Hedgehog Knits

Adventures in knitting from the eastern edge of Canada.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Recent Aquisitions

I haven't been knitting too much lately, but I've been spending a lot of time at the office. There's no better therapy for a stressed-out graduate student than a little (or a lot of) yarn shopping. I've kind of gone crazy with it lately, but as I mentioned before, there was a big going-out-of-business sale to contend with (all 50% off), and I'm starting to feel the need to stash yarn because I know I won't be able to get it easily after I move next month. St. John's only has one LYS, and while it's fairly well stocked with a variety of fun yarn, they can't possibly carry everything! Luckily I'll still be traveling to Toronto a few times a year, so I can still frequent places like Romni on occasion.

Okay, enough blathering. On to the yarn!

8 balls of Zitron Polo, which is a 60% cotton, 40% acrylic blend, with really soft feel, almost like those fake suede fabrics. For some sort of sumer top.

8 balls of Stahl Natura, 70% cotton 30% linen, also probably for a summery top. I wish I could have found 8 balls of one colour, but selection was getting pretty slim at The Knitting Centre by the time I got there.

10 balls of Merino Blend DK Superwash, 100% wool, by King Cole. I'm probably going to put this away for a sweater in the fall.

Sock yarn: Supersoxx cotton/wool blend (I loved the wool, so thought I'd try this for something new) and good old Regia 4-ply, one of my favourite basic sock yarns.

And from the recent Knit Picks group order, a pile of Essential sock yarn (I'm thinking green knee socks), and a pile of Swish Superwash for kids' sweaters, something along the lines of the Accordion jacket from Knitty (this is just a selection from a big bag of it!).

Crazy, huh? Even though I was trying to reduce my stash, think I just doubled it in the span of a week! I don't feel bad about it though, because the difference is that I've bought it in sufficient quantities to actually do something with it, instead of two or three balls of something pretty here and there with no purpose in mind. I consider it an investment in my future knitting through the summer and fall. It's also the first Knit Picks yarn for me, so there's a certain amount of research here, to see how I like it. Mail order is probably going to become important to me in future.

Tomorrow is Canada Day, and I still haven't decided if I'm going to brave the crowds on Parliament Hill tomorrow for one last big celebration in the capital. I may sit at home on the couch and knit and watch it all on tv. We get a good view of the fireworks from our balcony. Enjoy the weekend, whatever you're doing!


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Warming up Afghans

Just a brief post today to share some information for local Ottawa and Toronto knitters.

I'm sure many of you have heard of afghans for Afghans and the great work that they do supplying warm blankets and clothing to people in remote, impoverished parts of Afghanistan. Like many of the wonderfully worthwhile international relief charities that seeks donations of wooly knitted items, the cost of postage is often a barrier to participation for me and many others. So I usually knit a few items for local charities.

That's where the folks over at the finding forty gathering knitting blog come in. They have started a project here in Ottawa as well as in Toronto to collect items for afghans for Afghans, and they'll look after the shipping. What a great initiative! Here are the details from their flyer:


Calling all Ottawa and Toronto knitters! How about dedicating some of your stash to an outstanding summer project? Yarn Forward (Ottawa and area knitters) and the Knit Cafe and Knitomatic (Toronto area) are teaming up for this worthy cause.

afghans for Afghans is a humanitarian and educational people-to-people project that sends hand-knit and crocheted blankets and sweaters, vests, hats, mittens, and socks to the children of Afghanistan.

Helpful hints
· Wool and animal fibres offer the most warmth and perform best in rugged conditions. Please avoid synthetic yarns – they cannot be shipped.
· Knit or crochet your favorite patterns or try something new. For sample patterns see the AFA website, below.
· Please do not use representational images (e.g. faces or animal designs) or religious or national symbols.
· Avoid white or very light colors. Feel free to mix a bright and cheery palate from your yarn collection!
· Please assume standard garment sizes. You are knitting for a Canadian climate. Hats need to cover ears, sleeves need to go the wrist and torsos need to be long.
· No used items or scarves please.

