Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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The cardigan

In a world of knitter’s worst nightmares, the following scenario has to come close to top of the list:  spending hours knitting a garment, laboriously stitching it all together, and then trying it on only to find that it doesn’t fit like you wanted it to.

I was very conscious of this possibility when I set out to knit myself a lightweight cardigan to carry me through Spring and into the early summer months. When I selected the original pattern I didn’t quite notice it had an odd garter stitch panel in the front. Nor did I realise that the shaping wasn’t right for my own body proportions, especially the armhole depth.

The garter stitch panel was easy to adapt – I simply left it off, as the garment was wide enough not to need it. The armholes needed a bit of adaptation. I worked more decreases to make a narrower shoulder, and I increased the length. This was a bit tricky – I think I cast off and then added in more length a couple of times before I decided it was right! The next thing was to sew the shoulders together so I could try it on and make sure that the fit was correct.

Because I had adapted the arm holes, I also needed to work the sleeves a little differently to make sure that they were as deep as the armhole. I also didn’t want three quarter length sleeves, nor did I want lace on the sleeves. The solution was to keep working decreases all the way to the end of the sleeve cap – this seems to have worked.

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Fitting the first sleeve into the cardigan was a good way to work out if I had the proportions right.

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I am checking the length of the sleeve here – it sits just above my wrist, which is a better length for warmer weather.

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The length works well too. I’d like to be able to wear this cardigan with a dress, and I find that dresses need shorter cardigans to look good.

I am also conscious this is a superwash yarn (Madelinetosh Pashmina) and I know it will grow once blocked. It is slightly shorter to accommodate that eventuality as well.

Once the second sleeve is finished, the next step will be to work a neat finish to the neckline, and to add in loops for the buttonholes.  And once blocked, I will finally have a summer cardigan after a couple of years of talking about it!

I am concerned about the large amount of dye that is coming off on my fingers as I knit this garment. Has anyone knitted with this colourway before (Tart) and have you experienced a large amount of colour fade?  Should I be looking at fixing the colour in the first block?  I’d appreciate your advice!

My garden continues to delight in a riot of super strong colours. Whoever planted this garden was a person after my own heart! It is soul restoring to spend a couple of hours pulling weeds and admiring all the new beauties to see in the weekend.

I have no idea what the second plant is called, but the top image is the Aquilegia. I’m so happy to have this flower in my garden again!

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This little flower captured my attention with the leaves echoing the shade of the flower.img_2927-800x449

We also have a regular visitor at the moment – how cute is this kereru, warily watching me from the safety of the pine tree!?img_2934-800x533

I am itching to get back into shawl knitting for some reason. They have been a very useful addition to my wardrobe this winter – they looked nice under a coat and kept me extra warm on the way to the office, but could easily be removed (or put back on) once at work. I continue to ponder yarn and pattern options, although it amuses me to see that I have the exact colours of my garden in my stash…

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I hope you are enjoying your weekend, and finding plenty of time for soul-restoring and relaxing activities.

Happy Knitting!

 

 


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The tale of the swatches

I think one of the biggest benefits of being a knitter is being able to make garments to suit yourself. It is wonderful to be able to adapt garments to your own liking, by choosing pattern, materials and colour to your taste.

It is also good to be able to experiment a little before jumping in, because sometimes one’s first choice isn’t quite the right choice, and some pre-thought helps to save much angst later. The luxury of time to consider is often not available when shopping for a ready made garment.

Today I shall tell you about the Tale of The Swatches, which illustrates my point quite well.

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These swatches were all made in my decision making process around which yarn to use to knit Gwyneth, pictured below.  It is from Issue No. 95 of The Knitter.
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The first swatch I made is in Cleckheaton Country Naturals. I chose it because it has a similar tweedy look to the original yarn used in the pattern.

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The original yarn (Artesano Nebula) is composed of 33.5% alpaca, 50% wool and 16.5% viscose.  This would give the fabric a lighter quality to what I would get with the above 85% superwash wool/ 10% acrylic/ 5% viscose mix. I thought that the fibre mix would be reasonably similar, but the swatch feels heavy. I think I didn’t realise just how much I’m not fond of the superwash feel either. I wasn’t sure it would feel comfortable with this yarn in a cardigan.

So I knitted another swatch.

