Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


Wovember 2015

This year, I am joining the Wovember WAL and NaKniSweMo, and thought that this would be a good time to finish my 100% wool sweater which has been on hold for no good reason (Two Hearts, a pattern by Lisa Lloyd).

WovemberWAL projects need to be 100% wool.  I have chosen to knit Two Hearts in 100% NZ Romney lambswool.  This felt to me to be probably similar in structure to the original handspun used by Lisa Lloyd, a handspun Bluefaced Leicester blended with Mohair (I bought it from Hallblacks, who appear to be on hiatus at the moment.)

Two hearts

Pure wool that is not Merino and that is not superwash treated can tend to initially feel ‘scratchy’ and a little bit stiff. This can be off-putting for the non-pure-wool initiated.   Indeed, it took me a while to get over that. I’ll tell you a little story about how that came about:

My experiences with pure (non-superwash) wool began when I took the plunge with a cardigan which I knitted out of Anna Gratton’s 100% pure Corriedale wool.  The wool was nice, but I never liked the design very much.  I was constantly tugging and yanking at it because it kept slipping off my shoulders – looking at this photo now, I can see that the shoulders as designed were far too wide for my frame.  I did not know enough at that point in my knitting life to think about measuring myself and comparing it with schematics.  Eventually, I stopped wearing it despite the fact that I did find the fabric itself very comfortable.

Gooseberry Cardigan

Then I knitted Bedford, which by now, you’ll probably be sick of hearing about because I cannot stop raving about it!


It was also knitted in Anna Gratton’s 100% pure Corriedale wool (Oatmeal/Pumice colourway).  At first, it was a tiny bit scratchy.  It didn’t matter much because I mostly wore a merino underlayer with it.  It is now three years old, and has been washed (by hand) multiple times, and worn almost continually for the entire time.  The wonderful breathable properties of pure wool mean that I can wear it in almost all weathers, and still feel comfortable.

These days, it is soft, with a comforting ‘lived in’ feeling.  As you can see from the photo, there is no pilling at all, and it has not gone out of shape.  I may have picked off a few initial balls of fluff when it was first knitted, but the wool has now settled into a structure that will stay like this for the rest of its life.  I haven’t been kind to it – I wear it gardening, when cleaning out the animals’ enclosure, when chopping and carting wood, out walking, to the supermarket… It has suffered a lot of abuse, and I have managed to damage it, but I still have leftover yarn from this project, and have been able to repair the damage and keep wearing the sweater.  How many man-made fibres would you say continue to improve with age and just look and feel better the older they are?

I then knit another number, also in Anna Gratton 100% wool: my Shepherd’s Hoody:

The Shepherd Hoodie

It’s funny because this is one of the few garments that I wear which receives compliments from strangers.  It is extremely warm and makes a great coat!

And so, I knit my Romney lambswool sweater in the faith that it too, will turn into a well-loved favourite, still looking amazing and being worn in 10 years’ time.  I certainly need it.  Winter in the Wairarapa is quite a bit colder than in Wellington, and a few more woollen sweaters will not go amiss!


Single breed wool in New Zealand

An interesting comment was made yesterday in response to the Wovember post that it was hard to know where to buy single breed wool yarn in New Zealand. This is quite true.  If you are interested in knitting single breed wool in New Zealand, it is often difficult to know where to find it.  As was observed, there are a lot of natural, 100% wool yarns available, but they are often blended yarns, and not of a single breed of sheep.

However, not all is lost!  I have put together a list for you below, detailing what I know about where to find undyed, single breed, pure wool in New Zealand that is also not superwash treated.  Given our relatively recent place in history as an agricultural nation, we do not have the variety of heritage sheep breeds that you can find in the UK. Many of the single breed wools available here are only sold as fleece due to the very small flock sizes.  What I have noted below is a general representation of commercially available single breed yarns in New Zealand:

Maniototo Wool – 100% pure merino crossbred

Skeinz – 100% cheviot (I have blogged about swatching this yarn here)

Skeinz – 100% Polwarth

Skeinz – 100% organic merino 

Skeinz – 100% rare breed merino

Anna Gratton – 100% New Zealand Corriedale.  Available in several shades of natural, undyed yarn, and in several weights (fingering – chunky), as below.  Contact Anna through her Facebook page to obtain.  I have written numerous posts about her gorgeous wool.  My Bedford sweater is made in this yarn, blogged about here. I have now worn it constantly for three years!  And it just gets better and better and better.  It is the classic wool story of wool that continues to develop and age like a great wine, into something utterly amazing as time goes on.

Image courtesy of Anna Gratton

Image courtesy of Anna Gratton

Stansborough – Mithril – 100% Stansborough Grey (Kokako Grey is undyed). This is also available from Holland Road Yarn Company (drop them a note – I have seen it in store this week) and Mynx

Treliske – 100% organic merino

BlackHills – 100% undyed wool yarn, except they don’t say what breed.  I am guessing it is Romney or Romney crossbred.  Very different to anything I have ever tried knitting before.  I’ve mentioned it in the post about swatching Cheviot above.

Briarpatch – 100% organic merino

The Black and Coloured Sheep Breeders’ Association of New Zealand also contains links to other rare breeds in New Zealand, but most of this is fleece.

Hallblacks often has a 100% Romney lambswool (which I am knitting for the Wovember WAL) but they are currently on hiatus.

If you know of any others, I’m all ears!  There is also a very interesting website on rare breeds of sheep (and other animals) that is worth a read if you are keen to know more about this area.


The Shepherd Hoodie: Finale!

