Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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Caretta Caretta and the shawl planning

A happy weekend to you!

This weekend hasn’t been the most wonderful. I am stressing about work and how much I still have to do, but sometimes we get so overwhelmed that the only thing to do is walk away and bury oneself in something else in order to reset the brain so it can function normally again. My colleague referred to it as having too many tabs open in the brain, and I think she is absolutely right! So I have shut all the tabs, and decided instead to open a fun, de-stress app called “knitting”.

A sock was finished this week. I am absolutely in love with this colourway. I think the Caretta Caretta pattern in Socktopus has teamed the Sokkusu O yarn perfectly. I love the vintage effect.

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It was meant to have beads, but I don’t like the idea of beads pressing into my feet, so omitted them. I think it still looks great without them. I also made some accidental mods – instead of 3 x 1 ribbing in the cuff, I made it 2 x 2.  By the time I realised my mistake, I decided that it was fine like that. I also went into automatic toe mode and made the toes stockinette as opposed to 3 x 1 rib, but again, I think they look fine as is so did not rip out and redo.

The other project that has been occupying my needles is the Braidsmaid.

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I am fascinated with the shaping aspects of this shawl. I will tell you more about it when it is finished – likely to be next weekend.

And then there was more shawl planning… so much fun! (If you click on the images you will be able to see larger versions if you are interested).

I am wanting to knit the 3 colour cashmere shawl and have been thinking a lot about colour options. Whatever I wear needs to fit in with my mostly neutral (corporate) wardrobe. I already have quite a few shawls featuring red, so went for something different. These two are in the lead at the moment:

These lovelies are (from left),  House Crow (Revelry Sock) by CircusTonichandmade; Stone (Purple Label) by Tanis Fiber Arts, and Mink (Tough Love Sock) by Sweet Georgia. The second colour option is Barn Owl (the white speckle) (Jubilee Sock) by CircusTonicHandmade; a yarn whose label I have lost, and Stone by Tanis Fiber Arts.

Decisions, decisions!!  One combination picks up the browns in all the yarns and the other combination picks up the purples. I suspect I will end up with the purples, as they work better with my colouring.  Plus I feel more excited about the finished product when I see those skeins together!

And finally, the next sock I have started:

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This is V Junkie, also from Socktopus. I’m using an older Knitsch colourway, Mandli. It’s a very fun knit.

I had better go now and sort myself for the launch of Socktober later in the week – watch out for two sock pattern releases from me on 15 September, and don’t forget the code SOCKtober2016 to get 40% off all sock patterns in my store from 15 September – 31 October 2016. Don’t forget to check out the Carolina Fiber Girls or their Ravelry Group for details of other exciting Socktober specials!

Have a wonderful start to the week, and Happy Knitting!

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The small things

Hello! I hope you are enjoying a relaxing weekend.

It has been an extremely busy couple of weeks for me and the busy-ness is not likely to stop for a while.   I have taken on a new position at work with much more responsibility (it is a temporary role, which I am not ungrateful for). Not much knitting time was to be had, so I am focusing on small things at the moment. I find the ability to finish something does help with lessening stress levels and keep the happiness in knitting.

The first was the Jackyll and Hide balaclava for the young man. He is very pleased with it. The pattern is very clever how it can fold up to become an ordinary hat. This was knitted in lovely aran style Maniototo Wool in the Matai colourway. It is a beautiful, warm orange. He has been wearing it constantly since I finished it (hat-style, in case you are wondering!)

The second lot of things I finished were a couple of pairs of tiny fingerless gloves for my nieces (3 – 5 yrs).  I discovered that fingerless gloves for kids are a great way to use up sock yarn scraps! The pattern I used is my Adorable Kids Fingerless Mitts pattern. I have fiddled with the pattern some more, and have updated it – available at the link if you’d like it.

This weekend, I decided to put my head down and finish that new sock pattern I have been working on for a few weeks.

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These are the Train Knitting socks. I started them when I was having to take the train to work. I was getting bored with knitting plain vanilla socks, but needed something that I could still knit without having to refer to a pattern much. I think the little windows in the socks are much like the flashing windows of a train as it travels along the tracks.

