Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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Regenerate

Oh my goodness. I did not mean to disappear for so long. A new year has begun, and we are already into the second month! Time seems to be flying faster and faster! I hope this post finds you well, and that your year has begun well!

In Wellington, we are experiencing the wettest/coolest summer in 30 years (described in the news as the fewest “beach days”). I have to say I am personally enjoying it. I wish I could say it has led to more knitting (and blogging) time, but that hasn’t really eventuated due to other life happenings.

You may have noticed my Instagram feed showing off the finished Regenerate. Here it is again (some of these pics haven’t made it to Instagram):

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It is large and I love it! And as usual with Mary-Anne Mace‘s designs, I enjoyed every minute of knitting this beautiful design.

Because I chose to use fingering-weight yarn and not lace-weight, and work one more repeat of Chart 3 to make it a larger shawl, I ran out of the 200g ball that I originally used, and had to find more (what’s new!) Fortunately, I had more Anna Gratton merino/mohair in my stash that matched perfectly and it adds to the wonderful woodland feel of this botanically inspired shawl .img_3143-800x800img_3147-800x600

It has been wonderful to cuddle under the shawl on our cooler days. It is yet another favourite piece of knitwear.

Friends of mine were admiring my shawls the other day and asked if I sold my work. I replied that it takes many, many hours to knit a shawl, and if I were to recoup my time costs, the figure involved would be viewed as unaffordable by most people. We went on to have a brief discussion about slow fashion and how making your own clothes does mean you can create them to your own specifications and in the colour/fabric you like. My friend remarked that it meant I had a unique wardrobe as a result, followed by cute addition from her husband of “well, it’s only unique because you won’t sell your work!” It was one of those maker’s moments. Clearly, my friend is now on the “knitworthy” list!

Since finishing Regenerate, I have begun work on Supplejack. This is a fast and fun project, and I am nearly finished!

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As usual, I am doing my own thing in some way, and in this instance it means I have used four colours and not three, and put in colours in the order that pleased me.

I’m using Dark Harbour Yarn in Jetsam in Limey and Port in Pearls That Were His Eyes; Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label in Lotus, and Ruataniwha Dye Studio 100% Merino in Spruce.

I’ll be able to show you the finished project soon!

 


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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:
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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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Waiting for Rain and Light Gale

As I was typing this header, it occurred to me that both my recent Finished Objects are about the weather. Isn’t that funny!

Here are Light Gale and Waiting for Rain.

A bit about both:

Light Gale

I used The Wool Company’s Utiku Merino Possum in the Mink colourway.

As noted in my last post about this pattern, I certainly did not need 1,400 yards noted in the pattern.  Knitted in the smaller size, I used 362 gm, which is the equivalent of 795 metres, or 869 yards. (That’s 3.6 balls of the merino possum yarn in case you are wondering.)

The pattern itself could have included a schematic.  I find them very useful so I can adjust sizing easily if necessary.  I also like charts, and find written instructions difficult for pattern repeats, so I charted out my own, and that made it much easier to work out the stitch pattern quickly.

I did not do a tubular cast on or cast off. Instead, I used a long tail cast on, and cast off using my own half-stretchy bind-off method.

Alicia used a stockinette style decrease, which contrasts against the purl background of the body.  I chose not to do that, and reversed the shaping instructions (P2tog and P2togtbl) so that the shaping was invisible.

I did not put on a button, but just sewed a join into the two sides.

The rest of the pattern was knit as instructed.

I love possum yarn.  See the soft, fluid drape of the fabric, and the warm, snuggly halo that develops after blocking.  Besides pure wool, it is my next favourite medium to work in. It does not pill, it is surprisingly hard wearing, and it stays looking beautiful for years and years. (Note that recycled possum yarns can be less hard-wearing.)

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Waiting for Rain

This is such a sweet pattern. I used Anna Gratton’s silk/mohair/wool mix which she has unfortunately since discontinued.  It gives a beautiful organic texture to knitting.

Anna Gratton silk/mohair/wool

I wanted my Waiting for Rain to be organic looking, and I was pleased that the yarn I chose has definitely given the desired effect.

I did not change anything about the pattern.

The only thing I would say is that I am not 100% happy with my bind off and the edging.  It is a tiny bit tight for my liking, not enough to be a real issue, but just enough to make me think “hmm.”  I did use the lace bind off recommended by Sylvia, but as I have noted before, my bind off is always very tight for some reason, so I may have to look into a further adaptation of this method to work for me.

There is a lot of knitting news to talk about this week, so I think I will break this week’s postings into two.  Watch out for another one from me tomorrow about future projects!

I’m going to be examining three swatches. And trying to decide which one to use for this.

Have a happy and great weekend!


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Sustain the Sea: Gyre

Long time readers of this blog will be aware of the free pattern collection I developed to highlight the importance of looking after our oceans:  Sustain the Sea.

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I have been absolutely thrilled to be joined in this initiative by Kiwi designers Mary-Anne Mace (Biophilia – pictured above) and Sonya Newstead (Empty Nets – pictured above).

