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  • 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...

  • midwinter reflections

    For me, January passed by in a flash. It brought cold weather: snow and ice and chilly winds, as it does in Montreal. When the weather was fine, I made an effort so spend some time outside. When it wasn't, I've been inside, working. Knitting. And sometimes baking. I actually really like January (maybe it's easier when it's your birthday month?) but I know that January is often hard for many. That's more and more true for me as I get older, too. I'm not that sorry to see it go this year. 

    February brings us one step further into the year. It brings some plans for this year closer to fruition – new patterns among them, but also travel. I have a trip later this month, but I'm also really looking forward to heading back to Edinburgh this March for Edinburgh Yarn Festival. I went in 2016 and enjoyed it so very much, and it's hard to believe that was three years ago. I'm very excited and very grateful to be going back. We are also in the midst of figuring out what the second half of this year looks like, since our Canadian work permits come to an end later this summer and we're not 100% sure what our next move will be. (That doesn't mean we don't have ideas we've been working on, but there are factors outside of our control that play a large role.) So this winter feels like a little bit of limbo. And so I work. And bake. 

    I have also been very tuned in to the conversation about racism in the knitting community that began towards the beginning of January. I think it's a very important conversation to be having, and one that's long overdue. I've been listening to the voices of many of the BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) members of this community because their words deserve our attention. It's hard to cover very much in the space of a short blog, but I wanted to acknowledge it here because it is important. 

    If you are a white knitter like I am, I hope you recognize that everyone who has shared their experiences with racism or microagressions in this community is facing into their own past trauma every time they share those stories, and if you are shocked by the experiences they have shared ("I can't believe this is happening in 2019!"), recognize that being able to feel that is the white privilege that they are referring to. Please have the respect to believe them. Please understand that they cannot, will not just "stick to knitting" because even in the knitting community they face exclusion based on the color of their skin. Defensiveness is a common reaction from white people when they are faced with the everyday racism our societies are entrenched in, and if you feel that, I would suggest you sit with that and give yourself some time to reflect before you speak up about it; if someone shares their experiences with racism with you and the first thing you say back to them is some version of, "but not all white people!", the impact of that is to dismiss and minimize that already marginalized voice. Maybe "I'm so sorry you've been treated that way" is a better starting point. Also keep in mind that when knitters share the experiences of racism they have faced and they talk about white privilege, they are not saying that you, as a white knitter, have never been discriminated against for other reasons – just that you haven't been discriminated against because of your race. Ageism, ableism, homophobia, these are all real too. And those conversations are happening too. But the conversation at large has been about racism. If you're looking for resources to educate yourself about these issues, let me know in the comments and I'll do my best to recommend some books/podcasts/articles, depending on what you're looking for.

    If you are a BIPOC member of this community, know that I see you, and I hear your words, and I am listening. I am so grateful for the expereiences and perspective everyone has shared that have opened my eyes and I am so sorry you have had to live those experiences. You are welcome here, and if I ever do or say anything that makes you feel unwelcome, I hope you will call me out on it. 

    Edited to add: I turned on comment moderation when I published this post, because I want the comment section to be a safe space for BIPOC. If you submit a comment that I feel would make BIPOC feel unheard or unsafe, I (and only I) will see it but I won't be approving that comment to appear here. You're free to speak your mind on your own platforms, but this is my space and I will do what I can to keep it a safe and inclusive one.

