Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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TGIF

Do you ever get to the end of the week, and it really does feel like “Thank God It’s Friday!”?  So happy to be home and starting the weekend!  It hasn’t been an awful week, just one of those where time has draaaged, and I’d rather be somewhere else and doing other things than office work!

So… to commence the weekend, I thought I’d tell you about this pretty little number I finished this week:

Annis

Annis is a pattern I have been drooling over ever since it was released on Knitty in 2010.  According to Ravelry, I’m something like the 6,504th person to knit this shawl!

It’s not blocked as aggressively as some, but I am just delighted I managed to knit one!  I think I could do something about having a looser cast one and bind off (despite using the recommended bind off and a long-tail cast on, the edges are still a bit tighter than I’d like), but otherwise I am very happy with it.

But oh dear, those naughty nupps did sent me around the loop!  It is extremely difficult to purl seven stitches together.  Especially when they were made by a YO, K1 (x 3) all into one stitch on the previous row.  There is a reason why nupp rhymes with loop!

After the first nupp row, I wondered whether I should just pull the needles out, wind up the yarn and look for something else to knit that wasn’t quite so aggravating. That’s when I concluded that nupps must have been invented by the devil, or some malevolent individual who enjoyed destroying people’s love of knitting!!

Instead, I took a deep breath, and visited the Internet where I came across a tutorial by Nancy Bush (who popularised nupps).  She was kind enough to put me out of my misery by explaining that you need to knit these very, very, loosely, as in baggy loose.   The second and third row of nupps went much better.

And now, it’s done!

Annis again

It’s actually a very fast knit.  I think it took me about eight hours of knitting total.  I knitted Annis in the divine Zealana Air, which I think must be one of the most beautiful yarns ever created.  This is the ‘mauve’ colourway.  So light, so soft, so warm, so drapey, so pretty…  The combination of brushtail possum down, cashmere and silk makes this the perfect shawl material.  I needed a bit less than two balls to knit this.

It feels like a cloud of lightness and warmth around your neck, it’s so very lovely. This won’t be the last thing I knit in Zealana Air!

The shawl is for my mother, as a thank you, for without her support I would still be laptop-less.  I hope she likes it.

Next up:  Golitha Falls Shawl.

Golitha Falls Shawl

Not having heard from any of you about wanting to knit this with me, I have zoomed ahead and am trying to finish it this weekend if I can (optimistic goal I think).  It’s a gift for a certain someone.

Wishing you a good start to the weekend!


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Inspiration: Sweater, skirt or cardigan?

It seems that once a week, usually on Tuesday, I suddenly get the urge to take a break from what I’m doing, sit on the floor in front my yarn collection (housed in a wall unit) and appreciate the wonders of colour and texture in it.  I rediscover a few skeins, sniff, stroke and squeeze them, and dream about what I can knit in them.  It’s very relaxing.

The only trouble is… it inspires me to want to knit something new!!

As I’ve just been released from the Candy Stripe sweater, and everything else I’m knitting requires concentration, this week I felt in need of something ‘brainless’ to knit.  Something I could sit and knit without thinking too much about what I was doing.

I have been looking at “New England Knits” for the past few nights.  This week, with the “brainless knit” criteria in mind, I decided to look for yarn to knit the Derry Raglan and Cowl.  It fit the bill:  pretty, easy to knit, but the interest factor of a lace panel in the sleeve.  I thought that it might look rather good in Zealana’s Heron – a soft, cloud-like yarn.

And then I thought it might look good in Naturally, Aran Tweed.

I like this pattern because the cowl neck is removable, which is quite nice when it’s a bit warm for the extra bulk around the neck.

Thumbing through the book some more, I saw the Chelsea Skirt (this is a free pattern on Ravelry!)  Hmm.  This is different.  I’ve been looking for a pattern to match that Jamieson & Smith double knitting yarn for some time.  It’s a crunchy yarn, and will wear like iron.  I bought it for a skirt, but just haven’t quite found the pattern yet.  Maybe this is the one?

There’s a fake petticoat lace panel at the hem which gives the skirt an extra feminine twist. That Touch Yarns laceweight in my collection is a perfect match to the J&S green…

At this point, my daughter walked into the room.  I was now comfortably hunched on the floor, engrossed in yarn and book.  “Mother, what are you doing?”  There was a faintly accusatory tone to her voice.  “Hmmm?  Oh.  I’m just looking at my yarn.  I need something quick and easy to knit to alternate with my other projects.”

