Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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Winter

“I think you need to knit a sweater next.” said my friend, Alex. She is right, I suspect. The current shawl and sock streak has enabled me to knit at times when I just need to knit and not think, and also produce beautiful neckwear that goes well with my wardrobe. But maybe it is time. I recently got some beautiful Maniototo Wool in Aran Style. Maybe it is time it becomes a sweater.

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I have not blogged much recently. A lot of it has to do with being fully occupied on the work front, which means that all I have felt like doing when I got home was to knit to lessen the effects of a stressful day.  I’ve also been dealing with a personal issue that has taken a lot of emotional energy.  Things are a bit ‘low’ here, but such is life, disappointing things happen, and at some point in time I hope to be back to my former, more balanced self.

I’ve finished/started a few things since you last saw me here:

I’m of course most proud of the lovely Speckle Tonic, another gorgeous Lace Eater design.

I used two skeins of Circus Tonic Handmade’s single ply merino. The colourways I used are Grey Whistler and Cape Barren Goose. I used almost the entire 200g, and ran out of the grey on the very last row.  This caused a bit of a predicament, but I decided to experiment by using the lighter colour for the bind off, and I think it actually has worked really well.

My Find your Fade shawl has fared less well. I find the lace on this design too random looking for my liking. The shawl is currently back in balls while I work up the motivation to start again and pick a lace detail that I can live with.

And in the meantime, pretty stripey socks are a great form of meditational knitting!

Now to tell you about a new family member who has come to stay: You may remember that we used to have a little mini lop rabbit, Cole. He had to stay behind when we moved to this house, but the young man hankered after his beloved pet and has never stopped wanting wanting him back. Recently, an opportunity came up to perhaps have him back, but I learned at about the same time that he had passed away.  Naturally, this was a very upsetting thing to learn, and made the young man even sadder that he would never see his lovely rabbit again.

Cole had fathered a set of babies before he passed away, and the daughter rabbit in turn, had recently had babies of her own. The young man was determined that we obtain one of Cole’s descendants, and in the time-honoured tradition of kids who get their parents in a situation where there is not much you can do to back out of it, someone has come to live with us.

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This is Caramel. He is lively and fun and full of energy.

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We won’t be able to have him in the garden because he’ll dig holes and be damaging to the property. But he gets lots of supervised hoppy time in the house, and he is busy endearing himself to us with his very engaging ways.

I hope you are having a lovely weekend wherever you are. I’m looking forward to an afternoon tucked up in front of the fire, enjoying the therapeutic effect of playing with sticks and string.


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Autumn

Hello!  I hope this post finds you well and happy. It is a misty, wet day today, and we are expecting a bit of weather over the next few days. I hope it isn’t too bad – the storm caused quite a bit of damage in Australia, I understand.

My favourite season of the year approaches, and I am much looking forward to crisp, frosty mornings and toasty nights in front of a warm, crackling fire.

The awesome thing about having an established garden is discovering the hidden delights that reveal themselves with each passing season. Here are some of the new treasures that I have been enjoying.

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Hydrangeas are slowly deepening into autumnal shades.IMG_3306 (1024x575)IMG_3305 (1024x575)

These gorgeous flowers have popped up and gaily decorate the garden. Does anyone know what they are called?IMG_3288 (1024x575)

The wood pile has been replenished, in time for that first cold night.

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And now, on to this week’s news!

Just for you Steph, here’s the baking I did this week, an oaty caramel slice. 🙂

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I made it a bit more fancy by adding coconut to the base and also topped it with sliced almonds. It has gone down very well at home. I took some to work to share, as there is no way we can finish it all without it going stale. Everyone thought it was very nice. If there is interest, I can supply the recipe.

Knitting this week has been reasonably productive due to the fact I now take the train to work instead of driving. I have to say, I much prefer not being stuck in anxiety-inducing traffic jams every morning, and being able to get to work at an earlier hour to boot! It also is a way to make me leave the office by 6pm so that I get home in time to cook dinner and spend an hour with the boy before he goes to bed.

Last week, I finished the Spring Creek Shawl, another beauty of a pattern from The Lace Eater. Here it is, styled as I have worn it to work all week:

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I just love it! The border has a beaded lace design that Mary-Anne explains completely unintentionally looks like a dragonfly, but I think it actually fits the creek theme very well, given how dragonflies hover over streams. I used green beads, which I think gives the motif a more insect-like character.