Today, I’m honoured that we are joined by a wonderfully talented young designer, Josiah Bain, who hails from the United States of America.  It is truly exciting that this is developing into an international statement about our oceans, and that there are so many designers who are like-minded!

Josiah wrote to me recently offering to donate a pair of socks to this initiative:  Gyre.

A gyre is a system of currents in the ocean that spirals around a central point.  The gyre that these socks are named after is the North Pacific Gyre, the largest ecosystem on Earth. As well as being home to different marine creatures, the North Pacific Gyre is home to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. He offers it here in the hopes that “awareness will be raised about the harmful practices and dreadful littering happening in our naturally splended oceans”.

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This is a beautiful pattern that harmonises completely with the theme behind the socks.  The socks are also very interestingly constructed. Please visit Josiah’s thoughtful blog post to read more about these socks, to download a free copy of the pattern and to find out about a very easy thing that all of us can do to contribute to the ocean’s health.

And who is his great model?

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Find that out too when you visit his blog!

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Thank you, Josiah, for this beautiful pattern, and importantly, for your own commitment to sustaining the sea!


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All the shawls and a sock?

I was having a conversation with my daughter this morning over Skype, and in response to her question about what I was doing, I mentioned I was fussing over the heel of my latest sock design.  “Mother, why is it always about the heel with you?” she asked.  “You are always so fussy about your heels!”  It’s funny, because I hadn’t thought that it was characteristic of me to fuss over my heels, but there you go!

The pattern is written, and almost ready to go.  Here is a photo of the finished pair of socks.  I have to say, I adore the way they look.  I like a feminine sock!  This version is in Vintage Purls Sock in Whisper of Doubt.

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The point of my fuss is this:

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Can you see how the sock is just a little bit too tight over the instep?  My kind pattern tester hasn’t quite got to the heel yet, so I can’t find out how it fits on her for a few more days.

The reason for the tightness is because there is not enough width around the beginning of the heel to accommodate the foot properly.  It is something very easily fixed in a sock with heel flap because you just work the length you need to accommodate the length of your heel.  Because I have made things difficult for myself, and incorporated an afterthought/forethought heel utilising an eye of partridge heel, some technical factors come into play in the heel shaping that don’t usually affect the usual plain afterthought heels.  Eye of partridge is a dense stitch, and I deliberately decided to see if I could incorporate it because it gives strength to the heel which (in my case at least) is the part of the sock that gets heavy wear.  I especially like that the base of the heel also receives reinforcing – the reason why I haven’t abandoned this in favour of a reverse heel flap with eye of partridge.  I could use reinforcing thread I suppose, I do know that.

I also really like the way it complements the look of the sock.  For this stitch to work in an afterthought heel, I have worked out I need to work in about 10% extra width before starting the heel.  I also need to add rows before starting the shaping because the dense stitch makes a heel that is shorter than the normal afterthought heel. This where things get interesting because it cannot be so long that it creates a baggy bit around the ball of the foot, nor can it be too short, which then also makes the sock a bit tighter than it should be.  I’ve been fiddling with proportions, and I think I have reached a happy medium, but I think I need to knit one more sock to make sure I have got it right.

In case you are wondering, I will also include the instructions for a normal afterthought heel for those who would rather not try this unusual heel construction.  If you are a habitual toe-up sock knitter, you’ll probably just work your usual preferred heel and it will look just as good.

However, there may be knitters who want to attempt the heel as I have designed it, and so I am persisting.  My daughter ended our conversation about the socks by remarking that I always liked to make things difficult for myself.  Hmm.  Hopefully it will make things easy for you though!

So if you are wondering where the pattern is, that is the explanation!  I am nearly finished with the second of the socks in the pretty Galah colourway from Circus Tonic Handmade that I showed you last time, and hopefully that heel will be the one that I like and decide on to complete the pattern.

The final thing that troubles me is that I have recently discovered that I have a heel spur, most likely on both feet. Ironic isn’t it?  Perhaps this is why my heels have always been a subconscious cause of concern.  A heel spur is an extra growth of bone on the heel.  The extra bone is putting strain on my ligaments, causing my feet to swell, but no pain in case you are wondering. As you can see from the photos, my feet are not excessively puffy, but they are not my normal shape.  I’ve probably had it for quite some time without knowing.  I do worry that it is affecting my ability to get the fit right for those who do not have fat feet, hence the additional need for a pattern tester.  I have discovered some exercises that seem to be helping to ease the swelling. Hopefully the condition will go away in due course!

According to the weather service, February is shaping up to be the hottest on record since 1927 for the Wellington area.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it is also true for the Wairarapa.  I’m glad it’s not just all in my head as it’s driving me batty and making me seriously reconsider the wisdom of moving to this place. The young man has quite aptly described this weather as “boiling alive in our skins.” Roll on Autumn, please bring back the cool weather!

Apart from the socks, the hot weather is  obviously influencing my knitting choices as all I can think about at the moment is to knit all the shawls!!

Shawls in progress

Southern Skies’ final chart is nearly complete. I will be adding a lace border because I want this shawl to be as large as possible.

