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  • september

    The semester started, and things got busy. There were a couple of weeks where there was suddenly a lot to do – campus was full of people again, my PhD to-do list grew rapidly, we moved apartments (from one temporary place to another, for now), and there was plenty outside of all of that to keep us busy too. There wasn't a lot of knitting during those weeks, but we're starting to settle in now a little bit. And I have managed to finish a project or two.

    One of them is my Granskog tee which I finished a couple of weeks ago! Sadly I did not make it to Oslo Knitting Festival this year – this pattern was designed by Renata Yerkes for this year's festival magazine – but I know I'll make it back at some point. I made a few minor modifications to mine, which can be found on my Ravelry project page along with yarn info and other details. While I love the bright green color of this yarn from Sjølingstad Uldvarefabrik, I initially wasn't totally sure if I was going to be able to pull it off. But I quite like it! This is the fourth green garment I've finished this year, so 2019 definitely seems to be the year of the green sweater for me.

    I've gotten to wear it several times, which I'm grateful for, because the weather is starting to feel distinctly autumnal in Trondheim (although I can't get over how much later autumn comes here compared with Tromsø) and I'm realizing how many of my warmer sweaters are going to be in storage until November, when we'll be moving into our new long-term home. Warmer projects are quickly going to become a priority.

    For now, though, I'm continuing to enjoy the shift in the seasons in a new place again. As the evenings grow darker earlier, I'm looking forward to the peak of autumn foliage (only a few trees have started changing so far), and a part of me is really looking forward to the Norwegian winter again (although I'm glad it's still a couple of months away). There is nothing quite like a Norwegian landscape covered in snow in the blue light that comes with the dark season. 

  • mid-august

    Mid-August. And suddenly, it feels like late summer.

    The weather took a turn in the past week. I knew it would have to eventually – the weeks of blue skies and sunshine felt a little bit like an endless summer dream, but without rain, even paradise has an expiration date. And so now we have some slightly cooler temperatures (in the neighborhood of 12-16°C or 55-60°F), grey skies, and pretty regular rain. But I am fond of weather like this too, and it's been nice to go for walks when the rain lets up. As the nights are growing steadily darker, I'm looking forward to seeing the stars again.

    The back-to-school feeling is in the air as well. Suddenly, the city is full of people again, as people have come home from their vacations and Trondheim's 35,000+ students have been streaming back into the city in time for the semester start. Businesses that were closed for the summer in July have re-opened, campuses that felt like ghost towns feel alive again, and while a little part of me mourns the loss of the quiet, beautiful summer I've been having, I am glad for the change, too. The return of everyday Norwegian life is making it easier to really feel that we have actually moved back, after arriving two months ago.

    Based on what I've heard from everyone here, Trondheim can be quite nice through August and even September, so it's very possible we'll have another stretch of warm, sunny days at some point before autumn really sets in. But for now I'm grateful for the timing of this change in the weather, coinciding with the transition from summer holiday back to everyday life.

    --

    P.S. With all this back-to-school talk, I figured I'd mention that Quince & Co. is offering some back to school bundles, and included among them are my Drumlin scarf and Turlough hat. The bundles are kits which include both yarn and pattern, and they have several different colorway options available. These are a couple of my favorite things I've designed for Quince so I'm very pleased that they're offering these and wanted to share.

  • a few summer knits

    I thought after my last post sharing some summertime snaps, I'd share what I've been knitting on for the past month or so as well. There's actually been very little knitting for the past few days, as much of Norway has seen temps up and over 30°C (or 85°F), which is unusually warm here. My apartment gets full sun throughout the afternoon (the hottest part of the day) until the sun sets (currently around 10:30 PM), so I definitely haven't been feeling too inspired to knit. But I can still get in a few stitches in the mornings, like I have this morning, when there's a cool breeze blowing through the open windows.

    While I always have a lot of projects on the go, many of my WIPs are still packed up in boxes along with my stash. We're actually in a short-term rental for the time being, and will be finding long-term housing early this fall, so all our things will remain in storage until then. I think I have enough knitting to tide me over until then, though, since I thought ahead about what to pack in my suitcase.

