Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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Winter

“I think you need to knit a sweater next.” said my friend, Alex. She is right, I suspect. The current shawl and sock streak has enabled me to knit at times when I just need to knit and not think, and also produce beautiful neckwear that goes well with my wardrobe. But maybe it is time. I recently got some beautiful Maniototo Wool in Aran Style. Maybe it is time it becomes a sweater.

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I have not blogged much recently. A lot of it has to do with being fully occupied on the work front, which means that all I have felt like doing when I got home was to knit to lessen the effects of a stressful day.  I’ve also been dealing with a personal issue that has taken a lot of emotional energy.  Things are a bit ‘low’ here, but such is life, disappointing things happen, and at some point in time I hope to be back to my former, more balanced self.

I’ve finished/started a few things since you last saw me here:

I’m of course most proud of the lovely Speckle Tonic, another gorgeous Lace Eater design.

I used two skeins of Circus Tonic Handmade’s single ply merino. The colourways I used are Grey Whistler and Cape Barren Goose. I used almost the entire 200g, and ran out of the grey on the very last row.  This caused a bit of a predicament, but I decided to experiment by using the lighter colour for the bind off, and I think it actually has worked really well.

My Find your Fade shawl has fared less well. I find the lace on this design too random looking for my liking. The shawl is currently back in balls while I work up the motivation to start again and pick a lace detail that I can live with.

And in the meantime, pretty stripey socks are a great form of meditational knitting!

Now to tell you about a new family member who has come to stay: You may remember that we used to have a little mini lop rabbit, Cole. He had to stay behind when we moved to this house, but the young man hankered after his beloved pet and has never stopped wanting wanting him back. Recently, an opportunity came up to perhaps have him back, but I learned at about the same time that he had passed away.  Naturally, this was a very upsetting thing to learn, and made the young man even sadder that he would never see his lovely rabbit again.

Cole had fathered a set of babies before he passed away, and the daughter rabbit in turn, had recently had babies of her own. The young man was determined that we obtain one of Cole’s descendants, and in the time-honoured tradition of kids who get their parents in a situation where there is not much you can do to back out of it, someone has come to live with us.

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This is Caramel. He is lively and fun and full of energy.

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We won’t be able to have him in the garden because he’ll dig holes and be damaging to the property. But he gets lots of supervised hoppy time in the house, and he is busy endearing himself to us with his very engaging ways.

I hope you are having a lovely weekend wherever you are. I’m looking forward to an afternoon tucked up in front of the fire, enjoying the therapeutic effect of playing with sticks and string.

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Autumn

Hello!  I hope this post finds you well and happy. It is a misty, wet day today, and we are expecting a bit of weather over the next few days. I hope it isn’t too bad – the storm caused quite a bit of damage in Australia, I understand.

My favourite season of the year approaches, and I am much looking forward to crisp, frosty mornings and toasty nights in front of a warm, crackling fire.

The awesome thing about having an established garden is discovering the hidden delights that reveal themselves with each passing season. Here are some of the new treasures that I have been enjoying.

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Hydrangeas are slowly deepening into autumnal shades.IMG_3306 (1024x575)IMG_3305 (1024x575)

These gorgeous flowers have popped up and gaily decorate the garden. Does anyone know what they are called?IMG_3288 (1024x575)

The wood pile has been replenished, in time for that first cold night.

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And now, on to this week’s news!

Just for you Steph, here’s the baking I did this week, an oaty caramel slice. 🙂

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I made it a bit more fancy by adding coconut to the base and also topped it with sliced almonds. It has gone down very well at home. I took some to work to share, as there is no way we can finish it all without it going stale. Everyone thought it was very nice. If there is interest, I can supply the recipe.

Knitting this week has been reasonably productive due to the fact I now take the train to work instead of driving. I have to say, I much prefer not being stuck in anxiety-inducing traffic jams every morning, and being able to get to work at an earlier hour to boot! It also is a way to make me leave the office by 6pm so that I get home in time to cook dinner and spend an hour with the boy before he goes to bed.

