Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life

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Wait…

Oh gosh. Since when did it become December!? Christmas is just around the corner, and there is still so much to do!

Isn’t it funny how the end of a year provokes a whole range of thoughts around life, deadlines, accomplishments, wishes. In a way, it is a good thing because it gives us a sense of time. In another way, it can unintentionally create feelings of stress that shouldn’t be there. I do find it a great motivator to remember to ‘do’ something with my life.

In this post, I think it’s time I fronted up and explained a bit about my less-than-regular posts of late. Make a cup of tea and settle in… this is a bit of a wordy one!

Life has been quite distracted chez Kiwiyarns over the past couple of months. As of November, I began working in a permanent role, although I have been in a ‘caretaker’ role for that position for a few months now. It’s a senior job that is giving me a lot of satisfaction (and finally, some life certainty!) but is also draining my energy and ability to keep up the blog on a regular basis. I do apologise for this, as I value your interaction with me so much. My life over the past few years would not have been anywhere near as rich or as fulfilling had I not started this blog and pursued the path of knitting creativity. But none of that would have been nearly as good if it hadn’t been for the support and friendship I have received from you. I thank you for this from the bottom of my heart.

In my dream life, I would be a full-time knitting designer, fully immersed in the art of knitting and sharing that dream. However, from what I have seen and learned over the past few years, it takes a certain life circumstance for that to become a reality for most people.  Importantly, you need to have a financial backer (usually, one’s partner from one I can see!) to cover one’s life necessities while the business is growing into a going concern. This scenario is most likely never going to be mine, and I have to be realistic about ensuring some security around the rest of my life. Hence the pragmatic return to my former career.

This is by no means the end, and I do not regret for one moment, the risk I took to delve into knitting in a deeper way. Quite apart from the richness of human interaction (which is sadly lacking in a corporate environment), I also got to learn in an unfettered environment, I found freedom and the ability to create – independently of any rules or structure.  And I was able to live the life I wanted. It has been soul-restoring. This has been worth more to me than any money in the world. I also got to be closer to my son that I ever would have been otherwise, and that too, is worth more to me than any money in the world.

I am still knitting furiously in my free moments (another reason I am not writing as much) and would love to keep sharing bits of my life with you here. It just may not be as frequently as before. You’ll see I am reasonably good at keeping up on Instagram, mainly because it’s a very quick process to take a photo and say a few words – I would love to see you over on that forum too!

Now, what has happened with my knitting since I last wrote? There have been a few socks.

But as you can see, my usual output has been somewhat diminished.

I did make a start on the shawl I spoke about last time, but I am not in the mood for blue hands at the moment. The naturally dyed indigo based yarn I chose leaches blue on to your skin like nothing on earth, and perhaps in another head space I would be able to cope with it, but not right now. So today, I decided to frog it and use this instead:

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It is going to be beautiful. It’s Anna Gratton Wool/Silk/Mohair blend in Forest.

I am on a bit of a shawl bender to be honest. Once I have got my Christmas sock knitting out of the way, or maybe after I finish Regenerate (using Anna Gratton’s Forest colourway above), I already have the next shawl’s yarn all ready to go:
supplejack-yarns

I am fairly sure this will be Supplejack. I’m using Tanis Fibre Arts Blue Label in Lotus, Dark Harbour Yarn Port in Limey and Ruataniwha Dye Studio 100% merino in Spruce.

And maybe the one after that…

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This one is also Mary-Anne Mace‘s fault. That woman just cannot stop producing the most breathtakingly beautiful shawl patterns… this yarn is earmarked to be Spring Creek, or maybe the newest pattern that she has designed that is still in testing. There will be time to decide. The yarn is also Dark Harbour Yarn Port in the Fairwater colourway. The light grey is also Dark Harbour Yarn Port but I have lost the label and cannot remember what the colour was called.

That’s the great thing about knitting. So much creative potential, so much to knit!  Just a pity there is so little time…

Wishing you a good run-up into the Christmas season. What are your plans? I for one, am much looking forward to my firm’s annual three week break over the Christmas and into 2017. It will be good to relax, enjoy family and friends, and knit, knit, knit!

 

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Unexpectedly

Hello!

I have been unexpectedly absent from the blog for a couple of weeks due to coming down with the flu, a family vacation and some very busy times at work. It’s good to be back chatting with you!

We had an all-siblings and family get together to celebrate my father’s 70th birthday. These photos are taken at Mount Maunganui (or looking across from Tauranga to Mount Maunganui) and are my teenage stomping grounds. It was lovely to be on the beach again, feeling the sand under my toes. It was a contrast to Wellington beaches which are mostly rocky, with their own kind of wild beauty. Very different in character to the gentle, soft sand beaches I grew up on.

