Hedgehog Knits

Adventures in knitting from the eastern edge of Canada.

Friday, March 30, 2007

A new adventure begins

It's been an incredibly busy week here, but here's a quick fly-by. The new Denise needles arrived, and while I'm not completely sold on them (well, I guess technically I am, as my credit card statement can attest!), I'm giving them a test drive on my green vest. This is inspired by two patterns, Leftovers from Knitty, and Tori from MagKnits. Both are fitted v-neck pullover vests with waist shaping.

I'm working in a single colour, that cone of green tweed that I picked up in Newfoundland last month. I'm knitting it as a double strand since the yarn is very fine, with twisted ribbing bands for a little texture. Other than that, it's going to be fairly plain, mostly stockinette. I'm focusing on wearable wardrobe staples lately, and I do tend to lean towards earthy colours. I'm not totally sure of the fibre content here, but I know it's got to have some mohair in it. I love the many heathery shades of green and brown.

I have several other things to show, but I haven't been home in daylight hours much to be photographing them! Soon....


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

One more pair

I finally got around to knitting one more pair of mittens, which I've been planning for a while. They came together so quickly on the weekend that I didn't even take any in-progress photos.

Basic mittens in Needful Yarns Arte (a blend of merino, alpaca, and acrylic), 40 st on 3.25 mm dpns.

The scalloped edging is a single repeat of the lace pattern from a hat that I made last year in the same yarn. Now I finally have a matching set, but probably a little late for this year. It's funny, the first two skeins of this, used for the hat and first mitten (left, above), had pretty subtle, heathered colour changes, but when I started the other mitten with the third skein, I was getting a lot of solid, single-colour stripes. I cut out long portions of the solids and sort of pieced it back together to try to keep the mittens somewhat matching (there is no way to make a true match with this yarn). Overall, I think they're pretty cute.

I can't believe I only have one project on the go right now - socks. The vest that's on my WIP list hasn't actually been started, just designed and swatched. I ordered a set of Denise interchangable needles, so I'm waiting for them to arrive before I start any more big projects. I did a little research and opted for the Denise set over the KnitPicks Options because I hear that they are a lot lighter weight. My wrists and thumbs have been giving a lot of trouble lately, so I'm trying to focus on ergonimcs both in my school life and my knitting. I think the switch to all circulars all the time will help a lot. Now if they would only show up!


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Mitts and Books

Those of you who have been reading for a while might remember my plans last year to research and document the traditional Newfoundland finger mitt. Well, I've been working on it slowly. I spent a wonderful day buried in historical newspapers and magazines at the Centre for Newfoundland studies at Memorial University when I was home at Christmas. I found very little in the way of written patterns, and those that do exist are very informal. One small-town newspaper printed a pattern in the 1970's, but forgot to print the chart for the pattern part of the mitt. The next issue ran the correction, and a cute little letter from the lady who submitted the pattern, correcting the mistake, because of course you couldn't expect the men who ran newspapers to know anything about knitting!

One book that I have found very helpful is this one:

Robin Hansen has collected a bunch of mitten patterns from eastern Canada and Maine. The mittens I have been looking for are in here, but they're still not exactly the same pattern knit in the area where I grew up. The book does have a lot of great tips on techniques for stranded mittens though, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who's interested in really warm wooly mittens.

So using the references I've collected, and deconstructing several mittens knit by others, I have started putting togehter a pattern. Here's my first pair:

Traditional Newfoundland Mittens, in Briggs and Little Heritage (blue) and Briggs and Little Tuffy (white). Knit on 3.75 mm dpns. (Shown prior to blocking)

These aren't actually finger mitts, but regular mitts. I thought I'd try to learn the technique in its simplest form to start. Here's what the palm looks like:

Figuring out the thumb gore was interesting, but I finally got the increases to work and the dark stripe to stay where I wanted it. They got progressively better as I worked through them. There are a lot of things to think about, especially preventing ladders in the middle of the palm, always keeping the darker colour "ahead", and keeping the tension even. These are really tightly knit, for a very dense fabric. I started out making them for me, but the gauge was all wrong, so they turned out husband-sized. (Which is fine and makes a husband very happy.) I am going to experiment some more with finer yarn and different decrease methods at the top, and eventually write a formal pattern.

And while I'm talking about books, I spent some gift cards this week that were burning a hole in my pocket:

I want one of these.

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Friday, March 23, 2007


What a difference a week can make. I have a newly finished spring sweater, and just to cooperate with me, spring came today. This is in the same spot where I photographed Nick in the snow on Monday!