    First up is actually a design that will hopefully be launching soon. This one has been in the works for awhile, and this is the second sample I'm knitting for the pattern, which will be for a tee or summer sweater (depending ons leeve length). The first version was lambswool hand-dyed by Ninapetrina, but this one is a slightly more summery blend of yarns. The grey yarn is Amirisu Parade (generously given to me by Amirisu earlier this year), a blend of 60% wool, 20% cotton, 10% linen, and 10% silk. It's soft, has a lovely drape, and the blend gives this color a lovely heathered appearance. I've paired it with Quince & Co. Tern (75% wool/25% silk) for the contrast, in the Backbay colorway. You can find my Ravelry project page for this one here, although it'll be lacking some information until the pattern comes out.

    I've also cast on for a pair of socks since arriving here, with yarn I brought with me. I'm knitting the Pebbles and Pathways socks by Marceline Smith (aka heybrownberry), who I had the chance to meet earlier this year in Edinburgh. Marce is so absolutely lovely, and I love that working on these socks makes me think of that trip and meeting Marce and so many other wonderful knitters. Some projects are like a warm hug, you know? I love the simplicity of this design and I'm really enjoying how it works up in this yarn, Blacker Yarns Mohair Blends 4-ply, a blend of Hebridean and Manx wools with mohair. It's a woolen spun 2-ply yarn, and when I purchased it from The Woolly Thistle they let me know that Blacker is no longer recommending this yarn for socks (although their website doesn't appear to have been updated to reflect that). Given the woolen spun structure I imagine it hasn't worn as well as some people would like. But I'm not afraid of a little bit of mending, so I thought I'd use it for socks anyway and see for myself how it wears. In my experience with sock knitting, the gauge of the fabric matters nearly as much as whether or not a sock yarn has nylon in it. If I wear these socks often I expect I will get holes eventually, but that's been true for all of my socks. So we shall see! You can find my project page here.

    Another pattern that went straight into my queue when it was released earlier this year was the Granskog tee by Renate Yerkes, designed for this years Oslo Knitting Festival magazine (although it is available as an individual pattern as well). This pattern features tree motifs worked in lace at the hem, and I just think it's so clever and I love the effect. When I realized that this would be a pretty perfect pattern for two skeins of apple green yarn given to me by my friend Kristin, I made sure to stash those skeins in my suitcase so I could cast on for it this summer. I thought the lace might be a slog to get through, but on the contrary, I was so excited to see the trees emerge that I just wanted to keep knitting. I'm using Norwegian wool yarn from Sjølingstad Uldvarefabrik, an old wool mill in southern Norway that is both museum and functioning mill today. My project page is here.

    And finally, one afternoon a week or two ago I took the ferry over to Munkholmen, a small island in the Trondheimfjord, just a ten minute boat ride from the city center. The island has lived many lives, including being a monestary, a prison, and a fortress at different points in history, but these days it's mostly a nice place for an outing, with plenty of green grass for a picnic, a little beach for swimming/bathing, and a few facilities on site like a cafe and a shop. I had a wander through the shop (called Munkholmen Galleri) which featured all kinds of things from local artists and makers, and got very excited when I stumbled into a corner with sheepskins and a basket of yarns in three natural colors – all from the grey Trøndersau. There was a light grey, a medium grey, and a natural black (which like most natural black yarns is a warm, deep chocolately brown in some lights). I thought picking up a skein of the lightest grey and the natural black would be a good idea, and hopefully enough to make a pair of mittens. Trøndelag, the county where Trondheim is situated, is also the home of Selbu, which is of course home to the tradition of Selbu mittens. The thought of making myself a pair of Selbu-style mittens with local wool from a rare local breed? I couldn't resist. So when I got home, I had a browse through some existing patterns, but nothing quite captured what I was after. So I drew up my own chart. This is pretty heavy wool – I'd say aran weight, at least – so these are the thickest Selbu mittens I've ever made. But I'm knitting them at a dense gauge so they should be very warm in the winter! I'll probably share more about these later, but for now you can find the project page here

    So there's a glimpse at some of the projects I've been working on this summer. I know we're hardly the only ones who have been experiencing a heat wave – how are you keeping cool, if the summer's been hot where you are?

