Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Test Knitting

Hi Lynn! How is everything? I hope your New Year has started off well and I really hope it's a great year for you and Tom!

It's great being back in New Zealand. After four months gone, I almost forgot how beautiful it is here, even with all the construction and road repairs going on around our earthquake-savaged city. The air is so clean here and looking around, everything seems in sharp detail. It's the same in Antarctica when I am there. It's as if I've been looking through a dirty window all my life and now it's clean.

Since being back, I've been working on the book, including working on some of the patterns that I created and test knitting some of the others. Gauge is a particularly interesting thing... how two knitters can knit the exact same thing and have vastly different results in gauge and size. I know that you and I have very different a bit on the tight side...and dare I say you are on the looser side of knitting? Perhaps you are the normal knitter after all...but what is normal anyway?

That is why gauge is so important. To test your yarn, needles and knitting style to see if it matches up to the pattern you are knitting. If you don't do a swatch, it can be frustrating after all that knitting, to end up with something that doesn't fit.

So, gauge is on my mind, can you tell? I've been trying to get one of the patterns right...a pattern from our friend Kathy that will be in the book. I've knitted this hat 3 times and on the last try (third time's a charm?), it worked out. And I've rewritten the pattern just a little bit to make it more realistic.

My second attempt came out so small, I just frogged the whole thing. I went up a needle size and this is my 3rd attempt, sitting in suds for blocking...
Much better!

I've also been working on some commissions I got over the holidays. The first one is done and out the door...went to a woman in Vancouver where I hear the winters can be very cold and rainy.
It's made from New Zealand merino wool and possum yarn with one of my favorite contrast yarns, Noro Ayatori, a luxurious and oh-so-soft blend of wool and silk. It's a good substitute for Noro Silk Garden. I put a lining of windblock fleece in it and sewed in our little tag. Love it!

I'm excited about the book! It's coming right along. I finished the Nacreous Clouds hat pattern and now moving on to the other two I have left to do.

I leave you with a couple of photos of some cool street art I found while wandering around New Brighton the other day. Since the earthquakes, there is a lot of street art around, and some of it really talks a lot about what people have been through here.

 Hugs to you! ~Christine

Monday, 2 December 2013

Christmas, DVDs and Jakey the Cat

Lynn here. All I can think of is that Christmas is 23 days away! ACK! I'm so behind on holiday knitting. I know you are too. Why do I do this to myself every year?? I have a feeling I'm not alone in the knitterly world. I'm happily knitting and crocheting away favorite activity in the Universe!  So glad to have you here for a bit before you head back to New Zealand.

Here's photos of you and the movie DVDs when they first arrived on our doorstep last week...and a sleeping King Jakey the Large in his felted bed knitted by me.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Portland and Angelika's Yarn Store!

Christine here. Been a while since I blogged, but it's been an amazing trip traveling around the western U.S., visiting film festivals and showing our film, 'Antarctica: A Year On Ice.'
It's also been a time of inspiration, with all of the amazing colors of fall here. The colors of the turning leaves have been intoxicating to me and I firmly believe that these colors cannot truly be replicated in yarn or in any other media...because the colors GLOW.
As we were heading north, I realized we would be stopping in Portland, Oregon. This happens to be the location of one of my favorite yarn stores, if not THEE favorite. I have been ordering yarn from Angelika's Yarn Store for years as she has the best selection of all of my favorites, including Cascade 220. Click HERE to visit her Cascade 220 page. She always has all the colors in stock and her service is second to none. I have her ship the yarn to me in New Zealand.
So I ended up there on a sunny Tuesday morning and was so pleased to be able to meet Angelika in person and poke around the store for a good long time. I found some wonderful yarns including some 'flavors' of Cascade 220 that I'm certain pretty sure I don't have.
Look at this color. I just love it.
I use the off-white Cascade 220 called 'Natural' a lot in my designs. I'm not a big fan of pure white or real black, so I use the colors 'Natural' (#8010) and 'Jet' (#4002) respectively: an off-white and a heathered dark charcoal grey. THIS yarn above is a slight variation of Natural called 'Antiqued Heather' (#9600) and I'm in love with it. I can see this may be a new favorite neutral. It's like Natural, but just slightly warmer and a bit more rustico, and not as yellow as this photo might suggest.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I LOVE Cascade 220. It's a yarn I use almost solely for the hat designs I make.  It's my work horse. Why do I love it so? Let me count the ways:

1. Over 300 colors. For a color fiend like me, it's heaven.
2. Economical. For the price, you get a good 220 feet of consistent, quality 100% wool yarn that knits up beautifully.
3. It felts. Yes, it felts like a pro.
4. It's soft.
5. Did I mention OVER 300 COLORS!