“What’s wrong with my mittens?”

“Well… there’s all that cabling in it.  I just want a plain knitting thing…” gawd, here’s me sounding pathetically pleading to my own daughter!

“What about that boyfriend cardigan?  I’m only here for another month or so, and I’m going to need it when I go to England!”

You may remember this image from a previous post:

It’s the Garter-Stitch Boyfriend Cardi from Zealana’s Seasonless pattern book. Someone has been lusting after a boyfriend cardi for a while and when she saw this image in my post on the subject, she decided that was the one she wanted.  I put aside the yarns I had been examining and started to scan my collection for suitable 10ply (worsted).

The problem with knitting from one’s ‘stash’ is that I often find I don’t have quite enough yarn for a project I want to do.  Take for example, this Boyfriend Cardi.  It needs 1,290 metres of worsted-weight yarn to knit a medium size.  Did I have 1,290 metres of anything in worsted weight???  One or two yarns, but nothing that quite suited madam’s tastes.

Except one… the Zealana Heron I was fingering for the Derry Raglan. It’s soft, light, unscratchy, warm and cuddly.

And funnily enough, it does fit the “brainless knitting” bill – acres of garter stitch that allow me to use my hands without stretching my mental faculties too much.  It’s kind of nice. For a change.


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Inspiration: Day’s eye hat

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of beautiful cabled/twisted-stitch berets/hats that end in a star at the crown.  I think they’re stunning, and I’ve decided I want one.  Especially now we’re having a few cold days, and I’m rather bored of all my current hats.

I trawled Ravelry, Knitty and all the usual knitting sites, looking at this and then that.  But nothing was quite right.

Then it happened that I was reading Kristen Hanley Cardozo’s blog Knitting Kninja. Kristen is a very talented designer, and I really like her feminine designs.

I noticed that she had.knitted.a.hat.  It was a beautiful hat, and it was the hat I wanted.

It’s called Day’s Eye Hat, and Kristen has very generously made it a free pattern.  It’s done using twisted stitches, which means you don’t need a cable needle to knit it.  Very handy.  The original hat is knitted in Malabrigo worsted which we can now relatively easily obtain in this country.  It’s very soft, and very gorgeous.  The colours are so very pretty.  But as you will know if you’ve spent some time reading my blog, I like to support the budding New Zealand yarn industry.

What could I use instead?  Well… let’s see… what’s soft, and 10 ply (worsted), and has a nice squooshiness and drape to it that would be perfect in a slouchy hat?

This post should probably be called “So inspiring I had to knit it NOW!” because I decided I had to knit this one.  Now.

I felt a little sheepish starting something new when I already had so much on the go. My excuse was that this would be a nice little mental relief project – something simple to do against the designing and more complicated knitting I’m doing.  A little bit of a chocolate snack, should we say.

In my experience, chocolate tends to get consumed without one noticing.  One minute it’s there, and the next it’s gone.  Dissolved, evaporated, vanished!  Someone else (surely!) ate it while you weren’t looking!

And so it is, that for “some reason”, I find myself in need of another quick project to take with me for ‘on the go’ knitting.  Because this one got done in two days.  Doh.

One and a half balls of Zealana Heron in the a light blue denim, shade H01.  Size 5mm needles.

It’s blocking prettily while I wait impatiently to wear it.  More photos to follow!


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Evelyn

Creative jags always hit when I’m feeling a little low.  Perhaps it’s the intensity of feeling that makes a creatively inclined person need to express in some way, the emotion of the moment.  It always makes me feel better to create something beautiful and spontaneous. Do you find that?

I buried myself in some of my lovely Zealana Heron yesterday, and came up with this:

It’s an eyelet lace cowl that I’ve called Evelyn.  I rather like it.

Heron, a beautiful, softly spun yarn has a gorgeous halo, softness and drape.  It’s 80% New Zealand merino and 20% possum.  Very warm and cuddly.  Look at the contrast of natural halo from the possum against leaves:

The pattern is written, and a lovely friend has volunteered to test it before I send it out into the world.  Stay tuned!


