Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life

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A proper winter weekend

Hello, and a Happy Weekend to you!

I am enjoying my cosy knitting room with a roaring fire AND a heater going, while the hail and rain fall outside, and snow settles on the hills that I can see from my window.  I am feeling extremely happy. It is finally Winter!

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An added happiness is the sight of my new car sitting in the driveway, bought yesterday. It feels incredibly good to finally have a pair of wheels again! I decided to upgrade, and added some extra money of my own to the insurance payout so that I could afford a good car. I am very pleased to finally have something that I really, really like – my first ‘grown up’ car – a Honda Accord. The young boy is extremely impressed. I hope nothing horrid happens to this one (or us in it, for that matter)!

Train knitting certainly had its advantages. Note I speak of it in past tense already!

I finished one pair of socks and have already gone past the heel on a second pair. I appear to have needed cheerful socks to knit on the train – the colour scheme appears very similar in these photos, but you will see they are different when I show more!  The yarn for my second pair is from Meraki Studios. All going well, the second pair will become a pattern.

The cardigan I have been talking about knitting is now only minus one sleeve. I modified the pattern from a lace sleeve to a stockinette sleeve and thought I had better sew it in and see how it looked before proceeding with the second. I think it works. The cardigan will be finished by next weekend, and hopefully blocked as well. I am very much enjoying working with this luxury 4 ply lambswool.

Audry of Bear Ears was highly entertaining in her recent post about socks and her need to get her self-striping socks exactly the same. Her post also jogged my memory into recalling that it is nearly SOCKtober! This year I have been a bit more organised and am planning to release a number of sock patterns closer to the date. I have also agreed to participate in the Carolina Fiber Girls‘ SOCKtober initiative by offering my sock patterns at a significant discount between 15 September and 31 October. Listen in during the August podcasts to hear about all about their plans. I will also keep you informed here.

I hope you have a relaxing and enjoyable weekend wherever you are, and if you are in New Zealand, hopefully staying warm!

 


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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!

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Doings

Winter has finally arrived, and it is so nice to be able to wear cosy, warm things, and be wrapped up in all the knitted goodness!

It has been very wet for the past few weeks, and there have been floods in the garage causing damage to what is left of things that I have been trying to keep nice but cannot fit into my small house. It has left me strangely depressed and frustrated. More lessons learned in what structural features to look for when considering if water is an issue. For example, culverts cut into the concrete in front of the garage – what for except to drain away water? And of course, there is the matter of that hole in the roof which made itself known the first time it rained… The landlord is supposedly doing something about it.

This holiday weekend we have had gorgeous blue skies and crisp, cold days, and the mood is much improved by the sight of some sunshine!

I have discovered that I need a few new things in my wardrobe. The office is very warm, and not suitable for some of my heavier sweaters.

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Light Gale, a tunic-style sweater by Alicia Plummer should fill a gap and be versatile enough for both work and casual wear.  I am knitting it in The Wool Company’s Merino Possum in the Mink colourway.

Alicia has made a strange yardage recommendation though.  I really cannot see how I will need 1,400yd/1,280m for this project when it doesn’t have sleeves nor yardage-eating properties like cables. I have now knitted the entire back, and have only used 300+ metres. My generous estimate is that this project will require less than 900m/980yd to finish. We shall see. I am not worried if I need more yarn. I have chosen a sweater quantity of yarn out of my stash, and there is more than enough to finish it.

At the same time, I appear to have developed shawl fever, probably due to a desire for nice warm things around my shoulders!

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This is Waiting for Rain in one of Anna Gratton’s discontinued yarns, a mohair, wool, silk mix.

I am knitting it alongside the beautiful Liliaceous from Mary-Anne Mace.

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This one is going to be a gift. It is in Zealana Kiwi Laceweight in the Fern colourway.

To cheer up the dumps caused by the flooding issues, I couldn’t resist this exquisite beauty from Holland Road Yarn Company this week:

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It is, would you believe it, my very first gradient yarn purchase. My absolute weakness is shades of pink and green together… it’s the sort of colour that makes your heart leap in gladness.  Now to find a pretty lace shawl pattern to match it!

I paired the purchase with some Outlaw Yarns Bohemia Worsted which I think will make a lovely, snuggly, cabled cowl at some point. It is also a yarn I have not tried yet, and I am looking forward to seeing what it can do!

It is absolutely wonderful to think that there is one more day at home before the working week begins.  Hurrah for long weekends!

I hope you are enjoying your weekend, wherever you are.

Happy Knitting!