Okay, so I spent too much money at Angelika's, but I have never said I could control myself in yarn stores. The best I can do is not even walk through the door, and that's near impossible in itself.

I have heard so much about these needles, Knitter's Pride 'Karbonz', I splurged on the two sizes I use the most, US6/4mm and US7/4.5mm. These 6-inch DPN needles are made from Carbon Fiber...the stuff they use in jet planes and super secret government gadgets. They are light, warm to the touch, tough as metal and and have great tips on the ends. Absolute JOY to knit with and worth every penny. If you want to give a knitter the most excellent gift EVER, consider these needles.
I also bought some yarn with sequins, this beautiful 'Classic Shades, Sequins Lite' from Universal Yarn. I like their logo, "Knit, Relax, Smile, Repeat!" It's a mostly acrylic yarn, with a bit of wool mixed in...and sequins! Not a huge amount, not overly sequined...just the right amount for a bit of sparkle. Would make a lovely scarf or cowl. The colorway is called 'Volcano' and is subtly variegated in shades of red, dark red, brick and fiery red-orange. 
Okay, last minute impulse buy...more fluorescent yarn, Uptown Worsted, for my current color whim of adding fluorescent acrylic colors to my fair isle designs.
 Sneaky peak of a hat I have almost finished:

Friday, 30 August 2013

On the Road Again

Hi Lynn,
Well, today is packing day. I've got most of my to-do list checked off and just about ready to break out the suitcases and start packing.

For those of you who my not be in the loop, my husband Anthony and I are departing for the US tomorrow to commence our three month trip around the western states to follow our documentary, 'Antarctica: A Year On Ice' around the film festival circuit.

It's an exciting time! Three whole months on the road, living out of a suitcase, visiting friends and rellies from all over. And the scenery! I can wait for our drives through the mountains of Colorado, the deserts and the beautiful trees up north in California and Oregon.

And the best part? I get to visit you and Tom for five whole days! What a treat to get to knit with you again. Most of the time we are separated by thousands of miles and an ocean.

As I triage the things left to do, I realize that figuring out what knitting supplies I'm bringing with me must come next. I've got my priorities!

How do I choose what to bring?
Well, I'm off to organize my knitting. See you soon!

Friday, 16 August 2013

The Latest

Hi Lynn!
How's it all going? Has autumn started to creep into the air where you are? Spring has shown it's first tentative promise here in the southern hemisphere. As soon as you see the Daffies, you know it's just around the corner.
On the knitting front, I've finished a couple of hats. This one I particularly love, it's the Dancing Adelies hat (again!), but in a warm, autumn color scheme. The penguins almost look black here, but they aren't; they are dark, dark brown. This is my new favorite color of Cascade 220, color #9465, 'Vashon Island.' It's the perfect dark neutral that looks amazing with so many colors. The rest of the hat is a combination of C220 and Noro Kureyon.
I also completed a commission for my sister-in-law, Christine (her name is also Christine Powell...there are actually three in the!). She wanted dark blue, red, black, with perhaps silver or white. This hat is an interesting take on those colors, more in the subtle range rather than the straightforward range, and for a while, I wasn't sure I liked the end result. But, I think it's a nice looking hat, and knowing her coloring and personality, I think it could be perfect for her. The verdict is still (slightly) out on it and I may have to put some french knots on it in a more vibrant red. We'll see. Here it is soaking for blocking...
And the finished hat...
It fits well and looks so much better on (as all hats do!). She will be wearing it to keep her head warm while working on her dairy farm, so it has to fit right and be comfortable. My husband told me, having been raised on a farm, NOT to put a tassle on it..."it will get in the way if she's wearing a rain jacket with a hood." So no tassle. But I found this luscious fabric to line it with...
It's a stretch poly crushed velvet. Ah luxury!

So, if I know you, you will have something on the needles, about two to three projects lined up in your head, and be busy doing the multitude of cool stuff that you do on a daily spinning classes. Enjoy the end of your summer and talk to you soon!
Love, Christine

Friday, 9 August 2013


Hey Lynn! It's Frozen Frontier Flashback Friday!

As you know, right now, at McMurdo Station in Antarctica, there are over a hundred people who haven't seen the sun in four months. The polar sunrise is imminent. It is always a time of year filled with anticipation when the light starts to creep back into the sky and the promise of sunshine is just around the corner.

