Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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A New Year

Hello! It is the eve of another new year! I wish I could say the time has gone fast, but so much has happened, that I think it has been a very full year. It has been an eventful year on many, many, counts. I hope this year has treated you kindly on a personal level. My own has certainly been one of those roller coasters – terrible lows and also incredible highs. I am interested to see what the next 365 days bring!

I don’t have a finished object to show you as knitting time has been a little limited lately. But there are a few nice projects accompanying me into the new year:

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This is Regenerate. It should be nearly finished by now, but I made a major rookie mistake knitting this! There are two charts per row for this shawl, and for some reason, I knitted them in the wrong order. I wondered why I had so much trouble getting the pattern to look right and was getting quite frustrated with my knitting skills when I realised, into the third repeat of the second and third charts that I was doing it the wrong way round!!! Major durrh moment, and major sulking occurred as I ripped out the shawl to start all over again.

I re-ordered the printed charts and after a couple of days spent gathering my wits, started again. I am pleased that this time, the shawl is looking like it is meant to. The added bonus is that it is much easier to knit – for some ‘strange’ reason!

I am using Anna Gratton‘s gorgeous silk/mohair/wool blend in the Forest colourway. I really like how it is turning out.

I also have a couple of obligatory socks on the go.

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These pretty things are the Waving Lace Socks. I am knitting them in Circus Tonic Handmade’s Revelry sock in the Frilled Monarch colourway. Here’s a closer look:

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The other sock is some gorgeous Stray Cat Socks merino/cashmere/nylon blend:

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These are for the youngest boy, who is now taller than me. I knitted him some socks earlier in the year, and found to my horror that his feet had grown while I finished them. This time, they are man-sized socks!  Let’s hope they last a little while…

As the new year begins to roll in around the globe, I wish you Happy New Year!

May 2017 be a good year for you.


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Super early or super late!?

A Happy Weekend to you! I for one am very pleased it is Saturday!

As predicted, I managed to finish Braidsmaid this week. I may be lucky and get a couple of wears out of it before the weather warms up too much more. At least it is ready for next Winter? Or am I super late for this Winter? It doesn’t matter much. It will still be worn. There’s no such thing as an expiry date when it comes to knitting!

I knitted Braidsmaid in a DK weight natural grey alpaca/polwarth mix that I got from the South Island a while ago.  I used exactly 250gms of yarn, or about 450m.  It drapes beautifully and is so warm and snuggly. I do love wearing alpaca.

The shawl is the perfect size to wear under a coat. Featuring a reversible cable and garter stitch, you don’t need to worry which side is the right side, because they both look the same.

It has a shaping that I don’t think I have used before – you start at one end with the braid only and gradually increase the garter edges out to a certain width. Then one side is decreased gradually while the other is knitted on to the braided edge as you go. Such a clever design!

I think the key thing to know about this shawl (in terms of sizing) is that the shawl will only be as wide and as long as you end on Body Pattern I.   The width of the shawl at this point determines how long the shawl will be – the remainder of the shawl is all about decreasing one side down.  If you want a larger shawl than noted in the pattern, you should work a couple more repeats in this section before starting the remaining sections. In my case, I simply worked the number of repeats noted in the pattern. If I was to knit it again, I would probably chose to work one more repeat to make the shawl slightly larger.

I did a bit of an all-night knit bender this week… I found yet another WIP at the bottom of my basket and proceeded to finish it during the quiet hours of the night.

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I lost interest in them last summer after I didn’t complete them in time for Christmas. They are now ready for this Christmas!

These are Stray Cat Socks‘ in Joyeux Noelle, a Christmas colourway, using my Geek socks pattern. I get a little thrill every time I look at the projects in this pattern – there are over 450 projects noted on Ravelry so far – it makes it so worthwhile to make the effort to design a special sock. Thanks so much to everyone who has knitted this pattern!

The current frenzy of knitting shows no signs of abating any time too soon. I have made good progress on the next pair of socks, the V Junkie socks from Socktopus.

V junkie socks

The winding party has begun for the 3 colour cashmere shawl. Part of me is worrying that I have chosen the right shawl to knit. The yarn I am using is so special and so pretty that I need to be sure that whatever I use it for is going to do it justice! I might consider that issue a bit more…

I hope you are enjoying a great start to your weekend.

Happy Knitting!


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The trouble with WIPs

It is a wonderful and exciting thing to be a knitter. The ability to create new projects is boundless, limited only by one’s imagination, time and sometimes, skill.

On the other hand, the ability to finish new things, hampered by one’s “cast-on-itis” can sometimes be challenging. It is something I must grapple with this week so that I can happily cast on yet more things (and have some hope of finishing them!)

This week another new thing (or two) popped on to the needles.

Thank you very much to everyone who gave my votes a little extra boost for the Aussie Sock Knitters’ KAL.  The clear voter’s choice was Bordurensocken.

I had a couple of hiccups starting this one.  As I mentioned in my first post about this, I was going to use Tanis Fibre Arts’ Dove colourway.  Only, when I started knitting it, the result didn’t look so great.

