Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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Affection

I love the change of seasons.  It’s when a host of lovely new patterns come out, inspiring one’s creativity, generating dreams of cuddly warm things to wear and very cool patterns to discover, new knitting techniques to learn, and squishy new yarns to discover!

Of course, it helps that in New Zealand, it’s still cool when the Northern Hemisphere Fall collections are released.  For a brief month or so I can pretend it’s still cold, and that the temperature is going down, not up.

I am itching to try some of the very gorgeous new things I’ve seen in the just-released Brooklyn Tweed BT 13.  It doesn’t help that I’ve just broken out in a rash of “cable-itis” and the desire to knit cables, cables and cables is running amok in my brain!

However, I also discovered on my recent month’s banishment from the interwebs that I have a stash of very nice patterns already sitting in the house.  Nothing like the shiny new thing to distract one from the things one already has…

Affection

This is Affection, a pattern by Sarah Hatton, from Rowan Mag No. 50.

As soon as I saw this pattern, I knew I wanted to knit it in Zealana Heron.  Rowan Yarn is super expensive and hard to find in New Zealand, so what better compliment to this beautiful pattern than to match it with some of New Zealand’s finest?  It has taken me so long to get to this for one reason or another.  I am pleased the project is finally on the needles!

Affection 2You see how the stitches are still quite defined?  Guess what will happen when I give this baby a bath?

My expectation is that I’m going to get some lovely blooming happening, so that the end result will be a beautiful haze over a pattern that still holds stitch definition.

Let’s see how it turns out!

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The flowery teapot

Yesterday, I mentioned I’d show you a teapot cosy that I knitted in half an hour.

This is the finished article.  I knitted the body in half an hour, but then it took me about two hours to get the decoration for it right!

At first, my intention was to knit a plain, non-embellished cosy.  But it looked really boring.

Then, I wanted to put beads on it.  But everything I tried just looked wrong and silly.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been spoiled by this tea cosy ever since I saw it.  Alice makes the most amazing tea cosies, and she wins my ‘tea cosy queen’ award if ever there was one.  Her tea cosies are as beautiful in person as they are in her photos.

Anyway, I started wondering how a flower might look on the cosy.  So I dug out some crochet flowers I had in a drawer, and played around with how they looked, and this is what I got.

Without really consciously trying, I have ended up making a pared-down version of Alice’s Spring Explosion Cosy.

What makes this cosy special however, is that it actually has some of Alice’s handwork on it!  The petal base to the fuchsia is a gift that Alice made me a while ago.  It was meant to be a brooch, but I am not a great accessory wearer, and it has undeservedly languished in my drawer ever since I received it.  As an embellishment on this cosy however, it will be much admired and appreciated. Thank you again Alice, both for the lovely gift and the inspiration.

The fuchsia is also not my handwork.  I chose it as my “entry ticket” for a guild event I attended.  You wore one to show you had paid to get in.  Aren’t they clever and generous ladies to spend time making beautiful crochet flowers as entry tokens!?  I’ve put it to good use on this cosy – better than stuffed into a drawer I think!

Now we come to why this is a super-fast knit:  The body of this cosy is knitted from 50g of Rowan Big Wool on 10mm needles.  (Any chunky yarn that will knit well on 10mm (US 15) needles is fine – the Big Wool all I had to hand at the time).  You only need to cast on 18 stitches for a 6 cup teapot.  Knit three rows of garter, then stocking stitch for 13cm (5 1/2″)  in total.  After that you decrease evenly over four rows (with alternate rows in between), ending with 3 stitches for the top, which you draw in to finish.  Make two pieces the same, and then sew together leaving holes for the arm and spout.   It almost knitted itself!

I was really surprised it was so quick to finish – my fastest knit ever I think!

Given I probably won’t be able to replicate this result as I’m not a happy crocheter, nor am I much into the art of making fiddly pretty things, I’m now getting all excited about what else I could do using hand-dyed chunky yarn, which could possibly look very nice without any decoration at all…?


