Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


26 Comments

Looking for possum yarn?

I often get emails from knitters about to visit New Zealand, looking for advice on where to find New Zealand yarn.  I love getting those emails!  Keep them coming!  It’s such a buzz to get a follow up email from the knitter after she has visited this country, thanking me for enhancing her S.E.X.  (Stash Enhancement eXpedition).  It’s quite a giggle to hear about groaning husbands and bulging suitcases.  😀  It makes writing this blog even more worthwhile.  Thank you!

Lately the trend has been enquiries about possum yarn.  The latest email (thanks Martina!) prompted me to think that it might be useful to try to do a summation of what’s out there in terms of this unique fibre and my experiences of knitting with the yarn, including pictures of projects I have completed in these yarns, which I hope may be helpful as an indicator of how it knits up.

On where to get possum yarn.

Most yarn stores in New Zealand stock some form of possum yarn these days.  My yarn tour posts about the North Island and the South Island give some details on where to find these yarns.  This is not an exhaustive list.  There is also an excellent forum on Ravelry (New Zealand Yarn Shops Group) that contains more information.   The yarn brands I mention below also have stockists listed on their websites – have a look for a yarn store closest to where you will be travelling!

A little bit of history.

Once upon a time, quite a few years ago, there were about two brands out there that sold possum yarn.  They were basic mixes of 30% possum, 70% merino wool.  The yarn was usually spun three ply, it came as a DK weight, and it was very nice and very warm, but there wasn’t much to differentiate the brands.  Also, the yarn was often a little stiff – you had to wash it quite a few times before it fluffed up.  And even then, it wasn’t quite the “same” as the merino possum garments in stores.

Here’s an example of one of these yarns.  It’s actually made of recycled possum (manufacturing waste, pre-consumer).  I wasn’t so sure about it when I first got it, but after having used the cowl I knitted in it a lot, I really like it.  It has a denser quality to most possum yarns, and produces a different fabric texture that is at once squishy but has substance.  I would like to see if I can find more of this brand, but I haven’t seen it for several years:

The 'older generation' possum

I believe Supreme was one of the first brands to create a “different” possum yarn:  a four ply spin, merino/silk/possum blend that initially came in two weights – labelled 4 ply (fingering) and DK (although it’s actually a worsted weight).  A third, 12 ply weight has since been added.  It made the yarn feel and look exactly like the possum garments you bought in the shop!  Lofty, so fluffy, so soft!

Then Woolyarns (major New Zealand mill) decided to launch its own brand, Zealana featuring a wide range of possum yarns, and variety was born!

Zealana’s launch and active presence in the US and in Europe definitely enhanced the global awareness of possum yarn.  I believe this has also encouraged other yarn brands to launch their own possum yarn lines.  There is quite a bit of variety out there now, although I would say that Zealana leads the pack in terms of the huge range of possum yarns and weights that they produce.

I’m pleased to see that possum yarns have now entered mainstream knitting choices, and is increasingly less of the oddity yarn that it once used to be.

It is interesting to note that although the fibre has been proven to be many times warmer than pure wool, possum yarns are not suffocatingly warm.  Despite working with this yarn on a hot summer day, the natural properties of the possum yarn kept it cool in my lap.  I kid you not!  Possum yarn is even more “cool in summer, warm in winter” than pure wool!

As of the time of writing this post, I am aware of the following readily available New Zealand yarn brands that include possum in their range (in alphabetical order):

I have not listed indie dyers who include possum yarn in their ranges mainly because this post is about yarn you can find in yarn stores (most indie dyers still sell online or at market events only).

Finally, a note about possum content:  I understand that it is not possible to get 100% possum yarn. The fibres are too short to spin on their own.  Any retailer who tries to sell you a 100% possum yarn is likely to be misled.  Currently, the highest ratio of possum yarn is 40%.  Any more than that, and the strength of the yarn is severely compromised.

And now to the yarns!

I struggled a bit with how to define all the different yarns out their in a concise manner, but I think by weight will be most sensible.

Laceweight

This is Zealana Air.

Zealana Air

Air has a beautiful, gentle haze and is extremely soft – a blend of “dehaired” possum (40%), cashmere (40%) and silk (20%).  It’s pure luxury to feel and knit with.

Air, knitted

Have a look at my recent review if you’d like to know more.  It’s available in yarn stores that stock Zealana – website for stockists.

A completely different experience is Zealana Kiwi.

