Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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Weekend rainbows

Rainbow 3

If you have been watching my Instagram feed in the side bar (or following along – I’ve been having a lot of fun with it and discovering lots of nice people to follow!) you’ll have noticed I finished the Happy Rainbow socks a few days ago.  I decided to wear them today! I do love the feel of this 100% BFL sock yarn from Happy-go-knitty.

It is a beautiful start to the weekend.  A lovely warm, still and sunny day.  The perfect weather in which to kick back and recharge the batteries with a bit of reading, knitting and sitting in the garden with the bunny.  He is so adorable – look at him sitting companionably beside me as I knit.

Coal and Reyna

I’ve had to start a new ‘mindless’ knit – this one is Reyna.  I’m using Noro Taiyo Sock.  Such a lovely, lovely yarn, and the perfect stripe sequence for this pattern!  It’s actually quite hard to put down because for a change I am enjoying the garter stitch.  I attribute this to the gorgeous yarn and Noro’s special rustic wool/cotton/silk feel that I love so much.

It has been an emotionally exhausting week, and there are a few more to come while my workplace sorts out an organisation-wide restructuring.  It’s very likely I will not have a job soon.  That is okay. Sometimes a door needs to close, and in this case, I think it is time I looked to find new activities to pay the bills.  The rainbow message of hope is a particularly apt one for me at the moment!

Rainbow socks

That isn’t to say it still isn’t a super scary situation to be in, particularly as I do not have a partner, and I have a child to feed as well, but I need to put on my ‘big girl pants’ and work it through.  Audry had some lovely words of advice on her blog today, and she is quite right.  It will be alright in the end.

I did decide I needed a bit of a pick-me-up, and managed to convince myself that some new yarn was necessary… yeah…

new yarn

Midnight Yarns is a new-to-me NZ indie dyer – another discovery from Instagram!  Super pretty dye job on a sparkling sock base!  Vintage Purls had an all-blue stocking last week, and I of course decided I did not have enough blue in my stash!

Tomorrow, should the weather hold (we are supposedly in for some gale force winds) we are going on a walk with friends to a new-to-me location.  Watch the Instagram feed for pretty pics!

Hope you are having a good weekend and here’s to a great start to Socktober!


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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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Weekend pottering

The year is drawing rapidly to a close, and I for one, am not sad to see it go.  It has been a very long year. It has been very busy.  The tree isn’t even up yet!  That will hopefully be remedied today, along with the long grass in the back garden and Christmas presents that still need to be sorted.

We did make time to see “The Battle of the Five Armies” yesterday. We decided to see it at the Roxy.  I like the cinema, with its art deco theme and very comfortable chairs.  It seemed fitting to see the last Hobbit movie there.

Gandalf

The cinema has been refitted by Weta Workshop with cool Lord of the Rings features, including a life-size sculpture of Gandalf outside.

The boy with Gandalf

We were delighted to find some Hobbit-movie features inside as well.

At the Roxy

This is one of the dwarves’ costumes.  If I remember right, it was Ori’s.  As you can imagine, I spent quite a bit of time examining the knitted scarf and gloves…

The movie was great.  I decided to forgive Peter Jackson and team for including the orc sub-story that had not been in the original book.

Now then, to knitting!

Knitting

There has not been a whole lot of knitting.  Usually at this time of year things are getting a bit quieter at work, and there is more time for knitting, but this year will be frantic right up to the bitter end.   My place of work breaks for the summer on 19 December (in New Zealand the vast majority of employers enforce a two – three week annual holiday at this time of year).  At least I will have a few days after that to focus on Christmas preparations, and do enjoyable things like knitting.

However, I am making reasonable progress on two sweaters (I’m preparing for next winter – no point in knitting when it’s cold and you need to be wearing it, not knitting it!) The first is the Mattingley Jumper.  If you haven’t already noticed the book it’s in, go and have a look.  I found several patterns in there that I should like to knit, and as I have a somewhat generous alpaca stash, this is a good opportunity to use it up!  I am knitting the Mattingley in a naturally coloured charcoal alpaca in 80% alpaca, 20% polwarth wool (no brand – it came from a small alpaca producer who does not make yarn any more).

The second sweater is the Leighlinbridge Aran, which you’ll remember from my last post.  I am very much enjoying knitting it in soft, snuggly possum yarn.  The only thing I need to remember to do is to pause and look at the cabling every now and again.  Sometimes I make a mistake, and it’s easier to fix when it’s not so far down the fabric.