Last week, I finished the Spring Creek Shawl, another beauty of a pattern from The Lace Eater. Here it is, styled as I have worn it to work all week:

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I just love it! The border has a beaded lace design that Mary-Anne explains completely unintentionally looks like a dragonfly, but I think it actually fits the creek theme very well, given how dragonflies hover over streams. I used green beads, which I think gives the motif a more insect-like character.

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As usual with Mary-Anne’s patterns, she has provided a lot of knitting-interest-factor in this shawl, but none of the lace techniques are at all complicated.

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Some more details:

  • I used approx 180g of yarn (nearly one skein each of the two colours I chose – Tanis Fibre Art’s Dove colourway and Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock in Mink)
  • I skipped the first colour change to create a larger block of colour in the first section, and deliberately engineered the remaining colour changes so that the more detailed lace was knitted with the darker semi-solid, to show up the pattern.

The other thing I finished this week were my train knitting socks:

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These are to be a gift for a friend who has the same size feet as me. I used Stray Cat Socks self-striping yarn in the Denim & Dandelions colourway. It’s such a fun colour combination! There is a little bit of greedy piggy in me that says ‘I want them!’ but honestly, with a drawer literally bursting with handknit socks of my own, it is time I did some sharing with knit-worthy friends.

So what’s next?

I am currently working on another pair of socks. These are the Cranachan socks from Issue 96 of The Knitter.  The yarn is Whimzy Sokkusu O in Flower Power. Sokkusu O is definitely one of my favourite sock yarn bases. I like how springy it is, and how defined the stitches are. Did you know it is milled in Italy?  It’s a little bit of fancy, and I like that I am supporting a base made by a quality manufacturer.

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I have also been quite enchanted with the Find your Fade shawl creations that I have been seeing all over the internet, and have been playing with some ideas of my own.

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I still cannot decide which colour combination to use, but all the favourites have been bagged up together, and I think the best thing will just be to start with the colour I am convinced has to be part of the shawl, and just let the ‘fade’ happen as I knit.

Wishing you a wonderful start to your week.

Happy Knitting!


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Catch up

Hello there! Things are certainly going pear-shaped with my intentions to blog regularly!  I have managed to disappear yet again for quite a while. As well as being busy at work, I have also been sick. There is a bug going around that knocks you sideways – a nasty thing that masquerades as a cold, but then you find yourself sapped you of energy and strength for quite some time afterwards. I suspect a few of you may have had it too. In my case, I was down for three weeks, resulting in very unproductive weekends. It has not been fun at all. And I have really missed my interactions with all of you.

However, I have had some time to knit, so it wasn’t entirely unproductive.  It is another reason I have been silent here. Knitting is such great stress relief.

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This is my lastest project – the Spring Creek shawl. I love the moodiness of the two colours together – Tanis Fiber Arts’ cashmere blend in Dove and Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock in Mink.

Supplejack has been finished for a while, and I have been wearing it almost exclusively. I love it and am actually thinking of making another of this one – it is such a lovely design and a very fast knit. You’ll see there are a few ways to wear this shawl. In one of the photos you see me with a very special knitting friend. She lives in the UK, but she came over to visit her family, and we got to meet up!!! It was a most awesome weekend!

I used a combination of four yarns for Supplejack – Ruataniwha Dye Studio in NZ lambswool in the Spruce colourway (that’s the main lace panel), Dark Harbour Yarn Port in Limey and Pearls That Were His Eyes (bright green and grey) and Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label in Lotus (the variegated greens).

I have also been knitting socks.

These are a plain vanilla sock in Moods of Colours Softsock in a self-striping colourway.  The yarn was so pretty – I had to have me some!

These socks are ones I also finished a couple of weeks ago – Waving Lace Socks in Circus Tonic Handmade Revelry Sock in the Frilled Monarch colourway. Another very pretty colourway in one of my all-time favourite yarns!

I can’t believe it is autumn already. From this knitter’s point of view, the New Zealand summer has been rather marvellously cool, and I am glad of it.

The plums have come and gone, and now the apples are ripe, and making delicious apple pies and crumbles for one young man’s happy stomach. Homegrown produce is the best.