Zealana Kiwi Laceweight

Its more like a wool/cotton blend in feel and in the way it knits up.  It’s a heavy lace weight (40% merino, 30% cotton, 30% possum – 199m per 50g ball).  It’s amazing that despite the 30% possum content, you can barely see the possum yarn, except that it makes its presence known in the form of a silky softness in the final knitted product and the fact that the yarn is very warm for its weight.

The laceweight by Skeinz I have not tried.  It is  55% merino, 15% alpaca, 10% possum and 20% nylon.  As I am not fond of nylon in yarn, I will not be trying this product personally.  However, the factory shop is well worth visiting if you are up in Napier.  It’s extra bag territory.  Be warned! 😉

Fingering (4 ply)

Zealana Rimu – Rimu is a traditional blend of 40% possum, 60% merino.  There are two weights for this yarn – fingering and DK.  The fingering comes in a 40g ball, with 153m per ball.  I have not yet knitted with this weight as it has not been fully stocked at my local yarn store.

Zealana Kiwi fingering has the same properties as the laceweight Kiwi, but just heavier.  I actually use it as a light DK weight.  124m per 40g ball.

Zealana Kiwi - Fingering

You might remember the Autumnal Cardigan that I knitted in this yarn.

Autumnal Cardigan in Zealana Kiwi

Here’s also the Woven Checks Gansey I knitted for my mother about four years ago, that still looks as good as new:

woven checks gansey

You can see that Kiwi is not at all fluffy.

Zealana Kauri is a beautiful blend of 30% possum, 60% merino and 10% silk.  153m per 40g ball.  It’s a lofty yarn, with a beautiful lustre and drape.  Perfect for shawls and hats.

Look at the shimmer of Kauri in the sunlight:

Kauri

Supreme 4 ply:  40% possum, 50% merino and 10% silk, I have yet to knit a garment in this weight.

Waikiwi – the jury is still out on this yarn for me.  It’s a New Zealand sock yarn that contains 55% NZ Merino, 20% Nylon, 15% Alpaca, 10% Possum.  It should be lovely.  The available colours are gorgeous.  I’ve got a couple of balls in my stash.  Every so often I pull them out and think I should knit them into socks.  But the noticeable squeak of the nylon under my fingers makes me put them straight back in the bag… Others love this yarn.  It’s an entirely personal experience.  You can find Waikiwi in most yarn stores around the country.  It’s a brand by Naturally.

John Q Earth Ware Sock – This is one example of a recycled possum yarn that is readily available (85% recycled possum merino blends, 15% nylon).  John Q is Knit World‘s house brand.  I have a couple of balls but have not knitted with it yet.  It feels good, despite having 15% nylon in it.  I like its gently heathered tones.  I definitely have socks in mind for this yarn.

John Q Earth Wear sock yarn
Sport

Touch Yarns (in most yarn stores around the country – stockist list here) does a possum blend (60% merino, 30% possum, 10% nylon).  At approx 420m per 100g, it’s more like a sport weight yarn.  It works well for socks as there is nylon in it for durability (without being obviously ‘nylon’).  I’ve only ever knitted the grey that you see in the picture below – this link shows you what’s available – there’s a nice range of colours in both solid and hand-dyed.  My yarn made a pair of fine fingerless gloves that look great and wear beautifully.  The only mystery to me is the price – the website price is reasonable.  The price I have seen it for in stores is not.  I will try to order some directly if I can, the next time I want to buy this yarn.

Touch Yarns possum

DK

Zealana Rimu.   128m/50g ball.  40% possum, 60% merino.  It is similar to other standard possum yarns.  It comes in a delightfully wide range of colours.  Highly recommended.

Zealana Rimu

In Auckland, there is a shop called Mohair Craft which stocks a possum merino cashmere blend.  This is it:Merino possum cashmere blend

Very light, very soft, a DK weight.  I designed my Quilted cowl in this yarn.  It’s one of the lighter possum-content yarns at 20% possum, 20% cashmere and 60% merino.  You can see its haze and softness against a pure wool cardigan.  It is less fluffy than most possum yarns, and the cashmere has added even more softness and lightness to the yarn.  It’s delightful!

Quilted

Travellers who drive through the North Island will inevitably end up on SH1.  This will take them through the Central Plateau, home to one of my favourite yarn meccas – The Wool Company, based on the side of the highway, in Utiku about 5 minutes drive from Taihape.

The Wool Co.Inside, you will a modern and comfortable store filled with a vast assortment of wool and possum merino garments.  But for me, the knitter, I am drawn like a moth to a flame towards the walls of yarn…

The Wool Company, Possum Merino

The Wool Company, Possum Merino

The Wool Company stocks 4 ply 100% merino, 8 ply 100% Corriedale wool and possum merino.   (A short note in case you are a regular reader and confused:  the pure wool used to be Perendale, but it seems there was a recent switch to Corriedale instead).