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This is pure wool.  It is Stansborough’s Mithril, a beautiful overdyed grey from the Stansborough Grey sheep, which gives that same tweedy look, but it is a much lighter yarn, as you can see.  Looking at it, I’m not sure I want a large, red cardigan, and it is perhaps too light and may not give the garment the structure I am looking for.

Then I noticed that the original yarn was a single, roving style.  So I picked up the long-overdue-for-a-swatch Naturally Harmony, a felted single ply, 100% New Zealand Merino yarn, and made one more.

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Well, I have to say that I just LOVE the fabric that this yarn produces.  It is very soft and lofty. Look at that lovely crisp stitch definition, and the beautiful, demure evenness of the fabric… it would make a beautiful sweater or shawl or hat. You could just cuddle up in it and feel enveloped in warmth and snuggliness… I have bookmarked it firmly for further investigation in that area.  Sadly, it produces a fabric that is too tidy to be suitable for the look I am aiming for in this cardigan though. I notice that the yarn is available in a tweed, and am very tempted to purchase a skein for investigation.

However, conscious of the size of my stash, I decided to be good and turn my attention to it one last time.  A yarn I initially looked at but rejected on the basis of colour looked suitable. It is also Cleckheaton, a mix of merino, angora and silk. It has a tweed fleck, and it is a single ply roving style yarn.

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The fabric has good stitch definition.  It is just the right weight.  It will be warm without being heavy, and has the right about of structure to give the garment a good shape.

I think we have finally found it!  I am still not sure that the colour will go well with jeans, but there are other things in my wardrobe that it will match.  Why else would I have bought a sweater quantity of this yarn otherwise!?

Making one’s own knitwear is the best!


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Waiting for Rain and Light Gale

As I was typing this header, it occurred to me that both my recent Finished Objects are about the weather. Isn’t that funny!

Here are Light Gale and Waiting for Rain.

A bit about both:

Light Gale

I used The Wool Company’s Utiku Merino Possum in the Mink colourway.

As noted in my last post about this pattern, I certainly did not need 1,400 yards noted in the pattern.  Knitted in the smaller size, I used 362 gm, which is the equivalent of 795 metres, or 869 yards. (That’s 3.6 balls of the merino possum yarn in case you are wondering.)

The pattern itself could have included a schematic.  I find them very useful so I can adjust sizing easily if necessary.  I also like charts, and find written instructions difficult for pattern repeats, so I charted out my own, and that made it much easier to work out the stitch pattern quickly.

I did not do a tubular cast on or cast off. Instead, I used a long tail cast on, and cast off using my own half-stretchy bind-off method.

Alicia used a stockinette style decrease, which contrasts against the purl background of the body.  I chose not to do that, and reversed the shaping instructions (P2tog and P2togtbl) so that the shaping was invisible.

I did not put on a button, but just sewed a join into the two sides.

The rest of the pattern was knit as instructed.

I love possum yarn.  See the soft, fluid drape of the fabric, and the warm, snuggly halo that develops after blocking.  Besides pure wool, it is my next favourite medium to work in. It does not pill, it is surprisingly hard wearing, and it stays looking beautiful for years and years. (Note that recycled possum yarns can be less hard-wearing.)

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Waiting for Rain

This is such a sweet pattern. I used Anna Gratton’s silk/mohair/wool mix which she has unfortunately since discontinued.  It gives a beautiful organic texture to knitting.

Anna Gratton silk/mohair/wool

I wanted my Waiting for Rain to be organic looking, and I was pleased that the yarn I chose has definitely given the desired effect.

I did not change anything about the pattern.

The only thing I would say is that I am not 100% happy with my bind off and the edging.  It is a tiny bit tight for my liking, not enough to be a real issue, but just enough to make me think “hmm.”  I did use the lace bind off recommended by Sylvia, but as I have noted before, my bind off is always very tight for some reason, so I may have to look into a further adaptation of this method to work for me.

There is a lot of knitting news to talk about this week, so I think I will break this week’s postings into two.  Watch out for another one from me tomorrow about future projects!

I’m going to be examining three swatches. And trying to decide which one to use for this.

Have a happy and great weekend!


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Two Hearts

My Ravelry notes for this project remind me that I started Two Hearts on 2 June 2015.  That was quite a long time ago!  After knitting half the front, I put it aside because I had no energy for concentration on complex cables at the time. However, now that I do have energy to do things that require a bit more brain power, I felt it was a good time to finish it in time for next winter!