I love those cables!!!  I had forgotten how physically demanding a heavily cabled garment can be to knit – it is good exercise for the arms.

Cables

The autumnal-looking lace item in the top photograph is a scarf I’m designing and snatching a row or two on whenever I have a quiet five minutes and I don’t feel like wrestling with cables or a sweater in my lap.  It’s actually my ‘restful knitting’ project at the moment!  It will look lovely when it is done.  It’s one of those projects where blocking is definitely an essential part of the finishing process!  I’m using Anna Gratton‘s hand-dyed, 4 ply 100% wool in her Desert colourway.  It reminds me of autumn leaves.

There are also several pairs of socks lurking on the needles in various stages of completion.  I’ll save those for another post.

And finally, a bit of eye candy to finish the weekend!

Happy-go-knitty Luxury - merino cashmere nylon

I was so excited when these two beauties arrived!  This is a new MCN yarn base from Happy-go-knitty,  a high-twist, merino, cashmere and nylon mix!  Love!!  The colourways above are fuschia blossom and mango calla.  Helene doesn’t seem to have made any listings for them yet, but I am sure if you pop her a line she will tell you what she has in stock behind the scenes.

Wishing you all a good week and a restful weekend!

 

 


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Susanna and the Wacky Wednesday socks

I do rather feel like I have nothing to show for my knitting at the moment.  I also feel like I haven’t been doing much knitting, which is also true, in comparison to the usual amount of time I spend knitting. Fortunately, the busy season at work is winding down for a few months, and I am looking forward to exchanging “busy working” for “busy knitting”!

I’d like to share this “finished object” with you today though:

Susanna

If there is one image that encapsulates why I knit, I think this sock would come pretty damn close.

This is Susanna, a free pattern from Stephanie van der Linden.  That lady is one talented sock designer!

At first, I knitted the sock on 2.25mm needles, getting the gauge suggested.

Susanna in Happy-go-knitty

I found the finished sock quite a struggle to put on, and was not happy with how it pulled slightly over my arch.

So I knitted the second in 2.5mm needles.  I figured that I’d rip one back, but I wanted the comparison.

The second fits beautifully.  The first fits too (one of the above socks is knitted on 2.25mm and the other on 2.5mm needles), but not as well as the second. The only other mod I made was to cast on 64 stitches instead of the 70 suggested (you then decrease down to 60 sts for the leg of the sock – I did not need so many stitches in the cuff to fit my leg).

The first sock is now a ball of yarn again, and I need to knit it back into a sock this week.  But I thought I’d show you now as it was an interesting exercise in gauge.

The ripping back is quite frustrating, especially seeing I have already ripped it back to the heel once before because I tried to knit it when I was tired, and ended up making a critical error.  Seeing the finished project makes it all worth while though.  You cannot buy a sock like that for the love of money, but I can knit one like that and in the exact colour and yarn that I choose.  It is a very satisfying feeling.

I love this design.  It is so ornately beautiful in my opinion.  I used Happy-go-knitty‘s 50/50 merino/silk fingering weight yarn to make this sock, in the Crushed Blueberries colourway.  It is not marketed as a sock yarn, but looking closely at it, and comparing it with other 5o/50 merino/silk yarns that have been sold as sock yarn, I felt that the base looked a very close equivalent and gave it a go.  I don’t know how long the yarn will last in a sock, but I don’t really care.  This yarn has given me what I’d call “lingerie for the feet”.  A beautiful sock, in a yarn that may not be suitable for tramping about in gumboots, but it’s not meant for that.

Unfortunately, Helene’s etsy site doesn’t have any of the 4 ply merino/silk that I used in stock.  However, if you email her I am sure she will be able to send you a picture of what she has available.

The second WIP I would like to show you today is for the young boy:

Wacky Wednesday socks

He came home this week with a notice that said that next Wednesday is Wacky Wheels day (the kids are allowed to bring their scooters and bikes to school and dress them up to look crazy in exchange for a voluntary donation to raise funds for the new school playground).  The kids were also encouraged to go completely wacky and come to school dressed wacky as well (the notice happened to mention the word “socks”).  Of course, the word “socks” was a magnet for my eyes, and having already got some of Stray Cat Sock’s wacky Winter Wonderland for the young boy very recently, felt that this was the time to knit them into socks!  One week should be plenty of time.  As you can see, I’ve already finished one, so the other should definitely be do-able for this coming Wednesday.  So much fun!

