Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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The small things

Hello! I hope you are enjoying a relaxing weekend.

It has been an extremely busy couple of weeks for me and the busy-ness is not likely to stop for a while.   I have taken on a new position at work with much more responsibility (it is a temporary role, which I am not ungrateful for). Not much knitting time was to be had, so I am focusing on small things at the moment. I find the ability to finish something does help with lessening stress levels and keep the happiness in knitting.

The first was the Jackyll and Hide balaclava for the young man. He is very pleased with it. The pattern is very clever how it can fold up to become an ordinary hat. This was knitted in lovely aran style Maniototo Wool in the Matai colourway. It is a beautiful, warm orange. He has been wearing it constantly since I finished it (hat-style, in case you are wondering!)

The second lot of things I finished were a couple of pairs of tiny fingerless gloves for my nieces (3 – 5 yrs).  I discovered that fingerless gloves for kids are a great way to use up sock yarn scraps! The pattern I used is my Adorable Kids Fingerless Mitts pattern. I have fiddled with the pattern some more, and have updated it – available at the link if you’d like it.

This weekend, I decided to put my head down and finish that new sock pattern I have been working on for a few weeks.

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These are the Train Knitting socks. I started them when I was having to take the train to work. I was getting bored with knitting plain vanilla socks, but needed something that I could still knit without having to refer to a pattern much. I think the little windows in the socks are much like the flashing windows of a train as it travels along the tracks.

I will launch this as a new pattern in September to kick-start my contribution to the Socktober festivities happening over on the Carolina Fiber Girls’ podcast (the short answer is that I’m going to have a 40% discount on all my sock patterns from 15 September – 31 October). The yarn is Meraki Studio‘s sock base in a very pretty colourway called Tip Toeing Fairies.

I have used deep stash for this week’s new projects.

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The grey alpaca/polwarth blend is from the South Island by a producer who no longer makes their own yarn. It is on its way to becoming a Braidsmaid.

The socks are two part-balls that I decided to combine into a sock with contrasting heels, toe and cuff. I haven’t actually knit a pair of socks like this before, but am loving how the two colourways are working together. The yarn is the work of the lovely James, who sadly no longer dyes.  I do so miss it.

Some of the prettiness that is showing up in my garden – Spring is not far away, although it feels like winter has only just started. I am looking forward to seeing the apple, plum and peach trees burst into blossom.

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Happy Knitting!

 

 


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As fast as you can

Knit, knit, knit as fast as you can! Winter is nearly at an end, and it feels like it has only just begun. The season in New Zealand really is far too short in my opinion! In fact, this year, I think Winter happened last week, with the rest of it more like Autumn conditions. I really hope this is not the beginning of generally warmer winters.

This week, I was really happy to finally finish my Swan River Cardigan. Sorry about the weird poses… I was trying to show the way the cardigan falls at the side!

I have never knit one of these very simply constructed cardigans before. It is essentially knit sideways as a long rectangle with two slits for the armholes, and then you add sleeves.

It is as it was designed in the pattern – with drop shoulders which means that the cardigan is quite loose-fitting and definitely a spring/summer or indoor cardigan rather than something for winter outdoors.

The only mods I made were to make the sleeves plain, rather than lace. I felt there would be too much lace otherwise. I also added an extra cm of length to the fronts to make them just a bit longer than originally designed.

I am totally in love with the yarn. You may recall that this is the Luxury Lambswool 4 ply, dyed as a a one-off special for me from Maniototo Wool. However, the very same yarn is available from Happy-go-knitty as the Hakatere base (you may have to contact her about it or find it at KAN if you are going – it doesn’t appear to be in the Etsy store although I have seen it on Helene’s Instagram feed), and from Ruataniwha Dye Studio (again, best to enquire).  I used 390gms of yarn, which amounted to approx 827m/905yds. I highly recommend it! It is incredibly soft, which a beautiful drape and sheen.

I am very happy I got a sufficient quantity to make one more thing – a shawl.

Last week, I also received some happy mail!

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Yarn Crush wrote to me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing one of their boxes. As you know, I would never say no to anything knitting related!

This cute box contains enough alpaca/cotton yarn to make one of the two enclosed patterns (both a market bag – one crochet, one knit), a very  decorative draw string, badges and a notebook. They have quite a unique offering. Each box is different – go have a look at their website to find out more!