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12 degrees

That’s the temperature in my house in Wellington today.  About 55F.  It’s meant to be summer, but we’re having a bit of a cold snap.  I’ve changed three times today, and finally settled on a merino base layer and a possum pullover.

Finally, a bit of warmth!

I should tell you a bit more about this jumper actually.  It’s Fleet, by Kim Hargreaves from A Treasury of Rowan Knits.

This pullover is a good example of what you can do with possum yarn.

I knitted Fleet in 2009.  It has seen three winters, and been worn constantly each season (and in between!)  And yet it remains pristine.  Not a hint of wear, not a pill.  It’s fantastic!

Actually, it seems I’m on a bit of a Rowan bender at the moment…

With the exception of the black number in the front (which I’ll tell you more about very soon), you’re looking at two more Rowan beauties.  The green is Benbecula, which is coming along nicely.  The red is the beginning of the pretty cabled 3/4 sleeve sweater I introduced to you in my last post.  I’m knitting it in Stansborough’s prototype yarn that I’ve been hoarding for a while.  I think I’ve finally found the project to do this beautiful yarn justice.

I’ll be back soon, with more possum happiness to share with you.

8 sleeps to go before Christmas!


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Wool is…

absolutely, my favourite fibre.

I admit to a small incident of “falling off the wagon”.

I am supposed to be working on my lovely Autumnal Cardigan…

it’s coming along beautifully.  Only an inch to go before I separate the body at the armholes.  I’m loving it.  I can already tell that I will wear this a lot.  More about it soon.

However, I didn’t have anything 100% wool on the needles for ‘instant gratification’ knitting.  My wrists were complaining (cotton knitting is hard on the wrists).  My patience was complaining (my Autumnal is knitted on 3.75mm needles (US5).  It’s not fast knitting).  And I’ve fallen in love…

It’s called Benbecula, from Rowan.  I’ve been drooling over it for over a week, especially as I also realised I had the perfect yarn for it sitting in my collection.  The fact that it’s a worsted weight (equals fast knitting) and it’s in wrist-friendly, 100% wool was more than enough to make me finally gave in today.

This is Naturally’s Aran Tweed. 100% wool.

I’m 100% happy.


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For the love of Noro

When I lived in Hong Kong, I got to see many examples of Japanese art. Ranging from the elegant use of very minimal, distilled elements through to the richly textured and coloured, it never failed to leave me in a state of fascinated wonder.

In the knitting world, Noro ranks right up there as a master example of the Japanese use of colour and texture.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Eisaku Noro is a genius.  I love, love, love, love his yarns.

Although I have a few Noro scarves and mitts, after I saw the Noro wardrobe of an acquaintance of mine, I have lusted after a Noro garment of my very own!

The other day, I was perusing Ravelry and came across a very cute vest.  Sock yarn. Hmm.  Stripes.  Hmmm.  What about that  mouth-watering Noro Silk Garden Sock I have sitting in my wool collection begging to be used????

Bonus:  I might have enough to actually make a garment out of this!!

I was slightly worried though – the pattern called for 800m of yarn, and I had 600m of this particular Noro colourway (S245).  What to do?  Studying the various colours in the ball carefully, I realised that one of them perfectly matched some Rowan Fine Tweed I recently acquired in a swap.  Could I add a little Rowan into the mix to eke the yarn out?  The yarn weights and textures were reasonably similar.  I also noticed I had another Noro colourway that contained complementary colours that I could selectively use…

There are three yarns in this vest.  Two Noro colourways and some Rowan Fine Tweed.

I needn’t have worried though.  I’ve found that this vest can be knitted from two balls of Noro for a medium-sized person.  But better to feel safe than have that constant niggle at the back of the mind of “no more yarn!” while knitting.  Don’t you just hate that when it happens?

I think it’s turned out okay:

It looks good with a t-shirt too:

The back:

The pattern is okay, but if I had been a bit more clever about it, I would have made a number of adjustments to it, including the finishing around the armholes and neck.  If you’d like to read my project notes, I have Raveled it here.

