Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life

Waiting for Rain


Waiting for Rain and Light Gale

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

Here are Light Gale and Waiting for Rain.

A bit about both:

Light Gale

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rest of the pattern was knit as instructed.

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

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Waiting for Rain

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

Anna Gratton silk/mohair/wool

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

I did not change anything about the pattern.

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

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

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

Have a happy and great weekend!



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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Of knits and stuff

Alpaca is one of those fibres that really comes into its own when used in the right pattern. I chose it to knit Paris Toujours.  The yarn is from Skeinz and is called Alpaca Sterling.  It is 98% alpaca, with 2% silver accent that gives the yarn just the twinkliest hint of bling.  I used 300gm in total. It is very nice yarn, and I really enjoyed using it.  Some alpaca yarns are treated with a chemical of some kind that helps it to stick together during spinning. This chemical can create a yarn that has a horrible drag on the needles, making it a total pain in the A to knit.  I was very relieved that Alpaca Sterling had none of that drag.

The shawl has turned out to be the loveliest thing with gorgeous softness, drape and warmth.  I can see I will use it a lot come winter!

You can see more of the sparkle in this WIP photo:

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The pattern is as usual, well written by Isabell Kraemer.  It is one of those projects that you can knit and not think about too much once the pattern is established and you figure out unusual things like the slipped stitch edging.  You can see it in the photo above – it makes for a lovely neat edge to the shawl.  I like it and will use it again in future!

IMG_1705 (800x600)I am very, very, nearly finished on Two Hearts.  Just a quarter of the second sleeve to go and the sewing up, so you will see it soon!  I am very excited, as sometimes it has felt like I will never get to the end of it!

The finishing of these two projects leaves me with thoughts on what to do next.  I am very much in the mood to finish up other outstanding WIPs that I have had sitting around for a while, especially this one:IMG_1720 (800x800)

It’s the Leighlinbridge Aran by Melissa Leapman that has been stuck for lack of concentration time for a few months.  I realise I made one of the twisted cables just slightly larger than the others, but too bad, it will be fine.  I can live with it.  I’m using The Wool Company’s Possum Merino in a colourway that is very similar to the new Sea Foam.  That was a mistake looking up the colourways because now that I have seen the new season’s colours, I Want Them All!!!! They are absolutely gorgeous!

The new project that I’d like to start is my retry of Audry’s Southern Skies.  After my failure with the original yarn I chose (it came out far too small), I decided to use a yarn with less spring, and asked Anna Gratton if she’d custom dye me a night sky using her 4 ply 100% wool.  This is what came back, called Midnight Sky:IMG_1715 (800x705)

I got it out of storage this week and decided that it was just far too beautiful not to knit into a shawl. I can see it will be very reflective of the Milky Way when taken on long time exposure.  I love it!!

I’m going to knit it with 4mm needles as I want it to be nice and big, and I know that my gauge is much tighter than Audry’s.  More on this shawl soon!

I’ve now got at least seven designs sitting on my list of things to write up.  Somehow, I am lacking the motivation.  I think the realisation that pattern designing is not a viable income generator for me has me in a bit of a writing funk.  I keep coming up with designs because I keep knitting things from my head and thinking “someone would like to knit this too, I bet”.  I am grateful that many of you like my designs, but I need to accept that designing is just a hobby and do it for the love of designing and sharing rather than anything else. Still, it is a good exercise to keep my brain exercised during this hiatus from work.

Perhaps too, because I lack mental stimulation in other areas at the moment, that my mind has turned to wanting to learn new things, to stretch and grow.  So there is a bit of a fascination with all things lace and colourwork and complex cables going on…

Finally, I’d like to link to this uplifting video I came across this week.  It’s about emotional first aid.  Guy Winch made a very good point about how we look after ourselves really well physically, but how often do we do the same to our minds? He touches on things like loneliness and fear of failure and rejection, not the catch phrase depression that seems to be all the rage to talk about these days.  It’s a really good listen, and I got a lot out of it, so I am sharing it with you.

Wishing you all a good week!


COZI by name, Cosy by nature

Last week, a little package of sock yarn delight arrived in the mail courtesy of Zealana.  It made me extremely happy.

Zealana Cozi

Peppermint colourway

My fellow knitters, I am excited to introduce COZI, Zealana’s first sock yarn!