I will launch this as a new pattern in September to kick-start my contribution to the Socktober festivities happening over on the Carolina Fiber Girls’ podcast (the short answer is that I’m going to have a 40% discount on all my sock patterns from 15 September – 31 October). The yarn is Meraki Studio‘s sock base in a very pretty colourway called Tip Toeing Fairies.

I have used deep stash for this week’s new projects.

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The grey alpaca/polwarth blend is from the South Island by a producer who no longer makes their own yarn. It is on its way to becoming a Braidsmaid.

The socks are two part-balls that I decided to combine into a sock with contrasting heels, toe and cuff. I haven’t actually knit a pair of socks like this before, but am loving how the two colourways are working together. The yarn is the work of the lovely James, who sadly no longer dyes.  I do so miss it.

Some of the prettiness that is showing up in my garden – Spring is not far away, although it feels like winter has only just started. I am looking forward to seeing the apple, plum and peach trees burst into blossom.

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Happy Knitting!

 

 


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Discoveries and meet-ups

Before I start today’s post, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your caring and concerned comments on my car crash. I may not be able to respond to each and every one of you individually, but your thoughts and kind wishes mean a great deal. Thank you, so much.

This week has been a little hard. Bruised ribs and whiplash don’t go away very quickly, but I am on the mend, and the young boy appears to be completely recovered, which is a massive relief! The insurance company is still to pay out as they are waiting on the police report before doing so. Hopefully that will not be much longer. Being without a car is a major hindrance!

So let’s move on to happier things and talk about knitting!

I finished the edging on Southern Skies, and here is the finished shawl. I have to say, I love it very much. The swirls of colour through it remind me of the southern lights, and as someone said on my Instagram account, it also looks a bit like a galaxy! Thanks again, Audry, for a beautiful pattern, and thanks to Anna Gratton for such a lovely night sky colourway.

The yarn is Anna Gratton’s 4 ply 100% wool, and I made only one change to the pattern – instead of a garter border, I knitted on a Shetland lace Brand Iron edging. It has made the shawl larger and also a bit more feminine, which I like.

Having a lot of time to knit on the train on the way to work has meant that I have been giving socks a bit of attention this week. This is Dark Harbour Yarn‘s lovely Jetsam sock in Narwhal Hits the Disco. I see she has a very similar Rare and Exotic Beast in her shop at the moment which would be almost identical in my opinion. I am using my Bark sock pattern to liven the knitting up a bit.

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Before I start on yet another new shawl, I have decided I need to finish another long time WIP.

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This is my Ulva Lactuca shawl in laceweight, using Zealana Kiwi. At this weight, it has become more a summer shawl/scarf style, which will be nice to use when the weather warms up again.

Being a blogger and reader of blogs has given me lovely opportunities to meet some wonderful people.

Recently, I had the great pleasure of having coffee with Keiry Belton, co-author of Stitching up Paris – The Insider’s Guide to Parisian Knitting, Sewing, Notions and Needlecraft Stores.

If you have not heard of her yet, Keiry has just returned from a period living in Paris as an expatriate. I enjoyed following the blog she wrote about her adventures while there.  While she was there, she also co-wrote Stitching up Paris with Barbara Cattoni, another expatriate living in Paris, who runs personal walking tours of Parisian stitching stores at http://www.stitchingupparis.com.

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Stitching up Paris is the ideal companion for any needlecraft fan. The contents are organised very neatly into both genre (knitting/fabrics/embroidery/haberdashery/vintage and shabby chic) and by also by area. This makes it easy to find the information you are after.

Well written, and filled with beautiful photography, I  especially loved reading the little stories about the stores/areas that accompanied the reviews.  If I ever get a chance to visit Paris, this book will be coming with me!

The book is available to purchase here and if you live in New Zealand, I understand that the book can also be purchased from Minerva.

I leave you today with a new indie yarnie discovery:

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This is Artist’s Palette Yarn, a UK indie dyer. With the exchange rate happily a bit friendlier at the moment, I took the opportunity to indulge in some pretty colourways. Her palette is very much to my taste – one of those sites where you could happily tick ‘one of everything please!’

Hope you are having a marvellous weekend!

