Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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Socktober

Hello!

Welcome to the beginning of Socktober festivities!

Today I am pleased to release two new sock patterns.

They are the large version of the Eriskay socks:

This pattern is the sock version of a modern take on the Eriskay gansey. Ganseys were knitted, functional sweaters worn by those who needed to be able to move freely in an age when garments were almost without exception heavy, stiff, tailored and restrictive. They originated with the sea folk of the British Isles – fishermen, sailors and the navy, who needed to wear garments that would be warm, wind and waterproof while allowing ease of movement. Typical patterning featured vertical or horizontal bands of knit and purl patterns and some cabling, inspired by the seascape and tools of their trade. The fancier ganseys were kept for ‘best’, with plainer, workday ganseys knitted with practicality and ease of repair in mind. The gansey from the island of Eriskay was known as the most ornately patterned gansey of the British Isles, and featured elaborate knit and purl patterns, cabling and lace.

his-eriskay-collage-2

Purchasers will get two patterns with this purchase – the large version shown above, and the existing medium size shown below. The large size version above was knitted using Vintage Purls Sock. It takes almost exactly 100g (360m) to knit a large-sized sock.

IMG_2300 (800x600)

The second new sock pattern is the Train Spotting socks.

Knitting on public transport is a somewhat specialised sport. You want to not infringe on other passengers’ personal space, and you also want to work on something interesting that doesn’t need frequent pattern checks or complicated stitch manoeuvres.  Socks are some of the most ideal travelling knits for that reason. I designed these socks to knit during my commute to work; interesting to knit but at the same time not require too much looking at a pattern or fiddly stitches.  It is called Train Spotting in honour of the reason behind this pattern and because I think the little windows in the pattern look like the flashing windows of a train going by.

img_2594-800x800

These were knitted using Meraki Studios Sock. The pattern is easy to knit, and comes with instructions for three sizes:  small (6″ leg circumference), medium (7″ leg circumference) and large (8″ leg circumference).

And don’t forget the best bit:  All purchases of my sock patterns between now and 31 October 2016 qualify for a 40% discount with the coupon code SOCKtober2016 (sinply enter this code on checkout to obtain the discount).

Happy Knitting!

 

 

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Sprig

Today, I am very happy to bring you a sock that celebrates Spring.  It is the second design in the Nature Series.

Peach blossom

This Spring, I have spent an inordinate amount of time happily staring at blossoms.

Plum blossom

Beautiful spring flowers, bluebells and snow drops.

snow drop

blue bell

I wanted to conceptualise the lacey, curved look of the flowers and blossoms in bare branches and settled on this.

Sprig socks

They are called Sprig.  The lacey design at once hints at the structure of the blossoms and the tangle of bare branches.

Sprig

They are a reasonably simple knit, just an eight stitch repeat.  If you are a very experienced lace knitter, you could knit these without having to refer to the pattern very much, but the rest of us will need to glance at the chart.

I have provided both written and charted instructions.  A few may be pleased to know that the only purl stitches needed in this pattern are in the ribbing and heel flap.

I’m not a confident user of test knitters, so I generally knit at least two versions of each sock pattern I produce myself, to make sure the pattern works.  It is still a terrifying experience to release a pattern… what if it has a mistake!!!?  I’ll get over it one day. 🙂

These versions were knitted in Soft Like Kittens’ Noodle Sock (grey):

IMG_0922 (800x793)

and Vintage Purls Sock:

Sprig

The pattern is available on Ravelry.

Happy Socktober!!

 

 


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Fresh

It’s amazing what happens when one is released from the daily grind of life.  Suddenly, I have so much energy, and ability to concentrate!  I feel so fresh!

Over Christmas, I finished these socks…

Socks

And started on another pair…

More socks

These are lovely, and the perfect Christmas knit.  The yarn is from Vintage Purls in a one-off colourway called “richly deserved”.  And because I was feeling festive, and in need of something festive-coloured, these socks have almost knitted themselves!

That’s about the most knitting I’ve been able to accomplish in a short period of time for a long while!

Despite the need to knit myself a summer cardigan, I cannot seem to keep away from the lace…

This is a lace weight version of the Ulva Lactuca shawl.  It incorporates the more gentle increases that I included in the pattern, but which are not shown in my original sample.