And so here it is, all finished and ready for its bath!

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I’m quite pleased with this pic because it captures the creaminess of the Romney wool and the softness that will develop slowly but surely as I wear this sweater during winter.

There were a few things about this project that were very interesting.  The first is that I learned how to fix a mis-crossed cable many rows down without having to drop all the stitches back to the row I made the mistake on.  This was an excellent thing to learn!  It doesn’t work for all mis-crossed cables, but for this one, the fix was perfect.  You cannot see where the mistake was now, and even I cannot tell or remember.  The article explaining how to do that is here (I used Method 2).

One major mod I made was to make the back in plain stocking stitch.  The cables create a dense, heavy fabric, and I felt that if I were to knit the back in the same cable pattern, I’d feel like I was wearing armour.  I’m glad I made that call.  It took a few tries (despite calculations before hand) to get the number of stitches right as I had to decrease the amount of stitches knitted in order to match the front (cabling really pulls in fabric width and requires more stitches than stocking stitch for the same amount of width).

During the finishing process, I found that the bind off on the tops of my sleeves was way too tight – I could stretch the sleeve fabric to the length of the armhole, but not the bound off edge!  I figured this would not make for a pretty armhole/sleeve join, so I remedied that by ripping back and reknitting a stretchy bind off.  This allowed the fabric to stretch out properly and fit the armhole like it was meant to.  I hadn’t thought about using this method before but I shall definitely keep it in mind for future!

I posted a quick pic of the difference on Instagram at the time.  You can see how there is a significant difference in width from the same number of stitches obtained from using a different bind off method (the new bind off the sleeve underneath).

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The only other ‘issue’ encountered when knitting this sweater was that I initially knitted the neck roll too long (pattern said between 5 – 10cm, so I took the medium road and knitted 8cm).  I discovered that an 8cm/3.25″ neck created quite a fat roll and did not look nice at all.  A quick rip out back to a 5cm length, and it looked a lot more balanced!

Two Hearts sweater

I’m still not entirely sure I am happy with the neck.  I realise that I accidentally used 4.5mm needles on the neck instead of 4mm, and it has made the roll more floppy than the sleeve and edge of the sweater.  I think I may still rip it out and do that bit again.

Finally, on the yarn I used.  This is a ‘non-commercial’ yarn, in the sense that it was spun in a boutique mill and I suspect, the wool even came from a single farm as it was labelled Romney Lambswool.  Unfortunately, the people I bought it from are not in business at the moment (Blackhalls).  The wool was only minimally processed before spinning, which meant that it was very greasy.  It took five washes, two with very warm wool wash, to get the rinse water clear… but it has turned out gorgeous!  Free of the lanolin weighing it down, the finished garment is much lighter, with a beautiful bloom and liveliness!

Close up of Two Hearts

I don’t think I’m going to get too many issues with pilling on this yarn.

I had major issues getting satisfactory modelled photos of the sweater today.  It is a cooler day than we have been having this week, but still far too warm to wear a woolly, cabled sweater.  I gave up!

Had to share one last pic  of my wee companion helping me with the knitting as I finished this project.  He is so adorable.  🙂With Cole


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Knitting all the things

Hello!!

If you are like many in Knitting Land, the advent of December has suddenly induced the uncomfortable thought: “How much time left until Christmas!?”  I hope holiday and Christmas plans are going well!

The lack of a day job means that despite the end of year rush,  I am able to take as much advantage of the time while it is available to me to knit and especially to develop more of those designs that have been swimming around in my head for ages!

As a result, a lot is happening in my knitting world and there is a lot to show you!  So get yourself a nice drink to sip, make yourself comfortable and settle in for some eye candy!

I wanted to first say thank you for liking the Slipped Hat I designed for Zealana!  Had to show it one more time… so pleased with how it has been modelled and photographed! It is actually a quick knit, and if you do not choose to make a pompom, then you only need one ball of each colour for this pattern.  There are so many pretty colour combinations you could choose to knit this.  Another combination I thought of was Kale and Peppermint – dark teal and light mint together.  Yummy!  You could also go slightly off-grid and use Sugar and Deepwater – creamy silver and ocean blue variegated.  The combinations are many!