  • looking back at 2018

    I've been taking some time to look back, as one is wont to do at this time of year. Yesterday was the winter solstice, which means this year has almost drawn to a close. 2018 has been quite a year. I released a lot of patterns this year. I knew I had done more work than usual, and kicking it up a notch in the first full calendar year after finishing my master's degree was the plan, but still, when I sat down to count out how many new designs I actually released, I was stunned to realize there were twenty-four of them. 24 new patterns in 2018! Fifteen of those came in the form of three collections. I am absolutely astonished at my own productivity. Of course, there are some things that helped make this achievable – working with third parties always makes the work less for me, and tied to that is the fact that the work for some of this year's releases was actually done in 2017 (or in the case of Fog & Frost, even earlier). Sample knitters also knit a few of these samples. These are all things I'm grateful for as someone designing and writing knitting patterns. But here's a look at my 24 patterns of 2018 (a list with links will follow in case something piques your interest):

    From left to right –
    Row 1: Frost Flowers, Lyngen, Alice Mittens
    Row 2: Mountain Hum, Polar Night, North Wind
    Row 3: West Wind, Cloud Pine, Adrian
    Row 4: Opal, Dorthea, Turlough
    Row 5: Drumlin, Weekend Walking Mitts, Caithness
    Row 6: Tremblant Toque, Le Massif Scarf, Sutton Slippers
    Row 7: Stoneham Poncho, Bromont Mitts, Brave at Heart
    Row 8: Just and Loyal, Wit Beyond Measure, Great Ambition

    The collections are definitely all highlights – Fog & Frost, the Chalet Collection for Espace Tricot, and Lion, Badger, Eagle, Snake. The reception for the latter two in particular has been incredible, and I don't know how to say thank you in a way that actually conveys my gratitude. But thank you

    A few of these patterns were published in books, and it is always exciting to see my name and my work in print. Opal and Dorthea were published in the Norwegian book Ruter og Lus: Retrostrikk fra Salhus Trikotagefabrikk (which I wrote about here) and I still can't quite believe the museum wanted me of all people to be involved with that project. And then Caithness was published in Kate Davies's new compilation of hat patterns, Milarrochy Heids, and it means a great deal to me to be included in those pages and to call Kate a colleague and a friend. 

    I also returned to teaching this year, giving a few classes at Espace Tricot and teaching a full weekend of workshops at Twist Festival in Saint-André-Avellin, Québec. I spent eight months of this year working at Espace Tricot as well, getting to know local knitters and making friends and generally becoming a part of the wonderful fiber community in and around Montréal and Québec, so being invited to teach at Twist was a highlight. All the classes I gave were colorwork related, and it brings me so much joy to share my love and knowledge of colorwork with other knitters.

    From top to bottom: teaching my Traditional Mittens workshop, being interviewed by Transistor Media (you can listen here), and hanging out with buds in the Knitting It Up Yarns booth (first two photos by Sébastien Lavallée for Twist Festival, third photo courtesy of Annie of Knitting It Up)

    While I've been invited to teach at a few retreats and events in 2019, I'm not anticipating very much teaching in the coming year, I'm sorry to say. The reason for that is that I'm likely looking at another big move next summer (which can make event planning difficult-to-impossible), but more on that at a later date.

    Plenty of other things have happened this year – I read 30 books, I learned a new craft, I traveled to some new and exciting places as well as some old and familiar ones. I feel I have so much to be grateful for right now. Given the year I've had, I'm taking it easy for the last few weeks of the year, and I'm looking forward to spending the Christmas holiday with family and friends. I am especially grateful to you, my readers, followers, customers. You all are a massive part of the wonderful year 2018 has been on a professional level, and I can't say thank you enough. My birthday falls on the first of the new year, and some of you may remember I held a birthday sale on patterns last year – keep an eye out, because I plan to do the same this coming year. It's such a nice way to say thank you for the year just gone by.

    Whatever the end of 2018 holds for you – travel, festive celebrations, time for quiet reflection – I hope you enjoy it. And I'll see you in the new year.

  • l'hiver est arrivé

    Montreal has already had two snowstorms this month, so winter has definitely arrived in this corner of the world. It feels early here, and even though I love winter I admittedly love it less in this city than I did in Norway, so there is a small sigh along with winter's arrival. Nonetheless, I will aim to make the best of it. December is nearly upon us (tomorrow!), so we're entering the season of twinkling lights and joy and love and that is something to celebrate.

