on darkness and light

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I’m going to get a little philosophical today, but I hope you’ll bear with me.

As the days have grown shorter in Tromsø I’ve realized I’m taking fewer photos. I like shooting in natural light best, so as the availability of natural light becomes smaller and smaller, it’s not surprising I reach for my camera less often. But that is only one reason. October moving into November always seems to be one of my busiest times – and the time of year that I am most susceptible to seasonal depression, due to the rapidly changing light and a number of other factors (I wrote about this a few weeks ago on my Instagram, and thank you so much to everyone who responded – I can’t say how much I appreciate both your kind words and your open conversation). My seasonal depression is fall-specific, and doesn’t usually last throughout the winter. So believe it or not, I feel myself coming out of that depressive low now, just as we’re nearing the beginning of mørketida (literally, the dark time, the season in the north when the sun stays below the horizon). In the wake of the U.S. presidential election, there are many people turning to the thought that “the sun will still rise tomorrow” – and here I am, in a place where in a week’s time, the sun literally will not rise on Tromsø. Does that sound dark to you? For me, it’s not as dark as it sounds. I’ve been thinking about the best way to try to explain this.

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One of the most common questions I get at this time of year is people wondering what it’s like to live somewhere where the sun sets so early in the fall, and then eventually, it doesn’t rise or set at all. It’s difficult to imagine if you’ve never experienced it, so here are a few key facts:

  • In Tromsø, where I live, the sun doesn’t rise above the mountains in the south between November 21 and January 21.
  • This doesn’t mean it’s only night and total darkness, however, for the sun spends a few hours in the middle of the day just below the horizon. To imagine what clear days are like, picture several hours of the most beautiful sunset/twilight combination you can imagine. That’s your daylight.
  • Once the snow comes, the effect of the darkness is lessened a great deal. The period leading up to Christmas can be the toughest, as the snow tends to come and go (and this year we have yet to have a proper snow), but after Christmas it usually sticks around and accumulates, and January and February are absolutely beautiful. A proper winter wonderland.

So what is it like to live with? I know Norwegians and foreigners who embrace it and I know Norwegians and foreigners who struggle with it, too. I fall into the former camp – and people are always surprised when I tell them I prefer the polar night to the midnight sun. Everyone is different and there are many factors that influence how we cope with and feel about the dark season. I have always been a night person, often feeling my most creative and productive in the wee hours. That’s probably part of it. But I think mindset is another part.

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As I mentioned in my last post on the yarn I brought home from the Oslo Strikkefestival, I wanted to make a Lupine shawl with the lovely greyscale gradient from Squirrel’s Yarns. I cast on last week after the election news, and the repetitive bands of lace and garter stitch have been my constant companions in an incredibly emotionally trying time. And this gradient yarn, with its slow, smooth transitions, is exactly as beautiful as I hoped it would be. But that’s not what I want to talk about, though – I want to go in a more metaphorical direction.

I could’ve started at either end of the ball when I cast on for this shawl, but I like a center pull ball, and I decided to start from the center – the lightest end of the gradient. The fact that this means I’ve spent the last week literally knitting in the direction of the darkness is not lost on me. It has crossed my mind on more than one occasion. I could continue that line of thought – the further I knit, the longer the rows get, and the slower my progress feels, etc. I could see it as a slog. (Fortunately, I don’t.) And here’s the thing – this is where perspective comes in. There’s a Fast Company article that made the rounds last year called “The Norwegian Secret to Enjoying a Long Winter,” and spoiler alert: it’s all about your mindset.

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From where I sit as I knit the shawl, this is my vantage point. I am situated at the dark end, watching the gradient fade back into the light. While I may literally be looking at where I came from, this vantage point allows me to remember that the darkness can – and does – give way to the light again. Our whole world functions in cycles. The planet rotates and orbits the sun, the winter we are heading into will give way to spring and summer, and the daylight will come back. The darkness is an important part of that cycle – and in the case of my shawl, the darker the yarn color gets, the easier it is to see the sparkle of the silver stellina spun into the yarn. Much like we cannot see the stars or the northern lights when the sky is overwhelmed by the light of the sun.