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As usual with Mary-Anne’s patterns, she has provided a lot of knitting-interest-factor in this shawl, but none of the lace techniques are at all complicated.

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Some more details:

  • I used approx 180g of yarn (nearly one skein each of the two colours I chose – Tanis Fibre Art’s Dove colourway and Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock in Mink)
  • I skipped the first colour change to create a larger block of colour in the first section, and deliberately engineered the remaining colour changes so that the more detailed lace was knitted with the darker semi-solid, to show up the pattern.

The other thing I finished this week were my train knitting socks:

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These are to be a gift for a friend who has the same size feet as me. I used Stray Cat Socks self-striping yarn in the Denim & Dandelions colourway. It’s such a fun colour combination! There is a little bit of greedy piggy in me that says ‘I want them!’ but honestly, with a drawer literally bursting with handknit socks of my own, it is time I did some sharing with knit-worthy friends.

So what’s next?

I am currently working on another pair of socks. These are the Cranachan socks from Issue 96 of The Knitter.  The yarn is Whimzy Sokkusu O in Flower Power. Sokkusu O is definitely one of my favourite sock yarn bases. I like how springy it is, and how defined the stitches are. Did you know it is milled in Italy?  It’s a little bit of fancy, and I like that I am supporting a base made by a quality manufacturer.

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I have also been quite enchanted with the Find your Fade shawl creations that I have been seeing all over the internet, and have been playing with some ideas of my own.

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I still cannot decide which colour combination to use, but all the favourites have been bagged up together, and I think the best thing will just be to start with the colour I am convinced has to be part of the shawl, and just let the ‘fade’ happen as I knit.

Wishing you a wonderful start to your week.

Happy Knitting!


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Regenerate

Oh my goodness. I did not mean to disappear for so long. A new year has begun, and we are already into the second month! Time seems to be flying faster and faster! I hope this post finds you well, and that your year has begun well!

In Wellington, we are experiencing the wettest/coolest summer in 30 years (described in the news as the fewest “beach days”). I have to say I am personally enjoying it. I wish I could say it has led to more knitting (and blogging) time, but that hasn’t really eventuated due to other life happenings.

You may have noticed my Instagram feed showing off the finished Regenerate. Here it is again (some of these pics haven’t made it to Instagram):

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It is large and I love it! And as usual with Mary-Anne Mace‘s designs, I enjoyed every minute of knitting this beautiful design.

Because I chose to use fingering-weight yarn and not lace-weight, and work one more repeat of Chart 3 to make it a larger shawl, I ran out of the 200g ball that I originally used, and had to find more (what’s new!) Fortunately, I had more Anna Gratton merino/mohair in my stash that matched perfectly and it adds to the wonderful woodland feel of this botanically inspired shawl .img_3143-800x800img_3147-800x600

It has been wonderful to cuddle under the shawl on our cooler days. It is yet another favourite piece of knitwear.

Friends of mine were admiring my shawls the other day and asked if I sold my work. I replied that it takes many, many hours to knit a shawl, and if I were to recoup my time costs, the figure involved would be viewed as unaffordable by most people. We went on to have a brief discussion about slow fashion and how making your own clothes does mean you can create them to your own specifications and in the colour/fabric you like. My friend remarked that it meant I had a unique wardrobe as a result, followed by cute addition from her husband of “well, it’s only unique because you won’t sell your work!” It was one of those maker’s moments. Clearly, my friend is now on the “knitworthy” list!

Since finishing Regenerate, I have begun work on Supplejack. This is a fast and fun project, and I am nearly finished!

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As usual, I am doing my own thing in some way, and in this instance it means I have used four colours and not three, and put in colours in the order that pleased me.

I’m using Dark Harbour Yarn in Jetsam in Limey and Port in Pearls That Were His Eyes; Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label in Lotus, and Ruataniwha Dye Studio 100% Merino in Spruce.

I’ll be able to show you the finished project soon!

 


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Wait…

Oh gosh. Since when did it become December!? Christmas is just around the corner, and there is still so much to do!

Isn’t it funny how the end of a year provokes a whole range of thoughts around life, deadlines, accomplishments, wishes. In a way, it is a good thing because it gives us a sense of time. In another way, it can unintentionally create feelings of stress that shouldn’t be there. I do find it a great motivator to remember to ‘do’ something with my life.

