Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


Sustain the Sea: Gyre

Long time readers of this blog will be aware of the free pattern collection I developed to highlight the importance of looking after our oceans:  Sustain the Sea.

Sustain the sea square

I have been absolutely thrilled to be joined in this initiative by Kiwi designers Mary-Anne Mace (Biophilia – pictured above) and Sonya Newstead (Empty Nets – pictured above).

Today, I’m honoured that we are joined by a wonderfully talented young designer, Josiah Bain, who hails from the United States of America.  It is truly exciting that this is developing into an international statement about our oceans, and that there are so many designers who are like-minded!

Josiah wrote to me recently offering to donate a pair of socks to this initiative:  Gyre.

A gyre is a system of currents in the ocean that spirals around a central point.  The gyre that these socks are named after is the North Pacific Gyre, the largest ecosystem on Earth. As well as being home to different marine creatures, the North Pacific Gyre is home to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. He offers it here in the hopes that “awareness will be raised about the harmful practices and dreadful littering happening in our naturally splended oceans”.

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This is a beautiful pattern that harmonises completely with the theme behind the socks.  The socks are also very interestingly constructed. Please visit Josiah’s thoughtful blog post to read more about these socks, to download a free copy of the pattern and to find out about a very easy thing that all of us can do to contribute to the ocean’s health.

And who is his great model?

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Find that out too when you visit his blog!

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Thank you, Josiah, for this beautiful pattern, and importantly, for your own commitment to sustaining the sea!




I don’t always smile in delight when I have finished a project.  Biophilia is one that has me positively beaming in delight!

IMG_1673 (800x567).jpgMary-Anne Mace well deserves the title of The Lace Eater!  Thank you, Mary-Anne, for a truly inspired design that reflects the sea so well.

The next time we go to the beach, I will take Biophilia and do a proper photo shoot, but for now, I share these images.

If you are interested in the technical details, I used Knitsch 100% merino Sock in Rocky Shore, with the last three or four rows in Fly My Pretties, about 180gm/600m in total (Rocky Shore would equate to three full skeins, with about half a skein in Fly My Pretties).

The two colourways worked together so perfectly – I’m fairly sure the base colour for Fly My Pretties is the same as Rocky Shore.  I used some dark brown beads with a purply undertone (like seaweed) to give contrast but also harmonise with the overall colour design.

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The colours were like the sea to photograph.  In some lights, it’s a beautiful, rich colour like you see in the above photo, and in other lights, it’s more muted like the photos in the collage.  I quite like that.

The darker edging is to help with the watery effect.  I hope it conveys the sense that the shawl has been dipped in water.  The beads being the glistening drops of water.  I probably should have used a lighter colour bead to convey light reflecting off the water, but oh well, I still think this looks OK.

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This shawl would have to be one of the most technically challenging things I have ever knit.  As if lace wasn’t enough, Mary-Anne has added cables, nupps and beads into the mix!  I do not like nupps.  In the end, after struggling heroically with two rows of 7 stitch nupps, I reduced the size to 5 stitches, which was much more manageable and meant less dropped stitches. There is not a huge difference in effect, and it meant a much happier me!

The pattern is very well written, and very easy to follow.  It’s just that for this shawl to look good, it requires a level of precision of execution that had my brain cells almost popping!  I’ll definitely knit another Lace Eater design the next time I need a brain workout!  I’m sure experienced knitters of lace will be giggling at this.  I obviously need to knit more complex lace projects this year.

I haven’t blocked the shawl exactly the same as Mary-Anne’s original.  I didn’t go back and look at the pattern photo again when I was pinning out, but I think it still looks okay.

Thank you again, Mary-Anne, for this amazing contribution to Sustain the Sea.


Empty nets, the FO!

I finished Empty Nets this week.  To do the pattern justice, especially in view of the fact that the time and talent for this pattern was donated by Sonya Newstead to the Sustain the Sea initiative, I decided we needed to take a trip to the beach.  I picked the young man up after school and we drove to the Lake Ferry beach in South Wairarapa, which we haven’t been to before.

It is a rugged piece of beach.  Not really a swimming beach, but very beautiful and scenic.  On one side, Lake Onoke drains into Palliser Bay.

Lake Ferry

On the other side, is Palliser Bay.

Palliser Bay

It was a nice place to take photos.  The water was too cold for swimming, and the beach is not very safe for this activity, so the boy and I had wave races and dared each other to get our legs wet by the icy water!