Ulva Lactuca in kiwi

It’s in Zealana Kiwi lace weight, in the Winter Green colour.  I think if I only had to knit with one yarn for the rest of my life, it would be Zealana Kiwi.  It is so amazingly versatile.  It’s warm, but not too warm.  It has that great cotton quality where things age very gracefully, yet the wool in it ensures that it keeps its shape.  And the lovely softness of possum gives it a feeling of luxury and lightness despite the fact that the possum fibres have been so well incorporated into the yarn that you cannot see them!  It doesn’t pill, or stretch, or look tatty after extended wear.  A garment knitted in Kiwi will last a lifetime, and still look amazing.  It’s such a good yarn.  When knitting time is short, one should only knit with yarn that is worth it!

As an alternative knit to the Ulva Lactuca, I am also still working on my Bo cowl.  It’s halfway done, which means I will be able to show it to you properly soon!

Bo in Mohair/merino

I do love the colours in this Forest colourway in Anna Gratton’s merino/mohair.

Ah… it’s so wonderful to be able to get excited about knitting again!

Hope you have all enjoyed your Christmas break.  The weather has been rather awful for many – as a ‘silver lining’, I hope it translated into lots of knitting time for you!


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Finding New Zealand knitting yarn in Wellington

(Updated Oct 2015)

It has been a while since I wrote about shopping for yarn in New Zealand!  So today, I thought I would write a specific post about where you can find New Zealand knitting yarn if you are visiting Wellington.

It’s interesting that each of the yarn stores in this city tends to have a different focus (interesting in that each store offers something slightly different, but also frustrating from a shopper’s point of view if you want to see as much as possible under one roof!)

This ‘tour’ starts in the centre of Wellington, and we gradually work our way outwards:

Knit World,  185 Willis Street, Wellington
Opening hours:  10am – 5pm, Monday to Friday
, 10am – 4pm Saturday, 11am – 2pm Sunday (Sunday hours from March – Sept only)
Tel:  +64 4 385 1918  E:  wellington@knitworld.co.nz

Knit World is one of New Zealand’s largest yarn store “chains”, with 10 stores nationwide.  It stocks a good  range of  quality New Zealand yarns, including Touch Yarns, Stansborough, Ashford and Naturally. The Wellington store recently moved to a street front store and is now a lot easier to find than previously.  

New Knit World shop front

This is a photo of the new store front location.  It is very easy to get to.

 

Nancy’s Embroidery  261 Thorndon Quay, Wellington, T:  +64 4 473 4047

As its name suggests, Nancy’s is a specialist embroidery and quilting store.  In 2015, the shop moved a couple of doors down from its old location and now has an exciting new open plan layout with a greater emphasis
on creative activities in the shop, including a casual drop in stitching and knitting area where you can sit and stitch!

They also stock an increasing range of luxury knitting yarn, including Stansborough’s Mithril, Annabelle’s, and their own New Zealand made label Strand, Zealana, Noro, MilliaMia and more.

Wellington Sewing Services, Shop 3, Kilbirnie Plaza, 22 Bay Rd, Kilbirnie
T:  +64 4 387 4505

I must tell you have that I have never been to this store.  However, from what I can see of their website, if you do find yourself in the Eastern part of Wellington city, this might be a useful place to bear in mind for yarn supplies.  The range of New Zealand yarn is not extensive, but they do have Ashford, Touch Yarns and Naturally, and possibly a bit more.  One of these days, I shall get over there to investigate in person!

There’s a lovely sandy beach down that way… with a hip cafe where you can sit outside on a nice day.

 Holland Road Yarn CompanUpstairs, Grand Arcade, Willis St, Wellington CBD.  
Opening hours:  10am – 5pm Tues – Fri, 10am – 4pm Sat
T: +64 4 499 6845

This store is owned by the creator of Knitsch yarns.  In addition to the Knitsch range of pretty, hand-dyed yarn, the store stocks an array of other exciting New Zealand yarns, including Zealana and Ashford, as well as some of the Skeinz yarns.  The store also stocks a range of international yarns that we haven’t been able to readily access before in Wellington.

Holland Road Yarn Co. Willis St

Zealana Kiwi and Naturally Waikiwi and 4 ply

Zealana Kiwi and Naturally Waikiwi and 4 ply

Stansborough, 68 Fitzherbert Street, Petone, Wellington

T:  +64 4 566 5591 

While you are in Petone, you should also drop in to visit Stansborough, home of some of the beautiful fabrics that have graced movies such as Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and many others.  Stansborough’s gallery which is only a five – ten minute walk from HRYC in Jackson St.  The gallery is stocked with stunning, pure Stansborough Grey wool blankets, throws, shawls and other items, all woven on turn-of-the-century looms in elegant weave patterns, and hand-finished to perfection.  They make beautiful quality, unique gifts to take home.  And of course, you can also find Stansborough’s gorgeous yarns!  You’ll also see the looms that the fantastic fabrics are woven on – fascinating!