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I read a book a few years ago – while in Norway for the new year, aptly enough – that really changed my relationship with nighttime and darkness. It’s by Paul Bogard and it’s called The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light. It was a game changer for me, and a book I would recommend to anyone and everyone. I’d never thought about the importance of darkness in the balance of life this way before, since as humans we tend to fear the darkness, which can represent danger and the unknown. But this book helped me start to embrace the dark and it changed the way I think about certain types of light. I don’t think I would enjoy mørketida as much without having read it.

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I also want to say that while there are many situations where I think the cycle of light and dark is important, I would not extend that so far as to say that the darkness of the current political situation is a necessary part of any such cycle – I think there is a cycle of dark and light there, but the degree of darkness we have reached goes far beyond any natural cycle. Racism, misogyny, bigotry, and hate should have no place in our society, let alone in the White House (or any of the governments in which xenophobic nationalist movements are gaining ground). But in the midst of this darkness there are bright points of light emerging, and I would encourage you to seek those out. And as I sit and knit my shawl, I will remember that the darkness can – and does – give way to the light again. And in the coming days I’ll be thinking very hard about concrete ways that I can step up and be a part of that movement.

reading, thinking: seawomen of iceland

The Sun Voyager, photographed in 2012 in Reykjavík

Jess’s Swatch of the Month post over on the Fringe blog today got me thinking about a book I read a few months ago. Her swatch this month is in Icelandic wool, the Lopi we all know and love, and her post includes a really fantastic short history of Iceland. Several lines caught my attention, among them the following:

I’m telling you this not because it’s related to knitting, but because it’s central to understanding who Icelanders are.”

I’m someone who’s been interested in Iceland for awhile. I fell in love with Iceland through music first, listening to a lot of Sigur Rós and Múm when I was in high school (Múm’s Finally We Are No One is still my desert island record after a decade and a half of listening to it). Later in college, when I started knitting more than just scarves, I began to get interested in Iceland’s knitting as well (the 2007 Sigur Rós film Heima helped – it documents a series of free outdoor concerts they gave in Iceland and it feels like every third person in the film is wearing a lopapeysa). I’m lucky to have been to Iceland several times now and I’ve done a lot of reading about Iceland’s history, its language (which I’ve studied), and its literary tradition. I completely agree with Jess that this kind of knowledge lends a much deeper understanding of why the Icelandic sheep are the way they are, why the wool is so practical and useful and holds a place of such importance, and how much more beautiful its place in society is because of all of that.

Following that line of thought: I recently read a book that increased my depth of knowledge about Iceland in a very different way. This is not a book about knitting. But this book taught me so much more about Iceland’s history and Iceland’s spirit than I knew before I read it.

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Jess’s post features a quote from Árni Árnason on the lopapeysa: “It resembles the country’s rugged nature and reminds us of the history of farming and fishing when it provided its wearer with a vital shield from the disastrous weather one can encounter in the wild.” Farming and fishing. Sheep, of course, are a vital part of Iceland’s farming history, but I’d never spent much time thinking about Iceland’s fishing industry beyond harðfiskur or fish leather, particularly given the challenges presented by the harsh climate. So I was very intrigued when I came across Seawomen of Iceland by Margaret Willson, a cultural anthropologist at the University of Washington who once worked on fishing boats herself (hat tip to Seattle’s Nordic Heritage Museum, which is how I found out about the book).

I appreciate this book so much for the glimpse it provides into the history of women in Iceland’s fishing industry (which it seems is often overlooked even by Icelanders themselves), but also for its recognition of how dramatically Iceland’s industry and cultural landscape has changed in the previous decades. The mass migration of people from the rural countryside to the city is staggering to think about when considering the ripple effect on the towns that get left behind. So while it’s not a book about knitting, those of you interested in Iceland might find something to interest you here. It’s available on Amazon or directly from the UW Press.