It has been very wet and cool this week, in contrast to last week.  That makes drying a thick wool hoodie quite difficult.  However, Sally’s hoodie was finally off the rack last night, so without further ado, here are our finished projects, and just in time for the end of Wovember!


The Shepherd Hoodie

Very happy.  It will do very well when the weather cools down.Lace on button band

Yarn:  Anna Gratton Little Wool Co. DK Pure Wool Naturals in Coffee.

Sally’s (10 ply (aran) weight pure wool in a natural white from Skeinz that she hand-dyed):

Sally's Shepherd Hoodie

Hmmmm…. lush!  I can feel myself all cuddled up in it!

Side view

You can see the difference in the way the two projects look in different weight yarns.  Sally’s is very squishy and soft and cuddly looking, whereas mine with a slightly finer weight, has a more streamlined, and crisper look.

Close upAnd now, winter, please come back to the Southern hemisphere…

Shepherd Hoodie

Check out Sally’s blog for her final post on this topic and more pictures.


KAL Diary: The Shepherd Hoodie, Week 8

It has been a very hot and sunny week this week.  I am very sad that I cannot wear my glorious new FO,  the Shepherd Hoodie.


It is now blocked and dry, and I am incredibly happy with how it looks and fits… I want it to be winter again NOW!!!!! But it’s going to be at least three to four months before it is cool enough again for me to wear it.  Sigh.  Very jealous of all you people in the Northern hemisphere who can snuggle into your freshly knitted coats right away!

DSC09935 (800x600)The top button is very cute.  I’m glad I went ahead and bought it.

I’d love to show you the finished pictures of the hoodie in its entirety, by Sally isn’t done yet.  She’s had a tough week and it has been hard to get to the knitting (in contrast to my general lack of work availability).  There should be a nice collage of both her and my pics to see by the middle of this week and in time for the end of Wovember.


In terms of finishing off, I don’t think I have anything more to tell you about modifications or tips than I have already mentioned except that the hood was especially tiresome to knit.  I had a hard time keeping awake whilst knitting it! Seed stitch is not the fastest stitch in the world, but it looks amazing now it’s done, and it was really, really, worth it!

The blocking has definitely ‘finished’ the look, but you’ll have to wait for a few days to see what I mean.  🙂

In the meantime, pop over to Sally’s blog, to enter an amazing giveaway she’s running – two copies of Kate Davies’ book “Colours of Shetland”!

Stay tuned for modelled pictures!


KAL Diary: The Shepherd Hoodie Week 5

On Friday, I came home and sank into my knitting chair with a hot cup of tea with a happy sigh, thoroughly relieved it was Friday.

It has been a strange week for me.  I am still feeling very out of sorts about the state the ocean is in, and combined with a very stressful week at work, I haven’t been able to concentrate very well.  Small mistakes have been made that I don’t usually make, and these made me feel even more disquieted.  It doesn’t help that I came down with a cold.

Knitting has been very soothing to the nerves.

So… what has gone down?  Here’s the progress pic:

Progress week 5

I have to say that I am extremely happy with the way the shoulder looks on this hoodie.  It fits me perfectly!

In the end, I decided to take Diane’s suggestion, and knit the sleeves using the magic loop method.  While there is no struggling with DPNs, I am finding it quite slow going due to having to stop and adjust the cords every half row.  Straight knitting of sleeves is still my favourite method I will have to say!

I decided to see if I could find any other experiences of knitting the Shepherd Hoodie on Ravelry, as it’s always good to know how others are finding the project. While I didn’t find any information on the hoodie in particular, I did find a general agreement that Kate Davies’ sleeves are often a bit tight.  With this information in mind, I decided to try the hoodie on for fit once I’d knitted a bit into the decrease.

What I have found is that while the shoulder area fits perfectly, the sleeves are quite slim fitting, and have decided not to decrease any further than the end of the seed stitch gusset.  Having tried on the sleeves, I can confirm that this was the right approach for me.

Sleeve gusset

While I was happily enjoying how nicely this hoodie is coming along, I did notice that the button bands are probably not as sturdy as I’d like.  I suspect this is only because I’m using yarn that is a bit finer than recommended.  To give them a little bit more substance, I’m going to add this lovely lace edging backing:

Lace ribbon backing

It’s not very heavy, but it will give the button band just that tiny bit more strength than it has now.

To date, I’ve used 600g of yarn, and have started on my fourth hank.  I figure by the time I finish, I will have knitted about 750g of yarn.

You’ll probably have noticed that my progress was a bit slow this week.  I’ve been working on a couple of secret things as well.  I’ll show them to you in due course.

So how are you doing with your knitting?  I know that some of you are knitting along… don’t be shy!

Don’t forget to pop over to check out Sally’s post too!


Are you WALing too?

Have you noticed the new image on my sidebar?

Yes, it’s November!  And that means it’s Wovember!

This year, Wovember organisers have come up with a new way that knitters can participate in promoting pure wool: the WAL.

It’s simple:  in short, simply knit a project in 100% wool during Wovember, notify the organisers on 15 November and send them a pic of your finished project on 30 November! (have a look at the link I’ve given above for full details)

Pure wool is so versatile…

More Lillia Hyrna




Pure wool

As you can guess, I already have mine – the Shepherd Hoodie strikes me as an extremely Wovemberish project.  Plus, we’re allowed to include a project that we have already started!

So what are you waiting for?  I bet you have a 100% wool WIP project tucked into your basket somewhere… why not finish it during November and send in your photo?

It will be a fantastic tribute to, and showcase of pure wool to see all those amazing projects.