Stansborough yarns

Knit World, 62 Queen’s Road, Lower Hutt, Wellington
Tel:  +64 4 566 4689 

This is Knit World’s Lower Hutt store.  It does not have the same variety of New Zealand yarns, but if you cannot go to the city store, this store is still a good one to visit.

Thimbles’n’Threads, 40 Park St, Upper Hutt, Wellington
Tel:  +64 4 526 6513

The furtherest “Wellington” store from the city centre, it’s about a 40 minute drive up State Highway 2 from Wellington city.  If you’re on your way to the Wairarapa (home of fabulous wines), this is a nice little diversion along the way.   It is divided evenly into well-displayed embroidery, quilting and knitting supplies.  It’s a large,  gleaming, comfortable shop, very clean and neat.  It smells especially nice.  The range of haberdashery (including beautiful buttons), quilting and embroidery threads is staggering.   The yarn range has been reduced a little over the years, but it is still substantial, and what they do have is good.  If you want to see (and squish) the entire Touch Yarns range, this is where you should come.  It’s the only place I have seen it all together – 100% merino in 4 and 8 ply, boucle, brushed mohair, possum yarn, sock yarn, and scarf kits.  They also stock Annabelle’s as well as some Naturally yarns (as well as other imported quality yarns).

Of course, it was rude not to buy anything when I went to visit, so a small souvenir had to come home with me…

I know… more sock yarn!  I did spend a long time lingering over the beautiful skeins of hand-dyed possum yarns, but they were just a bit more than my budget can afford at the moment.

So there you have it.  I have probably missed one or two of the smaller stores that stock a limited range of yarn, but this is the basic list.

Enjoy your visit here!


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The indie dyers of New Zealand

It’s been a while since I’ve done any yarn reviews.  And it also occurred to me recently that I haven’t given you a review of New Zealand indie dyers yet!  It seems that in the past couple of years New Zealand has experienced a huge surge in the number of indie dyers making their beautifully dyed yarn (or top) available for sale.

There’s something about New Zealand indie-dyed yarn. It’s somehow extra-super-luscious.   The colours sing.  The yarn is generally commercially spun, extremely good quality wool (including merino), merino/silk, alpaca or possum merino.  It’s bold, it’s adventurous and it’s just the kind of thing to give a knitter (or crocheter!) a head-rush from pure sensory overload.

So today, I thought we could have a drool over the pretty products from some of these talented New Zealanders. I’ve used the Urban Dictionary‘s definition of indie dyer for this exercise: “An independent dyer, i.e. someone who dyes yarn or fiber on a small scale.”

Before we plunge into colour heaven, I thought I’d mention a few points:

  • Some of the indie dyers I’m about to mention are ones I have spoken about before in previous posts, and in this post I can show you examples of their dyeing gorgeousness (some examples of which you see above).
  • Others are new to me in the sense that I haven’t purchased their yarn (yet), and here I’ll just share a link to their lovely, drool-worthy websites where you can see examples of their work.
  • I’m also going to mention Holland Road Yarn Company (HRYC) a fair bit. One reason is simply because this is the only place I have seen these yarns in a retail environment.  The other reason will become apparent as you read on.
  • Except where otherwise mentioned, these dyers use yarn that has been commercially spun in New Zealand (as far as I am aware).
  • I won’t be covering some of the more established brands that also hand-dye, such as Little Wool Company, and Touch Yarns – but you can read about them by accessing their page from the menu bar above if you like.

Starting with:

Red Riding Hood Yarns – Red Riding Hood Yarns is the brainchild of Hannah, who hails from Taranaki, New Zealand.  She dyes small lots of DK-weight, 100% merino superwash yarn, although I’m not sure if she dyes other weights or fibre as well.  I’ve come across her yarns at HRYC, and oh my gosh, the colour is delicious!!  It’s very similar in style to some of the more well-known hand-dye brands that I have seen from overseas.

Curiouser and curiouser – Sabine lives in Tangimoana, a small coastal town in the Manawatu region.  She dyes a huge range of hand-selected top and yarns in various weights and fibres, striving for unique colourings, not repeatability, nor predictability.