On to Empty Nets – here it is, in its full glory!

Empty Nets

I’m very proud of this picture, because it was taken by the youngest child.  I think his photography skills are coming along nicely!

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I decided I wanted the shawl to be bigger than designed, so I knitted 20 repeats instead of 17.

Empty Nets - waves

I adore the wave edgings.

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The final edge is bound off using a ruffle, to represent the waves breaking on the beach.  I kept mine small and did not work the second set of increases.

It’s a funny shawl to knit because you think it cannot possibly become a triangle while knitting it – it looks like a slice of pizza!  When finished and blocked though, it magically transforms!  My notes are here if you want to know more details.

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Words cannot express my gratitude to Sonya for donating this shawl pattern.  I cherish the feeling of comfort that there are many people who do care about the planet and keeping life on it sustainable for future generations, as evidenced by so many of your comments while writing about this subject.

I think that if more people thought about contributing meaningfully to this life, and considered the impact of their actions on the environment around them (social and physical) the world would be in a much better place than it is today.  Let’s all keep on trying!



Today, Mary-Anne Mace, New Zealand lace designer extraordinaire, released Biophilia.
(photo copyright of Mary-Anne Mace)
I am so very, very touched that Mary-Anne has freely contributed this design to the Sustain the Sea initiative. She brought tears to my eyes when I saw what she had created, and read her message below.  Here are her words about Biophilia:
“Biophilia is a term first used by psychologist Erich Fromm, and developed by biologist E. O Wilson to describe a hypothetically innate human tendency to feel an emotional attachment to the natural world.

 Regardless of whether the tendency for biophilia exists or not, human dependence upon the natural world and its complex ecosystems is a fundamental truth.  The idea that human wellbeing is utterly dependent upon our positive interactions with the natural world and its biological diversity makes conservation of the planet’s ecological systems imperative. This decades old theory is even more relevant today as we continue to transform the planet in our quest for perpetual economic growth.

This shawl, Biophilia is a part of the Sustain the Sea collection. It is a free pattern, and yet it is not free. I ask that you consider your relationship with the natural world around you, and how your activities impact upon it. Is there something you can do to reverse environmental degradation from your home, in your community? I ask that you actively do something, and continue to do something that benefits the environment. To be effective, conservation and protection of the Earth’s resources and ecosystems must be adopted in the home, and then spread outwards through workplaces, schools, boardrooms, and government departments via policy makers, educators, parents, conservationists, writers, idealists, you and me. From the home to the sea – while environmental degradation may seem an insurmountable by-product of human activity – together we are many. Together we are so many, many people – ourselves a huge, diverse, and imaginative repository of information, solutions and actions that can benefit the environment, our relationship to it, and ultimately our own wellbeing.

Biophilia is a top-down crescent shaped shawl that represents my own connection to and affection for the natural environment. The motifs represent filament strands of entangled seaweed billowing in the ocean currents. Beads are worked at the edge and drip from each picot point.” – Mary-Anne Mace

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(photo copyright of Mary-Anne Mace)

Thank you, Mary-Anne.

I’m sure you will agree that Biophilia is a stunningly beautiful shawl.  Mary-Anne has very eloquently expressed much of what I feel, and now I have a name to put to it:  Biophilia!

I’ll be casting on for this shawl very soon.  Join me!  Download the pattern on Ravelry – link here.


The loveliness of colour

I went into the garden this weekend and found a beautiful carpet of yellow leaves covering the ground. I have missed taking pictures of the beautiful autumn leaf colours I have been seeing – most of the trees have now dropped their leaves, or are past the blaze of colour that they were.

The carpet of leaves begged to be photographed before I raked them up, so I decided to have some fun and show you the blaze of Autumn in yarn instead.  🙂

autumn coloursI have finished the BFF socks, so they got some leaf footage as well.

BFF socksThey are lovely and fluffy and will be warm and cosy on the recipient.  I do not know what the white stuff is on the socks – it is certainly not there in real life.  I think the light must have been illuminating the fine possum fibres and showing them up as white.

Seems like autumn is a theme on the needles as well, if this other sock project is anything to go on.


I am not overly happy with how these socks are turning out. I think I am using the wrong yarn for the bobbles to show nicely.  Some frogging and restarting with new yarn may be in the works.  This is not a pleasant prospect given how involved this pattern is and the fact that I have now knit an entire leg.  Better to get it right than have an unhappy completion though.