The possum merino yarn is my “go to” for everyday DK/light worsted knitting because it’s one of the more economical possum yarns out there, and it performs very well.  It’s the traditional blend of 30% possum, 70% merino.  It is also remarkably durable (unless you’re going to do something abusive to it like knit boot socks).  Here’s the Striped Cardigan (pattern by Debbie Bliss) that I knit last year for my niece using this possum merino yarn:

Striped Cardigan

As well as a vast assortment of mittens and hats.  I won’t show them all to you here.

cabled fingerless gloves

Self-designed fingerless gloves

And the Drape Front Sweater:Drape-front sweater

I have also seen a possum yarn from Shepherd in yarn stores.  I have to say that I do not recommend this yarn because it is very expensive for what it is.  It is only 15% possum, and yet priced like one of the higher content yarns.  I do not support the pricing model on this one.

If you are after a bulk amount of “naked” possum (ie natural colour), then this deal by Skeinz is worth looking at.  Again, this is a 15% possum content, and if I remember what I have seen of it, it is not as soft and snuggly as the higher content possum yarns that you have seen above.  However, if you want high stitch definition, and only just a small amount of possum presence, this might be the yarn for you.

Worsted

Zealana Heron and Kauri.  Ooooh, so soft.

Kauri – see the description under ‘Fingering’ for Kauri, only this is a 10ply/heavy worsted weight.  It’s extremely soft, quite fluffy and really lovely to work with.  86m/50g ball.

Kauri worstedThis is Kauri worsted knitted (Francis Revisited):

Kauri Francis revisited

Zealana Heron is a 2 ply spin that looks like a single spun.  Lovely heathered shades, very lofty yarn.  It’s 20% possum, 80% merino which means that despite its lofty spin, it still has the strength of wool to make it great for anything:  sweaters or jackets, hats, cowls, or mittens!  The best thing in my opinion is that because of the possum content, it is pill resistant!  I traditionally shy away from single-spun type wool because it rubs after a while, and creates unsightly pills that are very difficult to separate from the garment without harming the fabric.  This yarn does not do that.

Heron

I knitted my daughter the Garter-Stitch Boyfriend Cardi in Heron:

Heron knitted
Other things in Heron:

My Steampunk mittens.

Steampunk

The Evelyn cowl.

Evelyn cowl

Also in this category of worsted weight, I would add Supreme, despite its 8 ply label.

Supreme Possum Merino

Supreme has silk in it too (40% possum, 50% merino and 10% silk).  It has the same fluff as Kauri worsted.  The difference between the two is that Supreme is a lighter weight than Kauri – more like a true worsted.  Supreme is spun 4 ply, which has given the yarn more spring and bounce and lightness than Kauri, which is a 3 ply, and a slightly heavier yarn.

Supreme is stocked in a lot of yarn stores.  There is a stockist list on their website.

The Market Jacket in Supreme:

Market jacket done

Naturally NZ used to manufacture a worsted weight called Karamea.  It is no longer listed on their website, so I assume it is now discontinued?

Chunky

Zealana Tui.  This is a 12/14 ply weight.  It is like Heron in its spin – a two ply that looks like a single spun (so it’s nicely balanced), but Tui has also been designed to have a slightly handspun look with gently thick/thin yarn.  There is a lovely halo around this yarn, but it’s not what you would call fluffy.  I LOVE working with it.  111m per 100g ball.

Zealana Tui

Again, because of the possum content, you do not get nasty rubbed pills with this yarn.  The tiny fluffy balls that sometimes appear sit on top of the possum fibres in areas of heavy friction are very easily brushed off without any harm to the fabric.

You might remember the Clasica Coat I knitted a couple of years ago:

My Clasica Coat!

It still looks as gorgeous as the day I finished it.  I hope we get some decent winter weather this year so I can wear it!!

Supreme also makes a 12 ply weight – see their website for colours and detail.  It is  an amazing 100m/50g ball – great meterage!  I have not yet knitted with this yarn, but I would assume that it is just as lovely as the 8 ply that I am currently knitting.

The only other chunky possum yarn I know of is Wooli.   I have never yet seen it in stock, but as it’s still online, I assume that Nikki Gabriel must be planning to continue to make it.  I have seen blog posts from others that rave about this yarn.  One day I will get me some!!  If you are visiting Napier, her shop seems like a nice one to visit.

Ok, that’s about it folks!  I can’t promise this is an exhaustive list, but I do believe it captures most of what’s on offer.  I hope this has given you some information about what kinds of possum yarns you can find in New Zealand, and where.