Image courtesy of Zealana

This year,  I have also taken it upon myself to do a limited amount of Christmas knitting. I’m choosing my recipients carefully.  I have recently been hearing “more socks!?” and “I have too many knitted things from you, it’s such a pain they take up so much space”, and to those family members, none they shall have! (I forgive them, because you have to be able to speak your mind when you are with family.  :-))

However, I do know for certain that there are a few people who should appreciate a knitted gift.  My son’s teacher will receive a hat.  From experience, teachers usually love to receive knitted things, so I hope he likes this thank you gift for being such an awesome teacher to my son this year…

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Compliant young man modelling said finished hat before it was washed and blocked.

It is knitted out of pure, naturally coloured New Zealand wool. The young man picked it out as he said his teacher would look good in it.  I’ve decided to be lazy and use a free pattern that seems to work well for many people.  Bonus points for being quick to knit!  I converted it to knitting in the round.  It works just as well, and then you don’t have a seam to sew afterwards.

I might also knit a similar hat for my brother, who spends a lot of time at sea, and likes my knitted things, and for my brother-in-law who works outdoors and is very knitworthy and makes my knitter’s heart burst with happiness at how he wears my knitted things into oblivion.  Better hurry though… time is ticking!

I’m also starting work on a new fingerless glove design that will also be a gift. More to come about that later.

Some socks have also been knitted as gifts.  You have seen most of them already.  One of them is a new design that I will introduce soon.

In addition to Christmas knitting for others, there has been some sock knitting happiness for me…

Joyeux Noelle

I have always fancied a Christmas sock, and Stray Cat Socks in Joyeux Noelle is just amazing!  The colours glow with a richness that isn’t properly captured by the camera.

Apart from gift and Christmas knitting, I want show you a new indie dyer from Australia, Circus Tonic Handmade. This is an indie dyer who is new on the market, and I rather like her approach to using Australian bird colours for inspiration.

Galah in Circus Tonic Handmade

This one is called Galah.  The yarn and I are having a difference of opinion at the moment.  It wants to be the design I’ve just drawn up.  I want it to be Melisandre. I have a feeling the yarn might win.  I’ve thought of another yarn that will look stunning as Melisandre, while Galah will be quite lovely in my new design (the yarn tells me I am being sensible).

Speaking of sock planning, here’s a peek at some gorgeous lovelies from Vintage Purls that I was playing with last week.  One of them is destined to become a sock design very soon. I hope!

Vintage Purls

I do not think I have told you yet that I have started Biophilia.  I am on the third lace set, which ends in nupps. Such a pretty, pretty, shawl!  I only allow myself to work on this on weekends, which is now my official ‘me’ knitting time – the rest of the week is designated to designing and knitting things on deadline, looking for a day job and doing parent stuff. It is very hard to keep my paws off it! Roll on Saturday!

Biophilia

Biophilia is being knitted in Knitsch 100% merino Sock in a colourway called Rocky Shore. It is very ‘oceany’ and lends itself well to the theme of the design!

I have been feeling the need for a summery cardigan, and after much looking at patterns on Ravelry, have whittled my choice down to Drops 95-21 Cardigan in Lace Pattern. I like how it looks on others, so I am confident it will look as good as it appears in the pattern.  Mostly importantly, there are not acres of dreaded stocking stitch to knit! I’m going to knit it in this super lovely Madelintosh Pashmina in Tart that was very generously gifted to me by a special friend:

Madelinetosh

Whether I get the time to do this before Christmas, in addition to starting on several gorgeous shawl patterns I have acquired (will show you next post) is highly unlikely!

You may be wondering what happened to Two Hearts.  The back has been ripped out three times as I have adjusted stitch count for a non-cabled back (too much cabling for my taste to have it on both the front and the back of the sweater, so I have modified).   Now that I have finally got the right number of stitches to suit my gauge and match the size of the front, it is progressing nicely!  It is not finished in time for the end of Wovember, but I shall have it in time for next winter! I won’t show you a picture of the back.  Stocking stitch is not the most interesting thing to photograph.

