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:

anna-gratton-wool-silk-mohair-in-forest

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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Return

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This photo is my current wallpaper.  I find it quite uplifting to see it every time I switch my laptop on.

I remember this day.  We visited our favourite beach in Wellington and spent a few happy hours excitedly crouched over the rock pools, watching in fascination as the sea life went about its business, tucked amongst the rocks and hiding in the seaweed.

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The water was so clear that you could be mistaken for thinking there was no water at all except for the waving fronds of the anemones and seaweed and the occasional darting fish, looking for all the world like it was hovering mid-air amongst the rocks.  There is a small fish in the photo above – can you see it?

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Soon, the boy and I will be able to see more of this on a regular basis, for  we are shortly moving back to Wellington!

We’ll also see more of this:

NZ bush

and this!

NZ bush

I love living in the Wairarapa.  I love the crisp, frosty winters with the snowy mountains in the distance.  I love the access to fresh milk straight from the farm gate.  I love the peace and quiet. I was lucky to find a lovely house to live in, in as good a location as I could possibly hope for.  I have made some good friends.  The boy goes to a nice school.  But it is a rural farming community.  It has been impossible to find work that I do here since my position was disestablished, and as we all know, a source of income is a basic necessity. To commute in and out of Wellington each day is too hard on the boy – it is three to four hours of travelling a day, and he would never see me except for the weekends.  I don’t count that as responsible parenting.

It has been a good year in very many respects and it was not a bad decision to move here. However, the odds have really stacked against us for staying in the country.  In any event, at least we tried, and that is better than never trying, and not knowing.  I’m viewing it as having been a working holiday of sorts.

I’m feeling (hopefully rightly) that this is the beginning of new and exciting adventures. We’ve found a good house, and very importantly, a fabulous school for the boy.  I’m so excited for him!!  My work situation is looking promising (touch wood!) and it may even involve having time to be able to design, which I am quietly excited about.

I’m not much looking forward to this bit though:

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I’ll be back later in the week with news of the winner of the draw for the Circus Tonic Handmade Silvereye colourway.

I may even have some knitting to share with you for a change!

 

 


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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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The beauty of morning

There is something quite magical about the light in the Wairarapa.  It must be the plane of the earth in this part of New Zealand.  I don’t think I have ever experienced so many pretty sunrises as I have here.  It makes getting up early quite exciting!  The colours have been so particularly stunning on occasion that I have had to stop what I was doing and take photos!  They are not very good photos.  Too grainy, but they captured the light perfectly.

SunriseIt did not look real to me – the lurid imagination of a painter surely?  Such shades of blue and flamingo pink!

Purple morning

Violet sunrise – I have never seen this light before!

Purple sunriseCould they not be a skein of yarn from your favourite hand dyer?

And now, my favourite, a celebration of winter!

Cows on a frosty morning

A breathtakingly cold, clear morning, the frost lay thick like snow on the fields and in high, spiky tuffs on the fence and car.  Icy sparkles decorated the deck, shimmering like diamonds in the rays of the rising sun.

Icy deck

Slowly a mist rose, to veil the landscape in an exquisite, gauzy light.

Frosty morning

I rather did pity the cows their breakfast of ice.

If you are wondering, do not fear – I have knitting news to share.  I’ll be back later this weekend with an update.  🙂

A happy start to the weekend to you!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Spontaneity

It’s the last week of the school holidays, and I have taken three days off to spend with the boy.  It’s a lovely break for the both of us, and a much-needed bit of time off for me.

As New Zealand readers will know, we had the first polar blast of the season this week, and temperatures plummeted to most agreeable winter levels.  Aaaah!  To be able to snuggle in front of a roaring fire, toasty and warm in my possum merino sweater!  And to find a reason for having all those woollen hats, gloves, scarves and coats in my wardrobe!  It was a great way to spend the first day of our holiday together, just decompressing.  Me knitting, him playing on his tablet, while a bitter southerly blew outside.  Pity we weren’t far south enough to see any snow (much envy of the South Islanders happening here), but it was still nice to have far cooler temperatures than we have had!

I finished Gladys.

Gladys

They look so neat, I’m very pleased with them!

These socks were a bit different in that the gusset was decreased at the beginning and end of the instep (to fit in with the seed stitching).  I rather like that look, and might adopt it for future socks.  Closer detail shown below.

Instep feature

If I was to change anything, I think I’d look to knit a different heel.  I like my heels to be snug, and although the continuation of the pattern into the heel looks pretty, it doesn’t quite give me that ‘fitted’ feel that I enjoy in handknit socks.  Also, this yarn is slightly heavier than the usual sock yarn, and combined with the style of stitch pattern, created a slightly wider sock that I would normally get from a 64 stitch cast on.  If I did knit this again, I think I would decrease four stitches in the main part of the sock (two less seed stitches in the centre panel in the front and back) to get a 60 stitch pattern which would have made a snugger sock.

