SWATCH: Mrs. Hedgehog’s Knit Shop

IMG_1336One of the joys of travel is squeezing in quick shopping expeditions to a wool shop for new knitting projects or a great book store. I had identified Mrs. Hedgehog’s Knit Bits in Cowes on the Isle of Wight before I left so I didn’t look for wool in Denmark. I also packed a few patterns that I plan to knit (after my disastrous assumption that I could translate Norwegian patterns when I got home).

It turns out that Google thought the shop was one place, and it was not. So I found my way there by asking other merchants on High Street until I found it on the corner of York Street and Mill High Road. It was the Big Woolly  Weekend and I was hoping to find a public knitting event to join. There wasn’t anything planned for Cowes so I focused on looking for yarn for a baby sweater.

Mrs. Hedgehog offers only acrylic yarn but in a great range of colors. The shop also offers everything you’d need for tools and some kits and patterns. I found a range of colors I loved and I might still have held out for washable wool, but the women in the shop were so friendly and helpful, I made a purchase.

August, 2017 postscript

I just finished the sweater inspired by a sweater Princess Charlotte sported in a photo in People magazine. I used Purl Soho’s “Little Girl Fair Isle Sweater” for the sizing (12 month) and adjusted for higher weight yarn. I adapted the sheep graph from Donna Smith’s “Baa-ble Hat.” I gave it to Amy’s expected baby girl.

3 Great Places to Buy Wool in Oslo for the Hip and Chic Knitter

If you knit (or crochet) and you are visiting Oslo for a day or more, then you have three great options for wool shopping. In Norway, if you see “strikke” on the shop window then it is probably a wool or yarn store as we know it in North America.

If you are cruising the Nordic countries and docking briefly in Oslo, there are two shops within walking distance of the port. The first, Strikkedilla (translated as Knitting Craze) is conveniently located in the Oslo City mall (a highrise next to the main train station). The mall includes a grocery store, so be sure to check out the aisle dedicated to nut butters! The knit shop is the smallest of the three and jam-packed with colorful fun projects children would like to wear.

Glasmagasinet at Stortorvet 9
Glasmagasinet department store

The second shop is my favorite of the three, Husfliden. It is inside the department store Glasmagasinet at Stortorvet 9. I was a little befuddled at first by this idea of a department store; it was a bit more like a mall without walls. In the basement I found the yarn, buttons, traditional costumes, and many other beautiful textiles. It was a feast for the eyes and fingers. They also offered readymade Oleana sweaters. If you only have time to browse one store, make it Den Norske Husfliden.IMG_1010 IMG_1009 IMG_1013

If you are taking a day trip to see the Vigeland Sculpture Park, there is a yarn shop a stone’s throw from the metro station (Majorstuen) for the sculpture gardens. I did not spot Tjorven at Valkyriegata 17 right away, so I have included a photo. The clerks were friendly and the yarn lucious. They did not offer any patterns in English (they call them recipes). I realized too late that it would have been smart to look for some patterns on Ravelry before I went shopping. The store clerk showed me a website that has language choices including English. These are the same Norwegian inspired (modern, not traditional) patterns featured in Drops magazine.

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There are also two readymade wool shops that offer beautiful, albeit expensive, sweaters and other wool garments. Dale of Norway at Tullins gate 5 offers more classical sweaters and made me want to go skiing. Oleana garments are inspired by traditional Norwegian design updated with a modern twist and a more colorful palette.

It is Dah-ley, not Dale like Yale next to the Hard Rock Cafe in Oslo. No yarn for sale here.
It is Dah-ley, not Dale like Yale next to the Hard Rock Cafe in Oslo. No yarn for sale here.