Even if the book isn’t for you, I do hope you’ll enjoy this poem by seawoman Björg Einarsdóttir which is featured in the book, translated with great care by Margaret and her friend Ágústa:

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Thanks to Jess for such a wonderful post today over on Fringe and thank you to Margaret for such an incredible work of research.

inspiration: this thing of paper

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“Who is ignorant of the difference between writing [scriptura] and printing [impressura]? A manuscript, written on parchment, can last a thousand years. How long will print, this thing of paper [res papirea] last?”
— Johannes Trithemius, In Praise of Scribes (De Laude Scriptorum)

When I was in high school, my mom worked in the office for the Women’s and Gender Studies program at one of the local universities. The office was sent copies of Bust Magazine and mom always brought them home for me to read. If memory serves me correctly, it was in one of those copies of Bust that I first stumbled into a tutorial for how to make your own journal using some pretty basic bookbinding techniques. I was hooked after that first tutorial – all my high school journals from that point on were little simple books I’d bound myself (you can see a few of them in the photo above). I went on to make a set of journals in 2006/2007 for my friend, musician John Vanderslice. The books had canvas covers and I painted album artwork from his catalog on them – it was a pretty immense project that to this day I am proud of. And while I’ve always remained a dabbler, my interest in making books has held (the most recent one I made was a birthday gift for my husband for his birthday before last).

I think it’s easy for fiber artists to be interested in books. The physicality of crafts like knitting or crocheting or spinning is central to them. We learn our way around the physical properties of wool and other fibers, the crunch or heft or twist. We learn to follow the feel of the knitting in our hands instead of relying on our eyes alone to see if we’ve dropped a stitch or made a mistake. And we really love beautiful pattern books.

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So perhaps it’s not surprising that we’ve gone a bit mad over Karie Westermann‘s upcoming project, This Thing of PaperYou’ve likely heard about it already, but in case you haven’t: the project is inspired by Gutenberg and the invention of the printing press, and the fascinating era of transition in bookmaking that transpired. This collection is going to be a physical book – a beautiful physical book – with 10 patterns for garments and accessories as well as accompanying essays. Karie’s funding the project via a Kickstarter, and thanks to the intense enthusiasm for this project she was 100% funded in just 25 hours (!!), and at this point she’s raised an incredible sum of £21,641, absolutely blowing her original goal of £9,700 out of the water. If you haven’t yet pledged your support but you’d like to, you can still do so on the Kickstarter page until Wednesday at 10:45AM central European time – just about 42 hours to go at the time this post goes live. I am so happy to help spread the word about this project, because the finished product is going to be something that I’ll be very excited to hold in my hands – and obviously, as just one of Karie’s many backers, I’m not alone in that feeling.

Not shockingly, I’m most looking forward to the colorwork patterns, but this collection will feature more than just colorwork and I can’t wait to see how Karie’s own aesthetic as a designer interacts with her inspiration and source material. I’m also really looking forward to the essays – how can I not love a book that excites the academic in me just as much as the knitter? If you find yourself curious as well, you can back the project, check out Karie’s mood board on Pinterest to get a peek at her visual inspiration, or peruse the stops on the blog tour for This Thing of Paper, of which this is the final stop. Highlights from the tour for me included JacquelineM’s tutorial for binding a booklet to keep notes for projects from This Thing of Paper (not unlike that first journal tutorial I encountered in high school) and Felix’s interview with Karie that went live last Friday, but the whole tour is absolutely worth checking out – the links below will take you directly to the blog posts:

May 26: Naomi Parkhurst

May 27: Meg Roper

May 30: Natalie Servant

June 1: Jacqui Harding

June 6: Woolly Wormhead

June 8: Tom of Holland / Tom van Deijnen

June 10: Ella Austin

June 13: Leona Jayne Kelly of Fluph

June 15: JacquelineM

June 16: Felix Ford/KNITSONIK

June 17: Clare Devine

When you’ve finished with that, be sure to check out Karie’s own wrap-up post, which also has some great practical info regarding when the book will be available and how it can be purchased for wholesale, etc. Congratulations, Karie! We can’t wait to see what you’ve come up with.

the north sea

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I read a book a couple months ago called The Shetland Bus, which I picked up over Christmas break after someone posted about it on social media last fall. The phrase “the Shetland bus” refers to a British and Norwegian special operations unit who used fishing ships to carry supplies and refugees back and forth between Shetland and the west coast of Norway during World War II (as Norway was occupied by the Nazis, many Norwegians fled to the UK or the United States during the war). Shetland is due west from the west coast of southern Norway, with Lerwick and Bergen being on approximately equal latitudes, so it made sense as a home base for this type of special operations group.

The book itself is fascinating for a number of reasons, not least of which is that it was first published in 1951 and the author was part of the unit that carried out these trips. The trips this group carried out were not in large boats, but fishing boats small enough to be unassuming and less likely to be stopped or questioned. And as the sun doesn’t sink low enough below the horizon for total darkness in the summer time, these trips were carried out in fall and late winter, in the cold and under cover of darkness, often with stormy weather. Even having lived through my first Norwegian winter, I can’t even imagine what it must have been like.

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Most of the action took place much farther south than where I live in Norway (Bergen sits at 60ºN while Tromsø is up at 69ºN) with the exception of chapter thirteen, which is one of the more incredible tales in the book about a seemingly impossible escape. Another chapter tells of the attempt to sabotage a German battleship in Trondheim – the attempt failed, but that battleship (Tirpitz) was later sunk just south of Tromsøya at the end of the war. The presence of a little bit of local history probably increased the impact of this book on me.

I also found myself thinking about knitting at different points in the book. Now, nothing in this book is about knitting, but there’s definitely a bit of shared history and tradition between Shetland and Norway – stretching back to the Viking age, of course, but also more recently. Both places are famous for their stranded knitting patterns, and though there are differences, there has always been a great deal of sharing of certain motifs between both places. As I neared the end of The Shetland Bus I found myself reaching for my needles.

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I wound up with a hat that I feel is part Norwegian in spirit and part Shetland-style, too. While the main motifs stand out in a single color, the background cycles through different colors. I’ve called it The North Sea in tribute to the fishermen of the Shetland bus, all of whom were incredibly brave, and many of whom found their final resting place at the bottom of that sea.

I went down to Telegrafbukta to shoot the photos of the hat about two months ago, when it was still much snowier here. This park is one of my favorite spots in Tromsø, on the southwest side of the island right on the water. It was a windy day, so I found myself facing in one particular direction more than any other – it just so happens that I wound up looking toward the sunken wreck of the Tirpitz.

Using multiple background colors with colorwork makes this an excellent hat for leftovers, and that is exactly what I used – leftover yarn I had on hand. It is for this reason that the hat is knit in an American yarn (Brooklyn Tweed Shelter) though I’d love to see it worked up in wool from Norway or Shetland as well. It’s a great project for any worsted-weight leftovers you have in your stash. As written, the pattern uses a tubular cast on, but that can be swapped out for any other stretchy cast on you like, and otherwise it’s quite straightforward.

The one thing that’s unusual is that normally I write hat patterns for multiple sizes, but due to the very large repeat used on this hat, the pattern is written for just one size. In this case I would suggest trying to adjust gauge by changing needles sizes if you’d like to make the hat smaller or larger, and keep in mind that gauge from knitter to knitter can vary substantially in stranded colorwork, so you’ll probably find it useful to swatch first.

The North Sea is available on Ravelry now. Head over to that page for all the technical details about the pattern.

