Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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There must always be a sock

Hello, and a happy weekend to you!

It is funny how sock knitting can become so addictive. How little twitches happen if there is not a sock to work on in the near vicinity at all times. What causes this devotion to the art of making beautiful footwear?

It is the yarn, looking oh so tempting on the shelf of one’s stash or store, as the case may be? Or is it all those lovely patterns out there, just begging to be made into a gorgeous sock of own’s own?

Or it is the wonderful feel of the yarn and the ever changing view of colour and pattern (especially in hand-dyed or self-patterning yarn) as it slides between one’s fingers, accompanied by the comforting click of the needles?

Is it the great satisfaction of seeing something so pretty coming off the needles in a relatively short time period, and being able to enjoy it afterwards for a long time?

In any event, I will not deny that I am totally addicted to making socks.
All the socks

I showed you the contrast cuff/heel/toe pair last week.  These are now my ‘take along’ socks because they are nice and easy and don’t require concentration or looking at a pattern to knit.

The pretty sunset coloured socks on the right are a pair that snuck on to the needles this week. You may have noticed my obsession on Instagram… They are the Caretta Caretta pattern in Alice Yu’s Socktopus book. I actually started the cuff in this yarn (Sokkusu O – Pairie Dusk) quite a while ago, intending to knit a plain vanilla sock, but there it got stuck until my current mood, which is ‘clean out all the WIPs!’ In the meantime, I acquired the Socktopus book (so many good patterns in there!) and decided that it would be nice to combine Sokkusu O (original yarn in the book) with one of her patterns. The combination is working beautifully, and I am very pleased with them. It is meant to have beads, but I do not like the idea of beads pressing into my feet so I have omitted them.

The blue of the left is the large size counterpart to the Eriskay sock pattern that I released some time ago. I’m going to be giving this pair to my brother for his birthday which isn’t for a couple more months, and so I have been a bit lazy about finishing them. But next week is looming, and this is another pattern that I will release for the Socktober celebrations, so I had better get my A into G!  This pattern will be available as a set with Eriskay – anyone who has purchased the medium size version will also get this one as part of the package.

The end sock is my sad attempt at joining the Aussie Knitter’s Sock KAL for July and August.

Bordurensocken

I am not sure why, but this sock is really not doing it for me. The patterning, I think, is possibly too intricate for a sock. I just haven’t been able to ‘get into’ it. It looks quite nice as a sleeve, or maybe even a pair of delicate fingerless mittens! In the meantime, I think the only thing is to frog it and save the delicious Circus Tonic Handmade yarn for another project that deserves it better. It has become an eyesore on my knitting desk.

And the other part of a sock knitting obsession?  Compulsively planning for the next pairs… which is part of yet another theme, use up some of that deep stash!

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Happy Knitting!

 


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Discoveries and meet-ups

Before I start today’s post, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your caring and concerned comments on my car crash. I may not be able to respond to each and every one of you individually, but your thoughts and kind wishes mean a great deal. Thank you, so much.

This week has been a little hard. Bruised ribs and whiplash don’t go away very quickly, but I am on the mend, and the young boy appears to be completely recovered, which is a massive relief! The insurance company is still to pay out as they are waiting on the police report before doing so. Hopefully that will not be much longer. Being without a car is a major hindrance!

So let’s move on to happier things and talk about knitting!

I finished the edging on Southern Skies, and here is the finished shawl. I have to say, I love it very much. The swirls of colour through it remind me of the southern lights, and as someone said on my Instagram account, it also looks a bit like a galaxy! Thanks again, Audry, for a beautiful pattern, and thanks to Anna Gratton for such a lovely night sky colourway.

The yarn is Anna Gratton’s 4 ply 100% wool, and I made only one change to the pattern – instead of a garter border, I knitted on a Shetland lace Brand Iron edging. It has made the shawl larger and also a bit more feminine, which I like.

Having a lot of time to knit on the train on the way to work has meant that I have been giving socks a bit of attention this week. This is Dark Harbour Yarn‘s lovely Jetsam sock in Narwhal Hits the Disco. I see she has a very similar Rare and Exotic Beast in her shop at the moment which would be almost identical in my opinion. I am using my Bark sock pattern to liven the knitting up a bit.