Sitcom Chic cardigan, designed by Bonne Marie Burns for Knitty.com. Size 40, on 3.75 and 5 mm circs, in TLC Cotton Plus.

I added grosgrain ribbon to the inside front edges to make them lie flat, as the pattern suggested. Actually, stitching in the ribbon was a lot faster and easier than I expected. And it really improved the sweater. Here's a bathroom mirror shot after sewing the ribbon in on just one side:

I wore this sweater all day today, and it's really comfortable. I think if I had it to do over, I'd make it a little smaller - 38 would probably be perfect. I started this sweater last summer, long before I'd learned anything about alterations and design. You can't tell by feel that there's any acrylic in it, and best of all, the colour change doesn't show at all when it's dry!

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Churning out sweaters

Thank you for the kind comments about Nick's sweater, and for the birthday wishes! Yes, I have the happy coincidence of being born on the first day of spring, although it seems like it is hardly ever accompanied by spring-like weather (it's minus 15 in Ottawa today).

I have been treated to some knitterly gifts. Here are the contents of a package Nick gave me this morning:

The yarn is Hand Maiden Great Big Sea Silk (a blend of Silk, merino, and sea cell) and the fibre is two different slivers of silk/wool blend by Fleece Artist. I just love the bright colours.

I've never spun silk before, so it should be interesting to work with. The book will be a big help on my quest to clear out the stash some more, and it will be great for ideas on what to do with small amounts of my handspun. I don't think I'll be spinning a sweater's worth of yarn on a drop spindle any time soon! My family sent other wonderful things, including gift cards for Michaels and Chapters, which will also go to crafty purposes. I feel so spoiled!

I'm actually on track to finish three different sweaters this week. Imagine! Me, who hasn't finished a sweater in almost a year! The Sitcom Chic cardigan got pulled out of storage a couple of days ago, and lo and behold, I only had the yoke and the bands to knit. I had thought there was much more to go. I finished it up, weaved in the ends, and because the front bands are prone to rolling, decided to give it a good wet blocking and show it who's boss. I tossed it into the sink, and .... gasp! Horror! Could it really be true?

Apparently I have been kicked in the rear by the dye-lot monster (he's the gauge monster's first cousin, don'tcha know?). The yarn is a, um, "budget" worsted cotton/acrylic blend bought at WalMart in Calgary last summer. It's called TLC Cotton Plus. I can't imagine that I didn't check the dye lots when I bought it, as I'm usually pretty picky about that. I didn't keep all the ball bands to check though. Apparently the first ball must have been a bit off - the sweater is knit seamless from the bottom up.

The funny thing is that it is almost dry now, and you really can't see the difference. It only shows when wet. Now I'm torn. I have more than a full ball left, so I could rip out the bottom, re-knit it and graft it on. But could I do that and make the join look seamless? It might be better to just leave it alone. I don't imagine I will ever be wearing the cardigan soaking wet, but I guess the two shades could fade differently over time. I think I'm going to let it finish drying completely, and then take it outside and see if the difference shows in full daylight.

The third sweater at the finish line is the red cardigan. Just a little blocking and seaming to go. My knitting basket is starting to look a little empty.... I'm still deciding what to start next. It's kind of exciting actually. So many possibilities!

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Birthday cables

It's finished at last! Making his blog debut, here is my husband Nick, modelling his birthday sweater in the snow.
To re-cap:
Pattern: based on
Skye Tweed Unisex Cable Rib Pullover by Kristen TenDyke Yarn: Diamond Galway Heather (100% wool, handwash)
Needles: 4.5 mm for the body, 4 mm for the cuffs and neckband

Modifications: many. Re-wrote the pattern for different gauge, added cuffs, changed the collar to a single K1 P1 rib.

I'm so happy to have this done, and he's really happy with it too. And only a month and a half late! I was starting to feel a little guilty - my birthday is tomorrow. At least there's a little bit of winter left to enjoy a warm wooly sweater.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

The end is in sight

My usual Sunday morning routine involves getting up around 8:00 (while hubby sleeps in), lounging in my pyjamas, and catching up on a week's worth of Coronation Street on CBC while knitting. It's the one guilty pleasure I look forward to all week. This morning I managed to finally finish that second sleeve in the process. Here it is blocking patiently. I just have a neckband and a little seaming to go on this baby, and it looks like the yarn supply will just hold out. I realized a few days ago that I have knit over 2 km of yarn into this sweater. No wonder it has felt so long! Hopefully I'll have FO pics before the week is out.