    I do love the transformational power of fresh snow, and will go out of my way to seek it out in this city of millions. (I'm very grateful for parks.)

    At any rate, I wanted to pop in to tell you about a couple of exciting things that happened in the month of November. The first is that I was finally able to unveil a pattern I've been very excited about since I first knit it last December – I have a hat design in the new book from Kate Davies, Milarrochy Heids.

    My hat (or heid, a Scots word for "head") is called Caithness, and it uses five shades of Kate's lovely yarn Milarrochy Tweed. Unlike most of Kate's books, which are full of her own lovely designs, Milarrochy Heids features 15 hat patterns from 13 designers, all worked up in Milarrochy Tweed, a fingering weight blend of 70% wool and 30% mohair in a palette of 15 shades. I actually purchased the initial pack of 12 shades that was available when the yarn was introduced, and that is what I used to knit my Caithness. The yarn comes in 25 g balls, and the pack had one ball of each color, so it was absolutely perfect for colorwork. I had first planned to self-publish this design, but then Kate asked about including it in a book of hat patterns she was planning at the time and I was over the moon. And so here we are!

    Some of you will know I've been a huge fan of Kate's for a very long time, and I've followed her forays into yarn production (and ready-to-wear) with great enthusiasm. It means a great deal to me to be included in this book alongside so many other wonderfully creative designers. I highly encourage you to go check out the other patterns here on Ravelry – it's hard to pick a favorite but I might have to make myself a Tarradale at some point.

    The response to Milarrochy Heids has been phenomenal, and team KDD have unexpectedly already sold out of hard copies of the book in the pre-order period. More copies are on the way, but in the meantime, many local yarn stores will be receiving copies from the first print run, so if you didn't pre-order but you'd like a copy before Christmas, I'd suggest checking with local stores, or those that ship orders! I should also mention that the KDD shop has put together yarn kits for every pattern in the book – you can find the yarn kit for Caithness here, and the others are all listed in the "yarn" section of Kate's shop. Note that the yarn kits are the yarn only – you still need the book (or e-book) for the patterns. 

    I've been wearing my Caithness all autumn long and while Milarrochy Tweed is a relatively fine yarn, it's a surprisingly warm hat, probably in part thanks to the mohair in it. It's been such a joy to finally share it with you all.

    The other exciting bit of information is that I was featured as a guest on the "Knitters of the World" segment of the Fruity Knitting video podcast in their most recent episode (66: Uradale Yarns & Taatit Rugs). If you're not familiar with Fruity Knitting, it's an incredibly well-produced video podcast on YouTube, featuring heaps of fascinating interviews and information. Andrea and Andrew are wonderful hosts and I always learn something watching their show. Being a guest on this segment means I got to talk about a few of my favorite pieces I've knit, and in my case, it's a mix of my own designs (like my Ebba, which I'm holding up in the screenshot above) as well as things I've knit from other people's patterns. It was a treat to be included! You can check out the show notes for the episode here to get a sense of everything this episode included, and you can watch the full episode here (my segment starts around the 41:00 mark, but I do encourage you to watch the whole thing!).

    I hope you're all doing well as we move into the busy tail end of the year. Remember to breathe deeply, and to take a moment for yourself now and then. 

  • lyngen, or, my new favorite sweater

    I don't think I wrote about Lyngen on the blog earlier this year. This is a pullover I designed for issue 5 of Making magazine (the COLOR issue), which came out this past spring. Making is a beautiful print publication and I was very happy to be included in such a bright and inspiring issue (I highly encourage you to head over to Ravelry to check out the other patterns in the issue). You can still get the pattern for Lyngen in that issue, but I've also just published it as an individual pattern on Ravelry, and it felt like a good time to share a little bit about it with you all.