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Before I start on yet another new shawl, I have decided I need to finish another long time WIP.

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This is my Ulva Lactuca shawl in laceweight, using Zealana Kiwi. At this weight, it has become more a summer shawl/scarf style, which will be nice to use when the weather warms up again.

Being a blogger and reader of blogs has given me lovely opportunities to meet some wonderful people.

Recently, I had the great pleasure of having coffee with Keiry Belton, co-author of Stitching up Paris – The Insider’s Guide to Parisian Knitting, Sewing, Notions and Needlecraft Stores.

If you have not heard of her yet, Keiry has just returned from a period living in Paris as an expatriate. I enjoyed following the blog she wrote about her adventures while there.  While she was there, she also co-wrote Stitching up Paris with Barbara Cattoni, another expatriate living in Paris, who runs personal walking tours of Parisian stitching stores at http://www.stitchingupparis.com.

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Stitching up Paris is the ideal companion for any needlecraft fan. The contents are organised very neatly into both genre (knitting/fabrics/embroidery/haberdashery/vintage and shabby chic) and by also by area. This makes it easy to find the information you are after.

Well written, and filled with beautiful photography, I  especially loved reading the little stories about the stores/areas that accompanied the reviews.  If I ever get a chance to visit Paris, this book will be coming with me!

The book is available to purchase here and if you live in New Zealand, I understand that the book can also be purchased from Minerva.

I leave you today with a new indie yarnie discovery:

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This is Artist’s Palette Yarn, a UK indie dyer. With the exchange rate happily a bit friendlier at the moment, I took the opportunity to indulge in some pretty colourways. Her palette is very much to my taste – one of those sites where you could happily tick ‘one of everything please!’

Hope you are having a marvellous weekend!

 

 


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The trouble with WIPs

It is a wonderful and exciting thing to be a knitter. The ability to create new projects is boundless, limited only by one’s imagination, time and sometimes, skill.

On the other hand, the ability to finish new things, hampered by one’s “cast-on-itis” can sometimes be challenging. It is something I must grapple with this week so that I can happily cast on yet more things (and have some hope of finishing them!)

This week another new thing (or two) popped on to the needles.

Thank you very much to everyone who gave my votes a little extra boost for the Aussie Sock Knitters’ KAL.  The clear voter’s choice was Bordurensocken.

I had a couple of hiccups starting this one.  As I mentioned in my first post about this, I was going to use Tanis Fibre Arts’ Dove colourway.  Only, when I started knitting it, the result didn’t look so great.

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Despite the soft variegation, it was still too variegated, and I couldn’t see the design very well at all.

I finally found what I was looking for in Circus Tonic Handmade’s Revelry Sock in the Grey Whistler colourway. It’s a lovely pattern, so ornate, I love it! Once it is finished and modelled, you’ll be able to see the detail a lot better.

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I have been really enjoying Stray Cat Socks‘ new base, an 80% merino, 10% cashmere and 10% nylon blend, called “Essential Deluxe.” So much so that I have finished one sock already! The lovely drape and softness of this yarn, combined with the just ‘one more stripe’ syndrome made it hard to put down.

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I also really appreciated all your comments on last week’s swatching exercise.  Thank you! I think I will definitely go with the blue silk/merino/angora mix.  But first, I need to finish a couple of things!

This pair of fingerless mitts has been requested urgently by the eldest boy, now living the student life.  Obviously, the walk to uni in the mornings is a little chilly! I’m using Bleating Art’s Pacemaker Sock, a 100% super twisted merino yarn. Pattern is from my head.

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I’m also still working on my Swan River cardigan in Maniototo Wool and the Liliaceous Shawl in Zealana Kiwi Laceweight.  There is nothing new to show you, so I will wait until they are finished before I put up any more photos of them.

And of course, this post would not be complete without some talk of WIPs to come!

Midnight Yarns

This beautiful mushroom coloured 100% merino from Midnight Yarns arrived in my letterbox recently. It is destined to become Lacebark as soon as I finish Liliaceous!

To my North American friends, Happy 4th of July!


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Coming soon

Hello!! I hope you are enjoying a lovely weekend!

I’m popping in very briefly today.  This week has been one of those very busy weeks, and although there is a huge amount cooking away in the background, I can’t show much of it to you yet.