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42 norske kofter

Today I’m thinking about kofter. This ubiquitous Norwegian word can feel difficult to properly translate, as it can describe several different pieces of clothing. Today I’m writing about it in the sense of “knitted cardigans” – you may have heard the word in connection with the famous lusekofte, or “lice jacket,” from Setesdal. Kofte is the singular form, while kofter is the plural.

Kofter are beloved here in Norway, and one glance at the knitting shelf of any bookstore will show it: titles like Kofteboken, Kofteboken 2, and Koftefest peer out at you. Last November another hit the shelves, called 42 norske kofter: fra Lindesnes til NordkappI saw it everywhere I went, and I finally picked up a copy for myself.

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This book was a project from Sandnes Garn, reworking many of their classic kofte patterns published in the mid-20th century by modernizing the fit, changing the sample yarn, or playing with the colors (while I don’t have any of these old patterns in their original form, I do have a handful that were published by Husfliden and they’re great fun). It also reflects the fact that patterns were often affiliated with specific regions in Norway, hence the subtitle “from Lindesnes to Nordkapp” (Lindesnes is at the southern tip of Norway while Nordkapp is the northermost point on the mainland). I’ve had some time to sit down with it this week and overall, I think it’s pretty fantastic.

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Aside from the patterns, there’s a lovely bit of introductory text at the beginning about kofter and their place in Norwegian history and society (seen in the photo above, with the heading “Kofter, yarn, and production”). It celebrates the resurgence of popularity these cardigans have experienced, and provides a nice quick historical overview as well as some information about the yarn production (specifically the production of Sandnes Garn, as they published the book). I love it when this type of information is included in pattern books, as it gets knitters thinking more about the production and sourcing of the materials they purchase at the yarn store, which can only be a good thing. Within the introduction, this quote stuck out (translation is mine):

“Even though kofter are a Norwegian national treasure, the history of the kofte is actually quite international.”

I appreciate the acknowledgment that what’s considered traditional to a place can often have far-flung roots. The authors write about the fact that the generally accepted origin for the word kofte is the Persian word kaftan, and they also note that the motifs and patterns used in these knitted cardigans sometimes came from or were inspired by people and traditions from abroad.

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The patterns themselves are great, too. The forty-two patterns are effectively for 27 different cardigans, some of which are written up for both men and women, others of which are written up with two different constructions (one option for a drop shoulder cardigan and another for one with a round yoke). You get a glimpse of the original pattern photos and styling, which I think is fantastic too.

Eventually I’d like to knit at least one of the cardigans in this book, though I have a lot of knitting on my plate to finish before I can do that. Fortunately that means I have plenty of time to ruminate on my favorites and decide which would make the best addition to my wardrobe. (You can see photos of all the different cardigans on the Sandnes Garn page for the book.)

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The technical aspects are also fun to look at. Since this is a book full of cardigans worked up in stranded colorwork, you may have guessed that steeks are involved, and you’d be right. In the Norwegian tradition, though, two lines of reinforcing stitches are sewn by machine before cutting. In the case of a cardigan, it makes quite a lot of sense – machine stitches are excellent reinforcement for a button band that’s going to see a lot of handling, and it’s less bulky than a crocheted reinforcement.

Other technical information points to the self-reliance of Norwegian knitters. Having seen several patterns from the mid-20th century, I can say it’s no wonder that the Norwegian word for a knitting pattern (as in “set of instructions to knit something”) is oppskrift, the word for “recipe.” The patterns in this book definitely contain more information than their original forms must have done, but still, only stitch gauge is given, not row gauge, and yarn quantities are listed in grams, not yardage or meterage (leaving the knitter to do some quick arithmetic if they plan to substitute yarns at all). I haven’t actually worked from Norwegian patterns yet, so I find it interesting to compare these details with what I’m used to from the US.

All in all I’m very excited about this addition to my knitting library!

farm to needle: stories of wool

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If you’re familiar with Tolt Yarn and Wool in Carnation, Washington, you can probably imagine how I felt when I received an email from Anna Dianich earlier this year … there was a book project she was putting together, and would I like to be involved? It was a no brainer, of course – YES, I said, even though I knew I had an international move on the horizon and a pretty packed to-do list. Some things are easy to make time for.