In this post, I think it’s time I fronted up and explained a bit about my less-than-regular posts of late. Make a cup of tea and settle in… this is a bit of a wordy one!

Life has been quite distracted chez Kiwiyarns over the past couple of months. As of November, I began working in a permanent role, although I have been in a ‘caretaker’ role for that position for a few months now. It’s a senior job that is giving me a lot of satisfaction (and finally, some life certainty!) but is also draining my energy and ability to keep up the blog on a regular basis. I do apologise for this, as I value your interaction with me so much. My life over the past few years would not have been anywhere near as rich or as fulfilling had I not started this blog and pursued the path of knitting creativity. But none of that would have been nearly as good if it hadn’t been for the support and friendship I have received from you. I thank you for this from the bottom of my heart.

In my dream life, I would be a full-time knitting designer, fully immersed in the art of knitting and sharing that dream. However, from what I have seen and learned over the past few years, it takes a certain life circumstance for that to become a reality for most people.  Importantly, you need to have a financial backer (usually, one’s partner from one I can see!) to cover one’s life necessities while the business is growing into a going concern. This scenario is most likely never going to be mine, and I have to be realistic about ensuring some security around the rest of my life. Hence the pragmatic return to my former career.

This is by no means the end, and I do not regret for one moment, the risk I took to delve into knitting in a deeper way. Quite apart from the richness of human interaction (which is sadly lacking in a corporate environment), I also got to learn in an unfettered environment, I found freedom and the ability to create – independently of any rules or structure.  And I was able to live the life I wanted. It has been soul-restoring. This has been worth more to me than any money in the world. I also got to be closer to my son that I ever would have been otherwise, and that too, is worth more to me than any money in the world.

I am still knitting furiously in my free moments (another reason I am not writing as much) and would love to keep sharing bits of my life with you here. It just may not be as frequently as before. You’ll see I am reasonably good at keeping up on Instagram, mainly because it’s a very quick process to take a photo and say a few words – I would love to see you over on that forum too!

Now, what has happened with my knitting since I last wrote? There have been a few socks.

But as you can see, my usual output has been somewhat diminished.

I did make a start on the shawl I spoke about last time, but I am not in the mood for blue hands at the moment. The naturally dyed indigo based yarn I chose leaches blue on to your skin like nothing on earth, and perhaps in another head space I would be able to cope with it, but not right now. So today, I decided to frog it and use this instead:

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It is going to be beautiful. It’s Anna Gratton Wool/Silk/Mohair blend in Forest.

I am on a bit of a shawl bender to be honest. Once I have got my Christmas sock knitting out of the way, or maybe after I finish Regenerate (using Anna Gratton’s Forest colourway above), I already have the next shawl’s yarn all ready to go:
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I am fairly sure this will be Supplejack. I’m using Tanis Fibre Arts Blue Label in Lotus, Dark Harbour Yarn Port in Limey and Ruataniwha Dye Studio 100% merino in Spruce.

And maybe the one after that…

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This one is also Mary-Anne Mace‘s fault. That woman just cannot stop producing the most breathtakingly beautiful shawl patterns… this yarn is earmarked to be Spring Creek, or maybe the newest pattern that she has designed that is still in testing. There will be time to decide. The yarn is also Dark Harbour Yarn Port in the Fairwater colourway. The light grey is also Dark Harbour Yarn Port but I have lost the label and cannot remember what the colour was called.

That’s the great thing about knitting. So much creative potential, so much to knit!  Just a pity there is so little time…

Wishing you a good run-up into the Christmas season. What are your plans? I for one, am much looking forward to my firm’s annual three week break over the Christmas and into 2017. It will be good to relax, enjoy family and friends, and knit, knit, knit!

 


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Lacebark

Hello, and a Happy Weekend to you, in what has been another momentous week on the global stage.  I hope this post finds you well, and doing things that you love.

It is a rainy, rainy day today, perfect for staying home, curling up with knitting and doing not much else.

Thank you so much for your lovely, supportive comments about the finished cardigan I showed you last. I have to say, having now worn it for a couple of weeks, I am especially enamoured of the beautiful yarn – that cashmere blend is something else!