Inspiration:  I suspect that many of you already know about this show.  I found it, and binge watched it, and I think it has to be the singularly most inspiring thing I have ever seen in my knitting life.  The episode I have linked you to has English subtitles, but if you watch it and like it, you’ll find that the language of knitting is so strong that you don’t really need to know what they are saying in the other episodes… It has electrified me!

Please excuse the horrible lighting – daylight disappeared before I got around to taking a photo…

The green things

The socks are my current ‘take along’ plain vanilla sock. They have received the most love this weekend, because I’ve been doing a bit of running around with the boy.  It’s an Opal colourway – Buffalo Bill.

The shawl is Liliaceous, another gorgeous number by Mary-Anne Mace. I’m using Zealana Kiwi in the Fern colourway.  It is another thank you gift… better knit it nicely!

The ball in the corner is a current secret project in Circus Tonic Handmade in the Silvereye colourway, and the skein in the top right is about something that I’ll be telling you about in a couple of days!!

Which leads me to say, come back on Monday, 16 May, because I have something brilliant to share with you.  (NZ/Aust readers please note this is US time, so it may not be until Tuesday, 17 May our time).  A wonderful designer has made a generous contribution to Sustain the Sea, and it is just beautiful.

I leave you with part of one of the photos minus the project… just a teaser!

Mystery pic

See you again soon!


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All the shawls and a sock?

I was having a conversation with my daughter this morning over Skype, and in response to her question about what I was doing, I mentioned I was fussing over the heel of my latest sock design.  “Mother, why is it always about the heel with you?” she asked.  “You are always so fussy about your heels!”  It’s funny, because I hadn’t thought that it was characteristic of me to fuss over my heels, but there you go!

The pattern is written, and almost ready to go.  Here is a photo of the finished pair of socks.  I have to say, I adore the way they look.  I like a feminine sock!  This version is in Vintage Purls Sock in Whisper of Doubt.

Mary Mary

The point of my fuss is this:

Mary, Mary socks

Can you see how the sock is just a little bit too tight over the instep?  My kind pattern tester hasn’t quite got to the heel yet, so I can’t find out how it fits on her for a few more days.

The reason for the tightness is because there is not enough width around the beginning of the heel to accommodate the foot properly.  It is something very easily fixed in a sock with heel flap because you just work the length you need to accommodate the length of your heel.  Because I have made things difficult for myself, and incorporated an afterthought/forethought heel utilising an eye of partridge heel, some technical factors come into play in the heel shaping that don’t usually affect the usual plain afterthought heels.  Eye of partridge is a dense stitch, and I deliberately decided to see if I could incorporate it because it gives strength to the heel which (in my case at least) is the part of the sock that gets heavy wear.  I especially like that the base of the heel also receives reinforcing – the reason why I haven’t abandoned this in favour of a reverse heel flap with eye of partridge.  I could use reinforcing thread I suppose, I do know that.

I also really like the way it complements the look of the sock.  For this stitch to work in an afterthought heel, I have worked out I need to work in about 10% extra width before starting the heel.  I also need to add rows before starting the shaping because the dense stitch makes a heel that is shorter than the normal afterthought heel. This where things get interesting because it cannot be so long that it creates a baggy bit around the ball of the foot, nor can it be too short, which then also makes the sock a bit tighter than it should be.  I’ve been fiddling with proportions, and I think I have reached a happy medium, but I think I need to knit one more sock to make sure I have got it right.

In case you are wondering, I will also include the instructions for a normal afterthought heel for those who would rather not try this unusual heel construction.  If you are a habitual toe-up sock knitter, you’ll probably just work your usual preferred heel and it will look just as good.

However, there may be knitters who want to attempt the heel as I have designed it, and so I am persisting.  My daughter ended our conversation about the socks by remarking that I always liked to make things difficult for myself.  Hmm.  Hopefully it will make things easy for you though!

So if you are wondering where the pattern is, that is the explanation!  I am nearly finished with the second of the socks in the pretty Galah colourway from Circus Tonic Handmade that I showed you last time, and hopefully that heel will be the one that I like and decide on to complete the pattern.