    This was one of those designs that took a really long, meandering path to the final result. When Carrie first reached out about designing a pattern for this issue, I came up with two main colorwork sweater ideas, both of which were round yokes. One idea was inspired by the super colorful Hungarian embroidery from Kalocsa – the idea featured bands of motifs in different bright colors on a white background, and I think we were initially going to go with that idea. But then Birkin came out, and I emailed Carrie with a photo and said, "Is this too similar?" (Side note: this probably happens more often than most knitters realize, especially with regard to yoke designs. I've gotten two emails myself from other designer pals along similar lines after releasing some of my other yokes. Great minds, etc.) Even though we though it wasn't too similar, Carrie ended up deciding that my other idea would be a better fit for the issue. That idea featured a very similar chart to the one that ended up on the yoke of Lyngen, though I made some changes once we finalized the color palette. My proposal was a very me sort of palette – greys, with minty shades of turquoise and teal. Predictable. Carrie already had a project for the issue lined up in similar colors, though, so she proposed an alternate colorway, in four shades of Quince & Co. Finch: Maple, Petal, Clay, and Malbec. We continued waffling about color placement until finally deciding that Maple should be the main color of the body. Once we got there, I tweaked the yoke chart a little bit and decided to add small bands of colorwork to the bottom of the body and sleeves of the sweater as well.

    After all was said and done, I realized two things: firstly, that I loved this sweater. Secondly, the motifs made up of lots of single stitches in this particular color combination brought to mind the flowering heather I'd come to associate with early autumn in northern Norway. This gave the sweater its name; "lyng" is the Norwegian word for heather, and the mountains to the east of Tromsø are known as the Lyngen Alps. I've written before about how working with third parties such as magazines often means getting out of my color comfort zone and using colors or color combinations I wouldn't normally have chosen for myself, and that often leads to designs that are really satisfying and refreshing for me. I had no idea I would fall in love with Quince's Maple colorway in particular. I had no idea that I would fall in love with this sweater. 

    I got my sample back from the magazine in April, around the time the issue was released. But I didn't have a ton of time to wear it before Montreal was getting too warm for knitwear. So when we headed to Norway for a week or two in September, I brought it along, knowing it would get some wear. It was the only sweater I brought and I lived in it. And then we came home and I have just continued living in it. (If you've seen my latest YouTube video on colorwork books you may have noticed I'm wearing it there too.) A fingering weight yoke is such a perfect everyday kind of sweater – it's easy to wear indoors without overheating, but it layers up very well for going out in colder weather.

    One of the things I love about knitting is that there are always ways for knitting to surprise me. It's such a joy to fall in love with a piece that you didn't expect to. I'm considering knitting up a second version of this sweater for myself, perhaps in Rauma Finull this time – but for now, I will continue to wear this one to death.

    Have you ever had a knitting project surprise you that way?

  • ruter og lus: retrostrikk frå salhus tricotagefabrik

    This fall is shaping up to be my busiest ever for new releases, and I'd like to periodically share some of them here on the blog. Today I'm very excited to tell you about a book project I had theopportunity to be a part of, called Ruter og Lus: retrostrikk frå Salhus Tricotagefabrik. I want to let you know up front that it's a Norwegian book, which means the patterns are pretty inaccessible to anyone who doesn't live in Scandinavia or understand Norwegian (and it's written in nynorsk - the less common written standard of Norwegian - which adds another barrier for non-native speakers). Nonetheless, it's a very cool project, so I hope you enjoy hearing about it all the same.

    Back in July I wrote a blog post about the Norwegian knitting industry museum in Salhus, outside of Bergen. If you haven't read that post, I recommend checking it out, because it will provide some background for this book project. The museum is located at the old Salhus Trikotasjefabrikk, or knitting factory, and I mentioned in that post that "the museum maintains an archive of different patterned fabrics, with some of the patterns perhaps never actually being put into production." 