Drop off and Deadlines
You can drop off your projects at the following locations:

Yarn Forward 581 Bank Street, Ottawa
Yarn Forward 474 Hazeldean, Kanata
Knit Cafe 1050 Queen Street West, Toronto
Knitomatic 1378 Bathurst, Toronto

The dead-line for the next shipment is September 30th, 2007.

A visit to the website reveals that they are especially looking for wool baby blankets, baby hats, and baby socks (not booties) for a hospital in Kabul this year. I'll be dropping off a few items at Yarn Forward sometime in July before we move. There are lots of links to free patterns on the website too.

For those located in other parts of Canada who wish to participate, you can actually mail finished items to Elann.com, as they are acting as a collection point, to save on postage to the U.S. (and presumably to avoid problems with customs).

Time to get knitting... as if I needed an excuse!


Saturday, June 23, 2007

No Smurfs were harmed in the making of these socks

I had to do a little travelling this week. Nothing major, just a couple of short trips. I needed something small and portable to keep me busy, but the idea of trying to concentrate on the Bayerische socks on a train was not really appealing to me. (A good call, as it turns out, because I ended up sitting across from a bunch of loud and obnoxious people, and at times couldn't even hear the details of a podcast on my earphones over the racket!) So what did I do to try to take a break from tiny cables? Start another sock with tiny cables!

To be honest, I took along a ball of yarn, a few different patterns, and my recently obtained copy of Sensational Knitted Socks (finally, it is mine!), and took my time deciding. I ended up starting in on Brigit (link to pdf), a pattern from the Socktopia site (go take a look, there are several free patterns there. Click the "SE Patterns" link on the right.)

While the tiny cables may be similar to Bayerishe, there's a lot less cabling overall, and only one cable motif which I memorized pretty easily. My one critique of the pattern is that I would have preferred a chart to the written cable instructions. The instructions are very clear though, and the pattern, written for two circular needles, is easily adapted to dpns.

The yarn, Lana Grossa's Meilenweit sock yarn (80% new wool, 20% Polyamide) is a new one for me. I'd say it's pretty average sock yarn. It doesn't split badly, and is priced pretty reasonably, but it's a bit fuzzy, sort of like Lang Jawoll. This particular shade (1329) is very bright blue (I've been referring the sock as "Smurfy cables", as opposed to "Insanity cables", my pet name for the B socks). The excess dye appears to be turning my hands blue!

I'm going to have to be very careful about washing these socks! Do you suppose my feet will be blue too?

In other news, I have been aquiring new yarn at an alarming rate this week. My knitting group made a big combined order to Knit Picks, and I finally made it to The Knitting Centre downtown, which is going out of business after many years, and is currently selling everything at 50% off. For those of you in Ottawa, they plan to close at the end of July, but there's still some good stuff there including Regia sock yarns at less than $3 a ball. Unfortunately the circular needles are all gone now. And don't forget, it's an old fashioned cash-only operation. I'm considering one last trip there today... I'm awfully glad that I didn't officially join the Knit From Stash Challenge. I can take advantage of a great bargain without any guilt!

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Why does my knitting hate me?

Well, my Soleil tank top is finished.... sort of.

I tried this on a few times while knitting and tinkered with the pattern a little. I added an inch in length because it was looking a little short when I got ready to start the armholes. This alone is a little strange. I'm barely 5'2", so I'm usually shortening patterns, not lengthening them! I also started the division for the v-neck a little higher up than the pattern calls for. I didn't see the need for a neckine that plunges six rows lower than the armhole bind-off - it's perfectly low enough now, beginning at the same row as the armholes. I thought it was going well, but sometimes you really have to sew up the seams and block something to see how far off it really is.

Don't let the camera angle deceive you. The upper fronts are way too wide for me. In fact, the extra fabric has sort of rolled under in the armholes. See?

I've got wings!