The final thing that troubles me is that I have recently discovered that I have a heel spur, most likely on both feet. Ironic isn’t it?  Perhaps this is why my heels have always been a subconscious cause of concern.  A heel spur is an extra growth of bone on the heel.  The extra bone is putting strain on my ligaments, causing my feet to swell, but no pain in case you are wondering. As you can see from the photos, my feet are not excessively puffy, but they are not my normal shape.  I’ve probably had it for quite some time without knowing.  I do worry that it is affecting my ability to get the fit right for those who do not have fat feet, hence the additional need for a pattern tester.  I have discovered some exercises that seem to be helping to ease the swelling. Hopefully the condition will go away in due course!

According to the weather service, February is shaping up to be the hottest on record since 1927 for the Wellington area.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it is also true for the Wairarapa.  I’m glad it’s not just all in my head as it’s driving me batty and making me seriously reconsider the wisdom of moving to this place. The young man has quite aptly described this weather as “boiling alive in our skins.” Roll on Autumn, please bring back the cool weather!

Apart from the socks, the hot weather is  obviously influencing my knitting choices as all I can think about at the moment is to knit all the shawls!!

Shawls in progress

Southern Skies’ final chart is nearly complete. I will be adding a lace border because I want this shawl to be as large as possible.

I am about to start on the lace border section of the Mahy Shawl.  This shawl is the second project I’m knitting in the Gift KAL that is happening on My Sister’s Knitter’s Ravelry Group.  This shawl is knit in the modern hap method – you work the plain inner, and then knit the lace border on to it.  You can read more about hap shawl construction in this interesting blog post by Knit British.

Another shawl that I will start soon is Vitus.  This is Sonya Newstead’s latest design, and it is so pretty.  She was extremely generous and sent me a copy of the pattern when I admired it.  Thank you Sonya! My initial thoughts were to pair it with Circus Tonic Handmade’s Fiesta Fingering in Spangled Drongo (the blue in the foreground), but because this pattern needs 600m, I began suffering from ‘not enough yarn’ stress, even with 50g of a complimentary yarn to make up the balance (which should be a total of 600m – so really, I shouldn’t be concerned).  The plan is now to use a merino silk yarn that I have for Vitus, and make Spangled Drongo and the complimentary yarn into a small version of  Spring Awakening (another pattern I’ve had for a while) where I will definitely have enough yarn.

Actually, I think I could well spend another six weeks months purely knitting shawls.  I suspect I’m being a bit optimistic about my abilities to knit them all.  It is also likely that the eventual return of cool weather will bring about a sudden desire to knit all the socks and sweaters, but in the meantime, would you like to see the other ‘must knit shawls’ that are heading my current queue?

Rosebud by Tin Can Knits (this is a pattern gifted to me by a lovely friend, and I have had good intentions to knit it for quite some time… thinking of knitting it in the pale sage green alpaca that you see in the photo).

Spellbound by Boo Knits (having bought this pattern a while ago, I must knit it! Plus, I love Boo Knits’ ethereal lace shawls.  I like the version with a stockinette body – the all over lace is a bit too much).

Liliaceous by Mary-Anne Mace (it’s just a super pretty quick knit shawl.  At the moment, my current plan is to use that beautiful autumn leaf coloured 100% wool yarn you see in the photo from Anna Gratton.  I may change my mind yet).

High Country Crescent by Mary-Anne Mace (I think I am beginning to have a thing for Mary-Anne’s patterns).

Waiting For Rain by Sylvia Bo Bilvia (hmm, this is now getting ridiculous.  How many shawls can one girl knit?  It has such an interesting construction though!)

Omelet by Joyce Fassbender (when the Yarn Harlot knitted this shawl a few years ago I thought with awe, “never in a million years would I be able to knit something like that!”  Now I know I can.  It’s a thing that I need to conquer – that I knit something that I thought I never could).

And finally, I hope I am not premature in telling you that I think I have found myself a temporary contract for a few weeks at least.  I haven’t got the signed contract in my hot little hands yet, but it is a start!  Thank goodness for that!

Yarnville news

Please don’t forget to follow the Yarnville page for news and updates if you’re interested in attending: news about a free spinning wheel clinic by Mary Knox has just been posted.  There is now also a Ravelry group for those who would prefer to receive updates this way.


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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.