Anna described her idea for the book – a focus on yarns with that could be traced to the source, made from American grown wool, spun and dyed at American mills, often coming from single flocks. I’ve come to know some of these yarns through visits to Tolt and I’m so excited for the stories of who makes them to be shared in book form. I think many knitters have become increasingly interested in yarns from smaller producers over the last several years as they begin to ask where their fiber is actually coming from, a trend that parallels the farm-to-table trend in the food industry. When Tolt began producing their own Snoqualmie Valley Yarn (whose wool comes from a single flock of BFL/Clun Forest sheep), it was fitting that the labels said “farm to needle.” To me, this book project feels like such a natural extension of what Tolt does as a yarn store and as the core of a community. And appropriately the book itself, which will be released around Tolt’s second anniversary party on November 7, is titled Farm to Needle: Stories of Wool.

Here’s a short blurb from farmtoneedlebook.com:

“When we pick up our needles, cast on the first stitch, we become part of something much bigger than the project at hand. Farmers, shearers, spinners and dyers are working hard not only to produce the yarn we love, but to preserve a way of life that is at real risk of being lost. Farm to Needle: Stories of Wool invites you to join us on a journey; to peek behind the scenes of some of our favorite producers and gain a deeper understanding of the people, places, and animals at work. Discover Aspen Hollow Farm, Green Mountain Spinnery, Imperial Stock Ranch, Thirteen Mile Farm, YOTH, Saco River Dye House, and Twirl through patterns by Dianna Walla, Tif Fussell, Veronika Jobe, Ashley Yousling & Annie Rowden, Karen Templer, and Andrea Rangel. Photography by Kathleen Cadigan.”

I can’t tell you how thrilled and honored I am to be part of such a stellar lineup. We’re all looking forward to sharing more of the book with you in the near future – I’m quite proud of my pattern and I can’t wait for you to see it (it is, unsurprisingly, Norwegian-inspired, but that’s all I’ll tell you for now!). Farm to Needle: Stories of Wool is available to pre-order now at farmtoneedlebook.com and I hope some of you will be able to attend Tolt’s second anniversary party on November 7!

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vintage knits

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I enjoyed Karen’s post that went up today over at Fringe about the vintage sweater booklets sent to her by a friend. I had to smile to myself, because yesterday I’d pulled out what is probably my oldest piece of knitting paraphernalia – and I was largely inspired to do that because of the waistcoat Karen’s currently knitting from a vintage pattern.

The booklet I pulled out to look at again was published Bear Brand & Bucilla in 1922 – it belonged to my great grandmother, who taught my mother to knit, and was passed down to me by my mother, who thought I’d enjoy it (and she was right). Like the Jack Frost booklets Karen wrote about, the booklet’s near falling apart (in fact, the cover is completely detached) and there’s ancient yellowed tape holding together pages that were torn long ago.

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I don’t know much about Bear Brand or Bucilla yarns, but apparently they were both under the umbrella of the Bernhard Ulmann Co. As you can see, my booklet is volume 41. I love that this was early enough they were spelling it “yarnkraft” (cursory Google searches seem to indicate that this later became “yarncraft,” as we would now expect).

I also love how very twenties this whole booklet is. There’s a heavy focus on sportswear, with scenes of golf, skiing, and bathing at the beach worked in, but I think a lot of the pieces included are absolutely wearable today. Designs for women, men, and children are included (and there’s even a dog sweater), in both knit and crochet. Here’s a sampling:

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How contemporary is that beautiful striped pullover? I adore it.

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Knitters of the twenties would appreciate my current obsession with garter stitch, I think.

But perhaps my favorite piece in the whole booklet is:

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“A practical sweater which successfully meets the demand for both sport and general wear,” with optional shawl collar version. Practical indeed.