Cozi has been anxiously anticipated by me for what seems like at least a year, ever since I heard a little whisper that there was going to be a Zealana sock yarn. The wait has been torturous!!  I am not sure the yarn lasted an hour after arriving in my house before it was doing its thing on my eager needles!

Cozi is every bit as lovely as I hoped it would be.  Zealana’s aim is to make amazing yarn, and they have done it again with Cozi, producing one of the most interesting sock yarns to enter the market this year! Let’s have a closer look to see why!

Cozi is made from 58% merino, 15% New Zealand brushtail possum down, 5% baby alpaca and 22% nylon (2% of that is elastic nylon). This creates a yarn that feels luxuriously special, is very soft and yet durable.

The yarn had me smiling all over from the moment I cast on.  It is a beautifully plump, cohesive strand, with the most surprising spring and just the right amount of ‘squish’ factor.  Knitting with it, you quickly develop a smooth rhythm and even tension as the yarn slides easily over the needles and sits nicely in hand.


The tight twist and finely balanced combination of fibres has created a smooth strand that holds together very well.  I am very good at splitting yarn whilst knitting, yet I experienced only one incident of a strand not making it onto the loop with its siblings – a record for me, and a testament to the good construction of Cozi.  There is also no shedding of fibre as you knit.

Zealana Cozi sock yarn

Currant colourway

All Zealana yarns are constructed thoughtfully, and Cozi is no exception.  If  you have knitted with a possum sock yarn before, you are likely to have found it lacks much spring.  Cozi is different.  It is delightfully springy!  Jimad Khan, Marketing Manager at Zealana, tells me that using Zealana’s unique finishing technique, the 4 ply yarn was semi-felted around an ultra-fine texturised nylon filament (elastic nylon). This elastic nylon amplifies the spring from the twist by adding extra recovery to the fabric.  Add to this the qualities of possum down (softness and warmth and reduction of pilling) merino wool (body, spring and all of wool’s wonderful properties), baby alpaca (more softness and warmth) and nylon (for strength), and you get a super cushiony fabric which is soft, warm, light, comfortable to wear and adorably hugable – all trademark qualities of Zealana yarns.

High twist

Close-up of the high twist in Cozi.

I was initially concerned that the high nylon content would impact the feel of the yarn.  I’m not a fan of yarns where you can feel that nylon squeak.   My fears were at once pacified when I got hold of the yarn.  None of the beautiful feel of natural wool, alpaca and possum has been compromised at all.

I was very interested to see that the merino wool used in this yarn has not been superwash treated.  This aspect has also contributed to the spring and body in Cozi because the merino wool has lost none of its super springy characteristics.  I also like the implied environmental benefits of not using strong chemicals to treat the wool.  Jimad also told me that a higher micron merino wool was used, which should make it a more robust yarn.  The benefit gained in fabric texture and overall sock durability as a result far outweighs the traditional expectation of machine washability.  Given the nylon content, it is not likely that this yarn will shrink easily.  I am a reasonably careless washer of my hand knits and wash my possum garments (none of which are technically machine washable) on the handwash cycle using cold water. They always come out without mishap.  The same will apply to garments in this yarn.

Another side benefit of this beautifully textured yarn is that there is a bit more surface tension happening in the knitting than in most sock yarns.  If you happen to accidentally drop a stitch, you will find it sits meekly where you left it, waiting for you to pick it up, as opposed to naughtily running a couple of rows down like a few other sock yarns I know…


Cozi has been made heavier (meaning, fatter) than most sock yarns.  At its recommended 28 sts/40 rows over 10cm/4 inches, (7 sts to 2.5cm/one inch) it sits on the outer edge of a typical sock yarn gauge.  Experienced socks knitters will recall that the standard sock gauge is usually closer to 32 sts/48 rows over 10cm/4 inches (8 sts to 2.5cm/one inch).  The heavier weight of the yarn has also influenced the meterage:  each 50g ball has only 170m (186y).  Many sock yarns are closer to 180m (200y) and above per 50g.  With 22% nylon and 15% possum down (both very light fibres) in the mix, you would expect more yardage in the ball – obviously, the extra weight has gone into a bulkier strand.

