Hedgehog Knits

Adventures in knitting from the eastern edge of Canada.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


I went out to watch the National Capital Marathon on Sunday morning. My good friend D was running this, her third marathon in three years. After the first hour or so, it started to rain. Serious marthon spectating involves precision timing, driving around town for a few hours chasing the runners to a few different vantage points, finding parking, jumping out, waiting to catch sight of the person you're cheering amidst the thousands, hooting and hollering enthusiastic words of encouragement, and then heading back to the car to race to the next spot.

(Around km 25)

It was chilly and very wet, but somehow it didn't feel as bad as it normally would, because I was continually in awe of the insanity of thousands of people putting themselves through a 42-km run, in the cold and the rain. Many of them were unable to walk the next day, and are currently waiting for their bruised toenails to fall off. It's something I'll never experience - I am caught between admiration and just shaking my head wondering why anyone would do this for fun.

As for me, I'm doing a little travelling over the next few days. I'm taking the mansock out to see the Prairies, and we'll be spending the weekend in Regina. Let's hope he's got a twin by the time we head home.

See you next week.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Inspired by the sun

The wonderful, summer-like weather that we have been enjoying in Ottawa this week has got me thinking about summer knits. The time had come to break out the cotton I had stashed for a summer tank top.

This is the start of Soleil from Knitty.com. For once in my life, I'm actually using the yarn that the pattern is written for: Elann.com Sonata, in Lilac. It's actually on the pinker side of purple despite the very blue shade in the photo above. I haven't done a lot of knitting with cotton, other than dishcloths and some cotton-acrylic blends. It is a bit hard on the hands and wrists, as I've often heard. However the knitted fabric seems softer than the yarn in the skein. I suspect it will soften up even more with washing. I hope it fits, because I think I'm really going to like this top.

I also started a new sock yesterday. Marianne asked recently about the Bayerishe socks. In the interest of full disclosure, just after the last time you saw them, I made a huge mistake. I missed three out of four cable crosses in one round, and then continued for several rounds before I noticed the mistake. I can't fathom the idea of taking that crazy sock off the needles and ripping back - too many tiny twisted stitches to deal with! So I'm going to have to tediously tink back row by row. As I'm sure you can imagine, we needed a little time apart to get over this little inconvenience. I will get back to it as soon as I have the patience to deal with fixing it. In the meantime, I thought I would make my dad some socks for Father's Day.
The yarn in Meilenweit Mega Boots Stretch, which is a wool, polyamide, elite (elastic) blend with subtle colour shifts. This was the most "manly" colourway I could find at my LYS. I don't usually knit stockinette socks - I feel that ribbing helps them stay up better. This is a bit of an experiment to see how the elastic affects the knitted fabric. So far so good - although it's a bit slow. I'm knitting 78 st on 2.25 mm needles. I could have gone with bigger needles, I know, but the yarn is actually pretty fine when stretched out. Definitely finer that the Lorna's Laces that I just finished knitting. So to make a nice durable fabric, I kind of felt like it needed to be small. Next time I knit men's socks, I think I'll use DK yarn!

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Birthday socks

Finally finished, and not a moment too soon! These socks have been a while coming, and I need to get them in the mail today for my sister-in-law's birthday.

Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, colourway Bucks Bar
Needles: 2.25 mm bamboo dpns
Pattern: toe-up, loosely based on Widdershins from Knitty.

I basically followed the patten for the heel and toe methods, but increased the numer of stitches to 76 (which required a bit of number-juggling to figure out the heel proportions), and added the cable rib pattern on the leg. I do love little 2-stitch cables. Oh, and I used the stretchy sewn bind-off, with instructions here.

This is my first time knitting with Lorna's yarn, and now I understand why it is so popular. It's such a lovely, springy texture and the gauge suits my preferences nicely. The yardage is also great. These are pretty big socks, and I had lots left over. I could certinly get a pair of men's socks out of two skeins. I will definitely buy it again.

It's also my first toe-up pair, and while I no longer feel intimidated by it, I don't think that this is going to become my favourite method. It just doesn't feel natural to me, as I've become so used to top-down that I hardly have to think about it. I tried a couple of different heels before I settled on this one - all involving a heel flap of some sort - and I still like this one, which is basically just a top-down heel flap reverse-engineered to work backwards. The sewn bind-off looks great on the feet, but it kind of ruffles and looks a bit odd on the socks when they are off the feet.

Anyway, off to the post office to get these in the mail. I can't wait until we're living closer to family, and I don't have to rely on the oh-so-unpredictable Canada Post to do all of my gift deliveries!

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Glenna tagged me for the random things meme. Yea! My first meme! Eight random things about me. Here goes:

1. I love to read novels, but even though I I often forget much of the plot, I hardly ever read them over a second time. A notable exception is my favourite novel, Les Miserables, which I think I've read four times.