With Winter fast approaching an end, I thought I had better be nice and knit the young man the balaclava he has his heart set on.

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Unfortunately, I misread the quantity of yarn required – it needs 200g!  And I only ordered one skein… guess it will have to wait to be finished when the yarn arrives. It is very clever – looks like a normal hat, but then you can pull it down over your face and turn into a jack-o-lantern, which the boy loved the idea of! This is also in Maniototo Wool – the Aran Style, in the Matai colourway.

I hope you are having a lovely weekend.

 

 

 


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Swan River

Swan River

It appears that I am completely incapable of monogamous knitting at the moment. I “had” to start Swan River this week. It is a pattern from Issue 72 of The Knitter. Time I got some value out of all those magazines that I buy!

It is knitted in Maniototo Wool’s Luxury Lambswool in 4 ply, which Mary very kindly did me a one-off favour by dyeing and selling it me. This weight of yarn is not normally sold by her – she prefers to make it available to indie dyers only.  (She makes the 8 ply and woollen spun aran weight available on her website).

What can I say about this yarn?  Well… I hope that more indie people get their hands on it, because it is truly luxurious and wonderful. It has been spun semi-worsted and at a reasonably tight twist, and it is the slinkiest, softest, most gorgeous yarn I have laid my hands on for some time. Mary really spied a good thing when she found the merino cross fleece that her yarn comes from. And to think that the rest of this wool goes overseas to garment producers!  Lucky us that Mary has been able to obtain some of it for use in New Zealand and by knitters.

I’m hoping there will be enough left over of this yarn to turn into a shawl, because it is perfect for that purpose. In the meantime, I have a great requirement for a lightweight cardigan for use in the office (mostly), and this is what Swan River is going to be.

If you are wondering where you can get your hands on some of the Luxury Lambswool 4 ply, I understand that both Happy-go-knitty and Ruataniwha Dye Studio have got some, and are busy cooking up pretty colours for it as I write. You’ll have to watch their sites for news of when it is available, and when I find out, I will let you know.

I will probably have at least one FO to show you next week because I am making good progress on both Waiting for Rain and Light Gale, which I showed you last week. I won’t bore you with more photos of the same looking WIP!

Autumn came late this year. I leave you with a view of the riot of colour in my backyard at the moment. I’m enjoying the show!

Autumn


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The Pirinoa Poncho

A few months ago, Mary Furness-Weir of Maniototo Wool, approached me to help her design a child’s poncho.

I was intrigued by the concept that she suggested, and thought it would be a nice challenge to design a garment for a change, so I said yes.

Today, after much swatching and discussion and test knitting (thanks Mary!), we are delighted to present The Pirinoa Poncho!

Pirinoa poncho

DK Pirinoa Poncho

The poncho has been designed to fit children aged 18 months – 4 years old.  There are two versions of the pattern – one in Maniototo Wool’s 100% wool DK and the other in Maniototo Wool’s 100% wool aran weight yarn. The little girl (2 yrs old) is wearing the DK version, and the little boy (3 yrs old) is wearing the aran weight version.

Aran weight Pirinoa Poncho

I am so in love with how the poncho has turned out, especially now I see it on the children it will fit.  These stunning photographs were taken by Emma Mehlhopt (said Mel-hop), a very talented photographer, who specialises in photographing children and family portraits (Cheekyart.co.nz). Hasn’t she done a super, super job!?  I am so grateful to Emma for these beautiful photographs. And to the models’ mums for allowing their adorable children to be photographed.

Pirinhoa Poncho

There is a backstory to this design:  Once upon a time, Mary’s grandchildren had a poncho a bit like this.  They wore it from the time they were two years old and right up until they went to school.  It was a family favourite, very handy for throwing on between car and house, particularly in the bitter coastal winters where they live in the Wairarapa (the area is called Pirinoa, hence the name of this poncho). Mary thought that perhaps there may be other children who would also love to have a poncho like this, and so the concept was born.

This design has a special place in my heart:  it was designed in the Wairarapa, inspired by a Wairarapa family, photographed in the Wairarapa on little models who also live there, and is named after a place in the Wairarapa. In a way, it encapsulates a lot of what I loved about living there.  Family, friendship, community, lifestyle.  Thank you Mary, for giving me the opportunity to work with you on this one.