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I’ve never actually knit from a vintage pattern but I’d love to someday, regardless of the challenges they present for the modern knitter (how to substitute yarns, how to make sense of terminology and abbreviations that may have changed over the decades, how to achieve the right size, etc.). I’m definitely looking forward to seeing Karen’s finished waistcoat, and I’d love to see any projects you all might have knit or crocheted using vintage patterns.

a new year, tutorials, and yokes

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Happy 2015! I hope everyone’s new year has gotten off to a good start. I must admit since getting home (and it is so good to be home again) that I’ve been swept up in the new-year-fresh-slate-mindset a little bit. I decided to give in to that impulse this year, knowing that some of the changes I’ve made this first week/month of the year will stick, and some won’t; some will probably come and go depending on the weather/my mood/the time of year/any other number of things. It’s hard not to feel good about taking steps to make positive changes in my life, though. Three mornings in a row of yoga (which is kicking my butt but still manages to make me feel amazing) followed by a huge green smoothie feels like a great start, even if I can’t keep it up every day moving forward.

I’ve been slowly working my way back into work this week – I always have a hard time getting back into a good work flow after traveling – so there’s been a lot more studio organizing and a lot less hands-on work. The good news is that’s given me a chance to start planning a schedule for the tutorials I’m hoping to start posting soon. I’m aiming to address a lot of the most common questions I get about my patterns, so there will be a definite focus on colorwork! I’m hoping to cover things like different provisional cast ons and grafting together ends (used for Pine Bough Cowl and Inkling), working the thumb gusset increases for a Norwegian-style mitt/mitten (as in Seven Stars), as well as some more general colorwork stuff like how to trap long floats and ways to combat tight colorwork. If there’s anything in particular you’d like to see me cover, please let me know! I’ll make sure to add it to my list.

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One of the most exciting things about getting home was finally being able to crack into my copy of Yokes, the beautiful new book by Kate Davies I’ve been posting about. I have no idea which sweater I’ll knit first, or even when I’ll have time to cast on for one, but in the meantime the wonderful essays should keep me busy! I had the opportunity to read through the second chapter, “Greenlanders and Norwegians,” in advance; Kate and I did some writing back and forth about this topic and I was able to translate a few small pieces of one of the chapters in Ren Ull to help her find some information she was missing about some iconic Norwegian yokes. It was a thrill after helping her with the research to see how amazingly she tied everything together and was able to draw through-lines I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, and I’m so excited to read the other pieces of writing in the book. Thank you so much to Kate for the engaging conversations and for putting such a wonderful book out into the world.

You can view all 11 patterns from Yokes on Ravelry, and you can purchase your own copy here.

knit fit!

The second weekend in November was this year’s Knit Fit! While I didn’t have a market booth this year, I did end up attending both Friday (opening night) and Saturday. It was quite a lot of fun to simply go as a student and not be working for the weekend!

For those who don’t know, Knit Fit is a local knit & crochet event here in Seattle, held in November. I think this was the third year, so it’s still a new-ish event, but it gets better every year and I’m so proud of the organizers for the weekend they put together. The weekend is made up of an opening night talk on Friday evening followed by two days of wonderful classes on Saturday and Sunday. There’s also a marketplace full of fantastic independent vendors that runs both Saturday and Sunday, and this year’s was bigger and better than ever.

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I specifically wanted to mention the opening night talk this year – given by Elizabeth Wayland Barber, linguist, anthropologist, and textile expert (I swooned a little bit the first time I read that). You may have heard of some of her works, such as Prehistoric Textiles, THE book on prehistoric textiles, or Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years. I had heard of these works, but never read them, and I’m currently about two thirds of the way through Women’s Work (which is fantastic, for the record). I was very excited to hear her speak and despite a few technical hiccups, I still really enjoyed her wonderful talk. If you ever get a chance to go see her speak, you should do it! Barber is one of the people credited with bringing this type of textile-related anthropological work to the forefront, and focusing on women’s roles in ancient societies (due to the nature of textiles, they tend to decompose, so the physical remnants of that section of society is harder to trace and was thus largely ignored by early archeology).