 

 


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A yarny update

Hello!  Happy Weekend!

Well, it has been an interesting few weeks on the knitting front, and I thought it is about time we talked about happy knitting news!  In short order, the highlights have been as follows:

  • I started my contract (hooray! Not knitting, but I thought I’d mention it.  I’m really enjoying being there too).
  • I finally found a heel for Mary Mary that I like and importantly, that other knitters will like (currently feverishly knitting the 3rd sample of Mary Mary that includes the new heel).
  • Very excitingly, I received some Yarn!
  • Feedspot nominated Kiwiyarns Knits among the Top 100 Knitting Blogs for Knitters and Crocheters!  I was a bit leery when I received the news, thinking it was spam, but having checked it out, and seeing what good company I keep, I’m really happy about this nomination!  This is very much thanks to all of you who read my blog.  Thank you very much for reading!
  • Designing is finally happening again, to great happiness.

So let’s get into details.  First up, The Yarn!

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This is a glorious bundle of squish – New Zealand made yarns compliments of Naturally Yarns, sent to me for review. Lucky me!

I haven’t yet had a chance to get into them properly, but I hope to have time to do that in the next couple of weeks. Here’s a very quick look at them for the time being:

Otira (40% NZ Merino/ 35% Tencel/ 25% Possum)

This new yarn was released in February.  Having read about the unenvironmentally-friendly manufacturing methods for bamboo and rayon fibre, I was concerned about the environmental friendliness of the Tencel content. However, this article from Ecomall has assured my fears that of any manmade fibre, Tencel is probably the best choice.

Tencel is the brand name for lyocell produced by Lenzing AG.  Lyocell is a fibre made from wood.  It is important to note that it’s the brand Tencel, manufactured by Lenzing AG that has been given this approval from environmental agencies, and not all lyocell.

Lenzing AG, which owns the Tencel brand, undertakes extremely careful manufacturing methods to prevent harmful chemicals from entering the environment in the manufacture of Tencel.  In addition, the wood it sources all comes from sustainable sources. Here’s another interesting article I read from OrganicClothing.blogs.com if you would like to know more about Tencel and production processes surrounding this brand.

Amuri (75% Pure NZ Merino, 25% Possum)

I have not yet knitted with this possum blend yarn.  It is the most halo’y of all the possum blends I have come across and has an interesting single ply construction that looks like the wool was softly felted.  It will be interesting to see how it performs!

Waikiwi (55% NZ Merino, 20% Nylon, 15% Alpaca, 10% Possum)

Billed as a sock yarn, I haven’t yet knit a sock out of this yarn, so it will be interesting to do some intensive swatching!

Harmony 8 ply (100% New Zealand merino wool)

Again, a very interesting single-ply, felted construction.  This yarn is available in 8 ply and 10 ply natural shades (not completely naturally coloured, as the natural wool is colour adjusted with dye to keep it consistent from season to season), in colour, and in tweed.  It’s incredibly squishy and I have to admit, is the first of the yarns to be put on the swift to be balled ready for knitting!

Most of the colours shown above are from their range of new colours out this season.

Also, you will soon get a chance to win this beautiful skein on Circus Tonic Handmade Revelry Sock:

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Hannah and I have been talking bird colours.  I asked if she would be interested in doing an interview on Kiwiyarns Knits, and she very kindly said yes!  She is one of the most amazingly generous people I have met – she decided to also include a skein of a custom-dyed sock yarn as part of our interview.  This colourway is called Silvereye (also called White-Eye or Wax-Eye) – inspired by the adorable little bird that can be found in both Australia and New Zealand.  The image of a Silvereye below is taken from Ordinary Goodness’s delightful blog which features a lot of New Zealand birdlife.  I know the Lynley wouldn’t mind if I used her photo.  Thanks Lynley!

Watch out for our interview soon.  I’ll also be giving away a free copy of my new sock pattern, Mary Mary.

I have also been working with Mary at Maniototo Wool to design a child’s poncho.  Here’s a sneaky peek:

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I’m really glad that I got a chance to work with Mary on this design.  I’ll show it in full detail when the pattern is complete.  The DK yarn in particular is delightful to work with and I’m very excited to use more of it in future designs!