Now I'm not one to rip out my knitting because of the tiniest little mistake, but there's no denying that this is really taking away from the look of the top, making it look and feel rather frumpy. I'm also not one to want to show off my underwear to the world. I chose this particular pattern because it seemed to offer a little more in the way of coverage than a lot of knitted tank patterns that you come across. (News flash - cotton stretches and sags, people!) But this is a little more fabric than even I wanted.

I'm going to bite the bullet this time. I plan to rip it back to the armholes and re-work it for a thinner front "strap". Oh well, at least the back fits well.

P.S. Do you like my snazzy office decor? Nothing says "bomb shelter" like unfinished cinder blocks!


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Finally, back on track

This is more like it. I've gotten around to finishing a few things, instead of just starting more and more projects. Today's accomplishment? I finished knitting my leaf lace scarf.

I've never blocked mohair before, so I'm anxious to see how this pile of fluff is going to react to water. Wish me luck! Hopefully tomorrow I'll have some FO photos for you.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sock acrobatics

I have finished the knitting and crochet edging on the Soleil tank top, but I want to wash and block it before I show it off. The Sonata cotton is nice, but it has a distinct chemical smell. I'm hoping a run through the wash will soften it up and rinse the scent out. So stay tuned for FO photos soon.

In the meantime, I gritted my teeth and tinked back a few rows to ressurect my Bayerische sock. Boy, I'm glad my eyesight is really good, because untwisting these tiny cables was quite a challenge. I may have uttered a few un-ladylike phrases in the process and threatened it with a pair of scissors. The sock and I both seem to have recovered from the whole experience now and are getting along alright once again.

I tried to take some photos this morning, and though I already knew how hard it is to get a good angle when photographing your own feet, the acrobatics of trying not to stab yourself while you wrestle five needles onto your foot was a whole new experience. So this is why lots of people prefer socks on circulars! Here are the best out of a bunch of blurry photos:

Side view.

Top view, with a flash (colour is close to true).

With only half as much cabling as the leg, the foot should zip along quickly. I am really enjoying the challenge of this pattern. If you are considering it, I would suggest a smooth, tightly spun yarn like Lorna's Laces. The Regia I'm using is nice but it's a little fuzzy, so it obscures the look of the cables a bit, and it does have a tendancy to split sometimes when executing the twists and cables. I also wish my needles were a little pointier.

Off to the office for my Saturday afternoon routine of thesis revisions and watching the campus groundhogs frolicking outside my window.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Progress shots

Not much time to chat today, but here are a couple of shots of what I've been working on.

Soleil is almost finished. Once I get the knitting done, I'll just have to seam the shoulders, crochet an edging, and block it. I have a new summer skirt that's going to look great with this!

And I'm also making progress on that baby blanket. Unfortunately, I just looked at the photo and realized that I got the Q and the O in the wrong order! Argh. I think I'm going to let it go though. The acrylic stash is significantly reduced, but I did have to go out and buy a little more to do the border. If I survive the monotony of the long moss-stitch borders and don't get distracted into starting another new project, this should be done soon too.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Thinking dry thoughts

Minor crisis averted: I finished the second sock last night and wet blocked it. It's almost dry now, and soaking up a few rays on the balcony to eliminate that last little bit of dampness. Then we're off to the post office.

A couple of extra skeins (Lassa Grossa sock yarn and some Koigu) followed me home from the yarn shop too. I had racked up enough frequent customer points to quailfy for a 15% discount, and since I'll be moving soon and won't have access to the store, I figured the responsible thing to do would be to make a big purchase to get the most out of my discount. I know you'd do the same thing ;)

I've been doing a little housekeeping on the blog over the last few days. The upcoming knits section has been divided into true upcoming knits, which I am actually planning to knit, and "up for consideration", meaning I haven't bougt the yarn or pattern yet, but I would really like to knit this sometime in the future. It's more or less a tool for me to flag these patterns and to keep a few projects in mind for when I see a good yarn sale and need to figure out how much to buy. Inspired by Martha's recent lingerie knitting, but warned of the difficulty of sizing bra tops, I've really fallen in love with the Rita Mae pattern. (The link goes to a pattern library, so it might take a bit of hunting around there if you want to look the pattern up. I couldn't get a more direct link.) It's shorts and a little cami that laces up the front (I'll bet I could add buttons), with pretty leaf lace patterns. Definitely something to keep in mind.