What do I love so much about Noro?  For one, the colour of course.  Stunning colours that are harmonious blends or unexpected juxtapositions that surprise and delight – often all in one ball.  The photographs of this project display the seamless way the colours blend from one colour in the ball through to another by gentle blending during the carding process, but yet in other instances, you have distinct changes of colour.  I love the long repeats of colour too, so that you get a self-striping project, rather than the melange of colour that often occurs in multi-coloured yarn once it’s knitted.  There’s a purity to it that appeals to me.

The other facet is texture:  I adore the organic texture, the effect of the blend of the various fibres in the yarn.  The thick/thin spin makes it interesting to knit and produces a garment with textural interest.

For three:  it’s mostly natural fibre.

This all adds up to a superb artisan yarn.  Still primarily hand-crafted, Noro yarn is a stunning example of Japanese master craftsmanship.

It’s little wonder that Noro is a fixture in the Top 10 of stashed yarns on Ravelry.

I’ll leave you with more examples of the gorgeousness that is Noro:

Noro.  I love it.


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Inspiration, or a fickle brain?

You know how you’re trucking along on a project, and all of a sudden, out of the blue, a wee voice pipes up inside your head that says “I’m bored… can we knit something else now?”

Most often, this happens when I’m knitting something that isn’t really firing my ‘love it’ box. It may be that I’ve simply been looking at my lovely wool collection for too long, and a little itch to start something new begins…

Or, I’ve seen something that has fired the imagination:

I am not a fan of having unfinished WIPs sitting around the house.  So I steel my self-will, and continue knitting, telling myself that ‘something new’ needs to wait. Sometimes though, the itch refuses to go away and becomes a raging rash of “find something else to knit NOW or else!!!!!”

When this happens, I do one of two things:

1.  I go to the screaming stash (if that’s what it is) and spend a few minutes cuddling and squishing yarn.  I select something that particularly speaks to me, and I put it on my ‘next on the list’ pile.  That soothes the itch for a bit.

2.  I go to Ravelry, and spend a few minutes drooling over patterns.  I might favourite or queue a few patterns for later, and that often helps too.

Then I go back to finish the project I’m working on.

With the current case of “Knit-me-Now-itis”, this strategy wasn’t working.  I have yarn queued.  Lots of it.  And for some unknown reason, nothing on Ravelry really appealed.

Then, this morning, I remembered Rowan.  It has probably got something to do with a box of rather beautiful Rowan Fine Tweed sitting on my bedside table…

This came in a swap with the lovely Colette and I already know what I’ll do with it.

I got rather distracted in Rowan’s free pattern section…

Droolworthy candidate no.1:  Bailey

Droolworthy candidate no.2:  Camelford

Both of these patterns are designed in Rowan’s Colourscape Chunky.  However, this yarn is sooooo expensive here that it’s just not possible to afford $200 for 5 skeins of Colourscape from the local yarn store.  I wish I could use Rowan, as I think it is beautiful yarn, and in the UK, it looks reasonably priced.  However, in this instance, I shall have to improvise.

Zealana’s Tui is the same weight as Colourscape [cheeky giggle].  I think I might just see something knitted in a bit of Tui coming up…

As for the other, I think I will use some of Anna Gratton’s Little Wool Company 12 ply naturals. Delicious, naturally coloured New Zealand Corriedale yarn.  It has a crisp texture and will give good stitch definition.

Given what I’ve come up with, I’m assuming that the bit of inspiration from this weekend has worked its naughty influence on my subconscious knitting choices…

The itch has finally been soothed for a bit, but when am I going to knit these beauties?  I have one more shop sample to knit, plus a number of smaller projects I have promised others.  Not to mention the designs I’m currently working on.  If I’m lucky, I’ll get to start them in a week or so.

It makes me wonder though.  When I get inspired to knit something new, am I being truly inspired?  Or is my brain doing a fickle number on me?  What do you do when you suddenly become inspired to knit something new?