One challenge with yarn shopping in Norway is the patterns are almost all in Norwegian, of course. I bought a couple of patterns with yarn to make them, thinking that between Google Translate, friends who speak Norwegian and my knitting experience I could figure them out. Hah! Not yet. When I return to Norway I am taking some patterns that I want to make and then shopping for wool. All of these shops are perfect if you need a tool, or inspiration.IMG_1008

I visited these three shops in July 2013, and I have just checked and they are all still in business. I also used Linda Marveng’s blog post as my guide. She lists additional shops and I visited a few others; however, I am including my favorites here. Linda Marveng is also enthused about Norway Designs, just know that there is nothing knitting related in the shop.

Norway can be one of the most expensive countries to visit in Europe, so I was very pleased to find wool prices a comparative bargain.  Shops are both plentiful and the ones mentioned here carry a good variety of quality yarn. It is good to be in a country where a lot of people still knit. There were some awesome patterns, if I only spoke Norwegian.

Swatch: Fashionable Possum

I was planning to do a yarn crawl in Dunedin. I researched several yarn shops in advance.  On my first day in Dunedin I had a little bit of time, so I went to the first couple of wool shoppes on my list.  The first was unfortunately typical of New Zealand.  Here I am in the land of the best wool in the world and the yarn and patterns are all targeted to Grandma.  It is shocking how the fashion knitting craze has completely evaded NZ thus far.

Seriously TwistedThe name of the next shop held some promise: Seriously Twisted!  I walked up to the Octogon and found the shop. At first I thought it was only ready made knit wear, albeit of good quality. Then I spotted Janene Weir working on a project in the rear of the shop.  She was weaving what looked like luxurious fur into a crocheted scarf.  It was lovely.  I quickly learned that the shop owner and knit wear designer Linzi Irving created a way to take the pesky possum and treat the fur to make it look remarkably like mink.

Possum were introduced in NZ by some demented person years ago and now threatens native bird and bush species. You can feel good about wearing this fur as you are doing something for the environment.  It is a hollow fibre so it holds the heat and provides warmth. It can be combined with merino wool for the warmest gloves I’ve ever owned.  Or used as a fur trim as Linzi does.

At first I was focused on the beautiful scarves, and then Janene showed me a beautiful wrap. I tried it on and it was so light, and soft, I did not want to take it off.  After wearing it around the shop to look at their lovely NZ yarn selection, and other sweaters, I realized that it was the perfect topper for my World of Wearable Art outfit.

Linzi arrived about now and the three of us had a fun conversation about the status of knitwear design in NZ, the World of Wearable Art, my blog, and a dozen other topics.  It is amazing how knitting can foster kindred spirits. I left the shop quite pleased with my purchases and happy to have made two new Kiwi friends.

P.S. I did find a couple more yarn stores and they were all like the first–too much acrylic! and too many designs from 1980.

Linzi Irving original designs at Seriously Twisted
Linzi Irving original designs at Seriously Twisted

Swatch: Debbie Bliss Tweed Sweater

Debbie Bliss cover sweater in black tweed wool
Debbie Bliss cover sweater in black tweed wool

I always travel with a knitting project for those long hours on the plane or delays in the airport. I started a new project for my New York adventure: the cover sweater on Debbie Bliss magazine (Fall/Winter 2013).

I want to join San Francisco Tweed on a ride this fall and I do not have a thing to wear!  As they describe their members on the website, “We at SF Tweed constitute a rare breed of cyclist — ladies and gents who refuse to endure anymore spandex! For us there is nothing better than a spin through our fair streets in the finest most dapper attire.” I love that they are more interested in socializing and enjoying the ride than exercise.

Debbie Bliss’ Peplum Jacket is straightforward knitting so it makes a good travel project.  Babetta, my yarn maven, steered me away from the Debbie Bliss yarn called for as it was very stiff and scratchy. I only knit in yarn that feels good, so I dove into elsebeth lavold’s Tweedy Wool in black. The flecks of color that make up the tweed do not show up in this photo. So far it has been a joy to knit. It will be my project in New Zealand too. I will look for buttons on my yarn crawls in Dunedin and Auckland.