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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Many things

Hello!  I hope this post finds you well, and enjoying life.

I have been missing in action on this blog for a week because life has been quite eventful (in a good way), being the school holidays, and I seem to be finding it hard to find the concentration to sit and write at the moment. Thank you for your patience.  I do not intend to give up blogging as it is a much appreciated means of communicating with like-minded people like you, my dear readers.

One of the things we have got up to was a quick trip to the mountains.

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There was not much snow on the Central Plateau. It has been a very mild winter so far.  But there was enough for the kids to have fun sledding. Mostly, it was great to catch up with my siblings and their families, whom I have not seen for some months.

Let’s get into the knitting news!

I have been very honoured to contribute a pattern for another sock box. This one is from Yarn Crush. My pattern is coming out in October, and I’ll be giving you more hints as time goes on, but I thought I would point out this well-priced product if you are interested in subscribing.

Also watch out for a few more sock pattern releases from me in the near future. The samples are piling up, so time to get down to business and finish the patterns! The first one I want to release is this, the Sassy Socks.

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You may recall that this was the PostStitch SockStitch pattern for June. Did I ever link you to their interview with me and Hannah Ginn of Circus Tonic Handmade, whose yarn was in that box?  Those articles are here if you want to read.

I also have a few finished objects to show you.

Here is the beautiful Liliaceous shawl, another gorgeous design by Mary-Anne Mace.

Liliaceous

I used Zealana Kiwi Laceweight in the Fern colourway. It took almost all of four balls to knit.

As usual, the pattern is beautifully written. I loved knitting it, despite making a terrible mistake in the final chart (my own fault), and having to rip out a day’s work in order to reknit the edging correctly. These things happen!
Liliaceous

This shawl is a thank you gift for the very nice person who was kind enough to give me a job at the beginning of the year.

I also finished the fingerless gloves, and they have been appreciatively received by the eldest boy. Thank goodness he likes them!

Fingerless gloves

I am still working on the Swan River cardigan. It is almost time to make the second armhole, which means that I should be nearing completion in about a week (she says!)

It is also time to finish the Southern Skies shawl, which has been hibernating for some months.

Southern skies shawl

The thing that concerns me is that despite using much larger needles, the shawl still seems to be much smaller than I would like it to be. I will add on a significant lace border if that is the case – I have plenty of yarn to make that modification. Between that and blocking, I should get the size I desire!

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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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.

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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!!


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Zinging along

Hello!  Welcome to the weekend!

It has been a busy couple of weeks chez Kiwiyarns.  There have been jobs to apply for, and agents to see.  No news yet, but we’ll just keep working at it.

I am really appreciating not feeling exhausted all the time.  The first week after finishing work was spent in a state of comatose fatigue.  I think my body took the opportunity for rest and greedily decided that I could sleep for the whole week!!  I am now feeling a lot more refreshed and energetic, and able to knit for long periods of time without falling asleep!!

In between looking for that elusive day job, very happy times knitting all the things, planning future posts about New Zealand yarns and thinking about new designs have been had. If only this could be a full-time occupation!

Today, I want to tell you about KnitPro Zing needles.  I am not sure when these were introduced on to the market, but they are marked “new” so they must be very recent.  I discovered the circulars at Holland Road Yarn Company – their bright colours caught my eye at the counter.  As I am always eager to try new needles some had to come home!

The Zings seriously impressed.  So much that I had to get a double-pointed set to go with my circulars! I got these ones at Vintage Purls.

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Notice how mine are gold?  That’s because it’s the colour code for 2.25mm needles.  Every size in this range has its own colour – isn’t that neat!? No more squinting at the size printed on the needle or checking with the needle gauge – you can tell the size from looking at the colour.  Good thing I like gold.

The reason I love these needles so much is because KnitPro has finally got everything right:

  • It’s a lightweight needle made of a superior grade lightweight metal.  KnitPro doesn’t specify what metal is used, but it is light, and very strong.
  • It is extremely smooth, almost (but not) too smooth to the point that you have to be careful that your stitches don’t slip off the needles!
  • There is no join between the tip and the stem of the needle.  More plus factor on the smooth knitting front.
  • The handle of the circulars is long.  I have real trouble with short circular needles.  These are the perfect size for me. I wondered if I was imagining the stem as being longer, so I got out an assortment of needles (all sized 2.25mm) to compare their lengths.  Turns out, I wasn’t.

