Snuggly socks

I am not a big buyer of souvenirs when we go on holiday, but Mr Snail has learned to accept that there may be the seeking out of wool. And thus it was in Norway (although since this was our second trip up the coast of that beautiful country I had already identified my target yarn shop). So, we returned home in May with little that we didn’t take with us in the first place, the exception being six balls of Norwegian sock yarn:


Local wool, bought in Norway

Since my skill with the Norwegian language is non-existent, I was unable to follow the pattern that came with the yarn. However, I found an attractive pattern – Silver Star by Drops Design – and have spent a couple of weeks creating my first ever pair of socks involving colour-work:

I rather enjoyed making them and they are very cosy because of the double layer of yarn throughout, but the pattern was not the best-written and I’m certainly glad that I had experience of knitting lots of pairs of plain socks previously.

I have enough yarn left to make another pair, but I think that I will be seeking out a different pattern.

Have you tried anything new this week?

What I made on my holidays

Between gazing at the fantastic views and leaping off the boat for a wander round whatever little place we had stopped at (even if just for 15 minutes), I was very busy with hook and needles.

I completed a pair of socks for Mr Snail:

Arctic Awakening Socks: knitted in Noro Taiyo yarn

Arctic Awakening Socks: knitted in Noro Taiyo yarn

With the left-overs, Auguste got a hat and scarf set:

Noro yarn crochet hat and scarf

Noro yarn crochet hat and scarf

I made a start, and good progress, on the Bavarian crochet lap blanket that has been in the planning stage for ages. I bought the yarn (Baa Ram Ewe Titus) on my 2014 trip to Wonderwool, so it has taken me a whole year to get round to using it.

Currently it's 56cm across. The colours are Eccup, Bramley Baths and Filey

Currently it’s 56cm across. The colours are Eccup, Bramley Baths and Filey.

Plus I made a single sock in Schoeller + Stahl Fortissima Mexiko sock yarn, which is lovely to knit up (unlike the Noro, which I was not impressed with):

One less-than subtle sock with the completed Noro pair

One less-than-subtle sock (shade 9070) with the completed Noro pair

I really must make the second sock, otherwise Mr Snail will have to hop!

Since we got back, I’ve been looking at patterns for my Norwegian yarn and I thought I might try this one… these will be for me, as Mr Snail has had a pair and  half out of the holiday already!!

Midnight sunsets and fantastic fjords

Mr Snail, Auguste* and I have returned from spending 12 days on a boat travelling from Bergen to Kirkenes and back: not exactly a cruise, but a voyage on one of the ships in the Hurtigruten fleet, that constantly sail up and down the Norwegian coast, ferrying cars, local passengers and cargo as well as visitors like us enjoying the wonderful country.

So, without further ado, a small glimpse of what we saw:


* A bear who has come to live and travel with us… but that’s a story for Mr Snail to tell

When in Norway…

You may have noticed my absence – no blog posts for a couple of weeks. Originally I intended to write whilst I was on holiday, but the scenery and the knitting and crochet was all too tempting and so I spent my time gazing at passing fjords, knitting socks (three in total), crocheting a hat and scarf for Auguste, crocheting the beginning of a long-planned lap blanket, eating amazing food and strolling round a variety of coastal towns along the coast of Norway. Mr Snail kept those of you who follow his blog or Twitter feed updated occasionally, but mostly the computer remained only a slight distraction.

A small haul of Norwegian sock wool

A small haul of Norwegian sock wool

I was delighted to return to a country where knitting is such a normal part of life. On board ship I was able to observe the knitting of socks, hats, mittens and larger garments. I only saw one other person with a crochet hook, and all the knitters were using either circular or double-pointed needles. My Norwegian being non-existent, I didn’t feel comfortable approaching anyone to talk yarn, but I was delighted to discover from the lady in a fabulous wool shop in Tromsø that Norwegian yarn is much more readily available than when we visited in 2013. As in the UK, there is increasing recognition that local yarn should be valued. So, unlike last time, I was able to purchase some REAL Norwegian sock yarn… and delighted to be told that the shop will happily send me more if I didn’t buy enough. They do have a website, although it’s only partially translated into English – for which there were many apologies and a promise of improvement over the summer (oh, the shame of being an Anglophone and living in a world where there is some sort of expectation that everyone will pander to us). I now just have to find a traditional sock pattern that I like to have a go at.