As you can see, there is quite a backlog of things to catch up on, so now that life is “somewhat” on a more even keel, there should be some interesting reads to be had in the near future!


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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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A knitter’s Christmas

Christmas 2015

This post is a bit late due to various distractions and interruptions!  Christmas has been lovely.  My sister and family visited, and there was a lot of eating and talking and enjoying the company of family whom I had not seen in over a year.

In the end, I knitted and gifted four hats, two pairs of fingerless mittens, four pairs of socks and a couple of soft toys.  I think they were all well received.

The soft toys are Plants vs Zombie inspired – you can see them in the collage above.  Initially, I knitted only the Pea Shooter because I wasn’t sure if he would like it.  The boy loved it so much that I promptly got an order for the rest of the set! The Frozen Pea Shooter has been finished, and a Sunflower and Repeater remain to be done.  The pattern is free on Ravelry from Ginger Grant – linked to here in case you want to knit your own.  Be aware that there is a small omission in the pattern about when to place the eyes.  I used plastic soft toy eyes and put them in before completing the stuffing on the head.  I also added drinking straws to the stems to strengthen them, and added picot ice crystals on the Frozen Pea Shooter to make it more authentic.

For knitting, I have started a sparkly shawl (Paris Toujours in Skeinz Alpaca Sterling), most likely for me, and a pair of alpaca socks for winter.

Paris Toujours

This yarn was a lovely gift from The Sweaty Knitter, received earlier in the year.  This alpaca sock blend looks like handspun, but it has been commercially spun by a small mill in the United States – it is amazing that you can trace the fleece used in each yarn cake back to an individual alpaca!  The pattern is just a basic ribbed sock that comes from my head.

Alpaca sock

Some amazing gifts were received:

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I am particularly besotted by the sweater lot of Wollmeise and the lovely bag it came in… 1,500m of pure deliciousness that will be perfect for a lacy cardigan. In addition was more beautiful British wool.  Also from another lovely friend was a very thoughtful gift of some crystals, incense and chocolate. I was thoroughly spoilt!

There may have been some new for-me yarn under the tree as well…
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Hannah of Circus Tonic Handmade is a hive of inspiration.  Every time I look at her etsy site, there are yet more mouth-watering shades of pretty yarn.  Maybe fortunately for my and your pocket, she is now on holiday until 22 January…

Doespins alpaca merino

The very long-awaited Flagstaff Alpaca’s merino/alpaca/nylon sock base finally arrived, and Doe has started to dye it and list it in her etsy shop.  Of course, I had to get some.  In fact, I need to get more of this lovely yarn when I can because this is the very last alpaca yarn that Andy of Flagstaff Alpacas is going to spin, from what I understand due to the closure of the mill where the yarn is made.  I am very sad about that.  There are some very beautiful, masterfully dyed colours in the Doe’s shop.

So that was my knitty Christmas in a nutshell!

I also need to tell you about Charles Gandy‘s visit, which I referred to in my last post.  Charles is a TKGA Master Knitter and fibre artist who amongst other things, knits amazing art socks.  He is author of The Embellished Sock, a book of socks that are knitted art for the foot.  This one is my particular favourites from the book, called Tiptoe Through the Tulip socks.

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Charles told us about his upcoming exhibition “Beyond the Sock” featuring amazing art based around a sock form. None of the socks are meant to be worn, but they look absolutely amazing, and hearing about the process involved in creating the socks was very inspirational.  Those fortunate enough to see the exhibition when it opens at the Bascom later in 2016 will be amazed.  More details are in this link where you can also see a small peek of the exhibition socks and other examples of his work.

Charles showed us a couple of techniques (finger cords and the twist) that he uses one of his other books, commissioned by Regia.  We were lucky enough to be given a booklet each, personally signed by him.  I might just knit one of them for the sheer fun of it!

Charles Gandy socks

As 2016 begins, I want to wish you all a Happy New Year!  2015 was a real mixed bag for many of us.  Let’s hope that 2016 perhaps provides a bit of respite.  Let us look for opportunities to nurture our friends and family, show love and find peace.

I’ll be back soon with a small review of the favourite projects of 2015!

Happy Knitting!