Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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Of knits and stuff

Alpaca is one of those fibres that really comes into its own when used in the right pattern. I chose it to knit Paris Toujours.  The yarn is from Skeinz and is called Alpaca Sterling.  It is 98% alpaca, with 2% silver accent that gives the yarn just the twinkliest hint of bling.  I used 300gm in total. It is very nice yarn, and I really enjoyed using it.  Some alpaca yarns are treated with a chemical of some kind that helps it to stick together during spinning. This chemical can create a yarn that has a horrible drag on the needles, making it a total pain in the A to knit.  I was very relieved that Alpaca Sterling had none of that drag.

The shawl has turned out to be the loveliest thing with gorgeous softness, drape and warmth.  I can see I will use it a lot come winter!

You can see more of the sparkle in this WIP photo:

IMG_1600 (800x600).jpg

The pattern is as usual, well written by Isabell Kraemer.  It is one of those projects that you can knit and not think about too much once the pattern is established and you figure out unusual things like the slipped stitch edging.  You can see it in the photo above – it makes for a lovely neat edge to the shawl.  I like it and will use it again in future!

IMG_1705 (800x600)I am very, very, nearly finished on Two Hearts.  Just a quarter of the second sleeve to go and the sewing up, so you will see it soon!  I am very excited, as sometimes it has felt like I will never get to the end of it!

The finishing of these two projects leaves me with thoughts on what to do next.  I am very much in the mood to finish up other outstanding WIPs that I have had sitting around for a while, especially this one:IMG_1720 (800x800)

It’s the Leighlinbridge Aran by Melissa Leapman that has been stuck for lack of concentration time for a few months.  I realise I made one of the twisted cables just slightly larger than the others, but too bad, it will be fine.  I can live with it.  I’m using The Wool Company’s Possum Merino in a colourway that is very similar to the new Sea Foam.  That was a mistake looking up the colourways because now that I have seen the new season’s colours, I Want Them All!!!! They are absolutely gorgeous!

The new project that I’d like to start is my retry of Audry’s Southern Skies.  After my failure with the original yarn I chose (it came out far too small), I decided to use a yarn with less spring, and asked Anna Gratton if she’d custom dye me a night sky using her 4 ply 100% wool.  This is what came back, called Midnight Sky:IMG_1715 (800x705)

I got it out of storage this week and decided that it was just far too beautiful not to knit into a shawl. I can see it will be very reflective of the Milky Way when taken on long time exposure.  I love it!!

I’m going to knit it with 4mm needles as I want it to be nice and big, and I know that my gauge is much tighter than Audry’s.  More on this shawl soon!

I’ve now got at least seven designs sitting on my list of things to write up.  Somehow, I am lacking the motivation.  I think the realisation that pattern designing is not a viable income generator for me has me in a bit of a writing funk.  I keep coming up with designs because I keep knitting things from my head and thinking “someone would like to knit this too, I bet”.  I am grateful that many of you like my designs, but I need to accept that designing is just a hobby and do it for the love of designing and sharing rather than anything else. Still, it is a good exercise to keep my brain exercised during this hiatus from work.

Perhaps too, because I lack mental stimulation in other areas at the moment, that my mind has turned to wanting to learn new things, to stretch and grow.  So there is a bit of a fascination with all things lace and colourwork and complex cables going on…

Finally, I’d like to link to this uplifting video I came across this week.  It’s about emotional first aid.  Guy Winch made a very good point about how we look after ourselves really well physically, but how often do we do the same to our minds? He touches on things like loneliness and fear of failure and rejection, not the catch phrase depression that seems to be all the rage to talk about these days.  It’s a really good listen, and I got a lot out of it, so I am sharing it with you.

Wishing you all a good week!

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Smaug and the chevron poncho

I suddenly realised this weekend that we’d past the middle of January, and my Smaug socks were languishing on the WIP pile and only a quarter done!

Some concentrated knitting time later… nearly there!

Smaug socks

After I finished the first sock yesterday, I tried it on, and I have to say I am extremely excited about finishing them!  They are very, very cool socks!

I don’t know what it is about this project.  I think it’s a combination of shiny tip needles and the colour red, but I cannot spend too long knitting them without my eyes going funny. To break things up, I’m also alternately knitting this:

Chevron poncho

It’s the Amalfi Poncho, an unashamed nod to my ’70s childhood. Covered in cat hair already, as one small animal insists on sitting on my lap when I’m knitting.  I’m knitting the large size as I want it to cover me properly.  The yarn is Corriedale from The Wool Company, and it’s in a colourway called Autumn.  I got this colour a while ago and it doesn’t appear to currently be in stock.  I suspect any of the multi-dyes will come out similarly sequenced though.

I am doing it all in one variegated colour, as opposed to alternately striping it with another colour.  I’m looking forward to snuggling under this come winter.

More sock pattern drooling on Ravelry has been happening at this end… there are so many pretty sock patterns out there, it’s hard to know which one to knit next!!  I also discovered an extremely cool feature of the Ravelry queue system, which I thought I’d share with you.  Many of you will probably already know this… but here goes.