    The museum decided a couple of years ago that it would be nice to revive that archive of patterned fabrics, and the way they decided to do that would be to take a selection of motifs/fabrics from the archive and hand them over to hand knitting designers, who would then create original designs for modern knitters using these fabrics from the archive. Since Salhus typically produced the kind of sweater known as an islender (or "Icelander" - I wrote a little bit about the origin of that term in my post about the museum), the motifs are all relatively small and repetitive, and would typically be used in an allover pattern on the sweater. This is represented in the name of the finished book: Ruter og lus.

    If you're familiar with Norwegian knitting, you may recognize lus as the first word in the compound lusekofte, and it refers to what we often call a "lice pattern" in English (lus meaning "louse"). Within the context of knitting, lus refers to small repetitive motifs, often a single stitch or pair of stitchs worked in a diagonal. Ruter is slightly more difficult to translate in this context – it essentially refers to squares and patterns with strong perpendicular lines, but it is not in itself the normal word for "square," either. Plaids, ginghams, and other grids could all be described as "rutete" (an adjectival form). Nonetheless, the most typical islender is made up of repeating motifs of what are essentially squares and lice, and I assume that this is where the book's title comes from.

    But on to the patterns! I feel incredibly grateful to have been asked to take part in this project, and I'm quite proud of my two contributions: a sweater called Opal and a hat and mitt set called Dorthea. I found working on these designs an interesting creative challenge; I was one of the last designers to sign on for the project, and most of the motif options had already been claimed by then. So the two motifs I ended up with weren't my first choice, but I'm very pleased with what I was able to do with them in the end (which is very satisfying).

    Opal was a challenge to work on at first because I found the original swatch photos pretty uninspiring, to say the least. Salhus thinks this particular motif in the archive is from the 80s, and as far as they know they don't have any record of it being used for any of the knitwear they created. The motif uses four colors in total, and I decided to try charting up the motif with three colors from the same color family, and one from a different color family altogether. I love the blue version we ended up going with, which makes use of complementary colors, as three blue shades are accompanies by a golden yellow. I also swatched for a version with red/orange tones, making use of the same golden yellow contrast.

    I love the finished sweater (huge thanks to sample knitter Torgun, who actually knit the sample) and I'm so glad the museum chose to go with the blue version, which feels very, very me. We chose to knit this one up in one of my favorite yarns, Tinde from Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk. Because of the bold, graphic nature of the motif, it's possible to use a variety of shades that are relatively low contrast compared with other stranded colorwork, which makes the palette of Tinde (which is dyed on a natural grey base) really lovely for this.

    The other pattern is a hat and mitt set called Dorthea, and once again I was not wholly enthused by the original swatches in the archive. I decided going fully monochrome might be a way to make this 5-color motif look a little bit less like sprinkles on a birthday cake, so I swatched up a greyscale version first. I didn't even realize until I'd finished the swatch how much this motif suddenly recalled traditional Setesdal-style patterns. With a black base and five shades of grey, it was also a perfect opportunity to work a corrugated rib as a gradient – I feel like it makes a wonderful finishing touch. We also worked up the hat in an alternate colorway, using five shades of blue and blue-green.

    We used Rauma Finull for this pattern, which feels like the perfect yarn for this with its massive palette of colors.

    One of the things I love about this book is that the editors made it a priority to use Norwegian wool yarns for the patterns. While they didn't exclusively include yarns made from Norwegian wool, they've still featured Norwegian wool pretty heavily, and it makes me so happy to see a Norwegian pattern book prioritizing that. The beginning of the book also features some information about the history of the mill/factory, so all in all the book feels like a really natural part of the recent revival of traditional Norwegian patterns and Norwegian wool in the Norwegian knitting community. 

    If you're curious about what the rest of the book looks like, you can check out the other patterns on Ravelry here. The photos were shot at the museum, which I love, and while the collection of patterns as a whole does have a retro vibe (as the subtitle implies), I also think the designs feel very fresh and modern.

  • slow fashion october: what's your look?