I managed to finish Lacebark this week!  I am so thrilled with how it turned out! As you can see by the million photographs I took…

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Mary-Anne Mace’s designs take my breath away every time.

So, what did I do for this shawl?

I used three different yarns, but all in the same high-twist merino base type, to give the shawl textural consistency.  I knew when I started it that I would not have enough of the main gradient yarn I used from Ozifarmer’s Market, so I scratched around in my stash and found a beautiful deeper purple colourway from another indie dyer (who sadly no longer makes pretty yarn), and a plain undyed yarn.

I worked the tip in white, and then added in the gradient, and when the gradient was done, I added in the deeper purple.

The pattern itself is interesting. You start out with very basic lace, and gradually move into more and more complex lace techniques as you progress. The final few charts with lace on every side were quite a brain workout, but the result is worth it, and I am sure the grey matter is working much better after that bit of exercise! I do like the progression of lace pattern –  it makes it quite interesting to wear.

In between lace knitting, I did plain vanilla sock knitting, and finished the cute colourway I got from Doespins a while ago, and started another pair (yarn from Happy-go-knitty). These are quite good to knit in the sleepy hours I resist going to bed in, helping me to wind down after a long day in the office, and getting in some ‘me’ time.img_3038-1024x575

It seems that not only must there always be a sock, but there must also always be a shawl on the needles. After much deliberation, I’ve picked the next project.

img_3040-1024x1024I can’t help myself – it’s another Lace Eater design, Regenerate, found in Knitty’s Spring/Summer 2014 patterns. I’m pairing it with Rosewood Wool’s natural dyed Romney wool.

Until next time, Happy Knitting!

 

 


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Blocking be good (ish)

I hope you have had a lovely week, and are enjoying your weekend!

The last post I wrote was about the mods I made to the cardigan I was about to finish.

I thought I would show you the finished object today, which gives a stark illustration of how yarn can be affected by washing/blocking.

The image on the left is the finished cardigan before it was blocked. The middle and right side images are of the cardigan after it was blocked. Can you see how much it has grown with blocking? I did not stretch it out – this is just the size it became after the yarn was wet. (Click on the images if you’d like to see a larger-sized version).

I anticipated that the yarn would grow more than a non-superwash yarn, as experience from handling yarn over the years told me the feel of the superwash said “I will grow when you block me.” Still, I was hoping it wouldn’t grow quite so much – the cardigan isn’t as cute as I wanted it to be, but I think the once the weather gets warmer, it will look nice with a skirt and t-shirt or over a dress. Apart from not using this yarn, I don’t think there was much else I could have done to prevent it getting bigger except to knit it very small. The risk then would have been just how small to knit it?  Swatches do not always tell the truth… All in all, it is a very lovely yarn, and I am still pleased I chose to use it.

Thank you very much for all your lovely comments in that post about whether I should fix the dye before wearing the cardigan. In the end, I decided to see how much dye was going to get released from washing, and it wasn’t much at all. I always wash red clothing separately to other colours because any red does have the propensity to bleed, so I will do the same with this cardigan, and there should be no issues in future!

The exact quality of blocking a garment and being able to open up a pattern and stretch out a fabric will be most welcome in the next project I am about to finish:img_2994-800x449

This is one of the very talented Mary-Anne Mace’s beautiful shawl designs, Lacebark. It seems I must always have a Lace Eater Design on my needles! Knitting her designs is like reading a good book – compulsive, and hard to put down! img_2995-800x449

I used an Ozifarmer’s Market gradient for this shawl (Ozimerino in Dusk), and I love it. The only thing was that I knew I would run out of yarn before I ran out of pattern, but decided that this was the yarn for the pattern!  I wanted the wider end to be darker, and knew that I might have issues finding a yarn to match the colour. I hoping that the yarn I found in my stash will work.  It seems to be working out so far, but I’ll know properly once I finish it and view the final blocked result.

Most of Lacebark is an easy knit, but the final few charts do have a few mind-stretching exercises with lace on both the right and wrong sides. Sometimes, my work-weary brain found this a little hard to cope with, and when that happened, I retreated to the comfort of plain vanilla socks.

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This is one of Doespins’ pretty variegated yarns that I got from her a while ago. It’s a high twist Blue Faced Leicester yarn in the Wild Rice colourway.

Happy knitting!  I hope to be back soon to show you the finished Lacebark, which I am much looking forward to wearing!