I haven't completely stuck to my plan of not starting anything new. But I needed another portable project, and this sock yarn was just calling out from the stash.

This is the Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (Buck's Bar colourway) that I bought on my pilgrimage to Lettuce Knit in Toronto. It's funny, but I have been very indecisive about what to do with this. I started out trying to reproduce the Crooked Cables socks by Sockbug that I did before Christmas, but the colours seemed to be out-competing the pattern. I ripped out and spent some time perusing patterns. I thought that such a busy colour scheme really needed something very plain, so to spice it up a bit, I thought maybe I'd finally teach myself to do toe-up socks.

It has been quite a challenge really. I don't like the look of a lot of toe-up heels, and I tend to wear out heels, so I like the sturdy slip-stitch heel flap. I remember Brenda Dayne talking about the Widdershins pattern on Cast-On, and how it is as close as you can get to a traditional heel-flap sock in a toe-up configuration, so I thought I'd give that a try. Now I've discussed before how I don't think my feet are particularly big (a fairly narrow size 8), but that most sock patterns come out way too small for me. I don't think I knit particularly tightly, but I'd rather have 72 stitches on a sock than 64. The Widdershins pattern is written for 54 stitches on 2.0 mm dpns. 54 stitches! 2.0 mm! The socks I made for my two-year-old nephew were about that size! Please tell me it's not just me who thinks this is abnormally small for an adult woman's sock.

I had a hard time judging the length that the sock should be before starting the gusset increases - I'm guessing this comes with experience (?). I've ripped it out four or five times now, tried a couple of different heels, and finally did a lot of re-calculating of the Widdershins pattern. The sock is still too long for my foot, but I don't have the heart to rip it again, now that I've finally got the heel right. I'm going to finish the pair and put them away for a gift. I decided on a simple twisted rib for the top, and the last skill I'll have to learn is a nice stretchy bind-off. There are a lot of choices out there - your suggestions would be welcome!

This has been a learning experience. I'll see how I feel about toe-ups after I've finished the pair, but somehow I do't think it's going to become my favourite method!

I've also added the Sitcom Chic cardigan to my WIP list. This isn't really a new project, it's the last of the long-abandoned projects that I've pulled out hiding. I'll be taking that out as soon as the current sweater is finished and trying to decide if it's worth saving. Here's hoping!

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I'm determined that I am going to finish this sweater before I start anything new. Here's that sleeve, just inching along slowly.

I have blocked the rest of the sweater and partially seamed it up for a try-on. It looks like it's going to fit really well. DH requested that the sleeves not be baggy or too long (as most of his store-bought sweater sleeves tend to be). I think he will be happy with it. I just hope it looks good on him!

I'm in the same kind of mode at school these days. I have a big project that I need to get finished now, and I have to stop getting distracted by other side projects and just finish it. So this will be a week of very focused work on brown cables and manuscript writing (I hope!)

I did have a brief foray into a little swatching last night. I'm forward-thinking by nature, so I can't seem to not think ahead to the next thing on the horizon.

This is James Brett Marble. It's been in my stash for almost a year now. It's 100% acrylic, purchased before I discovered the joys of superwash wool. Okay, so I knew that superwash wool existed, but I didn't really believe it - too good to be true, surely! So I bought this to knit myself a casual pullover that I could throw in the washer. It really is nice for acrylic, and I'm not a total fibre snob (yet!) . It has gradual colour changes that give you subtle striping. I'm thinking about knitting a very simple ribbed sweater, probably Lola. I'll leave off the novelty yarn cuffs, and just start straight into the ribbing. I'm debating whether it will need added waist shaping, or if the ribbing will take care of that.

I'm happy that my WIP list is getting much more managable, but I've still got a few other things to clue up before I start another sweater.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

My Sunday in Photos

I finished my Swallowtail Shawl last night and blocked it out this morning. Whadda ya know... lace blocking really is like magic!


Wet blob.

All pinned out.

Final product.

Swallowtail Shawl, in light blue Misti Alpaca Lace (colour CD 42), size 4.5 mm bamboo straights.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Stich and Kitch

I wasn't planning to post today, since I haven't got a lot to show. My Swallowtail shawl is nearly done, but it just looks like a pile of unblocked lace. Hopefully I'll be able to share fun blocking photos soon.

But then I dropped into my neighbourhood thrift shop this afternoon. I love browsing the clothes there, and I usually find something fun every time I go. They have a great selection of books too. I've never found much in the crafts section before, but today I couldn't resist these two.