The only mod I made was to have single rows of knit and purl on the toe, as I thought it looked nicer.

All in all, it is a lovely pattern, and I now have an appetite to knit MORE gansey socks!!

The yarn is from Woolrae Studios.  It’s the merino/silk/nylon blend.  She only sells on trademe – just do a search for “woolrae” on trademe, and you’ll find her listings.

Today, the plan was to go into Masterton to buy the remainder of the boy’s winter uniform.  However, being home during good light (it was a stunning day today!) I suddenly noticed all the spider and fly spots on the walls… and got busy with step-ladder and cleaning cloth… and then the floor demanded to be vacuumed, and then, having brought in some wood for tonight’s fire, decided to finish stacking the last of the outside wood into the shed to keep it dry (and prepare for the next load that I’m having delivered).  One rather long distraction later, we were finally ready to go.

I shut up the house, and taking a breath to pause and appreciate the day, realised that there was no urgent hurry to rush into town.  We could always go another day, given we had three more days of holiday left.  It was such a nice day, why not take advantage of the lovely weather and go to the park instead?  And so that is exactly what we did!  It was a reasonably chilly 13C/55F or so, but the boy is very warm-blooded.

Afternoon in the park

It is so nice to be able to be spontaneous for a change.  To be able to stop and smell life’s roses, and be with the ones we love.

Tomorrow, we might go into town.  But then again, perhaps there is another adventure that might call us instead!?

Park oaks


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Rain

Rain

Thank goodness we had some rain this weekend.  It has been so, so dry, one wonders how the farmers are coping without the precious stuff, not to mention the gardens that are now brown husks and the impending water shortages for residential areas.  Hopefully there will be more to follow – we need much more to fill the rivers and reservoirs again.

Before it rained, the boy and I visited the Martinborough Fair (held every year on the first Saturday of February and March).  It’s a major fund-raising event that hosts craft stalls from all over the country.

Martinborough is the major wine-producing area for this region.  It’s a great experience to drive down the roads and see vineyards everywhere you look.  Very temptingly, most of these vineyards do have cellar doors and wine tasting. The vines were tented with nets as the grapes are nearing readiness for picking – don’t they look delicious!  I think these ones are pinot noir – it’s the popular red variety for this area.  The pinot noir wines from the Wairarapa are particularly delicious – the climate suits this grape very well.

Grapes

Of course, I had to visit Anna Gratton’s stall at the fair…

Anna Gratton merino/mohair

Such a vibrant, citrusy green had to come home with me!  This is the merino/mohair 4 ply in a garment lot (400g) in the Lime colourway.

Then there was this.

Anna Gratton 100% wool

A 200g skein of 100% wool in Chilli Chocolate.  I just cannot resist this colourway.  I now have some in both the wool and merino/mohair blend.

I think the best thing about the fair (apart from the yarn) was the artisan and local food produce – honey, handmade, freshly baked sourdough bread and Easter buns, artisan cheese, preserves and new season apples came home with us.  Simple food, but made the way it is meant to be – super delicious!  As you can see, by the time I thought about taking a photograph, there wasn’t a lot left…

Fair food

The rain was a good excuse to sit inside and do some knitting during the afternoon.  I managed to finish the Falls of Rauros! It’s socks like these that really fire up the sock knitting mojo!

Falls of Rauros

Looking at my queue to choose the next project, I want to cast on all the things!  I think in addition to casting on the March Claire Ellen sock (In the Golden Hall), I am also going to do a bit of Cookie A knitting.  I’ve had Clandestine in my queue for simply ages – and it’s time to knit it!  I also recently caved and bought knit.sock.love, so you are going to see a few more Cookie A designs coming off my needles in the next few months (it was that Twisted Flower sock that did it, but having bought the book, I can see myself knitting every single sock in it!)

I am very close to finishing the Mattingley Jumper. Just a sleeve and the neck to do, and it is finished.  I guess I should be disciplined and finish that up this week so I can tidy one more WIP off my list.

I have a feeling that this year is going to be an interesting one.  Having moved, and found to our delight that our new environs are everything we wanted them to be, I have managed to add the final piece to the puzzle, with the appointment to a new job that begins at the end of this month.  I’m hoping it won’t put too much of a crimp into the knitting as it is a full-time job, but I am really looking forward to applying my skills to this new position.  Best of all, it is based here in the Wairarapa, so I will no longer have to do the hour-long drive to work every day, and I will have the peace of mind of being closer to the young boy.  In this land of earthquakes and unpredictable weather, being so far from him was weighing on my mind.

The events of last year will go down in my memory as a definite annus horribilis.  They weren’t really things I wanted to talk about on this blog, being my place of happy knitting and the celebration of the good things about life.  It will be nice to have an annus mirabilis for a change.  Here’s hoping!