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend.

Happy Knitting!

 


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A New Year

Hello! It is the eve of another new year! I wish I could say the time has gone fast, but so much has happened, that I think it has been a very full year. It has been an eventful year on many, many, counts. I hope this year has treated you kindly on a personal level. My own has certainly been one of those roller coasters – terrible lows and also incredible highs. I am interested to see what the next 365 days bring!

I don’t have a finished object to show you as knitting time has been a little limited lately. But there are a few nice projects accompanying me into the new year:

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This is Regenerate. It should be nearly finished by now, but I made a major rookie mistake knitting this! There are two charts per row for this shawl, and for some reason, I knitted them in the wrong order. I wondered why I had so much trouble getting the pattern to look right and was getting quite frustrated with my knitting skills when I realised, into the third repeat of the second and third charts that I was doing it the wrong way round!!! Major durrh moment, and major sulking occurred as I ripped out the shawl to start all over again.

I re-ordered the printed charts and after a couple of days spent gathering my wits, started again. I am pleased that this time, the shawl is looking like it is meant to. The added bonus is that it is much easier to knit – for some ‘strange’ reason!

I am using Anna Gratton‘s gorgeous silk/mohair/wool blend in the Forest colourway. I really like how it is turning out.

I also have a couple of obligatory socks on the go.

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These pretty things are the Waving Lace Socks. I am knitting them in Circus Tonic Handmade’s Revelry sock in the Frilled Monarch colourway. Here’s a closer look:

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The other sock is some gorgeous Stray Cat Socks merino/cashmere/nylon blend:

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These are for the youngest boy, who is now taller than me. I knitted him some socks earlier in the year, and found to my horror that his feet had grown while I finished them. This time, they are man-sized socks!  Let’s hope they last a little while…

As the new year begins to roll in around the globe, I wish you Happy New Year!

May 2017 be a good year for you.


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Wait…

Oh gosh. Since when did it become December!? Christmas is just around the corner, and there is still so much to do!

Isn’t it funny how the end of a year provokes a whole range of thoughts around life, deadlines, accomplishments, wishes. In a way, it is a good thing because it gives us a sense of time. In another way, it can unintentionally create feelings of stress that shouldn’t be there. I do find it a great motivator to remember to ‘do’ something with my life.

In this post, I think it’s time I fronted up and explained a bit about my less-than-regular posts of late. Make a cup of tea and settle in… this is a bit of a wordy one!

Life has been quite distracted chez Kiwiyarns over the past couple of months. As of November, I began working in a permanent role, although I have been in a ‘caretaker’ role for that position for a few months now. It’s a senior job that is giving me a lot of satisfaction (and finally, some life certainty!) but is also draining my energy and ability to keep up the blog on a regular basis. I do apologise for this, as I value your interaction with me so much. My life over the past few years would not have been anywhere near as rich or as fulfilling had I not started this blog and pursued the path of knitting creativity. But none of that would have been nearly as good if it hadn’t been for the support and friendship I have received from you. I thank you for this from the bottom of my heart.

In my dream life, I would be a full-time knitting designer, fully immersed in the art of knitting and sharing that dream. However, from what I have seen and learned over the past few years, it takes a certain life circumstance for that to become a reality for most people.  Importantly, you need to have a financial backer (usually, one’s partner from one I can see!) to cover one’s life necessities while the business is growing into a going concern. This scenario is most likely never going to be mine, and I have to be realistic about ensuring some security around the rest of my life. Hence the pragmatic return to my former career.

This is by no means the end, and I do not regret for one moment, the risk I took to delve into knitting in a deeper way. Quite apart from the richness of human interaction (which is sadly lacking in a corporate environment), I also got to learn in an unfettered environment, I found freedom and the ability to create – independently of any rules or structure.  And I was able to live the life I wanted. It has been soul-restoring. This has been worth more to me than any money in the world. I also got to be closer to my son that I ever would have been otherwise, and that too, is worth more to me than any money in the world.