The pattern can be obtained in several ways:

  • A single printed leaflet from the Maniototo wool website, or at any outlets that sell the yarns – Country Rumours, 11 Talbot St, Geraldine; The Woolroom, 52B Ribbonwood Road, Geraldine, or markets such as KAN (Napier) and WOOLFEAST (Christchurch);
  • Printed patterns are available at The Land Girl, Pirinoa Village, where it is available in a kit including enough wool to make the poncho in either Aran or DK weights and a circular bamboo knitting needle. The first kits to sell will include a set of beautiful handmade wooden buttons; and

Handmade buttons

  • In soft copy (PDF) from my Ravelry store. DK version here and Aran weight version here.

Each of the printed patterns (from any outlet) will contain a one-time use only code so that you can also download the pattern to your Ravelry library.

Pirinoa Poncho

Yarn for the pattern can be obtained from Maniototo Wool’s website, where you can choose your colours. There is plenty of lovely Aran wool available. Orders for the new season’s DK yarn will be placed on a waitlist (it is still at the mill).

Mary and I look forward to seeing your own versions of these cute ponchos pop up on your project pages soon!


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A yarny update

Hello!  Happy Weekend!

Well, it has been an interesting few weeks on the knitting front, and I thought it is about time we talked about happy knitting news!  In short order, the highlights have been as follows:

  • I started my contract (hooray! Not knitting, but I thought I’d mention it.  I’m really enjoying being there too).
  • I finally found a heel for Mary Mary that I like and importantly, that other knitters will like (currently feverishly knitting the 3rd sample of Mary Mary that includes the new heel).
  • Very excitingly, I received some Yarn!
  • Feedspot nominated Kiwiyarns Knits among the Top 100 Knitting Blogs for Knitters and Crocheters!  I was a bit leery when I received the news, thinking it was spam, but having checked it out, and seeing what good company I keep, I’m really happy about this nomination!  This is very much thanks to all of you who read my blog.  Thank you very much for reading!
  • Designing is finally happening again, to great happiness.

So let’s get into details.  First up, The Yarn!

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This is a glorious bundle of squish – New Zealand made yarns compliments of Naturally Yarns, sent to me for review. Lucky me!

I haven’t yet had a chance to get into them properly, but I hope to have time to do that in the next couple of weeks. Here’s a very quick look at them for the time being:

Otira (40% NZ Merino/ 35% Tencel/ 25% Possum)

This new yarn was released in February.  Having read about the unenvironmentally-friendly manufacturing methods for bamboo and rayon fibre, I was concerned about the environmental friendliness of the Tencel content. However, this article from Ecomall has assured my fears that of any manmade fibre, Tencel is probably the best choice.

Tencel is the brand name for lyocell produced by Lenzing AG.  Lyocell is a fibre made from wood.  It is important to note that it’s the brand Tencel, manufactured by Lenzing AG that has been given this approval from environmental agencies, and not all lyocell.

Lenzing AG, which owns the Tencel brand, undertakes extremely careful manufacturing methods to prevent harmful chemicals from entering the environment in the manufacture of Tencel.  In addition, the wood it sources all comes from sustainable sources. Here’s another interesting article I read from OrganicClothing.blogs.com if you would like to know more about Tencel and production processes surrounding this brand.

Amuri (75% Pure NZ Merino, 25% Possum)

I have not yet knitted with this possum blend yarn.  It is the most halo’y of all the possum blends I have come across and has an interesting single ply construction that looks like the wool was softly felted.  It will be interesting to see how it performs!

Waikiwi (55% NZ Merino, 20% Nylon, 15% Alpaca, 10% Possum)

Billed as a sock yarn, I haven’t yet knit a sock out of this yarn, so it will be interesting to do some intensive swatching!

Harmony 8 ply (100% New Zealand merino wool)

Again, a very interesting single-ply, felted construction.  This yarn is available in 8 ply and 10 ply natural shades (not completely naturally coloured, as the natural wool is colour adjusted with dye to keep it consistent from season to season), in colour, and in tweed.  It’s incredibly squishy and I have to admit, is the first of the yarns to be put on the swift to be balled ready for knitting!

Most of the colours shown above are from their range of new colours out this season.