The Family Knits book is typical 80's style, complete with headbands and legwarmers. But some of the designs might be adaptable, and if nothing else, there are great Scandanavian colourwork charts.

But here's the real find. Royal Knits: Designer Kntting for the Monarchy and Monarchists, by Nicolette McGuire is a piece of work. It totally cracks me up. Besides the full royal uniform on the cover (and several other replica military uniforms), there are patterns for crown jewels:

(the crown doubles as a tea cozy!); "at home" outfits for the royals:

The "twinset" is a one piece sweater with fake cardigan fronts! Check out the corgi slippers! Even the pearls are knitted!; and of course, a complete royal breakfast:

(yes, the egg, bacon and sausage are all knit too!). There are also patterns for the "throne room" (toilet seat cover and floor mat), a sweater, cushion, collar, and booties for the royal corgi, several QEII-style hats, aNnd other treasures.

I can't imagine a use for any of this, but oh my gosh, is it ever hilarious! I will treasure this one in my collection forever.


Friday, March 09, 2007

Apple Pie

The birthday socks are finally done, just in time to jump in the mail. I couldn't resist modeling them. This is before washing and blocking. I really like the way the pattern worked out, mainly because it fits really well and feels like it will stay up. I kind of made up on the fly (quite literally - I was on a airplane!),

Ribbed socks in Apple Pie yarn (Wool, silk, mohair, nylon blend), Blue Bayou colourway, 75 st on 2 mm dpns.

The beaded rib is a really simple little rib pattern I first saw in Sensational Knitted Socks (Glenna's copy - I still don't have my own!).

As I've mentioned before, the yarn is rather iritating because of the many splices which give a slubby effect. I just knit them in, since I didn't have scissors on the plane with me to repeatedly cut and re-join, and I probably wouldn't have had the patience after the first few anyway. It's on the thick side for sock yarn, which is the main reason I don't think I'd buy it again for socks. But it's incredibly soft and shiny, machine washable, and the colours are beautiful. I think it would be really nice for lace, and would make a gorgeous baby sweater (I'm thinking something like Devan maybe). I should also mention that it bled quite a bit of yellow dye while soaking, so beware when you wash this yarn!

This is my first time going down to 2 mm needles for socks, and even though it takes a little longer with so many stitches, I really do like the finer fabric texture. I'm a bit of a sucker for punishment if you haven't figured that out yet!


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Lace revisited

Not too much progress to show you today, as my WIPs aren't looking particularly photogenic. My swallowtail shawl is coming along nicely. Thanks to Leanne's helpful hints, I put in a lifeline after the main section (which luckily I haven't needed to use yet), and I have made it to the end of the first Lily-of-the-Valley border chart.

It is indeed slow going with all of those P5tog nupps, but I am liking the result so far. I am getting really excited to block this and see how it turns out. I've been getting better as it goes along, so there are going to be a few obvious mistakes further back. The yarn is a little splitty, which causes no end of fun in the intricate manoeuvres, but it is so soft and light that I can forgive it.

Hubby's sweater is also coming along. The first sleeve is done, and I have blocked and partially seamed/basted together what I have done so that he can try it on before I begin the second sleeve. If the sleeve is too short or something, I'd rather know it now before I duplicate the mistake! It looks like my yarn supply will hold out, and I should just about use up the ten skeins that I bought. I'm telling you, 1000 m of worsted weight on size 4.5 mm needles is an awful lot of sweater knitting! No wonder it has taken me so long.

I've just started the heel on the MIL socks, so it looks like I should get them done in time to mail them for her birthday. I guess I'm looking forward to clearing out the WIP list a little more in the near future so that I can get some new things under way. It feels good to be doing a little spring cleaning. I have at least one more sweater that has been sitting half-finished since last summer. I'll need to pull that out soon and decide whether to finish it or frog it.

I am finding that my wrist and elbow, which have been giving me much trouble with the huge amount of typing and mouse work that I've been doing lately, feel a lot better working with circular needles than straights these days. I know I won't attempt lace on straight needles again, because I can only work on it for short periods before I'm in pain. Concentrating on the intricate pattern makes me tense up even more than usual, which doesn't help. I am thinking about trying out the new Addi lace needles in future if I can get my hands on some, and expanding my collection of other circulars a bit too. It would probably be cheaper in the long run to spring for an interchangeable set, but I'll have to think about that for a bit.

That's my musing for today. And now back to geochemistry of sandstones. Sounds like fun, huh?