Speaking of Two Hearts, the knitter mentioned in my last post about this was mortified about reader reactions to her pointing out the mis-crossed cable.  She said, “Well I certainly didn’t mean it like that! I guess if it was me, I’d be much happier that someone had pointed it out when I had a chance to fix it – which is what happened. And what a brilliant job, and a new knitting skill picked up! At the start of the conversation, I guess I was fishing about to see if it was something I could mention – therefore giving the opportunity to fix, or whether I’d just get thumped. I may have done it inelegantly, but I credited WS with making phenomenal garments, and figured she’d probably want to know – while it was still a very easy fix. I would definitely want to know, and have dropped down around 100 rows to fix a miss-crossed cable.” (And knowing her, yes, she certainly would have done that!)

I am glad that she pointed out the error, and have expressed my thanks, because I learned so much in the process, and as she said, I did want to know while it was still an easy fix!  Some mistakes can be left, but that one was just too much over the line for my tolerance levels!

There is so much more to talk about, but I’m going to stop here and save it for another post.  Thanks for staying with me, and thank you for sticking with me over this year.  I really enjoy reading your comments.  You often make me laugh or smile in delight at what you say.  You have been good company!

A bit of non-knitting to finish.  The hay makers came last week.  It was nearly dark by the time they got to the field next to the house, which is why the photograph looks like this:

Hay making

This is the field now:

Afterwards

You can see how long the grass was by the fact that it nearly hides the calves grazing the edges!

Calves in field

I’m rather enjoying seeing all the different looks to this field over the year.


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Mischief Managed!

Earlier this week I met up with a couple of lovely knitters.

One of them was interested in my Two Hearts, so I proudly took the first completed piece to show her.  After a cursory glance over the project, she asked “Do you find you often mis-cross the cables?” (or something like that).

“Oh yeah, I’m always worried about that, but I meticulously check as I go, and often take a photo as it helps me spot mistakes that I might not otherwise!  I did mis-cross a couple on this one, but was able to spot them in time.” I proudly replied.  At the back of my mind, I was slightly concerned at the tone in her voice.

We chatted for a minute or two about how awful it was to see mis-crossed cables in other peoples’ work.

“Well, I’m sorry to tell you this, but you do have a mis-crossed cable here. I spotted it immediately.”  (Did I note a tone of impatient triumph in her voice!?) She pointed to the offending cable, and my heart sank all the way down into the toes of my dear hand knitted socks. [here the reader shall mentally picture me thinking a choice expletive.  I might have uttered it out aloud.  I don’t know.  I was in shock.]

Mis-crossed cable

Somehow, I had managed to miss-cross a cable and not notice.  For the first time ever.  I stared in dismay at this thing of horror. [insert more choice expletives].  I may babbled flippant remarks about people not noticing it, or covering it with a button, or something equally as witless.  The sort of thing you say when internally you are freaking out in a very major sort of way and trying desperately to cover one’s embarrassment.

Now, once an error has been pointed out, you can never NOT notice the mistake.  The stupid thing stuck out from my knitting like a great big glaring beacon.

Mistake!!

I slunk home with my tail between my legs, both cursing and thanking the knitter for pointing out the stupid mistake.  Once I got home, I looked at the offending cable, and wondered how I was going to fix it and how I never managed to notice it! Despite my earlier nonsense about ignoring it, there was no question of it staying that way!  It was in far-too-prominent a location for that.

I did not care to rip back a week’s worth of knitting, nor was I was I going to drop the stitches from the cast-off point all the way down to the crossed cable!  And I really, really, did not want to try cutting the cable at the point of mistake and re-crossing it.

After some deliberation, in which I wondered if I could just ignore the mistake (no!), I decided that cutting at the point of mistake seemed to be the only option.  It was time to take a step-up challenge!!  I looked up fixing cables on the Internet.

Thank bloody goodness, someone has been thinking laterally.  Here was my solution – set out in an issue of Twist Collective (I went for Method 2, the less scary one).

Fixing the mistake

Picking up the stitches.

Fixing mistake

Knitting extra stitches, then grafting (there may have been several goes at getting this right).

Mistake fixed.

Ta da!  Mischief Managed!!

Because of the properties of this yarn, the extra layer of stitches is not noticeable. You wouldn’t even know there was a mis-crossed cable there.  I shall never fear another mis-crossed cable ever again! What a genius solution!  I sighed a very large and happy sigh.

I think I have just about forgiven the knitter for pointing out my mistake.  After all, it would have been far more embarrassing to be seen wearing that mistake and not know about it!!