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Despite the soft variegation, it was still too variegated, and I couldn’t see the design very well at all.

I finally found what I was looking for in Circus Tonic Handmade’s Revelry Sock in the Grey Whistler colourway. It’s a lovely pattern, so ornate, I love it! Once it is finished and modelled, you’ll be able to see the detail a lot better.

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I have been really enjoying Stray Cat Socks‘ new base, an 80% merino, 10% cashmere and 10% nylon blend, called “Essential Deluxe.” So much so that I have finished one sock already! The lovely drape and softness of this yarn, combined with the just ‘one more stripe’ syndrome made it hard to put down.

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I also really appreciated all your comments on last week’s swatching exercise.  Thank you! I think I will definitely go with the blue silk/merino/angora mix.  But first, I need to finish a couple of things!

This pair of fingerless mitts has been requested urgently by the eldest boy, now living the student life.  Obviously, the walk to uni in the mornings is a little chilly! I’m using Bleating Art’s Pacemaker Sock, a 100% super twisted merino yarn. Pattern is from my head.

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I’m also still working on my Swan River cardigan in Maniototo Wool and the Liliaceous Shawl in Zealana Kiwi Laceweight.  There is nothing new to show you, so I will wait until they are finished before I put up any more photos of them.

And of course, this post would not be complete without some talk of WIPs to come!

Midnight Yarns

This beautiful mushroom coloured 100% merino from Midnight Yarns arrived in my letterbox recently. It is destined to become Lacebark as soon as I finish Liliaceous!

To my North American friends, Happy 4th of July!


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Geeks that weren’t and were

I recently finished knitting a pair of Geek socks which are to be a present (seems like I am doing a bit of Christmas gift knitting after all!)  I took some pictures as I was knitting them to explain some of the technical aspects that are specific to afterthought heels and that sometimes catch people unawares.

One of the questions I got when the pattern was first released was how to measure the length of the foot when there is no heel to measure.  In the photo below, I am about to start shaping the toe of the Geek sock.  The part where the heel begins on the Geek is where the waste yarn (green line) goes through the blue section – see how I have aligned it to the inner edge of the heel flap?

Measuring foot length

From the green line, the measurement to the beginning of the toe shaping is the same as if you were measuring from the inner edge of the gusset/heel flap (as illustrated above).  This way of measuring has never been an issue with me because I learned to measure sock length using this method (the final measurement of the sock automatically includes the addition 2″/5cm of heel depth). However, I know that others do measure from the back of the heel, and this is probably why some had difficulty.

Next I went along merrily shaping the toe, and then I went back to work the afterthought heel.  I completed the heel and then did a test try-on of the sock.

Apologies for the poor quality of the next pic – it was taken with my phone camera to post to Instagram.

Geeks in a mess

Disaster!  Silly me did not check against what I had written in my own pattern, and I had not worked two plain rounds after picking up all the heel stitches from the waste yarn and before starting the heel shaping.  The sock was far too tight around the ankle as a result.

Now, by this stage I had also confidently woven in all the ends, and do you think I could find them all for the simple task of ripping the heel!??  I got madder and madder, then out came the scissors.  Snip! Snip! Snip!  Fine then!!  I shall reknit the foot and afterthought heel instead!  I have to say certain therapeutic value was gained from cutting up that sock…

Finished Geeks

They turned out well in the end. Those afterthought heels sure look odd compared to a normal heel, but they fit just as well (so long as one remembers those extra rounds before starting to shape the heel!)

I’m not a fan of blocking socks.  My take is that they block when you wear them, so why bother!  The only value that I see in sock blockers is that they make the sock look pretty if you’re going to photograph them unworn.  If you are giving the socks away, I guess they do give them a certain ‘finished’ look!

I’m fairly sure that most people instantly recognise this yarn, but if you are wondering, it’s Stray Cat Socks in the Aotearoa colourway.


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Geekery

I love self-striping yarn as much as the next person, but sometimes just the joy of seeing the next colour coming through is not quite enough to get through knitting in plain stockinette.  Of course, I could always knit an allover pattern into my sock, but the idea has never appealed.  An idea came to me one day as I was browsing a stitch dictionary and came across an intriguing colourwork chart: What if I could use the stripes to work with me to create a colourwork pattern instead?

I played around with a sample, and was delighted with what I discovered.  I thought:  “This would be a really cool pattern to submit to Knitty!”  Very happily, and much to my super excitement and terror, they did choose to publish my pattern!  Thanks so much Amy and team!

This has been a long while under my hat – if you are a long time follower, you’ll notice the pics were taken around my former place of residence.

Geek socks

I am very pleased to show you the “Geek” socks that are out in Knitty today!  So named because they really “geek” me out!

I had a lot of fun playing with colours. The above socks are knitted in Happy-go-knitty 100% BFL self-striping sock yarn.  They are the original version in which I anticipated having to use only stripes with an even repetition of rows and a certain width.  However, I discovered that you do not have to have even stripes, as can be seen by the next version…

More geek socksThese ones are from Doespins, in 80% merino, 20% nylon sock yarn, and called Limestone.  The stripe is thick/thin, and it still works!  You can see the way the stripes look without the patterning in the cuff, heel and toe.