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The Heron lands

It’s not every day that a New Zealand yarn gets launched, so this winter knitting season is an exciting one for yarn lovers!

This is Heron, Zealana’s latest addition to its Aspire range of soft-spun yarns:

Some months ago, I was lucky to receive a preview of this yarn and gave you a sneak look in this post.  Since then, I’ve been excitedly looking forward to its release.  Now that it has been released, I have been able to find out more about it!

Eight gorgeous, heathered shades of green, blue, reds, browns and charcoal.  The ones you see above are called Raisin and Charcoal.

This unique blend is soft spun but strong.  Composed of 80% New Zealand merino, 20% possum, Heron is very light and soft, and it will be ideal for warm, snuggly winter hats, mittens, scarves, cardigans, sweaters and vests.  At 100m (109yd) per 50g ball, this is good meterage for a worsted-weight yarn.

In my test, garment tension worked out at 18 sts x 24 rows over 5mm needles in stocking stitch.  After washing, the yarn blooms nicely and provides an engaging textural interest, but the halo is not as extreme as you get in Rimu or Kauri.  This is good for those who want a ‘smoother’ yarn but still have the softness and warmth of possum fibre.

It’s quite cruel.  Here I was, happily trucking along with the yarns that I have, and then a naughty little bird told me that Heron had arrived at Knit World!  (At the time of writing, it has not yet been loaded on their website).  Of course, I had to go and investigate.  And a few balls “accidentally” fell into my bag…

The plump balls of soft yarn sit in pride of place on my table, tempting me with their snugly gorgeousness… Aaargh!  I need to knit something with it now!!!  But no!  I MUST finish Stomp first!

There are three great things about Heron from my perspective:

  1. It’s a 10 ply, or worsted weight.  There aren’t many yarns in that weight category to choose from in New Zealand.
  2. It’s heathered!!!  I just love the visual interest of a softly heathered yarn.
  3. Its colours are easily translated into masculine knits, which is a something lacking in a lot of New Zealand yarn colour palettes.

The charcoal shade told me it wanted to be a neck warmer for a very nice Someone I’m getting to know. Hmm. Do I tempt fate???

Now, some of you are probably wondering why I gush about Zealana quite a lot on this blog.  Let me use the words of this lovely lady in Australia whom I recently sent some Zealana (not Heron though) in a swap:

“What delicious yummy luscious balls of fabulous softness!…My neighbour visited this afternoon for a crochet session and she literally drooled over those balls and coveted them badly!!

Just trying to decide if I should attempt a cable or go with those lovely understated diamonds like Alice did, her arm warmers were divine! I think I will have to stroke and fuss over these lovelys (sic) for a while first and really enjoy them.”

I had to laugh out loud when I read that.  See?  It’s not just me!


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Foraging

The weather is decidedly Autumn’ish now.  The season for foraging mushrooms and other goodies from the fields.  The season for walks in the cool mist, a time to reflect and enjoy the quietness of the air after the noisy, hot summer with its loud cacophony of cicadas and crickets.  The time to savour the season’s slow turn towards Winter.

Eric asked me to set up a play date with a friend today.  I called his mum, who told me they’d just been out in the fields and had picked a heap of mushrooms, which she was now frying up with bacon to serve over toast.  Yum!

Eric and I decided to see what we could find…

A little fantail and his family decided to follow us, swooping and twisting around us to feast on the insects thrown up by our feet as we walked.  My camera isn’t designed to capture the little birds as they flit quickly from one branch and tree to another, but I wish I could share it with you as I saw them!  These ones will have to suffice:

As I type this, I am looking out the window and the garden is alive with fantails and wax eyes, flitting around in the trees, picking little insects out of the branches.  Fantails have the cutest little squeaky call – like a little squeaky toy.  They’re like a little bird version of a bumble bee.  So cute!

I wish we’d been able to get a better pictures.  They move so quickly, you really need a super-fast shutter and a proper zoom lens to capture them properly.

I wore my yummy Francis.  Thank you for comments about the sleeve length.  Now it’s been blocked, I think they’re the right length too!

We found cress!

We gathered a few pine cones.  Time to think about cosy winter fires!

The cooler weather has made me think it’s time I started knitting Eric some new season gloves.  Time to start writing those glove patterns I’ve promised I’ll give you too.