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From my stash to yours

 

Have you ever wondered what certain New Zealand yarns would be like to knit?

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How warm and soft is a possum yarn really?

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Compare a beautifully crafted pure New Zealand wool yarn from a boutique mill to one from a commercial mill?

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Investigate how a colourful New Zealand indie dyer’s yarn might work up into a shawl or socks?

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Now is a chance to find out!

It’s time to pay rent, and I need to make a withdrawal from my yarn bank.  This means I’m going to have to release some very treasured yarns that I have been collecting back into the market.  All my yarns are stored carefully in plastic to avoid the threat of moth attack, and out of direct sunshine. They are in mint condition, and certainly, if I wasn’t in this situation, would happily remain in my stash until I was ready to use them.

However, a girl must feed her family, and there are only so many yarns one can knit (and I do have a few). So it is time to be pragmatic and offer some to you for your enjoyment.

This is a one-time-only offer.  Once the yarn is gone, it is gone.  Have a look in on my Ravelry trade tab to see the yarns I am pulling for sale, and pm me if you are interested. I’m going to be asking for slightly under the current purchasing price plus postage.

Hopefully something interests you.  🙂

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Two Hearts

My Ravelry notes for this project remind me that I started Two Hearts on 2 June 2015.  That was quite a long time ago!  After knitting half the front, I put it aside because I had no energy for concentration on complex cables at the time. However, now that I do have energy to do things that require a bit more brain power, I felt it was a good time to finish it in time for next winter!

And so here it is, all finished and ready for its bath!

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I’m quite pleased with this pic because it captures the creaminess of the Romney wool and the softness that will develop slowly but surely as I wear this sweater during winter.

There were a few things about this project that were very interesting.  The first is that I learned how to fix a mis-crossed cable many rows down without having to drop all the stitches back to the row I made the mistake on.  This was an excellent thing to learn!  It doesn’t work for all mis-crossed cables, but for this one, the fix was perfect.  You cannot see where the mistake was now, and even I cannot tell or remember.  The article explaining how to do that is here (I used Method 2).

One major mod I made was to make the back in plain stocking stitch.  The cables create a dense, heavy fabric, and I felt that if I were to knit the back in the same cable pattern, I’d feel like I was wearing armour.  I’m glad I made that call.  It took a few tries (despite calculations before hand) to get the number of stitches right as I had to decrease the amount of stitches knitted in order to match the front (cabling really pulls in fabric width and requires more stitches than stocking stitch for the same amount of width).

During the finishing process, I found that the bind off on the tops of my sleeves was way too tight – I could stretch the sleeve fabric to the length of the armhole, but not the bound off edge!  I figured this would not make for a pretty armhole/sleeve join, so I remedied that by ripping back and reknitting a stretchy bind off.  This allowed the fabric to stretch out properly and fit the armhole like it was meant to.  I hadn’t thought about using this method before but I shall definitely keep it in mind for future!

I posted a quick pic of the difference on Instagram at the time.  You can see how there is a significant difference in width from the same number of stitches obtained from using a different bind off method (the new bind off the sleeve underneath).

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The only other ‘issue’ encountered when knitting this sweater was that I initially knitted the neck roll too long (pattern said between 5 – 10cm, so I took the medium road and knitted 8cm).  I discovered that an 8cm/3.25″ neck created quite a fat roll and did not look nice at all.  A quick rip out back to a 5cm length, and it looked a lot more balanced!

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I’m still not entirely sure I am happy with the neck.  I realise that I accidentally used 4.5mm needles on the neck instead of 4mm, and it has made the roll more floppy than the sleeve and edge of the sweater.  I think I may still rip it out and do that bit again.

Finally, on the yarn I used.  This is a ‘non-commercial’ yarn, in the sense that it was spun in a boutique mill and I suspect, the wool even came from a single farm as it was labelled Romney Lambswool.  Unfortunately, the people I bought it from are not in business at the moment (Blackhalls).  The wool was only minimally processed before spinning, which meant that it was very greasy.  It took five washes, two with very warm wool wash, to get the rinse water clear… but it has turned out gorgeous!  Free of the lanolin weighing it down, the finished garment is much lighter, with a beautiful bloom and liveliness!

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I don’t think I’m going to get too many issues with pilling on this yarn.

I had major issues getting satisfactory modelled photos of the sweater today.  It is a cooler day than we have been having this week, but still far too warm to wear a woolly, cabled sweater.  I gave up!

Had to share one last pic  of my wee companion helping me with the knitting as I finished this project.  He is so adorable.  🙂With Cole

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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.