I want to eventually get a Flickr account and set up a Finished Objects gallery, get a little more organized, and get onto Bloglines. But I think I'll put all of these projects off for a while until my life settles down a little. Right now I don't want to take up any of my already scarce knitting time to start fussing with changes!

I hope the sun is shining wherever you are today too.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Oh for crying out loud!

I was so close. SO close. I need to get these socks in the mail asap for Father's Day, and I got halfway through the toe decreases before running out of yarn. Ack!

So I'm off on my bike for a stop at the LYS on the way to the office. I'll have to finish and block these tonight, and hope for good drying conditions. Wish me luck!


Saturday, June 09, 2007


After finishing a bunch of long-languishing projects this spring and beating myself down to only two works-in-progress, it appears that I must have let my guard down. A bunch of new projects seem to have lept into my knitting basket when I wasn't looking. 8 projects of the WIP list?! How did that happen? And I think there may be one or two small unreported ones besides! Obviously this is getting out of control. The latest offender:
I'm still on a quest to clear out odds and end from the stash. I had a huge bag of mismatched acrylic bits, which seem to have morphed into a pretty psychadelic baby blanket. I pulled these out one night, and thought of knitting more mitres, but instead I found an old pattern for a girl's alphabet sweater, with intarsia blocks. Pulling colours at random, I knit this in verticals strips that have been mattress-stitched together. I think it still needs about two more columns, taking me up to R, but unfortunately the pattern that I've been using only goes to L. So I need to sit down and try to graph a few more letters in the same style in order to continue. I also ran out of interesting images from the sweater pattern early on, so I've been pulling them from different sources. Nursery Knits by Debbie Bliss is great for that, and my favourite, the lady bug, is from Animal Knits by Zoe Mellor. I think I will knit a mitred border in moss stitch, similar to the last baby blanket I showed you (the animal one). The finished blanket is destined for the Warm Woolies donation box, and will just about fill it up. The latest addition to the box:

Again, this was a response to my recent obsession with getting rid of yarn ends. Cute, no?

My recently aquired ADD has also manifested itself in starting a new cardigan design. It's a pretty plain little black cardigan with lace edging in Patons Fresco, which I have ooodles of in the stash. I'll try to get some photos next time I pull it out. Having a cat in the house these days means I can't leave too much yarn lying around in open view, so most my WIPs have been carefully stored for the time being. She did manage to shred a little ball of acrylic that I left lying around one night, so I'm not taking any chances!

And of course, the knitting continues in fits and starts on mansock #2 and on the Soleil tank top.

Somebody stop me before I start something else!

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Home again

Well, I arrived safely back in Ottawa around 2:30 this morning, after only a three-hour flight delay in Winnipeg. By my standards, that's actually pretty good!

I didn't get too much knitting done in my travels. I knew that I had a very busy weekend conference ahead of me, but I didn't even knit much on the plane. I was so tired I slept most of the way back. I did get one man sock finished, and Nick was kind enough to model it:

His feet are a little bigger than Dad's, so it's a tad over-stretched in the ankle here. I like the striping in this yarn, but it's not a particularly regular stripe interval. I don't think it will be possible to get identical socks out of it - I don't remember the last time I managed to get identical twin socks out of a self-striping yarn anyway! It is turning out to be a little splitty to knit with. I added a strand of black reinforcing thread in the heel, but I forgot about it for the toe. It probably looks better without it in the end. On to sock number two.

I thought I'd photograph a few more of the knits I've done for Warm Woolies over the past few weeks.

Assorted hats. The top one is felted.

The box is getting fairly full, but I think I can still cram in another couple of hats and socks. Did you see that flash of fur in the hat photo above? We're kitty sitting this little cutie for a couple of weeks while our friends are on vacation.

I grew up always having a cat and a dog around the house, but Nick has never had a cat, so it's a fun new experience for him. So far so good!

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