Like most of the other indie people mentioned in this post, Sabine also loves doing commissions.  She doesn’t charge extra for doing something special, i.e. the wool is the same price as it would be on the website. I like that her site tells you what she’s dyeing next (lace-weight angora!) and also shows examples of how her yarn knits up.  Alice recently knitted a pair of socks in Sabine’s yarn, and you can see it in her post about it here.

Sabine also sells at specific craft events.  The next ones where she’ll be present are “Spinal Craft” in Palmerston North in September, and at the great craft market at Pataka Museum in Porirua (Greater Wellington) on 8 October.

Maude & Me – If you visit the etsy site I’ve linked to, you won’t see much going on.  But check out this post from Tash of HRYC, and you will see some of the heart-stopping colour that is Wellington-based Tracee’s work.  Maude is Tracee’s cat, and she is a very pretty girl indeed.  Tracee dyes a range of wool top – Merino, Romney and Polwarth are just some of the examples I’ve seen.

She also spins her yarn and sells it in hanks so that people like me who don’t spin can still enjoy her work. Here’s an example of a hank of Polwarth wool that I purchased from her a while ago. It’s so pretty that I haven’t had the heart to knit it yet.  So I look at it and stroke it and think about what I could knit with it, but for now, I’m happy to just have it in my collection:

As well as being stocked by HRYC, you can find Tracee with her yarn and top at craft events around Wellington and the region (you’ll have to contact her to find out where she’ll be next).

You may also remember this photo of Maude & Me’s stall at the Wellington Underground Market’s “Wonders of Wool” day:

I’m rather regretting I didn’t buy more that day!

Wabisabifibres – Matt is another Wellingtonian, and the creator of Wabisabi.  There’s not much happening on his etsy site either at the moment, but he’s another indie dyer whom you can luckily find at HRYC, and if you have a look at the link in the Maude & Me entry above, you’ll also see some of his work.  Matt only sells dyed top, and spinners I know just adore his work.

Knitsch – What can I say here that I haven’t already said?  I love Knitsch 100% merino sock yarn.  It’s gorgeous, and I’m developing a very healthy little collection of some of Tash’s glorious colours because every time I go into HRYC, she’s gone and added more delectable goodness to her range of colourways!  Somehow, one or two little skeins always manage to find their way into a brown paper bag to come home with me…

Although my Knitsch yarn getting knitted a little faster than I’d like, I can take comfort in knowing I can always pop down the road to get more…  I do like how Tash dyes not only multi-colours, but also semi-solids which are more to my taste.  Have a look at her range (this is not my stash, just to clarify!  It’s a picture of the yarn in her shop!):

I’ve knitted socks and mittens in her yarn, including this popular kids fingerless glove pattern, and have plenty more projects lined up for the next few months.  It is completely machine washable, and continues to look fresh even after extended wear.

Creative Outlet – Creative Outlet is a yarn store in Tauranga, Bay of Plenty.  In addition to other yarns, its owner also sells her own hand-dyed, 100% wool yarn in a range of weights. The last time I was in Tauranga, I ducked into the shop, and these 100% NZ wool pretties just had to come home with me:

It hasn’t become anything yet.  I’m still enjoying just having it in my collection.

Fibre Alive.  I have such admiration for James of Joy of Yarn.  He started his own range with super-twisted 100% merino sock yarn, and has recently expanded his hand-dyed offerings to include alpaca sock yarn, and two DK weights – possum merino and 100% merino.  I’m finding the Awesome Alpaca sock yarn particularly droolworthy (check out Jungle and Celebrate), and I can see all sorts of cute things knitted in the Delicious DK 100% merino (Slate..!)  It’s Joy of Yarn’s 3rd birthday this month, and James is offering a 30% discount on all purchases…

Here’s a picture of his yarn from the “Wonders of Wool” focus market I’ve spoken about above:

It’s interesting to me that everyone has their own unique treatment of colour, so that no matter how many yarns from separate indie dyers you see, you will never see the same colourway twice.  James has a very good eye for subtle colour, whether it’s elegant, or pretty, or manly, or contemporary modern.  He’s another one from whom I am finding it easy to collect a large quantity of yarn!  It’s particularly easy to do so as several times a year he makes his scrumptious yarn available at the Wellington Underground Market, as well as various knitting-related events around New Zealand.  However, I’ve also ordered from him online, and found his service extremely efficient and quick.  Someone else in the family was very happy to see a parcel from him as it came with the bonus of a small sweet edible…

You may remember my Knotty or Knice socks in his Fibre Alive yarn:

Happy Go Knitty.  Based in Auckland, the creator of Happy Go Knitty is the sister of the amazing MiA.  Such a crafty, talented family!  I do not personally know their story, but it is obvious there is a strong creative gene in that family!  A selection of Happy Go Knitty yarn is stocked by HRYC.  Check out the link I’ve provided to Happy Go Knitty’s felt site (NZ equivalent of etsy) where you can see some breathtaking work in merino possum and merino yarn.  I particularly love the soft pink/mauve of the last lot on the page.  She’s also another yarnie who attends craft events so that knitters and crocheters can “squish and caress” before purchase.  Have a look at her blog for information about where she’ll next be.

Doe ArnotFlagstaff Alpacas.  Doe Arnot is behind the design of the colour gorgeousness that is Flagstaff Alpacas.  She’s a fibre artist who lives in Oamaru, a small town near Dunedin in the South Island, and she works with Andy of Flagstaff to dye the NZ alpaca yarn he has had commercially spun.  Have a look at the Flagstaff link – the latest range of colours to come out has me all a-flutter!  Windsong and Waterfall look most extremely appealing.  Soon to appear is a new range of yarn in 10ply alpaca/wool mix.  I can’t wait to get my sticky fingers on some of it!!

Here are my socks that I knitted in the alpaca sock blend, using the Stipple colourway. They are so cosy and were my favourite socks ever.  Except that I put them in the washing machine on a hot wash once too many times (naughty me for not following washing instructions) and now they fit my 7-year-old son.  Sigh.

And of course, you’ll remember Annabella, and the Aviator, and the Blue Danube, all done in Flagstaff Alpacas yarn.

More pretty Flagstaff Alpacas yarn:

Stashable.  A reader recently wrote to me and asked if I’d come across this website before. I hadn’t!  Pixie has had an 80% wool, 20% nylon sock yarn spun to her specifications.  This yarn she has dyed into a huge array of colours which are truly “stashable!”  There are colour combinations to suit all tastes and ages, and I certainly will be acquiring something from her soon.  She also has examples of how the yarn looks when knitted, which is very helpful when deciding what to buy!

Stringing a Yarn – Based in Auckland, Jessicah specialises in hand-dyed merino top and merino/silk lace weight yarn.  Her colours are subtle, and beautifully appropriate for shawls and other projects requiring a drapey, fine yarn.  Over at HRYC, Tash shows us more of this yarn in one of her latest posts.

Yarnz – Two sisters, Nanette and Rayne, are behind Yarnz, another Wellington-based online yarn store.  Mostly, they stock imported yarn, but they do also have available a limited range of yarn that they have hand-dyed.

Fibre2go – Wool, silk and alpaca make this girl tick.  She’s an indie dyer who specialises in top for spinning.  I came across her site from a visit to the lovely Alice’s blog.

Vintage Purls.  Last but not least is the estimable Morag, based in Dunedin.  She’s the NZ equivalent of Wollemeise.  Her range includes a 100% pure merino lace weight, and “sock” and “Max” weights in 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon.  Her yarn is snapped up online the minute it is loaded, making it an object of cultish desire.  Fortunately Knitting Pretty, one of the local Wellington yarn stores I frequent stocks her yarn.  Here is a colourway from Vintage Purls that I treated myself to at Christmas (bought from Knitting Pretty):

I’ve washed and worn the socks in this yarn many times now, and both the colour and yarn continue to look as fresh as the day it was knitted.

So much choice!  So many pretty colours!  And so ends our little sojourn in the world of New Zealand indie dyers.  I hope you enjoyed the trip!


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Grown

My second pair of socks, in progress:

I’m using Vintage Purls‘ sock yarn, in a limited-edition colourway she called “Grown”.  It certainly has that foresty, leafy look.  Yum.

It’s a good colour to knit at the moment  – like the wet, green leaves on a grey and rainy day which is today.

The other day I also showed you a nice, woolly number.

Here’s a bit more of it:

This is the Gooseberry Cardigan, by Hannah Fettig.  It’s in the 2009 Interweave Knits Weekend issue.  It’s a top-down, mostly all-in-one construction, which I love.  Knitting the sleeves now.  Next the button bands and the collar, and I’m done!  The perfect, hardy, woolen cardigan to wear around the farm to keep me warm and not worry about snagging it somehow.  I started it a while ago, but put it aside to do Stomp.  But it’s time I finished it!

It’s the last day of school term today.  Where did the time go????