If you have knitted with possum yarn, please do leave a comment and let us know what your experiences were like knitting with it, and where you got it – so that others can find it too!  Thank you.

Advertisements


16 Comments

Finding New Zealand knitting yarn in Wellington

(Updated Oct 2015)

It has been a while since I wrote about shopping for yarn in New Zealand!  So today, I thought I would write a specific post about where you can find New Zealand knitting yarn if you are visiting Wellington.

It’s interesting that each of the yarn stores in this city tends to have a different focus (interesting in that each store offers something slightly different, but also frustrating from a shopper’s point of view if you want to see as much as possible under one roof!)

This ‘tour’ starts in the centre of Wellington, and we gradually work our way outwards:

Knit World,  185 Willis Street, Wellington
Opening hours:  10am – 5pm, Monday to Friday
, 10am – 4pm Saturday, 11am – 2pm Sunday (Sunday hours from March – Sept only)
Tel:  +64 4 385 1918  E:  wellington@knitworld.co.nz

Knit World is one of New Zealand’s largest yarn store “chains”, with 10 stores nationwide.  It stocks a good  range of  quality New Zealand yarns, including Touch Yarns, Stansborough, Ashford and Naturally. The Wellington store recently moved to a street front store and is now a lot easier to find than previously.  

New Knit World shop front

This is a photo of the new store front location.  It is very easy to get to.

 

Nancy’s Embroidery  261 Thorndon Quay, Wellington, T:  +64 4 473 4047

As its name suggests, Nancy’s is a specialist embroidery and quilting store.  In 2015, the shop moved a couple of doors down from its old location and now has an exciting new open plan layout with a greater emphasis
on creative activities in the shop, including a casual drop in stitching and knitting area where you can sit and stitch!

They also stock an increasing range of luxury knitting yarn, including Stansborough’s Mithril, Annabelle’s, and their own New Zealand made label Strand, Zealana, Noro, MilliaMia and more.

Wellington Sewing Services, Shop 3, Kilbirnie Plaza, 22 Bay Rd, Kilbirnie
T:  +64 4 387 4505

I must tell you have that I have never been to this store.  However, from what I can see of their website, if you do find yourself in the Eastern part of Wellington city, this might be a useful place to bear in mind for yarn supplies.  The range of New Zealand yarn is not extensive, but they do have Ashford, Touch Yarns and Naturally, and possibly a bit more.  One of these days, I shall get over there to investigate in person!

There’s a lovely sandy beach down that way… with a hip cafe where you can sit outside on a nice day.

 Holland Road Yarn CompanUpstairs, Grand Arcade, Willis St, Wellington CBD.  
Opening hours:  10am – 5pm Tues – Fri, 10am – 4pm Sat
T: +64 4 499 6845

This store is owned by the creator of Knitsch yarns.  In addition to the Knitsch range of pretty, hand-dyed yarn, the store stocks an array of other exciting New Zealand yarns, including Zealana and Ashford, as well as some of the Skeinz yarns.  The store also stocks a range of international yarns that we haven’t been able to readily access before in Wellington.

Holland Road Yarn Co. Willis St

Zealana Kiwi and Naturally Waikiwi and 4 ply

Zealana Kiwi and Naturally Waikiwi and 4 ply

Stansborough, 68 Fitzherbert Street, Petone, Wellington

T:  +64 4 566 5591 

While you are in Petone, you should also drop in to visit Stansborough, home of some of the beautiful fabrics that have graced movies such as Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and many others.  Stansborough’s gallery which is only a five – ten minute walk from HRYC in Jackson St.  The gallery is stocked with stunning, pure Stansborough Grey wool blankets, throws, shawls and other items, all woven on turn-of-the-century looms in elegant weave patterns, and hand-finished to perfection.  They make beautiful quality, unique gifts to take home.  And of course, you can also find Stansborough’s gorgeous yarns!  You’ll also see the looms that the fantastic fabrics are woven on – fascinating!

Stansborough yarns

Knit World, 62 Queen’s Road, Lower Hutt, Wellington
Tel:  +64 4 566 4689 

This is Knit World’s Lower Hutt store.  It does not have the same variety of New Zealand yarns, but if you cannot go to the city store, this store is still a good one to visit.

