Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


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Seadragons galore and Something Lovely

In a few days I’ll be asking you to help us vote for the best interpretation of dragon socks!   We’re approaching the final days of the Seadragonus KAL and I thought I’d show you some of the very elegant dragons that are appearing.  See this link to go to the page where everyone’s dragons are being posted and where the vote will be held.

I have really enjoyed this KAL.  It brings a happy smile to my face to see the socks being knitted, and most enjoyably, to interact with those who are participating.  I look forward to more KALs in future!  Thanks again to Alice for organising it in the first place!

My own second knit had completely unforseen results:

Seadragonus socks

They became the young boy’s socks!  He loves them so much that he has now worn them for approximately 24 hours, and refuses to take them off!  Looks like I now have another hand knit sock convert in the household. 🙂

The socks also fit me, but they do have more negative ease than my first socks, and I believe this is due to the yarn I used being squishier.  It’s the second time I have knitted socks in a squishy yarn that has made the sock turn out smaller than the first pair.

I also finished another design this week, and I’m very pleased to give you a preview:

Something Lovely

This is Something Lovely (unless I can think of a different name before I publish it!).   It is designed specifically with Zealana yarns in mind – AIR Chunky, KAURI Worsted or HERON Worsted.  All three yarns have the same approximate gauge, and all have the same beautiful drape, warmth and softness that is so typical of a good New Zealand possum yarn.  Each yarn has slightly different properties.  This cowl uses about 380m in all three yarns.

Something Lovely features alternating panels of lace and double moss.  I have been craving a cowl that combines both texture and prettiness in a way that can be worn both casually and to work over one’s coat.  I am not fond of all over lace in a garment, so this design is my ideal of texture and lace combined.  I have broken up the panels so that it is possible to see both stitch patterns at any point of wear.

My first iteration was in AIR Chunky in the Gold colourway (L07):

AIR Chunky cowl

It is total luxury, with its cashmere, NZ brushtail possum and silk blend, and I love this colour so much!!  It is so light that I don’t even notice it around my neck, except for the extremely warm and cuddly feeling that has been keeping me very snug this week!  See the beautifully soft haze of the downy fibres used in this yarn, and pretty shimmer!

There were a couple of things I did not like about the design once I had finished it, so I fiddled a bit to come up with the next iteration in KAURI Worsted in Red Waina (K10 colourway):

Kauri Worsted

It is essentially the same, but I shortened it from its original length so that it sat better around the neck, and also changed the lace repeat so that it finished and ended in a satisfyingly balanced way.  KAURI is a blend of merino, NZ brushtail possum and silk.  It softens incredibly once it is washed, and a beautiful bloom develops.  With its wool content, this yarn has a bit more substance than AIR, although it is still a light, warm and soft choice.  I am wearing my sweater in this yarn today as we’re having a stormy Spring day and it is rather cold!!  But the warmth and softness of the possum is keeping me toasty and comfortable.  It is so soft that I can feel the softness and cuddliness even through my merino base layer! KAURI is also a more economical choice than AIR Chunky.  I used four and a bit balls of KAURI for this cowl, which I think is quite an approachable amount for a special gift or a treat for yourself!

I haven’t knit this design in HERON, but know it well enough to know it will use the same amount of yarn and come out at the same size. HERON is a blend of merino and possum.  Again, it blooms and softens and drapes in a magically lovely way once it is washed, and it would make a very good choice for this cowl as well, using only four balls.

This is some Heron that I have in my stash.  You can see it doesn’t look terribly fluffy in the ball, but once knitted and washed, it becomes the same as the sweater I have laid the balls on – my Affection, knitted in Heron.  With just merino and possum, it is one of the more traditional possum blends, although I particularly love it because of its single-spun, slightly heathered look – so special!

Zealana Heron

Something Lovely is a quick knit – I finished the second cowl in only two days.  A good choice for Christmas gift knitting!?

The pattern will be released as soon as I can get some nice photos taken by the eldest boy, hopefully by the end of this week.

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A sweet cable

Here is Affection, all finished!

Rowan Affection

I have mixed feelings about this sweater.  Although I love the cropped look in Rowan’s pattern photo, I knew that the moment I bent down, or reached up, or did anything other than stand straight, it would have annoyed the snot out of me to have knitted it at that length.  I would be constantly tugging it down to cover exposed ‘bits’ of tummy or butt cleavage.  Not really my cup of tea these days!

So I added in an extra repeat of the cable, and an extra inch to the sleeves to accommodate my freakishly long arms, and it’s exactly the length and fit that it is meant to be on me.  However, it does not look like the picture.  My brain is having issues accepting the way this looks “because it’s what you intended it to be” against “but it’s not like the picture!”

I suspect I should have knitted one size smaller to make it not so wide though.  Ah well, I hear “boxy” is in!

Grumbling aside, I do love the look of the cables in the front.  They are so sweet!

Detail

The yarn, Zealana Heron, is also another winner – it feels like a soft, warm hug, and the colour and texture match the delicacy of the cable pattern very well.  It’s the Cloud Blue shade, in case you’re wondering.