  • a few summer snaps

    In a country with a such long and dark winter, it is so important to soak up the summer. One of the reasons I was looking forward to arriving in June for this move (as opposed to August, the month we arrived in Tromsø) is that I hoped I'd be able to experience the Norwegian summer again right away. I'm happy to say that's been the case – and I am loving summer in Trondheim. No deep thoughts today, just sharing a few photos from the past couple of weeks.

  • nordenfjeldske kunstindustrimuseum + hannah ryggen

    This weekend I visited the Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum, or the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design here in Trondheim. I really love museums, but for one reason or another when we moved to Tromsø in 2015 it took me around a year before I finally made it to any of Tromsø's museums. I was determined not to let that happen in Trondheim, so on a rainy Sunday I ventured out to spend a couple of hours at NKIM. 

    The museum houses a permanent collection of art and artifacts, but I was especially interested in seeing the temporary exhibition they're currently (co-)hosting, the Hannah Ryggen Triennial 2019: New Land (the other host of New Land is the Hannah Ryggen Center in Ørland). Hannah Ryggen was a textile artist born in Sweden who spent most of her life in Ørland, Norway, about an hour's boat ride from Trondheim. She predominantly worked with tapestry weaving, and part of why I find her so interesting is that a lot of her work was very overtly political – she was born in 1894 and was coming of age and beginning to work in a time where fascism was on the rise, and much of her work could be considered social commentary against injustice. I had come across Ryggen's name before but I hadn't realized quite how political her work was until I went to the exhibition. (She was also trained in painting but was self-taught as a weaver, a fact about her which I enjoyed.)

    NKIM houses the largest collection of Ryggen's works, but the exhibition itself brings together both works by Ryggen as well as contemporary works by other artists. The curator's statement is well worth a read. I enjoyed seeing all the pieces, but two artists in particular stood out to me.

    The first piece that stopped me in my tracks was Liquid, by Faig Ahmed, an Azerbaijani artist. 

    It's part of a series (you can see the pieces on his website), and there was another piece included in the exhibition, but this one really had an effect on me. The rugs are proper wool rugs, woven by hand and very traditional up until the point that they become incredibly distorted. I've never seen anything like it.

    The other artist whose work really spoke to me was Alexandra Kehayoglou, an Argentinian artist. A series of pieces titled Prayer Rugs was her main contribution to the exhibition – primarily smaller pieces, as suggested by the name, and like Ahmed's work, woolen rugs.

    The description provided in the catalogue puts it succinctly: "These tactile works are in memoriam of places that have been altered or destroyed forever. Some of them document environmental destruction, others depict lost landscapes that can never be experienced again." The tufted rugs represent memories of Kehayoglou's native landscapes, and to me the tactile nature of the pieces really drives home a sense of what is lost when we alter the landscape, intentionally or otherwise. It comes across in the small size of these pieces, but I imagine it's even more impactful in one of her larger-scale pieces (just take a peek at this one on her website).

    I'd encourage you to check out Kehayoglou's website because her work is incredibly stunning.

    Going back to Ryggen's work, the piece housed in the museum that had the biggest impact on me was one called Vi lever på en stjerne, or "We live on a star." The scale of the piece alone is overwhelming, but it was the story behind it that made me emotional. It was originally commissioned for the new government building in Oslo in 1958, the building that was until 2011 the location of the prime minister's office (among other offices). This building was one of the targets of the terrorist attacks of July 22, 2011, an event that still feels vivid in my memory, though I only experienced it from afar, learning about it while watching the news in an American airport. 77 people died that day because of one right-wing extremist. Eight years on it is still difficult to fathom. The Ryggen tapestry was damaged in the bombing, but it has been stitched back together and now bears a scar, which I was able to examine up close, as it sits in the bottom portion of the tapestry. 

    The scale of this piece is difficult to express through a photograph alone (in the museum it's located in the landing of a large stairway), but this photo of the piece in situ in the government building probably gives a better idea:

    (Photo: Leif Ørnelund / Oslo Museum, via digitaltmuseum.no)

    Perhaps this piece hit me the way it did because the 22/7 attacks have been on my mind as we approach the eighth anniversary (which is tomorrow, as it happens) and I had no idea the history of this piece so it caught me unaware. My very first visit to Norway was in November 2011, only months after the attacks, and I remember my friend Camilla walking me by the Government Quarter, where the damage was still visible, with many windows were boarded up. The government has plans to demolish the existing buildings of the quarter and build new ones, but there will always be some things that bear the scars of the damage caused by that day, just as Norway itself carries them too. 

