Saturday, April 20, 2013

Why I should have moved to Canada....

Eight years ago DH and I made the momentous decision to emigrate to South Africa from the UK. I'd spent much of my life here, my family are here and DH has a brother who has lived here for many years so it seemed a sensible thing to do. I was born in the UK but moved here when I was 11, then we went back to England, then we came back here .... please don't try and keep up as both my brother and I gave up in the end and just decided that if it was sunny when we woke up, we were in South Africa and if it was raining, it was more than likely that we were back in Blighty!!! I digress. Eight years ago we returned and for the most part it's been a great decision. DH loves it, our boys love it, and even love it 99.9% of the time. However, from a knitting point of view it's been a nightmare. I've finally realised that South Africa is not conducive to knitters.

This is largely because wool shops are few and far between. In England you can count on almost every city, town and even small village having at least one wool shop. They may not be very big, in fact most of them become crowded with just the owner inside, but they're THERE.  You can love them (as I do) or leave them as many subnormal people (in my opinion) do. But again, they're THERE.

Here in South Africa, they're as rare as the proverbial money tree. Many towns I've been to don't have one let alone a selection, and when I enquire as to where the nearest one is located I'm met only with complete silence, sidelong glances and furrowed brows as though I'm speaking in foreign tongues! I learnt to deal with my ever increasing withdrawal symptoms however .... the shaking, the sweating and the tingling in my fingers..... I learnt to control it all, but it was hard.

Recently in my local town a wonderful, beautiful, exceptional and in my opinion saintlike lady named Jeannette saved me and possibly my family too, (as I was becoming more and more likely to hit out at anyone who mentioned the word 'wool'), by opening a fantastic haberdashery shop. And guess what??? SHE SELLS WOOL!!!!! Not a huge selection, but enough to keep the wolf from my door and my hands busy with needles or hook. There are few imported yarns so most of her stock is made by the only wool producing company in the country. As such I've had to deal with uneven spinning and knots every now and again where they've joined the yarn to cut costs but I'm not complaining. It is all still wool, glorious, fabulous, gorgeous wool and I would knit with string if I had to, believe me! It has, however, meant that we can never ever move from this town. We are here to stay. No matter what. Or so I thought.

The other reason why South Africa is not the place of choice to a knitaholic is quite simply, the climate. For 80% of the year the temps are 25°C and above. The other 20% of the year is cooler and we get the occasional cold spell - we've even had snow - but nothing compared to northern climes. The necessity for a wardrobe full of sweaters is just not there, and even though I knit them and fold them and put them away in the vain hope that a really really cold day will come and someone in the house will wear them, it never happens. I have four thick jerseys in my wardrobe that I've worn a total of three times. Three eight years......not the stats I would like.

I know that I'm so very lucky to live in a country where the sun shines almost every day of the year. I now that, I promise I do. But it doesn't help. The knitter in me should have moved to a cold cold country where thick sweaters are the norm. Where they're essential every single day. Where I could cable and aran to my hearts content knowing that next year I'll have to do it all over again cos my boys would have grown out of this year's supply. Where every city, town and village has a wool shop. Where I can knit in public without people gawping at me like I'm some sort of alien. In short, I should have moved to Canada.

See ya next time. I'm off to book a ticket...............I just have to tell DH and the boys. I wonder if they'll mind.......


  1. I do sympathise, I secretly hope for cold weather sometimes.

    I wonder what Canada is like...

  2. Girl...Have you met Marlene from yet? Not? Ok, she opened shop online just the other day. Quickly go have a look.
    Previously did 4ply in cotton, and bamboo, now all in DK, and I hear she's looking at chunky etc too...I just finished 3 beanies in her DK and LOVED it.
    And she colours.
    She specially made up a camouflage colourway for me...
    No, Cananda is way too cold and there are too many mozzies.

  3. I sometimes wish i had movedto Canada too! Best wishes...

  4. All those sweaters would be perfect here in Colorado!! I wait for those few warm days so I can enjoy the sun before the next snow comes. Those sunny days won't be here for at least another month I'm guessing.

  5. I thought about emigrating too, once upon a time - to New Zealand (because of its fab wine!)

  6. Hi there... I just discovered your lovely blog and so enjoyed this post! I could sooo identify with it! I was born in the UK, grew up in Cape Town, moved back to Scotland and now living the UK again.. So I know exactly what you mean ;-) I'm a knitter too and always struggled to find nice wool/craft stuff etc. If you're anywhere near Claremont (C'Town southern suburbs) there's a fab shop called Crafty Supplies which is owned by a wonderful lady called Colleen - a true craft guru - but not sure if she sells wool yet... it's been almost 8 years since I've been in beautiful CT.
    Looking forward to following your adventures,
    love Gill xx

  7. Heh heh, I'll let the family of South Africans around the corner know they should be expecting company.

    I was walking my daughter home from school just around the end of winter last year and there was still snow on the ground, the South Africans were outside bundled up in their woolies taking family pics of themselves frolicking in the snow. It was so funny, my daughter and I just looked at each other and we were both thinking the same thing, doesn't it get cold in South Africa? I guess it doesn't get cold enough if you can't find a wool shop. You know what? I'll even let you stay here in exchange for socks and sweaters.

  8. Funnily enough, my upbringing was on a similar parental nomadic style which was compounded with me (african born and bred) meeting and marrying an english man - so we have too flitted back and forth across continents. For the time being (and for the sake of the kids being able to have an uninterrupted education)we are here in the uk. Where there is a supply (and fortunately due to fashion - increasing supply) of wool shops. The cooler weather is definitely the stuff to knit in and for! My mum used to sweat away over hot knitting needles for us as kids and we hardly ever wore her creations due to being to warm!

  9. I lived in Canada but at the time I didn't knit. Now I live in the french alps and do, but we don't have yarn shops either, nearest one is 90 km. Not too far away we have a haberdashery store that has a tiny yarn corner, but it's very limited. Have made a note to myself not to move to South Africa!! (looks like a pretty stunning place to live despite the 'knitting' problem).
    My flat mate at uni was from Morgan Bay, he said it was the best place ever.
    Happy knitting (thank heavens for internet shopping).


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