Here are some photos from my experience of that time of the year about 10-12 years ago.

First of all, the Nacreous Clouds. Aren't they spectacular? For those that don't know, Nacreous clouds (or 'Polar Stratospheric Clouds') are formed from gases way up in the stratosphere and when it gets cold enough, they freeze and crystallize. When the approaching sun hits them, they light up like a torch, and display pearlescent colors of the rainbow. It's the only place in the world they appear and so it is very special to see them.
Here's a photo of me, pale after a long winter, waiting and hoping to catch a glimpse of the sun.
There was a big group of us that traveled to the highest spot we could, in hopes we'd see a glimmer over the horizon.
And then there's the moment...the moment when once again, sunlight hits your eyes. It's magical! You know what I mean by that.
 I remember seeing shadows again and how enchanting that was.
This is a hat I knitted a while back, paying homage to Nacreous Clouds. This pattern will be in Antarctica Knitters upcoming book of hats (due to be completed in 2014). That colorway of Noro worked perfectly for the changing, pearlescent colors of the clouds.
Other than that, I've been traveling...and knitting. I finished this Dancing Adelie's hat in greens and gold that is a commission. It still needs a tassle.

And currently, I'm working on another Dancing Adelies hat in fall colors of orange, red, gold and deep brown. This hat looks good in so many colors.
I knitted most of it while driving to the southern New Zealand city of Dunedin. Ha! That makes it sound like I was knitting while driving...nope! Antz was driving...I would never knit and drive. Too dangerous! Same as texting. Anyway, Dunedin is an amazing city, full of old buildings, statues, gardens and seaside charm. View from our hotel.
Well, as usual, I feel as if my blog post is too long. Maybe I should slow down my knitting? Well, that's a crazy idea if I ever heard one.

What's happening on your needles?
Love and hugs, Christine

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Awesome Possum

Hi Lynn!
Possum yarn is on my mind. I know you know about it since you've been here, but I think there might be a lot of knitters that don't. In a word, it's amazing, but since one word isn't quite enough, I'll go into a little more detail in this post.
I picked up this lovely and gorgeously red yarn in Auckland when I was there last week. I am planning to knit your 'Antarktyda' hat pattern with this yarn for my mother-in-law, Ruth. She tried on the one I knitted for myself and absolutely loved it - and it looked cute as a button on her - so I told her one was going on the needles immediately.

First, just look at this yarn. Isn't it lovely? It is from a company called Supreme Possum Merino and it is 50% merino wool, 40% possum and 10% silk. It is an '8-ply' which is how New Zealand classifies it's wool weights, but to you and me, it's 'worsted.' This yarn is SO soft and the possum fur in it creates a fine halo similar to - but not quite as fuzzy - as angora.
The interesting thing about possum fur, is that it is hollow - like a polar bear - giving it exceptional insulative properties. Things made from it are warm and cozy and very soft and fluffy. It also resists pilling, which is one of my pet peeves about certain yarns such as angora.

I've had possum clothing and made things from possum yarn and used them in Antarctica when we were there, and it was the warmest, coziest stuff I've ever had. 

So what about the poor possums, you might say? I know, I don't like the idea of killing things any more than you do, but the possums I am talking about are actually a pest in New Zealand. You can read more about it on this website here. They are non-native and were introduced 150 years ago from Australia (so they are not possums you find in the States that look like giant rats), but quickly spread and became a problem. They destroy areas of native forests in New Zealand and so have to be controlled. Using their fur for garments and yarn is one way to utilize this resource. If they have to kill the little guys, I'm glad that they can be used for something useful.

More about possums and the effect on the NZ environment here.

I just LOVE those socks you are making for yourself. I love that self-patterning yarn. I think it's interesting that you made two different heels to see which one you like the best. Do you think they will feel different and drive you nuts? That was my first thought, ha ha. Silly huh?

And spinning! I must admit, I'm envious. I'd love to be there, taking the class with you. I am so happy for you to be learning this new skill. I will get to it...someday!

The movie premier in Auckland for our film, Antarctica: A Year on Ice, was amazing. It's hard to describe how we are feeling; perhaps 'on Cloud 9' gets close. It's been fun being on the road with Antz and I've been knitting in the car as we travel along in New Zealand's beauty. Here's my latest hat, just finished yesterday.
I used a celtic swirl design for the band and made up my own top design, which I may modify slightly.

It was raining really hard as we traveled down the west coast of the north island, but the sunset was spectacular. I love the silhouette of the flax plant.
Well, the knitting needles are calling, so I'll sign off for now. Sending hugs, Christine