Thimbles’n’Threads, 40 Park St, Upper Hutt, Wellington
Tel:  +64 4 526 6513

The furtherest “Wellington” store from the city centre, it’s about a 40 minute drive up State Highway 2 from Wellington city.  If you’re on your way to the Wairarapa (home of fabulous wines), this is a nice little diversion along the way.   It is divided evenly into well-displayed embroidery, quilting and knitting supplies.  It’s a large,  gleaming, comfortable shop, very clean and neat.  It smells especially nice.  The range of haberdashery (including beautiful buttons), quilting and embroidery threads is staggering.   The yarn range has been reduced a little over the years, but it is still substantial, and what they do have is good.  If you want to see (and squish) the entire Touch Yarns range, this is where you should come.  It’s the only place I have seen it all together – 100% merino in 4 and 8 ply, boucle, brushed mohair, possum yarn, sock yarn, and scarf kits.  They also stock Annabelle’s as well as some Naturally yarns (as well as other imported quality yarns).

Of course, it was rude not to buy anything when I went to visit, so a small souvenir had to come home with me…

I know… more sock yarn!  I did spend a long time lingering over the beautiful skeins of hand-dyed possum yarns, but they were just a bit more than my budget can afford at the moment.

So there you have it.  I have probably missed one or two of the smaller stores that stock a limited range of yarn, but this is the basic list.

Enjoy your visit here!


12 Comments

Shopping the “stash”

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope you are having a good start to 2012.

Feeling a little worse for wear today (I’m such a lightweight – one glass of wine, and it was all over me last night!), with the weather looking equally as grey, I decided to indulge in a little colour therapy to brighten my day.

What is this, you ask?

Well… these are some of the yarns that I have grand plans to knit into garments during 2012.  Actually, there is a specific timeframe to quite a few of them, so I am going to be a busy bee with the needles for the next couple of months!  My siblings and I are getting together for a rare family weekend over Easter, and I plan on having a few goodies to give out when we meet.  It’s my version of Christmas, given I didn’t see most of my family this holiday period.

Let’s have a closer look at some of these beauties shall we?

If you have read my blog for any period of time, you’ll know of my love for Zealana.  It’s New Zealand’s answer to Rowan, and I do so love Zealana yarns.  Tui (a chunky weight) is one of my absolute favourites:

I have been swinging between knitting it into the Melrose Peacoat or the Cowl-Neck Pullover from Zealana’s Seasonless pattern book:

I think I’ve finally settled on the cowl-neck pullover as I figure I will get more use out of it come winter.  I’m going to make the neck less bulky and lengthen the sleeves though.

Tui is a bulky yarn, spun out of 70% merino, 15% cashmere and 15% possum.  It’s super soft and gloriously cuddly.  I knitted the Clasica coat from this yarn, and every time I wear this coat, I feel like I’m wrapped in pure luxury.

It has been a while since I last wrote in depth about possum yarn, but if you are new to my blog, I invite you to read these posts about this amazing fiber.

One of the reasons that I have decided not to make a coat out of the Tui is that I have my eye on turning this:

into Gayle (swatch in the photo) or the Livingstone Cardi.  I’m in a bit of a quandary.  I love the intricately cabled Rowan design (who wouldn’t!) but I also like the syncopated cables of the Livingstone and how it has proper closures (better in winter) and a nicer sleeve line.  However, I don’t like the plain sleeve in the Livingstone, nor the length of the coat.  I suspect I’ll end up doing a mixture of both – lengthen the Livingstone so it’s as long as Gayle and put a cable in the sleeve.

The yarn is Little Wool Co.’s 100% wool 12 ply naturals in Perlite.  It’s New Zealand Corriedale, grown and machine spun on the premises by Anna Gratton.  I love this yarn.  It’s everything you expect wool to be – hard-wearing, toasty as an oven, cosy.  It just gets softer and cuddlier as time goes on.  Wearing this yarn, you truly understand the wicking properties of wool.  It’s an especially lovely yarn to wear when it’s damp (often in NZ!) because the wool absorbs the moisture from the air, and you do not feel sticky or chilly at all.  Even in a light drizzle, I feel warm and dry wearing a garment made from this yarn.  This particular yarn comes in three sizes – fingering,  DK and bulky.  I have both the bulky and the DK weight in the whole range of natural colours, as it is sooo good to knit with.  It’s particularly good for fair-isle type knitting as well.

Little Wool Co. also hand-dyes yarn, although it’s a shame Anna does not make these available for online sales:

This is fingering weight 100% wool, destined to be a shawl of some kind.  I’ve just realised it’s not in the ‘group’ photo… I think I had it off to the side to photograph all on its own.

This winter is going to be my eldest son’s first proper one in New Zealand.  He’s going to need something very warm to wear as our house is cold (think 4C/39F indoors).