Here are some examples of yarny activity on board:

So Auguste and I just had to join in…

I’ll share my accomplishments in a future post.


I must start by apologising for the lack of posts recently, but I have been on holiday… to Norway. Somehow the snow seems to have followed me home, though, so I am still making use of my down jacket and snow boots! Anyway, since I can’t get out in the garden, my plans are (1) to write a new blog post; (2) to do some work on my permaculture diploma; and (3) to order some seeds and dream of warmer weather to come.

Our first stop: Torvik... we go off for about 10 minutes

Our first stop: Torvik… we got off for about 10 minutes

When I mentioned to friends that we were going on holiday, most people asked if we were going somewhere sunny… nothing could have been further from the truth. In fact, for part of our holiday we were in places where the sun simply never appears over the horizon at this time of year… way up in the Arctic Circle (I now even have a certificate to prove I’ve been there). It may seem an odd thing to choose to do when the days are already short here, but I really wanted to experience the polar night and to see the northern lights. The former was guaranteed, the latter relied on luck.

The sun failing to appear once we were in the Arctic Circle

The sun failing to appear once we were in the Arctic Circle

I’m conscious that going on holiday is, often, not the most sustainable activity, but I feel that meeting people from other parts of the world and seeing different lands helps me feel part of the whole and gives me some perspective. In fact, because we wanted to see the fjords, we knew the best way to achieve this… a trip on the Norwegian Coastal Express – Hurtigruten. The company originated in 1893 as the post boats, travelling up and down the coast of Norway. providing links to many remarkably inaccessible communities. And the company continues to do this – their boats travel up and down the coast, calling at 34 ports every day all year round, transporting goods and acting as a ferry service (including taking cars). They used to carry livestock too, but have stopped doing this now! Instead, they carry tourists – encouraging them to disembark and look round even the smallest town that they visit… experiencing the local culture and supporting local businesses.

This is, I have discovered, known as Geotourism – something I do naturally when I visit another country, but clearly a concept that needs to be promoted to others. National Geographic state on their website:

Geotourism is defined as tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.

Geotourism incorporates the concept of sustainable tourism—that destinations should remain unspoiled for future generations—while allowing for ways to protect a place’s character. Geotourism also takes a principle from its ecotourism cousin,—that tourism revenue should promote conservation—and extends it to culture and history as well, that is, all distinctive assets of a place.

Me with our racing team!

Me with our racing team!

And it made for a brilliant holiday. All of the on-shore activities involved local people and businesses: a Viking Feast at the Borg Viking Museum on the Lofoten Islands; dog sledging with teams from the Tromsø Wilderness Centre (we were lucky enough to have the owner, Tove Sørensen, as our musher and be pulled by her racing team); a fascinating trip to North Cape, lead by Jerome, a local from Honningsvåg, who gave us real insight what it is like to live at the northern-most tip of Europe; plus we wandered around villages and towns – meeting really friendly folks as we went. In addition, the majority of the crew on the boat were Norwegian and the food served was representative of local cuisine – lots of fish, berries and, or course, reindeer meat. So, rather than just being on a floating hotel, we experienced some real Norwegian culture and, hopefully, supported the livelihood of the people who live along the coast of the country.

It was snowy at North Cape

It was snowy at North Cape

We also got to see the Northern Lights – one clear night we experienced them as green beams extending into the sky, then later we saw the brightest stars that we have ever encountered, so bright that they were perfectly reflected in the dead calm waters of the fjord that we were sailing through. Much of the holiday was spent gazing in wonder at the natural beauty of Norway: the tiny settlements perched precariously along the coast below towering mountains; the snow-capped peaks; the barren islands with a single house on them; the twilight of the polar night at mid-day; the black storm clouds. So many memories and a truly unforgettable trip.

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