I am about to start on the lace border section of the Mahy Shawl.  This shawl is the second project I’m knitting in the Gift KAL that is happening on My Sister’s Knitter’s Ravelry Group.  This shawl is knit in the modern hap method – you work the plain inner, and then knit the lace border on to it.  You can read more about hap shawl construction in this interesting blog post by Knit British.

Another shawl that I will start soon is Vitus.  This is Sonya Newstead’s latest design, and it is so pretty.  She was extremely generous and sent me a copy of the pattern when I admired it.  Thank you Sonya! My initial thoughts were to pair it with Circus Tonic Handmade’s Fiesta Fingering in Spangled Drongo (the blue in the foreground), but because this pattern needs 600m, I began suffering from ‘not enough yarn’ stress, even with 50g of a complimentary yarn to make up the balance (which should be a total of 600m – so really, I shouldn’t be concerned).  The plan is now to use a merino silk yarn that I have for Vitus, and make Spangled Drongo and the complimentary yarn into a small version of  Spring Awakening (another pattern I’ve had for a while) where I will definitely have enough yarn.

Actually, I think I could well spend another six weeks months purely knitting shawls.  I suspect I’m being a bit optimistic about my abilities to knit them all.  It is also likely that the eventual return of cool weather will bring about a sudden desire to knit all the socks and sweaters, but in the meantime, would you like to see the other ‘must knit shawls’ that are heading my current queue?

Rosebud by Tin Can Knits (this is a pattern gifted to me by a lovely friend, and I have had good intentions to knit it for quite some time… thinking of knitting it in the pale sage green alpaca that you see in the photo).

Spellbound by Boo Knits (having bought this pattern a while ago, I must knit it! Plus, I love Boo Knits’ ethereal lace shawls.  I like the version with a stockinette body – the all over lace is a bit too much).

Liliaceous by Mary-Anne Mace (it’s just a super pretty quick knit shawl.  At the moment, my current plan is to use that beautiful autumn leaf coloured 100% wool yarn you see in the photo from Anna Gratton.  I may change my mind yet).

High Country Crescent by Mary-Anne Mace (I think I am beginning to have a thing for Mary-Anne’s patterns).

Waiting For Rain by Sylvia Bo Bilvia (hmm, this is now getting ridiculous.  How many shawls can one girl knit?  It has such an interesting construction though!)

Omelet by Joyce Fassbender (when the Yarn Harlot knitted this shawl a few years ago I thought with awe, “never in a million years would I be able to knit something like that!”  Now I know I can.  It’s a thing that I need to conquer – that I knit something that I thought I never could).

And finally, I hope I am not premature in telling you that I think I have found myself a temporary contract for a few weeks at least.  I haven’t got the signed contract in my hot little hands yet, but it is a start!  Thank goodness for that!

Yarnville news

Please don’t forget to follow the Yarnville page for news and updates if you’re interested in attending: news about a free spinning wheel clinic by Mary Knox has just been posted.  There is now also a Ravelry group for those who would prefer to receive updates this way.


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Biophilia

I don’t always smile in delight when I have finished a project.  Biophilia is one that has me positively beaming in delight!

IMG_1673 (800x567).jpgMary-Anne Mace well deserves the title of The Lace Eater!  Thank you, Mary-Anne, for a truly inspired design that reflects the sea so well.

The next time we go to the beach, I will take Biophilia and do a proper photo shoot, but for now, I share these images.

If you are interested in the technical details, I used Knitsch 100% merino Sock in Rocky Shore, with the last three or four rows in Fly My Pretties, about 180gm/600m in total (Rocky Shore would equate to three full skeins, with about half a skein in Fly My Pretties).

The two colourways worked together so perfectly – I’m fairly sure the base colour for Fly My Pretties is the same as Rocky Shore.  I used some dark brown beads with a purply undertone (like seaweed) to give contrast but also harmonise with the overall colour design.

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The colours were like the sea to photograph.  In some lights, it’s a beautiful, rich colour like you see in the above photo, and in other lights, it’s more muted like the photos in the collage.  I quite like that.

The darker edging is to help with the watery effect.  I hope it conveys the sense that the shawl has been dipped in water.  The beads being the glistening drops of water.  I probably should have used a lighter colour bead to convey light reflecting off the water, but oh well, I still think this looks OK.

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This shawl would have to be one of the most technically challenging things I have ever knit.  As if lace wasn’t enough, Mary-Anne has added cables, nupps and beads into the mix!  I do not like nupps.  In the end, after struggling heroically with two rows of 7 stitch nupps, I reduced the size to 5 stitches, which was much more manageable and meant less dropped stitches. There is not a huge difference in effect, and it meant a much happier me!

The pattern is very well written, and very easy to follow.  It’s just that for this shawl to look good, it requires a level of precision of execution that had my brain cells almost popping!  I’ll definitely knit another Lace Eater design the next time I need a brain workout!  I’m sure experienced knitters of lace will be giggling at this.  I obviously need to knit more complex lace projects this year.

I haven’t blocked the shawl exactly the same as Mary-Anne’s original.  I didn’t go back and look at the pattern photo again when I was pinning out, but I think it still looks okay.

Thank you again, Mary-Anne, for this amazing contribution to Sustain the Sea.