Hedgehog Knits

Adventures in knitting from the eastern edge of Canada.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Finishing up

The return to the foggy, chilly St. John's spring has been a bit of a shock to the system, but it's good to be home. Finally, yesterday, we got our first really nice warm spring day, and being Victoria Day weekend (when traditionally, you can start planting things in Newfoundland and not have to worry too much about frost), we spent yesterday planning and starting our patio garden. We inherited a pot of chives from the previous home owners, and put in some strawberries and shallots yesterday, and started seeds for lettuce, spinach, and zucchini. The peppers, tomatoes and herbs will have to wait until it gets a little warmer though.

After a good day of moving planters and dirt around, I sat down in the evening to put together Marjorie.

Marjorie from Knitty.com, size medium. Knit on 2.75 mm circular needle with GarnStudio Silke Tweed.

I really enjoyed knitting this sweater and the fit turned out to be just about perfect. It had just the right degree of intricate detail to keep my interest, and I knit on it almost exclusively from the time I started it. It took two months to finish, but since I haven't had a lot of knitting time lately, and it's a fine gauge, I think that's pretty good for me.

One word of warning about the yarn: it leached a lot of dye. See?

That's the first of four soakings, and even the fourth one still gave off a bit of colour. It's almost as if they didn't rinse the fibre at all at the factory after dying it. Strangely, none of it came off on my hands while knitting and the colour of the yarn didn't fade at all after all that soaking. I am going to have to be very careful about washing this sweater separately.

Now I have returned to knitting on Gatsby Girl and I also started yet another Swallowtail shawl during my flight back from England.

I'm just starting on the second Lily of the Valley border. It surprises me how fast I can whip one of these off now. Perhaps it's time I tried another shawl pattern... or finished up the Mystery Stole that I started last summer. Here's to clearing out some of the long-languishing projects while I'm in a spring cleaning kind of mood.

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Monday, May 05, 2008

And then there were two

Two sleeves - count 'em.

This has been a lot of knitting. I hit the shoulder decreases on the second sleeve of Marjorie this evening and saw that the end was in sight, so I decided to push on to the finish. Probably not a great idea, since my right carpel tunnel is not so happy with the result. But I'm very happy to be done.

This represents the longest phase that I have worked on a single project in years, and it will also be my first finished sweater of 2008. I'm looking forward to getting home to give it all a good soak and blocking before seaming it up.

But for now it goes into my suitcase, and I start thinking about a lace project for the flight back. I think I should have wound the skein of laceweight before left home...


Saturday, May 03, 2008


Today was the big day, the day of the quest for souveneir yarn.
Since I have a few free days in northwest England this trip, I asked the folks at the Manchester office to suggest somewhere to go on a day trip. Chester came up repeatedly, described as a beautiful city with lots of history and fantastic architecture. York was also considered, but my very short Google search did not turn up any LYSs in York's city centre, so the decision was easy (I'll save York for the next time I'm over).
Chester is only one hour from Manchester via the Arriva (north Wales) rail system. To be honest, hearing all of the Welsh place names announced on the train made me wish that I was venturing a little further on, over the border. But I'll save north Wales for another future trip. So many destinations, so little time!
Chester has ancient stone city walls and Roman ruins all over the place, including an amphitheatre that is still under excavation. The core shopping district has these two-tiered shops, with an upper walkway running along the second storey. So many fabulous little treasure troves, mixed in with fancy designer shops, pubs and cafes. I bought a couple of kitchen gadgets at Lakeland, found a fantastic deal on a trench coat at an end-of-season sale (alas, the end of the season for needing a fairly warm rain coat will not be ended yet when I return to St. John's, even if it is springtime in England!)
And then finally, I made it to Stash Fone Yarns, tucked in a little alleyway.
You can see just a smidge of Chester Cathedral in the background there - it's just around the corner. I totally forgot to take a photo inside the shop. As I'm sure you can understand, I was a little occupied with admiring colours and petting various skeins of fluffiness.
The store is actually very tiny, but I am told that they will be moving to a more spacious location in the near future. You probably wouldn't be able to fit more than 7 or 8 people in the place at one time, but luckily I had the place to myself this afternoon for full maneouverablity. They have full collections of Louisa Harding, Debbie Bliss, and Rowan squeezed along one wall. Notably, the Rowan yarns and books are far cheaper than in Canada, even considering the exchange rate. I'll have to keep that in mind for future projects.
In the end, though, I stuck with unique yarns that would be hard to find anywhere else. Here's the haul:

A set of those cute little 5" brittany sock needles, Knitglobal bulky alpca in "blue twist" (this line is naturally died), Fyberspates 100% silk laceweight (hand-dyed in northern Wales), and two little 50g skiens of four-ply from Clwyd Vale Alpacas in northern Wales. I spent a while trying to decide on a couple of colours of this last yarn, but then realized that the skeins were labelled with the individual alpaca's names. I couldn't resist - my two skeins? Hansel and Gretel.
All in all, it was a great day. I got very tired after all the walking and carrying my loot around, so I appreciated the solid hour of sitting and knitting on the return train journey. Now that I mostly understand how the rail system works here, I'm seeing a lot of possibilities on the map for future jaunts.

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Travels with Marjorie

Forgive me for starting on a negative note, but I must once again voice my displeasure at the incomprehensible lack of logic displayed by the folks who run Air Canada. Air Canada, the airline that aside from having no concept of the meaning of customer service, no longer thinks that Newfoundland, the farthest eastern part of Canada, actually needs an air link to Europe. The details of the story are maddening, and I won't get into them here, but suffice to say that I travelled to Manchester this time around via London and TORONTO. Now nothing against Toronto. Toronto is a lovely city with a plethora of beautiful yarn stores, that I would be happy to visit on any other day. But I actually calculated the distances (believe me, I had plenty of time on my hands while I was flying over St. John's, a city that I had departed from only 9 hours before!), and figured out that this is approximately the same as flying from New York to England via Minneapolis. Ridiculous, no? Ah, but what can you do when you live on an island?

The upside to this inanity is that I am making excellent progress on my sweater, Marjorie. A 17-hour journey will do that for you! I took the one-and-a-bit sleeves out onto the balconey of my flat for a photo this evening.

I left the completed front and back at home, and will probably finish the second sleeve on the flight back (mercifully, connecting only through London and Halifax this time). I think that for the first time ever, I will need to find an alternate yarn with which to sew up the seams. The Silke Tweed is very nice to knt with, but it is fairly loosely plied and it breaks easily when you yank on it, so I don't think that it will stand up to the abrasion of all that seaming. I'm thinking I might be able to find a similar colour in a sturdy sock yarn to use instead.
Manchester truly is a lovely city. I feel safe here walking around by myself, and there's lots to see and do. Here's the view up and down the Rochdale Canal from the balconey:
Manchester is a city of canals, much the same way that Ottawa is (although the history goes back so much farther here). The locks in the photo above actually look just like those on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, probably dating from the same era.
I hope to bring you some yarn-related tourism over the weekend, when I have time to get out and about a bit more.

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