 

 

 

 

 


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A bit of this and that

The past couple of weeks have been a bit strange.  I’ve started and discarded a number of posts.  There are things to talk about but I haven’t quite found the right words.  I think I’ve sunk into a bit of a reflective state of mind that hasn’t quite right for blogging.  So, I’ve decided that the best way to talk about what has been happening will be in snippets:

I’m working on another pattern that has me very excited, but that’s all I can tell you about at this stage.  It’s another ‘geek happy’ pattern.  I really wasn’t sure if others would understand the concept of this sock, but the secret advisers I’ve talked to have all been very supportive, so I think it’s going to fly.  I do hope that you’ll enjoy it as much as me when it is released.

In the meantime, I share a picture of pretty yarn from the very talented Helene of Happy-go-knitty.  Some of it may have been for my new design…

Yarn from Happy-go-knitty

The Ripe Raspberry pink at the end is the most heavenly soft yarn I have ever felt (truly!).  It’s 50% yak, 50% silk.  The yarn is a heavier lace weight, which I like because I am still not overly fond of knitting cobweb weight yarn.  I think it will become a lace shawl fairly quickly.  The stitch markers are adorable.  Each of them has a different word such as ‘love’, ‘create’ and ‘imagine’.

It has been school holidays, and I had another happy ‘mumcation’ which involved very little besides knitting, outside of working hours.  I had time and space to experiment with new techniques and stitches that I don’t usually have the concentration for.  It was very productive from that point of view! It’s wonderful when you have a sister whose kids are the same age as yours.  One day I will be able to repay the favour and my sister can have a ‘mumcation’ too!  I am enjoying having the boy home though.  Life will soon be back to normal when the older one returns from his holiday too.

I have discovered a couple of new-to-market yarns.  Post coming about them soon.

One of the reasons for not having much to say is because I’ve been also working on this very, um, tedious project:

Robin

Robin is a lovely design, and I really want a sweater like this, and I love, love, love the Zealana Kiwi fingering that I’m knitting it in.  The stocking stitch hell will be worth it, I tell myself through gritted teeth and sleepy, drooping eyelids.  I feel that this project is a test of perseverance.  It’s very hard to stay awake at the end of the day and knit hundreds of stitches in stocking stitch.

Why am I knitting a plain stocking stitch sweater in a design that can easily be got from the stores for a much cheaper price?  You’ve probably guessed:  It’s all about the perfect marriage of yarn and pattern! I’ve wanted another sweater in Kiwi ever since I finished my Autumnal Cardigan, and found that this yarn is just the best thing ever.  The yarn has not pilled or gone out of shape at all.  It has the most amazing drape, and it is soooo comfortable to wear!! After wearing this cardigan all summer and autumn, the cotton in the yarn has softened and weathered just enough to give my Autumnal that slightly faded denim look and feel that you get in a good pair of jeans after a period of wear.  It is really the perfect yarn for an autumnal garment.  And I think it will be amazing in this pattern.  Only eight more 500 stitch rows before I can separate the sleeves from the body.  I.can.do.it!!!

Those who know me well might shriek a little this next thing:  I am considering starting a Facebook page for Kiwiyarns Knits. You read that right.  The person with complete anathema towards Facebook is now thinking about using it.  Why?  Well, I want to make information about New Zealand yarns more accessible.  This blog is a great repository for information, but I do recognise that the use of social media has moved on a lot since I started Kiwiyarns Knits. I think that a Facebook page may be a more flexible way of sharing information in quick bite sizes.  It will sit along side this blog, which I am going to keep writing, but it will have a different angle to sharing information.  For example, through all my ‘likes’, you’ll be able to easily find the Facebook pages of other yarn companies in New Zealand.  I could share quick photos of interesting things I’ve seen but which don’t quite make a post.  People can use the page to share useful information about what they know of happenings in the New Zealand knitting scene.  I’d really love it if people posted pictures of their projects in New Zealand yarn, or of my designs.  The one thing that will not happen on that page is selling.  I really have an issue with buying on Facebook, and I’m not about to start that on my page. So what do you think?  Would you be interested in seeing a Kiwiyarns Knits Facebook page?  I’ve also considered Instagram and Pinterest and all those other social media tools, but I think that Facebook will serve my purposes best.  I’d be keen to know if there is interest in this.

Thanks for bearing with this unusual post.  I’m sure I’ll get out of my current state of mind soon.


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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!