New pattern: Windcatcher

The Windcatcher shawl began as a collaboration with Nikki of Dark Harbour Yarn for last year’s Indie Untangled yarn club. The club’s theme was ‘Where We Knit’, and because Nikki and I both have a strong connection to Wellington NZ (it’s her home, and my former home), we decided on Wellington harbour as our inspiration. For a few years, I lived high on one of Wellington’s hills with a view of the water, and I spent a lot of time watching the birds, boats, and changing reflections while working on some of my very first knitting patterns.

Windcatcher 1

Wellington is known for its wind - it’s not uncommon for passengers to applaud when their plane lands safely! - so I designed a shawl with the shape of a sail, and a stitch pattern that echoes the rippling water. The harbour’s edge is a lovely place to go for a walk in the city - you can see more photos in my older posts tagged Wellington. The photo below, which I took a couple of years ago, was the inspiration for both my shawl and Nikki’s colourway, which she called In swings the tide.

Oriental Bay

The shawl’s shape and lacy stitch pattern make it possible to knit using only one skein of precious yarn - I used Dark Harbour Yarn’s Starboard Fingering, a blend of 70% merino and 30% silk, which gives it a wonderful sheen and drape. I really like using single-ply yarn for lace, because it holds blocking well, and it’s so soft and delicate.

Because the pattern was originally created for a yarn club (and would be a surprise to the subscribers), I tried to keep the stitch pattern relatively straightforward. You will only need a few different stitches - knits & purls, yarn-overs, and k2tog & ssk decreases.

Windcatcher 2

Windcatcher features:

  • asymmetrical triangular shape, worked from one point to the triangle’s opposite side

  • all-over textured lace pattern made up of simple stitches (k, p, yo, k2tog, ssk)

  • WS rows use only knits and purls

  • suitable for solid, semi-solid, or gently-speckled fingering-weight yarn

  • one size, easy to alter by changing the number of repeats

  • pattern includes full written instructions as well as charts.

Windcatcher 3

The Windcatcher shawl pattern is available on Ravelry.

Wellington appreciation

I was lucky enough to visit Wellington last week! Willie's grandma was turning 90, so we all came over from Melbourne for the celebrations and to see our family & friends. It's always great to see my home city again, but this trip had a few extra-special highlights. 

Thursday was a whirlwind of brunch at Island Bay, settling into the hotel where we would be holding the first of the birthday parties, and zipping around town gathering supplies (and coffee)...

The waves at Island Bay, across the road from our brunch cafe

Julian and I stopped for long blacks at the Flight Coffee Hangar!

On Friday, after the party, I went for a lovely solo stroll from our hotel to the waterfront and back. The familiar landmarks looked beautiful in the early evening light...

Looking across the harbour

Over the bridge to Civic Square

My favourite library ever (sniff)...

Old Bank Arcade with overhead bus power-lines

I had Saturday afternoon all to myself, so naturally I headed for Tash's amazing yarn shop Holland Road Yarn Co, stopping for a quick lunch at Deluxe on the way.

Oriental Bay beach, below my old flat

Deluxe Cafe has reliably amazing salads!

I spent nearly two hours at the yarn shop, browsing and chatting... and spinning! A spinning group was in residence on the shop's couches, with wheels and spindles whizzing. Jen invited me to join in, and loaned me one of the shop spinning wheels and some fibre to have a try at wheel-spinning.

I had only ever spun yarn using a spindle, so I needed help to get started (thank you Alexis!). I managed to get everything flowing nicely a couple of times, in between fighting with over-twisting, re-attaching my fibre, and spinning the wheel the wrong way. I definitely got a good taste of using a wheel, and I've started researching affordable models. ;)

Holland Road is a wonderfully colourful place!

A rainbow of Quince & Co yarn

The Brooklyn Tweed Shelter wall

My very first wheel-spun yarn!

An amazing Sophie's Universe blanket on the shop's knitting couch

Heading back to Oriental Bay via the waterfront

Boat-sheds in the sun

The other big highlight of my few days in Wellington was joining my old choir on Sunday morning for some plainchant, Byrd, and Palestrina. Due to a long and expensive period of earthquake-strengthening, St Mary's has been closed for the last few years and only re-opened a couple of weeks ago. It was so good to see my choir friends and sing with them again...