This is more possum yarn.  It’s from The Wool Company this time, and it’s a DK/light worsted weight in 70% merino, 30% possum.  It’s out-of-this-world warm, and you won’t hear complaints of “itchy” from someone wearing this yarn.  This is the same yarn used in the Fleet sweater I recently showed you.  I think I shall try the Cobblestone Pullover as my son likes this pattern and he will look good in it.  The instructions look intimating… all those short rows!  Short rows and I have not got along so far, but perhaps this is the project to master this technique.  If at least 2,000 others can make this pattern look fantastic, so can I.

Last one for today, this is Naturally’s Aspire.  It’s a single spun mix of 70% merino, 30% alpaca.  They don’t do this colourway any more.  I have had it a while, intending to knit it into a Cedar Grain for one of my sisters, but never quite getting to it…  It’s a special birthday for her this year, so it shall be done!  The yarn is a dead ringer for Berroco’s Jasper, the yarn specified in the pattern.

More tomorrow!

In the meantime, here’s a quick WIP shot of the Cabled 3/4 sleeve sweater, which is coming along beautifully:


27 Comments

Jettisoned

In the spirit of not mincing words, yesterday was diabolical.

It started off well enough. I had a productive meeting with my boss, and came home to finish Francis Revisited. It’s a lovely pattern, and I’ll definitely be knitting one of these for me! But this particular one is for a friend.

Then bad news struck: the job was cancelled. The Canterbury earthquake has affected all sorts of activities in New Zealand, and my job was one of them. It was a bit depressing to lose the first job I’d been able to find in months, even though I fully support and understand the rationale behind the stoppage.

It wasn’t so much about the money, as I understand I will get paid for the job anyway. But it just felt soooo good and fulfilling to be back in the land of productivity, teamwork and a form of self-reliance.  Not to mention that it’s very healthy for one’s confidence and self-esteem levels.

No matter. The sweater got finished, and it was beautiful. I was so proud – it would fit my friend perfectly, and looked exactly how she wanted it. I gave it a quick soak in lukewarm water and put it in the machine for a short, gentle spin, like I always do with my finished projects.

When the cycle finished, I took the project out of the bag, and my blood ran cold. My beautiful Francis had felted.  The alpaca fibres in the yarn had somehow managed to fluff out of the wool and grab on to each other, felting it. In a short, nine minute spin. It was fine when it went into the machine.  I’d done this with other alpaca I’d knitted.  I could not understand how this could have happened.  I tugged and pulled at it in vain.  Hot tears sprung up. What a ‘great’ way to end the day. Patons Jet, I will never knit with you again.

Here it is, being dried anyway. Although I felt like cutting it up into tiny little pieces last night.

My mind was in turmoil. Failure and frustration at every turn, I needed to calm down. I grabbed a couple of balls of Noro Silk Garden that I had been saving to knit for a little bit of a luxury treat. After a few rows, my breathing slowed and my heart wasn’t quite as ‘bumpity bumpity’. The pure beauty of the yarn, the texture and colours were soothing to the soul.

In fact, I started to have a little fun with it – I had a treasured ball of Iro in my collection too, and decided that as the colours looked identical, I’d make a textural piece:

I think this is going to be a lovely cowl. Except for the slight variation in texture, you can’t actually see I’ve used two different Noro yarns in this.

But back to my problem: How was I going to explain this to my friend? She’d paid over $100 for the yarn. And now, it was completely, and utterly ruined. Not to mention all the work and care I’d put into knitting it. This friend is not a knitter. I wasn’t sure how she’d take the news that $100 had just flushed down the toilet. Nor might she understand how a yarn could just felt in a heartbeat like that (neither can I, for that matter).

I’d gone to great trouble to select the yarn for her.  It had to contain alpaca to match the qualities of the yarn used in the pattern so that the effect would be the same, and there isn’t a lot of worsted weight alpaca in New Zealand.  I had not knitted a garment in Jet before, but one does not think that a mass-market yarn like Patons would be a bad punt. Needless to say, I dreamed about felted garments all night.

This morning, I went to see my LYS owner and cried on her shoulder.  She has kindly offered to seek compensation from the manufacturer.  I hope the money can be refunded.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to knit her another Francis in a safe yarn and show her the felted failure as an explanation of why I switched yarns. I’ve picked Naturally’s Naturelle 100% pure New Zealand wool in Aran 10 ply.

The tension is the same, and I know this one will not felt when treated to a short spin. It’s a close-enough match to the colour of the original yarn. There’s no alpaca in the yarn, but the way I’m feeling, I don’t think I want to risk it. Hopefully she’ll like it. And if she doesn’t, I’ll just have to gift it to someone else I guess. She’s a size smaller than me, so I won’t be able to wear it. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it!