    The exhibition has left me wanting to dig deeper into Hannah Ryggen's work, and I'll likely go see it again before it closes next month. I'd also like to make the trip to the Hannah Ryggen Center in Ørland. Perhaps I can share more about Ryggen and her work later on. If you'd like to read more in the meantime, I found this piece quite interesting. 

  • lately

    The first week in Trondheim brought unexpectedly beautiful weather. Most of the past week has been nothing but rain, just at the moment most people here are leaving for their summer holidays. While the rain can grow tiring, it's also somehow comforting. It definitely invites a spot of quiet solitude, and there's a lot that I enjoy about quiet solitude – I think I have always had a soft spot for melancholy.

    I feel like that makes me sound sad, and I guess I am a little bit. There is some sadness in a big change. There is loss involved, even when you're excited about whating you're moving towards. But there is a deep comfort in being back in Norway, back by the water, with nature so close. And we come back to Norway more confident this time. More sure of ourselves, of who we are, of what we want in life. There is still the anxiety of a new city, of not knowing many people. But I definitely feel more comfortable just being myself. When we first moved to Norway in 2015 I had a (mostly) subconscious desire to fit in, to not stand out. I wanted to "pass." After two years away, I care much less about that this time around. That makes a great difference.

    The wet weather this past few days has meant I haven't done nearly as much exploring outside as I'd like to. I walked all over the city in the first few days but I've been itching to go hiking in Bymarka, the forest that butts up against the west edge of the city. But I think I'll wait for a dry spell. In the meantime, there has been knitting.

    I had the urge last week to buy a skein of Hillesvåg Tinde and whip up a hat, even though I brought several projects with me (the remainder of my yarn and projects are in our main pack, which we won't have access to for a little while). I popped into Husfliden last week and grabbed a skein in Cognac (not my typical color choice, but I fell for it for some reason), and knit a Mellomlua over an evening and a morning. Super simple, very soothing. And now I have a new hat. It was only after I knit it that I realized that Tinde was the first yarn I bought after my move to Norway in 2015, and I knit a hat with it that fall. Accidental symmetry.

    I've been feeling a little bit like I'm in the space between: the space between one stage of my life and the next. Eras of our lives aren't sharply defined, for the most part, and they can blur together at the edges. But the longer I'm back in Norway the more I'm adjusting to it again, and one day I will wake up and realize I don't feel like I'm in the space between anymore, and I won't know when that happened. It's only been two weeks. So for now, I knit, I walk, I read, and I get to work, of course, since a job is what brought us back here. And I'll enjoy that.

  • across the atlantic once again

    Perhaps some of you have been able to tell through my words here and over on Instagram over the past year and a half, but Montreal hasn't clicked for us quite the way that Norway did. Montreal was always a little bit of an experiment for us, and there have been some wonderful things about moving here (not least of which is the wonderfully warm knitting community I've felt a part of from the beginning – thank you to all of you here in Quebec and Canada who have made me feel that way), but for over a year we've actually been thinking about, and subsequently planning, a return to Norway. That's been our goal for a little while, and the only question was one of when.

    The question of when has now been answered – mid-June – because I've gotten a job as a PhD fellow in Trondheim. This is huge news for me and I am incredibly excited, not only for the move back to Norway but also for the project I'll be working on once we get there. (For the curious, it's in educational studies and it's a pretty perfect combination of my background in both linguistics and TESOL.) I announced the move over on Instagram earlier this week and I can only say thank you to everyone who has shared comments of encouragement and excitement so far. Thank you, genuinely. It means a lot to me.