2. I have tried very hard on several occasions to run regularly. I love swimming and long-distance cycling, but I just can't get into running. I have decided to just let myself hate it and to retire from it. I'm officially a non-runner.

3. My right foot is a full half-size larger than my left. I have been known to sneakily buy an odd pair of shoes at Walmart - evil, I know.

4. At various times in my life, I have played clarinet, oboe, guitar, trumpet, fiddle, Irish flute, and tin whistles. For the past four years, I've played almost nothing. This is very likely to change as soon as my degree is finished and I've moved.

5. I have always wanted to try pottery, but I've never had the time and money to take a class. Also subject to change in the near future!

6. I have a big, hairy curse on me when it comes to travel. You name a Canadian airport, and I've been stranded in it for hours to days. I have begun to suspect that the delays are to give the staff time to lose my luggage. The first time I travelled internationally was by myself at age 16. I got fogged in at JFK on the way home, missed my connecting flight, and got stranded overnight in Toronto. My mother, understandably, was back home in Newfoundland having a fit.

7. I am a very visual learner. If someone is going to give a speech without visual aids or at least a chalkboard, I find it very hard to not tune out immediately and start daydreaming. When I was younger, I thought the church sermon was a torture device. Ditto for political speeches on tv.

8. Although I have done lots of geological field work in really remote areas, and often carry a rifle and bear spray for safety, I have not yet ever encountered a bear. Part of me is curious to see how I'd react. The bigger part of me is happy to go on not knowing!

I've decided not to tag anyone, beacause almost everyone I know has already done this one. It was fun though!


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Going Home!

Now that it's official, I can finally share my fantastic news. I've landed a job! Not just any job, but a great full-time job in Newfoundland! I'm almost finished my third university degree, and have been living and studying in Ontario for almost 11 years. Finally, it has all paid off, and we get to go home.

Nick and I are both from the same town, just outside St. John's. Our family members all live there still. We have always thought that we would like to go back there one day, but it seemed unlikely that I would find a good job there in my field. For those who are unfamiliar, Newfoundland is not the most prosperous part of Canada, and has been better known in recent years for the high numbers of people leaving the province in search of work. Very few of my high school friends are left. So we had kind of resigned ourselves to having to settle on the "Mainland" and make the best of it, for the sake of rewarding careers. I've worked too long and hard at school to settle for a job that I could have done with a bachelor's degree.

And then this opportunity fell out of the sky. I stumbled across a job ad, decided to give it a shot, and it turns out to be the perfect job for me. The official offer came in yesterday.

I'm a little overwhelmed by what I have to get accomplished before I start (at the end of July). I still have to finish my thesis (it's getting there, really!), submit and defend, besides organizing a cross-country move, and buying our first car. It's going to be quite the adventure!

So how does this relate to knitting? Well, a couple of weeks ago when it really started to look like this was going to happen, we started to look at moving companies, and evaluate the amount of "stuff" we have to move. We started drawing up a list of stuff to sell or give away, and suddenly, I felt an urge to blow through a bunch of stash yarn that I really didn't feel it was worth hanging onto. I started digging into the partial skeins, and at around the same time, I discovered the Warm Woolies website, through a link from the Stash and Burn podcast site. This is a charity that sends warm children's clothing to orphanages in Russia, as well as to others in need. What caught my eye was the cute vest patterns, and the fact that they want REALLY warm stuff, in bulky wool, or worsted weight held double. Well, that sounded like a great way to use up my big bag of wool remnants, and help a good cause. My plan is to fill a box, which is currently sitting in a closet holding excess stash, with as much warm wooly goodness as I can finish before we move, and send it to the volunteers in Denver who are collecting it. In the past, I had thought about knitting for Dulaan, or other charities, but the cost of postage was a bit of a turn-off, so I chose to knit for local charities. But now that the moving company will be charging by the pound, it doesn't seem so bad.... and the stories I have heard from friends who have adopted in Russia recently, well let's just say that I think there are a lot of children there who could really use a warm pair of socks.

Here's the progress so far:

Vests, in both the 6-8 yrs and 3-4 yrs Warm Woolies patterns, 3 pairs of Magic 28 socks (thanks for the link, Marianne!)...

3 hats, in patterns made up on the fly (there's a fourth one awaiting felting)...

And one baby blanket from Animal Knits by Zoe Mellor. Actually, the blanket was knit last year some time, from acrylic bits and pieces (baby blankets are the only items accepted in acrylic). So I'm going to throw it in too.