    Every year when Slow Fashion October kicks off, I read along and think about how I'd love to properly join the discussion. But for the past three Octobers, I was either working on a master's degree or dealing with my transatlantic move, and taking the time for the kind of reflection I think Slow Fashion October deserves has always felt like a challenge – let alone being able to write about it and share with others. This year, however, I'm beginning the month as I mean to go on. Slow fashion is something I think about year round, so taking the month of October to try and sort through some of my thoughts and feelings seems like a really great opportunity this year.

    Slow Fashion October was started by Karen Templer over at Fringe Association in 2015, and every year there's always a great discussion over different media platforms, often aided by themes or discussion prompts provided by Karen. There's no need to follow her own outline if you want to take part in the discussion of Slow Fashion October, but they are a useful guide when the topic feels overwhelming (and it can!). So I thought I'd kick off this month with the discussion prompts Karen posted on her blog today. I've skipped a few of the questions to keep this post from getting too long, but the overarching theme is: what's your look?

    Do you have a color palette?

    Most definitely. My Ravelry profile has, for years, read "blues, greens, greys" next to the "favorite colors" questions (don't you love that they say colors, plural, instead of trying to limit us to one?). That's held true for the past ten years that I've had my Ravelry profile. The first sweater I ever knit was purple, but sweaters number 2, 3, and 4 were green, grey, and blue, respectively. I knit with those colors a lot, and I wear those colors a lot. Blue is one of my neutrals, and blue or black jeans plus a grey t-shirt is one of my most commonly worn outfits. Lately, different shades of burgundy, dusty pink, and mustard have also been creeping into my wardrobe, and this is showing up in my knitting as well. Seeing it all together, though, it still manages to feel like a very cohesive palette. When I look at these colors, they feel very, very me.

    Is there a brand you’re always drawn to, for their clothes and/or how they put them together? Why?

    Jennifer Glasgow has been a favorite for years. I first discovered her clothing while shopping at Velouria in Seattle – it's a wonderful store with a selection of clothes from North American brands whose clothes are made domestically, either within the United States or Canada (if you find yourself in Seattle, I can't recommend them enough). Velouria was a huge part of my own journey towards thinking about incorporating slow fashion into my wardrobe. Jennifer Glasgow is based in Montreal, so I was excited when moving here that I'd get to shop at her flagship store General 54 on a regular basis - which for me, means about twice a year, each time the new collection is released. Aside from the fact that I really like the style and cut of a lot of Jennifer's pieces, and that they fit me well, she's very transparent about her production process and who's making the clothing, and she often prioritizes natural fibers over synthetics in her fabric choices, which is something I really appreciate and want to support.

    What is your favorite garment or outfit (right now or always) and why?

    I spent my summer in a piece from Jennifer Glasgow's spring/summer collection this year that I'm still just obsessed with, called the Mariner dress. In the past I've gone for more fit-and-flare style dresses from her, but this one is oversized and loose, which makes it just the most comfortable dress to wear. It's a silhouette I started playing with earlier this year and I like it a lot – I find myself increasingly prioritizing comfort. I feel like I absolutely lived in this dress over the summer (if you shop at Espace Tricot in Montreal there's a very good chance you saw me in it) and I intend to keep wearing it into the fall.


    What is the image you would like to project with your clothing?

    A degree of put-togetherness, and confidence. 


    Can you describe your style in five adjectives?

    I absolutely couldn't – I have very little objectivity there – but I would be curious to hear how others would describe my style. If I were being aspirational, I would want my style to be classic, sophisticated, playful, comfortable, and maybe the tiniest bit sparkly. 

    What showed up in your mood board that surprised you?