If I had a real choice of yarn, I’d love to use Zealana’s Kauri in worsted weight. I had the lucky opportunity of seeing some of the worsted-weight (10 ply) up close recently, and now I fantasize about knitting a Francis in it.  Available in a drool-worthy range of colours, it is snugly, drapey, light and warm – a knitter’s dream. It would be the perfect choice. But you can’t buy it in New Zealand because none of the yarn stores here stock that weight. Damn.


2 Comments

Catalyst

Catalyst:  a: a person or thing that causes a change.

Would you call the series of events I describe below a catalyst?

I’m knitting two projects simultaneously.  The Slanting Gretel Tee for my sister during the day:

I just love the colour of this yarn (The Little Wool Co., Forest, machine-washable, 100% wool, DK weight).  Look at the heathered tones in the green.  Sigh.  So lovely!

And when it gets too dark to see the stitches, this sweet pair of gloves in a luscious turquoise:

The gloves are in a yarn from Naturally called “Loyal”.  It’s also a DK-weight machine-washable 100% wool.  It knits like a dream, and because it’s machine-washable and therefore easy care, it’s perfect for the friend’s daughter who wants these gloves to wear while waiting around cold gyms during netball practice in winter.

Knitting these gloves also reminded me that my sister’s husband accidentally shrunk her Noro gloves in the wash last winter.  (This is a good example of why husbands should never be let loose near the washing machine!)  She feels the cold badly.  Perhaps this yarn would be a suitable replacement pair?  One that have less risk of shrinkage?

I wanted to choose a pretty colour.  But which colour?  I’ve been swatching for a girl’s dress in a variegated yarn, and the pretty little swatches sitting on my window-sill had me itching to do something multi-coloured in gloves.  The idea burbled at the back of my mind all morning.

Then, I happened to go into the garden and pick a pretty bunch of flowers for the living room:

Looking at their rich, gorgeous colours reminded me of something in my yarn collection… I went and had a dig.  Oh yes, look at this:

This is The Wool Co’s DK-weight (8 ply) Perendale in Multi Faberge.  Just the thing for a pair of colourful gloves!

The only problem is that this wool is not machine-washable.  So I’m going to have to get some other yarn for her gloves; oh dear, what a shame, these will have to be mine! 😉


4 Comments

The knitting list

Although it’s been fun, I’m over knitting gloves.  And hats.  What I want to do is knit things for Meeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!  And Family (of course).

Before this year, I think I’d only ever knit 10 projects in a year at most.  I don’t actually want to think about what I’ve knitted this year.  I didn’t bother recording all the hats on my project list on Ravelry.  Nor the gloves.  Nor some of the other things I knitted that I’m not overly happy with. 

My rough guess is that I’ve knitted about 60 items this year.  It might be more!  I certainly never thought I’d knit 30 hats and 18 pairs of gloves alone.  Or several children-sized jumpers that were not part of the Plan.  Or a number of knitted toys. 

So I’ve failed InSweMoDo (damn!) and I’ve failed 10 in 2010 (erk).  But the point of joining those groups was to help motivate and stimulate my knitting.  And that has certainly happened!  So to me, it wasn’t a failure not to achieve the goals of the group.

Now that we’re only weeks away from 2011, my busy knitting mind has turned to project plans for the new year.  Given I did not meet any Ravelry group goals of 2010, I wasn’t sure about blogging this list.  But it seems that some of my lovely knitter friends are actually interested to know (!), so here it is:

First, finish the UFOs unwillingly put aside late in the year:

  1. Cables and lace turtleneck in Knitsch’s gorgeous Silver Lining
  2. Lace shawl in Flagstaff Alpaca’s 4 ply 100% alpaca 
  3. Fun mohair blanket for Eric to cuddle into next winter.  This is a quick brainless modular project that’s fun to knit, where you pick up and knit each new colour from the edge of the last section.  It won’t matter if the blanket gets wrecked – it’s just to use up odds and ends of mohair that I have floating around the house that I feel should be knitted into something.
  4. Anniken, for Eric, from Verena Knitting’s Spring 2010 issue

Then start:

  1. Gayle, by Marie Wallin
  2. Patchwork Aran Jacket, by Debbie Bliss
  3. My sister’s Slanting Gretel Tee, by Petra Manis.  This really should be the priority project for 2011, because my poor sister’s current ‘tee’ is literally very moth-eaten (thank goodness I didn’t knit it, or I might be crying…) and must be replaced!  I’ll knit it in Little Wool Co’s machine washable 100% wool in Forest.  A lovely, heathered green that will look very nice on her.  Here’s my version in the same yarn, but in Rose, knitted earlier this year:
  4. My late birthday present to myself – the Olivier Pullover by Coralie Meslin, from the 2010 Weekend issue of Interweave Knits.  To satisfy my tweed “itch”, it will be in Naturally’s Aran Tweed. As you can see, I’ve already made sure it’s going to look OK in this yarn… 😉  (The pretty olive-green is actually much nicer than this photograph, but for some reason, the colour is being very camera-shy.)

