well, I should be very happy.  It’s not more than 2014 because I want to knit other things as well.  If I end up knitting more, then that will be a bonus!

I do have a very long list of sock patterns that I would like to design.  It could be a book.  The list sits in my notebook, with sketches and swatches.  The issue will be to find the time to finish the designs and knit the socks.   This requires more than just sitting in front of the TV and knitting, or snatching a moment here and there, which is what my current knitting time is composed of.  I hope I will be able to make some of them a reality, especially during winter, when work is slow and my hours are more regular.

Future sock designs

Here are a couple of the yarns, all ready and waiting.  Oh so much pretty in my head – oh to make it a reality!

So much for the socks.  As for other things to knit, I do want to knit more shawls.  Here is one I picked out this week:

Future shawl

This is a skein of Wollmeise that a dear friend gifted to me a while ago.  I have been hoarding it, waiting for the right project. At 150g, it seemed a waste to turn it into socks when so much would be left over.  The pattern is Imagine When by Joji Locatelli.  I saw a few beautiful Wollmeise masterpieces in this design when I was researching what to do with the skein, so I have decided to make a start!  I imagine it would also be beautiful in silk/merino or an alpaca yarn.  Maybe I’ll make more than one!

There are a few other shawls I think I’d like to tackle this year, now that I am confident with lace.  (It feels good to be  able to say that.)  Here’s a beginning list (which may change, knowing the vagaries of my mind):

  • Rosebud was a generous pattern gift from another lovely friend.  I will use more Anna Gratton 4 ply pure wool to make this.  Most likely, a beautiful Saffron yellow.

Anna Gratton 4 ply pure wool

  • I think Sail to Treasure Island would be fascinating in a fingering weight.  I’m envisaging more Anna Gratton, this time her merino/mohair in a gorgeous ocean tone. I just hope I will have enough yarn.  In bulky weight (the original yarn), you need 1990m.  I only have one skein of this (approx 800m), which I am fairly sure will not be enough. Perhaps I will find another similar skein at this year’s Wonders of Wool market?

Mohair merino by Anna Gratton

  • Dew Drops or similar has been long admired.  I will take a leaf out of another good friend’s book and knit this one in Zealana. Maybe something truly luxurious like Zealana Air laceweight?  Or some yak/silk from Happy-go-knitty?

Zealana Air

  • Cameo looks like a lovely little palate cleanser, and will be lovely in a soft drapey yarn.  I can just see it in some Zealana Kiwi laceweight.

Zealana Kiwi laceweight

  • Puck, a DK weight shawl is crying out to be knitted in Zealana Rimu – I can imagine it will be sooo lovely to wear in warm and snuggly possum! I even seem to have the exact colours! Plus I have always wanted to knit something by Boo Knits.

Zealana Rimu

  • Spellbound is another stunningly beautiful design by Boo Knits.  Her shawls are so pretty they bring tears of appreciation to my eyes.  This one would be so pretty as a summer shawl, I think in a silk/merino from Spinning a Yarn. I have two of these skeins, that should be enough.

Silk merino by Spinning a Yarn

So many shawls, so little time.  Can I tear myself away from all the socks to find the time to knit some of these pretties?

 


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The sock escapades – count down!

It may look like I am doing an enormous amount of sock knitting in this post, but I think the reverse is truer.

Some of these projects have been on the needles for a very long time.  I am determined to get as many of them off the needles before the year ends so that I can a) add them to my year’s tally to see how well I did against my original expectations, and b) get on with newer and more exciting projects!  In terms of my original expectations, it seems that I have well and truly surpassed my original ambitions, and that pleases me a lot.  However, no harm in trying to surpass them to the fullest extent possible!

Now that I am officially on holiday for the next couple of weeks, let us see how we go!  (Seems that I am a deadline junkie – having no work deadlines to meet, it seems I must create one of my own.)

The Prancing Pony socks

These were a WIP until today, so I thought I may as well begin with a freshly finished pair. I love how the horseshoe detail goes all the way down into the heel.

Prancing Pony socks

These were the October sock for the Claire Ellen sock club. They have been on my needles about four times longer than most socks I knit!

Prancing Pony socks

The Prancing Pony socks have taken a while to complete for a couple of reasons.  The first is that this colour (Marmageddon – Knitsch 100% merino sock) eats light.  Unless I knit in full daylight, I could not see what I was doing!  The second is that they are quite tight.  The highly twisted yarn is also a bit of a challenge to knit in this pattern. It draws in on itself quite a bit – it’s a good quality in a sock yarn as I can be confident that they will stay well fitting.

Detail

The Swimming Pool Socks

Swimming pool socks

Normally I would have finished these during the minutes I waited for the young man to come out of school and during his swimming lessons.  For the last few months, there have been no minutes because I have been working full-time (and what time I have had I have used to knit the Pracing Ponies).  They are in a colourway called Sunday Picnic, by Soft Like Kittens, who no longer dyes (very sadly).