I mentioned in my last post about this sweater that I expected the yarn to bloom. Let’s have a look and see shall we?

This is it unblocked:

Heron Unblocked

Compare it with the blocked:

Heron Blocked 2

The difference is not major, but there is a definite softening of lines and a certain softness of look that I expected to see.  As with all possum yarns, the bath has allowed the possum fibres to expand out of the merino wool and fill in the gaps between the yarn.  There is a lovely haze that promises warmth and cosiness, and a softness that means wearing it next to the skin is a complete reality. 

I’m looking forward to wearing it when winter rolls around.


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Affection

I love the change of seasons.  It’s when a host of lovely new patterns come out, inspiring one’s creativity, generating dreams of cuddly warm things to wear and very cool patterns to discover, new knitting techniques to learn, and squishy new yarns to discover!

Of course, it helps that in New Zealand, it’s still cool when the Northern Hemisphere Fall collections are released.  For a brief month or so I can pretend it’s still cold, and that the temperature is going down, not up.

I am itching to try some of the very gorgeous new things I’ve seen in the just-released Brooklyn Tweed BT 13.  It doesn’t help that I’ve just broken out in a rash of “cable-itis” and the desire to knit cables, cables and cables is running amok in my brain!

However, I also discovered on my recent month’s banishment from the interwebs that I have a stash of very nice patterns already sitting in the house.  Nothing like the shiny new thing to distract one from the things one already has…

Affection

This is Affection, a pattern by Sarah Hatton, from Rowan Mag No. 50.

As soon as I saw this pattern, I knew I wanted to knit it in Zealana Heron.  Rowan Yarn is super expensive and hard to find in New Zealand, so what better compliment to this beautiful pattern than to match it with some of New Zealand’s finest?  It has taken me so long to get to this for one reason or another.  I am pleased the project is finally on the needles!

Affection 2You see how the stitches are still quite defined?  Guess what will happen when I give this baby a bath?

My expectation is that I’m going to get some lovely blooming happening, so that the end result will be a beautiful haze over a pattern that still holds stitch definition.

Let’s see how it turns out!


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Holiday knitting: Steampunk mittens

Hello!  I hope this post finds you relaxed and happy after a few quality days with friends and family.  I was really happy that we could enjoy Christmas dinner with my brother and his family.  It’s nice to share this time with loved ones.

Today, I release a quick project for your holiday knitting pleasure:  Steampunk Mittens.

You may notice this is a refinement of an earlier mitten design, still based around the decorative cuff.  The delicate picot cuffs and dark yarn of this design gave me a strong impression of  Steampunk dress.  I decided to give them that name.

These are knitted in Zealana Heron, a worsted-weight (10 ply) yarn which includes some of the warmest fibre known to man – possum.  It is knitted on smaller needles than usual for gauge to create a thick, insulated mitten.  The possum fibre in the yarn blooms when you wash it, which contributes significantly to the insulation factor.

The mittens are knitted in the round, and grafted together at the top of the hand.  The thumb is picked up after and knitted on to the body of the glove.  You can also crochet the picot cuff edging and skip this step in the knitting.

This pattern utilises a provisional crochet cast-on, backwards loop cast-on and Kitchener stitch.  I’m sure that many of you will already be familiar with these techniques, but if you’d like a tutorial, I recommend these YouTube videos for provisional cast-on, backwards loop cast-on and Kitchener Stitch (thanks Jenni for pointing this one out).  There’s another clever way to provisionally cast-on straight on to your working needle – have a look at this link.  I think I’ll be trying that next!

The link to my pattern page is here, or you can buy it here for NZ$3.

Materials needed:

Yarn:  2 x 50g balls Zealana Heron
Needles:  4mm DPNs
Size E (3.5mm/size 9) crochet hook for provisional cast-on

I hope you enjoy knitting them!


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The Garter-Stitch Boyfriend Cardi

You may remember that a couple of inspiration posts back I was trying to decide whether to knit a sweater, skirt or cardigan.  As many of you sensibly pointed out at the time, it made sense to knit the cardigan first, as it is for my daughter and it would save me the trouble of posting it all the way to the UK at a later date.

I have been diligently knitting the cardigan ever since.

Someone has been impatiently hovering over its progress, with daily reminders of her current lack of cold weather kit…  I was eager to finish it too, so I could get on to more interesting projects.  The ‘mindless’ knit requirement that I spoke of in that post has rather worn off now that I’ve finished my current batch of designs.

So here it is, finished last night:

Someone is very happy with it.  She’s looking a little peeved due to the antics of a certain impudent 14 yr old in the background…

Knitted in Zealana’s new Heron yarn, a beautifully light and soft worsted-weight faux-single spun yarn.  The colouring style of this yarn is a melange (or heathered).  This particular colourway is called Lichen, and it’s a gorgeous, soft sea green.  It’s fiendishly difficult to photograph correctly, but I’ve done my best in the photos you see above.  This photograph is the most accurately reflective of its colour:

This pattern is from Zealana’s Seasonless book, and is called the Garter-Stitch Boyfriend Cardi.  I used 13 balls of Heron for this cardigan.  I am also about to also add patch pockets, which are additional to the pattern, but a requirement from Miss Sylvia.

