Truly Myrtle Designs

New Pattern! Aoraki Hat

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I've told you many times about my love of Outlaw Yarn and especially Vanitas, their delicious DK weight blend of alpaca and merino. It's a stunning yarn, baby soft and dyed in rich, solid colour ways. When I had two balls left after knitting my Epistrophy cardigan early this year, I knew I had to design something special for it.

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And, after wearing my cardigan all winter, I decided I wanted to knit up my Vanitas into a cosy hat. Vanitas is silky soft to wear, super warm and it has great drape - perfect for a slouchy beanie-style hat.

I just love how the yarn looks knitted in garter so I decided to make that the focus of my design. The garter brim is nice and snug so it won't slip but without being too tight.

The garter then flows into the texture of the hat and I've mixed it with a neat wee two stitch cable that you can knit without a cable needle (I've made a tutorial showing you how and I've linked to it in the pattern).

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Finally, I've popped a pom pom on top. Mine is pretty huge! Go big or go home I say ;)

I make my pom pom's the old fashioned way - with two pieces of cardboard cut like a couple of donuts. I wind and wind and wind ... until it's stuffed full. Then I snip it and wrap a piece of yarn around the centre, pulling it nice and tight.

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My hat is named after New Zealand's highest mountain Aoraki. It's a snowy, beautiful place and I decided it was the perfect name for a snuggly, fun hat.

You could substitute another soft DK yarn to make Aoraki - but if you want one the same as mine - you'll need two balls of Vanitas from Outlaw Yarn; one ball of "Bone" for the body and one ball of Ebony for the pom pom.

New Pattern Release - Big Dotty

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I'm so pleased with Big Dotty. She's BIG! and cosy and I just love her.

It took all winter to get our fire installed so I've been a bit chilly and for months I've been hankering after a larger shawl as warm as a sweater. I was dreaming of something to wrap around my shoulders for an extra layer of warmth but stylish enough to wear while I'm out and about too. 

Anyhow, somewhere along the line I had a brainwave - I wanted texture and I already had a pattern I loved (Darling Dotty) - how about I knit it up with a heavier yarn for a super wintery wrap?

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I sat on the idea for a while, wondering which yarn I'd use. The image in my head was a natural stone colour, a rustic woolly layer. And of course, I wanted something that would work well with the texture. Not too slinky but not too furry either.

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Then, during my recent trip to the KAN knitting retreat in Napier, I found the perfect yarn. The mill I visited has a shop at the door and in there was a glorious, stone coloured, unprocessed, merino yarn. It was perfect! and a great price - so, I quickly grabbed eight balls and away I went.

It wasn't until afterwards that I realised how truly perfect my choice was. The yarn is from a range called Silver Lining - it's a beautiful muted range of colours created from the fibre of heritage merino sheep around New Zealand. 

Skeinz say it perfectly themselves:

"All around NZ are isolated small flocks of Merino sheep who have been cut off from the larger Merino populations due to geography. These flocks over the last 150 years have started developing their own unique characteristics & have become sub breeds in their own right. Hokonui, Arapawa, Stewart Island & Chatham Island Merino's are some of these Rare Breed Merino's.  Here at Skeinz we have been able to secure these very special fleeces from the fate of just vanishing among the greater Merino clip. They are all very fine micron of varying shades. We have lovingly blended these together to produce 4 natural shades & 5 heathered shades. We thought it was time that these Rare Breeds got out from under the general Merino cloud & got a chance to see their own Silver Lining."

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The colour chose is called "Clifton Stone" - it's a soft grey/beige from the fibre of Stewart Island Merino. Stewart Island is at the very bottom of New Zealand although the particular sheep for this yarn are a small flock of Stewart Island sheep that are being looked after in the South Island of New Zealand. 

Apparently many rare merino breeds around New Zealand have been feral for many decades. These sheep are descendants of merino sheep placed to provide meat for shipwrecked sailors or originally farmed in remote areas. Some sheep were simply left behind when people moved on and others missed being rounded up by the farmers that cared for them.

Stewart Island Merino - photo by Ron & Kath Gallagher

Sheep farming in Stewart Island was never a hugely successful venture. They were first  farmed in a large numbers in 1874 and apparently a number escaped, forming a feral population that developed into the current Stewart Island Merino breed.

Stewart Island sheep are relatively small, mostly black and often have a patch of white on the nose and between the eyes, with a white tip on their tails. The Rams have particularly fine horns. It's said that they're alert and aware of what's going on around them. The ewes are very good mothers, protective of their lambs and often act as a "look out" for strangers. Don't they sound pretty neat? I think so.

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So, my yarn is special and I'm really thrilled. 

Big Dotty is super warm, deliciously rustic, full of texture and made from the wool of heritage sheep. You'll need about 400g of DK yarn to make one too.


Happy knitting!!




New Pattern Release - Koru Hat

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I am very fond of hats. It might be because as a child I was always wearing a hat. My mum kept our little heads well covered and warm. It's something I did for my own babies and I still breathe easier sending my small people out into the cold with a hat on their noggin. Whatever, I definitely enjoy a hat. 

I also like that I can change my look with different hats; I've got my "casually cosy" hats, my "feeling a little zingy" hats and my "this is finishing off my outfit very nicely" hats. This winter, as I run out the door to deliver kids to school I've often been wearing hats to hide my scruffy bed hair. A hat hides a multitude of sins :)

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My new Koru hat is a great messy hair coverer but it's also super lovely and even when I wear it with my jeans and jumper I feel a little bit more special with it on my head.

The lace panel is a delight. I love knitting it and the end result is very pleasing. It's feminine without being too fussy and the gentle curving "ferns" in the pattern add to the overall soft feel of the hat.

You won't need a cable needle to knit the lace panel - all the stitches can be performed with your regular knitting needles. I've made some tutorials (linked in the pattern) to help you out with some stitches that you might not have come across before.

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I also love the subtle detail that the twisted stitch "stripes" add. They elegantly and gently turn Koru into something a little special.

I have been on a roll with twisted stitches lately. I do love the definition they give to stocking stitch and I've made good use of them in this hat - the rib is twisted, the stripes twisted and the lines in the lace twisted. They're easily managed by even the most novice of knitters and they're super effective.

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Koru hat uses DK weight yarn - I've used a delicious merino/possum blend from Naturally Yarns called Amuri - but you can easily substitute another soft DK yarn. I like the "fuzz" that the 25% possum adds to my hat and if you're after a halo, look for a yarn that includes a little something woolly - like alpaca, possum or angora.

You can buy the pattern for Koru hat from Ravelry and if you're quick you can grab yourself a 15% discount off the price with the code KORU15 - be quick! it ends at Midnight, Sunday 6 September 2015 (NZ time - and we're ahead of everyone down here!

Happy knitting!