The restored St Mary of the Angels, open again at last!

My view from the choir loft

I rounded out my trip with a lovely lunch with Willie and family, and then headed north to my family in Whakatane. I'll be here for a couple more weeks before I fly back to Melbourne. So far I've been enjoying Mum & Dad's cooking, scoffing all the feijoas I can find, and quietly getting back to my knitting projects.

These are my precious new yarn pets from Holland Road - aren't they gorgeous?

Knitsch Singularity + Brooklyn Tweed Arbor

Yarn is definitely my favourite kind of souvenir. <3

A flying visit

This time last week I was rushing around Wellington with Mum and Dad and Willie - a brief burst in my old city, sandwiched between my Christmas with the in-laws in Taranaki and my summer break in Whakatane. We all stayed on upper Cuba St, which was fantastic! We never had to walk far to get coffee, and it was really nostalgic being in that part of town.

Our one full day in Wellington was a very busy one, beginning with a cafe breakfast, shopping for fabric and second-hand clothes and yarn, a gallery visit after lunch, and (after a much-needed nap back at the hotel) a lovely dinner with the four of us and my old friend Rowan.

As always, Dad took plenty of photos...

Me and Mum at Midnight Espresso

On our way to the City Gallery (with bonus pigeon)

Part of the swatch collection at Holland Road Yarn Co.

Visiting the Holland Road yarn shop on Willis St was a major highlight for Mum and me, as we don't often get to see such a great collection of yarn in real life. I'm a happy online yarn shopper, but it really was great to be able to compare colours and textures in the shop!

I eventually decided on a skein of Madelinetosh DK in 'Button Jar Blue' for a hat I'm in the process of designing, some Knitsch Sock in 'Sweet Pea' which I'll combine with 'Silver Lining' from my stash for some stranded mittens, and coordinating colours of Zealana Kiwi 4ply for some stranded mitts... or possibly another hat. I also made mental notes of other lovely yarns that I want to try later (honourable mention: Quince & Co Piper in 'Austin', a lovely auburn laceweight).

My new treasures!

The fabric above is from The Fabric Store, both woven linen-blends. Once again, I plan to commandeer Mum's sewing machine and make some clothes while I'm in Whakatane. I've started making a Wiksten Tank using less-precious cotton fabric from my stash, after enlarging the pattern one extra size beyond the largest included size. If that turns out well (fingers crossed), I'll make another out of my new grey-and-silver linen. The black lightweight linen will probably become a Fen tee.

My grand plan for the holiday is to make lots of sewing and knitting progress, in between beach and lake visits. :)

Jetsetting

I'm in New Zealand again, hooray! Willie had a couple of family events to attend in Christchurch and Wellington, and I decided to tag along and visit some of our friends and family.

My first stop was rural Taranaki, where Willie's parents live. We stayed with them for a few nights, and it was great to be in the countryside for a change. I'll write a post about that bit of the trip once I've sorted out my photos.

We all drove down to Wellington on Friday night, so Willie and his folks could attend a family wedding. Happily, we'd struck one of Wellington's magical calm-and-sunny weekends!

Wellington <3

On Saturday I visited the Underground Market at Frank Kitt's Park, which was fortuitously having a wool-themed week. I didn't buy quite as much yarn as last time, but I did score some natural-coloured 4ply wool from Anna Gratton's Little Wool Co (which will become a stripy cardigan), and a nice squishy skein of undyed DK wool from Maniototo Wool (which will probably become a cabled hat or cowl).

My new pretties:


Then I met up with Rowan for a beer and some afternoon tea. :)

Since then, I've had a lovely dinner with Olivia and Noel and Robert and Andrea, sung with St Mary of the Angels' choir (but not actually at St Mary's as it's awaiting earthquake strengthening), visited Rowan and Amanda, sung with a consort of viols, visited Holland Road Yarn Co's new CBD shop, and raided the library's cd section (my library card still works, mwahahaa).

We're heading back to Melbourne on Sunday - we'll see how much more we can fit in! We still have a lot of people to see, places to revisit, and favourite foods to eat...