You can see larger images of these pictures by clicking on them.

Some knitting has been done, but not much, sadly.

I was unusually sick with the flu for several days, which even affected my ability to knit. (Fortunately, I was able to recover enough to attend my family gathering). And work has also eaten significantly into my spare time recently.

These projects cover the last two weeks – the cardigan is a Drops pattern that I am modifying as I go. I do not fancy the extended garter lapel in the front, so I will keep it straight edged. The cardigan has enough width without me needing to any extra stitches. I also plan to knit plain sleeves so that the overall effect is not too lacy. The yarn is very special Madelinetosh Pashmina in Tart. A generous gift from a very loving knitting friend.

The socks on the top are the finished  V-Junkie socks, knit in Knitsch 100% merino sock, and the bottom pair are a plain vanilla pair worked in two colours. I used a now-discontinued indie dyer’s high twist merino sock yarn. They are the first contrasting toe/heel/cuff socks I have made, and I am quite pleased with how they have turned out! They are also an effective way to use up those partial balls of sock yarn that aren’t quite enough to knit a pair of socks out of. I used approx 30gm of contrast sock colour and 60gm of the main colour.

One of the unexpected delights of the new place I am living in is the profusion of flowers that bloom in spring. I leave you with a small montage of some of the prettiness I see every day. It gladdens my heart – I hope to share a small piece of that joy with you.

My father and I were having a discussion one day about plants, and gardens, and the simple pleasures of enjoying a piece of freshly picked fruit, or delight in a gorgeous bloom. He made the observation that the tree or plant you put in the ground is a gift to future generations, and that we are but temporary custodians of their fruit and beauty. Wise words indeed. Such a simple act of planting can so powerfully contribute to someone’s future quality of life. After all, if it wasn’t for the efforts of previous people who lived in this house, I would not have all this loveliness to enjoy now. I shall look after this garden, and add to it, so that others can continue to enjoy it long after we are gone.

A happy weekend to you, and Happy Knitting!

Vintage Purls


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Knitting all the things

Hello!!

If you are like many in Knitting Land, the advent of December has suddenly induced the uncomfortable thought: “How much time left until Christmas!?”  I hope holiday and Christmas plans are going well!

The lack of a day job means that despite the end of year rush,  I am able to take as much advantage of the time while it is available to me to knit and especially to develop more of those designs that have been swimming around in my head for ages!

As a result, a lot is happening in my knitting world and there is a lot to show you!  So get yourself a nice drink to sip, make yourself comfortable and settle in for some eye candy!

I wanted to first say thank you for liking the Slipped Hat I designed for Zealana!  Had to show it one more time… so pleased with how it has been modelled and photographed! It is actually a quick knit, and if you do not choose to make a pompom, then you only need one ball of each colour for this pattern.  There are so many pretty colour combinations you could choose to knit this.  Another combination I thought of was Kale and Peppermint – dark teal and light mint together.  Yummy!  You could also go slightly off-grid and use Sugar and Deepwater – creamy silver and ocean blue variegated.  The combinations are many!

Image courtesy of Zealana

This year,  I have also taken it upon myself to do a limited amount of Christmas knitting. I’m choosing my recipients carefully.  I have recently been hearing “more socks!?” and “I have too many knitted things from you, it’s such a pain they take up so much space”, and to those family members, none they shall have! (I forgive them, because you have to be able to speak your mind when you are with family.  :-))

However, I do know for certain that there are a few people who should appreciate a knitted gift.  My son’s teacher will receive a hat.  From experience, teachers usually love to receive knitted things, so I hope he likes this thank you gift for being such an awesome teacher to my son this year…

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Compliant young man modelling said finished hat before it was washed and blocked.

It is knitted out of pure, naturally coloured New Zealand wool. The young man picked it out as he said his teacher would look good in it.  I’ve decided to be lazy and use a free pattern that seems to work well for many people.  Bonus points for being quick to knit!  I converted it to knitting in the round.  It works just as well, and then you don’t have a seam to sew afterwards.

I might also knit a similar hat for my brother, who spends a lot of time at sea, and likes my knitted things, and for my brother-in-law who works outdoors and is very knitworthy and makes my knitter’s heart burst with happiness at how he wears my knitted things into oblivion.  Better hurry though… time is ticking!

I’m also starting work on a new fingerless glove design that will also be a gift. More to come about that later.

Some socks have also been knitted as gifts.  You have seen most of them already.  One of them is a new design that I will introduce soon.