Finally, I had to try some in Stray Cat Socks.  The super zany colours from this indie dyer just cry out to be played with! Again, the width of the stripe is different, but it works just the same!

Stray Cat Socks Geeks

Now I have a hard time not knitting my self-striping socks in this style.  It just makes it so much more interesting!   It is also a very easy repeat, and the most ‘difficult’ thing about this pattern would be to be brave enough to try a new style of heel.

I used an after-thought heel because I could not think of a way in which I could still maintain the patterning when knitting a plain heel flap.  Normal heel flap gusset shaping does not allow the pattern to flow and would totally ruin the look of the sock.  It may be possible to use a short-row heel to shape the heel and not have the stripe disrupted.  I have not tried it.  Kb, who test knitted the pattern beautifully, used an alternative version of the after-thought heel that also looks good.  This is her version in rainbow self-striping yarn.  I think she’s done an amazing job!

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The socks are knit cuff down, but you could very easily reverse engineer the pattern to knit it toe up if you prefer knitting in this style.

Finally, to give you more of an idea of what the pattern does to self-striping yarn, Amy got me to send some swatch pictures, so I thought I’d share some of these with you too:

Geek swatch

 

Geek II swatch

Thanks again to the Knitty team for publishing (and editing) my pattern, my wonderful son Tim, for photography, Kb for being such a wonderful test knitter, and the interesting discussions I had with Karen Berthine about the design during the writing phase.  I have learned a lot from Kate Atherley (Knitty’s Managing Technical Editor) about writing clearer patterns too.

I do hope you enjoy knitting these socks!

 


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Susanna and the Wacky Wednesday socks

I do rather feel like I have nothing to show for my knitting at the moment.  I also feel like I haven’t been doing much knitting, which is also true, in comparison to the usual amount of time I spend knitting. Fortunately, the busy season at work is winding down for a few months, and I am looking forward to exchanging “busy working” for “busy knitting”!

I’d like to share this “finished object” with you today though:

Susanna

If there is one image that encapsulates why I knit, I think this sock would come pretty damn close.

This is Susanna, a free pattern from Stephanie van der Linden.  That lady is one talented sock designer!

At first, I knitted the sock on 2.25mm needles, getting the gauge suggested.

Susanna in Happy-go-knitty

I found the finished sock quite a struggle to put on, and was not happy with how it pulled slightly over my arch.

So I knitted the second in 2.5mm needles.  I figured that I’d rip one back, but I wanted the comparison.

The second fits beautifully.  The first fits too (one of the above socks is knitted on 2.25mm and the other on 2.5mm needles), but not as well as the second. The only other mod I made was to cast on 64 stitches instead of the 70 suggested (you then decrease down to 60 sts for the leg of the sock – I did not need so many stitches in the cuff to fit my leg).

The first sock is now a ball of yarn again, and I need to knit it back into a sock this week.  But I thought I’d show you now as it was an interesting exercise in gauge.

The ripping back is quite frustrating, especially seeing I have already ripped it back to the heel once before because I tried to knit it when I was tired, and ended up making a critical error.  Seeing the finished project makes it all worth while though.  You cannot buy a sock like that for the love of money, but I can knit one like that and in the exact colour and yarn that I choose.  It is a very satisfying feeling.

I love this design.  It is so ornately beautiful in my opinion.  I used Happy-go-knitty‘s 50/50 merino/silk fingering weight yarn to make this sock, in the Crushed Blueberries colourway.  It is not marketed as a sock yarn, but looking closely at it, and comparing it with other 5o/50 merino/silk yarns that have been sold as sock yarn, I felt that the base looked a very close equivalent and gave it a go.  I don’t know how long the yarn will last in a sock, but I don’t really care.  This yarn has given me what I’d call “lingerie for the feet”.  A beautiful sock, in a yarn that may not be suitable for tramping about in gumboots, but it’s not meant for that.

Unfortunately, Helene’s etsy site doesn’t have any of the 4 ply merino/silk that I used in stock.  However, if you email her I am sure she will be able to send you a picture of what she has available.

The second WIP I would like to show you today is for the young boy:

Wacky Wednesday socks

He came home this week with a notice that said that next Wednesday is Wacky Wheels day (the kids are allowed to bring their scooters and bikes to school and dress them up to look crazy in exchange for a voluntary donation to raise funds for the new school playground).  The kids were also encouraged to go completely wacky and come to school dressed wacky as well (the notice happened to mention the word “socks”).  Of course, the word “socks” was a magnet for my eyes, and having already got some of Stray Cat Sock’s wacky Winter Wonderland for the young boy very recently, felt that this was the time to knit them into socks!  One week should be plenty of time.  As you can see, I’ve already finished one, so the other should definitely be do-able for this coming Wednesday.  So much fun!