I am still knitting furiously in my free moments (another reason I am not writing as much) and would love to keep sharing bits of my life with you here. It just may not be as frequently as before. You’ll see I am reasonably good at keeping up on Instagram, mainly because it’s a very quick process to take a photo and say a few words – I would love to see you over on that forum too!

Now, what has happened with my knitting since I last wrote? There have been a few socks.

But as you can see, my usual output has been somewhat diminished.

I did make a start on the shawl I spoke about last time, but I am not in the mood for blue hands at the moment. The naturally dyed indigo based yarn I chose leaches blue on to your skin like nothing on earth, and perhaps in another head space I would be able to cope with it, but not right now. So today, I decided to frog it and use this instead:

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It is going to be beautiful. It’s Anna Gratton Wool/Silk/Mohair blend in Forest.

I am on a bit of a shawl bender to be honest. Once I have got my Christmas sock knitting out of the way, or maybe after I finish Regenerate (using Anna Gratton’s Forest colourway above), I already have the next shawl’s yarn all ready to go:
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I am fairly sure this will be Supplejack. I’m using Tanis Fibre Arts Blue Label in Lotus, Dark Harbour Yarn Port in Limey and Ruataniwha Dye Studio 100% merino in Spruce.

And maybe the one after that…

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This one is also Mary-Anne Mace‘s fault. That woman just cannot stop producing the most breathtakingly beautiful shawl patterns… this yarn is earmarked to be Spring Creek, or maybe the newest pattern that she has designed that is still in testing. There will be time to decide. The yarn is also Dark Harbour Yarn Port in the Fairwater colourway. The light grey is also Dark Harbour Yarn Port but I have lost the label and cannot remember what the colour was called.

That’s the great thing about knitting. So much creative potential, so much to knit!  Just a pity there is so little time…

Wishing you a good run-up into the Christmas season. What are your plans? I for one, am much looking forward to my firm’s annual three week break over the Christmas and into 2017. It will be good to relax, enjoy family and friends, and knit, knit, knit!

 


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Lacebark

Hello, and a Happy Weekend to you, in what has been another momentous week on the global stage.  I hope this post finds you well, and doing things that you love.

It is a rainy, rainy day today, perfect for staying home, curling up with knitting and doing not much else.

Thank you so much for your lovely, supportive comments about the finished cardigan I showed you last. I have to say, having now worn it for a couple of weeks, I am especially enamoured of the beautiful yarn – that cashmere blend is something else!

I managed to finish Lacebark this week!  I am so thrilled with how it turned out! As you can see by the million photographs I took…

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Mary-Anne Mace’s designs take my breath away every time.

So, what did I do for this shawl?

I used three different yarns, but all in the same high-twist merino base type, to give the shawl textural consistency.  I knew when I started it that I would not have enough of the main gradient yarn I used from Ozifarmer’s Market, so I scratched around in my stash and found a beautiful deeper purple colourway from another indie dyer (who sadly no longer makes pretty yarn), and a plain undyed yarn.

I worked the tip in white, and then added in the gradient, and when the gradient was done, I added in the deeper purple.

The pattern itself is interesting. You start out with very basic lace, and gradually move into more and more complex lace techniques as you progress. The final few charts with lace on every side were quite a brain workout, but the result is worth it, and I am sure the grey matter is working much better after that bit of exercise! I do like the progression of lace pattern –  it makes it quite interesting to wear.

In between lace knitting, I did plain vanilla sock knitting, and finished the cute colourway I got from Doespins a while ago, and started another pair (yarn from Happy-go-knitty). These are quite good to knit in the sleepy hours I resist going to bed in, helping me to wind down after a long day in the office, and getting in some ‘me’ time.img_3038-1024x575

It seems that not only must there always be a sock, but there must also always be a shawl on the needles. After much deliberation, I’ve picked the next project.

img_3040-1024x1024I can’t help myself – it’s another Lace Eater design, Regenerate, found in Knitty’s Spring/Summer 2014 patterns. I’m pairing it with Rosewood Wool’s natural dyed Romney wool.

Until next time, Happy Knitting!