Because Cozi is a sock yarn on the heavier end of the spectrum, I strongly recommend experimenting with 2.5mm to 2.75mm needles when you first knit with this yarn to avoid extreme discomfort when knitting.  My own sock in Cozi is knitting at 32 sts over 10cm (8 sts to one inch) using 2.5mm needles, which I find is creating a very dense fabric and sits on the outer edge of my knitting comfort tolerance.  Even though the yarn itself may be comfortable to knit, if you create a fabric where the gauge is too tight, this can be very uncomfortable to knit as it becomes a struggle to manipulate the needles correctly.  I am surprised that despite using a larger needle than recommended, my gauge is still smaller than the indicated gauge, but this should mean that you will be able to get reasonably good results with most sock patterns that call for a yarn with average sock weight.  Zealana’s website recommendation for this yarn of 2.25 – 3.25mm is a good indicator of needle size range.


The possum fibre in this yarn does not make itself fully known until after you start knitting, and creates just the gentlest haze over the fabric surface.  Zealana has cleverly used possum down in this yarn, the same possum down as used in their very coveted AIR range.  It creates a yarn with a very fine halo that is barely noticeable yet feels wonderfully soft to brush your fingers over it.

You never know how much a possum yarn will bloom until you wash it though.  Here is a comparison between a sock that has been soaked in warm water and a not-yet-washed sock.

Washed and unwashed sock

In reality, there is not much visual difference at all, apart from the washed sock (on the right) looking more ‘finished’ than the unwashed sock.  However, wet blocking (ie. washing) has brought the possum down to the surface, and the gentlest soft-focus haze covers the knitting.  My stitches have also evened out nicely.

I decided to tempt fate and used warm water to soak this sock (the ball band recommends cold washing).  It has not affected size at all.  However, if you were to put your socks in the handwash cycle of a machine, I would recommend sticking to the cold wash recommendation.

Here’s a closer look at the washed sock:

Washed sock

And the yet-to-be washed sock:

Unwashed sock


Cozi produces superb stitch definition and would suit any pattern that uses gansey-style stitch patterning, knit/purl combinations or cables.  You could get a lace pattern with reasonable amounts of stockinette to work but I’d be cautious about using it for anything too intricate.

Cozi was so compulsive to knit that I finished one sock in a weekend.  Slipping it on, I discovered another little secret to the elasticated yarn:  it creates a sock that really hugs your foot!  It felt like a warm, gentle embrace and most definitely cosy!  I did not want to take it off!

Although designed specifically for socks, the yarn’s great stretch recovery means that it would make amazingly cosy gloves and hats as well, and I can even imagine stretchy baby garments in this yarn.


Sitting in Zealana’s cost-effective Artisan range, Cozi retails at NZ$14.50 a ball.  Given that the yarn contains 15% possum down, I’d say this is pretty good value.  It compares very favourably against other possum sock yarns in the market.


I think it is safe to assume that Cozi will take its place as one of the ‘must haves’ in the stash of any hard-core sock knitter.  Will I personally be knitting with this yarn again?  You bet!!  In fact, I was so anxious about using up the balls I received from Zealana, that I promptly ordered more online from Mynx!  I am yet to see this yarn listed at any of my local yarn stores, but I doubt that will be the case for much longer.

I can see much knitting of Cozi socks (and gloves, and hats) in my future!






Puck for fast knitting

In the same way as we sometimes crave fast food, this week I craved fast knitting.

PuckIt probably had something to do with the fact that all my other projects are slow knitting – fine yarn or complex stitches – that require concentration and/or time.  I could see no FO satisfaction coming my way for a couple of weeks. Nor was I always in the right state of alertness in the evenings to be able to cope with the concentration required.

The yarn for Puck has been glaring accusing at me from the knitting table for quite some time, so I dived in and started knitting.

It’s funny that I had all the recommended colours for Puck in my stash.  It was a good way to use up those odd balls of Zealana Rimu DK that I had been collecting.  I used Riverbank (just over one ball), and one ball each of Kiwicrush and Dark Napo (I think? – I have lost the ball band – it’s a navy blue).  It is such a lovely yarn.  This photo particularly captures the softness and drape of this New Zealand brushtail possum yarn.

Zealana yarn in Puck

As written, the pattern makes for a scarf-sized project.  You could add another couple of repeats to get something closer to a shawl size.  I only had enough yarn for the original size.  They are not a very good night shots, but you get the idea… (I was trying to work out how many different ways I could wear it.)