Friday, March 02, 2007

Snow Day

Compared to what we had in Newfoundland last week, this is nothing... but I guess here in Ottawa this is considered a bad storm. It's not horrendous outiside, but it was enough to shut down the schools and snarl the transit system this morning. Since I have plenty of reading and marking that I can do from home today, I decided to declare it a snow day rather than stand around waiting for delayed buses while having my face pummeled with ice pellets.

Here's the progress photo of the now very belated birthday sweater that I promised:

That's the front and back and slightly more than half a sleeve. It's not blocked yet, so I expect the cable ribbing to open out quite a bit. It's very stretchy, so I think it will fit well.

I've also been playing with Kool Aid dyeing again. This is a 2 oz skein of really soft vintage Bernat Nylo-germantown (50% wool, 50% nylon):

It used to be a really ugly light grey colour called Sky Mist. I should have taken a picture. It was truly awful. Anyway, this shade (only slightly darker than in the photo) is the result from two packets of tropical punch, one grape, and one cherry. After a few Kool Aid experiments, I've come to learn that you really can't have too much pigment, unless maybe you're going for pastels. I like vibrant colours, so I consider this my best result yet. I was worried that the nylon wouldn't take the colour as well as the wool, but it's actually really even. I'm not sure what I'll use this for, but at least it has now moved from unusable stash to usable stash!

Thanks for your encouragement with the Swallowtail Shawl, especially to Leanne who left me several helpful hints from her experiences. I was planning to run a lifeline after the rosebud lace section. And I will take the hint and add a few stitch markers when I get there. Good to know.

Marianne asked about the Regia sock needles. Here's a link to a photo of them. They're 6 inches long and come with cute rubber point protectors. I think they're made of aluminum, but they're got a nice smooth coating that slides well. They seem pretty sturdy, but then I'm used to knitting my socks mostly on bamboo. I like them enough that I may buy them in another size or two. I've been coveting the Lantern Moon polished wood dpns lately, but I'm a little put off by the $30+ price tag.

At the moment my carpel tunnel problem is acting up, so no more knitting or typing for me today. Back to my reading.


Thursday, March 01, 2007


I finally did it - I started my Swallowtail Shawl. I am still plodding along on DH's sweater. I should really take a progress shot soon. I need to keep taking breaks from it though, so a couple of nights ago I picked this up.

This is after 10 (of 14 total) pattern repeats of the rosebud lace pattern. This is my first shawl, and my first foray into knitting with real lace weight. At first I thought I wanted to do something more complicated, but now I'm glad that I started with this. It's little, and the pattern is fairly simple. So far. (I know the next section gets more complicated.) I'm okay with complex patterns normally, but I quickly learned that picking up dropped stitches in lace is a whole new category of fun of which I was previously unaware. This wee shawl is not without mistakes already, and I figure some of them will be glaringly obvious when I block it and you can pick out every stitch! It is my second attempt too. The first try got ripped out after six pattern repeats. I'm able to tolerate a few mistakes this time around as I'm learning a new skill. Sometimes it's good not to be a perfectionist - I'd have myself driven crazy!

Also on the go lately is another pair of socks, for MIL's birthday:

I'm doing a few things differently here. I usally work socks on 2.25 mm bamboo dpn's, but this time I decided to try out my 2 mm Regia Sock needles. They're a little shorter (15 cm) than the average dpn, and you know what? I really like them. They're really light, and they're fairly slippery (although that may in part be the yarn), and I find the shorter length actually works for me. The working right needle seems to spend a lot less time poking me in the wrist than usual. It's funny because just a coupe of weeks ago I was eyeing 5 inch dpn's and thinking I could never use them. I guess you never know until you try.

The yarn (Apple Pie, Blue Bayou colourway) is a very soft wool-silk-angora-nylon blend, and the colours are gorgeous. It doesn't split, and is knot-free. The big irritation for me though, is that it has a lot of slubs and splices. A LOT of splices. Probably upwards of twenty in a single skein. Ordinarily ths wouldn't be a big deal, but the splices are thicker and end up as big bumps in the knitting. It's also a little thicker than most sock yarns I've knit with, so the fabric is very dense, especially on the 2 mm needles. That's why I opted for the plain foot in stockinette. Usually I like to carry ribbing down the foot, but I think it's already going to be a bit of a stretch to wear these with shoes.

Given that there are so many other beautiful handpainted sock yarns out there in the same price range that I'd like to try, I don't think I'll buy this one again. But the socks will certainly be pretty! I've just started on the second one.

That's it for tonight. We're supposed to be waking up to a big snowstorm tomorrow morning. As if I haven't seen enough snow lately! Welcome to March everybody!

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