Also, you will soon get a chance to win this beautiful skein on Circus Tonic Handmade Revelry Sock:

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Hannah and I have been talking bird colours.  I asked if she would be interested in doing an interview on Kiwiyarns Knits, and she very kindly said yes!  She is one of the most amazingly generous people I have met – she decided to also include a skein of a custom-dyed sock yarn as part of our interview.  This colourway is called Silvereye (also called White-Eye or Wax-Eye) – inspired by the adorable little bird that can be found in both Australia and New Zealand.  The image of a Silvereye below is taken from Ordinary Goodness’s delightful blog which features a lot of New Zealand birdlife.  I know the Lynley wouldn’t mind if I used her photo.  Thanks Lynley!

Watch out for our interview soon.  I’ll also be giving away a free copy of my new sock pattern, Mary Mary.

I have also been working with Mary at Maniototo Wool to design a child’s poncho.  Here’s a sneaky peek:

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I’m really glad that I got a chance to work with Mary on this design.  I’ll show it in full detail when the pattern is complete.  The DK yarn in particular is delightful to work with and I’m very excited to use more of it in future designs!

As you can see, there is quite a backlog of things to catch up on, so now that life is “somewhat” on a more even keel, there should be some interesting reads to be had in the near future!


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Seriously Pretty

For a long time, I have hankered after a pretty, feminine yarn, with the barest hint of blush.  Something that reminded me of the palest cherry blossom scattered over clean white sheets.  I never was able to find that colourway, until Circus Tonic Handmade appeared on the scene.

When I saw Hannah’s Galah colourway, that beautifully muted pink and grey, I knew it had to be mine.  And then I started knitting it, and the pattern I have had in my head for a long time (but wasn’t able to find the right colour yarn for it) sprang up and shouted “Me, me, me, me!!!”

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After much swatching and ripping, I realised the pattern had to be toe-up, which threw me a bit as I dislike the backwards (to me) way of knitting heels.  Then I remembered that I could always do an afterthought heel, and all was well with the world again!

This merino/nylon blend yarn (Revelry Sock) is the softest sock yarn I have ever laid my hands on.  The merino wool used to make this yarn is of very high quality. It is so soft, I was scared that it would be weak, but it is not.  It is very well spun, with a non-splitty, springy twist that is perfect for socks or anything else you want to knit it in. I like it very much.

I think there is definitely a place in the world for pretty, feminine colours.  Ones that aren’t super saturated, but not washed out either.  It’s my new favourite style of colourway!

I bet you want to see that design I spoke of?

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This is a sneaky peek of Mary, Mary.  All going well, I’ll be releasing the pattern towards the end of next week (dependent on testing time).  Mary, Mary, was inspired by the nursery rhyme, “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?  With silver bells and cockle shells, and little maids all in a row.”  It is a feminine design to match a feminine yarn, and I am very pleased with how it turned out in the end.  (The sock hasn’t been blocked yet, which is why it’s still a bit wonky looking).

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Can you see the silver bells and cockle shells?  I took the bell reference to be flowers like the Lily of the Valley which have little bells, and the cockle shells are run up the sides, like little borders on the flower beds.

The pattern is not hard to knit.  I will give you links to the Turkish cast on that I used (it is so simple, it is my favourite method for double-sided cast ons) and how to work out the length of the foot before commencing the heel.  The heel will also have a surprise.  I worked out how to knit a cushioned afterthought heel that fits well.  I am very pleased with it and for me, it will help very much with the holes that always develop first on the bottom of my heels!

On a final note, speaking of pretty, I saw some truly amazing and exciting New Zealand produced yarn this weekend.  Mary Furness-Weir of Maniototo Wool has produced a special new yarn this season – it is called Luxury Lambswool (from the wool of ram lambs). It is a worsted-spun, DK weight yarn.  I have never felt anything so beautiful.  It has drape, sheen, it is incredibly smooth (due to the worsted spin) and it is soft.  Oh so soft (22 micron).  It is quite tightly spun, which makes it even more different to the usual DK weight wool yarns.  It makes my head burst.  I want it ALL.  I don’t have photos (Mary only had two skeins for her own use on her when she showed them to me and I stupidly forgot to take a photo… I was too busy coveting).  I have regrammed one of her posts showing the yarn – have a look at the Instagram photo on my sidebar (visible if you are reading this post on a PC), and you’ll see the yarn.  Or if you follow me on Instagram (Kiwiyarns), you’ll see it in my feed.

If you hurry, you’ll find some on the indie shelf at Holland Road Yarn Company this month.  Mary will be in store at lunch time tomorrow (Monday), in case you are in Wellington and have time to meet her.

I had better get cracking and produce more patterns so I can afford to buy some before it is all gone!