In addition to Christmas knitting for others, there has been some sock knitting happiness for me…

Joyeux Noelle

I have always fancied a Christmas sock, and Stray Cat Socks in Joyeux Noelle is just amazing!  The colours glow with a richness that isn’t properly captured by the camera.

Apart from gift and Christmas knitting, I want show you a new indie dyer from Australia, Circus Tonic Handmade. This is an indie dyer who is new on the market, and I rather like her approach to using Australian bird colours for inspiration.

Galah in Circus Tonic Handmade

This one is called Galah.  The yarn and I are having a difference of opinion at the moment.  It wants to be the design I’ve just drawn up.  I want it to be Melisandre. I have a feeling the yarn might win.  I’ve thought of another yarn that will look stunning as Melisandre, while Galah will be quite lovely in my new design (the yarn tells me I am being sensible).

Speaking of sock planning, here’s a peek at some gorgeous lovelies from Vintage Purls that I was playing with last week.  One of them is destined to become a sock design very soon. I hope!

Vintage Purls

I do not think I have told you yet that I have started Biophilia.  I am on the third lace set, which ends in nupps. Such a pretty, pretty, shawl!  I only allow myself to work on this on weekends, which is now my official ‘me’ knitting time – the rest of the week is designated to designing and knitting things on deadline, looking for a day job and doing parent stuff. It is very hard to keep my paws off it! Roll on Saturday!

Biophilia

Biophilia is being knitted in Knitsch 100% merino Sock in a colourway called Rocky Shore. It is very ‘oceany’ and lends itself well to the theme of the design!

I have been feeling the need for a summery cardigan, and after much looking at patterns on Ravelry, have whittled my choice down to Drops 95-21 Cardigan in Lace Pattern. I like how it looks on others, so I am confident it will look as good as it appears in the pattern.  Mostly importantly, there are not acres of dreaded stocking stitch to knit! I’m going to knit it in this super lovely Madelintosh Pashmina in Tart that was very generously gifted to me by a special friend:

Madelinetosh

Whether I get the time to do this before Christmas, in addition to starting on several gorgeous shawl patterns I have acquired (will show you next post) is highly unlikely!

You may be wondering what happened to Two Hearts.  The back has been ripped out three times as I have adjusted stitch count for a non-cabled back (too much cabling for my taste to have it on both the front and the back of the sweater, so I have modified).   Now that I have finally got the right number of stitches to suit my gauge and match the size of the front, it is progressing nicely!  It is not finished in time for the end of Wovember, but I shall have it in time for next winter! I won’t show you a picture of the back.  Stocking stitch is not the most interesting thing to photograph.

Speaking of Two Hearts, the knitter mentioned in my last post about this was mortified about reader reactions to her pointing out the mis-crossed cable.  She said, “Well I certainly didn’t mean it like that! I guess if it was me, I’d be much happier that someone had pointed it out when I had a chance to fix it – which is what happened. And what a brilliant job, and a new knitting skill picked up! At the start of the conversation, I guess I was fishing about to see if it was something I could mention – therefore giving the opportunity to fix, or whether I’d just get thumped. I may have done it inelegantly, but I credited WS with making phenomenal garments, and figured she’d probably want to know – while it was still a very easy fix. I would definitely want to know, and have dropped down around 100 rows to fix a miss-crossed cable.” (And knowing her, yes, she certainly would have done that!)

I am glad that she pointed out the error, and have expressed my thanks, because I learned so much in the process, and as she said, I did want to know while it was still an easy fix!  Some mistakes can be left, but that one was just too much over the line for my tolerance levels!

There is so much more to talk about, but I’m going to stop here and save it for another post.  Thanks for staying with me, and thank you for sticking with me over this year.  I really enjoy reading your comments.  You often make me laugh or smile in delight at what you say.  You have been good company!

A bit of non-knitting to finish.  The hay makers came last week.  It was nearly dark by the time they got to the field next to the house, which is why the photograph looks like this:

Hay making

This is the field now:

Afterwards

You can see how long the grass was by the fact that it nearly hides the calves grazing the edges!

Calves in field

I’m rather enjoying seeing all the different looks to this field over the year.


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Veronica Speedwell

Hello, and a Happy Wednesday to you!

I knitted very diligently over the weekend, and finished my next design, the third in the Nature Series.  Meet Veronica Speedwell!

Veronica Speedwell

Veronica Speedwell was inspired by little blue flowers I found in the grass in my garden.

Speedwell

I was curious to know what the plant was and found out that it is a herb, called by the common name “Speedwell” and that it is of the Veronica genus.  Feeling whimsical, I decided to name of these socks Veronica Speedwell!  (It is also sometimes called Gypsyweed or Bird’s Eye.)