I will be modifying the pattern to make it longer in both the body and sleeves.  It could be that the model was too long for the top she’s wearing and it might be fine on my more ‘normal’ body type.  I haven’t yet measured myself against the pattern’s schematics.On the subject of Naturally’s Aran Tweed – I shall just divert into a tiny rant here – it irks me that the recommended tension on the ball band is 20 stitches to 10cm.  This is plainly wrong.  The yarn is a true aran/worsted weight (18 stitches x 24 rows).  I got eye twitch seeing sample garments of this yarn in yarn stores knitted in the tighter tension – it makes the knitted fabric so stiff and unappealing.  In reality, when knitted on 5mm needles and to a tension of 18 sts x 24 rows, this yarn is soft, cuddly and just sooo gorgeous.  Rant over.

5.  My niece’s dress.  I first knitted my niece a dress when she was three.  The dress was so loved that she wore it until she was seven, and it was longer a dress, but a tunic top.  A new one is very overdue.  I still don’t know what yarn to use, nor am I completely set on a pattern, which is probably the reason for the hold-up.  It’s one thing to knit a dress for a little three-year-old, but another to knit one for a tall seven-year-old.  Care needs to be taken so it doesn’t end up too heavy, or too cumbersome.
6.  A pullover for my brother-in-law.  He’s a natural-colour loving man, so it will be in Little Wool Co’s pure wool naturals.
7.  Three vests (for Eric and my nieces) (most likely Touch Yarns merino for at least one of them).
8.  A winter pullover for Eric (still to decide on style and yarn, but he’s outgrown all his pullovers, so I must knit at least one.  I’m thinking possum at this stage).
9.  My self-designed cabled pullover (Zealana’s Kiwi in 4 ply).
10.  A pair of fair isle wrist gloves in The Wool Co’s raspberry merino.  In a post about this project idea, I first thought about doing a cardigan, but I’m being realistic now.  I don’t think it will get done.  All I want to do is the rose motif anyway, and I think I’ll be able to do something quite pretty with lovely long gloves.  I’m obsessing over the Tamara gloves by Erika Knight in the Rowan Mag. No.48 issue.  I see that this pattern is in Knitting magazine’s Christmas 2010 issue… better start stalking the newsstands!

11.  The Silk Cocoon Cardigan by Connie Chang ChinChio.  The pattern suggests an alpaca silk blend, which would sooo lush!  According to the yarn’s information, it’s a DK weight although the pattern specifies a tighter tension of 25 1/2 sts and 34 rows over 3.5mm needles in stocking stitch. I wonder if something from Flagstaff Alpacas would be an effective substitute…?

I know that I will dream up many more projects over the year.   There’s the matter of some very insistent yarn clamouring to be knitted that I haven’t chosen patterns for yet – that beautiful cherry-coloured yarn from Little Wool Co.., or that most tempting Jamieson & Smith Shetland yarn that I got a while ago that I keep looking at and wanting to knit…?  And then there’s the matter of that most delicious charcoal alpaca that I keep drooling over.  And what about that smooshy Rowan Cocoon that kb kindly sent?

Looking through this list, I realise I still haven’t come up with that one, long, cuddly pullover I keep thinking about.  This winter, I knitted shorter pullovers.  Then one day I put on a long cashmere number that I bought in Hong Kong when I lived there, and I suddenly realised I missed having the extra warmth sitting around my hips.   

My daughter has also surprisingly sent a few ‘pretty please’ requests to the Knitting Fairy, including an order for a cabled pullover and an ‘old man’ cardigan (as she calls it).  Given she’s off to the UK for uni next year, she’d better get them, or she might find herself rather cold!  Especially if next winter is as bad as what this year’s appears to be…

And finally, I’m getting quietly excited about the possibility of my 14-year-old son coming to live with us next year.  With a move from steamy Hong Kong to a chillier Wellington winter will come the need for a warm pullover or two surely…?

It’s rather exciting.  I’ve got so much planned for 2011, and it hasn’t even started yet!