A number of other projects are keeping me busy.  I’m also knitting Hybrid Vigour using a beautiful ball of Anna Gatton’s merino/mohair in the Lavender Fields colourway.  I do so love the loveliness of Anna’s colourways.  The construction of the pattern is very interesting and I am enjoying combining a New Zealand designer with New Zealand yarn!

Hybrid Vigour

I have also started my June project.  It is just how I hoped it would look! A medical emergency with the young boy today meant that I missed all the daylight hours to take photos, so you’ll have to wait until next week to see it.  🙂  The boy is fine after a couple of hours in hospital on a nebuliser (he has come down with bronchitis, which triggered an asthma attack.  The nebuliser delivers a high dosage of ventolin to relieve asthma).

And finally, I have a gorgeous pattern to show you today, a new release by another Kiwi designer, Sonya Newstead of StringHerder Designs.

empty nets

Sonya has very generously contributed Empty Nets as a free pattern for the Sustain the Sea initiative.  Thank you Sonya!  The pattern is superb!  Read her story and download the pattern here.

Have a good week everyone!



The Bleating Art sea collection

Hello, and welcome to Spring!  I’ve been having  a bit of fun this week!

Earlier this week, lovely Alice came over with a sampling of the latest batch of Bleating Art, and asked on behalf of her mum Denise, if I would name them in honour of the Sustain the Sea initiative.  Would I!?  What a privilege!  Thanks Bleating Art ladies!

Here are most of the colours all together – the Sea Collection.  Such pretty colours!  Alice has definitely got a knack for dyeing.

Bleating Art yarn

Now as you would guess, it is virtually unheard of for yarn to come into my house and actually find its way out again.  I have been extremely disciplined and not helped myself to any of these lovelies, although I am not quite sure how long the restraint is going to last… so I shall be delivering them to the Karori Flower Shop as soon as possible, before I lose all vestiges of self-control!

Let’s have a closer look shall we?  Names and inspiration are listed in order.

Pink Dolphin

Pink Dolphin.  These beautiful creatures really are pink, often with grey spots.  Here’s more information about two types of pink dolphins – Amazon River Dolphin and the Chinese White Dolphin (which is actually pearly pink – I’ve seen it with my own eyes!)


Anemone.  No further explanation required, I think?


Cephalopod ink.  This beautiful deep grey with purply undertones reminds me of squid ink.  Did you know that squid are sometimes referred to as ink fish?


Driftwood.  There are some very interesting facts about driftwood on Wikipedia, including that it is a source of food and shelter for marine life while it is still at sea.


Conch shell:  It was hard to think of a colour of the sea that looked like this vibrant gold mustard.  But the conch (pronounced ‘konk’) is exactly like it!

Leafy sea dragon

Leafy sea dragon:  So cool that there was a colour for a real sea dragon in this collection!  The Leafy Sea Dragon is such a beautiful creature.  When I first saw one I didn’t think it was for real!

Ulva Lactuca

Ulva Lactuca:  Surely you didn’t think I’d pass up this chance to name a yarn after my shawl’s namesake, sea lettuce!? 😉

Blue ParrotfishBlue Parrotfish:  When I saw this skein, it reminded me of the pretty blue parrotfish that live on coral reefs.  With their bright blue colour and cute toothy grins, they are worthy of a skein named in their honour!  I found the fact that they can change gender repeatedly throughout their lives fascinating.

Ocean on a Cloudy Day

Ocean on a Cloudy Day:  Just because this colour looks just like a slice of the sea on one of those days when you have sunshine and clouds.

Basking Shark

Basking shark:  The basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) is a huge filter feeding shark which grows to be up to about 33 feet (10 m) long. It is the second-largest shark (after the whale shark). The basking shark is also called the sunfish, the bone shark, the elephant shark, the sailfish shark, and the big mouth shark. Basking sharks are filter feeders that sieve small animals from the water. As the basking shark swims with its mouth open, masses of water filled with prey flow through its mouth. The prey includes plankton, baby fish, and fish eggs.  Basking sharks are not aggressive and are generally harmless to people.

So there you have it.  A preview of some of the loveliness that came out of the dye pot this time at Bleating Art.   Check out the link to the Facebook page for more views of some of the colours… so pretty!!!!