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  • If you are interested, the needles in the photo (from above) are Addi Lace, KnitPro Symfonie, KnitPro Zing and KnitPro Karbonz.
  • You can see that the Zing needles are clearly the longest needle in the lot, even though I haven’t been able to accurately align all the needles.
  • Best of all, I love the tips: They are pointy enough to pick up stitches neatly, yet not so pointy as to poke holes in one’s fingers.  The points are also short enough that minimal finger movement is required to wrap the yarn around the needle to create a new stitch.  Have a look at the photo below.  I refer to the “point” as the part where the tapering ends.  You can see that there is a much shorter point on the Zing compared to a Symfonie.

Needles comparison

I think that a lot of thought has gone into creating these wonder needles.  I discovered how much easier they made my knitting when I picked up a sock WIP on my usual wooden KnitPro Symfonies.  Oh dear.  Not as wonderful as the Zings!  That shorter point and smoother stem makes a massive difference to my knitting comfort.

Just to clarify, I haven’t been paid by any party to endorse these needles.  I’m just sharing my latest wonderful discovery.

Looking at the background project in the photos it reminds me that I may have forgotten to show you my progress on Empty Nets since I cast on.  I have shown it on Instagram, but have forgotten to talk about it here!  Tut, tut!

Empty Nets

This photo is much more colour accurate that the ones above with the needles.  I have already completed the 17 repeats required in the pattern, but I want to make this a nice big shawl so I’m going to go for a few more repeats until I’m happy with the size.  A couple more repeats should do it.  I have plenty of the Zealana Kiwi laceweight that I’m using which means I do not have to worry about running out of yarn.  Hopefully I can show you a finished object in a couple of days!

I’ll be back in a few days to tell you about the rest of my projects.  I think I have taken up enough of your time for one day!

Wishing you a good weekend.

Since writing this post, I logged onto the news to see the dreadful attack in Paris.  I hope you are all safe.  A terrible day for our world.


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This week

Well hello there, and a Happy Sunday to you!

Thank you so much for your lovely comments and support for my latest sock pattern, Sprig.  I’m so happy that you like it!

With Sprig finally off my radar, I’ve been focusing on finalising the pattern for my next design, Daisy.  With each passing design, my concepts seem to get more and more intricate, and although I am Super Happy with this next sock, I know it is going to be a possibly too fiddly for many.  It’s not really one of those talking and knitting designs.  So… I have also developed an alternative version which retains the main concept but does allow talking and knitting at the same time.  I am finishing the writing and testing phase now.  It is a very fun design – it will allow you to use up sock yarn scraps too!

I do have a finished object to show you!

Reyna

Reyna is done.  I love how it has turned out in Noro.  I added a picot bind-off to make it a bit more feminine.  It is a small scarf rather than a shawl in my opinion.  I think you could have a lot of fun with it in sport or DK weight – it would become a beautiful, large version that would be very snuggly in winter.

Having finished Reyna, I felt a large hole open up in my world of shawl WIPs… and quickly cast on for another one…

Empty Nets

This is the beginning of Empty Nets, a gorgeous design from Sonya Newbold that is also a contribution to the Sustain the Sea initiative, still very much on my mind.  I’m using Zealana Kiwi Laceweight in the Ponamu colourway.  Sonya is a very clever designer.  I love how this design is going to start splitting at this point into the net shapes with the wave borders on either side.

I have to share some yarn love.  When Anna Gratton featured these beauties, some had to come home to me!  The first is her Ocean colourway – it is a 400g hank of merino/mohair.  The second is Iris, in 100% wool fingering weight.

Anna Gratton yarns

I do have a particular project in mind for Ocean.  I thought it would make a very nice Kate Davies Northmavine Hap.  To my great joy, I have discovered that I do have the exact right match for the grey contrast!

Northmavine hap yarns

My early morning strolls in the garden to collect food for the rabbit and guinea pig have given me so much delight. It is such a nice way to start the day.

Wild poppy

A delicate wild poppy in the field next door, little papery petals still opening up.  So fleeting that if you do not catch a photo when you see it, the petals will have dropped before you come back.

Blueberry

The blueberry bush is very happy in its new home in the vegetable patch, and promises lots of delicious berries soon!

Purple chard

My mutant chard looked stunning against the rising sun.  New growth is appearing to replace the winter-worn leaves, but I did like the effect of the pink veins contrasting with the green leaves in the early morning light.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!