Friday, April 27, 2007

Day 1 in Oslo + Yarn Shops

Took a stroll around Akershus Festning (Royal Fortress) this morning before boarding the ferry to Bygdøy to the Vikingskipshuset (Vikingship Museum). Quite an austere little museum with bits and pieces from 3 buried Viking ships, and of course, the ships themselves. The interior strangely resembles a whitewashed church.

I was struck by the simple yet functional nature of these boats, in contrast to the complete uselessness of the extravagant and elaborately decorated ship Vasa we saw in Stockholm.

We then went to the Norsk Folkemuseum nearby. For the NOK70 entry fee, the place is not really worth it. There are quite a few restored houses but very little interpretation (in either Norwegian or English). There are only so many houses labelled 'Farmhouse' you can look at before it gets really boring (strange that). One redeeming feature is the toy exhibition. I was particularly taken by the intricate doll houses. In a music room, there's even a miniature bust of Beethoven!

Okay okay, the yarn shops.

For lunch we went to the Grunerløkka district. On the main street was the Elna Sy-Og Servicesenter (Thorvald Meyers Gate 48) which is basically a sewing machine shop, but had some very 'sensible' knitting yarns on the back wall - 100% wool in 4, 8, 12 ply, mohair, alpaca and cotton in a variety of solid colours.

On a quiet side street was the find of the day - Guanako garn & design (Seilduksgate 7). This is a more 'modern' shop owned by a 29 year-old. It's only been opened for over a year. She stocks a lot of Rowan yarns and magazines, but also the more traditional Norwegian brands. I picked up a mixed bag of colourful Egyptian mercerised cotton, baby merino and some sock yarn for an absolute song (thanks to Jerms' reassurance that he'll carry it in his luggage).

She's also got some beautiful pieces knitted up, including the Butterfly Camisole in both short and long versions. Also a few Birch shawls in different mohair yarns. The shop is gorgeous and well worth a visit if you're in town.

Finally, we paid the obligatory visit to the tourist oriented Husfliden (Rosenkrantz Gate 19-21) right in the centre of town. They have a massive range of traditional Norwegian yarns. The costume and ribbon section is worth a look and they have quite a few mits and socks knitted up. They also sell Hanne Falkenberg knitting kits, drop spindles and embroidery tools and kits. They even have a working loom in the store!

P.S. The next day we visited another yarn shop near Vigelandsparken (the massive sculpture park) called Tjorven (Valkyriegata 17) but it sold pretty much the same stuff as other Norwegian yarn shops. They have some Rowan magazines and books and a small selection of Noro.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Garn Garn and More Garn!

Here are the garn (yarn) shops we visited in Stockholm.

Yesterday I went to Marias Garn (St Paulsgatan 20 in Södermalm, closest station is Mariatorget). This one had lots of brands I had not seen/heard of. Mostly yarns from small local mills I think. I must say I was somewhat disappointed - most of the wool is really coarse and stiff, though I did see a few balls of very soft 100% cashmere by their own label and some Drops alpaca. The shop is very nicely presented and had lots of gorgeous scarves however.

Today we were wandering around Gamla Stan (the old town) when I hit the jackpot.

On Österlånggatan I first came across Anntorps Väv (Österlånggatan 11). I was served by a lovely lady who was very bemused that I wanted to take photos in her shop. The store stocks a wide range of Collinette and Noro, and some Malabrigo. It also has a range of soft lace weight to aran yarns that look hand spun and dyed by Östergötands Ullspinneri (although she assured me it's not hand dyed) in solids and varigated colours. They also have plenty of Drops and Garn Studio yarns and a few other Scandi brands, like one called 'Love'.

I ended up with 2 skeins of the not hand dyed stuff in approximately 4-ply, and two smaller skeins of a snubbly single ply in pale minty green and blue.

Further down the same street, we came across Sticka (Österlånggatan 20). This place has some gorgeous knitted up stuff, a few pieces I recognised, including the butterfly camisole from Rowan 37 (ex. the beads) and a hooded top from Vogue Knitting not too long ago. She also had 2 triangular wraps that had stunning colourwork. Initially I thought they were Kaffe Fassett designs, but she told me they were by a Danish designer named Christel Seyfarth. The kits were about SEK1300 each (AUD260!!) and included about a dozen balls of cashmere, alpaca and wool yarns. I held back and only walked away with a couple balls of sock yarn. The restraint!

On our way back to the train station we stumbled upon Ullcentrum Öland (Stora Nygatan 36). This is strictly not a yarn shop, they mainly sell knitwear and felted things like pot holders and coasters, but they had a couple of shelves of yarn at the back. Again, a lot of the coarse yarn but they also had some interesting 3-ply linen/1-ply cotton mix. It feels quite stiff in the skein, almost like paper, but the girl at the counter showed me some scarves knitted in that yarn and they were softer. I'm still skeptical but somehow left with a skein of the stuff.