If you tag your queued pattern (eg “socks”), and then create a new set in your queue (click “organise” to do this – I’ve called my new set “socks”), then type in the tab that you’d like to appear in that set, all the queued patterns that you have tagged with the specified tag (eg. “socks”) will magically appear there!  (I have always wondered what the purpose of a tag was…)  Ravelry does have a Wiki topic on this feature here, which I have of course, never read… but looking at it now I see it explains it all nicely.  Have a look at the link in case you’re not sure what I’m going on about.

As a result of my latest discovery, I now have a yummy “sock” set in my Ravelry queue that allows me to keep tabs on all the socks I would like to knit, and I don’t have to scroll through my entire queue to find a pattern I want to select!  Hoorah!

This is a most useful concept which I might have to start applying to my projects as well…

Hope you are having a lovely weekend.


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Stripes

I’ve said before that I don’t normally like to knit children’s clothes.  However, the patterns I have found for my nieces and nephew are really quite cute.  This is the next item I’m knitting for my nine week adventure:

The Striped Cardigan is coming along nicely.  Not as fast as I’d like it to, but then I was very busy doing other things this weekend.  I’m knitting it in one piece to the armholes before separating for the fronts and backs (no point in having more seams to sew than necessary – especially when if you’re having to match stripes up!)

I thought I’d talk about the book I’m taking quite a few of these patterns from – Special Family Knits by Debbie Bliss.  I don’t think there is any other book or magazine on my bookshelf that I have knitted so much from!  I first knitted Hooded Guernsey from it.  Eric has long outgrown his jumper, but I think every now and again that I should knit him another.  It was a nice pattern.   The little fair isle cardi I’ve just finished also came from this book.  There are quite a few other patterns I think that I will eventually get around to knitting from Special Family Knits, including the Rib and Cable Cardigan (for me).   You could say it was a very good buy!

Back to the Striped Cardi, I’m knitting this in a lovely soft merino possum yarn.  I’m deliberately keeping it cropped (like in the photo) because my niece lives in a part of New Zealand where it doesn’t get very cold.  She’ll like the warmth of possum, but it will be good for her to have a bit of ‘ventilation’, as the cardigan might be a bit too warm otherwise.

Hopefully I’ll have more to show you soon.

Have a great week!


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Inspiration: Anemone

I love going to the beach.  Especially beaches with rock pools, where you can potter about for hours gazing into those lovely underwater gardens, watching the sea creatures going about their day-to-day business.  My favourite time to go is in winter, at dusk.  That’s when all the little critters start to get active and come out of the holes or from under rocks where they’ve been hiding all day.

You also get to enjoy some fabulous sunsets…

The animals I find most fascinating are the sea anemones, of which there are several types at my local beach.

This one is crazy cute:

Doesn’t it look like it’s wearing baggy, stripey PJs!?

This little beauty was particularly inspiring:

I liked both its patterning and its colours.  It made me want to knit something in that scheme!

When I got home, I rustled in my stash to see if I had anything that matched.

Look what I found!

This is a combination of possum yarns from The Wool Company and Zealana, a bit of New Zealand merino yarn that I dyed a while ago using lichen, some eco-dyed yarn from a small New Zealand merino yarn producer Ihakara Wools, and some of Stansborough‘s Mythral.

And now to have some fun with it!!  🙂

PS:  My dial-up Internet connection appears to be behaving itself magnificently since my massive grizzle over its performance.  I’m making the most of it by pumping out the posts while it lasts!


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Wooper

Many of you dear readers will know by now that my little boy is a great fan of knitted soft toys (plushies).  Especially ones that have anything to do with Pokémon.  So imagine my delight when researching Pokémon toys on Ravelry to stumble across the wonderful Alyssa, who creates amazing amigurumi knitting and crochet patterns!

And this is what Eric chose and asked me to knit at speed:

It’s a free pattern, and written in a very innovative way – you almost need to do no sewing up at all as it’s pretty much knitted in one.  I’ve been used to having to knit all the pieces and then sew them up one by one… it’s rather painstaking.  So this was a refreshing change!

I am afraid I did not do a perfect job with the duplicate stitch on the tummy, but he doesn’t seem to mind, and Wooper was duly taken to school today for a show-and-tell.

Knitted in The Wool Company‘s 100% Perendale 8 ply yarn in Aqua and Cyclamen.

Thanks once again, Alyssa!


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A trio of cats

From time to time, Eric dreams up a little project for me to do for him.  This time, it was Andre – a fat, yellow, knitted cat.

Back in 2009, Eric’s father gave me a copy of the Feb 2009 Let’s Knit, a UK knitting magazine (now here’s a man who knows how to make a knitter happy!)  The kids spotted the article on the fabulous felines from the publication There are Cats in This Book by Viviane Schwarz.  So they each got one – Andre, Moonpie (tall, skinny blue cat) and Tiny (teeny tiny red cat).

Although Eric originally only got Moonpie, he kept thinking of Andre and Tiny.  He wrangled Tiny out of me quite a while ago, but last week he decided he simply had to have the last in the set – Andre.

So here they are, all together:

I’m not the best knitter of knitted toys, but they’ve passed the standard as far as Eric is concerned, so that’s good.

I knitted Tiny and Andre from The Wool Co’s perendale, but Moonpie is done in a crepe yarn, the brand of which I cannot now remember (needless to say, it’s not New Zealand yarn).