The possum socks

Possum socks

These are the eldest boy’s annual pair of socks.  Being plain vanilla, they are my least interesting to knit, but I know they will be appreciated and worn a lot once I finish them.  I know so because these are the replacements to a pair he has worn out.  They are in John Q Designer Earthware in a previous year’s colourway (Denim, I think).  This is a lovely 85% post-manufacturing recycled possum merino blends with 15% nylon, and very, very, hardwearing and also very warm.

The Halloween socks (or were)

All Hallow's Eve

The young boy loved this seasonal colourway (All Hallows’ Eve) from Stray Cat Socks.  So we got some.  It’s not Halloween any more, but I don’t think it really matters to him, as he’ll wear them regardless.

That’s three pairs of socks, all of which are varying stages of completion.  I should be able to do it.  I think… she says, as the siren song of another pair of cabled socks begins to form in her brain….


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The knitting bucket list

I was looking at the most beautiful knitting on Ravelry the other day.  The project page in question was owned by a lady whose knitting currently spans over 50 years.  She has knitted quite a number of beautifully complex projects that I have intentions to knit too, and I was very envious.  “I still have time” I thought.  “There will be time when I don’t have to work, and don’t have kid obligations.” And then I realised that I won’t be here in 50 years.  I don’t have 50 years to knit.  I probably don’t even have 40 years left of my life to knit.  If I’m very unlucky, maybe I only have 20 years left.  Or less!

And then I thought about the most beautiful projects of others that I have seen, knitters who are much younger than me, and have even more years of knitting left in their life than me.  And suddenly, I felt very, very, depressed.  I’m probably experiencing what is a typical mid-life crisis, but just in a knitting sort of way… the meaning of my mortality has finally sunk home.

This realisation has caused me to shift the focus of my knitting.  I feel I can’t fritter my time away knitting projects that I don’t enjoy, or knit just because they’re quick and look sort of cute.  I must use my time wisely and use it to learn and knit the things I actually want to do.  Knitting is such an enjoyable activity.  One can derive an enormous amount of enjoyment out of knitting something even as simple as a garter stitch scarf.  It’s easy to get distracted…  Don’t misunderstand:  I am very proud of a number of the projects that I have knitted.  It’s just that there are things I want to knit that I haven’t got to yet, mainly because they represent significant investments of brain power and time, and I’ve been telling myself until now that I don’t have the time for those projects yet.

So, although there is no cause for me to think that I might ‘kick the bucket’ in the near future, I do think I should start to make a concerted effort to commence that ‘wish list’ alongside the other projects that are really fun too.  (I am pragmatic enough to know that it won’t be possible just to knit only the wish list.)

The beginning list is:

Beads

Celestarium (I don’t think this will be hard to knit, but I haven’t done a pi shawl before, so this is a good learning project. Plus, it’s gorgeous, and I have always wanted a shawl of night sky.  You can see I’ve begun preparation already!)

Moontide, 100% alpaca

Irish Moss (I don’t think you can beat Alice Starmore for beauty in cabled sweaters.)

Aran Duffle Coat  (This will be the perfect replacement to a current commercially bought long cabled cardigan that is looking tatty.  I’m not sure it’s a truly difficult pattern, but it’s in my list of ‘want to do’.)

A lace shawl.  I really want to complete a full lace shawl this year.

If I can include at least the above four projects in among the others I do this year, then I will consider this a year well spent.

(And if you’re wondering what’s happened with those jackets… they’re done.  I’ll show them to you in the next few days when the recipients can model them for me.  I’m very happy with how they’ve turned out.)


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Tango with Gemma

It’s like dancing.  Two steps forward, one step back.  Knit three rows, frog two back.  It took me two hours to knit this much of Gemma yesterday.  It’s only a 96 stitch row.

I’m not the world’s most expert lace knitter.  Even though I’m now reasonably familiar with lace stitches, this was tough going.  I find it hard to keep track of all those yarn overs and K2togs until I have a repeat of some kind memorised in my head (or I can see the pattern developing and work out what I’m supposed to do next).  Trying to make sense of what I was doing here took me three tries.  My eyes were so tired I could barely see straight after that.

Here’s the detail:

So purty!  Definitely worth it.

Then I had to do short rows to shape the back of the neck.  I got through that fine, so I thought, except that I then noticed the shaping wasn’t quite symmetrical with the middle point of the collar.  If I left it like that, the cardigan would be misshapen.  Sigh.  Rip. Rip. Rip.

So a total of nearly three hours of knitting left me with… the above.  Perhaps this wasn’t the best knit to select for a time-pressured project!

Never mind.  I knitted the short rows again, and this time the section came out right.  From what I can see of the rest of the pattern, it’s fairly straight forward after that, and now I’m up to the final increase row before I divide for the sleeves.  Hopefully, if I can ignore the sock, I’ll finish Gemma in good time!

I finished the first sleeve of the baby cardi today.  One more sleeve, and it’s done!

Just eight weeks to go! One more adult pullover, two kids’ cardigans, one baby pullover, two pairs of socks, and a hat left to do.  Better shuffle off and do more knitting.