Finally, I made a deliberate visit to Nysta (Luntmakargatan 50, closest station is Rådmansgatan), recommended by a couple of Swedish bloggers. It stocks some Debbie Bliss, Noro, Malabrigo and Collinette (I got a skein of Jitterbug in Copperbeach). The main range, however, like all the other yarn shops mentioned here, are Scandi brands and the wool is quite coarse and the yarn is not as tightly spun as ones done in Italy ( e.g. Zara).

The highlight of my day was visiting the Stockholm Knitters. It was great to be able to meet complete strangers in a foreign city and be welcomed into their midst. Thanks girls!

Friday, April 20, 2007

We're off! (Well, almost)

Am standing at a free Internet kiosk at Sydney Airport, waiting to board our flight in about an hour.

The 2.5mm bamboo dpns have been successfully smuggled through customs, in preparation for a lot of knit action on our (*gasp*) 27 hour trip to London. I'm making a pair of Child's French Socks from Nancy Bush's fabulous Knitting Vintage Socks with some 4ply merino from The Knittery in Roses.

Sorry, no pics yet. But you can check out what other people have done on flickr here.

Monday, April 16, 2007

London Calling

I give you, the London Beanie...

I know, my head is way too round for beanies. This is going to a happy home in the UK.

I used 1 ball of Zara in chocolate brown (MC) and scraps for CC. I made it a lot longer than the pattern required - an extra 19 rounds in fact!

And now, the EXCITING news. We're going on holidays! This has been in the works for quite a few months now and we're leaving on Friday. Yes, THIS Friday!

Our itinerary includes a very short stint in London, followed by Scandinavia, Spain, and home via Hong Kong.

I've already started compiling a list of yarn shops in all those places, thanks to some very nice friends from blogland.

Heidi pointed me to a very comprehensive listing of yarn stores in Scandinavia under the Garn Studio stockists page.

Catrin and Gabriella both suggested these two stores in Stockholm, which I will definitely visit...
Marias Garn at St Paulsgatan 20 - near Mariatorget, Södermalm
Nysta at Luntmakargatan 50, Norrmalm

Gabriella also suggested a few around the Malmö area...
Sländan at Lilla Fiskaregatan 1 in Lund
Irmas Hus at Kalendegatan 13 in Malmö
Signe Svensson Garnaffär at Davidshallsg 25 in Malmö
Yllet on Jöns Filsgatan 2 in Malmö (also in Stockholm at Drottninggatan 106)

I'm also thinking of visiting these ones in Copenhagen, thanks to Maud's write up here...
Sommerfuglen at Vandkunsten 3
Uldstedet on Fiolstraede 13
Strikkeboden, cnr of Fiolstraede and Krystalstraede

Back in London, I'm hoping to make a trip to Loop sometime in our 24 hours there. Oh and amazingly, I even found a listing of yarn shops in Hong Kong!!

Okay okay, I am resisting from doing any more research about yarn stores for this trip, or else poor Jerms will surely die of boredom, and bankruptcy!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Monkeying Around

The socks which were to be a birthday gift way back in Feb finally got done and gifted.

Here they are in all their true glory. Thanks Hoops!
This is a really horrible photo taken with *gasp* a flash, but it's the only one I got, modelled by the grateful recipient with our glamorous kitchen tiles in the background. It really doesn't do the socks justice. I'll try to get a nicer one off her.

I ended up making the Monkey socks from Knitty after all, but had to go down a needle size than the one I got gauge with because this yarn has very little elasticity - the K1P1 cuff does not spring back to shape once you stretch it.

I love this shot of the stitch detail and gusset.

Project details...
Yarn: 1 skein of Merino Cashmere Sock yarn from The Knittery in Cherries. You can see the colours better here.
Needles: 2.5mm Addi Turbos 80cm (I used the magic loop method). I must say that the Addis are not pointy enough for this pattern. The K2tog drove me nuts.

Modifications: I used a tubular cast-on and did one less pattern repeat in the leg section (mainly because I got bored).

Oh okay, just one more for the road.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Big Bird Socks

So I finally finished the Socktopia Knit Off socks. Do I get a prize for coming dead last?

These ended up taking me quite a while as I lost motivation after the deadline passed.

Project details:

Pattern: Eleanor from Socktopia

Yarn: On Line Linie 38 Kaschmerino in an egg yolk yellow (Shade 002). This stuff has a suspiciously similar fiber content to Debbie Bliss Cashmerino (56% merino, 30% microfiber, 14% cashmere, cf. DB's 55%, 33%, 12%)

Needles: 2.75mm dpns

Started: Wee hours of Sunday 25th March

Finished: 6th April

Modifications: I wasn't allowed any as part of the Knit Off, but since I completely missed the deadline and was so bored with the pattern after the first sock, I made the holes slant the other way for the 2nd sock just for fun.