In ancient times, this herb was used for medicinal purposes, drunk as a tea for the treatment of disorders of the nervous system, respiratory tract, cardiovascular system, and metabolism.  I find it curious how much of our ancient knowledge has been lost to the conveniences of modern medicine.  I wanted to capture its prettiness and unsung history, and so here is the sock to celebrate this little flower.

Veronica Speedwell sock

This sock features stranded colourwork, but I have attempted to make this design accessible to all.  It is a top down construction with the flowers on the leg only.  The rest of the sock is stockinette.  This makes it an easy pattern once you are through the concentration of the colourwork, which in itself is not a complex design.  This pattern works well for using sock yarn scraps in the flower motif.

Here is another example of the motif worked in another colour combination:

Another colour combination

The socks above have been knitted using Happy-go-knitty 100% BFL sock and Vintage Purls Sock.  The lighter green is Happy-go-knitty, and the dark green is Vintage Purls.  I also used Vintage Purls for the blue of the flower.  The white flowers are 100% natural wool in fingering weight.

I’m finishing up the last of the technical edits today.  The pattern will contain tips on how to successfully knit a stranded motif.  I am aware that colourwork is something that can be a bit tricky, and want this to be a successful experience for even a beginner.  Watch out for the pattern soon!

Happy Knitting!

Speedwell


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Daisy

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It appears that patterns have a life of their own in my head.  I start with a general idea of what I want to do, get a semblance of a pattern together, and start knitting.  And sometimes, the pattern just develops a life of its own, and I knit as if on auto-pilot, the stitches tumbling off my needles, as if in a desperate hurry to be born into a project.  It’s an effort to keep up with the notes when this happens.

Daisy 2

I’ve been treasuring this special colourway from Knitsch (it’s called Green Thumb?) for a wee while, awaiting the perfect project, and now I have it.

I really ought to be finalising the patterns for the last two socks I have just completed the designs for, but this sock baby is in a hurry to come into the world too.

It’s going to be a rockin’ Socktober!  It feels wonderful to be creating again!

 

 


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Awards

Over the years I have been nominated many times for various blogging awards.  It’s very flattering to receive the award, and I’m grateful for the recognition from the nominator.  There are many reasons why I do not participate actively in them by passing on the award or answering the questions.  The reasons are tiresome and boring, so I won’t go into it.

Recently though, The Sock Monkey (Josiah Bain) nominated me for a couple of awards (the Starlight Award and the Sunshine Award).  It was a very sweet gesture, thank you Josiah.  He asked some interesting questions, so I thought I would take the time to reply.  The questions were:

1. What is the first thing that comes into your mind when you’re asked to cite your inspiration?

Nature (you knew I’d say that, didn’t you?)  Particularly the bush (NZ terminology for forest), the sea, flowers and plants.  The wonderful textures and colours and shapes that exist in all of mother nature’s creatures.  Being close to nature, and being able to appreciate nature, is very important to me.

Plum blossom

2. Besides that special place in your own home, or in your studio, where do you retreat to create?

There’s creating in one’s mind, and then there’s the physical creating (knitting).  As a far-too-busy working person and mother, it is a rare moment to create outside of my own home.  However, I do a lot of mental creating outside of the home.  Especially when I’m out in the garden or around nature and driving to and from work. It’s nice to go for a long walk to recharge my creative juices.

Farm

 

3. Where do you see handknitting/fiber/dyeing as an industry in ten years?

I think there will always (thankfully) be a place in the world for knitting and other handcraft. There are varying reasons for why people craft, and also individual reasons for selecting materials to create.  I’m so grateful to the people in the industry in New Zealand and around the world who work tirelessly to create beautiful yarn from wool and other natural fibre for others to use.  I strongly believe that we must treasure and nurture our connection to the real world (as opposed to the manufactured artificiality that seems to be more and more the norm).  Hand dyeing has really only taken off in the last ten years, and I think that this area is still in its infancy.  There are so many techniques and methods that are yet to be explored.  I think it remain popular for a while yet.

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Now, like Josiah, I’m not so good at following rules either, but I believe at this point I’m meant to nominate some people.  So I will direct you to some of my favourites (some new, some old):

Bear Ears

My Sister’s Knitter

Ordinary Goodness

Woolen Diversions

Sweaty Knitter

Soknitsome

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And as I am very casual about these awards (forgive me!), I’ll not state the rules again either, but will refer you to one of Josiah’s nominators if you’d like to see them (I see I have broken one of the rules – this is one of the reasons why I generally don’t participate…)

In terms of my questions, I really like Josiah’s questions, so if any of those whom I have nominated would like to answer them too, I’d be really interested to see the answers!