    I started a pair of Trondheim mittens by Sofia Kammeborn earlier this month and used that photo to tease the announcement. For each of my master's degrees I knit a pair of mittens for myself in celebration (you can find the project pages for them here and here) and so a Trondheim pair felt apropros for this next stage of my academic career. I chose yarns from my stash to knit them, choosing mostly Norwegian wool: two colors of Rauma Finull (dark blue and mustard), a very special skein of indigo dyed lambswool from Lofoten Wool (the light blue), and a skein of Finnish wool in the form of Tukuwool Fingering (the red). I'm particularly pleased with the Lofoten Wool here, because I bought this skein without knowing what I was going to do with it, and the price of that yarn makes it somewhat precious. So I think it's really lovely to use it for a special project like this one.

    Trondheim is a new city for us and while it will be challenging to start over in a new city yet again, I'm feeling very optimistic and looking forward to starting to get to know the city a little bit better. I love the Norwegian summer and I'm so happy I'll get to experience it this year. I've technically been to Trondheim twice, but one of those times was passing through while traveling on the Hurtigruten, a stop that lasts only three or four hours, so the two days we were there last September account for most of my experience with the city (the city photos in this post were taken on those visits). Of course I know it's a city with many, many knitters, and I'm looking forward to TRDstrikk's first festival this August (sidenote: it has been so fun to watch the festival scene grow throughout Norway since I first moved there four years ago!). 

    As always I am grateful to those of you who follow along here and elsewhere, and I'm looking forward to sharing snippets of Norway again as I get to know my new city. 

  • signs of spring

    Spring is a time of such optimism, especially in places with long or harsh winters. Living in Tromsø made me miss a springtime full of blossoms, and living in Montreal, I really, really appreciate spring when it finally arrives. Signs of spring are beginning to appear in Montreal this week.

    I had one of those days this week with a pattern I've been working on that just made my brain feel like mush. Some patterns turn out to be more of an ordeal to work out than others, and I knew this was going to be one of those, but still... brain mush. I'd been at it for hours and needed a break. So I went for a walk, because I knew that would help.

    It helped to notice the baby leaves starting to grow from branches that have been bare for the past six months. It helped to notice the early blossoms blowing gently in the breeze. It helped to see things turning green again. I tend to feel so disconnected from nature here in the city, but this time of year I'm constantly being reminded that there are living, growing things all around me. There are moments of everyday beauty to be found if you go looking for them.

    The city comes back to life in more ways than one when the weather turns. Everyone is suddenly outside again as much as possible on nice days. To be perfectly honest, Montreal can take it a bit too far into chaos (it seems that all cyclists, car drivers, and pedestrians seem to lose their minds when the weather finally changes), but that's a subject for another day. Today's about the lightness I felt when capturing these images.

    I'm going to try to soak up the season this year, because this is our last spring in Montreal. We're here on temporary work permits which are expiring this summer, and it's time for us to prepare to move on to what's next. There's a lot to do, but on sunny days, I'll make sure to get outside, breathe in and out, and find the lightness.

  • visiting a cabane à sucre

    Last year around this time of year I never managed to get around to having a very typical Québecois experience – going to visit a cabane à sucre, or a sugar shack. Quebec is not the only place that has them, of course, but it was here that I first learned of them and the concept is very tied to Quebec in my own mind. So this year, when a somewhat last-minute invite came from a friend to join a group going to a farm about 45 minutes outside of Montreal, I didn't hesitate to say yes. So last weekend, we piled into a car and drove out to Rigaud, where we visited Sucrerie de la Montagne

    I'm not going to lie – the whole experience is a *little* campy (the photo above is the horse-drawn cart that took us from the parking lot to the dining hall, a hilariously short distance), but it was also very, very fun. Even though it was a miserably cold and grey day with freezing rain coming down, everyone around us (ourselves included) was so very cheerful. I think some of that has to do with the sugar, but I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that going to visit a sugar shack is a very tangible sign of spring on the horizon in a part of the world where the long, harsh winter means we won't be seeing flowers pop up for another month or two. 

    Cold nights and warm, sunny days encourage sugar maples to produce sap, so it's this time of year that the tree taps start flowing. Sucrerie de la Montagne still maintains a lot of the more traditional ways of production, so the maple trees around their grounds have all got metal buckets attached to the taps.

    A visit to a sugar shack involves a big meal – ours was in a large wooden dining hall, full of communal tables, with live folk music and a fire. And let's just say that the meal isn't very vegetarian friendly (but then, in my experience, most of the traditional Québecois foods aren't). But the last course involved pancakes and sugar pie, and those were predictably very good. After the meal we all headed outside for tire d'érable, or maple taffy.