These double-strand projects in little kid sizes just knit up so quickly, and most of them are simple, which is good at the end of a long day of thesis revisions. I'm having fun playing with colour combinations, and feel like I'm accomplishing something on a couple of fronts - warm children and stash reduction. I'm just going to keep knitting until the box is full or the yarn runs out.

Enjoy the long weekend, for those who get Monday off. I'll be at the office for most of the weekend, but I always make time for a little knitting at the end of the day.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Coming up for air

Pardon me - it appears that I fell off the face of the Earth for a couple of weeks. I blame school. It's cutting into my blogging time, if not my knitting time! I've put a few things on hold lately, and have been focused on small stash-busting projects, including quite a bit of charity knitting (details next time).

I also got inspired by the
many mitre-square blankets that I've been seeing around the blogs lately. I'm not normally one to hop on the bandwagon, especially when the bandwagon involves inordinate amounts of seaming, but something about the play of colours (especially in Cara's blanket), and the geometry of it all, the way colour value keeps your eye moving around, it intrigued me. Now I've never knit a mitre square in my life. I understod the concept, but I just didn't see the need. But seeing as I never throw anything out, I had squirreled away a Ziplock bag full of ends of sock yarn. What the heck was I ever planning to do with those? Well, here's the answer:

Here's the next square, still blocking prior to seaming:

I guess my palette of sock colours is pretty dull! I've never been one for brightly coloured socks, and obviously I quite like my blues and browns. The green in that last square? I over-dyed some leftover pale blue with Wilton cake dye (Moss Green). I needed something a little brighter.

So I think once I get up to 12 or 15, maybe 20 squares, I can sew it all together and call it a baby blanket. But the problem is that I've just about used up all of my scraps. Rather than buy more yarn (heaven knows I've got more than enough yarn piled up already!), or break open some fresh new skeins, I think I'm just going to put this away, and gradually add to it in the future. Every time I finish a pair or two of socks, I can knit another mitre with the leftovers, and the colours will evolve over time. I like the idea of dong it in small bits - I think I will look forward to each new square.

Hedgehog Knits - taking thrift to a whole new level!


Sunday, May 06, 2007

Lola is done!

And she's really comfy.

As you can see, the sleeves didn't make it as far as I had hoped, but I think I'm okay with it. It's a nice sweater for wearing around the house this time of year when it's still a little chilly. Actually, I've been living in it all weekend. The fabric is fairly thick and very stretchy. Cosy. I still have to pick up a button for the neck.

It didn't take me long to get into a few new things. I love hunting through my now finally shrinking stash and trying to find projects for the many odd balls and abadoned yarns. I started a summer shrug out of Schachenmayr Piazza (the same yarn that's been frogged out of two different sweater attempts!). The pattern is the ribbed shrug (link to pdf) by Pam Allen from the IK staff projects, summer 2005. I'm working at a much smaller gauge than the pattern since the yarn is approximately sport weight, so I've adjusted the pattern quite a bit.

It's basically a rectangle with a frill at each end that will be partially sewn into a tube. It's mindless knitting, in K1P2 ribbing. I'm finding that I'm really getting into mindless knitting these days!

Earlier in the week, I whipped up a lacey headband (free downloadable pattern from Knitpicks).

I've been growing my hair out for almost a year now - it was really short before. It keeps getting in my face, so this is a good solution. The pattern calls for DK cotton, but I knit it in some leftover sock wool, Lanett Superwash I think. I left out the buttons and just sewed it into a loop. I think I may make more of these. I certainly have enough ends of sock yarn that I can use, and they're really quick. I think it would be fun to try adding beads.

And one last thing to show you. I found this great free slipper pattern over at Sock Pixie's blog. Also a very quick little knit. This is actually vintage tapestry wool. Four little 25-g skeins will get me a pair of slippers. Cool huh?

It still needs blocking and end-weaving, and a partner. There may be more of these in my future too - a knitter's family never has cold feet!

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Cabley goodness

I am now thoroughly addicted to knitting this sock. That didn't take long, now did it? Eunny's very clear instructions on cabling without a cable needle (written into the pattern) have really helped, although I have to admit I'm still using a cable needle for the big 7-st ribbed cables - that's just too many tiny little stitches to keep track of and it makes me nervous to have them flying free like that! But those cables only happen on every 8th row, so they don't slow me down too much.

I highly recommend this pattern for anyone looking for a bit of a challenge. At first it's a bit daunting, but once you get through one repeat, it kind of falls into place and makes sense. I do wish that I was a looser knitter though - my cables are pretty tight to work on 2 mm needles!

My other projects basically look the same, so no new photos today.

Things are looking very good on the job-after-graduation front these last few days. I'm still waiting for an official offer, but boy, am I excited! So I'm all the more motivated to finish the thesis. And on that note, I'm off to the office!