I thought I’d stop and talk about the yarn a bit more.  When it was first released, I reviewed Heron in this post.  Since then, I’ve designed Evelyn in it, as well as knitted a pair of mittens, another cowl and a hat in it.  But Heron really comes into its own in a larger garment size.  Like its cousin Karui, it has incredible drape – I have tried to give you a sense of this in the WIP photo.  It isn’t as ‘fluffy’ as the other possum yarns, which is an advantage for people who aren’t so much into the halo effect.  However, it doesn’t lose any of the typical warmth or snuggliness of possum yarns in doing so.  This particular yarn is so light (think “aerated” almost) and soft (think almost felted spongey) that I can’t think of any other yarn I’ve come across that is similar.  It’s one-of-a-kind!

Best of all, Miss “I hate scratch” has worn it non-stop since she received it fresh off the needles last night and hasn’t complained of itch once!  Bonus.

I originally bought this yarn to knit myself a cardigan or sweater, and now I’m going to have to get myself more so that I too, can enjoy the rich cuddliness that is Heron!

If you want to see something else designed in this yarn, check out the recent Vogue Knitting Early Fall issue – there’s a coat from Mari Lynn Patrick in it, and it looks simply stunning!  And coming soon, is an eagerly awaited Zealana pattern book – Adventurous, featuring Heron yarn.  Both products are featured on Zealana’s website, which I’ve linked to here.  I’m looking forward to knitting something from the book!


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Inspiration: Sweater, skirt or cardigan?

It seems that once a week, usually on Tuesday, I suddenly get the urge to take a break from what I’m doing, sit on the floor in front my yarn collection (housed in a wall unit) and appreciate the wonders of colour and texture in it.  I rediscover a few skeins, sniff, stroke and squeeze them, and dream about what I can knit in them.  It’s very relaxing.

The only trouble is… it inspires me to want to knit something new!!

As I’ve just been released from the Candy Stripe sweater, and everything else I’m knitting requires concentration, this week I felt in need of something ‘brainless’ to knit.  Something I could sit and knit without thinking too much about what I was doing.

I have been looking at “New England Knits” for the past few nights.  This week, with the “brainless knit” criteria in mind, I decided to look for yarn to knit the Derry Raglan and Cowl.  It fit the bill:  pretty, easy to knit, but the interest factor of a lace panel in the sleeve.  I thought that it might look rather good in Zealana’s Heron – a soft, cloud-like yarn.

And then I thought it might look good in Naturally, Aran Tweed.

I like this pattern because the cowl neck is removable, which is quite nice when it’s a bit warm for the extra bulk around the neck.

Thumbing through the book some more, I saw the Chelsea Skirt (this is a free pattern on Ravelry!)  Hmm.  This is different.  I’ve been looking for a pattern to match that Jamieson & Smith double knitting yarn for some time.  It’s a crunchy yarn, and will wear like iron.  I bought it for a skirt, but just haven’t quite found the pattern yet.  Maybe this is the one?

There’s a fake petticoat lace panel at the hem which gives the skirt an extra feminine twist. That Touch Yarns laceweight in my collection is a perfect match to the J&S green…

At this point, my daughter walked into the room.  I was now comfortably hunched on the floor, engrossed in yarn and book.  “Mother, what are you doing?”  There was a faintly accusatory tone to her voice.  “Hmmm?  Oh.  I’m just looking at my yarn.  I need something quick and easy to knit to alternate with my other projects.”

“What’s wrong with my mittens?”

“Well… there’s all that cabling in it.  I just want a plain knitting thing…” gawd, here’s me sounding pathetically pleading to my own daughter!

“What about that boyfriend cardigan?  I’m only here for another month or so, and I’m going to need it when I go to England!”

You may remember this image from a previous post:

It’s the Garter-Stitch Boyfriend Cardi from Zealana’s Seasonless pattern book. Someone has been lusting after a boyfriend cardi for a while and when she saw this image in my post on the subject, she decided that was the one she wanted.  I put aside the yarns I had been examining and started to scan my collection for suitable 10ply (worsted).

The problem with knitting from one’s ‘stash’ is that I often find I don’t have quite enough yarn for a project I want to do.  Take for example, this Boyfriend Cardi.  It needs 1,290 metres of worsted-weight yarn to knit a medium size.  Did I have 1,290 metres of anything in worsted weight???  One or two yarns, but nothing that quite suited madam’s tastes.

Except one… the Zealana Heron I was fingering for the Derry Raglan. It’s soft, light, unscratchy, warm and cuddly.

And funnily enough, it does fit the “brainless knitting” bill – acres of garter stitch that allow me to use my hands without stretching my mental faculties too much.  It’s kind of nice. For a change.