    Troughs of fresh snow are laid out and maple syrup is poured over the top. Once the syrup has sunk in a little bit, you take a popsicle stick and roll it through the syrup for a little sticky maple popsicle. It is, as you would guess, very sweet! But if you just have a small one it's not so bad.

    I'm happy to have finally crossed this experience off the to-do list. And I'm very happy that it's finally feeling like spring is just on the horizon. This winter hasn't been as hard as the previous was, but it's nice to have reminders like this that this one, too, is coming to an end.

  • edinburgh

    Edinburgh Yarn Festival is always such a whirlwind. This time last week, I was sitting in the marquee at the big knit night, seaming a sleeve onto my Lapwing sweater. Now, I'm home, slowly working on the comedown + re-entry to real life. I wish I'd booked myself more time in Scotland, to be honest, but there is work to be done, and I know I will be back for a proper visit again sometime too (Edinburgh itself is always so lovely to visit).

    Many, many knitters are familiar with Edinburgh Yarn Festival by now, even if only by reputation. It's a massive event, one organized by just two people, which always blows my mind (thank you Jo and Mica!), as there's so much to coordinate and stay on top of while trying to make sure everything runs smoothly and everyone gets what they need to have a good festival. This was my second time going, and it has grown since I last went in 2016. The addition of the marquee is really excellent, as it does create vastly more space for folks to sit and knit and chat than there used to be. And while I think we come for the yarn and fiber, many of us stick around for the people. 

    I took few photos and while I took some video, I took very little at the festival itself. Lucky for me, many other people were much better than I am at taking photos together. From left to right starting with the top row, I borrowed these photos from Mina, Mina, Mina, then Espace Tricot, Calon Yarns, and Cross and Woods. It turns out Mina (of the Knitting Expat podcast) is especially excellent at getting group photos, as you can see. (Links go to the original posts on Instagram.)

    I met so many new people this trip. Some were people I'd interacted with online, some were brand new, and I feel like everyone was so lovely. Thank you, if you're someone I got a chance to say hello to, especially to those of you who came up to say that you enjoyed my patterns or that you've found my YouTube videos interesting or useful – that means so very much. I took note that there was a lot more of that this year than the first time I visited three years ago. 

    I bought more than I was planning to, which I should've been able to predict. There is the frenzy of the festival which is easy to get swept up in, yes, but more than that, the EYF marketplace is undeniably one of the most interesting festival marketplaces out there, in my book. There's so much interesting and unique wool to be found: single breed, single origin, rare breed, and so on, whether undyed, acid-dyed, or naturally dyed. One particular highlight this year was getting to spend a bit of time at The Woolist's stand, and getting to chat with Zoe, who's behind the project. I think I'd like to plan a full blog post about that project at some point in the future, because it deserves to be highlighted.

    I came home with a mix of yarns: vivid pink lac-dyed Finnish wool from Aurinkokehrä (purchased from Midwinter Yarns); sock minis from Phileas Yarns for a very silly project I'll show you at some point in the future; two charcoal skeins of Amirisu Parade*, a summery blend of wool, cotton, linen, and silk (!); a skein of Falkland aran weight, naturally dyed by Ocean by the Sea, a teal skein of high-twist Corriedale from Ovis et cetera, and two skeins of Hillesvåg Sølje (because of course I came home with some Hillesvåg). I also bought a hand-woven wrap from Ardalanish, woven on the Isle of Mull, and a few books from Ysolda's booth/shop, which is as excellent a space as everyone says it is. The good news is, I managed to fit all of this into my hand luggage, since I was traveling without checked bags. Just barely, but I made it work.

    *These two skeins were a gift from the lovely ladies of Amirisu – thank you, Meri and Tokuko!

    For now I'm left sorting through memories of the past week, thinking about everything I'm grateful for and the people I'm going to miss the most. It's so wonderful that the festival brings so many people together, but it's a bit like going to a wedding in that it's not for very long and you don't get as much time as you'd like to catch up with anyone. But we had fine weather, fun times, and overall an amazing weekend, so I can't really complain. So once again, until next time, Edinburgh...