1ccab32311330c46-knitfithaulcroppedFrom left to right: YOTH Big Sister in Blueberry and Olive, Farm Girl Products BFL/alpaca, Three Fates Yarns Superwash Worsted in Commuter

On Saturday I took a crochet class with Shibaguyz, which was a lot of fun and I learned quite a bit. A visit to the market took me to the booths of many of my favorite yarnies, including Spincycle and Jorstad Creek, and I picked up some new-to-me yarns as well from both YOTH and Farm Girl Products. The YOTH booth was incredible! But the beautiful grey BFL/alpaca blend I picked up from Farm Girl might be what I’m most excited about.

I also did Game Knitting for the first time. Game Knitting is the brainchild of Lee Meredith and the easiest way to explain it is to say that it’s kind of like a drinking game, but with knitting, not drinking. You queue up a film or TV show with a list of suitable cues on hand, as if you were going to play a drinking game. You pick an item to knit during the game (something simple, like a hat, a cowl, a scarf, etc) and you pick a variation – that is, a characteristic that you change whenever you reach a cue in the film/show. In the simplest version, you switch from knit stitch to purl stitch or from purl to knit whenever you reach a cue, so your knitted item would be made up of a random pattern of knit lines and purl lines. It’s a really fantastic concept, and the sky’s truly the limit. For Game Fitting at Knit Fit, they like to show a Seattle-related movie, and this year’s was Ten Things I Hate About You, which I hadn’t seen in ages, so it was a lot of fun.

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Because I am a crazy person, I decided I would work all knit stitches, but I would change colors every time we hit a cue. Many of the stretches of knitting between cues were really too long for stranding (and I knew going in that they would be), so that basically meant that rather than stranding, I just had a literal rat’s nest of ends to weave in after the fact. Fortunately, I like weaving in ends, so it worked out. I used Heirloom Romney and managed to get most of the hat knit during the movie, and then finished it off later on with a big stretch of red followed by a stretch of the undyed off-white (which isn’t really visible in this photo). In the spirit of Game Knitting, there’s no shaping on the hat; instead, I did a 3-needle bind off and stitched the two corners together, topping it all off with a jaunty pom pom. I’m excited that Game Knitting yielded a hat that is super wearable and absolutely unique!

On top of all of that, one of the most fun things about events like this is getting to hang out with so many fiber industry folks all at once – since for so many of us, especially designers, so much of our work is very solitary. Aside from the aforementioned yarnies, it was fun to see Kathy CadiganAndi SatterlundAndrea Rangel (who was down from Canada to teach), Lee Meredith (up from Portland), and others.

If you’re interested in learning more about Knit Fit, you should head to the website and read up! And perhaps put it on the calendar for next year – it’s usually the first or second weekend in November, but keep an eye on the website for exact dates. And congrats to the Knit Fit crew on another wonderful year!

monday musings

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What a busy few weeks! Is it just me, or does this time of year get busier with each year that passes? The knit world has felt especially busy up here in the Pacific Northwest this month with big events and other goings-on, but more on those later. For now:

  • My copy of the Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook arrived sometime last week and it’s fantastic. I’m enjoying it very much and if you’re interested in colorwork, you probably will too!a backlog of things to blog. In the meantime, here are a few great things, specifically book-related:
  • Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads by Cirilia Rose officially came two weeks ago tomorrow! Have you snagged a copy yet? I’m already plotting my first MHN project…
  • Yokes by Kate Davies, which you all know I’ve been eagerly awaiting, is now available! Order your copy right here.

More later this week, and I hope those of you in the States are staying warm! It seems like it quite suddenly got a lot chillier for all of us, and I’ve been enjoying seeing snowy winter wonderland photos around on social media (particularly these of Fancy Tiger’s new Pine Bough Cowl sample).