    Considering that my fashion / style board on Pinterest is something I've been casually building without very much thought over the course of several years, it was interesting to see that it's very overtly feminine. I know that I'm someone who often swings back and forth between feminine styles and more masculine or androgynous styles from day to day or season to season, but in general I think I trend towards more androgynous and it feels like there's very little of that represented here. To me, it often feels like there's a conflict between some of the feminine styles I'm very drawn to, especially dresses, and the practicality that I want or need in clothing in climates where there can be a lot of wind, or a harsh winter, for example. My clothes became very utilitarian when I lived in Tromsø, and I wore very few skirts and dresses there, but a lot more skirts and dresses worked their way back into my wardrobe this summer in Montreal. So that's interesting. But I also think that I have a tendency to think my clothes are more androgynous than they really are – I have a distinct memory from the year in college when I cut my hair into a short pixie for the first time, and to me, that felt like a bucking of traditional ideas of femininity (and admittedly, as a six foot tall woman, I do sometimes mistakenly get called "sir" by strangers who aren't paying attention when my hair is really short). But I took a course on women and political science from the women's studies department that semester, and my professor pointed out to me that despite my short hair, my overall look in terms of clothes and presntation was still very, very feminine. And she was right. I think that has changed slightly in the years in between, but I do still think there can be a disconnect between what I think is happening in terms of how I dress and how I actually look to the outside world. All that being said, when I pin something to this board, it is something that I feel like I could / would actually wear, even if it maybe isn't representative of my style as a whole.

    What’s an example of something you own and love (had to have!) but never wear, and why not?

    Vintage shopping is really hit and miss for me, and I have a few vintage pieces that I rarely wear, either because of the fit of the piece, or the fabric it's made from. Even though I love them, they may only come out once a year (but at least it's not never!). My own size – my height as well as the muscularity of my shoulders (since I started exercising my upper body more after recovering from my shoulder break in 2016), both mean the top half of my body isn't really the same size or shape as the average woman from half a century ago. So often, things are too small for me. 

    --

    I'm looking forward to see what others have to say to the "what's your look?" question. If you want to follow the discussion as well, I'd suggest following the #slowfashionoctober hashtag on Instagram (you don't need an account to be able to see public posts that have been tagged), or following the Fringe Association blog – and there are always interesting discussions going on in the comments, so don't skip those.

    For those who are curious, three of the pieces in the outfit I'm wearing pictured up top fall under the slow fashion banner in different ways: the dress is a new one from Jennifer Glasgow made here in Montreal, the cardigan was picked up second-hand at a clothing swap several years ago, and the boots are Red Wing Heritage Iron Rangers from the women's line, made in the US.

  • love letter to norway

    I'm just back from a 10-day trip to Norway. I mentioned in my last post that Norway had been on my mind lately, and thinking ahead to this trip is part of why. It was the first trip back since my husband and I moved away a year ago, and we visited three cities spanning the country on this trip (Tromsø, where we lived for two years, Trondheim, and Oslo). There was so much to enjoy, and I did my best to soak it all up.

    I love this time of year in Norway - early September in northern Norway means the birches are just beginning to turn golden, and the cool air was a respite after the grueling hot summer Montreal has had. We were extremely lucky with the weather, and enjoyed clear skies for most of our trip, and even got to wave hello at the northern lights again in Tromsø (I have missed the northern lights).

    In Trondheim, the maples were beginning to turn orange and red, which made my heart very happy. I hadn't spent much time in Trondheim before, but it is a charming little city.

    And in Oslo, I walked some of my favorite oft-trodden paths. I'm incredibly fond of the little wooded paths southwest of Frognerparken, called Skøyenparken. Even though most of the leaves were still green on the trees and flowers were still in bloom around the city, here you could see that fall is coming.

    The trip left me with a lot to think about – and for me, ten days isn't nearly enough for a trip to Norway anymore (especially when divided between three cities). It was lovely to visit old haunts, see old friends, hear and speak Norwegian again instead of French. But I'm also glad to be back home in my own apartment now, ready to dive into work for this fall after a very busy August. There's a lot of exciting stuff on the horizon and I'm looking forward to sharing it with you. I hope that you're having a good September wherever you are.