It’s a crescent-shaped scarf.  I found that my cast-on edge could have been a bit looser.  Next time, I will remember to follow the advice of other knitters who put in a YO after the second stitch (and then drop it on the return row) to add more give.  Because this pattern requires you to make a stitch after the second stitch, I’d probably put the YO in the wrong side row which would have the bonus effect of giving me more yarn room to make the stitch on the right side row.  Now that makes me want to go and knit another Puck just to prove my theory right!

It is warm and soft and a nice pop of colour for my boring black work wardrobe.  Thanks for the refreshing interlude, Puck!

Fortunately, I have now finished the lace section of Lilli Pilli and am starting the next 100 rows of garter stripes.  They’ll do for mindless knitting this week!

Lilli Pilli


Weekend pottering

The year is drawing rapidly to a close, and I for one, am not sad to see it go.  It has been a very long year. It has been very busy.  The tree isn’t even up yet!  That will hopefully be remedied today, along with the long grass in the back garden and Christmas presents that still need to be sorted.

We did make time to see “The Battle of the Five Armies” yesterday. We decided to see it at the Roxy.  I like the cinema, with its art deco theme and very comfortable chairs.  It seemed fitting to see the last Hobbit movie there.


The cinema has been refitted by Weta Workshop with cool Lord of the Rings features, including a life-size sculpture of Gandalf outside.

The boy with Gandalf

We were delighted to find some Hobbit-movie features inside as well.

At the Roxy

This is one of the dwarves’ costumes.  If I remember right, it was Ori’s.  As you can imagine, I spent quite a bit of time examining the knitted scarf and gloves…

The movie was great.  I decided to forgive Peter Jackson and team for including the orc sub-story that had not been in the original book.

Now then, to knitting!


There has not been a whole lot of knitting.  Usually at this time of year things are getting a bit quieter at work, and there is more time for knitting, but this year will be frantic right up to the bitter end.   My place of work breaks for the summer on 19 December (in New Zealand the vast majority of employers enforce a two – three week annual holiday at this time of year).  At least I will have a few days after that to focus on Christmas preparations, and do enjoyable things like knitting.

However, I am making reasonable progress on two sweaters (I’m preparing for next winter – no point in knitting when it’s cold and you need to be wearing it, not knitting it!) The first is the Mattingley Jumper.  If you haven’t already noticed the book it’s in, go and have a look.  I found several patterns in there that I should like to knit, and as I have a somewhat generous alpaca stash, this is a good opportunity to use it up!  I am knitting the Mattingley in a naturally coloured charcoal alpaca in 80% alpaca, 20% polwarth wool (no brand – it came from a small alpaca producer who does not make yarn any more).

The second sweater is the Leighlinbridge Aran, which you’ll remember from my last post.  I am very much enjoying knitting it in soft, snuggly possum yarn.  The only thing I need to remember to do is to pause and look at the cabling every now and again.  Sometimes I make a mistake, and it’s easier to fix when it’s not so far down the fabric.

I love those cables!!!  I had forgotten how physically demanding a heavily cabled garment can be to knit – it is good exercise for the arms.


The autumnal-looking lace item in the top photograph is a scarf I’m designing and snatching a row or two on whenever I have a quiet five minutes and I don’t feel like wrestling with cables or a sweater in my lap.  It’s actually my ‘restful knitting’ project at the moment!  It will look lovely when it is done.  It’s one of those projects where blocking is definitely an essential part of the finishing process!  I’m using Anna Gratton‘s hand-dyed, 4 ply 100% wool in her Desert colourway.  It reminds me of autumn leaves.

There are also several pairs of socks lurking on the needles in various stages of completion.  I’ll save those for another post.

And finally, a bit of eye candy to finish the weekend!

Happy-go-knitty Luxury - merino cashmere nylon

I was so excited when these two beauties arrived!  This is a new MCN yarn base from Happy-go-knitty,  a high-twist, merino, cashmere and nylon mix!  Love!!  The colourways above are fuschia blossom and mango calla.  Helene doesn’t seem to have made any listings for them yet, but I am sure if you pop her a line she will tell you what she has in stock behind the scenes.

Wishing you all a good week and a restful weekend!